By RICKY LINDSAY, Editor-in-Chief
Things were quite different for Kendall Rose’s third collegiate game.
It was loud, almost deafening at times, with 1700 elementary school kids screaming at the top of their lungs. The lights were brighter than usual, beaming onto the court like a runway.
But most importantly, it was a learning experience, one that came against NCAA Division-I Oakland University on the O’rena’s new blacktop court.
“It’s a really cool experience,” Rose said. “They’re a great team. It was just fun to get out here and play. We’re obviously learning from it, but it’s great to get out here in general, getting to play with such great players and helping us improve.”
The University of Michigan-Dearborn women’s basketball team traveled to Rochester Hills Friday morning to face the Golden Grizzlies in their season opener. It was a learning experience for the young Wolverines, whose 13-man roster has 12 first and second year players, including two rookies in the starting lineup.
But the lesson didn’t come easy.
Oakland walloped UM-Dearborn 123-38, shattering the program’s single-game points mark by 11.
UM-Dearborn head coach Dymetrius Ware wasn’t worried about all that.
“We know when we bring them in here, we want them to compete,” Ware said. “I’m not looking at the score, I’m not looking (at) what (the other team is) doing, I’m looking at our deficiencies, what we need to get better at and making the environment somewhere where they know if they can compete in this environment, then when we go other places where it’s not as loud or it’s not as rowdy, (we can compete).”
For Ware, who is in his third season with the women’s basketball program, it’s a building process. And a game at Oakland was part of that plan.
“It’s like starting all over, building a house… in my third year here, I think that’s the thing that we’re trying to do, lay foundation for four or five years ahead,” Ware said. “In life, anything with experiences make you better, so we’re definitely believing that playing these types of games makes us better. And then the environment too makes us better… Doesn’t matter what environment, we’re going to play hard, and that’s what I’m trying to get them to understand.”
Rose will remember the O’rena’s blacktop court and its bright lights. She’ll also remember the screaming children, some who cheered and chanted for “Michigan,” and the majority who let their opposition rain down from the stands.
“It was kind of cool until they started booing us,” Rose said.
But she believes the experience garnered against an NCAA Division-I team, regardless of the score, will help the Wolverines improve.
“I think a lot of us had pregame jitters before and it’s just helping us get comfortable with the atmospheres,” Rose said. “Also, a lot of missed layups. I think we’ll be able to calm it down for future games…They’re a lot bigger and stronger. We realized we need to be in the weight room lifting so that we can rebound and stay up with these bigger players.”
UM-Dearborn may have been on the opposite side of a record-breaking day by Oakland, but Ware hopes that one day, the Wolverines won’t be welcomed back to the O’rena.
“It may not come out pretty a lot of times… but one day, we’ll come here, and I don’t know, I might not even be alive, but one day we’ll come here and they won’t let us come back,” Ware said. “That’s the goal; we want to play here one day where they won’t let us come back after that.”