Rachel Banham of the Gophers is one of 30 players up for the Naismith Trophy. The junior point guard from Lakeville has some good statistics but, based on recent history, she had no chance of winning it.
The reason? Her team isn't that good.
The Gophers, even after a three-game winning streak, are only 16-9 overall and 5-6 in Big Ten play, which puts them in seventh place.
Banham, for the most part, has done about as much as she can for Minnesota. She leads the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 22.1 points per game. Leads the conference in three-point shooting, 47.3 percent, and is tied for the most threes made, 69. She has scored 20 points or more 15 times.
But she plays on what looks like an NCAA bubble team unless the Gophers can stay on their current roll.
Naismith Trophy winners, in contrast, play on teams that win conference and national titles. To wit:
Eight of the past 14 winners have played on NCAA championship teams. One was on an NCAA runner-up and three others on Final Four teams.
The two times a Naismith Trophy winner wasn't on a Final Four team were in 2013, when Brittney Griner won the award for a second time after leading Baylor to the NCAA title the year before, and in 2007 when Lindsey Harding of Duke won it. The Blue Devils were 32-2 that season but were upset by Rutgers in a regional semifinal.
Here is a look at the recent Naismith Trophy winners since 2000:
2013: Brittney Griner, Baylor ... Bears were 34-2 but were upset by Louisville in regional semifinal.
2012: Griner. ... Led Baylor to NCAA title.
2011: Maya Moore, UConn ... Huskies lost in Final Four
2010: Tina Charles, UConn ... Led Huskies to NCAA title
2009: Moore. ... Led Huskies to NCAA title
2008: Candace Parker, Tennessee ... Led Lady Vols to NCAA title
2007: Lindsey Harding, Duke ... Led 32-2 team
2006: Seimona Augustus, LSU ... Tigers lost in Final Four
2005: Augustus ... Tigers lost in Final Four
2004: Diana Taurasi, UConn ... Led Huskies to NCAA title
2003: Taurasi ... Led Huskies to NCAA title
2002: Sue Bird, UConn ... Led Huskies to NCAA title
2001: Ruth Riley, Notre Dame ... Led Irish to NCAA title
2000: Tamika Catchings, Tennessee ... Lady Vols lost in NCAA title game
The field of 30 candidates will be narrowed to four finalists in March. The Gophers have had two players make that short: Lindsay Whalen in 2003 and '04 and Janel McCarville in 2005.