Gophers’ Women’s Basketball: Rachel Banham On Track to Return At Start of Season


Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Any positive buzz surrounding the Minnesota women’s basketball team last season was quickly dampened by star guard Rachel Banham’s torn right ACL. But they did win 23 games on their way to a NCAA Tournament berth, and hopes are high for the coming season even after the departure of center Amanda Zahui B. to the WNBA.

Banham was cleared for non-contact drills in July, and she has set her sights on breaking Lindsay Whalen’s all-time scoring record of 2,285 points. Banham needs just 107 more points to break Whalen’s record, so assuming full health and no setbacks it’s a foregone conclusion that she’ll finish her career as the all-time leading scorer in the history of Gopher women’s basketball.

During an appearance with “Mackey and Judd” on 1500 ESPN this week, Gopher women’s basketball head coach Marlene Stollings said Banham is on track to be fully cleared for contact at some point in October. That is obviously good news, with the team’s home and season opener coming on Nov. 13 against Wofford.

Prior to her season-ending injury, which resulted in a medical redshirt and an extra year of eligibility, Banham averaged 18.6 points per game in 10 games played last season. Based on that per-game average she would pass Whalen during the team’s sixth game of the upcoming season, which would be Dec. 3 against Duke in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Banham averaged 22.1 points per game during the 2013-14 season, so if she recaptures that form immediately she could surpass Whalen during Minnesota’s trip to the San Juan Shootout (Nov. 27-28, against Stetson and Auburn).

The accomplishment may come away from the home crowd at Williams Arena, which would be less than ideal. But we’ll surely see a new all-time leading scorer for Gophers’ women’s basketball at some point during the upcoming season, and Banham is a worthy successor to Whalen.

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