Looking back and a little foward: Whalen years

EaganGopher22

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I thought that I would take a stab at a look at the Whalen coaching years and all the things that have worked against Whalen and the Gophers. Admittedly, some are on Whalen, but much of it was outside her control. Great talent makes a coach look much better, and lesser talent probably more easily exposes weaknesses. I didn’t have a means to find the rosters for each year, so I looked at the stat sheets for each year to determine what players were on the team (essentially, if they played some during the season). So I may have missed some who were on the roster officially.

2018-19. The team that Whalen inherited from Stollings included Kanisha Bell, Gadiva Hubbard, Destiny Pitts, Taiye Bello, Jasmine Brunson, Palma Kaposi, Annalese Lamke, Irene Garrido Perez, and Kehinde Bello. Based on many of the rumors of the time, several of these players were going to seek to transfer prior to the exit by Stollings in April 2018. (And then we later discover what a poisoned atmosphere was there after the mess surfaces in Texas).

Whalen was hired shortly after that while still playing for the Lynx for the summer. Needless to say, Whalen faced some challenges being a WNBA player and a coach. Her ability to recruit was likely hampered by not having previous contact with high school players. And her assistant coaches probably had limited previous contacts as well, especially in MN. On top of that, the U of M connection to MN high school and AAU was essentially non-existent.

Considering that the best players are being recruited as early as the 8th grade, and certainly by the 10th grade, any coach new to the U would be at least three years behind the MN recruiting scene.

My guess is to add players to the 2018-19 team meant getting players who hadn’t yet committed and were likely on the lower end of the talent pool. (And this theme will play for the next few recruiting seasons as well). The resultant additions were Mercedes Staples, Barbora Tomacova, and Delaynie Byrne. Additionally, Gadiva Hubbard sat the year out due to injury.

Whalen had to begin to try to re-establish connections with MN high school coaches, AAU programs, and players. Essentially, three to four years behind in the recruitment process.

2019-20. Bell, Kaposi, Lamke, Garrido Perez, and Byrne are gone (mostly graduation). Incoming were Sara Scalia, Jasmine Powell, Masha Adashcyk, and Klarke Sconiers. And Gadiva Hubbard returned from injury. Staples and Pitts leaves team mid-year.

Recruiting is further hampered by COVID in 2020-21. Have to believe this impacted newer coaches like Whalen vs. established coaches like Frese or Staley, etc.

2020-21. Brunson and Bello twins graduate, Adashcyk are gone. Additions included Kadi Sissoko, Laura Bagwell Katalinich, Alexia Smith, Kayla Mershon, Caroline Strande, Katie Borowictz (arrived mid-year), Grace Cummings, Justice Ross, and Erin Hedman.

2021-22. Justice Ross (gone?) and Katie Borowictz (injured). Deja Winters and Bailey Helgren (transfers), Maggie Cziano and Alanna (Rose) Micheaux (recruits) are added. Powell leaves during the season. Based on the play or lack of play, I expected Smith, Strande, and Hedman to leave at the end of the year (especially in light of incoming freshman recruits and some expectation that incoming transfers would play in front of them).

Following the theme, Whalen appears to have successfully navigated the recruiting cycle in the state. Four of the top five recruits commit to the U for 2022-23.

2022-23. Bagwell Katalinich, Mershon, Winters, Hubbard, and Helgren graduate (run out of eligibility). Scalia, Sconiers, Smith, Strande, and Hedman enter transfer portal. Borowictz, Michaux, and Cziano remain. “Fab 4” recruits arriving. And the transfer portal will bring additions (my guess is 3-5 players). Since there are about 1100 in the portal at the moment, would hope she could attract some out of the top 100-300.
 

MennoSota

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Is this the Whalen years or the wailing years? 🤔
 

GringaGopher

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I thought that I would take a stab at a look at the Whalen coaching years and all the things that have worked against Whalen and the Gophers. Admittedly, some are on Whalen, but much of it was outside her control. Great talent makes a coach look much better, and lesser talent probably more easily exposes weaknesses. I didn’t have a means to find the rosters for each year, so I looked at the stat sheets for each year to determine what players were on the team (essentially, if they played some during the season). So I may have missed some who were on the roster officially.

2018-19. The team that Whalen inherited from Stollings included Kanisha Bell, Gadiva Hubbard, Destiny Pitts, Taiye Bello, Jasmine Brunson, Palma Kaposi, Annalese Lamke, Irene Garrido Perez, and Kehinde Bello. Based on many of the rumors of the time, several of these players were going to seek to transfer prior to the exit by Stollings in April 2018. (And then we later discover what a poisoned atmosphere was there after the mess surfaces in Texas).

Whalen was hired shortly after that while still playing for the Lynx for the summer. Needless to say, Whalen faced some challenges being a WNBA player and a coach. Her ability to recruit was likely hampered by not having previous contact with high school players. And her assistant coaches probably had limited previous contacts as well, especially in MN. On top of that, the U of M connection to MN high school and AAU was essentially non-existent.

Considering that the best players are being recruited as early as the 8th grade, and certainly by the 10th grade, any coach new to the U would be at least three years behind the MN recruiting scene.

My guess is to add players to the 2018-19 team meant getting players who hadn’t yet committed and were likely on the lower end of the talent pool. (And this theme will play for the next few recruiting seasons as well). The resultant additions were Mercedes Staples, Barbora Tomacova, and Delaynie Byrne. Additionally, Gadiva Hubbard sat the year out due to injury.

Whalen had to begin to try to re-establish connections with MN high school coaches, AAU programs, and players. Essentially, three to four years behind in the recruitment process.

2019-20. Bell, Kaposi, Lamke, Garrido Perez, and Byrne are gone (mostly graduation). Incoming were Sara Scalia, Jasmine Powell, Masha Adashcyk, and Klarke Sconiers. And Gadiva Hubbard returned from injury. Staples and Pitts leaves team mid-year.

Recruiting is further hampered by COVID in 2020-21. Have to believe this impacted newer coaches like Whalen vs. established coaches like Frese or Staley, etc.

2020-21. Brunson and Bello twins graduate, Adashcyk are gone. Additions included Kadi Sissoko, Laura Bagwell Katalinich, Alexia Smith, Kayla Mershon, Caroline Strande, Katie Borowictz (arrived mid-year), Grace Cummings, Justice Ross, and Erin Hedman.

2021-22. Justice Ross (gone?) and Katie Borowictz (injured). Deja Winters and Bailey Helgren (transfers), Maggie Cziano and Alanna (Rose) Micheaux (recruits) are added. Powell leaves during the season. Based on the play or lack of play, I expected Smith, Strande, and Hedman to leave at the end of the year (especially in light of incoming freshman recruits and some expectation that incoming transfers would play in front of them).

Following the theme, Whalen appears to have successfully navigated the recruiting cycle in the state. Four of the top five recruits commit to the U for 2022-23.

2022-23. Bagwell Katalinich, Mershon, Winters, Hubbard, and Helgren graduate (run out of eligibility). Scalia, Sconiers, Smith, Strande, and Hedman enter transfer portal. Borowictz, Michaux, and Cziano remain. “Fab 4” recruits arriving. And the transfer portal will bring additions (my guess is 3-5 players). Since there are about 1100 in the portal at the moment, would hope she could attract some out of the top 100-300.
Thanks for the nice review of her tenure. Reading the variety of issues brings home how challenging coaching D1 has been over the past few years.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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The 19-20 team had signed Lesila Finau, Jaidah Stewart and Happy Mahouchiza in addition to Byrne.

Finau asked to be released from her letter after meeting with Whalen. She ended up starting at Colorado (she was not a game changer) and is now in the portal. Stewart was released from her letter and went to Houston and then to St. Louis before I lost track of her. Mahouchiza, I believe, was here for part of the summer before leaving. Anyway, that was a lost recruiting class.
 

Ragnor

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The 19-20 team had signed Lesila Finau, Jaidah Stewart and Happy Mahouchiza in addition to Byrne.

Finau asked to be released from her letter after meeting with Whalen. She ended up starting at Colorado (she was not a game changer) and is now in the portal. Stewart was released from her letter and went to Houston and then to St. Louis before I lost track of her. Mahouchiza, I believe, was here for part of the summer before leaving. Anyway, that was a lost recruiting class.
Yes, she has had some bad misses in recruiting. Hopefully the 4 incoming don't add to it.
 



Ragnor

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Mercedes Staples has gone on to have a solid career at USD but Barbora Tomacova just dropped off the face of the planet. It looks like she never played and may never have finished her semester/year at Florida International.
 

60's Guy

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How good the minimum four transfers are will be the best indicator what next season will look like.
How much playing experience do they have? Can they step in and lead the way? There is nobody else...
 

whalenfan

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Mercedes Staples has gone on to have a solid career at USD but Barbora Tomacova just dropped off the face of the planet. It looks like she never played and may never have finished her semester/year at Florida International.
Tomancova didnt play her 2 years at whatever school she was at and is currently in the portal again
 



Ragnor

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Tomancova didnt play her 2 years at whatever school she was at and is currently in the portal again
Seriously??! o_O where can I find a list of the women's portal. It would be interesting to see.
 



walleye

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EaganGopher. Great analysis. I looked at the players recruited at Minnesota who were ranked in the top 100 as listed on ESPN by HoopGuriz. I made assumptions that great teams recruit many top 100 players and that there is some validity to the rankings. However, we all know that some highly ranked players don't pan out and there are some non-ranked players that catch fire. I looked at the years from 2011, which was Rachel Banham's recruitment class, to 2022. Minnesota recruited 13 top-100s ranging from 0 - 3 per year and averaging 1.08 per year. Whalen has recruited 8. The State of Minnesota has produced 27 top-100s or an average of 2.25 per year. The Gophers have recruited 6 Minnesota T-100s and 7 T-100s from out-of-state. Rachel Banham was ranked 19th, which gives us an idea of what a player ranked that high can accomplish. Only three players from Minnesota were ranked higher: Bueckers, Dahlman, and Nnaji. Of interest, Sissoko was ranked 11th and began at Syracuse, Powell was 57th, and Scalia was not ranked in his T-100! Two-Thirds of the other players raised in Minnesota or recruited by the Gophers were ranked 50 to 100, and likely needed seasoning. In the year (2019) that Powell and Scalia joined the Gophers, the number of top players recruited by South Carolina was 4, Stanford 4, and UConn, 1 and were all top-25. Minnesota needs to recruit more top-100 players per year to move to the next level and likely need someone in the top-50s. Whalen has 3 top-100 coming in for next season and hopefully they will develop quickly. Even if all the top-100 players raised in Minnesota the joined the Gophers, which is unlikely because some kids want to get away from home, this is still an insufficient number (ave. = 2.25/year). Whalen will need to land some top-100s or a top-50 from elsewhere and score in the Transfer Portal.
 




EaganGopher22

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In adding to the narrative I started. Didn't think about additional challenges of coaching staff. O'Bannion, associate head coach leaves for head coaching position in spring of 2021. Carly is promoted to associate head coach. Shimmy Gray-Miller is added as assistant coach. Spring, 2022, Carly leaves for head coaching position. (Hopefully I got the timing right, if not the true site historian, Iggy, will correct me).
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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In adding to the narrative I started. Didn't think about additional challenges of coaching staff. O'Bannion, associate head coach leaves for head coaching position in spring of 2021. Carly is promoted to associate head coach. Shimmy Gray-Miller is added as assistant coach. Spring, 2022, Carly leaves for head coaching position. (Hopefully I got the timing right, if not the true site historian, Iggy, will correct me).
I believe O'Bannion was an assistant coach and not an associate head coach. Carly was promoted to associate head coach in May 2020.
 

ecoperson

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I believe O'Bannion was an assistant coach and not an associate head coach. Carly was promoted to associate head coach in May 2020.
That was my understanding... the three coaches prior to O'Banion's departure were all on equal terms as 'assistants.'
 

EaganGopher22

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Thanks for the correction. I thought they changed her title her last year.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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hungan1

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I wish Lindsay Whalen the best of luck. She didn't have coaching and recruiting experience and went into the job cold turkey.

There is more to coaching than just Xs and 0s.
 




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