MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - It hasn’t been the season that Lindsay Whalen and the University of Minnesota women’s basketball team had in mind, and the Gophers have two games left before the Big Ten Tournament.
Barring an unprecedented postseason run, the Gophers won’t be playing past the conference tournament. They’re 10-17, just 3-13 in the Big Ten, in 13th place ahead of only Northwestern. There won’t be an NCAA Tournament, there won’t be a WNIT for Whalen and the Gophers.
It’s"Senior Week" for the Gophers, who face Michigan State in their final regular season road game. Minnesota hosts Purdue on Sunday in the final home game for four players – Destinee Oberg, Isabelle Gradwell, Angelina Hammond and Mi’Cole Cayton.
‘I want to obviously execute and do all those things, but I want to be sure that we’re continuing to grow as a program and continue to build, continue to grow relationships. Continue to work together and just continue to invest in each other and send out our seniors on a really high note," Whalen said Tuesday via Zoom. "In playing together and investing in our process and in each other, then you give yourself the best chance for success. It’s Senior Week and I want to send these guys out the right way."
The Gophers snapped a six-game losing streak about a week ago with a thrilling 95-92 win over Nebraska at Williams Arena. They were unable to build on it, losing at the last place Wildcats 76-62 on Saturday.
In Whalen’s fifth season leading the Gophers, she’s 70-74 overall and 31-57 in the Big Ten. She now has the challenge of keeping players engaged and trying to finish the season on a high note going into next year.
Whalen had visions of taking the Gophers to the NCAA Tournament and contending for Big Ten titles. So far, it hasn’t translated.
"Our record is our record. At this point we can learn from different things that happened throughout the year, but at this point there’s nothing that we can do to go back and change it. Just focusing on today and starting the week off right, that’s all you can do," Whalen said. "It means a little more this week because it is the last week of the regular season. Just focused on that and understand that regardless of our record, this group is learning, this group is growing. Just focused on that."
The Gophers are part host for the Big Ten Tournament this year at Target Center, and they’ll likely have a first round game as a bottom four seed.