The Gophers women’s basketball team opens its season at 7 p.m. tonight at Williams Arena with an exhibition game against St. Cloud State.
Minnesota lost six of its last seven games last year and finished 4-12 in the Big Ten.
Head coach Pam Borton said she believes this year’s squad has the talent and experience to improve upon its disappointing finish to 2010-11.
“I’m very excited about this team,” Borton said. “We are a lot more athletic, we are quicker and we are more versatile.”
The team will be put to the test early this season.
Before opening Big Ten play, the Gophers play a tough non-conference schedule that includes No. 1 Baylor, an Elite 8 team last year.
“If you want to be the best, you have to play the best, and I think we are getting tested right from the beginning,” Borton said.
Minnesota will rely on seniors Kiara Buford, Jackie Voigt and Brianna Mastey for a stable presence through the tough schedule. The team returns 11 players from a year ago.
Buford was a top-five scorer in the Big Ten last year despite playing point guard. She will move to her more natural position of shooting guard as freshman Rachel Banham takes over point guard duties.
A top-five national recruit at point guard and 2011 Minnesota Ms. Basketball winner, Banham may be the key to the Gophers’ success this season. She has drawn comparisons to former Gopher standout and current Minnesota Lynx champion Lindsay Whalen.
Borton said that Banham embraces those comparisons.
“I think when she hears she’s being compared to Whalen, she’s not a kid that says, ‘Oh my gosh, this is pressure,’ but she looks at it as an honor,” Borton said.
Freshman Kayla Hirt was another highly touted recruit coming to Minnesota, but she tore her ACL in a preseason practice and will miss the entire season.
UMN students have traveled to Florida colleges to collaborate with students on various projects.
When UMN students plan for a vacation, having trip cancellation travel insurance is a worthwhile commodity to check out.
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