ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- There was a nervous energy all day. Michigan had been through this before, living on the NCAA bubble the past two seasons.
Both years they were confident. Both years they were disappointed. So the Wolverines weren’t sure exactly what to expect. They would try to remain calm, even if doing so was next to impossible.
Practice made it easier because it was normal. It was something that could be a distraction from whether or not Michigan would be on the NCAA or WNIT side of the bubble this season.
“It’s a hard thing not to think about. It just consumes every second of the day,” fifth-year women’s basketball coach Kevin Borseth said. “The only time we got any relief at all was when we were out on the court in practice. Prior to that, I think everybody had that pit in their stomach with the what, when, where, why, the whole nine yards.
“Such anticipation built up and anxiety built up inside of you it’s really hard to explain.”
It was an anxiety, relatively, relieved early. Once the selection show started Monday night, it didn’t take long for an answer. Michigan was in the first bracket announced as the Wolverines were in. They would be the No. 11 seed traveling to Norman, Oklahoma to face No. 6 Oklahoma.
At that moment, the emotional range shifted. The nerves were gone. A combination of excitement and elation took over. Players started tweeting. Senior Carmen Reynolds began crying.
Michigan, one of the last four teams in, would be playing in the NCAA tournament.
“It’s just so exciting for us,” Reynolds said. “To take this step in our program our senior year, it means so much.”
It would be the first time since 2000-01 Michigan would be back in the NCAA tournament, a range spanning three coaches -- Sue Guevara, Cheryl Burnett and Borseth -- six losing seasons and four postseason berths, all in the WNIT.
Two seasons ago, when Reynolds and Courtney Boylan were sophomores, they missed the tournament and ended up making a run to the WNIT semifinals with then-freshman point guard Dayeesha Hollins.
Hollins transferred after the season and Michigan again had a chance to get to the tournament, sitting on the bubble Reynolds’ and Boylan’s junior season with senior Veronica Hicks. The Wolverines were left out again and lost in the first round of the WNIT to Eastern Michigan.
This season there would be no WNIT. As seniors, the pair would head to the NCAA tournament.
“Our program has changed so much since coach Borseth came here,” Boylan said. “We were part of his first recruiting class and to be kind of able to leave our footprint on the program, it means a lot to us.”