Dishin & Swishin 2/11/16 Podcast: It was a good week to be Rachel Banham!
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So how was your last week? If you are Minnesota senior guard Rachel Banham, it was one to remember.
She dropped 60 points in a double-overtime victory over Northwestern to tie the NCAA record for most points in a game, was named national player of the week by espnW and the USBWA, and received a tweet from Kobe Bryant. Not too shabby.
Banham is no flash in the pan, and this was no fluke. The local Minnesota product has been a force for the Gophers since her 2012 debut. That year she was a five-time Big Ten freshman of the week, and conference freshman of the year as well. Honorable mention All-American from the WBCA followed in her sophomore and junior seasons, and Banham was on all the major award watch lists last season when she suffered a torn ACL that prematurely ended what could have been a historical season for the Gophers.
While she had been projected as a possible lottery pick last season, not returning for her redshirt senior season was never really a consideration for Banham; she announced in January 2015 she would come back. Banham did not waver, even after fellow All-American candidate Amanda Zahui B. decided to leave school early and join the WNBA instead of playing this season for the Gophers.
This season Banham returned to her role as the team’s leader. If anything the time off has helped her appreciate the other parts of the game beyond her tremendous scoring ability; not only does she lead the team with nearly 26 points per game, but she also leads them in rebounding (6.4 per game), steals (2.2 per game), and is second in assists (3.6 per game). The 60 she dropped on Northwestern merely brought to the forefront what women’s basketball fans and WNBA scouts alike already knew, that Banham was back, she is healthy, and she is a dynamic presence in the Big Ten.
As of now, the Gophers are not projected as an NCAA tournament worthy team, despite their 16-7 overall record and 8-4 conference record. They lack a “big” non-conference win, and as ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme tweeted this week “Minnesota is 87 in RPI. No one has ever received at-large bid [with] that poor [an RPI]. Not even close to that low, in fact.”
Banham will have to be at her best for the Gophers to win enough of their remaining games to boost that resume. The six teams they play have a winning percentage of .741, and include top 25 teams Michigan State, Ohio State and Maryland.
It is a pleasure to welcome Rachel Banham to this week’s Dishin & Swishin podcast. By now you have read all the statistics and numbers behind her 60 point outburst, so the interview focuses more on her return to the Gophers and to pre-injury form, the Gophers season, comparison to Minnesota legend Linday Whalen, and a look at the future.
Good luck to Minnesota; it would be nice to say Banham end her career in the NCAA tournament.
Enjoy the podcast!