CMU head basketball coach Sue Guevara is beginning her eighth year at the helm of the Chippewa women's basketball program. The upcoming 2014-2015 season finds her dealing with the unquestionable status of 2014 MAC MVP, and Chippewa star, Crystal Bradford who is recuperating from season-ending knee surgery.
Hustle Belt caught up with coach Guevara who told us, "Crystal has just been cleared by her doctors to begin shooting free throws and dribbling." According to Guevara, "Crystal is now over three months post-op and has been recovering from her PCL surgery with patience and discipline."
CMU's first team practice is June 30, but Guevara is looking to at least August before expecting to see Bradford on the court again, after tearing her PCL in March while practicing for the MAC Tournament.
"Crystal is slowly easing into things. At this point, the extent of Crystal's comeback is still an unknown," she said.
The hardest part of Bradford's recovery may be getting her to settle down and let nature do its healing given her high energy level.
"Crystal has never been hurt. So, the knee injury, subsequent surgery and recovery have been new experiences for her," Guevara said.
While Bradford's timetable is still questionable, we do know there will be some new faces likely to see playing time for the Chippewas in the upcoming season. Lorreal Jones, formerly a St. Louis Billiken, has one year of eligibility remaining after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. Jones was the leading scorer and rebounder for her team while at St. Louis.
Rikke Fabricus, whom coach Guevara recruited from Denmark, is a 6-foot-3 post player. Fabricus sat out her freshman season as a redshirt, but she is now "ready to play," according to Guevara.
"Rikke went to China with the Danish National Team and has a different kind of style that has been adapted from her experience as an international player," Guevara said of Fabricus' style of play.
Karly Herrington had been tearing things up at Hemlock High School and was projected by some to get minutes in her freshman year. Unfortunately, Herrington got bit by the ACL bug and is now four months post-op. She can bring some fire to an already talented lineup if she recovers from surgery.
The team also will feature three new faces from the Downriver area in Michigan.
Downriver is not exactly known as a basketball hot bed. When you think of Southgate, Michigan and Woodhaven, Michigan it is ice hockey, not basketball that comes to mind. However, the Chippewas found three talented pieces from this area, all of whom should make an impact this upcoming season: Tinara Moore and Amari Carley from Southgate Anderson and Cassie Breen from the Woodhaven Warriors. Moore is a 6-foot-3 forward, while Carley is slated as a point guard. Breen is also a guard who has been Downriver All-League for the last three years.
While CMU's lineup will undoubtedly look different this fall, change is something Guevara has grown accustomed to during her tenure at CMU.
"The style of play has become more uptempo and the players have become more athletic and versatile. I believe that the quality of coaching and an upgrade in the quality of non conference opponents means that there are now no clear cut candidates to win the MAC Tournament."
A healthy Crystal Bradford together with a new compliment of players embodying the improved style of play in the MAC will be key components to a productive 2014-2015 season for the Chippewas.