Maybe the most telling thing you can say about Rose Micheaux, the biggest compliment you could give to the sophomore post player on the University of Minnesota women's basketball team is this:
After practice Monday, sitting on the side of the gym at the team's practice facility, Katie Borowicz and Micheaux were talking about this year's team, about loyalty, about staying.
These two and Maggie Czinano are the Gophers' only returning players from last year. There were a lot of graduations, yes. But there were also a lot of transfers that had the roster dwindle to three before coach Lindsay Whalen and her staff, starting with a highly rated recruiting class, started rebuilding the roster.
For Micheaux, it was simple. "I built a bond with this coaching staff," she said. "This is a two-way street. They believe in me, I believe in them. I'll put in my 50 percent, you put in yours, and together we have 100. I know we can be great."
There is talent, but there is also youth. A lot of it. And the Big Ten Conference can be a difficult place to grow up. And that's why Micheaux deciding to stay was so important. She is the only player on the current roster who played significant minutes last season.
As a true freshman, the 6-2 Micheaux appeared in 30 games and started 16. There were games — like her 23-point, 8-for-10 shooting, seven-rebound performance against North Caroline in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge — where she could be dominant. There were other times when her difficulty with foul trouble made it hard for her to stay on the court.
She ended up averaging 4.7 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 66.3% from the field.
"It was a lot," she said of starting in the post in the Big Ten as a freshman. "It was exciting. But it was scary, too, at some point. I'm not going to lie to you. Me, an 18-year-old, going against 20-, 21-, 22-year-olds. I didn't know what to expect."
But the experience taught her she was both capable of playing at this level, and what she needed to do to be better.
Take a look at Micheaux and she looks the part of a powerful inside player. She is strong, athletic. In practice Monday, she was showing off her midrange shot as well as her post moves. And her play is becoming more physical.
"She is bodying people up, oh my God," Borowicz said. "You do not want to catch one of her elbows."
For Micheaux, the offseason goal was to expand her game a ways away from the basket and defend better without fouling. She also said she worked on her communication skills. She's only a sophomore, but she has to be a leader on this young team. "I needed to become more encouraging," she said. "When I'm having a bad game to still give my all, not give in. Never give up on myself. I want to lead the team in rebounding, in points in the paint. Those are my expectations."
Whalen is ready to help. This will be a much different offense than last year, when the Gophers were built to score so much from behind the three-point line.
"She is going to enjoy it," Whalen said. "Because we're going to throw it to her. A lot. I mean, we're playing more motion, more of a four out and one in. And we're trying to feed her inside. If we can establish that inside, play inside-out, we can be successful. We maybe don't have the shooters we had last year. But we have Mara [Braun], who can shoot it. Katie. We have players who can get it off the bounce. But we are going to throw it to Rose. "
Whalen is convinced Micheaux has the ability to be in the all-conference conversation.
"She has put in the work," Whalen said. "And she's invested — in her teammates, in this program.''