WSU women’s basketball team returns to action after last season’s tournament success
Last season was historic for Wayne State University’s women’s basketball program.
After receiving an at-large bid into the NCAA Division II tournament, the Warriors, who were also co-GLIAC (Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) North Division champs, proceeded to make it all the way to the round of 16, which is the furthest any team has gone in program history.
“Those experiences will never be forgotten,” said Wayne State head coach Carrie Lohr. “I’m hopeful it’s not the last, either. It went by so fast. It seems like, at one point, we were just enjoying it (and) celebrating it, and here we’re back to the drawing board with a new roster and a new look trying to repeat it.”
Following the Warriors’ impressive run, Lohr said the compliance office received what the NCAA calls “permission to contact” emails, regarding players from other programs who were interested in transferring to Wayne State. This season’s roster now includes five transfers.
Another potential benefit of Wayne State’s success was the confidence it instilled in the younger players, in regards to showing them what is possible. Wayne State currently has four freshmen on the team, and although they weren’t part of the tournament run last season, the success the Warriors experienced could turn out to be beneficial for them and the program.
“They really followed us through the whole season and into the postseason,” Lohr said. “I think that was a good experience for them to see us (kind of) transform last year. They know the expectation. And then late in the spring, we inherited some transfers, so it seems like people were maybe taking notice of what they were doing.
“And then we were very fortunate, the athletic director and administration here honored us with ‘Sweet 16’ rings, so we had a ring ceremony in early November. All of our newcomers and freshmen got to be part of that, and we were able to bring back the team from last year, so that was pretty exciting.”
Freshman Christina Green (Southfield Lathrup High School/University High School Academy) wouldn’t mind creating some positive memories of her own.
“Every year, go a step further than last year’s team,” Green said of what she would like to accomplish while at Wayne State. “I’m hoping to (make) it to the NCAA Division II championship.”
Although Wayne State lost some key players to graduation, including Talisha Bridges and Juanita Cochran, Lohr said she still has “high expectations.” Senior Lena Thomas (Bloomfield Hills Andover) and Kristen Long (Durand High) are the Warriors’ captains, and in their role as team leaders, they could help the Warriors try to make the most of a season Lohr described as a “rebuilding” one.
Lohr could use some solid leadership when Wayne State faces GLIAC North opponents, as the program’s success last season could bring out the best from their divisional foes.
“I think that’s what happens when you have success,” she said. “If they get a piece of you, that’s how they measure themselves. We did the same thing. We wanted to be like Michigan Tech or Ashland; they were the frontrunners in the league in years past. Those games were important to us when you were trying to measure yourself against the defending champ.”
While Lohr may be pleased about being part of making program history, that doesn’t mean she is content.
“I really believe we can start a tradition for women’s basketball here,” Lohr said. “I think we have to continue to work as hard as we can to feed off of what we did last year. I’m hopeful we have the right people in place to start a tradition here at Wayne State. I’m excited about the players we just signed recently — they’re high-level players.”
At press time, Wayne State was 3-1 (2-0, GLIAC).
The Warriors are scheduled to play at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 18 in an away game at Ashland.