No more growing pains

The evolution of Janel McCarville is almost complete

By Ray Richardson

Knight Ridder Newspapers

MINNEAPOLIS -- It; has been an interesting journey for Janel McCarville in the University of Minnesota women's basketball program.

She came to the campus in the fall of 2001 as a sensitive, undisciplined freshman. Today she's an All-American, a candidate for national player of the year honors and the leader of a team coming off an appearance in last season's NCAA Final Four.


Among McCarville's many accomplishments in her first three years at Minnesota, becoming the Gophers' leader and role model might jump to the top of the list.

"In order for us to have confidence in Janel, she has to gain our respect, and I think she's done that," Gophers guard Shannon Schonrock said. "I think she's ready to show us she can be a great leader."

With Lindsay Whalen moving on to the WNBA after last season, McCarville must pick up where Whalen left off -- keeping the Gophers among the nation's elite programs. McCarville believes she's ready, and so does Gophers coach Pam Borton. Borton chose McCarville as one of the team's captains, with Schonrock and Shannon Bolden. They are the returning starters from last season's 25-9 team.

Lone senior

McCarville, the Gophers' only senior this season, appears to be taking on the primary leadership duties as the Gophers prepare for their first practice Saturday morning at Williams Arena.

"The past four to five weeks in our preseason workouts, Janel has been saying things a leader should be saying," Borton said. "She's been making people accountable for their actions. That never came from Janel before."

At times during McCarville's career at Minnesota, she wasn't in a position to lead. Some observers claim she wasn't qualified.

McCarville, popular in her hometown of Stevens Point, Wis., almost didn't survive her freshman season because of academic concerns. Three weeks after the Gophers' season ended, she broke down and cried during a television interview. She couldn't handle the news that coach Brenda Oldfield was leaving for Maryland.


Transition period

Borton became the coach, but McCarville started her sophomore season questioning Borton's approach and guidelines. It took almost half the season before coach and player smoothed things out.

Early last season, before the Gophers' Final Four run, McCarville had to learn how to be less critical of her teammates in practice.

McCarville, recovering from a bout with mononucleosis during the summer, admits she has had tough moments in the program.

"Some people grow into leadership roles faster than others," said McCarville.

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