Stephanie Gandy was the first one to practice yesterday, working on her shooting for more than a half-hour before the team was required to be at Crisler Arena.
Gandy wasn”t there to prove her dedication to teammates after she was suspended for a “violation of team rules” before Sunday”s game against Illinois they still believe in her.
Instead, Gandy was there to prove something to herself.
“I just wanted to see if I still had my touch after all that time off,” Gandy said.
Tabitha Pool and Katrina Mason were also suspended against the Fighting Illini. During the suspension, Michigan coach Sue Guevara required the three to perform community service by working with women involved in domestic violence. After all three performed the community service, they returned to practice yesterday.
The seven active players for Sunday”s game against Illinois cried in the lockerroom after Sunday”s loss to Illinois from frustration, but they have been supportive of Gandy, Pool and Mason. While her team was playing its heart out, Gandy was screaming at her computer as she listened to the game broadcast as Michigan fell to 2-7 in the conference.
Gandy has since apologized to her teammates and coaches about the incident. All three players will receive playing time in Thursday”s game against Iowa, based on how they perform in practice. But Guevara decided that none of the three will start against the Hawkeyes or anyone else for the rest of the season. Although Pool and Gandy have combined to start 20 times this season, Guevara will stick with the starting lineup of Sierra Hauser-Price, Alayne Ingram, Heather Oesterle, Jennifer Smith and LeeAnn Bies for the remainder of the season.
Guevara discovered the infraction last Wednesday, found out the entire story on Thursday and suspended the three prior to Friday”s practice. She declined to comment on the specifics of the violations.
The suspensions, Oesterle”s knee problems, Raina Goodlow”s season-ending injury and Ingram”s one-game suspension have allowed the Wolverines to dress their full 11 player roster just three times this season. Despite the importance of last Sunday”s game against Illinois, Guevara knew the significance of the suspensions for the future of her program.
“You get paid the big bucks to make the big decisions,” Guevara said. “Nobody is bigger than the program. Sometimes you have to take some steps that make an impact right now so they understand. I know they all got the message, and it will never happen again.”
Gandy also made it clear that the suspension was the result of an isolated incident, and they both insisted that the entire team is solely focused on putting the incident behind them.
“I am really big on if you make a mistake, let”s deal with it now and then it is over,” Guevara said. “(Then) I don”t want to talk about it anymore.”