This year was supposed to be one of rebuilding and growth for
the Michigan women’s basketball team. But it has only
continued to shrink in size with the loss of a fourth player in a
span of two weeks.

Sophomore Rachael Carney announced her departure from the team
Wednesday. Three other sophomores — Niki Reams, Lauren
Andrews and Mie Burlin — also decided to move on from the
program in a decision announced on March 24.

Last year, former coach Sue Guevara left because of reported bad
relationships she had with some of the players. Cheryl Burnett
— the former head coach of Southwest Missouri State —
replaced her and improved Michigan’s Big Ten record this
season from 3-13 in 2003 to 6-10 in 2004.

But Carney insists that her decision to leave the team has
nothing to do with any friction between herself and the new
coaches.

“It’s not just because of basketball,” Carney
said. “It was my academic life also.

“It’s really hard to balance (academics and
athletics). Personally for me, it wasn’t about the coaches.
It was a lot of things.”

Carney, one of the team’s two point guards, had a less
active role on this year’s team. In her freshman season under
Guevara, Carney started 15 games and averaged 16.6 minutes per
game. This year, Carney never started and averaged just 12.1
minutes per game. Junior Sierra Hauser-Price was the regular
starter at the point guard position.

“I think the coaching staff my freshman year had certain
things they wanted,” Carney said. “Burnett’s
philosophy is fast-paced, and Sierra does track so she definitely
had (the advantage).”

Carney stressed that while she would have liked more playing
time, always being on the court was not her ultimate goal while
playing for Michigan.

“It was more about trying to get the victories and having
a little fun while doing it,” Carney said. “It was a
bummer that I didn’t get to play more, but you’ve got
to worry about the team. You can’t really worry about your
own individual (needs).”

According to the sophomore, the new coaching staff treated
everyone on the team fairly. She added that she saw no division
between any members of the team — neither between players of
different years in school nor between starters and non
starters.

With Carney’s departure, only five players from this
season remain. Just four recruits have signed on for next year.

“I’m sure (the remaining players) are a little tense
with the four of us leaving,” Carney said. “But I think
they have a lot of potential to do well, and the coaches
won’t settle for anything less. I definitely think
they’ll have a lot of success next year and in the
future.”

She said that she does not know if any other members plan to
leave the team.

“If anyone else is thinking about it, I wouldn’t
know,” Carney said. “I didn’t even know that
Niki, Mie and Lauren were quitting. It’s a pretty big
decision.”

In the meantime, Carney is thinking ahead to next year. Her
plans are to transfer to a smaller liberal arts college where she
can continue playing basketball. Because there has been no official
press release from Michigan about her departure, other coaches are
not yet aware of her desire to transfer to another program.

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