For Gophers' Buford, leadership is deeply ingrained

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 19, 2011 - 1:04 AM

The Gophers captain has taken lessons taught by experience and has learned the skill of passing them on.

hide

Kiara Buford (30) against Iowa State in December 2009.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Stepping forward as a leader always came naturally to Kiara Buford. Still, the Gophers guard believed leadership was a skill that could be improved through study and observation, just as she continually worked to upgrade her abilities on the basketball court.

So when Gophers women's basketball coach Pam Borton gave the team some reading material on the subject, Buford eagerly soaked it up.

"I'm a people person, and I have a positive outlook, which is how it started," said Buford, a senior. "Then it became something I worked on. The coaches were very specific in telling me how they needed me to grow in that area, and I wanted to learn all the things that go into being a great leader."

Consider it done. While Buford adapts to a different role on the floor this season, her status as mentor, confidante, coaches' liaison and take-charge captain has become even more solid. For all she gives the Gophers in terms of pure basketball skill, Borton considers those other gifts just as instrumental to the team's fortunes.

The Gophers open their home schedule Saturday and Sunday with the Subway Classic at Williams Arena. Buford, in her second season as captain, wants nothing more than to put the program back on track -- and given the way she has blossomed, Borton is certain she will do everything in her power to make it happen.

"During the recruiting process, we knew she had leadership ability," Borton said. "Kiara is a respected player on the court. She's a role model. She's a person other players can go and talk to, and she's a great communicator who can explain things to younger players.

"She's exceeded my expectations. She was a good leader last year, and she's taken 10 steps forward to become a great leader this year."

Buford has had a close-up view of the Gophers at their peak. She was a ball girl during the Lindsay Whalen-Janel McCarville era, and she was so in awe of the way they rocked Williams Arena that she felt nervous just tossing the ball to them.

At one time, Buford planned to go away to school. But as she led St. Paul Central to a pair of state Class 4A titles in 2007 and 2008, her familiarity with the Gophers program and its coaches led her to stay. Her outgoing personality quickly established her as a guiding light for her team, and a challenging sophomore season taught her to assert herself in hard times as well as good ones.

A 10-5 start turned sour when the Gophers won just three of their last 15 games in 2009-10. Maintaining her optimism, taking charge and being someone her teammates could count on suddenly became much harder for Buford. But she knew her team needed those qualities more than ever, so she became determined not to let them down.

Her development as a leader that season made Buford want to explore her potential even further. In leadership training sessions, the books that the players read and discussed taught her to focus on others, giving her new insight on team dynamics. That has made Buford a stronger and more influential leader, particularly among younger teammates such as freshman guard Rachel Banham.

"I watch everything she does," Banham said. "The way she talks to us, the way she does things in games, she just has a presence. I want to be like her."

With Banham stepping in at point guard, Buford will concentrate more on scoring and defense this season. She leads the Gophers with 14.3 points and 3.3 assists per game, and while she still performs spot duty at the point, she said she is more comfortable in her new role.

As for her other role as captain, Buford plans to keep pushing herself -- and her team -- as far as they can go.

"I want to be remembered as a great leader, a hard worker, someone who could be looked up to," she said. "And I want to get the most out of what we're capable of this season. I want to leave things on a good note."

  • related content

  • Subway Classic preview

    Saturday November 19, 2011

    SUBWAY CLASSICSaturday: Gophers vs. Binghamton, 1 p.m.; Nevada vs. North Dakota State, TBASunday: Games TBAWhere: Williams ArenaRadio: 1500ESPNGophers at a...

  • Nevada's travel troubles leave tourney schedule in disarray

    Saturday November 19, 2011

    A wildfire in Nevada led Friday to changes and uncertainty in the schedule for the Subway Classic women's basketball tournament this weekend at Williams Arena.

  • GOPHERS WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

    Up next: Binghamton • 1 p.m. Saturday • Williams Arena • No TV (1500 ESPN)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 3 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 2
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Dallas 117 FINAL
Orlando 92
New York 80 FINAL
Toronto 83
San Antonio 87 FINAL
Houston 96
Miami 104 FINAL
Memphis 98
Minnesota 113 FINAL
Chicago 112
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Utah 100
Sacramento 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Denver 112 FINAL
Golden State 119
Portland 99 FINAL
LA Clippers 89
Dallas 3 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Colorado 7
Carolina 3 FINAL
Edmonton 6
Columbus 1 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 FINAL
Chicago 2
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who wins and loses in football this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close