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OldGoldFreePress COLUMNISTS | BACK TO Steve'S COLUMNS

PURDUE WOMENS BASKETBALL:
Women's Opponents' Profile #14: Minnesota Golden Gophers, 01/18/04


15-0 Minnesota Is The Nation's Lone Undefeated Squad


Date: 1/18/2004
Author: Steve
© Old Gold Free Press Columnists

    Welcome to the fourteenth opponent profile for the 2003-2004 season. Each profile will include information about the opponent’s women’s basketball team and a player or coach on the team. Web page addresses will follow each section. Look for a profile on each opponent 1-2 days before the tip-off.

    The Team

    The Golden Gophers enter Sunday’s game with a 15-0 record, and are the only undefeated NCAA Division I team. Currently ranked #6 in the nation, the Golden Gophers are 4-0 in the Big Ten, having defeated Michigan, Northwestern, Iowa, and Illinois. The game against Northwestern was the only Big Ten game the Golden Gophers have played on the road.

    Minnesota’s 14-player roster is packed with home-grown talent (11 players hail from Minnesota) and balanced in terms of experience with four seniors, three juniors (including two transfers who will be eligible next season), four sophomores, and three freshmen. The Golden Gophers have a deep rotation, as eight players average at least eleven minutes of court time per game. Scoring is also balanced on the squad, as each of those eight players net at least 4.3 points per game.

    As a squad, the Golden Gophers are exceptionally talented offensively, shooting 52.8% from the field, 37.0% from three-point range, and 74.4% from the free throw line in all games. Their scoring average for all games 78.1 points per game; they average around 18 assists and 16 turnovers per game in all games. These numbers drop slightly in Big Ten play, but they remain excellent: 50% from the field, 34.1% from 3-point range, 70.3% from the free throw line. They average 71.2 points, 18 assists, and 15 turnovers in Big Ten play, too. While Minnesota’s squad is high-scoring, it isn’t necessarily a 3-point shooting team: the Golden Gophers average just 11 shots from beyond the arc per game.

    Defensively, Minnesota has improved greatly over squads from previous years, especially with forcing turnovers. Opponents make 19 miscues per game in all games, while Big Ten foes cough up the ball an average of 22 times each contest. The Golden Gophers average almost 10 steals and 5 blocks through all games, and over 12 steals and just less than 5 blocks in Big Ten play. While opponents’ shooting percentages from the field remain in the 38% range both for all games and Big Ten-only games, Minnesota’s Big Ten opponents are making an almost unheard-of 44.7% of their 3-point attempts. When their opponents do miss, however, it’s fairly likely that a Golden Gopher will corral the rebound. Although their dominance is less pronounced in conference play, the Golden Gophers have outrebounded their opponents by an average of almost nine per game overall.

    The Minnesota women’s basketball team’s official website can be found at: http://www.gophersports.com/Sports/sport.asp?sport_name=Basketball&sport_id=wBasket

    The Players

    Look for the ball to be often in the hands of senior guard Lindsay Whalen, who leads the team both in points and assists and is second in steals. Lindsay, a Kodak All-American last year, scored a career-high 41 points against Purdue in 2002 and looks primed to do well this year: she has made almost 58% of all her shots, 44.7% of her three-pointers, 81.3% of her free throws, and averages 22.3 points and about 5.5 assists per game. Lindsay has just passed the 2,000 point and 500 assist plateaus for her career, and needs only 33 more points to be the program's all-time leading scorer.

    The Golden Gophers' frontcourt is stabilized by junior Janel McCarville, who has blossomed defensively this year, leading the Big Ten in rebounding (10.1 per game) and ranking in the top 5 in both steals (40 total) and blocked shots (41 total). Janel’s no slouch on the offensive end, either, making 65.3% of her field goals and averaging 16.1 points per game in all games. The 6’2” McCarville, who was the Big Ten freshman of the year two years ago, has more than 1,000 career points and 650 career rebounds. She provides a solid second scorer to keep opponents from completely focusing on Whalen.

    Lindsay Whalen’s bio on the Golden Gophers’ official website can be found at: http://www.gophersports.com/Sports/player.asp?player_id=1290&sport_id=wbasket

    Janel McCarville’s bio on the Golden Gophers’ official website can be found at: http://www.gophersports.com/Sports/player.asp?player_id=1604&sport_id=wbasket

    The Questionnaire Replies by senior forward Kadidja Andersson

    Kadidja's replies to the questionnaire will be posted at a later date.

    The Game

    Both rosters are deep and senior leadership should keep the squads focused and unharried on the floor. Completely stopping Lindsay Whalen isn't an option because even if her scoring is down, her passing gets her other teammates involved. Completely stopping Shereka Wright isn't an option either because her field goal shooting percentages are up this year, including 3-point percentage, and she continually gets to the foul line on her quick-as-a-blink drives. At center, Emily uses her strength and footwork well against thinner posts like KSU's Ohlde and NU's Kwasinski, but McCarville may be just as physical down low.

    Purdue is selling upper-arena general seating tickets for $1 apiece for Sunday’s game against Minnesota. With the effort to “Pack the Mack,” it’s clear that many personnel realize that the #10 v. #6 showdown is an important one for the Boilermakers to win and that loud, vocal crowd support will be important for the 1 p.m. game. Already trailing Minnesota by one game in the loss column, Purdue can make things more interesting in conference play by winning on Sunday: they don’t play the Golden Gophers again during the regular season while Minnesota has two games apiece left against Ohio State, Michigan State, and co-league leader Penn State.


As news organizations move their stories to an archive, some of the links listed above may become inactive

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