Whalen, starting-over Gophers welcome heralded frosh class
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — With Minnesota’s gamers gathered in entrance of her earlier this month, coach Lindsay Whalen performed a grade-school-style experiment in constructing camaraderie.
Raise your hand, Whalen stated, in case you performed final season with a teammate subsequent to them.
“Nobody was able to raise their hand,” stated Whalen, who’s begun her fifth yr operating this system she as soon as starred for.
That’s as a result of the Gophers solely had three gamers return from the 2021-22 workforce that went 15-18 amid one more spherical of rising pains. Jasmine Powell left midstream in January, Sara Scalia transferred to Indiana after the season and graduations and the departures of deep reserves led to a wholesale turnover of the roster.
Rose Micheaux is the one returner who noticed important taking part in time. Katie Borowicz and Maggie Czinano, the youthful sister of Iowa star Monika Czinano, joined Micheaux within the loyal trio. All three gamers are solely of their second yr.
“For three or four weeks it was just us and them, just working every day, so we were able to work on a foundation that we could carry into the summer when we had the freshmen arrive with the transfers,” Whalen stated on Wednesday at Big Ten media day at Target Center.
The good news for the Gophers is their incoming class is perhaps the most effective in program historical past, ranked tenth within the nation by ESPN. The 4 freshmen signees are all from Minnesota, and the group goes to be counted on closely from the beginning.
“It means so much skill-wise, mentally wise,” Micheaux stated. “We know we’re not going to have to be those leaders who have to be like, ‘Oh, you have to do this, this and this, because you’re doing this wrong.’ We know they’re going to be responsible enough to hold their own and know what’s right from wrong.”
Whalen and her employees have had the Gophers scrimmage in observe greater than regular this month, attempting to immerse the newbies in as many sport conditions as attainable. Off the courtroom, there have been loads of team-building actions and informal get-togethers within the time because the newcomers arrived on campus.
The Gophers have additionally ramped up their time — “more than ever before,” Whalen stated — with the athletic division’s sports activities psychologist to assist construct chemistry and belief. The coaches participate in half of the classes. The others are players-only.
“We’re problem solving. We’re discussing. We’re sharing,” Whalen stated. “We kind of just try to talk to one another as people.”
Maggie Czinano, a 6-foot guard, appeared in solely 9 video games in mop-up time final season. She’s sure for a much bigger function, which excites each her and her older sister patrolling the submit at rival Iowa.
The groups solely meet as soon as this season, in Iowa on Dec. 10.
“I’m immediately calling switch on the screen,” Monika Czinano stated. “I’m immediately matching up on her, blocking her shot for sure.”
The natives of Watertown, Minnesota, about 35 miles west of Minneapolis, have relished their summer season coaching collectively and alternatives to swap scouting stories on different Big Ten foes.
“It’s a lot of fun to be able to work out with a sibling, especially when they have the same intensity and the same drive that you do,” Monika Czinano stated.
Rutgers employed Coquese Washington to exchange the retired C. Vivian Stringer after her outstanding 27-year run in New Jersey.
Washington was the top coach at Penn State from 2007-19. She spent one season as affiliate head coach at Oklahoma and two extra years in the identical function at Notre Dame earlier than returning to the Big Ten. She relying on that prior expertise within the convention to flatten the educational curve along with her new program.
And whereas she goals to satisfy the requirements set by Stringer, Washington stated the fashion of play on the courtroom won’t look the identical.
“Coach Stringer was known for great defense and low-scoring games. I kind of like to score a few more points, so the pace may be a little bit different,” Washington stated. “But I think the thing that will remain constant and consistent is the pursuit of excellence, the pursuit of championships, and loving and caring and nurturing our players off the court in a way that’s authentic and truly a positive representation of Rutgers athletics and Rutgers University.”
Illinois additionally has a brand new head coach as Shauna Green takes over this system after a six-year run at Dayton that included 5 Atlantic 10 titles and 4 NCAA Tournament appearances.
Green realizes the steep climb at a faculty that has completed greater than ninth place within the convention simply as soon as previously 15 seasons and hasn’t performed within the NCAA Tournament since 2003. But she stated her method along with her gamers gained’t change.
“Are we getting better possession by possession, day by day, drill to drill? Are we getting 1% better?” Green stated. “That was the same way last year when I had a veteran team knowing we were going to compete for a championship, or this year when we’re trying to rebuild a program.”
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