Grace Coughlin, a 5-foot-8 rising junior guard from Benilde St. Margaret’s, committed to the University of Minnesota women’s basketball team last year.
Grace Coughlin, a 5-foot-8 rising junior guard from Benilde St. Margaret’s, committed to the University of Minnesota women’s basketball team last year. The Edina native averaged 12.9 points per game as a sophomore as she helped lead Benilde St. Margaret’s to a 23-5 record, losing to Holy Family Catholic 55-53 in the second round of the Class AAA, Section 6 playoffs.
North Tartan AAU coach Bill Larson thinks that Minnesota is getting a very special player.
Coughlin played bingo
and hoops with most of the girls on the North Tartan AAU program since moving from Midland, Michigan two years ago. She admits having a lot of familiar faces on the current and future Minnesota rosters played a big part in her decision.
“North Tartan is a great program,” said Coughlin. “We are all like a family and I think that it is really important on a team to have chemistry and I feel that we already have chemistry. I am looking forward to the next few years when I get to play at the “U’ with those girls, because I love them on the court and I love them off the court. They are really nice people and I am looking forward to it.”
“I know Mikayla and Shayne pretty well from North Tartan,” said Coughlin. “I look up to them. They are on the Elite team, so I am really excited to play with them. I have played with Kenisha for a year. She is my age and she is a great player and is extremely athletic. I am looking forward to being her point guard and just giving her the ball and creating plays for her in college.”
Coughlin thinks that playing with these same girls in college will help her make an easier transition at Minnesota.
“I am excited because I feel that we have an advantage, because other colleges have girls coming from all over the place and we have a lot of girls from Minnesota, who have played with each other and have chemistry already,” said Coughlin. “I think that we will have an edge than the other colleges who we play against in the Big Ten and I am looking forward to it. I think it will be pretty neat if we could possibly take Minnesota back to the Final Four, where they were when Lindsay Whalen was there, with (former North Tartan and current freshman guard) Rachel Banham, Shayne and Mikayla Bailey, Jackie Johnson, Kenisha and me.”
Coughlin said the people closest to her were excited about the news of her college choice.
Gopher Hole: You committed to Minnesota before your sophomore season. Does that make it a lot easier to play out here since you don’t have to worry the coaches in the stands and things like that?
Grace Coughlin: No. When I was a freshman, I had a coach tell me “Now you are on top of the pedestal, it is not easy and relaxing.” I actually have to work harder to stay up there and work every day to prove a point that I should be going to the Gophers and that I deserve to be going to the Gophers, so it is not relaxing at all. It is more of a harder challenge. I want to be the best that I can be, so I keep working hard every day.
Gopher Hole: You play on one of the country’s top AAU programs with a lot of talented players. I assume that you get better in playing against them even in practice.
Grace Coughlin: It is an honor to be part of this program and the team. I am playing with some of the best players in the state and just to play against them in practice, I have learned so much for my AAU coach. I make sure that everything my coach tells, I put into consideration. I am absolutely loving it.
Gopher Hole: What things are you continuing to work on to improve yourself as a player?
Grace Coughlin: My point guard IQ. I think that I have improved a lot on that this year. I have worked on my outside shot and I feel like that has improved, so just step by step every summer, I work on something else.
Gopher Hole: What are the expectations for you at Benidle this season?
Grace Coughlin: We lost a lot of talent last year with (leading scorer) Khadijah (Shumpert), Josie (Dillon) and Alexa (Hansen). We have a young team, but I think that we will do well. We have been working hard. Everyone is coming to summer workouts. I actually have faith in us. I think that we will be OK.
Gopher Hole: You are going to have to be more of a leader this season. Is that something you looking forward to?
Grace Coughlin: I like being a leader on the team. My sister is on the team and some of her friends. They are all really young. I think that is pretty cool. We’ll be a fast team. It will be a different style of play, but I think that if we keep a positive attitude, I think that we’ll be fine.
Gopher Hole: Do you have much size at all?
Grace Coughlin: No, we don’t have much size. We have some eight graders and seventh graders (with size). I am definitely excited for them to come into the program. It will be interesting.
Gopher Hole: There are a lot of North Tartan girls on the Gopher roster. Have you gotten to know some of them better now that you are committed?
Grace Coughlin: Yes. Actually one of the reasons that I committed to Minnesota is because it is such a great team and coaching staff. I love the girls who are committed there and who are already playing there. Everyone is super nice and I love their roster.
Gopher Hole: There are a couple of girls who are on the North Tartan roster that the Gophers are recruiting. Have you been working on them a little bit to join you?
Grace Coughlin: Yes. Definitely. We told them “Oh, we will do anything to get you on the Gophers.” They are still considering it , but they are keeping their options open, so hopefully they will be joining the team soon.