Broback's status iffy for Thursday's game
Leading scorer might be out for No. 7 Ohio State
University of Minnesota women's basketball coach Pam Borton said forward Jamie Broback's status is "day to day" after the team's leading scorer and rebounder suffered a bruised right elbow in Sunday's loss at Purdue.
Broback, a junior from Apple Valley, underwent an X-ray on Monday, but Borton said the tests were negative.
"Nothing was broken," Borton said. "Her arm got twisted a little bit when a player fell on her hand."
Broback, averaging 13.3 points and 6.4 rebounds, was injured early in the second half during a scramble for a loose ball. She left the game and did not return.
Borton said Broback's availability for Thursday night's game against No. 7 Ohio State (21-2, 11-1 Big Ten Conference) at Williams Arena would depend on how she practices this week. Broback practiced Tuesday with her arm tightly wrapped in a support bandage.
The Gophers (17-6, 9-3) who fell from 11th to 17th in this week's Associated Press top 25, have been relatively injury-free this season. No starter has missed a game because of an injury. Guard April Calhoun came off the bench during the Gophers' first four games while recovering from a foot injury she suffered before the start of season.
Schonrock honor: Guard Shannon Schonrock will be recognized before Thursday night's game to salute her three-point shooting record.
Schonrock, a senior from Winnebago, Minn., became the Gophers' all-time leader in made three-pointers during Thursday's loss at Michigan State. She has 218 career three-pointers, which moved her past Lindsey Lieser, who made 216 from 1999-2002.
Schonrock is tied with former Lynx star Katie Smith (now with the WNBA Detroit Shock) for ninth place on the Big Ten's all-time three-point list. Smith hit 218 three-pointers at Ohio State from 1993-96.
With four conference games remaining, Schonrock has a chance to move up as high as seventh. Former Penn State star Lisa Shepherd (1998-2001) is seventh with 230.
Another former Penn State star, Kelly Mazzante (2001-04), holds the Big Ten mark with 357 three-pointers.
Buckeyes impressive: The Gophers, who lost at Michigan State and Purdue by an average margin of 27.5 points, will have to regroup against an Ohio State team that leads the Big Ten in five major categories.
After 12 Big Ten games, the Buckeyes lead the conference in scoring margin (16.3), overall shooting percentage (51.3 percent), three-point shooting percentage (42.6 percent), fewest points allowed (54.2) and opponents' shooting percentage (37.3 percent). The Buckeyes rank second in scoring (70.6) behind Iowa (71.5).
Point guard gets trial run
Late Monday after a loss to Toronto, Timberwolves point guard Marcus Banks shouted a question across the locker room directed at his coach.
Banks wanted to know what time Dwane Casey would arrive at the office Tuesday morning so the young point guard could come in and review game film.
"While I'm young right now I can still get taught a lot," Banks said. "Just get in and do the extra stuff like watch film with coaches. So if that's what I have to do, I'm willing to do it."
Casey said Banks is going through a learning process, one the Wolves are confident he'll master. The organization is evaluating whether Banks, 24 and in his third NBA season, might be the franchise's point guard of the future.
Minnesota's leaders heap praise on the player the team acquired three weeks ago in a multiplayer trade with Boston. Tonight's game against the Seattle SuperSonics will be Banks' 10th in a Wolves uniform.
"He's a guy that we really wanted," said Kevin McHale, Minnesota's vice president of basketball operations. "He was one of the guys that we felt was the tilting point in doing it (the trade)."
Since joining the Wolves, Banks is averaging more minutes than any other point guard on the team, even though he hasn't started a game.
"We felt like we could potentially, if we were able to make that deal, find a point guard that could start for us for the next 10 years," said Minnesota scout Rex Chapman, who followed Banks closely at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. "I think it's too soon to tell if that's going to be the case, but we sure like what we see."
Banks is dynamic -- think part Tasmanian devil, part street baller -- whose bursts of speed and quickness make him unique in team history. All-star forward Kevin Garnett has called Banks the quickest point guard he's played with in 11 seasons with the Wolves.
His statistics aren't eye-popping: 11.8 points and 3.2 assists in 26.4 minutes with Minnesota.
But during his Wolves debut, which came against his former Celtics teammates just four days after the Jan. 26 trade, he showed why McHale and company coveted his talents.
Banks flashed and dashed to 20 points and six assists, personal bests this season. He did it while shooting 6 of 8 from the field. The Celtics, who had practiced against Banks for 21⁄2; seasons, had trouble containing his speed.
He raced around the court faster than the Celtics, who sent Banks to the free-throw line nine times that night at Target Center.
Those are the same qualities Banks showed coming out of college and why he was a lottery pick in the NBA draft.
Banks struggled with consistency during his time with the Celtics, and that kept him from rising to the top of the depth chart under coaches Jim O'Brien and his successor, Doc Rivers. Banks played in 180 games with Boston and started five. He averaged fewer than six points a game.
Banks excels in fast-paced games against teams that aren't defensive-minded. In half-court games, where thinking through each possession becomes important, Banks hasn't reached the point where he can be effective every night.
Lineup changes help
A month ago, a 17-point loss at Purdue dropped the University of Minnesota men's basketball team to last place in the Big Ten Conference.
The Gophers anticipated radical changes after the demoralizing defeat. Some thought them necessary. But they never came.
A couple more losses dropped the Gophers to 0-6 in the conference. That forced coach Dan Monson to shake things up.
During a Saturday practice two weeks ago, before Minnesota played host to Indiana, senior forward Zach Puchtel caught Monson's attention. Puchtel played mostly on the scout team, but when practice was over his effort overshadowed everyone.
"He said we just need fighters to play and that's why Zach is going to be playing on (Indiana's) Marco (Killingsworth) and starting," Puchtel said.
Monson decided to go with Puchtel and another walk-on, freshman guard Jamal Abu-Shamala. They've been playing ever since.
"That boy played so hard in practice it was all a reward," senior wing Vincent Grier said of Puchtel, who had a career-best 13 points and five rebounds in 29 minutes during Saturday's 69-55 victory over then-No. 12 Michigan State. "He gets the first team better each and every day, so when he got to start I knew he would come to play."
The Gophers defeated then-No. 11 Indiana by 19 points and have won three of their past four games with Puchtel and Abu-Shamala in the starting lineup, alongside seniors Grier, J'son Stamper and Adam Boone.
It's the first time all season the Gophers have used the same five starters this long. And opposing coaches are noticing a difference.