Kelly becomes 'missing piece' after sitting out 2016-17 season

RS freshman guard Micaela Kelly looks for a pass on Feb. 28 at McGuirk Arena.

Since her transfer from DePaul to Central Michigan in 2016, the role of redshirt freshman Micaela Kelly has changed dramatically. 

Due to NCAA transfer rules, the Detroit native was forced to sit out of competition for the 2016-17 CMU women's basketball season. 

During that season, the Chippewas won the Mid-American Conference West Division title, as they became the outright MAC title and were shocked in the quarterfinal round of the MAC Tournament at the hands of Western Michigan.

"Sitting out last year, I learned a lot," Kelly said. "I've adjusted by being patient, letting the game come to me and  trying not to rush things."

The missing link

Kelly is no longer looking on from the sideline. She's played a vital role in assisting CMU in clinching their third straight MAC West Championship and the MAC regular season title as a starter.

"She is the missing piece from last year for us," Guevara said. "'Twin' (Kelly's nickname) is probably one of the most coachable kids, she listens, she never gives you an excuse. She's a tough hard-nose kid."

Kelly averages 10.8 points per game and takes the second most steals on the team with 41. Defense has become a pivotal part of Kelly's game, she said. 

In addition, Kelly has become one of the best and most efficient passers on the team. She has 102 total assists and she is No. 12 in the MAC in assist totals. 

"I like to get stops on defense," Kelly said. "I want to create for others and I like to create assists."

Bond with Guevara

For Kelly, being coached by the winningest CMU women's basketball coach has only lifted her game. She credited her recent success to the bond she's developed with Guevara over the past two years.

"She's like my homie," Kelly said. "It's like a bond, and I feel comfortable talking to her. I trust her as a coach and the decisions that she makes during game-time, I just trust it."

Guevara feels no different — Kelly's presence has made an impact not only on the team but her as well.

"Homies always have each other's backs, all the time," Guevara said. "She does a great job of making me feel good."

Promising Future

Since 2011, CMU women's basketball has had a history of successful guard play dating back to the days of Crystal Bradford. Both hold multiple program records and boast All-Conference awards in each of the seasons they played.

Kelly sees this as an opportunity to take the reigns in the future, with aspirations to become the next great guard to play under Guevara.

"I feel like the more I grow, the more I'll learn and the better I'll get," Kelly said. "Once I become consistent, I'm going to have a bigger role I can fill."

Judging by her performances this season, Guevara agrees, adding that Kelly's growth will continue to keep her program at an elite level in the coming years.

"Now she's in with in this core group and they've really helped her understand keeping the pace throughout the whole year," Guevara said. "I see her as helping the foundation stay pretty solid and for us to continue to build on."