The UM Women were the last B1G team left standing when the Big Dance invitations went out. That gave them the automatic bid to the W.N.I.T. After watching them so closely in recent years, I predicted they would win the tournament, with more than a few home-court games likely. They made the semi-finals, but lost at Crisler this week to a UCLA squad that came in with an under .500 record. The Wolverines finish at 20-15 after an eighth-place finish in the league.
Michigan took down the depleted Spartan Women twice during the regular season, before Michigan State knocked them out of the conference tournament and into the W.N.I.T. This was the third consecutive season MSU has defeated UM in the B1G tournament. We lead the all-time series by more than 40 games, ALL of which were played after the invention of the first computer.
So I could be whooping it up on them, making fun of their failures and rubbing the "all-time series record" in their face, ad infinitum. But I respect them as players, so I don't do that. Yes, we report statistical trends and comparative data-points between the two programs. And yes, I would prefer them to lose every game. Happy to see them dUMped by UCLA on their home floor this week, because, as I said, I thought they would win the W.N.I.T. And I wouldn't have wanted them to do that.
But I think they've got a great team that really gets after it, especially against the Spartans, and they make no bones about trying to catch-up and match-up with us. They respect us in every game by trying like crazy to beat us, and they have given us all we could handle in nearly every game for many recent years. Their players bring their "A-Game" against MSU repeatedly, and they have some good talent. The current coach has been recruiting well, so I'm expecting a continued struggle to win against them on a consistent basis.
Jenny Ryan went to UM after winning Miss Basketball several years ago, and I always thought she played like a Suzy Merchant recruit. This year's Senior Center Cyesha Goree was a load the two times they beat Michigan State. They have a good amount of talent, and decent coaching, but virtually zero fan support.
So three cheers for the Michigan Women's Basketball team, as they plug along with all of their might, trying to gain ground on the Spartans of Michigan State.