CHICAGO – Three years ago, Michigan welcomed new men’s basketball coach Tommy Amaker to Crisler Arena. This season, the athletic department has proven it can get from point A – A as in Amaker – to point B – B as in Burnett – quickly and smoothly. Cheryl Burnett is the new face on the sideline, taking over as the new women’s basketball coach after Sue Guevara’s resignation last season. Burnett, the former Southwest Missouri State head coach, began practices with her team at the beginning of October.

Being the new girl in town isn’t easy, but Burnett seems to be making the transition well. Not surprisingly, Amaker has been one of her main sources of information and direction while she has found her footing in Ann Arbor.

“Our relationship so far – I’d like to think it’s been great,” Amaker said. “I think she’s going to add a tremendous amount to our women’s basketball program, the athletic department and our university. I think she’s taken this place by storm.”

Burnett said she is in his office two to three times a day conferring on practice times, speaking engagements and recruiting, among other things.

“It’s wonderful,” Burnett said. “I feel so good about (the relationship) because Barry Hinson was the men’s coach at Southwest Missouri State. We had such a great relationship, and I was hoping it would be the same way (here).”

In the past, Burnett has often learned from her relationship with other men’s coaches such as Dean Smith, former coach of North Carolina, and UNLV’s Charlie Spoonhauer, who coached at Southwest Missouri State with her early in her career. During her time off between coaching at Southwest Missouri State and Michigan, Burnett also spent a lot of time learning from former Kansas and current North Carolina coach Roy Williams.

Both Amaker and Burnett have also made a habit of attending each other’s practices – something the women’s players said did not happen in the past.

Even the men’s players have had the chance to meet Burnett.

“It seems like she’s straight forward, and she works the players a lot harder,” forward Bernard Robinson said. “She’s more involved with the program. She’s tried to say hello to us. I definitely plan to go see how she works. I could probably learn a few things from her, too.”

Burnett’s own players have also been receptive to their new coach. After a less than pretty season last year – the team went 3-13 Big Ten, 13-16 overall – Burnett’s tough and up-tempo coaching style has been welcomed by the team.

“I don’t want to compare her to last year’s coach, but she’s definitely really intense,” senior center Jennifer Smith said. “She’s highly motivating and pushes us as far as we can go throughout the entire practice. I think the team has been very responsive to her style.”

Senior forward Stephanie Gandy also likes that her new coach is focused more on the team developing as a whole instead of individually.

“She pushes us as a group,” Gandy said. “She’s very team oriented.”

Burnett has been overwhelmed by the team’s openness to her and her style.

“The effort, the intensity, the willingness to learn and to work hard – they’re just like sponges,” Burnett said.

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