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September 08, 1998 - Image 65

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-09-08

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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - September 8, 1998 -- 7E

lbunament
ailed to
ollow scr t
SCALOOSA, Ala. - It wasn't
supposed to end like this. 'Ihe
Micng an women's basketball
team's storybook season was supposed
to have a storybook ending.
The Wolverines, who in two years
went from the joke of the Big 'en to the
class of the Big Ien, were supposed to
beat seventh-seeded UCLA in the first
round of the NCAA Toumament, then
shock mighty Alabama, the midwest
egion's No. 2 seed, in the second round.
. Pollyanna Johns was supposed to
score 20 points in each game, etching
herself into Michigan basketball history
as the leader of the best women's team
the school ever
produced. After
freshman and
sophomore years
from hell, this
tournament was
supposed to be
her redemption.
JOSH Michigan
KLEINBAUM coach Sue
Apocalypse Guevara, the Big
Now Ten's coach of the
year, was sup-
posed to be
preparing for the school's first-ever
Sweet Sixteen game.
But someone forgot to inform the
Bruins, and reality came crashing down
the tenth-seeded Wolverines on
March 13.
Instead of a glorious end to a great
career, Johns' exit was quieter than
Crisler Arena on an average game day.
The senior scored just 9 points in the
65-58 loss.
The Wolverines' problem was sm-
ple -- they ran into a better team.
UCLA was the best defensive team
he Wolverines have faced all season,
nd although the Bruins weren't fantas-
tie offensively - their 65 points was
their second-lowest output ofthe sea-
son - their delense more than made
up for it.
ihe game was over before the clock
even started running. Stacey "Thomas
hit a jumper 12 seconds into the con-
test, but the relerees had never started
the clock.
After the problNem was corrected,
e Bruins ran oll m-0 run, and
I X TA never looked back.
It wasn't supposed to happen, was
it? Not in this dream season. Michigan
was supposed to go on the eight-point
run, not UCLA. I he Wolverines were
supposed to win, Weren't they?
Oh, the Wolverines made a game of
it. They avoided what could have been
an embarrassing blowout. But in the end,
tey just coulkn'I come all the way back.
The Bruins went up by six early in
the first half, then Michigan cut the
lead to one. But the Bruins didn't even
blink, and scored seven straight points.
The Wolverines were trustrated, and
it showed. 'Ihey committed fouls. They
committed turnovers. Kenisha Walker
even exchanged words with JCLA's
Erica Gomez, And they couldn't get
over the hu up.
Molly Murray, Michigan's career 3-
ont leader made the last long-range
thot of her career with 46 seconds to
play, cutting the Bruins' lead to four
and giving the Wolverines some life.
But it wasn't enough.
All good things must come to an

end. But for the Wolverines, the end
came way too soon.
The storybook season didn't have a
storybook ending. There was no valiant
comeback. Instead, while the Bruins
were celebrating their first NCAA
Tournament victory in six years, the
Wolverines were starting to plan their
summers.
Josh Kleinbaum covered
women s basketball for the Daily. He
can be reached at jkbaum@umich.edu.

'M' women's basketball

lacks
By Andy Latack
Daily Sports Writer
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. --
won the tip, and Stacey Tho
around the feared UCLA def
easy lay-up. But in a quirky
team's first NCAA Tournan
the clock did not start and
soon stopped.
Unfortunately. once tin
rolling for the Michigan wo
ketball team, so did the Bru
swarming defense to control
tempo, UCLA handed Mich
58 loss on March 14 in the
of the NCAA Midwest Reg
ing one of the most success
in the program's history.
Michigan (19-10) led onl
the game's first minute, and
oughly frustrated by th
defense, which forced theI
into a season-high 30 turnov
"Their detfense was relentle
forced us totally out of ou
Michigan coach Sue Gue
"Anytime you turn the ball ov
there's no way you'll ever win
But when Michigan did
looks at the basket, which
they seemed to have forgot
capitalize on them.
The loss called an abru
Michigan's storybook seas
that featured numerous higi
program firsts.

storybook
Michigan's 19 wins was their second
highest total ever. Their third-place finish
Michigan in the Big Ten standings was their highest
amas drove ever, and their ensuing win in the confer-
ense for an ence tournament was their first.
start to her And as they bid farewell to their
vent game, dream season, the Wolverines also said
3 play was good-bye to some of the major reasons
for the stunning campaign. Seniors
ne started Pollyanna Johns, Molly Murray, Akisha
men's bas- Franklin and 'T'ilfany Willard all hung
gins. Using up their Michigan uniforms for the
the game's final time after the loss to the Bruins,
iigan a 65- and will be sorely missed in this year's
first round lineup.
ional, end- The 6-foot-3 Johns, Michigan's all-
ful seasons time leader in field goal percentage, is
merely trading her maize and blue in for
ly once, in new colors. A third round draft pick of
J was thor- the WNBA's Charlotte Sting, Johns
e Bruins' began her professional basketball
Wolverines career in early June. Johns was
ers. Michigan's leading scorer and rebound-
ss, and they er last season, averaging 17.2 points
ir offense," and 9.5 rebounds per game.
vara said. The Wolverines lose another record
er 30 times, holder to graduation in Murray, the
the game." school's all-time three-point leader.
get open Murray averaged 10.7 points last year,

ending
and also shot 42 percent from three-
point range.
And Franklin and Willard were valu-
able reserves for Guevara all season,
providing experience and point produc-
tion oI the bench.
But the cupboard is by no means bare
for the Wolverines next season.
Although Johns was named to the first-
team All Big Ten team and Murray was
honorable mention, the Wolverines have
their share of award winners returnine.
Guard Stacey Thomas, who led the
Big Ien in steals last season and aver-
aged 11.7 ppg and 7.3 rpg, was named
to the second-team All-Big Ten as a
sophomore.
Joining Thomas and fellow backcourt
mate Ann Leniire is point guard Anne
Thorius. The Denmark native averaged
4.6 assists per game last season, and her
steady anchoring of the Michigan otkcnse
earned her All-freshman team honors in
the conference.
Guevara received perhaps the best
recognition of all in leading the
Wolverines on their remarkable season,
being named Big Ten coach of the year
by her peers.

was rare,
ten how to
ipt halt to
on - one
hlights and

FILE PHOTO
Although Molly Murray will not continue to lead the Michigan basketball team this
season, she will be remembered as a player who helped turn the program around.

Guevara builds up losing program
with optimism and a new attitude

By Andy Latack
Daily Sports Writer
"1999 Final Four."
The words race across Michigan
women's basketball coach Sue
Guevara's computer monitor, a screen-
saver with an attitude.
"That is definitely a goal for us at
Michigan," the third-year coach said
proudly, glancing at the hefty prognos-
tication behind her. "Right now, things
are only going to get better."
Such talk would have seemed
ridiculous two years ago, as the former
Michigan State assistant stood poised
to take over a Michigan program that
had finished above .500 just once
since the 1981-82 season.
But Guevara has shattered all expec-
tations since taking control of the pro-
gram.
In her inaugural season, as an inter-
im coach, Guevara led the Wolverines
to a record of 15-11 overall and 7-9 in
the Big Ten - a performance good
enough to have the cumbersome inter-
im label removed in February of that
season.
'Ihen, last year, Guevara and the
Wolverines posted one of the most
successful seasons in the program's
history, finishing the year 19-10 over-
all and 10-6 in the Big Ten.
Michigan also won its first-ever Big
Ten Tournament game, and garnered
just their second NCAA Tournament
appearance.
So now, as Guevara sits in her spa-
cious corner office in Wiedenbach
Hall, it appears as if her optimism sur-
rounding the Wolverines is justified. In
her two seasons, Guevara has sur-
passed Michigan's conference win
total from the previous six years before
her arrival.
Michigan owes its resurgence in
large part to Guevara's fast-paced
coaching style, an approach taken
from Michigan State coach Karen
Langeland, whom Guevara served
under from 1987-88 until 1995-96.
During this time, the Wolverines
were a doormat for Guevara and the

Spartans, winning just four of 21
meetings.
When Guevara was offered the
interim position at Michigan in 1996,
she was undeterred by their previous
mediocrity, an outlook representative
of her unceasingly positive demeanor.
"I knew there was talent on the
team," Guevara said of her attitude
upon replacing Trish Roberts as head
coach. "There were shooters and a
strong inside game,
W and I knew the W's
would come."
Although
Guevara and the
Wolverines
dropped their only
V game of the 1996
season with the
S p a r t a n s,
Michigan avenged
Guevara the loss, beating
the defending Big
Ten champions twice last year.
Guevara has worked hard to elevate
the program to where it is today. For
the majority of her first season,
Guevara was branded as interim, a
label which limited her freedom as a
coach, especially in her ability to
recruit.
"We lost some kids because I was an
interim," Guevara recalled. "They real-
ly loved Michigan, they liked me, and
they liked my coaching staff, but they
were afraid that we weren't going to be
there."
In hindsight, it would be very diffi-
cult to find someone better than
Guevara at what she does.
From the time she assumed the posi-
tion of interim coach, Guevara began
developing a bond with her team.
"I'm a communicator," Guevara
says of her coaching style. "I love my
kids and I like to let my kids know
when I'm happy with them and when
I'm not."
Because of this straightforward atti-
tude, the team and Guevara began to
gel, even though the coach's future was
mired in uncertainty.

"My approach was: I am the coach,
and that's not going to change,"
Guevara said. "Being named head
coach didn't change our relationship,
because we never approached it like I
was an interim."
Indeed, Guevara views team unity as
essential to a successful season.
Requiring that players alternate room-
mates every road trip, Guevara con-
sults her troops on many decisions
regarding the program.
When a recruit makes a visit to
Michigan, Guevara quickly introduces
the newcomer to the team.
"The recruits won't be going to the
bowling alley or out to lunch with me,
they'll be going with their teammates,"
Guevara said.
Guevara's commitment is paying
immediate dividends.
During her first two years, Michigan
set numerous attendance records, a
testament to the fact that Guevara's up-
tempo style is breathing new life into
the program.
"People have been waiting for this
program to come out of hibernation for
a long time, Guevara said, referring to
Michigan's numerous sub-.500 years.
"Everything is in place, I just need to
do my job, and that's the fun part.
"I can't think of anything else in my
life that I'd rather do than coach here,"
Guevara said. With that, the coach
flashed a smile and rushed off to prac-
tice, moving even faster than the large,
red letters flashing on the screen
behind her.

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