BEST LOCAL GIRL MADE GOOD - 2002
The University of Minnesota women's basketball team was full of surprises this past season. One, certainly, was 31-year-old Brenda Oldfield, who took over the reins from scandal-plagued former coach Cheryl Littlejohn--and promptly guided the team to a 22-8 record, a tie for second place in the Big Ten, and a near trip to the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 (which would have been a first in Gophers history). The next surprise came when Oldfield, who had already been tapped as Coach of the Year in the Big Ten, was chosen Associated Press Coach of the Year over Geno Auriemma, whose Connecticut Huskies finished the season undefeated. Then the biggest shocker: Before we even had a chance to treat ourselves to visions of what might be in store next year, Oldfield was gone, wooed away to the big big time at the University of Maryland. What's to become of the team? Well, we'll take our chances with the strong returning nexus of center Janel McCarville, forwards Kadidja Andersson and Corrin Von Wald, and our pick in this category, five-foot-eight point guard Lindsay Whalen. A native of Hutchinson who celebrates her 20th birthday next week, Whalen came into her own in her sophomore season, winning Big Ten Player of the Year honors. Here's what she had to say about the team's prospects after Oldfield announced her decision to depart: "I haven't looked at the box score, but I don't think she played very many minutes for us this year." That's the spirit!