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updated: 3/21/2018 11:00 AM

Sue Guevara guides Central Michigan hoops to new heights

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  • FILE -In this Monday, March 19, 2018, file photo, Central Michigan coach Sue Guevara directs her team during the second half of a second-round game against Ohio State in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament in Columbus, Ohio. When Guevara took her team south to cross the border last week, the school hadn't experienced any success in the NCAA women's basketball tournament. When the players and coaches returned, they had beaten Ohio State on its home court and opened with a victory over LSU.

    FILE -In this Monday, March 19, 2018, file photo, Central Michigan coach Sue Guevara directs her team during the second half of a second-round game against Ohio State in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament in Columbus, Ohio. When Guevara took her team south to cross the border last week, the school hadn't experienced any success in the NCAA women's basketball tournament. When the players and coaches returned, they had beaten Ohio State on its home court and opened with a victory over LSU.
    Associated Press

  • Members of the Central Michigan basketball team celebrate a second-round game victory over Ohio State in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, March 19, 2018.

    Members of the Central Michigan basketball team celebrate a second-round game victory over Ohio State in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, March 19, 2018.
    Associated Press

  • Ohio State guard Linnae Harper, left,  shoots against Central Michigan forward Reyna Frost during the first half of a second-round game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, March 19, 2018.

    Ohio State guard Linnae Harper, left, shoots against Central Michigan forward Reyna Frost during the first half of a second-round game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, March 19, 2018.
    Associated Press

  • Central Michigan guard Presley Hudson, right, goes up to shoot against Ohio State guard Linnae Harper during the first half of a second-round game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, March 19, 2018.

    Central Michigan guard Presley Hudson, right, goes up to shoot against Ohio State guard Linnae Harper during the first half of a second-round game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, March 19, 2018.
    Associated Press

  • Ohio State guard Kelsey Mitchell, left, and guard Linnae Harper react to a second-round game loss to Central Michigan in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, March 19, 2018.

    Ohio State guard Kelsey Mitchell, left, and guard Linnae Harper react to a second-round game loss to Central Michigan in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, March 19, 2018.
    Associated Press

 
 

Central Michigan women's basketball was in rough shape when Sue Guevara took over a decade ago.

The veteran coach, slowly and surely, has turned the program around.

When Guevara took her team south to cross the border last week, the school hadn't experienced any success in the NCAA women's basketball tournament. When the players and coaches returned, they had beaten Ohio State on its home court and opened with a victory over LSU.

Reyna Frost could see and hear a difference back on campus on her way to a course in differential equations and after it.

"I was going to class and people on their bike were saying, 'Hey, good job,'" Frost, a junior forward, said in a telephone interview Monday. "And after class, the teacher wanted to talk to me about the game."

Times have changed.

The Chippewas weren't winning much when Guevara was hired in 2008. Not many people in the Mount Pleasant, Michigan, cared enough to attend games and the team's facilities and amenities were lackluster at best.

"It was bad and we were in the pits when Sue got here," recalled Marcy Weston, a former Central Michigan administrator and volleyball coach. "We hadn't won much since the early 1980s and we struggled after that. Sue changed the culture of the program by focusing her recruiting in Michigan and she has created a buzz in the community. She could be the mayor here."

Guevara is just thankful to have gotten another shot to coach.

Fifteen years ago this week, she resigned as Michigan's coach after seven mostly successful seasons.

Guevara set a record with the Wolverines - winning 123 games - that stood until Kim Barnes Arico surpassed it this season. Guevara led Michigan to three NCAA Tournament appearances, winning one game, and into the WNIT twice. But she won just three conference games in her last season, leading to her departure.

"We weren't successful at the end, but I have wonderful memories and friends there," Guevara said. "Things just didn't work out at Michigan and that's OK.

"If that didn't happen at Michigan, I wouldn't be here and Central Michigan is where I need to be and want to be."

Guevara's next quest is to keep her team hungry for more celebrations instead of settling for the feats they've accomplished.

The 11th-seeded Chippewas (30-4) will play second-seeded Oregon on Saturday in Spokane, Washington.

"We still want to win more," Frost said. "We're not done yet. We want to show what our team is made of to the whole country."

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Follow Larry Lage on Twitter at https://twitter.com/larrylage

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