Through the years, when Michigan Stadium was renovated, the football team found itself somewhat displaced. In the past, spring football games were held on the practice field with no public invited, a game was moved to Saline High School, and practices that might have been held at the stadium were not allowed -- except for the Friday walk-through, that is.
Now, for the first time in recent history, the basketball teams are facing a similar issue. It first started with the basketball offices moving to temporary quarters in trailers in the arena parking lot. Now the women's basketball team finds itself unable to host any postseason games because of the renovations to the interior of Crisler Arena that, along with the new Basketball Player Development Center, will modernize Michigan's basketball facilities.
Instead of playing in the home confines of Crisler, the team will board a bus and play Eastern Michigan tomorrow night (Thursday, March 17) at the Convocation Center in Ypsilanti. Tipoff is 7 p.m. for the first-round game of the WNIT postseason tournament.
The coaching staff thinks about the renovation and the building. They understand by forgoing the home games and renovating Crisler now, the quicker the program can move ahead.
The players are a different story. They want to get it done now -- on the court.
This has been truly an up-and-down season for the Michigan women. And, like the men's team, these Wolverines were not expected to do well.
Despite the predictions and some setbacks along the way, U-M defeated four teams in the top 25 this season -- including a regular-sesason sweep of conference tournament champion Ohio State -- and was the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament after winning 10 league games. Again, like the men's team, they faced Illinois in the first round of the tournament in Indianapolis. Unfortunately, unlike the men's team, the women's team suffered a rough loss.
One game provided a different outcome for two teams so similar. A win provided one with the opportunity to celebrate a NCAA Tournament selection, while the loss left the women's team on the outside looking in during the ESPN Women's NCAA Tournament Selection Show Monday evening.
Tomorrow, these players will be focusing on the first game of the WNIT.
A strong run in the WNIT along with the renovation of Crisler Arena can go a long way in building this program and making this 2011 season the foundation for the future of the women's basketball program at Michigan.