It only took a day, coach Lindsay Whalen said.
The Gophers women’s basketball team’s short run in the Big Ten Conference tournament ended with a loss to Indiana. And while it likely would have taken at least a run to the tournament final to qualify for the NCAA tournament, knowing that goal was out of reach was hard.
For about a day.
But once the coaching staff laid out what could be accomplished in the WNIT tournament — which, for the Gophers (20-10), starts Friday at Williams Arena vs. Northern Iowa (20-12) — the players got on board.
“I just couldn’t think of the next game until it actually came,’’ senior guard Kenisha Bell said. “But, when we learned who we would play, I can get over it a little bit. We wanted to be in the NCAA tournament, but it’s time to focus on this.’’
The ability to play at home at least once and perhaps more is a plus. The opportunity for a team that rebounded from a 2-7 start to finish 9-9 in the Big Ten to play together is a blessing.
“We’re going to … make the case of why we should have been in the NCAA tournament,’’ sophomore guard Destiny Pitts said.
It’s also a chance for the younger players to grow. As Whalen told her team, the last two WNIT champions — Michigan and Indiana — both came from the Big Ten and both are in the NCAA tournament this year.