Welcome to Fast Break, a blog that will keep you updated on Gophers women's basketball.
As we enter the final week of the regular season, lots of people are still talking about Amanda Zahui B.'s monster performances last week. The Gophers center was honored by espnW on Monday, chosen as its national women's basketball player of the week after amassing 66 points, 56 rebounds and nine blocks in two giant victories against No. 13 Iowa and Michigan.
Zahui's feats drew tweets from NFL star Larry Fitzgerald and Gophers legends Lindsay Whalen and Janel McCarville, and those massive numbers--39 points and a Big-Ten record 29 rebounds against Iowa, 27 points and 27 boards against Michigan--wowed people who wouldn't normally pay attention to women's basketball. Monday, she offered another surprise when she was asked what she thought about those numbers.
"You can do better,'' Zahui said she thought to herself. "Last game, I accidentally glanced up at where my name popped up (on the Williams Arena ribbon board), and it said I had 26 (rebounds). I really tried to get 29.
"That's the goal, always trying to become better. If I set a goal or set a record, then I need to break it.''
The Gophers, now 22-6, finish the regular season with games Tuesday at Nebraska and Sunday at Iowa. Gophers coach Marlene Stollings believes one more victory would solidify the Gophers' claim to an NCAA tournament invitation, and the team is battling for one of those all-important top-four seeds in the Big Ten tournament. With 14 teams in the league now, the new format gives the top four teams byes into Friday's quarterfinals.
Stollings said after Saturday's win over the Wolverines that Zahui, a sophomore, "has the opportunity to become a global phenom'' by the time she completes her Gophers career. Monday, Stollings said she had challenged her entire team to elevate its game now that the stakes are increasing, and Zahui followed through.
"I definitely had to play more aggressive, and just be that player that takes on that bigger role,'' Zahui said. "I don’t feel I had played very well the games before these two. I told myself, 'You have to stand up. We're getting closer to March.'''