Lindsay Whalen put her No. 13 jersey into circulation last November, but it won’t get a workout until Gadiva Hubbard wears it this season.
Hubbard, a sixth-year senior who joined the Minnesota Golden Gophers women’s basketball team before Whalen became the team’s head coach in 2018, will be the first Gophers player to wear No. 13 since Whalen wore it while leading Minnesota to the Final Four in 2004, most likely when the Gophers begin their season Oct. 31 against Minnesota Crookston at Williams Arena.
Hubbard is one of 12 players on the 2021-22 roster returning from a team that went 8-13 overall, 7-11 in the Big Ten during a COVID-shortened season in 2020-21. She averaged 11.1 points and 3.5 rebounds as a redshirt junior before taking the extra season allowed by the NCAA because of disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic last year.
“I remember overhearing ‘Diva say that was her number, and she was told that she couldn’t wear it. So, I said, ‘We’re going to change that,’ ” Whalen said Tuesday after the Gophers’ first practice of the season. “She stuck with me all four years, and it’s a number she wanted to wear.”
Whalen was a three-time All-America player at Minnesota and led the Gophers to Sweet 16 and Final Four appearances. She won four WNBA titles with the Lynx, who officially retired her No. 13 jersey in June 2019. Her No. 13 is one of six “honored” jerseys hanging in the rafters at Williams Arena. The others belong to her former teammate Janel McCarville (4), Rachel Banham (1), Linda Roberts (21), Carol Ann Shudlick (42) and Laura Coenen (44).
Junior point guard Jasmine Powell wears No. 4, sophomore point guard Alexi Smith wears No. 1 and sophomore guard Caroline Strande wears No. 21.
“I like to give (Hubbard) a hard time, like when she’ll make a good pass and I’ll say, ‘There used to be a 13 here … who could make that pass,” Whalen said. “I can’t remember her name. It was too long ago.’ ”
Hubbard, an off guard, missed all of her junior season with a foot injury, and missed five games last season with an ankle injury. She is taking graduate courses this season.
“We’ve been here four years together,” Whalen said. “We’ve been through thick and thin, so I couldn’t think of anybody better to wear it.”