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Women’s spring preview: Big 10

The past two seasons couldn’t have been more different for Minnesota. Postseason ended in 2011 with a 19th-place finish at the national championship. It was the first time Minnesota had qualified since 1989. In 2012, the season ended before postseason began. After a year of rebuilding, the Gophers are again on the up.

Last year’s squad was young, and Michele Redman was in her first year at the helm after a successful LPGA career. There was a learning curve for players and coach, and Redman points to better course management, stronger short games and in some cases, significantly lower scoring averages in the fall as proof that the team is improving. The results speak for themselves, however.

Minnesota ended the season with back-to-back third-place finishes. At its final tournament of the fall, the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown, Minnesota was in the lead at one point.

“The more we get used to being up there, the more we’re going to get better at finishing,” Redman said. “It’s just a (little) more course management and scoring on par 5s.”

Redman has encouraged her team to use their practice time effectively, and works closely with her players on the mental aspect of the game.

“It’s been great for us because they really listen and they take in what we tell them,” she said. “It’s all about developing trust between the player.”

With a full year of coaching under her belt, Redman looks back at the transition and says the on-course part of the job always felt natural. Assistant coach John Clearly provided valuable experience. Still, Redman always knew coaching was something she wanted to pursue.

As her team overachieved, Redman seized the opportunity to practice with her players when she could. As for her own play, Redman entered the Legends Tour Championship in November and finished T-4. She still has a one-time, one-year LPGA exemption for career top-40 money list that she hopes to use in 2014.

“I do play quite a bit of golf with the girls, and they seem to like that,” she said. “It helps me help them on the course.”

Redman may have found the winning equation.

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Where it stands now

Top of the class: Purdue

Best player in the fall: Caroline Powers, Michigan State

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Past champions

2008: Purdue

2009: Purdue

2010: Purdue

2011: Michigan State

2012: Michigan State

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Conference capsules

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