STrib: Five Story Lines for the 2019-20 Gophers

Ignatius L Hoops

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Kent Youngblood:

4 Whalen thinks her bench could be better than last year. But it’s untested. The top bigs will be Kehinde Bello and Barbora Tomancova. Neither has played big minutes; Bello averaged just 4.6 minutes last season and Tomancova played just six games as a freshman before being injured. And guards Sara Scalia, Jasmine Powell and Masha Adashchyk are all new. But there is potential. Powell might be the quickest player on the team, Scalia can shoot and Adashchyk was a big scorer in junior college


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Oct 4, 2018
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> (also from thread STrib: Five Story Lines for the 2019-20 Gophers (by Kent Youngblood)

5 Taiye Bello has proved she’s a big-time rebounder. Whalen sees her becoming more of an offensive force as a senior. “I want her to really put her stamp on her career here. Really put an exclamation point on it. I want her to be better and more efficient offensively.”

Whalen has good reason to believe that Taiye might be more efficient this year. She was efficient last year, except for those times that the opponent double- or triple-teamed her and the refs were in a mode of "let em play" and thus ignoring the fact that she was getting pushed around in the post, in which case she was (of course) less efficient.

This year, we will have 3-4 three-point shooters scattered around the perimeter. So a kick-out from a double- or triple-teamed Bello will quite often make them pay. When defenses have to respect our perimeter, that opens up the paint for Bello to more often play one-on-one - giving her more un-surrounded offensive rebounding opportunities and associated put-back attempts. That could very well increase her efficiency in the post. Add to that an incrementally improved jump shot. Room-to-move for Taiye may imply good things for the Gophers.

> (from thread STrib: Room to Grow in Year Two) Bello: A rebounding machine last season — she was ninth in the nation at 11.9 per game — averaged 9.7 points last season. This year Whalen expects a step-up in scoring.

First of all, that quote is incorrect. She actually was 8th in the nation at 12.26 rebounds per game, not ninth place.

Eighth in the nation at 12.26 rebounds per game (or 13th in the nation at 380 total rebounds) sounds (and is) pretty impressive. This compares to the following assortment of well-known players' total rebounds and rebounds per game ...

Rank Name Team Class Height Position Games RPG Total Rebsounds
13 Taiye Bello Minnesota Jr. 6-2 F 31 12.26 380
11 Jessica Shepard Notre Dame Sr. 6-4 F 38 10.26 390
8 Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah Northwestern Sr. 6-2 F 36 11.22 404
7 Napheesa Collier UConn Sr. 6-1 F 38 10.82 411
3 Megan Gustafson Iowa Sr. 6-3 C 36 13.36 481
2 Teaira McCowan Mississippi St. Sr. 6-7 C 36 13.53 487
1 Kristine Anigwe California Sr. 6-4 F 33 16.15 533

In terms of rebounds per game, Taiye beat Northwestern's Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah (who had been slightly ahead of her, but whose average went down a bit during post-season play), and bested future Lynx stars Jessica Shepard and Napheesa Collier, but was beat-out by about one RPG by Iowa's (and future Dallas Wings) Megan Gustafson.

But I claim that everybody is quoting the wrong statistic. Bello is not a defensive-rebounding specialist (as Gustafson is - 2nd place in that category last year), but rather is largely an offensive rebounding specialist. We should be measuring her in what she does best, namely offensive rebounding. In that category, Taiye comes in 3rd place nationally for the 2018-19 season. Here are last year's top ten offensive rebounders in terms of offensive rebounds per game ...

Rank Name Team Class Height Position Games ORebs ORPG
1 Teaira McCowan Mississippi St. Sr. 6-7 C 36 206 5.72
2 Kristine Anigwe California Sr. 6-4 F 33 180 5.45
3 Taiye Bello Minnesota Jr. 6-2 F 31 152 4.90
4 Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah Northwestern Sr. 6-2 F 36 176 4.89
5 Zuri Sanders Texas Tech Sr. 6-0 F 30 139 4.63
6 Unique Thompson Auburn So. 6-3 F 32 143 4.47
7 Sydney Holloway Bryant Jr. 5-10 F 30 132 4.40
8 Madison Hovren Army West Point Sr. 5-11 F 30 131 4.37
9 Kayla Cooper-Williams James Madison Jr. 6-2 C 34 148 4.35
10 Tierra McGowan Morehead St. Sr. 6-3 F 31 134 4.32

Teaira McCowan came in 1st place, beating Taiye by 0.82 offensive rebounds per game. Teaira is a completely different style rebounder with a completely different body build. She has five inches of height over Taiye and lots more muscle. Teaira gets offensive rebounds via height and muscle. In contrast, Taiye gets rebounds via speed, intelligence and tricky moves (often springing right around the block-out). Second-place Kristine Anigwe, who beat Taiye by 0.55 offensive rebounds per game, is perhaps a hybrid in height and style between McCowan and Bello.

Both Anigwe and McCowan were drafted by the WNBA last spring. That leaves Taiye Bello as the reigning queen of offensive rebounding in NCAA Women's Basketball Division I. As argued above, she has some headroom for improvement this year. With less double- and triple-teams, she has a good shot at being the top offensive rebounder this year. That will reflect a potential result of more offensive rebounds per game, leading to more (and less-contested) putbacks, thus more (high-efficiency) scores from putbacks, thus higher efficiency in scoring, overall. Might she have as much as a 60% scoring efficiency this year? We'll see.

Oh, and by the way, did we mention that she has a twin sister who can offensive-rebound at about the same rate in terms of offensive rebounds per minute played?
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