#26 Minnesota Women's Basketball 2018-2019 Preview

Minnesota Golden Gophers
Overall Rank: #26
Conference Rank: #3 Big Ten
Minnesota Logo
 Minnesota welcomes former Golden Gopher great Lindsay Whalen home as their new head coach to take over for Marlene Stollings, who left for the Texas Tech head coaching job. Whalen walks into a very good situation as Minnesota won 24 games last season and went to the NCAA Tournament. They also play one of the more exciting styles of play in all of women’s college basketball which should continue under Coach Whalen.
2017-18 Record: 24-9, 11-5
2017-18 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Lindsay Whalen
Coach Record: First season at Minnesota
Key Departed Players (starters in bold)
Carlie Wagner, Guard, 18.7 ppg
Jessie Edwards, Center, 5.0 ppg
Bryanna Fernstrom, Center, 3.4 ppg
Key Returning Players (starters in bold)
Kenisha Bell, Redshirt Senior, Guard, 20.0 ppg
Gadiva Hubbard, Junior, Guard, 13.6 ppg
Destiny Pitts, Sophomore, Guard/Forward, 13.3 ppg
Taiye Bello, Junior, Forward, 6.1 ppg
Jasmine Brunson, Junior, Guard, 2.9 ppg
Palma Kaposi, Senior, Forward, 1.1 ppg
Annalese Lamke, Senior, Guard, 1.1 ppg
Irene Garrido-Perez, Senior, Forward, 1.0 ppg
Key New Players
Barbora Tomancova, Freshman, Forward
Delanie Byrne, Freshman, Forward
Mercedes Staples, Freshman, Guard
Kenisha Bell is back after averaging 20 points per game last season for the Golden Gophers. Bell also does a great job of distributing the basketball and rebounding as she averaged 5.4 rebounds per game last season.  Gadiva Hubbard averaged 13.6 points per game and did a nice job of taking care of the basketball as Hubbard had nearly a 2 to 1 assist to turnover ratio, which will help in a big way this season as well. Destiny Pitts is a quality outside shooter that should have even more opportunities this year since Minnesota does need to replace the 18.7 points per game with the graduation of Carlie Wagner. The non-conference schedule will provide a good early test for the Golden Gophers on November 29th as they will host Syracuse as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Now, the conference schedule has a few more landmines as Minnesota will go to Michigan, Nebraska, Indiana, and Maryland. Iowa and Ohio State have to come to Williams Arena which will help the Golden Gophers cause in their quest to win a Big Ten conference championship. Look for the Golden Gophers to win at least 20 games, play better defense under the guidance of Coach Whalen and return to the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 84.9 (5th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 74.8 (335, 14)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.3 (59, 8)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.4 (294, 14)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.0 (15,1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.3 (19, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 75.1 (49, 4)
Rebound Margin: 3.6 (84, 5)
Assists Per Game: 16.4 (27, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.5 (29, 2)
Madness 2019 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#22 Kenisha Bell
Madness 2018 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#120 Mercedes Staples