Gophers use 'March mentality' to prep for postseason

A year ago, the Gophers women’s basketball team was wrapping up a below-.500 season and Minnesota’s 15 wins were the lowest total since 2010-2011. 

“I just feel like this team has so much more fight,” Gophers forward Taiye Bello said. 

The Gophers are now right in the fight for the NCAA Tournament. That is thanks in part to a phrase that has fueled their focus since the summer. 

“March Mentality,” Gophers guard Kenisha Bell called the team’s mindset. “Do everything for March. Play hard and stay focused.”

It’s a term that the entire team is buying into and one they came up with on their own before the 2017-2018 season started.

“It’s big because they came up with it,” said Gophers head coach Marlene Stollings. “It’s a mantra that they’ve held close to the vest and close to their hearts.”

After winning five of their last six games, the Gophers will first try to make their mark in March this weekend in the Big Ten Tournament as the 4th seeded team.

“We have to do what you’re supposed to do as a four seed,” Gophers guard Carlie Wagner said. “We want to remember how we got to the four seed too while we’re playing. We can’t wander and not play Gopher basketball.”

A little momentum would pair well with the Gophers’ new mentality too, as they try to win the conference tournament for the first time in program history.

“I think that just makes our team play with more of a chip on our shoulder,” Bell said. “We want to be that team that everybody is talking about and I think that this is our chance to do so.”

Their first game in the Big Ten Tournament will be on Friday against the winner between No. 5 Iowa and either No. 13 Wisconsin and No. 12 Northwestern. The game starts around 1:30 p.m.