A major loss to a struggling team.
Minnesota junior Destiny Pitts announced her intention to enter the transfer portal Thursday, leaving the program after averaging a team-high 16.3 points per game this season.
Pitts had previously been suspended on Monday before the Gophers’ game at Illinois, with coach Lindsay Whalen citing “conduct unbecoming a member of the team.” Whalen announced Wednesday that the suspension would last at a minimum through her team’s home game against Iowa on Thursday evening, with Pitts’ statement coming one day later.
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Pitts took to Twitter to announce the news, providing a lengthy explanation of her reasoning for the decision as well taking the chance to thank her teammates for the support they’ve provided her.
In her statement, the 5’10” wing claimed that the she was suspended for her “‘body language'” and that she was “blindsided and shocked” by the discipline imposed on her. She also clarified that her teammates, Taiye and Kehinde Bello — both of which didn’t travel to or play against Illinois — sat out the game “in protest of a suspension they know is wrong.”
Pitts’ departure comes at a tumultuous time for the program in its second year under Whalen, as the 74-71 loss to an Illinois team previously winless in the conference marked the Gophers’ fourth consecutive Big Ten setback. Minnesota started the season 10-1 overall but enters Thursday’s game against Iowa at 11-5.
Losing its best scorer certainly won’t improve the team’s case — Pitts was a member of the Media All-Big Ten First Team as a sophomore and cracked this year’s Media and Coaches Preseason All-Big Ten roster as well.
That two players were willing to sacrifice their participation in a regular-season conference game simply to support their teammate aids the case against Whalen in this scenario. While the coach cited a gap in Pitts’ behavior and the values of the University as a catalyst for the suspension, the guard’s statement reflects a drastically different perception of the conflict.
“To be an athlete at the University of Minnesota comes with high standards and expectations. When those are not met, there are consequences,” Whalen said Wednesday.
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