Friday, January 25, 2008

A good Knight

Last season was Leslie Knight's breakout year.

She rarely played her first two seasons, a total of 19 games; barely registering a point on the scoreboard in the process.

As others left the program, Knight instead stuck it out through hard work, repetition and perseverance.

"She developed herself into a complete player," notes Minnesota Coach Pam Borton.

The 6-1 Knight became a starter last season, not missing an assignment. Her average quadrupled to eight points a game.

Proving that it was no fluke, Knight has quietly continue up the charts. She's second in the Big Ten in scoring (16.4 ppg), and easily has become the Gophers' go-to player.

Knight's career-high 33 points helped defeat his Buckeyes 79-70 Thursday night at Williams Arena.

"I thought the Knight kid played terrific," says Ohio State Coach Jim Foster. "She obviously was the difference in the game."

"Plays get called for me, and I try to execute," Knight modestly points out.

This is how Knight has "tried" thus far -- 16 points at Michigan State, 20 against Purdue; 18 points vs. Iowa; another 20-point effort at Wisconsin; two 12-point games against Illinois and Penn State, respectively; and 17 points in a double-overtime loss at Indiana.

She's also hitting at a 60 percent clip.

"She is very difficult to defend," says Borton of Knight.

The Gophers snapped a six-game Ohio State winning streak with the win, as well as breaking its own three-game slid against the Buckeyes.

It was a good Knight for all wearing Maroon and Gold.

Other tidbits from Thursday's win, which Minnesota improves to 14-6, 5-3 in the Big Ten:

--Borton changed her lineup, inserting a three-guard lineup with Katie Ohm instead of forward Korinne Campbell. Ohm went 3-4, and 2-of-2 from behind the arc, and finished with 8 points. In her first non-start of the season, Campbell played 17 minutes and had a basket and a rebound.

--The Gopher coach told me that changing starters will keep everyone hungry and ward off complacency: "It's a game-to-game, practice-to-practice basis," says Borton

--a Ohio State beat writer asked Foster did the always noisy crowd at Williams Arena (it was only 5,838, but at times it sounded like 20,000) may had affected his squad, the coach responded: "I've never lost to a building in 30 years of coaching. If you want the building to be quiet, (then) make shots."

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