EXHIBITION: GOPHERS HOST UW RIVER FALLS (10-30-22)

Ignatius L Hoops

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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.


UWRF Players:

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:

HGTPOSYRPLAYERMINAVGREB
5’10”G/FSrMacy Nilsen26.714.85.6
5’5”GSrCassie Heinrichs24.88.32.5
5’4”GJrKatelyn Karch22.45.61.8
5’11”FSoOlivia Miron11.03.92.7
6’1”CSoAnnie Feine15.22.42.4
 



Ragnor

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Very excited for the game. I will be there and post my thoughts/perceptions/observations sometime after. I hope plenty of other people go and share too. As posted by bball_craz_26 from this season's thread, the starters for the Northern Iowa closed scrimmage were:


They have a closed scrimmage today at Northern Iowa.
Details light but confirmed starters for Today were:

PG: Katie Borowicz
SG: Mara Braun
SF: Isabelle Gradwell
PF: Mallory Heyer
C: Rose Micheaux



I would expect the same starters for tomorrows scrimmage.

I think I will be most interested in seeing how aggressive and confident players are, especially the Freshman, Rose and Maggie. I have seen enough of Katie to know she plays with confidence and will perform well down the stretch. I will also be interested in the transfers but I expect them to look reasonably confident but performance against division 1 foes is their next step for their Gopher careers.

What will you be most interested in?
 

Bfan

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Very excited for the game. I will be there and post my thoughts/perceptions/observations sometime after. I hope plenty of other people go and share too. As posted by bball_craz_26 from this season's thread, the starters for the Northern Iowa closed scrimmage were:



Details light but confirmed starters for Today were:

PG: Katie Borowicz
SG: Mara Braun
SF: Isabelle Gradwell
PF: Mallory Heyer
C: Rose Micheaux



I would expect the same starters for tomorrows scrimmage.

I think I will be most interested in seeing how aggressive and confident players are, especially the Freshman, Rose and Maggie. I have seen enough of Katie to know she plays with confidence and will perform well down the stretch. I will also be interested in the transfers but I expect them to look reasonably confident but performance against division 1 foes is their next step for their Gopher careers.

What will you be most interested in?
1. I think the Gophers have an opportunity on defense. I want to see effort on defense. 2. Depth is bad for this team. I am curious how that will impact games as the season rolls on and late in games. Realistically, just improving this season to get to next year's reinforcements and next year's record is the goal, I feel. NO MATTER WHAT, WHALEN IS BACK NEXT SEASON. She landed the Fab Four. We all knew she was a new coach needing some time -- that was the deal -- so she's still on her guarantee until the youngsters emerge. 3. Mara Braun was a rock star shooter and ball stealer in her youth. I'd like to see her confident and productive by end of the year. She could be special. 4. Gophers are stacked at point guard and the sixth (wo)man. Will be interesting to see how that 1-2 (maybe 3-4) dynamic unfolds. 5. Mi'Cole Cayton was a real talent and then a tragic knee injury. I wonder how much the Gophers get from Cayton. 6. Did I mention defense, defense, defense?
 
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Bfan

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I will add that none of us know what new coach Marwan Miller brings to the table or not. There's no way to know how good he was in his last role or even what exactly he contributed.

I'm going to say that the coach change could scheme improvements, including how the defense is run at times.

We really don't know.

 

fanfromthevalley

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A reminder that this game will be on BTN+. So you can watch if you have an account. Also, game notes indicate no radio for this game, but regular season games will be on KFAN+ 96.7 FM. Will assume that Lynnette and Justin return as the radio crew.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Battle is at least as excited as we are:

In most practical ways, Sunday's exhibition with Division III Wisconsin-River Falls at Williams Arena means very little for the Gophers women's basketball team.

So why has that game kept Amaya Battle awake nights?

"I think about it all the time, actually," Battle said after practice last week. Battle, from Hopkins, is part of a four-player, all-Minnesota recruiting class that also includes Mallory Heyer, Mara Braun and Nia Holloway.

"Actually, if I got to bed and think about it, I can't get to sleep. It will keep me up. It's so surreal. My last name is going to be on a Gophers jersey. When they do that Minnesota chant, they're going to be chanting for our team. It's so exciting. I can't wait."
 

Bfan

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Keep an eye on power forward Mallory Heyer running the court with more speed than typical power forwards. She can run. The Gophers have an opportunity to field a fast team. Also watch if Heyer is shooting 3's from the wings and stretching the field -- and what that creates for open lanes.

Small forward Isabelle Gradwell could play a role in that too.
 



Bfan

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Interesting substitutions. guard Borowicz started, put up points, then came out with guard Battle rotating in.

Then small forward Gradwell went out and guard Borowicz went in for Gradwell.

Guard Battle then made lots of plays scoring and defense. Then guard Battle went out and guard Borowicz came in.

So that suggests it won't be long before Battle is the point guard starter sharing that with Borowicz as the dynamic 6th (wo)man that she is also playing for Gradwell into a 3 guard offense, with basically Borowicz getting full starter minutes.

Oh, and power forward Heyer went out with F Hammond coming in and later Oberg going out with Heyer then coming in.

So we are seeing different looks.

Late in the 2nd quarte Heryer has the most minutes followed by Braun and Gradwell. Then Battle. Then Borowicz.

Micheaux had fouls and turnovers early.
 
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adamj95

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Braun is off to a hot start, love to see that 3-4 from three for her! This gophers team has the guards, now they just need to establish a post presence and they could really start to make things happen.
 

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At the half, Mara Braun is hot with 21 points. Attention Big Ten!

PW Mallory Heyer has the most minutes, followed by SG Mara Braun and SF Isabelle Gradwell. Then PG Amaya Battle minutes. Those four stand out.

Center was a timeshare. PG Borowicz got points and minutes.

1667159244092.png
 




Bfan

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At the end of the 3rd, Micheax is playing well (after a fouls/turnovers start). Micheaux is 4-7 in field goal shooting with 4 rebounds and 2 blocks.

Amaya Battle has turned it on with 6-6 (!) field goal shooting, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 6 rebounds at the end of the third.

Isabelle Gradwell is also a pleasant surprise at putting up points, with 2-3 three points, 4-8 field goals, and a sprinkle of contributions across the stats board.

Mara Braun has been 5-9 on 3's after the third, which is great.

PF Heyer stretched out to the wings for two 3's and missed them both, but I like the stretching. Borowicz real productive too.
 
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Ignatius L Hoops

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Yes, assuming they can handle the physical play, Braun and Battle are B1G ready.
Gradwell looked like she knew where to be and what to do-a much needed quality on this club.
Katie brought some show time (I hope Katie and Battle can keep the fouls under control.

Speaking of fouls, Rose started off with the type of silly fouls that troubled her last season (she hacked a three point shooter on the break and later got called for a moving screen). We really never got a good run of post play today.

Small ball enthusiasts, such as myself, can picture the Gophers playing a fair share of small ball. Running Katie and Battle together seems a plan.
 

walleye

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Exciting to watch. Exciting to see how this team will develop. Lots of energy and enthusiasm. There are more great athletes on this team than the past few years. The team shared the ball well and took the ball to the rim. Granted they had more size, speed, and muscle than River Falls. However, I think they will continue to try to get to the rim. It looks like they have good depth--lots of good play coming off the bench. And, they have some players that can shoot the ball from outside. Go Gophers!
 


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1667169184324.png1667169432655.png1667169198464.png1667169410416.png1667169267875.png1667169323490.png
 

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Belzx009

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I will give my honest reaction. Mara and Amaya are the real deal, I love the length they have have at the guard position. Not the biggest posts, but basically everyone in the top 8 is 6 feet besides Borowicz.

Defense?!? They can’t give 60 points up to a D3 team and a lot of that came on second chance points. Need to attack the rebounds better. I would assume with their guard height they will switch. Then they all need to.

I am so very excited to watch this season. I really hope they can shock some teams. I thought shot selection was good today. Nothing too forced. Left a couple of bunnies in the post I was not a fan of. I am picky.
 

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Gophers women’s basketball opens with 104-64 exhibition win over River Falls

“Six Gophers players scored in double figures in a 104-64 women’s basketball exhibition victory over Wisconsin-River Falls on Sunday afternoon at Williams Arena.

Mara Braun led the way, scoring 21 of her game-high 23 points in the first half. The freshman from Wayzata made 9 of 18 shots. Fellow freshman Amaya Battle was good for 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals in her debut.

Cleveland State transfer Isabelle Gradwell also scored 16 points for Minnesota on 5-of-9 shooting. Also scoring in double figures were Alanna Micheaux and Maggie Czinano with 13 points each and Katie Borowicz with 11.

The Gophers open their regular-season schedule on Monday, Nov. 7 at home against Western Illinois.”

 

Bfan

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Need to attack the rebounds better. I would assume with their guard height they will switch. Then they all need to.

Well said. The first rule of rebouding is effort. The second rule is to keep the other team from getting the rebound. How? Effort. Get to the ball outhustling the other team.
 

Ragnor

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It sure was fun to be in the Barn again yesterday and watch the women play! Overall I was impressed with the team's play (especially the new Freshman) although, I would have liked to see the defense do better in the second half like they did in the first. Part of that was UWRF adapted to the faster pace and physicality. Still I think defense and rebounding needs to be more consistent, these are my biggest concerns heading into the season.

Player by player impressions:

Katie (18 minutes): Katie will be great! this year and she sure brings the fire on offense, defense and leading the team. I think she was a bit over amped on offense. I think this was on display in 2 instances in particular, she had a 2 on 1 running down the left side with a teammate running down closer to the basket and instead of seeing her and make the pass she did some deft dribbling and turned over the ball. The other time was when she went streaking about 10' in front of the basket parallel to the baseline and threw up a missed runner. This was reminiscent of Scalia's shots that bugged me last year. I know Katie is a very good passer and I expect she will have a better than 0.5 Assist/TO ratio this year. She brought it in every other way yesterday.

Micheaux (22 minutes): Even stronger than last year! Looks better handling the ball and making moves around the basket. Will still foul too much. Apparent added confidence will improve her overall play on the year.

Gradwell (28 minutes): Nice player, and I suspect a better shooter than I anticipated. She looked good and will add some good depth and length to the roster.

Heyer (29 minutes): Seemed a little tentative at times but clearly brings some confidence for shooting and an accumen for mixing it up inside as well as getting down the court quickly.

Braun (32 minutes): Sorry Mara, I admit, I had my doubts you would be as good as people said you would. Sorry I every doubted you. Braun brought the outside shooting and then some. I never expected her defense and overall intensity to be so good. When she was guarding someone her eyes were so locked on the ball I was afraid it would catch on fire, thus she she had 3 steals. She seems like a good candidate for helping us forget about Scalia especially with that defense!!!! She did everthing as good or better than Scalia except for rebounding.

Oberg (13 minutes): Great addition skill wise. Nice feet and shot around the basket, more in control than Micheaux but without the speed and athleticism. Will complement Micheaux nicely. My only concern was she either seemed a bit shy or grumpy. Hope it is more shy and she becomes more comfortable. We will definitley be better inside with both Micheaux and Oberg there this year.

Battle (29 minutes): Looked super comfortable and aggressive. Fantastic addition!!! great rebounding, handled the ball well, passed well, nice size, quickness for defense. Appears poised to give Braun a challenge for freshman of the year.

Maggie (17 minutes): I could have sworn she grew between last year and this year. She looks longer and more athletic than I remember. I'm pretty sure I am wrong about this but this is what my impressions were none the less. She did a nice job today and will add nice depth too.

Hammond (7 minutes): I did not notice her too much. As seems to be a theme here she has good length and got a couple rebounds but did not notice her too much. Hope someone else has more of an impression.

Maria Counts (3.5 minutes): Good defender, glad she is on the team.

Ratzlaff (2.5 minutes): Did a nice job handling the ball, glad she is on the team too.

Clearly the plan was to limit the veteran minutes in favor of giving the freshman more court time to adapt and get comfortable to the physicality and speed of older college players.

Would love to see Counts and Ratzlaff get a few more minutes.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Katie (18 minutes): Katie will be great! this year and she sure brings the fire on offense, defense and leading the team. I think she was a bit over amped on offense. I think this was on display in 2 instances in particular, she had a 2 on 1 running down the left side with a teammate running down closer to the basket and instead of seeing her and make the pass she did some deft dribbling and turned over the ball. The other time was when she went streaking about 10' in front of the basket parallel to the baseline and threw up a missed runner. This was reminiscent of Scalia's shots that bugged me last year. I know Katie is a very good passer and I expect she will have a better than 0.5 Assist/TO ratio this year. She brought it in every other way yesterday.

Battle (29 minutes): Looked super comfortable and aggressive. Fantastic addition!!! great rebounding, handled the ball well, passed well, nice size, quickness for defense. Appears poised to give Braun a challenge for freshman of the year.

I think Katie and Battle will do some fun and effective free lancing. They see and react to the open drive and the open shot and don't necessarily run the preferred offense.

Shimmy had a couple of animated, side of the huddle, conversations with Katie which seemed to be about execution (that's my interpretation from the upper deck FWIW).

Even though they are freshmen (I have to remember that), I'm guessing that for this team to advance Battle and Borowicz will need to be given more and more rope. Especially if the other "B", Braun continues to impress. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the Western Illinois game.
 


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Although I don't know personally any of the young players on this year's roster, I'm liking what I am hearing about them in terms of laying a foundation/building a culture with this program. IMO, this has been missing for many years, even before Whalen took the job. I'm hoping that we now have some "heart and soul" players who will accept the challenge of rebuilding this program and who will make the Gopher program a desired destination for future recruits, especially Minnesota recruits.
 

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"
G Mara Braun (Minnesota): Braun, who scored 23 points and made five 3-pointers in the Gophers' exhibition, is a fundamental shot-maker who has a legitimate chance to leave an early mark on the floor for coach Lindsay Whalen." END QUOTE

Add Amaya Battle to that list too.



 




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