Banham back after health scare and ready to 'go, go, go'

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 10, 2012 - 12:07 AM

The guard aims to improve on her stellar freshman season.

hide

Gophers point guard Rachel Banham

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The first emotion she felt was fear. When Rachel Banham woke up in the middle of the night this past July, gasping for breath through the searing pain in her chest, she worried she had a heart condition.

Tests showed that the Gophers sophomore had a blood clot in her lung, which could be treated with medication. But the relief of that diagnosis soon gave way to concern about whether Banham would be fully recovered by the start of basketball season. "At first, the doctor told me it would take three to six months,'' said the point guard, last season's Big Ten Freshman of the Year. "When you hear six months, you're like, 'That's halfway through the season!' I was so mad. That's the only thing I kept asking about.''

After being prohibited for 14 weeks from activities that involved physical contact, Banham got the all-clear on Oct. 23. She is not in peak condition for Saturday's season opener against Washington State at Williams Arena, nor did she get to work on everything she wanted to accomplish over the summer. But she will begin the next chapter in her Gophers career right on time, and for now, that's good enough.

Gophers coach Pam Borton said that even as Banham works to regain her fitness and timing, she remains the most vital cog in her team's offense. With a deeper and more versatile roster surrounding her, Banham expects to improve on a stellar rookie season in which she scored a team-high 16.1 points per game and led the Gophers in defensive rebounds and minutes played.

"I missed a chunk of time to work on getting better at some things, but I don't think it set me too far behind,'' said Banham, the only underclassman named to the preseason All-Big Ten team chosen by the league's coaches last month. "I still have the same goals for myself and the team. I want to be on the All-Big Ten first team and compete for Big Ten player of the year, and I want us to have a lot of wins and get to the NCAA tournament.

"Having to sit out was the worst. I just want to get going again and put all that behind me.''

While Borton noted that many players develop a deeper appreciation for the game after being sidelined with health issues, she can't imagine Banham loving basketball any more than she already did. Her enthusiasm, skills and instincts made her a natural leader even as a freshman, earning her the title of co-captain this season with junior Micaella Riche.

Borton anticipates that the confidence and experience gained through her heavy freshman workload will allow Banham's leadership to bloom further in her sophomore year. Her role in the offense will expand, as well, as Borton plans to occasionally move her to shooting guard to give her more opportunities to score. The coach also found a silver lining in Banham's illness: The knee pain that troubled her late last season was eased considerably by three months away from full-speed practices.

"She's always ready to go, but she plays better when she's fresh,'' said Borton, whose Gophers finished 19-17 last season and won the postseason Women's Basketball Invitational championship. "I'm sure she wanted to work on her game more, or get in the best shape of her life over the summertime. But I think she's really going to take a pounding this year, and maybe the extra rest helped her. She's feeling really, really good about where she is right now.''

Especially compared to where she was in July. The day after her 19th birthday, Banham experienced chest pains and saw a doctor, who found no evidence of heart trouble.

After waking up struggling to breathe, she went to the hospital. Banham spent a couple of days there -- with visits from Borton and her teammates -- as the clot was discovered and she began treatment. She took blood-thinning medication for three months and was forced to remain inactive for a time because of breathing difficulty and pain.

Once those symptoms disappeared, Banham was allowed to resume such noncontact workouts as weightlifting, running and solo drills. She was disappointed that she had to abandon one offseason goal -- solidifying her defense -- and frustrated by having to watch practice from the sidelines. When she returned, though, Banham quickly made up for lost time. She scored a team-high 22 points in the Gophers' exhibition opener, a victory over Concordia (St. Paul) played only eight days after she was cleared to practice, and a team-best 20 as the Gophers defeated Minnesota State Mankato.

"What she went through was scary,'' senior guard Leah Cotton said. "But she's definitely a fighter. She has such a positive attitude on the court; when things aren't going her way, she finds a way to make them go her way. And she came back hungry.''

Last year, Banham said, her first college games felt so challenging that she didn't know how she was going to adapt. She finished the season as a member of the All-Big Ten second team and all-freshman team and scored 580 points, third-most of any freshman in the country and the seventh-highest single-season total in Gophers history.

From the moment it ended, she couldn't wait to get back to work. The pent-up desire from her interrupted summer made her longing all the sharper, leaving Banham counting the days until Saturday's opener.

"When I'm playing now, I just want to go, go, go,'' she said. "Sometimes, I'm going too fast. I'm just really, really excited to be back.''

  • U WOMEN PREVIEW GOPHERS VS. WASHINGTON STATE

    Noon today • Williams Arena • No TV (1500-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago 11/27/14 11:30 AM
Detroit
Philadelphia 11/27/14 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 11/27/14 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Atlanta 106 FINAL
Washington 102
Golden State 114 FINAL
Miami 97
Detroit 86 FINAL
Milwaukee 98
Sacramento 99 FINAL
New Orleans 89
Chicago 109 FINAL
Denver 114
Winnipeg 4 FINAL
Columbus 2
Ottawa 3 FINAL(SO)
St. Louis 2
Los Angeles 3 FINAL(SO)
Nashville 4
Edmonton 2 FINAL
Dallas 3
Colorado 4 FINAL(OT)
Arizona 3
New Jersey 0 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Calgary 2 FINAL
Anaheim 3
Fresno State 52 FINAL
East Carolina 58
Morgan State 73 FINAL
Elon 74
Purdue 82 FINAL
Missouri 61
Hawaii 62 FINAL
Marist 55
Liberty 57 FINAL
North Florida 77
MD-Eastern Shore 55 FINAL
Bucknell 58
Western Carolina 70 FINAL
Georgia State 85
BYU 121 FINAL
Chaminade 85
Evansville 62 FINAL
Green Bay 64
Alabama 76 FINAL
Arizona State 71
UT Martin 74 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 56
SE Missouri St 54 FINAL
Bowling Green 62
NC Central 50 FINAL
Cincinnati 59
Fair-Dickinson 47 FINAL
Columbia 57
Citadel 55 FINAL
Florida State 66
Houston 63 FINAL
Harvard 84
William Peace 71 FINAL
High Point 88
Texas-Arlington 44 FINAL
Kentucky 92
St Francis-NY 60 FINAL
La Salle 73
Boston Univ 68 FINAL
New Hampshire 75
Chicago State 57 FINAL
Oakland 70
Ark-Pine Bluff 60 FINAL
Ohio 69
Hartford 54 FINAL
Quinnipiac 50
Saint Peters 68 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Jackson State 71 FINAL
St Bonaventure 79
Long Island 70 FINAL
Saint Josephs 74
Hofstra 70 FINAL
South Florida 71
Western Ky 61 FINAL
Stony Brook 71
Loyola-Maryland 37 FINAL
Syracuse 70
Penn 67 FINAL
Temple 76
Detroit 82 FINAL
Toledo 79
Tennessee St 36 FINAL
Virginia 79
Northern Iowa 73 FINAL
Virginia Tech 54
Western Ill 49 FINAL
William & Mary 83
Ohio Valley 54 FINAL
Wofford 82
Toccoa Falls 40 FINAL
Presbyterian 63
Mount Ida 57 FINAL
UMass Lowell 102
Kansas State 68 FINAL
Arizona 72
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Army 80
Central Arkansas 67 FINAL
Char Southern 80
Howard 68 FINAL
UMBC 54
VA Commonwealth 77 FINAL
Oregon 63
Arkansas 78 FINAL
SMU 72
Jacksonville St 67 FINAL
Alabama A&M 61
TX A&M-CC 38 FINAL
Bradley 52
Eastern Ill 53 FINAL
Creighton 75
St Xavier 76 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 87
Northern Ariz 53 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 65
Nebraska Omaha 67 FINAL
Nebraska 80
Akron 72 FINAL
Penn State 78
NC A&T 54 FINAL
Saint Louis 57
Columbia International 55 FINAL
SC State 92
Troy 70 FINAL
Southern Miss 72
St Francis-PA 46 FINAL
Texas 78
Northwestern St 64 FINAL
Texas Tech 75
Loyola-Chicago 71 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 57
Southern U 59 FINAL
Tulane 74
Norfolk State 53 FINAL
Vanderbilt 63
Jarvis Christian 65 FINAL
Abilene Christian 91
MN-Crookston 63 FINAL
North Dakota St 64
Lamar 63 FINAL
Arkansas State 58
IUPUI 60 FINAL
Drake 73
San Francisco 47 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 62
Miami-Florida 77 FINAL
Charlotte 74
Air Force 53 FINAL
Colorado 68
Boise State 86 FINAL
Idaho 75
Louisiana 76 FINAL
Oral Roberts 52
Buffalo 80 FINAL
Grand Canyon 64
Maryland 72 FINAL
Iowa State 63
Northwestern 55 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 46
Bristol University 63 FINAL
Sacramento St 97
Villanova 60 FINAL
Michigan 55
Pittsburgh 57 FINAL
San Diego St 74
Cal State Fullerton 49 FINAL
USC 53
Delaware 47 FINAL
Stanford 84
Ohio U 24 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 21
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Belmont 55 FINAL
Kent State 58
Robert Morris 75 FINAL
Coppin State 58
UMKC 48 FINAL
Western Ill 71
Manhattan 48 FINAL
La Salle 61
UC Santa Barbara 34 FINAL
Arizona 61
Santa Clara 69 FINAL
LSU 67
Tulsa 67 FINAL
Texas Southern 64
SE Missouri St 57 FINAL
Ole Miss 58
Air Force 35 FINAL
Army 79
Towson 59 FINAL
UMBC 54
St Bonaventure 56 FINAL
Penn State 54
Texas-El Paso 43 FINAL
Kansas State 72
Cheyney 38 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 63
Johnson C. Smith 45 FINAL
NC A&T 76
Winthrop 71 FINAL
NC Central 63
USC Upstate 50 FINAL
SC State 60
Quinnipiac 52 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 112
Buffalo 54 FINAL
(8) Duke 88
Washington St 74 FINAL
Hampton 60
Bryant 67 FINAL
Brown 60
Vermont 75 FINAL
Central Conn St 77
St Francis-NY 50 FINAL
NJIT 57
(21) Rutgers 81 FINAL
Wagner 53
IUPU-Ft Wayne 63 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 90
Fairleigh Dickinson 66 FINAL
Monmouth 71
Jacksonville 59 FINAL
UCF 71
SIU-Edwardsville 76 FINAL
IUPUI 87
Duquesne 89 FINAL
Howard 63
Fordham 49 FINAL
Delaware 44
Saint Josephs 63 FINAL
Drexel 76
Liberty 62 FINAL
Elon 73
New Hampshire 39 FINAL
Penn 74
Valparaiso 65 FINAL
Akron 100
Grambling 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 97
Western Ky 67 FINAL
(12) Louisville 89
Arizona State 65 FINAL
Miami-Florida 61
Charleston Southern 64 FINAL
Florida 92
Georgia Southern 52 FINAL
(22) Georgia 93
Tenn Tech 67 FINAL
Mercer 73
Hillsdale 56 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 73
Ohio U 77 FINAL
Northern Ky 38
Gardner-Webb 69 FINAL
Appalachian St 77
Bucknell 54 FINAL
Youngstown St 69
Lafayette 66 FINAL
Rider 48
Lehigh 70 FINAL
Saint Peters 58
George Mason 79 FINAL
Navy 84
High Point 57 FINAL
Davidson 76
Old Dominion 69 FINAL
Virginia Tech 62
SW Assemblies 57 FINAL
Houston Baptist 85
LSU-Alexandria 58 FINAL
Northwestern St 86
Wofford 55 FINAL
Jacksonville St 70
ULM 46 FINAL
(25) Miss State 80
Morgan State 43 FINAL
(20) Oklahoma St 73
Lyon 43 FINAL
Central Arkansas 59
Lamar 72 FINAL
Texas State 79
Mobile 47 FINAL
SE Louisiana 74
St Edwards 56 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 65
Lipscomb 71 FINAL
Murray State 74
UAB 61 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 51
Northern Iowa 45 FINAL
(17) Iowa 73
Southern U 62 FINAL
Minnesota 107
Harvard 79 FINAL
Holy Cross 76
Colorado 77 FINAL
Denver 49
Portland State 56 FINAL
Oregon 63
Montana State 64 FINAL
San Diego 79
Idaho 77 FINAL
Wyoming 66
Pepperdine 76 FINAL
Cal Poly 69
Long Beach St 68 FINAL
Boise State 50
Nevada 48 FINAL
San Francisco 63
Yale 63 FINAL
Alaska-Anchorage 72
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 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pm

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will the Gophers bring home The Axe?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close