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New coach leading University of Detroit Mercy women's basketball program

By: Mark Vest | Online Only | Published May 8, 2020

 AnnMarie Gilbert has been selected to lead University of Detroit Mercy women's basketball program

AnnMarie Gilbert has been selected to lead University of Detroit Mercy women's basketball program

Photo provided by University of Detroit Mercy athletics

From the perspective of University of Detroit Mercy Athletic Director Robert C. Vowels Jr., there hasn’t been a coach like new-hire AnnMarie Gilbert in the women’s basketball program.

“We haven’t had a coach of her caliber come through here,” Vowels said.

For the past five seasons Gilbert coached at Virginia Union University. She helped lead that program to 135 wins and five trips to the NCAA Division II tournament, including a national title game appearance in 2017.

Prior to her stint at Virginia Union, Gilbert coached at Eastern Michigan University. Her teams have won 20-plus games in each of the last eight seasons.

In three seasons at Virginia Union, Gilbert was the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Coach of the Year. She also coached the CIAA Player of the Year in four of her five seasons at Virginia Union.

From Vowels’ perspective, Gilbert has the pedigree to help make the Titans a Horizon League championship contender.

“I think she’ll be able to build our brand,” Vowels said. “I think she’s (going to) be able to recruit in Detroit public high schools. She’ll be able to recruit in suburban areas, and within the region inside and outside of Detroit. So, I think that’s one of the biggest things, because she has those type of relationships already established.”

Gilbert said she is “super excited” about the opportunity.

“I’m from Ohio, so Detroit puts me a little closer to my original home,” she said. “I’ll get to see some family I haven’t seen in a long time. … The states that surround Michigan, I’m familiar with and have recruited them hard.”

Gilbert said she has some “wonderful ties” in Michigan. Her familiarity with the state could help give her a big head start with the program.

Gilbert said she would like to make Titans women’s basketball “relevant again in the state of Michigan.”

“I think there’s enough talent in Michigan; it’s a gold mine that is rich with talent,” she said. “I think that we’ve got (to) build stronger relationships with the local high schools, public and private, Catholic and the AAU programs, and get them connected with the program and what we’re trying to do.”

Gilbert wants UDM to play an “up-tempo, fast-paced style” and to “pressure the ball and be an aggressive defensive team.”

Despite winning just three games last season, she said UDM has “great potential.”

“I don’t think there are enough pieces in the current program to compete at the level I would like to see the program compete at, but I think the sky’s the limit,” Gilbert said. “I think that the University (of) Detroit can win the Horizon League in the near future.”