When eventual national champion Notre Dame, knocked Michigan out of the NCAA Tournament in the second round last season, it ended the Wolverines” most successful season to date. But this season, Michigan has much higher expectations for itself, including some unfinished business with the Fighting Irish. Michigan will look for revenge against Notre Dame in a nonconference game on Dec. 2 at a neutral site in Grand Rapids.
This matchup, along with a tough nonconference schedule, will be a good indicator of how the Wolverines will fare this year. Until then the future is bright but uncertain. One thing is certain: Michigan wants to return to the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year.
“Once we get a few games under our belt I”ll have a better idea,” Michigan coach Sue Guevara said about her predictions for the team. “I certainly would like to go as far as last year.”
Several publications believe Michigan can achieve this goal Lindy”s College Basketball ranked the Wolverines 10th, the highest of any publication, with four other publications ranking Michigan in the top 25 in their preseason polls. The respect that analysts are showing the Wolverines is an indication that Michigan should have a successful season despite a tough schedule.
“It feels great to be ranked,” senior co-captain Alayne Ingram said. “What it comes down to is the way that we play. We”ve beaten No. 8 teams and we”ve beaten No. 12 teams it shows that everyone can be beaten. All that matters is how we finish.”
Senior forward Heather Oesterle will return after a season-ending knee injury which occurred just before the Big Ten Tournament last season. Her leadership and added depth could make a difference as the Wolverines aim to win the Big Ten title.
Guevara described Oesterle as a “garbage player” a player that does all the small things that aren”t always noticed. Her strong play inside and outside will help Michigan improve its consistency this year.
“Losing Anne Thorius was big, but I think people are looking at what we have returning and what we have as freshmen,” Guevara said.
The talented freshman class has performed well in the season”s early practices. Tabitha Poole, an All-American in high school, leads the pack with Sierra Hauser-Price, Katrina Mason and BreAnne McPhilamy all contributing to the team”s improvement.
For now, Michigan is looking toward its first exhibition game against Latvia Clondica on Friday, Nov. 9.