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Stollings brings fast-paced style to Minnesota

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 8, 2014 at 8:33 pm •  Published: April 8, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — New coaches at major conference programs often inherit struggling or talent-deficient teams.

That won't be the case for Marlene Stollings at Minnesota.

"The cupboard is not bare, and that's exciting for me to come into a program with the amount of talent that exists here," Stollings said at Tuesday's introductory news conference at Williams Arena, the place she pledged to make "the toughest environment in the nation" for visiting teams facing the Gophers.

"I think we can move up the ladder and accomplish great things in a short amount of time. It's not something that we have to wait a number of years for."

Stollings, who spent the last two seasons at VCU, will have a pair of ready-made stars in guard Rachel Banham and center Amanda Zahui B. Banham led the conference in scoring, and Big Ten Freshman of the Year award winner Zahui B was the top rebounder in the league. The Gophers also have an incoming recruiting class highlighted by guard Carlie Wagner, the all-time leading high school scorer in the state.

At VCU, Stollings guided the Rams from an 11-19 record her first season to 22-10 and a spot in the WNIT. She branded their style of play "Fury" — described on the VCU website as high-powered, high-scoring, relentless, disciplined and fun. The Gophers perked up when they began to hear about the details.

"I love that she's offensive-minded, because I think we all know that I love offense," Banham said. "So I'm just excited to see and go forward with everything."

With a thin bench, the Gophers didn't run the fast break as much as they wanted for since-fired coach Pam Borton's last of 12 years with the program. Banham, like many of her teammates, grew close to Borton and her staff. But after five straight absences from the NCAA tournament, a switch became inevitable.

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