Newcomer Profile: Joanna Hedstrom

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Joanna Hedstrom is one of three freshmen on the University of Minnesota's 2013-14 roster. A 6-foot-1 guard from Minnetonka High School, Hedstrom is a nationally-ranked recruit who received a four-star ranking from ESPN.com, and she holds Minnetonka's school records for career points scored and assists. She talks about staying close to home to play for the Gophers, the team she's watched since she was a kid, as well as her biggest basketball influence and something few people know about her.

How is the adjustment to college life going for you? Is it pretty much what you expected it'd be like, or have there been some surprises?
My adjustment to the college life is going well! I enjoy my classes, living in an apartment, and meeting new people. There haven't been too many surprises, but my very busy schedule has taken a little getting used to.

Did you feel as though you were prepared for summer training with the team? What might you do differently next year now that you know what to expect?
I think I was mentally prepared for this summer, and ready to work hard and get something out of each workout. But, next year, I will definitely benefit from being physically stronger going into the summer and having one more year of experience.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the program at Minnesota?
What I enjoy most about being part of the Minnesota program are the people! I love my teammates, coaches and all the support that we receive as student-athletes to be successful. I'm excited for my career as a Gopher.

Being from Minnetonka, had you always wanted to play for the Golden Gophers? What were the biggest influences on your decision to stay close to home?
Yes, I have always wanted to play for the Gophers. I have been going to the Gopher camps since I was little, and going to the games with my mom and little sister for years. I was even a "Ball Girl" at one point, too! Because of this, I could always imagine myself at the U. Ultimately, I chose to stay close to home and attend the University of Minnesota because of the great coaching staff and the visions those coaches have for the basketball program and the opportunity of a great education through the Carlson School of Management and Honors Program.

What is something that hardly anyone knows about you?
I can dribble the basketball with my knees.

When you're away from basketball and your teammates, what do you enjoy doing most?
Other than basketball, I love spending time with my friends and family, reading, listening to music, and waterskiing at my cabin in the summers.

Do you have any routines or superstitions that you have to do before a game?
Before games I listen to music, get pumped with my teammates, and sometimes eat an apple or other light snack.

What are some artists or songs that are on your gameday playlist?
There is no one song that I listen to before games, but some artists that are on my gameday playlist include Drake, Macklemore, and Jay-Z.

How old were you when you started playing basketball, and what's your favorite basketball-related memory to this point?
I was in third grade when I first played on a team, but I remember dribbling a basketball in my driveway when I was even younger than that. My favorite basketball memory to-date is not a specific memory -- it's the ten years that I played AAU basketball. I played with Mikayla Bailey for nine years and Shayne Mullaney for one year, and in general, most of my best basketball memories are from AAU. I especially loved the competition, teammates, and traveling.

Who has been the biggest influence on your basketball career? And who is the player you admire most?
My parents have had the biggest impact on my basketball career. My dad developed me as a player by being an amazing coach and always rebounding for me, and my mom helped me with my basketball IQ and always taking me up to the gym to get better. The player I admire most is Courtney Vandersloot from the Chicago Sky. I love her passing ability and basketball IQ, as well as the way she is a leader on the floor. 

Do you have a nickname?
I was named after my Grandma Jo, so everyone who knows me well calls me Jo. Also, Amanda Zahui B. started calling me "Mojo" this summer. People from my high school team have called me "Nanners," and "Jojo" is another common one, too.

Borton Speaks at Northfield Fund-Raiser

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Minnesota head coach Pam Borton was one of several speakers at an important fund-raising event at Target Center on Saturday evening.

The "Links to the Past, Lynx to the Future" event served to help raise funds for a new basketball court and historical display as part of a new YMCA in the community where the sport of "Basket Ball" was first introduced in the state of Minnesota.

Max J. Exner was a friend and roommate of James Naismith, who is credited for founding the sport of basketball. When Exner moved to Northfield in 1892, he and his brother, Franz, are credited with first introducing the sport to Minnesotans. More importantly, the Exners taught the sport to the women of Carleton College, and women's basketball quickly spread across the state.

For the first time in history, Minnesota girls and women were participating in a team sport during an era that unfortunately lasted only 40 years. In the mid-1920's, state and national groups came to believe that intense competition posed the potential for negative effects on young women, and an entire generation of women were left with virtually no options for competitive sports for several decades until Title IX came into effect in 1972.

Northfield, home of Carleton College, now has the opportunity to build a YMCA community center, and key figures like Coach Borton, Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve, Timberwolves and Lynx majority owner Glen Taylor, and University of Minnesota Board of Regents member Peggy Lucas (also the granddaughter of Franz Exner and the grand niece of Max Exner) were on hand to lend their support.

Minnesota women's basketball radio analyst Lynnette Sjoquist, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, served as the event's emcee.

Back in the Classroom

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With the first few days of classes now behind them, we figured it'd be fun to ask Minnesota's two freshmen - Joanna Hedstrom and Stabresa McDaniel - as well as the Gophers' two seniors - Sari Noga and Micaella Riche - some questions about the first week of the 2013-14 academic calendar.

Tell us about your first week of classes. Has it been what you expected? Any funny/interesting stories?

Joanna Hedstrom: "My first week of school has been exciting! I have some really cool profs, and I'm excited to see how college compares to high school. A story from my first day is when I was introducing myself in my athlete class, and I was so nervous that I said, 'I play blasketball.' It was embarrassing!"

Stabresa McDaniel: "The first week of school has been pretty good so far. The classes are bigger, and you meet a lot of new people. The classes I take have been what I expected. We learn new fun and interesting topics that keep me engaged in class."

What class are you most looking forward to?

Joanna Hedstrom: "The class that I'm looking forward to the most is my honors public speaking class, because I want to get better at giving speeches. I'm also excited to meet some new people in my management courses through the Carlson school."

Stabresa McDaniel: "The class I'm looking forward to the most will have to be my lifetime health and wellness class. I enjoy the discussions that we have in class, and the new things we learn."

Tell us about your "last, first day of school."

Sari Noga: "I don't think it has quite hit me yet that it was my last first day. It has been about 16 years that I have gone to school, and I think I will be excited to be done, but know I will miss it, too."

Micaella Riche: "I was so ready to go! I know the process. I know the steps, and it's my seventh semester, so bring it on!!"

Is it difficult for you to believe that almost four years has gone by since you first arrived on campus?

Sari Noga: "No one can really prepare you for the statement of 'college goes by fast.' I really can't believe that almost 4 years of college has gone by. It literally feels like it was yesterday I was going to my first college class."

Micaella Riche: "It's unreal. People have always told me it goes by fast, but this is a whole new definition of 'fast'! My experience at Minnesota has been so amazing, and I've grown so much. I'm so blessed and grateful."

What's been one of your favorite classes?

Sari Noga: "One of my favorite classes in college was Death and Dying Across Cultures and Religions. I found it really interesting learning the different funeralization processes there were for each religion."

Micaella Riche: "My favorite classes have all been with professor (Stacy) Ingraham. Her classes are mainly discussion-oriented, and that's where I've found myself learning the most."

What are you majoring in, and what do you hope to do after graduation?

Sari Noga: "My major is mortuary science, and I plan to become an intern funeral director at a funeral home in Minnesota."

Micaella Riche: "I'm majoring in kinesiology, and I'm not sure yet (what I'll do for a career). I would like to play professionally, possibly overseas. Otherwise, I'd love to get certified as a personal trainer, or to get certified as a Yoga and Pilates instructor. Hopefully, one day I'll be able to start my own business to train high-profile clientele."

Do you have any other thoughts about your final year as an undergraduate?

Sari Noga: "I am excited for this school year. Between the practical courses I will be learning in my major, and starting my senior year of basketball, I am thrilled to see what this year has to offer."

Micaella Riche: "It's my last one, the home stretch, the '4th quarter!' Let's get this done. I'm ready for it!"

With this school year underway, the Gophers are hoping for continued success in the classroom. Last year, five members of the Golden Gophers were named to the Winter Academic All-Big Ten Team, including both Noga and Riché. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten honors, student-athletes must be letterwinners in at least their second academic year and carry a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or better.

During head coach Pam Borton's 11 seasons at Minnesota, her Golden Gopher players have recorded Academic All-Big Ten recognition 74 times, which is the most among all Big Ten Conference women's basketball programs. Additionally, Minnesota has earned a team GPA of at least 3.0 during every year of Borton's coaching tenure.

Whalen Inks Long-Term Deal With Lynx

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The Minnesota Lynx today announced the team has signed point guard and former Minnesota Gophers star Lindsay Whalen to a multi-year contract extension. Per team policy, terms of the deals were not released.


"We are extremely excited to have extended the contract of a franchise cornerstone and one of the best players in the WNBA," said Lynx Executive Vice President Roger Griffith. "Lindsay has become the top point guard in the league over the past several seasons and we are glad to have her playing in her home state of Minnesota. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to watch an outstanding individual like herself night in and out and we are thrilled that she's decided to continue her career with the Lynx." 

In her 10th WNBA season and fourth in a Lynx uniform, Whalen is having perhaps the best season of her career, averaging career-highs in both points (14.7 ppg) and assists (6.0 apg, 3rd in the league). Already the franchise leader in assists (740), Whalen has posted the four best single-season assist totals in franchise history in her four years with the Lynx. Entering Saturday's game against Seattle, she needs just nine more points to reach the 4,000-point plateau and become just the second player in league history with 4,000 points, 1,500 assists and 1,000 rebounds in a career (Becky Hammon). 

Thanks largely to Whalen's play, Minnesota has been one of the most dominant teams in the WNBA dating back to the start of the 2011 season, holding a league-best 77-21 record during that span, four wins shy of matching the three-year record held by Los Angeles (81, 2000-02). Minnesota (23-7) enters Saturday's game against Seattle with the best record in the WNBA, seeking to become just the third team in WNBA history to reach the Finals in three consecutive seasons. 

Single game tickets for the 2013 Lynx Playoffs presented by Medica Individual and Family Plans went on sale to the general public this morning. Ranging from $16 ($11 for season ticket members and $13 for groups of 10 or more) to $195 ($170 for season ticket members), tickets are available by calling the Lynx at 612-673-8400 or by visiting lynxbasketball.com/lynxtix. Playoff strips, which include tickets to all potential postseason home games, are also available for purchase for as low as $131, a discount of as much as 25% from the single-game price. Single-game prices are subject to change per market demand. 

While at the University of Minnesota, Whalen was a two-time Wade Trophy and Naismith Award finalist. As a senior, she was named to the Kodak All-America First Team, the USBWA All-America Second Team and the AP All-America Second Team. Whalen led Minnesota to its first Final Four Appearance in 2004, one of three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances for the Golden Gophers, before being selected fourth overall in the 2004 WNBA Draft.

She holds Minnesota career records for points scored, scoring average, games in double figures, free throws made and free throw percentage.

Gophers Volunteer at Wing Ding

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Go Gophers! Community service
Go Gophers!

Go Gophers!
University of Minnesota women's basketball captains Rachel Banham, Sari Noga and Micaella Riche took time out of their busy summer schedules to volunteer at the 20th Annual Wing Ding: A Benefit for Tubman, which earned them a note of appreciation from the Tubman organization itself.

Each year, local Twin Cities restaurants serve up all-you-can-eat chicken wings and desserts to raise money for Tubman, which is the state's largest provider of domestic violence services. Special for all who attended the benefit, was that Banham, Noga and Riche were just some of the special guests serving them their delicious dishes.

To learn more about Tubman, visit their website at tubman.org, and for more information on its annual Wing Ding, visit wingdingfling.com.

Fun on the Links

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Go Gophers! Hoops Scramble XI
Go Gophers!

Go Gophers!
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Now in its 11th year, Hoops Scramble continues to be a fun outing for all involved, which was evident on Friday afternoon. Fans, boosters, coaches, players and staff enjoyed a beautiful day at Oak Ridge Golf Course in Oakdale, Minn., golfing, mingling, eating and bidding on great prize packages.

Overall, it was a great day to raise some money for the Golden Gopher women's basketball team and to take time to relax and enjoy some fun times on the course.

Whalen, West Win WNBA All-Star Game

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Go Gophers! Lindsay Whalen
Go Gophers!

Go Gophers!
Former Golden Gopher standout Lindsay Whalen helped the West defeat the East, 102-98, in the WNBA All-Star Game at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., Saturday. The guard, who was the first player off the bench for the West, scored eight points in 13 minutes of work.

Trailing 43-49 at halftime, the West rallied in the fourth quarter, scoring 28 points while holding the East to just 17 for the victory.

The game was coached by two women for the first time in its 11-year history, with Lin Dunn of Indiana coaching the East and Cheryl Reeve of Minnesota coaching the West.

Reeve had four Minnesota Lynx players on her West squad, as Moore and Seimone Augustus were voted as starters and Reeve chose Lynx center Rebekkah Brunson to replace Britney Griner in the starting lineup.

Whalen was the first sub in for the West, replacing Diana Taurasi. That produced four Lynx players, who also were on the 2011 All-Star team, on the court at the same time.

The four Lynx stars combined for 24 of the West's 29 points in the first quarter.


Former Gopher Whalen Named WNBA All-Star

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Go Gophers! Lindsay Whalen
Go Gophers!

Go Gophers!
Former Golden Gopher standout Lindsay Whalen was voted by the league's head coaches as a reserve for the 2013 Western Conference All-Star Team, the WNBA announced late Tuesday night. Whalen, who starred for the University of Minnesota women's basketball team from 2001-04, will be making her third-career All-Star appearance after having been a part of the event in both 2006 and 2011.

Whalen will be joined on the squad by Minnesota Lynx teammates Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Rebekkah Brunson, as well as head coach Cheryl Reeve and assistants Shelley Patterson and Jim Petersen. It is the second time in franchise history that the Lynx have had four representatives in the All-Star Game (2011) and just the sixth time in WNBA hisotyr that a team has had four or more All-Stars. The Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star Game will be nationally broadcast on ABC this Saturday, July 27 at 2:30 p.m. CT from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

Whalen is having arguably the best season in her 10-year career, averaging a career-best 16.1 points per game while handing out 5.3 assists (fourth in WNBA). She's been especially hot of late, averaging 19.6 points and 5.7 assists per game over her last nine, including leading the Lynx in scoring in five or the past eight games. Whalen tallied 20+ points in four straight games between July 9 and 19, including becoming the first player in WNBA history with multiple 25+ point/10+ assist games against Tulsa on July 13 with a 25-point, 11-assist performance.

While at Minnesota, Whalen was a two-time Wade Trophy and Naismith Award finalist. As a senior, she was named to the Kodak All-America First Team, the USBWA All-America Second Team and the AP All-America Second Team. Whalen led Minnesota to its first Final Four Appearance in 2004, one of three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances for the Golden Gophers, before being selected fourth overall in the 2004 WNBA Draft.


She holds Minnesota career records in points, scoring average, games in double figures, free throws made and free throw percentage.


Happy 4th of July from Gopher Women's Basketball

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Happy Fourth of July from the Minnesota women's basketball team! As we celebrate the freedom of our great country, the Golden Gophers share with fans their Fourth of July traditions and what they are planning to do this year. Here's wishing all our Gopher fans out there a safe and happy holiday!

Mikayla Bailey: My Fourth of July tradition is spending it with my family, because it is my dad's birthday on the 4th and we usually go on our boat for the day.

Rachel Banham: My favorite Fourth of July tradition is to hang with my family and eat food, and chill and watch a movie. I don't know what I'm doing for the Fourth this year.

Joanna Hedstrom: My favorite Fourth of July traditions include going up to my cabin with my family and watching fireworks from the boat or in town!  This year we plan on going to Canterbury Park to enjoy the Fourth of July festivities there.

Kayla Hirt: My favorite thing about the Fourth of July is being able to spend the day outside in the sun and grill. I love late night fireworks as well! This year I will be going home and spending the day with my family, hopefully to spend some time on the lake, grill and watch the fireworks. :)

Jackie Johnson: My favorite Fourth of July tradition was spending the week at my Grandma and Grandpa's cabin, going tubing, jet skiing, going to the town carnival and lighting off tons of fireworks with my family. Growing up I did this every year until I started traveling for AAU and summer basketball. This year my plans are to go to my friend's lake house!

Stabresa McDaniel: My family and I just enjoy our time together, have a cookout and try to find a place to pop firecrackers. This time, in Minnesota, I just plan on hanging with my teammates and making new traditions with them.

Shayne Mullaney:
When I was younger, my family would go jet-skiing on a lake in Eden Prairie and have a picnic. It was so fun!  Then at night we would eat dinner at Bayside on Lake Minnetonka and watch the fireworks on the lake. This would always be a tradition for Fourth of July, but lately it has changed because a few of my siblings are in California and I have three nephews now so it changes on a yearly basis.

This year for the Fourth I might be going to my boyfriend's cabin or to my friends lake house. Either way I hope to be near water and outside enjoying the sun!  I always watch the fireworks every year too.  This year I want to watch them near the Stone Arch Bridge if I stay in Minnesota.  I don't know how this year Fourth of July will turn out, but I know it will be fun! (:

Sari Noga:
My family doesn't really have specific Fourth of July traditions, but usually we have a family reunion around that time of year, which I enjoy seeing my extended family. My favorite thing to do on the Fourth of July is to be on a lake, light off fireworks and have family time. This year I am unsure of our plans, but hopefully they involve water!

Micaella Riche: Well being Canadian, we celebrate Canada day July 1st. I used to love going downtown and watching all the street performers with my brothers. This year, I don't know how I will spend it yet, but it will most likely involve exercise physiology homework..! Gotta love being a student-athlete!

Amanda Zahui B.: I have never celebrated the Fourth of July and I have no idea what I am going to do. Hopefully, I'll eat some good food and hang out with my teammates.

Kelly Roysland: I love spending the 4th of July with my family at our cabin on Lake Bemidji. I plan on spending time golfing, waterskiing, hanging out with my cousins, taking a bike ride around the lake and grilling out. Happy 4th of July to all!

Deborah Edwards: I love the 4th of July more than ever, because last year I was married on July 6 - so this time of year always reminds me of our wedding day.  What a great holiday!  It's our own patriotic anniversary!  This year we will be celebrating by cooking out and spending time with our family in Rochester.

Banham Nominated for BTN Most Courageous Performance Award

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Go Gophers! Rachel BanhamGo Gophers!
BTN announced Monday that it is set to recognize the best of Big Ten sports in 2012-13 when it airs its sixth annual BTN Awards Show Wednesday, June 26 at 7:00 p.m. CT, and University of Minnesota women's basketball guard Rachel Banham is among the nominees for the network's Most Courageous Performance award.

Banham was sidelined for three months leading up to the 2012-13 season after doctors discovered a blood clot in her lung last July, but the adversity seemed to have little effect on the guard, as she would finish her sophomore campaign as the Big Ten's regular-season scoring champion and would be named First Team All-Big Ten by the league's head coaches. Banham was also honored as a WBCA All-America Honorable Mention selection and WBCA All-Region 6 after posting five games of 30 or more points and 16 games with 20 or more points.

Along with her list of awards, Banham became just the third sophomore Gopher to reach the 1,000-point milestone when she scored 37 points vs. Illinois on Jan. 28, and also surpassed former Gopher great Lindsay Whalen for the most points scored through a sophomore season with her 1,093rd-career point on Feb. 7 vs. Iowa.

With 1,243 career points, Banham ranks 14th all-time on Minnesota's career record chart, and also ranks fourth in games in double figures (64) and 10th in three-point field goals made (110). Banham also ranks fourth on Minnesota's single-season record chart with her 663 points scored in 2013.

All nominees for the Most Courageous Performance Award are below:
Rachel Banham, Minnesota women's basketball - sidelined for month after a blood clot was discovered in her lung last summer, she bounced back to earn First Team All-Big Ten honors.
Jack Hoffman, Nebraska fan - 7-year old brain cancer patient ran for a 69-yard touchdown at Nebraska's 2013 spring game. 
Robert Marve, Purdue football - overcame his third career ACL injury and returned to help the Boilermakers win their final three game and reach bowl eligibility.
Drey Mingo, Purdue women's basketball - suffered an ACL tear during the 2011-12 season. She came back this spring and led the Boilermakers to the Big Ten Tournament Championship where she was named the Tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

Minnesota is also nominated in two additional categories, including Women's Coach of the Year (Brad Frost, women's hockey) and women's team of the year (women's hockey).