Some things have changed for Gophers center Rose Micheaux in her second season.
She has learned, for the most part, to avoid foul trouble, a problem that hampered her ability to stay on the court as a freshman. She has noticeably improved her footwork, judging by some of the moves she has shown in Minnesota's first four games. She has become much more consistent, evidenced by her having already recorded three double-doubles heading into Saturday's game at Virginia.
Here's a change you might not have noticed: Micheaux, a sophomore from Wayne, Mich., wore No. 54 last season. This season she's wearing No. 4.
For a reason.
"Because the little things matter,'' Micheaux said.
Micheaux comes from a large family, with three brothers and two sisters. But she calls older brother, Reggie, her best friend. He was getting ready for his senior season as a defensive lineman for the University of Findlay in Ohio this year, as No. 4, when he started feeling a lot of pain. At first he thought it was just fatigue, soreness that comes from preparing to play football.
Ultimately, though, he was diagnosed with leukemia. After playing in the season opener against Ohio Dominican, Reggie Micheaux has had to stop playing.
His coaches and teammates have honored him by putting "4REG'' on the back of their helmets. In Minnesota, Micheaux went from 54 — the number her mother wore while playing college basketball herself — to 4.
"I had to get to know what it was, to understand what it meant,'' Micheaux said of learning about the diagnosis. "I was trying to find a way I could be there for my brother. It's a tough time for him. He's my best friend. Me doing this, I wanted to make him feel special. I wanted him to know I'm here, I'm supporting him, no matter what happens.''
The number suits her.
Last season Micheaux appeared in 30 games and started 16. She averaged 4.7 points and 4.1 rebounds. Often battling foul trouble, she averaged 14.6 minutes per game. This season , in four starts, she is first on the team in rebounding (9.5), is second in scoring (13.0) and is averaging 23 minutes per game.
"She's been able to play with really good poise,'' Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said. "Even when she picks up an early foul. The one game, at North Dakota State, she fouled out. But, for the most part, she's done a good job of playing through that.''
Whalen also likes the 8-foot shot Micheaux has added. And the footwork that allows her to work around the basket. There was a nice take from just inside the free throw line against Presbyterian on Sunday that Whalen remembers in particular.
Micheaux said much of that is because she is trying to be more disciplined, both in practice and in games. Her game has come a long way, but so has her mental approach.
"It's having confidence in all of your shots, all that you do,'' she said. "Sometimes people get down if things don't go the way they want them to. You have to have poise, be able to play in a close game, battle.''
There is still work to be done. Micheaux has 11 turnovers in four games, and that has to get better. Micheaux is still working hard to improve as a passer out of the post when she is double covered.
But those three double-doubles in four games show her consistency.
And her uniform shows her support for her older brother. How did he respond when he learned she had made the change?
"He was happy for it,'' Micheaux said. "And that made me happy. It was nice to see him smile.''