20 Months. That is how long it was between competitive basketball games for Gopher Redshirt guard Gadiva Hubbard. To say that the team and fans alike are thrilled to have her back on the court is an understatement. With the Gophers currently sitting at 11-4, Hubbard has picked up right where she left off at the end of the 17-18 season. She is currently averaging 11.7 points per game and of the main six in the Gopher rotation, she has the lowest number of turnovers with only 12 in 15 games. She is also currently sitting at 900 Career points at this time and will likely reach the 1,000-point accomplishment later this year in Big Ten play. Let’s break down the key factors that makes Gadiva such an irreplaceable and valuable member to the team.
Hubbard is currently second on the team with 31 made three-pointers on 38% shooting from deep range. However just simply looking at the numbers doesn’t seem to do her justice. She is a shooter who defenses can not risk sagging off. If they give her space, she will launch and likely connect. Then if you press up on her, she has the ball handling and strength to drive in for a strong finish at the basket. In arguably the Gophers two big wins this season, Hubbard has been a major reason why they walked away with that W. She scored 20 points, hit 6-pointers and went on a personal 8-0 run late in the Gophers 75-67 win at Notre Dame. In the Gopher win 80-66 win over Arizona State she poured in 20 points and hit 4-pointers. Gadiva having a good game this year and for most of her career has meant the team would more than likely be victorious.
Defense: This is a part of her game that I don’t feel she gets enough credit for when she is discussed. She arguably could be considered the strongest guard defender on the team. Many times, when a strong guard is rolling or coming into the on a hot streak, its Hubbard with the task of stopping her. She currently has 30 steals and averaging over 2 a game which speaks to her quick hands and deceptive quickness on defense. Her ability to keep quick guards who are shorter than her in front of her compiled with her strength and knack for defending taller post or wing players with her speed and instinctual reads for steals makes her an invaluable part of the team’s defense. Having the ability to have a player guard any position on the guard leads to making it hard for Coach Whalen to take her off the court at times.
This in my honest opinion was the biggest thing the team missed with her out with a foot injury last season. She was the calming force that the coaches and team could trust to not only make the right play, but to make it under control and with a calm about her that showed she never let the other team speed her up on defense or offense. She is the player that I have full faith in when the ball is in her hands. I don’t think I can remember a time where I had a thought that she made the wrong decision or made a rushed decision that led to a turnover. Many times, most recently in a exciting back and forth game against Northwestern, there was actually a play when the gophers had just cut a double-digit deficit to 2, and they got a stop and went charging up the court. The guards were heading into a 2 on 4 and odds were not in their favor. They passed it to the top of the key to Hubbard. You could visibly see her take a deep breath and it made the team take a deep breath. That is a skillset that can not be understated. The team may have missed the shot, but it got a good and open shot. That is something they may not have gotten had they had not someone to calm them down. Her calming effect has been on full display this season and it was a reminder of what was missing from the team last season in high intensity moments.
Throughout the ups and downs of this season, the Gophers will know they have a cool, calm and collected player and person they can turn to whenever the team, players, and fans must take a breath.