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Rockets facing familiar foe in Wolverines in WNIT tilt

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Toledo's Yolanda Richardson drives to the basket during the Rockets' win over Pittsburgh in the first round of the WNIT.

The Blade/Lori King
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Although it's an unusual thing to find in postseason play, there will be plenty of familiarity between the University of Toledo and University of Michigan women's basketball teams when they square off at 2 p.m. today in the second round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament at Crisler Arena.

The Rockets and Wolverines had a closed-door scrimmage before the season started, and the two teams' head coaches go back a long ways.

UT's Tricia Cullop coached against UM's Kevin Borseth when she was at Evansville in the Missouri Valley Conference and he was at Wisconsin-Green Bay in the Horizon League during the 2000-01 season. Borseth's Phoenix got the best of Cullop's Purple Aces by a final score of 67-59, but some mutual admiration was earned that day.

"I have a lot of respect for Kevin," Cullop said. "He just does a great job with X's and O's and he'll pick you apart if you're not careful. We'll have to be on our toes with the things that they're going to do to us."

In addition to the knowledge of the coaching schemes and philosophies that will used today, both staffs have the luxury of watching head-to-head film against their opponent from November's scrimmage.

"I'm sure both of us are going to be scouring that tape," Cullop said. "Now granted, we both probably don't run any of the same stuff that we did back then, but it's just nice to know personnel and to have a little bit of a feel."

While Cullop said it's a definite plus to have some first-hand information of the Rockets' next opponent, she did admit some disappointment that the game wouldn't be played at Savage Arena.

UT (25-8) had 1,868 fans - most of which were decked out appropriately for the team's "Gold Out" - in attendance for Friday's 70-58 win over Pittsburgh in the WNIT first round.

"We would've loved to have hosted [this next] game," Cullop said. "But it's not our fault. I think the main thing is we have to roll with whatever punches come at us. The nice thing is since we do have to go on the road, it's not that far away and our fans can make that trip."

The Wolverines (18-13) advanced by virtue of a 69-34 rout of Kent State on Friday night at Crisler Arena with a crowd of 1,480 on hand.

The winner of today's contest will take on the winner of

the Northwestern-St. Bonaventure matchup to be played

tomorrow night.

"It should definitely be a fun game," UT junior forward Melissa Goodall said of the contest with Michigan.

"I'm still expecting a really good turnout [from UT fans] because it's not too far from Toledo. But I know it'll be a fun environment no matter if the fans are against us or if they're for us."

Contact Zach Silka at:

zsilka@theblade.com

or 419-724-6084.

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