The Minnesota Gophers are heading into their 10th game with nine wins. They’ve scored 90-plus points in three games, coming close in a fourth. At this point in the season, the team has been characterized by two things: its fast pace and its scoring depth. For the Gophers, scoring has been a team effort.
“I think we have a lot of experience on the team,” said Kenisha Bell. “We have people who came back, and we’ve grown up on and off the court. We can depend on everybody, and it allows everyone to step up and contribute to the team.”
Bell leads the team in scoring this season, and is responsible for nine of the Gophers 34 double-figure scoring performances this season. The Gophers have spread these performances out over nine players, including two freshmen.
“We’re a very unselfish team this year,” Carlie Wagner said. “I don’t think we’re expecting anybody to go out and score 30 points a night. We have multiple scorers on the floor, and I think we share the ball well. We find each other well on the floor, and it’s really balancing us out this year. It’s working well for us.”
Unselfish has been a buzzword amongst the team this year. Two players and coach Marlene Stollings used the word to describe the team. Sometimes the team almost takes it too far.
“They’re very unselfish, almost to a fault,” she said. “We almost have the reverse problem sometimes, where we want them to keep the ball versus sharing it. But it’s a nice luxury to have as a coach.”
The Gophers’ sharing is apparent in their assist numbers this year. They’re third in the Big Ten and 27th in the NCAA with an average of 17.9 assists per game.
Their unselfish attitude has also allowed taken away some of the burden of scoring. With less pressure on one person, the team has been able to come into its own.
“It’s amazing to have a team like this,” Wagner said. “If someone’s not having a great night, it’s not going to affect if we win or lose because there’s multiple people on the floor who can score and we all trust each other. Everybody has the green light. If somebody’s hot, we’re going to keep feeding them the ball that night.”
Along with helping out teammates, the Gophers’ tendency to share the ball has made them harder to defend. Teams are forced to watch the whole court closely, not just one or two players, and the Gophers have been able to use it to open up offensive opportunities.
“It can make it hard for other teams,” Bell said. “Since we have a lot of people who can contribute to the team, it allows us to put more plays in offensively. It makes the defensive people step up, and they don’t know who’s going to be on that night.”
Story by athletic communications assistant Ellen Larson
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