Fox helps Team USA to gold-medal showing in Brazil

The Gophers junior guard averaged 6.3 points per game while Team USA went 5-0.

Nick Gerhardt

Emily Fox traded in her maroon and gold for the red, white and blue this summer and traveled to Rio de Janeiro to play in the 2007 Pan American Games.

She became just the third member of the Minnesota women’s basketball team to participate on the U.S. national team and the first since Janelle McCarville and Lindsay Whalen in 2003.

Team USA defeated Brazil on Tuesday, 79-66, to take home the gold medal after going 5-0 in the tournament.

“I’m really proud of Emmy,” coach Pam Borton said. “It shows me that she’s one of the top 25 players in the country.”

Fox, a junior guard, has averaged 6.3 points per game for Team USA, including an 18-point outburst to lead all scorers in an 85-54 rout of Argentina during the preliminary round.

“She can score a lot of points in just a few minutes,” Borton said.

Fox’s accuracy from behind the three point line and her strong defense helped her squad cruise through the preliminary competition. Fox is shooting 55 percent from behind the arc in the tournament.

Fox has worked to improve her three-point shot and defense throughout her career at Minnesota, and Borton said she believes being named to the national team is proof the work is paying off.

“I don’t think she’s ever thought of herself as a defensive player, but I think that was one of the reasons she was named to the team,” she said.

Her stock has risen considerably since her breakout sophomore year when she started all 33 games and averaged 12.9 points, 3.9 assists and 3.1 rebounds for the Gophers.

Last season when senior guard Kelly Roysland suffered a broken collarbone against Iowa, Fox elevated her game and led the team to an 80-78 overtime victory. She scored a career-high 30 points and hit five of her six three-point attempts.

“She took us on her back that game and stepped up as a leader,” sophomore teammate Brittany McCoy said.

The time Roysland missed proved an important time for the team as it needed to increase its production in order to fill the scoring void.

“Emily picked up the scoring and gained confidence from there on,” senior captain Jordan Barnes said. “And it also forced all of us to grow up.”

When Fox began to score more for the Gophers, her presence on the court underwent a dynamic shift.

“Her game has gone through a transition from where she was always a passer first, second and third to where now she is expected to score more,” Borton said.

Her work on the offensive side of the ball has teammates believing she can shoulder the scoring load and become an explosive player.

“She has a huge offensive upside and I think teams need to worry about that next season,” McCoy said.

Her teammates and coach fully expect Fox to develop into a capable leader next season, as the young team will look for upper-class guidance.

“I think she will take on a ‘go-to’ role and she’s ready for the expectations after she exceeded in the role when Kelly went down for four games last year,” Borton said.

The experience of the Pan American games and playing with the country’s finest players might help make Fox a strong player when she returns to the team.

“She’s a hard worker and she loves basketball so much and it shows on the court,” McCoy said. “This will give her more confidence for next season.”