Marcus R. Fuller of the Pioneer Press reports that the Minnesota Gophers are expecting things this year after winning the 2012 WBI title last year.
Their optimism is buoyed by the promise of sophomore Rachel Banham, who is looking to continue her quest to become the best player in Minnesota Gophers history after spending the offseason recovering from a pulmonary embolism.
For Banham, 19, who eclipsed former Gophers All-American Lindsay Whalen’s freshman scoring record, the offseason was supposed to be about setting out to be the best basketball player in program history — even better than Whalen…If Banham returns to her All-Big Ten form, the team goal of 20 wins is a lot more attainable. So is her individual goal of being the best Gophers player of all time.
As a team that won 15 regular season games last season and returns the top of their rotation, getting to 20 wins this season is certainly a reasonable next step especially assuming Banham improves in her sophomore year after getting herself back into game shape. Taking the next step of making the 2013 NCAA Tournament might require more than that: the Gophers were 6-10 in the Big Ten last season, which didn’t help their tournament resume that included a 122 RPI. Finding a few quality wins in conference play would go a long way to keeping their name in the national conversation come tournament time.
The Gophers will play their home opener against the Washington State Cougars this Saturday.