CHICAGO – Rachel Banham is back with the Gophers women’s basketball team this season, playing a fifth year after her 2014-15 season ended when she tore a ligament in her right knee last December.
Banham was last year’s Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year, but her season ended nine games in when she tore her anterior cruciate ligament vs. North Dakota. She returns needing 107 points to break Lindsay Whalen’s Gophers scoring record of 2,285 points.
This season, she is projected to play some power forward in a small lineup under second-year coach Marlene Stollings. Asked whether she thought she’d ever play that spot — or all four positions in college except for center — she said Thursday at Big Ten Media Day: “No, not at all, but I like it. We started practice and I thought, ‘I can do this, I’m kind of buff.’ It’s fun because it totally switches it up for me.
“When we play a team with two posts, one of them has to guard me — that’ll mess people up. Maybe we shouldn’t say that yet. Maybe we should keep that under wraps.”
They also said …
The Gophers’ Shayne Mullaney and Carlie Wagner, debating about how many games it will take Banham to break Whalen’s record:
Mullaney: “She’s going to make it in four.”
Wagner: “It’s totally attainable for Rachel to get it in three games.”
Banham: “It’s great that they think that, but we’ll see how it goes.”
Wagner: “We believe in her.”
What about Wagner, who averaged 12.1 points per game a year ago as a freshman, ultimately breaking Banham’s record?
Mullaney: “Yeah, how many games?”
Wagner: “4,000 games.”
• Wagner on the four-guard look: “We’re going to be a hard team to guard this year just because we’re going to have five girls that are going to be able to shoot the three. Literally every person that’s on the floor will be able to shoot. When there are four guards on the floor, you’ve got to worry about this and that — I think we’re going to be really fast this year.”
• Stollings on a Gophers frontcourt that lost Amanda Zahui B. and Shae Kelley to the WNBA over the offseason: “It’s absolutely up in the air. It’s going to take us probably another month or so to see who is going to settle into those spots, and it could continue to be competitive throughout the season, which, we wouldn’t mind that as well.”