Gophers women’s basketball coach Lindsay Whalen has a present for her program, to be delivered Friday the 13th:
Her jersey number.
Whalen, as any fan of hers knows, wore No. 13. She did at Hutchinson High School, the University of Minnesota and in the WNBA. Her Gophers and Lynx jerseys hang in the rafters at Williams Arena and Target Center, respectively.
That banner in the Barn will stay. But Whalen is making her number available, going forward, to the right recruit who wants it. No Gopher has worn it since Whalen left in 2004.
“We’ll see from here on out, who comes in, who wants it,” Whalen said. “I think it will be cool. There will be a bond you’ll have with that player who wears the number after you.”
There are a number of banners hanging at Williams Arena. Technically, those banners honor the player and the jersey but do not necessarily mean the number is retired.
There are two with No. 13, Whalen and Deb Hunter. Also: 1 (Rachel Banham), 4 (Janel McCarville), 21 (Linda Roberts), 42 (Carol Ann Shudlick) and 44 (Laura Coenen).
Jasmine Brunson, who graduated in the spring, wore 21; freshman Caroline Strande is wearing it this season. Sophomore guard Jasmine Powell is wearing No. 4.
When incoming freshman Alexia Smith was given No. 1 this fall, it might have come as a surprise to some, as she becomes only the third in the program to wear it, the first since Banham left in 2016. And it got Whalen thinking.
Why should she be any different?
“I’m ready to get it back out there,” Whalen said.
It probably won’t happen this season, though. The roster is set and the uniforms printed. But it will be out there sooner rather than later. The thought of wearing that number in the Barn would have to be an attraction to the right recruit, right?
“When you’re wearing the number of someone who’s been honored, I think it’s something that should bring a little extra motivation, a little extra pride,” Whalen said. “There are already two 13s hanging from the rafters; let’s see if we can add a third.”