- Sep 9, 2015
- Reaction score
THE MOST ANTICIPATED EXHIBITION GAME SINCE…WINONA STATE?
D1 exhibitions normally are for showcasing the host team’s newbies and highlighting development of the returnees. The D 3 opponent serves as fodder for an afternoon’s entertainment. However, this year’s Gopher exhibition versus Wisconsin River Falls is not normal. While the fodder role will still be played by UWRF; Minnesota’s team faces heightened examination.
First off, as a sidelight, former Gopher associate head Carly Thibault-DuDonis directly impacted UWRF by spiriting head coach and husband, Blake DuDonis, off to her new job with the Fairfield Stags. It’s doubtful that UWRF’s players begrudge the couples exit; but it meant the Falcons rather tentatively promoted associate head coach, Shelby Lyman, to interim head coach. Whatever, our concern lies with the Maroon and Gold and not the Falcons.
And those concerns involve high expectations paired with low information. A sort of social media silence from Athletes Village left us to conjuring up our own visions of coming attractions. The quick review:
Burning bright on the marquee are the highly touted four freshmen: Mara Braun, Nimya Holloway (out with an ACL), Amaya Battle and Mallory Heyer. Virtually everyone has an opinion on the skill level of the “save the program” fab four. Most Gopher fans know more about the four freshmen then they know about rest of the team.
Of course, the newbie hype is because only three Gophers returned from last season: Katie Borowicz (who sat out a year because of injury), Maggie Czinano (who has played 22 minutes total) and Rose Micheaux who played 433 minutes. Rose, who said in a Gopher podcast that she arrived in Minneapolis last season with a “terrible attitude” has now, along with Katie become the pre-season faces of the program.
Plus, replacing Carly Thibault, we have a new assistant in Marwan Miller, whom I doubt anyone has seen coach any significant minutes-if at all.
Toss the above into a pot, stir in a bag load of transfers and Gopher fans have a recipe for a guaranteed cure for writer’s block. This exhibition should attract comments by the score.
The Blake DuDonis Legacy:
Blake was 19-40 in three pandemic impacted years. During his first season, the Falcons were 0-14 in the WIAC conference and 5-20 overall. Next, UWRF was 1-5 in conference and 2-7 overall in a covid shortened outing. In his final go around, the Falcons finished 7th in the WIAC with a 4-9 record. For the season, UWRF almost broke even at 12-13.
UWRF Head Coach Shelby Lyman
I don’t know much about Lyman beyond what’s in her bio. She graduated from Cornell and was an assistant coach at her alma mater before arriving in River Falls. At UWRF she is implementing a “fast brand of basketball”.
The Falcons and Gophers History
The history between UWRF and Minnesota starts and ends in the ‘70’s. In 1974 the Gophers lost in River Falls 51-56. Then Minnesota won the next three in 75, 76 and 77 and rested on its laurels until this coming Sunday.
UW River Falls is a popular destination for Minnesota students who fill out 45% of the student body. The basketball team reflects that ratio with 10 of the 19 roster players from the Gopher state. Guard Macy Nilsen from Edina was named to last season’s WIAC first team.
Some River Falls Falcons:
HGT POS YR PLAYER MIN AVG REB 5’10” G/F Sr Macy Nilsen 26.7 14.8 5.6 5’5” G Sr Cassie Heinrichs 24.8 8.3 2.5 5’4” G Jr Katelyn Karch 22.4 5.6 1.8 5’11” F So Olivia Miron 11.0 3.9 2.7 6’1” C So Annie Feine 15.2 2.4 2.4