Women's Basketball should look to copy volleyball
There are similarities between the Central Michigan volleyball team and women's basketball team.
Both teams have plenty of youth, dealing or dealt with key injuries, and have faced tough losses.
The basketball team is led by three freshmen starters, Crystal Bradford, Jessica Green and Jas'Mine Bracey, who also just came off a suspension. The other two starters? Sophomores Kylie Welch and Jordan LaDuke, making up the consistent starting lineup.
Sounds like the volleyball team with freshman outside hitter Kaitlyn McIntyre leading the team in kills, sophomore setter Kelly Maxwell running the offense and sophomore libero Jenna Coates handling the defensive side of the net.
The biggest blow to the basketball team this season was the injury to junior guard Brandie Baker. She had a slow start to the season, and was just starting to turn things around until she suffered a foot injury in a loss against Hampton over break.
The volleyball team also battled injuries of key upperclassmen all season. Junior right-side hitter Jocelyn VerVelde came into the season with high hopes, but was out most of the season. Junior outside hitter Val DeWeerd was out for a bit. And senior middle blocker Kaitlyn Schultz, who was the centerpiece to head coach Erik Olson's team, missed a few matches resulting in some tough weeks for the team.
Basketball has lost some difficult games against Eastern Michigan, Toledo, Hampton, Bradley and Northwestern, and at Kent State.
The team also faced turmoil following a fight on Jan. 25 at McGuirk Arena against Ohio. Three players were suspended from CMU.
The volleyball team faced struggles throughout the season too. The Chippewas lost decisively against Northern Illinois, Western Michigan, Ball State, EMU and Elon.
But look at how their season ended.
Despite the inconsistent regular season the CMU volleyball team qualified for the MAC tournament as the No. 6 seed. The Chippewas took out the No. 3 seeded Broncos, No. 2 seeded Bobcats and the top-seeded Huskies en rout to the programs first MAC Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance in program history.
That was behind a healthy Schultz and experienced youth.
Maybe the basketball team can copy the volleyball team's story.
If Baker provides some leadership to this young but experienced team, it could be dangerous.