Broback turns opportunist with McCarville out

David McCoy

With the depth on this year’s Minnesota’s women’s basketball team, sophomore Jamie Broback’s outlook before the season could be described as that of a lady in waiting.

The Gophers (1-1) were boasting a solid core of three returning starters revolving around All-American center Janel McCarville with the other two spots filled by former Minnesota Ms. Basketball winners Liz Podominick at power forward and April Calhoun at shooting guard.

Even after McCarville broke a bone in her left hand and Podominick moved in at center, Broback’s time starting at power forward for the preseason and regular season’s first two games was supposed to be a fill-in role.

But once given the chance, Broback “stormed the court” in Lancelot-like style, culminating in a 28-point performance Sunday against UNLV and being named the season’s first Big Ten player of the week.

With the Gophers already rotating six players almost equally on the floor, McCarville’s likely return to the lineup Friday against Arkansas State puts Minnesota coach Pam Borton in a coach’s favorite predicament.

“Right now, we’ve got seven players who could start,” Borton said. “It gives us a lot of flexibility.”

Because of her success, Borton said, she has decided to continue starting Broback at power forward going into this weekend’s Subway Classic at Williams Arena.

Borton said she also plans to use the 6-foot-3-inch Broback at small forward, forming a very big frontcourt with Broback, McCarville and Podominick on the floor together.

At any rate, Borton said she is trying to find a way to keep Broback in the lineup.

“She’s very dangerous offensively,” Borton said. “We’ve given her a role as a scorer, and we need Jamie to put up points on the board.”

Though few expected her to do it so well, Broback has shouldered McCarville’s load, scoring an average of 23 points per game during the weekend at the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Classic in Seattle.

Gaining a starting position on a premier team in Minnesota required Broback to beat out a premier player in Podominick.

Although she’s used to it from high school – Broback and Podominick’s high schools were big rivals – Broback said there is no rivalry between the two now.

In fact, the two are good friends and even room together.

And while Broback obviously wasn’t happy about McCarville’s injury, she said she is happy about the chance it provided her.

“I don’t want to say it’s a good thing,” Broback said. “But it definitely builds confidence.”

Broback said the biggest reason for her sudden surge in performance is a sudden surge in confidence.

She said confidence merely stems from being more experienced.

“A lot of it’s just knowing what to expect this year,” Broback said. “I was lacking confidence as a freshman. But this year, it’s what I’ve gained.”