The Minnesota Golden Gophers haven't had a lot to be proud of recently on the men's basketball side of things, but the women's tea is in a bit of a better position. Rachel Banham was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a second-team All-Big Ten selection on Monday.
Banham led the Gophers this season by averaging 16.1 points per game, the seventh-best average in the Big Ten this season, and her streak of 26-straight games in which she's scored in double-figures is the second-longest streak in the conference. Janel McCarville, the first overall pick in the 2005 WNBA Draft, is the only other Gophers player to be named both the Freshman of the Year and second-team All-Big Ten while playing on the women's team.
Head coach Pam Borton beamed about her freshman in a press release published on the team's website.
"It was (Rachel's) goal at the beginning of the year to be the Big Ten Freshman of the Year," Borton stated. "We did everything possible for her as coaches to help her reach this goal by challenging her, setting the bar high, holding her accountable and supporting her every step of the way. After accomplishing this, and where she ranks in the Big Ten statistically, now her work really begins. I have never seen such a humble player accomplish something like this and realize that she has a lot of work to do to get better. That is what I am most excited about... she knows that she has to continue getting better, because she wants to be the best."
The Gophers begin postseason play as the No. 8 seed in the Big Ten Conference Tournament on Thursday. Baham and her Minnesota teammates will play the Wisconsin Badgers in a 5 p.m. game for the right to advance on to play top-seed Purdue.