When last year”s women”s basketball season started, there were high expectations for Michigan, coming off of a 22-11 season in 1999-2000. It took just one game for the Wolverines” to gain some momentum to go along with those expectations.
In the opening game of the year, the Wolverines pounced on a major upset opportunity and knocked off then-No. 8 Louisiana Tech, 69-66 at Crisler Arena. It was Michigan”s first win over a top-10 team and it sparked a season that concluded with a 19-12 record and its first victory in an NCAA Tournament since 1990.
Now jump ahead to 2001-02. The expectations from the beginning of last year pale in comparison to the hopes the Wolverines are expected to meet this year. For the first time in its history, Michigan is ranked in the preseason Top 25 No. 17 in the AP poll.
Seven experienced players return to don the Michigan uniform and an impressive four-member recruiting class will give the Wolverines talent that coach Sue Guevara has dreamed of having since being named coach in 1996.
And as this season begins, a familiar foe awaits the Wolverines. Tonight, Michigan will be in Ruston, La. to once against battle with No. 6 Louisiana Tech.
“We literally have to get this team ready to I”m dead serious go to war because we”re going to be in a very hostile environment against some big aggressive post players,” Guevara said.
In the preseason, Guevara has stressed the importance of her inside players being as big of a factor as possible.
Centers LeeAnn Bies and Jennifer Smith combine with forward Raina Goodlow and freshmen Katrina Mason and Brianne McPhilamy to give Michigan one of the most intimidating frontcourts in the Big Ten.
But Louisiana Tech also prides itself on playing well in the paint. The Lady Techsters return all five starters from last year”s 31-5 team, and in last year”s game, the two teams tied with 40 rebounds apiece.
“I think it”ll be a real good evaluation of where we are,” Guevara said. “I think our post players are pretty tough but I think they”re really going to be challenged.”
The Wolverines will conclude the weekend by traveling to Detroit on Sunday afternoon. But for now, Michigan”s attention is on Louisiana Tech.
“I don”t even know anything about Detroit yet. The focus is on Louisiana Tech,” Guevara said. “I want to see how we react under pressure under the stress of being in another environment with a hostile crowd against a pretty good basketball team because that”s exactly what happens in the NCAA Tournament.”