Minnesota, Roysland return home to the Barn

Minnesota head coach Pam Borton said she is excited to open up play tonight in front of a home crowd. She’ll also have a chance to coach against former Minnesota star guard Kelly Roysland who is on the North Dakota State coaching staff.

Ali Haupt

Minnesota head coach Pam Borton said she is excited to open up play tonight in front of a home crowd. She’ll also have a chance to coach against former Minnesota star guard Kelly Roysland who is on the North Dakota State coaching staff.

After a long weekend spent playing basketball on the west coast, the Minnesota womenâÄôs basketball team is ready to open its home season. âÄúAfter the Santa Clara game, Ashley [Ellis-Milan] and Emily [Fox] looked at us and said, âÄòHey, we got the win today âÄî awesome. We wouldâÄôve liked to do better, but guess what? WeâÄôre going home!âÄô âÄù senior guard Kay Sylva said . âÄúWe have a home game and thatâÄôs all we can think about, right now. ThereâÄôs nothing like playing in front of these fans.âÄù The Gophers (1-1 overall) shouldnâÄôt have any trouble getting fans Wednesday night as they host North Dakota State at 7 p.m. in Williams Arena, welcoming back former guard Kelly Roysland, who is now on the coaching staff at NDSU. âÄúThat was a great opportunity for her, and IâÄôm glad she took it,âÄù junior guard Katie Ohm said , âÄúbut IâÄôm sure sheâÄôll be excited to be back in the Barn, too.âÄù RoyslandâÄôs return comes at an interesting time, as senior guard Emily Fox is just 13 points away from surpassing Roysland on the GophersâÄô all-time scoring list. Fox could easily surpass the record with Roysland in the building. Despite these side notes and possible distractions, coach Pam Borton said the GophersâÄô focus will be solely on the game. âÄúThereâÄôs a lot of stuff going on, but I think weâÄôre just focused on the game and getting a little bit better,âÄù she said. âÄúIt is exciting that itâÄôs our home opener and that Kelly is coming back, but itâÄôs also exciting for our fans to see how the team is developing at this point.âÄù As far as developments, Minnesota appears to be ahead of the game defensively, putting good pressure on opposing guards and forcing several turnovers. Borton gave credit to a deeper bench. âÄúOur defense is better than it has been for three years,âÄù she said. âÄúI think our guards set the tone for our defense, and the big reason for their success is that theyâÄôre getting a break. We can bring them off the floor and rest them. âÄúItâÄôs a different mindset for our kids, this year. They can play extremely hard, knowing that they can come out when they get tired,âÄù she said. But Minnesota has struggled on the other end of the floor so far, shooting just less than 40 percent, while opponents are averaging 45 percent from the field. Borton highlighted a few reasons for this, including shot selection, but said that as the freshmen and the rest of the team settled in, the shooting percentage should increase. âÄúItâÄôs early in the season, so thereâÄôs always several things you need to improve on,âÄù Ohm said. âÄúOur guards set a goal to shoot a little better this week, and also help our posts out with better passes.âÄù The Bison (0-1) struggled to stop Northern IowaâÄôs offense in their first game of the year, allowing a shooting percentage of 53 from the floor. If the Gophers can find a way to exploit NDSUâÄôs defense, improvement in their shooting percentage could be seen as early as this week. The Bison will force Minnesota to play strong defense at each position, however, as their balanced offensive attack featured four different players scoring in double-digits in the first game. But Sylva said the teamâÄôs confidence was high in that area. âÄúOur defense is just getting stronger,âÄù she said. âÄúWeâÄôre getting up in the passing lanes and weâÄôre getting the rotations down. WeâÄôre pretty happy with where weâÄôre at, so far.âÄù