Minnesota takes care of Mankato in exhibition

Korinne Campbell made a solid statement for herself, and Brittany McCoy led her team with 17 points on the night.

by Paul Cordes

With the potential of junior guard, captain and preseason all Big Ten selection Emily Fox, it’s almost a sure thing that teams will come in with a game-plan to keep the ball out of her hands as much as possible.

There was no question that Minnesota State brought that mentality to Williams Arena on Wednesday night to try and shut down the Gophers’ offense, and it worked to a large degree, holding Fox to just eight points, all of which came in the first half.

But sophomore forward Korinne Campbell wasn’t going to let that get in the way of a Minnesota victory.

Campbell, who last season was certainly good for a double-digit rebounding night, brought a very well-rounded game to the floor and helped lead the Gophers to an 86-60 win in Minnesota’s first exhibition play of the season.

“Korinne is an energy player. She plays with a lot of emotion and makes a lot of hustle plays whether it be diving for a ball or being aggressive inside,” head coach Pam Borton said. “We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg with her. Its going to be hard to take her off the floor.”

Campbell finished the night with 13 points and brought down 10 rebounds as well.

Campbell said she’s feeling a little more comfortable on the floor.

“I’m not 100 percent comfortable out there but I would say I’m feeling very comfortable,” Campbell said. “I’ve been working all summer at the guard spot and I felt comfortable passing and shooting the ball and going to the basket.”

Campbell wasn’t alone in her presence inside however.

Sophomore center Ashley Ellis-Milan, who got the starting nod over sophomore center Zoe Harper, collected 16 points and senior forward Leslie Knight wasn’t far behind with 15 points on the night.

The Gophers’ post play last season was inconsistent at best as a pair of inexperienced freshman shared time at center, and though the numbers looked good on the night, Borton said her post players have a lot to work on.

“I was disappointed overall in our post play tonight. We need to be more dominant and more aggressive and start finishing inside,” she said. “There are some little things that they (post players) can really get better at.”

And it isn’t an option for the post play not to be stellar this year.

Fox was heavily guarded all night, which the All-America candidate can count on the rest of the season.

Ellis-Milan said that is going to make the roles of the three, four and five players all the more important.

“Everyone is going for Emily,” she said. “She’s running the show here and teams are going to go after her. But that means more people are going to have opportunities to step up and have the chance to shine and we have to be able to take advantage of that.”

But that doesn’t mean the Gophers are willing to write off Fox’s contributions completely.

Borton said she is confident Fox will be able to overcome the type of pressures she’ll see coming after her this season.

“This is a test of what’s coming for her,” Borton said. “I thought the team handled it extremely well and Emily is just going to have to get used to it. I thought she passed up a couple of opportunities to take a shot but she, just like everyone else, has some things to work on.”