Minnesota prepares for busy Thanksgiving

The Gophers will play four games in the next six days starting Tuesday.

Minnesota Guard Rachel Banham dribbles the ball during the game against Navy on Sunday at Williams Arena.

Lisa Persson

Minnesota Guard Rachel Banham dribbles the ball during the game against Navy on Sunday at Williams Arena.

Jack Satzinger

As tests and homework pile up for many preoccupied college students before the Thanksgiving break, the Gophers women’s basketball team is just as busy with basketball.

Minnesota beat Navy 62-55 on Sunday afternoon and had just one day off to prepare for its next contest against Loyola on Tuesday night.

“I think it’s keeping our players fresh and rested,” head coach Pam Borton said. “We’ve got players that are playing a lot of minutes and using a lot of energy out here.”

In the win against Navy, Micaëlla Riché, Amanda Zahui B., Rachel Banham, Shayne Mullaney, Sari Noga and Kayla Hirt played 197 of the team’s 200 minutes. Joanna Hedstrom was on the court for the other three minutes.

That’s a vast majority of game time played by just six players.

Mullaney said she’s used to playing most of the game, but other players are still adjusting to the increased workload.

Minnesota has just 10 players on its roster, and many of them played maximum minutes with minimal rest early this year.

Borton alluded to the fact that the Gophers would have a light practice before the game against Loyola.

“We’re going to watch a lot of film and do a very small walkthrough,” Borton said. “We want our players to feel somewhat fresh on Tuesday.”

And that’s just the beginning of the week for Minnesota.

Minnesota will play Loyola and then fly to Hawaii for the Waikiki Beach Marriot Rainbow Wahine Showdown.

The Gophers will play a trio of games in the Aloha State, starting with a Friday matchup against Chattanooga.

Minnesota then goes to battle with Colorado State, a team that will come in with fresh legs after having last played Nov. 23.

The Gophers finish up the tournament against host Hawaii on Dec. 1.

The Gophers are 4-1 thus far and have solid wins over Kansas and Navy on their resume.

Still, the next four games give Minnesota a chance to bolster its credentials even more.

“We have a big week here,” Borton said. “We need to put a string of wins together.”