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  1. #1

    Default Game 11: Gophers Host Rhode Island (12-22-18)

    Turn it Up to 11

    Rhode Island (5-5) arrive at Williams Arena with all but one of the eight Rams who played in last seasons 82-60 loss to the Golden Gophers (10-0) in Kingston. Last year, Kenisha Bell helped turn a close (15-15 at the end of one and 34-28 Gophers at the half) game into an easy Minnesota win with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists. Destiny Pitts garnered 15 rebounds and scored 7 points. Palma Kaposi started the game and played 7 minutes with 8 rebounds and 4 points. Leading scorer for URI was the 6’5” center Dina Motrechuk whose 13 points came in 14 minutes because of her five fouls.

    Fouls are a Rams problem. In ten games they’ve committed 192 fouls compared to the Gopher’s 125. 6’5” center Nicole Jorgensen who in URI’s recent game versus Hartford fouled out in 13 minutes with 11 points has 41 fouls and 3 DQs in 219 minutes of play. For reference, Taiye Bello, the Gophers leading fouler, has 24 fouls in 261 minutes. In case you think it’s just their 6’5” centers with foul mania, Ram’s 6’2” forward Jalissa Ross is second on the team with 33 fouls and 3 DQs. Be aware that the Rams have sent their opponents to the line 200 times. Minnesota has gone to the line 258 times. Get your whistles ready.

    Last year the Rams closed the season on a 10 game losing streak finishing 3-27 (1-15 in the A10). Not surprisingly, this season they were picked 13th in the 14 team A10 ahead of LaSalle, last season’s only Rams conference win. URI are coached by Daynia La-Force in her 5th year. Her previous conference records were 1-15, 2-14, 5-11 and 8-8. It’s not a favorable direction.

    Rhode Island’s starting point guard is Syracuse transfer Davida Dale. Dale averages 13.6 points per game with 36 assists countered by 64 turnovers. In Rhody’s last game against Harford, Dale scored 9 points with 4 assists, 9 turnovers and 4 fouls. Continuing the theme, URI committed 22 turnovers and 21 fouls. Still, the Rams crept within five with 3:12 remaining before the Hawks put them away 51-65. No matter what happens Saturday, the Rams have already topped last season’s win total.

    Common Opponent: This season URI opened at Boston College with an 88-64 loss. Elemy Coleme led the Rams with 19 points. URI committed 24 turnovers, 18 fouls and never recovered from an early BC run.

    Random numbers:

    URI: 116 assists, 207 turnovers
    Minnesota: 145 assists, 160 turnovers

    URI from three: 55-174 (.316)
    Minnesota from three: 48-139 (.345)

    Wins: Robert Morris 46-41, @Vermont 61-58, North Dakota 77-63, (N) Providence 72-65, (N) Brown 72-67.

    Losses: Boston College 64-88, @ Holy Cross 65-75, @ Kentucky 52-75, @ Clemson 67-80, Harford 51-65.

    Projected Starters

    6’2” F Sr Jalissa Ross 6.0 ppg
    6’5” C Jr Nicole Jorgensen 12.3 ppg
    5’7” G Jr Elemy Colome 14.6 ppg
    5’11” G Jr Davida Dale 13.6 ppg
    5’10” G Jr Maia Moffit


    5’11” G So. Abby Streeter
    6’5” C Sr Dina Motrechuk
    6’3” F So Meghan Oberg

  2. #2


    Here’s the Rhode Island thread if you guys couldn’t find it

  3. #3


    Not a bad tuneup before the conference opener. Providence coach and bench turned a close game in the first half into a runaway with two technicals. 4 Gophers in double figures. Bell with 28 points, 9 assists, 7 boards. Bello with 16 points and 15 boards. Bell and Bello both with really solid games. Lamke with 14 points; Pitts with 19. Gophers had some great passes today, but also some sloppy passes that led to turnovers. It looks like the Gophers are getting more comfortable on the offensive end. Offense seems to be catching up to the defense. I'm still not impressed with the Gopher bench. They have some people that can fill in for short periods of time, but nothing more than that. Hopefully, they can stay healthy and get Hubbard back. Next year's team is likely to have a lot more depth and more quality bench players. Providence missing their second leading scorer today with an injury.

  4. #4


    Here's the AP article ...

    Keke Bell quite impressive today, including decent on her free throws. I'm impressed with her defensive rebounding lately. 3 more rebounds and 1 more assist would have given her a triple double.

    T. Bello with another double double. Lamke played well too. Our 3-point shooting not terrific today, but Pitts was clicking on the twos. Staples with a breakthrough double digit scoring game, but she still doesn't protect the ball well enough. I think she just dribbles too high, maybe needs to crouch a bit to shorten dribble stroke, at least when tightly defended and not on a full tilt fast break.

    I second the point about some incredible passing along with some really sloppy passing. At the same time, really good in picking off RI's sloppy passes. They need to look at film and realize B1G opponents are going to pick off their sloppy passes more efficiently.

  5. #5


    Usually it's a year or so between technicals; but this year we've had Hillsman and now La-Force. It is the first time I've seen a coach kick off her heels. La-Force did that after the second technical which I think the referees generously awarded, after discussion, to the bench. She coached in stocking feet until they found some sneakers in which she finished the first half. She put the heels back on for the second half. The first technical (and immediate second T) wasn't as game changing as Legette-Jack's late game T a number of years ago; but it was still pretty good.

    In the second half I noticed Pitts and La-Force sharing a few what appeared to be humorous asides.

    Once again Bell should've had two or three more assists not to mention some terrific highlights; but her teammates had a few problems finishing. Both the should've been assists to Kaposi and T. Bello were damn cool.

    Minnesota took 40 foul shots.

  6. #6


    Almost forgot the injury update: Tomancova was not using crutches; but was wearing a walking boot. Hubbard was walking normally as far as I could tell.

  7. #7


    Minnesota Head Coach Lindsey Whalen
    Opening Statement:

    “I thought that after the 10 day break, I was interested to see how we were going to start. I thought we got great shots at the start, and we stayed locked in defensively which was great, and once we found our rhythm on offense, we had a couple, really good runs. Kenisha (Bell)
    was great from start to finish, and [Taiye Bello] with another double double. Those two just kept us going at times when we needed. Rhode Island never went away; they never quit. They cut it to 10 or 12 a couple times, so we want to give them credit for a really good game.”

    On the team’s preparation for the upcoming Big Ten season:

    “I feel good. I feel were as prepared as we possibly can be. I think we’ve had a couple good months of practices and putting our system in, and the players have really responded. I think we all feel good. We know it’s going to be a tough road. The Big Ten is a tough conference, and
    there are going to be ups and downs, but I think we all feel confident going in. Like I said, when you have leadership and you play defense the way we’re capable of, and today we threw in some really good offense at times, we’ll give ourselves a chance. But we know it’s going to be
    tough every night.”

    On the impression the team’s made on her through 11 games:

    “I think just how we respond to everything. Every time we’ve had a challenge or an area of focus we’ve responded and we’ve come out the next practice or next game and we’ve played really well. I think how well defensively we’ve been playing and just how much they really enjoy being around each other. They’re a really close team, which is fun to be around. They’re a fun group, and I think at times, as you saw tonight, when we get it going, it’s going to be really fun in the Barn all winter.”

    On Taiye Bello’s growth this season:

    “She’s been getting double doubles, it seems like more often than not this year, which has been huge. Her rebounding, her plays are some of the reasons why we won the Syracuse game, and were able to come back in Boston College on some big plays. The thing I liked tonight was she stayed with it all night. In the first half, she had a couple shots she’d probably want to have back, and then in the second half she stayed poised. She got that nice face-up move, the bank shot, she got herself to the line, and I just thought she really stayed within herself the whole
    game and ends up with 16 (points) and 15 (rebounds). Just a sign of a great and really mature player. I thought she was great tonight.”

    On the importance of having a star player from Minnesota like Kenisha Bell:

    “It’s great. I thought the fans and the support today were great. They were into it from start to finish and it was a really fun atmosphere today for our players. Of course with [Kenisha] being from here, people like their Minnesotans, but I think that no matter what that people from
    Minnseota gravitate towards people who play the game the right way and play really hard. We have a group from all over the world that all play the game the right way. They play hard and don’t quit, so I think that’s why were really starting to see the fan support. We have, from 1 to 12, a group that’s really selfless and plays the game the right way which is fun to be a part of.”

    Senior Kenisha Bell

    On how this team is different than last year’s:

    “I think we’re more confident in how we’ve been playing. 11-0, none of us have ever done it, so we made it a priority to get there, and do something we’ve never done. I think we have a lot of confidence right now, and it’s been helping us out.”

    On her play tonight:

    “I just thought I was reading really well against the defense tonight. Rhode Island was playing us really well, and I just had to read how they were defending us, which I thought I did really well tonight.”

    Rhode Island Head Coach Daynia La-Force

    Opening Statement:

    “I thought we definitely played a good basketball program tonight. I thought Minnesota did an excellent job sticking to their game plan and their personnel exploiting us in ways based on their individual talent. (Annalese Lamke) got off on the inside, (Taiye) Bello did her job on the boards, (Destiny) Pitts shot the ball, (Kenisha Bell) went to the rim and got to the free throw line, and overall I thought they did an excellent job being Minnesota. This game was an opportunity for our team to play up and play an opponent we thought we’d be challenged by. At the end of the day, our non-conference schedule is based on games we think we could win and games that we want to be challenged by. The outcome gave me an opportunity to test my program's resolve, and the one thing I'm walking away with is that fact that we are fighters, despite who we play, and we’re going to take that into A-10 play.”

    On the two technical fouls in the second quarter:

    “I just thought it had to do with fighting. You’re fighting for your program, and an opportunity to
    compete with the best, and sometimes when that doesn’t go your way you’re emotional about it.
    I just thought it was about our fight, our resolve, and our willingness to not just lay down and get
    walked all over.”

  8. #8


    Bello is a terrific rebounder. She has a great nose for the ball. She's not yet a polished offensive player, but she can hit some 6-8 footers. I'm thinking she has a chance to be an all-conference player by the end of the year. Probably not a first teamer, but maybe 2nd or 3rd. It will be very interesting to see who wins the BIG individual rebounding title this year. Some great rebounders in the conference, including Bello, Gunderson, Akpanah, and Maryland's Austin.

    On another note, I'm too lazy to look, but I'm betting that Bell is near the tops in the nation in free throw attempts this year and, led by her, the Gophers are in the upper echelon of team FT attempts. The Gopher men were fifth in the nation in that category going into last night's game and I'm thinking the women might be one of the top 25 teams also. If the Gophers can continue to get to the line a lot in BIG play, that would be a very good indicator toward a successful season.

  9. #9


    One other note re: Bello: One of the things that I noticed about last year's posts was that they didn't start going for rebounds until the ball hit the room. Bello is very quick to get in position and anticipate where the rebound is going and that's a big part of her success.

  10. #10


  11. #11


    I was a little surprised that Whalen waited as long as she did to start putting the reserves in. I also noticed that other than the Kaposi for Lamke exchange, that the next player in the rotation is Staples instead of Garido Perez. And Staples does appear to look more comfortable and confident. She stepped right in and got the first 3-ball of the game for the Gophers.

    I agree Bell deserved to get another assist or two, but then again, she had several opportunities to dump the ball to Pitts who was left alone which could have resulted in a 3 (and an assist), but Bell elected to drive instead. But Bell did have some really pretty passes as well.

    RI had 7 threes and I would say at least four of those shots looked like they had no chance when put up.

    Friday night should be fun.

  12. #12


    It did look like Brunson might have tweaked her left foot/ankle at some point in the second half. She was sitting on the bench rubbing the area during the fourth quarter. Hope it is not anything serious.

    And, maybe Cheryl Reeve has a new way to now express her frustration with the refs - she could toss a shoe. She wasn't there today, but I'm sure La-Force's move will be all over the internet tonight. Did seem like this ref crew wasn't top notch in working together. I think they changed calls of the white haired guy twice that I remember.

  13. #13


  14. #14


    Staples is looking more confident. She looked good early in the game. That being said, she's still too careless with the ball. I'm guessing that Whalen left the starters in a bit longer than she normally would, in an effort to get the starters some "stamina" minutes. The Gophers have had so few competitive games in the non-conference season, the starters may not be accustomed to playing 30 to 35 minutes a game, which they will have to do regularly in conference play.

    The RI coach can say that she was fighting for her team in getting the technical fouls, but, in my opinion, those fouls were a game-changer.

  15. #15


    Quote Originally Posted by fanfromthevalley View Post
    It did look like Brunson might have tweaked her left foot/ankle at some point in the second half. She was sitting on the bench rubbing the area during the fourth quarter. Hope it is not anything serious.

    And, maybe Cheryl Reeve has a new way to now express her frustration with the refs - she could toss a shoe. She wasn't there today, but I'm sure La-Force's move will be all over the internet tonight. Did seem like this ref crew wasn't top notch in working together. I think they changed calls of the white haired guy twice that I remember.
    The "white haired guy" is Jesse Dickerson. He's here often. After looking at the replay, I saw that the second technical was on the assistant coach sitting at the end of the bench.

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