MINNEAPOLIS -- Injured point guard Lindsay Whalen has returned to practice for Minnesota, and coach Pam Borton said Tuesday the Gophers' all-time leading scorer is expected back for
the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 21.
Whalen went through defensive drills Monday for the first time since breaking two metacarpal bones in her shooting hand in a fall during a game at Ohio State on Feb. 12.
"It just felt good to be back out there and be part of the team," Whalen said, her right hand still wrapped in a removable cast.
Whalen said she still can't catch, dribble or shoot the ball. She'll would be re-evaluated on Thursday.
"It's just a matter of getting my conditioning back, getting my legs back under me," Whalen said.
Although the original prognosis expected Whalen to be out four to six weeks, Borton said she remained optimistic that her star player would be healed enough to play in the postseason. The
No. 22 Gophers (21-8) will learn their first-round opponent on Sunday.
The Gophers went 3-4 without Whalen. Despite missing the last five games of the regular season, the 5-foot-8 senior from Hutchinson finished second in the Big Ten in scoring with an average of 20.7 points per game.