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BEST BUY CLASSIC NOON--GOPHERS VS. WASHINGTON STATE • 2 P.M. -- VILLANOVA VS. SOUTH DAKOTA STATE • WILLIAMS ARENA • NO TV • 1500-AM

Preview: Gophers women's basketball vs. Washington State

  • November 9, 2012 - 8:53 PM

Gophers update: F Katie Loberg will not play this weekend. The senior is nearing the end of a three-week healing period after an arthroscopic procedure on her knee; she is expected to be back for next weekend's Subway Classic at Williams Arena. The projected starting lineup for the season opener includes guards Rachel Banham, Sari Noga and Mikayla Bailey and forwards Kionna Kellogg and Micaella Riche. Coach Pam Borton calls Riche the Gophers' most improved player; after a strong ending to last season, the junior returned fitter and slimmer and had 19 points and 12 rebounds in an exhibition victory over Minnesota State Mankato. F/G Kayla Hirt, who missed last season with a knee injury, is expected to get significant minutes off the bench in her Gophers debut.

Cougars update: Washington State, which was 13-20 last season (5-13 Pac-12, 11th place), opens its season after exhibition victories over Simon Fraser and Western Oregon. Those 13 victories were the most for the program since 1995-96. Three starters and nine letterwinners return for a team picked to finish 10th in the league this season, including 6-5 center Carly Noyes, who averaged seven points and three rebounds last year while blocking 26 shots. Two Minnesotans are on the roster: junior F/C Hana Potter (Hopkins HS) and freshman F Whitney Tinjum (Chisago Lakes HS). Potter played in all 33 games last season, averaging 10 minutes and 2.8 points.

Wildcats update: Senior forward Laura Sweeney, named to the preseason all-Big East honorable mention team, is among four starters and nine letterwinners from a team that went 19-15 and advanced to the third round of the women's NIT last season. Sweeney led the Wildcats last season with 14.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game; she also recorded 52 steals and 39 blocked shots and made the all-Big East second team. Villanova was picked to finish 10th of 15 teams in the Big East preseason coaches' poll.

Jackrabbits update: Last season, in their eighth year at the NCAA Division I level, the Jackrabbits finished 24-9 and won the Summit League title with a 16-2 record. They lost to Purdue in the first round of the NCAA tournament. SDSU was picked to repeat as league champs this season, and senior F/G Ashley Eide (10.9 points, 4.8 rebounds in 2011-12) was named to the preseason all-Summit League team. Seven players are from Minnesota, including senior F Leah Dietel of Jordan, who averaged 19.2 minutes per game last season and started 20 of 33 games.

RACHEL BLOUNT

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