After winning its first Big Ten game in almost two years, the Michigan women’s basketball team seems poised to reach new heights – figuratively.
But it may not be too long until the Wolverines are soaring to new levels – literally.
With a slam.
No Michigan player says that she can dunk, but it may be a possibility for at least three players – sophomore forwards Ashley Jones and Stephany Skrba and freshman center Krista Phillips.
Phillips slammed a wiffle ball in May.
Skrba dunked a tennis ball in 10th grade and worked her way up to a dodgeball. But after she was injured during her senior year of high school, Skrba’s dunking aspirations have been on hold.
“I would say I’m closer than most people,” Skrba said.
Jones was more reserved about her dunking ability. She said that if she were to practice dunking, it would be when she is alone in the gym.
Michigan coach Cheryl Burnett compares the 3-pointer in the women’s game to the dunk in the men’s game because of the way it affects momentum and excites fans.
But even for those who feel dunking is a way of life, a dunk in the women’s game would have no parallel to its male counterpart.
“I would probably just be shocked,” said men’s basketball player Brent Petway – who attends as many women’s home games as his schedule permits – on what his reaction to a Michigan women’s basketball player dunking would be.
But even if the Wolverines could dunk, would they?
“Oh, yes!” Skrba said. “I would do it all the time. I would be like Brent. I would throw it down all the time . if I could be like him. I’m not. But if I could, I would.”
Skrba said that in addition to the three aforementioned players, freshman guard Kalyn McPherson is the next most likely Wolverine to dunk, even though she is just five-foot-seven – tied for the second shortest on the team
“You shouldn’t sleep on Kalyn,” Skrba said. “Kalyn has a vert. She has a really high vert. She can jump. She’s so surprising. She can jump. Because I remember on the vert test, and she just stood there. And all of a sudden, she was just up the (wall).”
McPherson said that although she can jump well, she is still six inches short of touching the rim, and that’s without the ball. But she is considering participating in a jumping program this summer that would raise her vertical jump 12 to 20 inches.
If any of the four throw it down, they would join elite company.
West Virginia’s Georgeann Wells became the first woman to dunk in a college basketball game, doing it twice in 1985.
Since then, four more women have dunked in 10 different college games.
Tennessee sophomore Candace Parker is the most recent dunker. She has the all-time women’s record for dunks (six), doing it most recently last Saturday at Connecticut.
No Big Ten women’s basketball player has ever dunked.
And while it probably won’t happen this season for any Michigan player, Phillips seems the most set on getting done it in the near future.
“After this year, I plan to,” Phillips said.
So don’t expect to see the Wolverines dunking tonight when they host Wisconsin at 7 p.m. Their focus will be elsewhere.
“I’ll try some things (with dunking),” Jones said. “But right now, we’re just focused on winning ball games.