The Wolverine

May 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL round, but the outcome didn't matter as much as actually getting there. Michigan returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001. Now that they've reached that goal, the players' mindset has changed. "Now that we've gotten into it, we know that's the bar now," rising se- nior Rachel Sheffer said. "We should expect to be there every year, and keep improving. Instead of worry- ing about being in or not, hopefully we can say: 'We're in, now let's keep going.'" "When you see your name up on the Selection Show, you have every emotion, from relief to pure happi- ness to a sense of accomplishment," added rising senior Jenny Ryan, a guard who is expected to be one of the Wolverines' leaders next year. "It shows all the steps we've taken in the right direction. It helps with the pres- tige level. You're an NCAA Tourna- ment team, and no one can take that away from us. It's something recruits look at, too. "From here, we're going to con- tinue to takes those little steps and try to build each year, and hopefully one day become Big Ten champions and make a run in the tournament. We're not settling with where we are now." The Wolverines may have to start deep down inside, they want to hang some banners in Crisler Arena." The women's team has never earned a banner — but current play- ers feel they're very close to accom- plishing that goal. "I think we're right on the cusp of "Talking to the five [rising] seniors, Women's Basketball Awards it," Ryan said. "If you look back at our Big Ten schedule, we were right there with the upper-echelon teams every time. A few possessions here and there can be the difference be- tween four places in the conference standings. "We have the team atmosphere, the camaraderie, the coaching and the work ethic. And now, we're get- ting the players that understand the system. When you combine all that together, you can win on any given night. We have the tools, now we have to have them come together for a full season." Since arriving on campus, the 2013 Courtney Boylan: She may not have ended the year as the Wol- verines' leading scorer, but Boylan was the major catalyst for their of- fensive success this season. Without Veronica Hicks on the team, Boylan stepped up as the drive and shoot or dish threat that Michigan needed. She finished the year scoring 12.7 points per game on 47.1 percent shooting from the field. Defensive MVP — Junior guard Jenny Ryan: She has the ability to frustrate opposing offenses and change game plans. Ryan led the Big Ten in steals (3.1 per game) and was ninth in the conference with 4.9 defensive rebounds per game. Offensive MVP — Senior guard back from square one next season, with the loss of head coach Kevin Borseth, who resigned after the cam- paign, but they have the roster to get back to the tournament. Although two starters are depart- ing — point guard Courtney Boylan and wing Carmen Reynolds — Mich- igan returns 66.5 percent of its scor- ing, including Sheffer, last year's leader with 12.8 points per game. The Wolverines will also benefit seniors have seen steady improve- ment within the program. In the group's first season, the Wol- verines went 21-14, including a run to the semifinals of the WNIT. As sophomores, they helped Michigan to a third-place finish in the Big Ten and the very edge of the NCAA Tour- nament bubble. This past year, the team finally found itself on the right side of that bubble. Now, they have a chance to lead Michigan to consecutive NCAA Tournaments for just the second time in program history (2000-01). No one knows what the future from returning five veteran leaders from last season — Ryan, Sheffer, guard Kate Thompson, forward Nya Jordan and forward Sam Arnold. Along with Boylan and Reynolds, those five comprised the Wolverines' top seven in points and minutes. "These kids are a major part of the success we've had," Borseth said be- fore he resigned. "A lot of the leader- ship from last year will just be car- ried over to this class. They realize what's out there and the amount of effort it's going to take to get there. They realize the rewards that are a byproduct of those efforts. holds, especially with a new era on the horizon, but the seniors are confident. With one more season to leave their legacy, the seniors want to continue to build upon a tradition of winning that simply did not exist before they got here. "I want it to take another step, whether it's a Big Ten champion- ship or a run in the [NCAA] Tourna- ment," Ryan said. "I want to say we made another step in the right direc- tion, that we're not only a legitimate Big Ten contender but a team on a national scale. "When people look at the Univer- Junior guard Jenny Ryan earned a spot on the Big Ten's All-Defensive Team after leading the league with 3.1 steals per game. guard Nicole Elmblad: The latest addition to the 2011 class, Elmblad made an immediate impact, start- ing the first 15 games of the year while playing in 31 of Michigan's 32 games. She averaged 12.7 minutes and 2.4 points per game. Sixth Woman Of The Year — Rookie Of The Year — Freshman sity of Michigan women's basketball team, I want them to see we have the players, coaches and work ethic to be a respectable program. Maybe we don't have All-Americans, but we can win on any given night." ❑ PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL Junior guard Kate Thompson: Thompson didn't start a single game this season, but she was a ma- jor contributor, seeing 20.9 minutes a game. Thompson was the Wolver- ines' fourth-leading scorer with 8.2 points per game, on 39.7 percent shooting from the field. — Andy Reid MAY 2012 THE WOLVERINE 69

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