Long break awaits women’s hoops team

by Dan Miller

Minnesota’s women’s basketball team has two weeks of practice before hosting University of Wisconsin-Green Bay on Dec. 21.

The good news for the Gophers is they are experiencing the closest thing they will see of a winter break.

The bad news is the players, like other University students, have final exams in less than a week.

“I have a couple papers due, and I have finals coming up,” senior Lindsay Whalen said. “But it’s nice not to have to worry about flying around the country and playing games.”

Whalen also plans to use the break to watch a little basketball.

“My sister plays Friday night, so I am going to run home to Hutch(inson) probably,” Whalen said.

The break gives the Gophers a chance to reflect on the first seven games of the season.

And the Gophers have reason to be smiling, as they stand at 7-0 and are the ninth-ranked team in the nation.

“We’re playing pretty well right now,” coach Pam Borton said. “We’re getting a lot of production out of our bench with Liz (Podominick) and Kelly (Roysland) coming off the bench giving us a boost.”

Both freshmen, Podominick and Roysland have seen quite a bit of playing time as fellow freshman Jamie Broback has been slower out of the gates. Broback, who played as a post in high school, has now converted to a guard with the Gophers.

“Jamie is in a tougher situation,” Borton said. “She is learning a new position and learning the game all over again.”

Borton is looking for improvement in offensive execution, but she has been pleased with the Gophers’ defensive play.

“Defensively, we’re ahead of the game from where we were last year,” she said. “We’re executing offensively just a little better than last year, but that is one of the last things to come together.”

Whalen had some time to give her early season review as well.

In their final exhibition game, the Gophers let Minnesota-Duluth make a second half run.

“After the Duluth game, I wasn’t worried, but I didn’t know what to expect,” Whalen said. “But since then we have been at a really nice pace and just been taking care of business.”

Whalen said there are some particulars the team will work on in the next two weeks.

“Our motion offense could get a lot more crisp,” Whalen said. “Defensively we have been good, but we need to work on getting rebounds and loose balls.”

The break also gives the Gophers a chance to add some new things to their offense and defense.

“It gives us a chance to work on something new that we can throw at people instead of having to prepare for another team,” Whalen said.

She also said the next two weeks will test the team’s maturity. She said the team’s focus in following weeks can’t be shortsighted.

“We have to look beyond that we don’t have a game for two weeks,” Whalen said. “We have to look at it that maybe this week of practice will help us in March or April.”

Barn notes

ï Senior Kadidja Andersson will miss the Wisconsin-Green Bay game. Andersson will be home in Sweden following the death of her grandmother.

ï Junior Janel McCarville led the Big Ten in rebounds through Dec. 8. She also ranks in the top eight in four other Big Ten categories including scoring, field goal percentage, free throw percentage and steals.

Whalen ranks in the top five among Big Ten players in four different categories, including scoring, field goal percentage, assists and steals.

Swimming and diving

Minnesota’s Adam Mitchell was named Big Ten co-swimmer of the week for his eight first-place finishes at the Georgia Invitational. Mitchell posted three individual first-place finishes and was a member of five first-place relay teams. Mitchell, a native of Des Moines, Iowa, shares the Big Ten weekly award with Michigan’s Peter Vanderkaay. It is the second Big Ten weekly honor for Mitchell this season.

Mitchell’s 200-meter individual medley time of 1:58.62 was an automatic qualifying time for the 2004 NCAA Championships.

Meanwhile, Minnesota women’s diver Rebecca Cornthwaite has been named the Big Ten diver of the week for her performance at the Georgia Invitational last weekend. It is her second Big Ten weekly honor this season.

Cornthwaite scored a 426.50 and captured a first-place finish in the platform event. Cornthwaite, a 2003 honorable mention All-American, also finished third in the three-meter event and fourth in the one-meter diving competition.