About eight years ago, Michigan assistant women’s
basketball coach Janine Moore became a player in Kathi
Bennett’s program at the University of Evansville. Bennett
became a mentor to Moore, and a year after her graduation from
Bennett’s program and Evansville, the aspiring coach followed
her mentor to Indiana. Moore served as assistant coach to Bennett
until 2003. Then, Michigan offered Moore an opportunity to help
rebuild a struggling program.
Moore couldn’t resist.
This week, Bennett will see if lending her expertise might put
her Hoosiers in a tight spot when they line up against the
Tomorrow, Bennett and Moore will both be looking for a win, but
for the first time, they’ll be sitting on opposing
“This really isn’t a game that I’ve been
looking forward to,” Moore said. “Of course I want both
teams to play well, but I don’t like to lose.”
Moore and Bennett remain close and have chosen to largely avoid
the touchy subject of their upcoming matchup. Michigan coach Cheryl
Burnett empathizes with the somewhat awkward situation between the
player-turned-coach and the woman who helped her excel.
“It’s a unique position,” Burnett said.
“I had to play against the University of Kansas, who I played
for (1977-1980), and it was a very emotional time. You don’t
want to put your personal emotions at all into your
Burnett has made it clear that she has no desire to take an
unfair advantage by tapping into Moore’s thorough knowledge
of Bennett’s coaching style. She will instead have other
coaches scout the Hoosiers and recall game situations that occurred
when Burnett led Southwest Missouri State against Bennett’s
Evansville squad to help prepare the Wolverines.
“There is a level of comfort in preparation because you
know how they coach,” Burnett said. “You know what
tendencies they have just because we have a history of coaching
against them before.”
This knowledge, however, has made Burnett quite aware of what
type of performance Michigan can expect from Indiana. She recalls
Bennett’s large role in rocketing Evansville from obscurity
to one of the top teams in the Missouri Valley Conference and in
leading the Hoosiers to the NCAA Tournament in the 2002 season,
with somewhat apprehensive admiration.
“Am I excited to play against a Kathi Bennett team?”
Burnett asked. “No.”
Although this game will likely be uncomfortable for Moore, she
is confident that both coaches will be able to treat it as just
that: another game on the schedule.
“There are no secrets in basketball,” Moore said.
“You come out, you play, you work hard, you execute your game
plan, and that’s how you win.”
And Burnett certainly does not have any questions about
Moore’s fidelity to Michigan.
“Her loyalty is definitely to Michigan, but you just
don’t want to put a staff member in that position because
you’re gaining an insight that isn’t really
fair,” Burnett said.