Gadiva Hubbard is making an impact after being sidelined nearly 20 months by a foot injury.
Less than three weeks ago, Gadiva Hubbard woke up on edge, nervous.
It was Nov. 5, the day of the Gophers women's basketball team's season opener. For Hubbard it would be the first time she'd play in a real game in nearly 20 months.
"That first game, there were a lot of butterflies," Hubbard said. "My stomach was turning during warmups."
In a difficult loss to a good Missouri State team, it showed. Hubbard had no field goal attempts and just two points.
But she was back. And things have quickly gotten better. In Sunday's victory over then-19th-ranked Arizona State, Hubbard made seven of 13 shots, four of seven three-pointers and scored 20 points.
"I felt like myself again," she said.
Now she's back.
The 5-9 junior guard's talents are well-suited to the way Whalen wants to play. The Gophers are using a small starting lineup with Bello surrounded, essentially, with four guards — Destiny Pitts, Brunson, Sara Scalia and Hubbard. The Gophers spread the floor, creating driving lanes for Brunson and freshman point guard Jasmine Powell, Brunson's backup.
And they shoot 20.3 three-pointers per game, up significantly from last season, with Pitts (13-for-25) and Hubbard (7-for-17) leading the way.
After that two-point return vs. Missouri State, Hubbard has scored 12, 10 and 20 points in the past three games. So it took about two weeks for a season's worth of rust to come off. A versatile defender, Hubbard leads the Gophers with nine steals.
Whalen said she wasn't surprised at how quickly Hubbard got up to speed. She watched Hubbard work hard in her rehab last season and in practice before this season.
"She did a good job," Whalen said. "It was on her, to be in here, be diligent. And she did all those things."