The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - December 1, 1997 - 7B
Blue will rely on mix
By Tracy Sandler
Daily Sports Writer
So far, the Michigan women's basketball team is off to a
good start. The Wolverines are 4-1 and looking to improve on
last year's eighth-place finish in the Big Ten and 7-9 confer-
ence record. They finished the season 15-11, which was
Michigan's highest win total since the 1989-90 season.
This season will mark coach Sue Guevara's first year with-
out an interim title before her name.
Last season, senior Pollyanna Johns
M ichigan was named an All-Big Ten second-
. team member for the second consecu-
Preview tive year, and sophomore Stacey
Thomas was last season's Big Ten
Freshman of the Year.
After a string of unsuccessful seasons, no one really expect-
ed the Wolverines to be competitive last year. But after last
year's performance, Michigan will take the floor as a more
corffident team that still has a lot to prove.
"Last year was pretty much everything I had hoped it would
be," Guevara said. "It was a foundation year. I thought at theI
beginning that we were going to surprise a lot of people, but
we were the only ones that thought that way.
"I think this year, the expectations are higher from the play-
ers themselves, maybe as opposed to me. This team gained a
lot of confidence. I think this year's team has a better attitude
than last year's team, and last year's team had a pretty good atti-i
The Wolverines have four new players in freshmen Katie
y Dykehouse, Mandy Stowe and Anne Thorius and sophomore l
transfer Alison Miller, although Miller must sit out the season;
to regain her eligibility.
Already, against Michigan State in the Nov. 22 Michigan
State University/Felpausch Holiday Classic, Thoris played 40
minutes in the championship game against the host Spartans.
She scored 22 points and grabbed five defensive rebounds on
her way to a spot on the All-tournament team.
Aside from the newcomers, the Wolverines have the core of
last year's team returning to the lineup.
"We return our top seven kids," Guevara said. "We return the
bulk of our scoring, and the bulk of our rebounding.
"Of the top three teams, Illinois, Purdue and Iowa, we beat
Illinois and we beat Iowa. We lost to Purdue twice, but we were
in the game with them both times. We only play Illinois once
for the second straight year, and we only play Iowa once."
The Wolverines are more experienced, so they are more
familiar with each other and with Guevara's coaching style.
Experienced players know what is expected of them. Guevara
says since the players know the offense and defense, they can
now concentrate on improvement.
"This team has been through it already" Guevara said. "This
team knows what our coaching staff expects. We're not run-
ning a whole lot of new things yet. We're just trying to refine
some of the things we did last year."
One of the biggest problems for the Wolverines last year was
free-throw shooting. Michigan finished the conference season
with a .602 percentage from the line. The Wolverines are look-
ing to improve that aspect of their game, along with tightening
up the defense.
"Our defense will be better this year than what it was last
year," Guevara said. "This team is not going to be last in the
Big Ten in free-throw percentage. Right there, if our defense
gets better, and we make some free throws, I think we can win
some of those tough ballgames we were in last year."
42 Katie Dykhouse
Freshman - forward/center
evara paces the sidelines in the Wolverines' 93.81 victory over Illinois State last
Wolverines - she hopes to make the Final Four by 1999.
id not necessarily do last year.
Also key for Indiana will be Barnes'
lay. She finished last season averaging
0 minutes and six rebounds per game,
long with a .542 field-goal percentage
nd a .664 free-throw percentage.
"I have goals, game-by-game goals,"
ames said. "I think that will help keep
Iowa: The Hawkeyes lost five of their
2 players from last year's Big Ten title-
haring team, yet are one of the most
onfident teams in the conference. Why?
11 five starters are returning.
With three players who averaged dou-
le-digit points a year ago and three
ore who grabbed more than five
bounds a game, the Hawkeyes are sure
be in the conference title hunt come
& . Add two solid 3-point shooters in
adine Domond and Tiffany Gooden,
nd the Hawkeyes might have more than
onference glory on their minds.
Michigan State: As the defending co-
sig Ten Champions, Michigan State will
ave to defend its title with only two
layers from last season's team.
"We've got pretty good size, and we're
better rebounding team," Michigan
tate coach Karen Langeland said.
'nnesota: What optimism can there
e a team that won only a single con-
erence game a year ago? Well, the
'olden Gophers have one thing on their
ide - their entire team is returning.
That gives first-year coach Cheryl
ittlejohn some experience to work with,
.ven if the only experience they have is
:Ohio State: First-year Buckeye coach
eth Burns has a problem with sub-par
a>tball teams. That's why she turnti
'n 1989, she took over the San Diego
;tote program and posted a .233 winning
>ercentage in her first year. By the time
he left for Ohio State a year ago, she had
23-6 team that made four NCAA tour-
lament appearances in her eight seasons.
But she has her work cut out for her
vith the Buckeyes, a team that finished
0th in the conference a year ago.
ehave to attack ourselves and
nvcto the point where we can be
lame-ready," Burns said. "The confer-
,nee overall is our focal point. If you're
he Big Ten champion, you can be the
ational champion. That's how good our
.Northwestern: When you talk about
'othwestern basketball, one of the first
hings mentioned must be Kristina
)vjak. The freshman forward is the Big
e top returning player in four cate-
- scoring, 3-pointers made, 3-
>oint percentage and free-throw percent-
Divjak leads a team that finished
oburth in the Big Ten a year ago, includ-
ing its first NCAA tournament appear-
ance since 1994. The Wildcats lost only
two players from that team, but both
Northwestern is a strong perimeter
team - both Divjak and Megan
Chawansky shoot better than 35 percent
from beyond the arc.
"I'm excited about this team,"
Northwestern coach Don Perrelli said.
"Last year, I ran the team into the ground
with the minutes that five or six players
had to play. This year, we have depth, so
I shouldn't have to do that"
Penn State: A year ago, Penn State
learned what it's like to be mediocre.
After being at least 10 games above .500
every year they've been in the Big Ten,
the Lions suffered an 8-8 conference sea-
son and failed to make the NCAA tour-
nament for the first time since 1989 and
only the second time since 1983. Penn
State coach Rene Portland doesn't intend
to let that happen again.
"Our goals are pretty clear, Portland
said. "It's to keep our eyes on the prize -
the NCAA tournament."
Purdue: Not too many schools have
three coaches in three years and are
happy with the direction its program is
heading. But Purdue's situation is a
A year ago, Nell Fortner took over the
Boilermakers and led them to a share of
the conference title, despite pre-season
picks placing them as low as eighth. But
when the USA national team called,
Fortner jumped at the opportunity to rep-
resent his nation, leaving his top assis-
tant, Carolyn Peck, in charge.
Under Fortner, Peck helped land a
recruiting class that was ranked in the
top-five in the nation.
"You're going to see a very similar
team to what you saw last year," Peck
said. "We may be more aggressive
defensively, and we need some vital min-
utes from the freshmen."
Wisconsin: The Badgers were not
happy to be left out of the NCAA tour-
nament a year ago. After finishing tied
for sixth in the conference and posting its
second-ever string of three consecutive
winning seasons, Wisconsin was over-
looked by the selection committee for
the first time in Jane Albright-Dieterle's
three-year coaching tenure.
That isn't likely to happen again. The
Badgers return four of their starters and
12 players from last season's team, and
were predicted to finish as high as third
in the conference by The Sporting News.
"Our goal is to finish in the top four of
the conference and make the NCAA
tournament," Albright-Dieterle said.
"I'm very pleased with the team. We're
pretty deep, and they're very hungry for
54 Tiffany Willard
Senior - forward
Ann Lemire and the rest of the Michigan women's basketball team look to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since
1990. The Wolverines have jumped out to a quick start, posting a 4-1 record in non-conference games.
1996"97 in review
School Big Ten Record
1. Illinois 12-4
Michigan State 12-4
4. Northwestern 9-7
6. Wisconsin 8-8
Penn State 8-8
8. Michigan 7-9
10. Ohio State 3-23
11. Minnesota 1-15
AIiSRi Ten Team
15 Sporitelna W, 95-67
21 St. John's W, 72-55
at Felpausch tournament
22 Michigan State W, 89-72
at Felpausch tournament
25 Illinois State W, 93-81
28 Florida Intemat'I L, 69-67
at FlU tournament
29 Furman W, 104-72
at FIU tournament
3 Central Michigan 7 p.m.
at Grand Rapids
18 Michigan State 5 p.m.
23 at Wisconsin 7 p.m.
25 Iowa 2 p.m.
1 Indiana 2 p.m.
8 at Purdue 2 p.m.
13 at Penn State 7:30 p.m.
15 Northwestern 2 p.m.
20 at Minnesota 7 p.m.
22 at Ohio State 2 p.m.
27 Big Ten tournament,
first round at RCA Dome,
28 Big Ten tournament,