Blogs > On Campus with ross maghielse

A college sports blog from The Oakland Press, dedicated to covering Michigan and Michigan State athletics as well as former Oakland County athletes at other schools.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Gardner makes strides in classroom, too

All spring long, University of Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez has noted how dedicated a student of the game that his early-enrollee freshman quarterback Devin Gardner has turned out to be.

Apparently the Oak Park youngster is a pretty good student of ... well, academics. Gardner posted on Twitter Friday that his GPA for his first college semester was a robust 3.7.

Solid spring practice performance has put the five-star prospect securely in the quarterback equation come fall camp, but continued hard work in the classroom — both for football and for his regular course load — could have Gardner breathing down the necks of sophomores Tate Forcier (who started every game last year) and Denard Robinson (who made tremendous progress this spring).

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Farmington LHP signs with Hillsdale

Farmington senior LHP P.J. Cooley signed a National Letter of Intent recently to play baseball next year at Division II Hillsdale College.

A three-year varsity letter-winner and a commanding presence on the mound for the Falcons, Cooley started 16 games, pitched more than 80 innings, owned a 3.43 ERA and struck out 80 hitters during his sophomore and junior seasons. Cooley is 1-1 this season with 35 strikeouts and a 2.30 ERA through 21 innings pitched this season.

He will join current Farmington teammate Dan Pochmara, a shortstop and pitcher for the Falcons, on the field next year for the Chargers, who play in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC).

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New CCHA playoff format includes all 11 teams

All 11 teams will participate in the playoffs during the 2010-11 season under a new postseason model adopted by the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

The pairings will be re-seeded after every round to pair the highest remaining teams against the lowest.

The top five seeds will receive first-round byes, while the remaining six teams will play best-of-three series at campus sites March 4-6.

The best-of-three CCHA quarterfinals will take place March 11-13 at campus sites, with winners advancing to the CCHA Championship, which will take place March 18-19 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

MSU will play 'Cuse in 2010 Jimmy V Classic

Michigan State will play Syracuse at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 7 as part of the Jimmy V Classic, looking to become the first team to record three wins in the 16-year history of the tournament.

The Spartans will take on the Orange as the second game of a doubleheader on ESPN, following the matchup between Kansas and Memphis.

MSU is 2-0 all time in the Jimmy V Classic, but just 9-7 against Syracuse.

Read the full press release at or by clicking here.

WMU soccer adds two with local ties

Western Michigan University announced the signing of three men's soccer players for its 2010-11 season, including a pair of players — Troy High senior Joe Beshara and Oakland University transfer Ryan Barrett — with local ties.
A first-team all-state forward, and the Colts' leading scorer the past two years, Beshara led Troy to a 21-3-3 record as a senior. He also played for the Michigan Wolves club team, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation for a large portion of its season.
"He is a natural goal-scorer who is not afraid to do the dirty work required to create openings for himself or others," second-year WMU head coach Stu Riddle said in a release.
Listed as a top-20 recruit out of high school at East Grand Rapids by, Barrett did not see any playing time for OU in the fall.
"I am excited that Ryan has chosen to join us here at WMU," Riddle said. "He is a player with excellent pedigree, and he certainly has the ability to come in right away and start for us."
The Broncos also added Luis Esquivel, a native of Mexico City, Mexico.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cupboard bare for NFL talent in state of Michigan

The minute Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones decided to stay in school for his senior season, it became obvious how slim the pickings were for draftable players from the state. Before Michigan DE Brandon Graham's stellar postseason pushed him into the middle of the first round, it was eminently possible that the entire state could be shut out of the first day of the NFL's new three-day draft format.

While the Big Ten had the second-most players (34) selected of any conference, only four of those were from Michigan or Michigan State. It's a pretty good argument for the people who insist that John L. Smith was recruiting MAC-level talent in his years at MSU, and those that insist that Lloyd Carr left the cupboard bare at U-M.

Even with Graham's selection at No. 13 by the Eagles, it was still nearly 36 hours before another player from one of the major universities in the state would come off the board. Small-school workout warrior Jared Veldheer of Hillsdale was picked in the third round by Oakland on Friday, but punter Zoltan Mesko was the next player with ties to the state drafted, midway through the fifth round, shortly before noon on Saturday.

Central Michigan's record-setting duo of QB Dan LeFevour and WR Antonio Brown  were the next two to go off the board, 14 picks apart in the sixth round, then the Raiders nabbed a pair of defensive backs — Michigan State's Jeremy Ware and Michigan's Stevie Brown — with seventh-round picks.

Michigan cornerback Donovan Warren, who entered the draft early, was not selected, and signed a free-agent contract with the DB-rich New York Jets. He's not alone in that ignominy: Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Sneed, once considered a sure-fire first-round pick, went undrafted and was signed by Tampa Bay, while LaGarrette Blount, the troubled tailback from Oregon, signed with the Titans.

Another local product, Michigan State's Blair White, knows all about beating long odds after going from walk-on to the Spartans' leading receiver last season.
UPDATE: Trevor Anderson joined former MSU teammates White and kicker Brett Swenson as an undrafted free agent signed by the Colts. Western Michigan QB Tim Hiller is also in the Colts' rookie camp this week.

Round 1, pick 13 — Michigan DE Brandon Graham, drafted by Philadelphia
Round 3, pick 5   — Hillsdale OT Jared Veldheer, drafted by Oakland
Round 5, pick 19 — Michigan P Zoltan Mesko, drafted by New England
Round 6, pick 12 — Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour, drafted by Chicago
Round 6, pick 26 — Central Michigan WR Antonio Brown, drafted by Pittsburgh
Round 7, pick 8   — Michigan St. CB Jeremy Ware, drafted by Oakland
Round 7, pick 44 — Michigan S Stevie Brown, drafted by Oakland

RB Carlos Brown — New Orleans
WR Greg Mathews — Chicago
RB Brandon Minor — Chicago
OG David Moosman — Arizona
OT Mark Ortmann — Carolina
CB Donovan Warren — New York Jets

Michigan State
PK Brett Swenson — Indianapolis
CB Ross Weaver (Southfield) — Miami
WR Blair White — Indianapolis

Central Michigan
WR Bryan Anderson— New England
CB Josh Gordy — Jacksonville
DE Frank Zombo — Green Bay

Cincinnati FS Aaron Webster (Birmingham Groves) — Houston
Grand Valley State OT Nick McDonald — Green Bay
Saginaw Valley State DT Rob Callaway — Detroit
Wayne State RB Joique Bell — Buffalo
Western Michigan QB Tim Hiller — Indianapolis

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Monday, April 26, 2010

New U-M hoops assistant will help Wolverines recruit Detroit

One of the biggest criticisms of the Michigan men's basketball program under John Beilein is his tenuous (at best) relationships with coaches in the Detroit PSL.

On Saturday, Beilein made a move that should shore up his contact list in Southeast Michigan, adding former University of Detroit Mercy player and Detroit Southeastern grad Bacari Alexander to his coaching staff as an assistant. The 33-year-old joins fellow U-D grad Mike Jackson — one of his former coaches with the Titans — on the staff, giving Beilein two key Detroit recruiters.

"He (Alexander) has strong roots in Michigan and significant recruiting experience both here and in neighboring states," Beilein said in a release. "He is a passionate teacher with strong communication skills. Bacari is a former post player and has a proven ability in the development of big men at the college level. With our young front court, that was an important factor in my final selection. I look forward to Bacari's immediate and very positive impact on the growth of our program."

Alexander spent the last two seasons at Western Michigan (where he helped the Broncos load up on Detroit-area players) after starting his coaching career under Perry Watson at U-D, with a one-year stop at Ohio University sandwiched in between. He even had a stint as a Globetrotter.

His biggest value for the Wolverines, aside from recruiting, will be working with the big men, one of the Wolverines' true weaknesses over the last few years. With DeShawn Sims and Zack Gibson graduating, U-M will have only redshirt freshmen Blake McLimans and Jordan Morgan, and true freshmen Jon Horford and Evan Smotrycz in the post next season, making Alexander's job all that much harder.

“I’m a grass-roots guy. I’ve done very well in recruiting the national urban areas of the United States, let alone Detroit,” Alexander told's Michael Rothstein. “I’m a PSL product and a lot of times it helps with regards to recruiting because people tend to embrace their own. So that can be, that has been an advantage."

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Coldren provides coup de grace on CMU's historic day

Margo Jonker's program has always been predicated on the production of her top players in her 31 years at the helm of Central Michigan University's softball team, so it was no surprise that she needed — and got — a little help from two of her top hitters in what turned out to be a historic day on Thursday.

Down a run to visiting Michigan State, and hitless through three innings, CMU got record-setting home runs from both Christina Novak and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep grad Molly Coldren to earn a 5-1 win for Jonker, the coach's 1,000th career victory.

Jonker became the 11th coach in Division I softball history to pass the milestone.

“It’s darn tough to beat. It’s a perfect day for softball,” Jonker told Jim Lahde of the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun (read his full coverage here and here). “I feel very fortunate for all the players that chose to come to Central Michigan University over the (last) 31 years to allow this to happen. It just says a lot about the program so I’m very proud.”

Novak's solo shot in the fourth was the 17th in her four-year career, setting CMU's all-time record. Coldren's solo homer in the sixth, which provided insurance, was her ninth, giving her sole possession of the school's single-season record.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wolverines tender offer to Madison's Showers

The Michigan coaching staff appears to be hitting Oakland County heavy this spring, having already gotten a verbal commitment from Birmingham Seaholm wideout Shawn Conway, and recently extending a scholarship offer to Madison Heights Madison's blazing-fast Valdez Showers.

Showers, who has a listed 40-yard dash time of 4.27 seconds according to, already has scholarship offers from three other Big Ten schools — Michigan State, Wisconsin and Northwestern — as well as Cincinnati — which has had kept a pipeline open to southeast Michigan under Brian Kelly and now Butch Jones — and a pair of MAC schools in Toledo and Central Michigan.

In addition to Conway and corners Greg Brown — from Charles Woodson's alma mater, Fremont (Ohio) Ross —  and Cass Tech's Delonte Hollowell, the Wolverines recently got a commitment from four-star Plymouth Canton DE Brennan Beyer.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Former OU coach Bob Taylor replaced at Northwood

It kind of flew under the radar — granted most NCAA Division II transactions do, on the whole — when Northwood University in Midland decided last month not to renew the contract of men's basketball coach Bob Taylor, who had led the Timberwolves program for 13 seasons. I noticed it recently, because I used to cover his teams.

Fans in this area may remember Taylor as the man that led the Oakland University women's program for its final decade (1986-87 season to 1996-97) in Division II, winning four titles in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The immediate predecessor to current OU coach Beckie Francis, Taylor left the program when the decision was made to jump from Division II to Division I, and he left as the program's winningest coach (251-72 record).

As the men's coach at Northwood, Taylor finished as the second-winningest coach in the history of the men's program (169-183) at the small private school. But a sixth-straight losing season forced Timberwolves AD Pat Riepma to make the decision not to renew Taylor's contract. He was officially replaced on Monday by former Nebraska player Jeff Rekeweg (pronounced reck-a-way), who last season led University of St. Francis Fort Wayne to an NAIA Division II title, earning himself coach of the year honors in that association.

Taylor may not have been the best coach (think Wayne Fontes: A coach whose benchmark win totals come with an equal or greater number of losses, both totals mostly due to longevity), but he was one of the most amusing. He'd yell at referees, and forget what he was saying midway through. He'd chew on his own tie, like Jerry Tarkanian.

My favorite Taylor moment was him showing up with divots shaved out of his perpetually messed-up hair, then admitting after the game that he'd fallen asleep in the recliner, and one of his three daughters had decided to try to shave his head while he slept.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Spring game roundup: WMU, CMU, EMU

Western Michigan
WHAT: Brown & Gold game
WHEN: Noon, Saturday, April 17
WHERE: Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo
ADMISSION: Donation of canned goods
HIGHLIGHTS: Bronco Insider at
LAST YEAR: 5-7, 4-4 MAC West
1) Finding replacements — The Broncos have to find a way to replace not only record-setting quarterback Tim Hiller, who broke or tied all of Western's passing records, but his backfield mate, Brandon West, a back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher. So far, it looks like sophomore Alex Carder has the leg up to replace Hiller, while Aaron Winchester is the favorite to replace West. The offense wasn't the problem for the Broncos last year, and those two — or whomever else steps in — need to keep it that way.
2) Shore up the defense — Just one year into his five-year contract extension, WMU coach Bill Cubit had to clean house on the defensive side of the ball after the Broncos ranked 101st in the country. Coordinator Steve Morrison and his staff were fired, replaced by Hofstra DC Dave Cohen, whose troops had performed admirably in a 24-10 loss to Western at Waldo last year. The all-new defensive staff also includes former Spartan DB Amp Campbell. The staff will have to craft a new defensive mentality for a group of players who were demoralized by last season's end. It should help that the Broncos welcome in their most heralded group of DB recruits since the E.J. Biggers/Louis Delmas class in 2005.
3) Find balance again — Just once in the Cubit era (2007), the Broncos failed to have a 1,000-yard rusher. West topped the plateau last year, but the coach admitted that the Broncos were a little too pass-happy last year, relying too much on the likely NFL-bound arm of Hiller. Look for the Broncos to go back to basics this year.

Central Michigan
WHAT: Spring game
WHEN: 5 p.m., Saturday, April 17
WHERE: Kelly/Shorts Stadium, Mount Pleasant
LAST YEAR: 12-2, 8-0 MAC West, GMAC Bowl champs, No. 23 in AP poll
LIVE BLOG: Morning Sun coverage here.
1) Finding replacements — Dan LeFevour, Antonio Brown and Bryan Anderson were three of the most accomplished offensive players in Mid-American Conference history, and all three are now gone. Of the players in line to replace LeFevour, only sophomore Ryan Radcliff has attempted a pass for CMU. Considering the Chippewas' conversion to a more pro-style offense under new coach Dan Enos, replacing the two record-setting wideouts may be a bit simpler. Kito Poblah and Cody Wilson (Rochester Adams) are the top two returning pass-catchers.
2) Adjusting to a new system — Even with a subtle tweak, going from a more pass-happy to a more option-oriented attack, the Chippewas have been primarily a spread team through their last two coaches. Players insist that the plays under Enos are largely the same — just with different terminology — but there's still the matter of making the transition to a more power run game, with linemen in three-point stances, and the quarterback under center. Tight end David Blackburn was on the field about 20 percent of the time last year, but will be on close to 80 percent of the snaps under Enos.
3) Overcoming youth on defense — With the offense in transition, it'll be up to the defense to keep the Chippewas in games. Led by star linebackers Nick Bellore and Matt Berning, the defense still has a solid core of last year's championship unit. The challenge will be mixing in the younger players on the line and in the secondary without much of a drop off. The backfield lost four key contributors, while there is just one senior and one junior among the defensive linemen.

Eastern Michigan
WHAT: Spring game
WHEN: 2 p.m., Sunday, April 18
WHERE: Rynearson Stadium, Ypsilanti
LAST YEAR: 0-12, 0-8 MAC West
RADIO: WTKA-AM (1050).
1) Getting back to competitive — The Eagles won Jeff Genyk's last game as coach two seasons ago, but dropped all 12 of their games last year, under first-year coach Ron English. There were some near-misses — like a last-second loss to Northwestern on a late field goal — but the Eagles lost seven games by more than three touchdowns, and gave up 459 points. Even English admitted that the Eagles didn't play very hard last year.
2) Shoring up the defense — The Eagles did rank tops in the nation in one statistical category — pass defense — but that was only because they couldn't stop anybody's run game, giving up 277 yards per game on the ground. Just one season into his tenure, the defensive-minded English turned over seven bodies on his staff, including most of the defensive crew. Phil Snow is the new defensive coordinator.
3) Older and wiser — The Eagles were simply undermanned at times last year, when they had to use 25 first-time players, including nine true freshmen. One of the youngsters thrown into the fire was quarterback Alex Gillett, who started three times after senior Andy Schmitt went down with a knee injury. He comes into the spring in a battle with giant-sized redshirt freshman Devontae Payne.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Zeigler turns down big boys to play for father at CMU

When Trey Zeigler first arrived in Michigan, he was arriving from Los Angeles, where he'd already separated himself as an up-and-coming basketball star. And he was going to Mount Pleasant, population 25,000, where his father Ernie had just become the new men's basketball coach at Central Michigan University.

It wasn't just his big feet that marked the eighth-grader as a potential big fish in a little pond.

Shoot, the two high school basketball coaching staffs in town even got into a minor squabble in the audience at his father's introductory press conference, arguing over who was going to get Trey, once he entered high school.

Highly-sought after doesn't even begin to explain it.

Flash forward four years, and every college coach in America was after the 6-foot-5 shooting guard, ranked among the nation's best players by all the recruiting services. His father's old boss, UCLA coach Ben Howland, wanted Zeigler to come back to La-La Land. Before directing the Blue Devils to another national title, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski first got directions to one of Zeigler's games. MSU's Tom Izzo figured Zeigler could be the next in a line of great Saginaw Valley League players to don the big green Spartan 'S,' while Michigan coach John Beilein thought Zeigler would be the perfect fit in Maize and Blue to replace the recently-departed Manny Harris.

One guy didn't really sell his program hard to Zeigler: His own dad.

"My dad was hands-off the whole time, just being a dad. He went on most of the visits with me, and he just looked at it from a dad's standpoint, where he thought I'd fit best," said the younger Zeigler, shortly after making the announcement of his college choice on live TV from a lawyer's office in Southfield, "and when it came down to it, the last month is really when he started telling me how much he wanted me to be here. So that helped a lot, letting him let me figure things out on my own."

What he figured out — eventually — was something that would have come as a complete shock to the 15-year-old that first came to Mount Pleasant: Staying put was a pretty good option.
"I'll be honest with you — I never really thought this was an option," said Zeigler with a laugh.

Until now.

Zeigler's announced choice of CMU, unveiled when he pulled a maroon cap on his head on ESPNU, will be confirmed this morning, when he signs his National Letter of Intent at a second ceremony at his high school.

It took a lot for Zeigler to turn down the offers from all the big schools, especially some of the in-state powers he'd come to admire in his time in Michigan.

"Michigan is a great program, and I love coach Beilein and coach (Mike) Jackson, and they did a great job with recruiting me — and if my dad wasn't a coach anywhere, that's probably where I'd be," Zeigler admitted.

His story is eerily similar to that of his close friend, Ray McCallum, the star point guard from Birmingham Detroit Country Day. McCallum turned down offers from bigger programs to play for his own father at University of Detroit Mercy, filming his own ESPNU segment in the same TV studio just minutes before Zeigler.

For the full story of how the two families — fathers and sons — made their way through the awkward recruiting process together, stay tuned to the college section of

Listen to Zeigler's comments from Wednesday's event below.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Can't say no to Dad ...

Just hours before the NCAA's late signing period for men's basketball opens, and it looks like both of the state's sought-after unsigned guards — Birmingham Detroit Country Day's Ray McCallum Jr. and Mount Pleasant's Trey Zeigler — are going to stay home.


Both of the players are in the unique situation of being the sons of Division I basketball coaches: University of Detroit Mercy employs Ray McCallum Sr. as its head coach, while Zeigler's dad, Ernie, is the head coach at Central Michigan University.

And as of Tuesday night, it looks like both players are going to join their father's program, rather than take offers from bigger (and some would say better) programs.

The Mount Pleasant Morning Sun reported that Zeigler will make his decision official on television Wednesday afternoon, then sign at the high school on Thursday, while McCallum will sign his paperwork — cementing a poorly-kept secret of his intentions — at a law firm in Southfield Wednesday. Both signings will be televised on ESPNU on Wednesday: McCallum at 4:10 p.m. and Zeigler at 4:40.

The two players, who are friends and teammates on the camp circuit, have parallel stories. Both moved to a new state in high school — Zeigler from California and McCallum from Indiana — and both have had the unique experience of being not only a sought-after top recruit, but also being recruited by their own fathers.

McCallum, ranked as the 25th-best recruit by and the 60th best by, was deciding between offers from Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, UCLA, Miami (Fla.), Minnesota and Notre Dame, while Zeigler (No. 35 Scout/No. 26 Rivals) was contemplating Michigan, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Duke, LSU and Miami (Fla).

Skeptics have tied each of the sons to their fathers' career coattails, hinting that the fathers might benefit most from having their sons stay at home. Rumors have linked McCallum Sr. with other coaching jobs — where he could take his son without a transfer penalty — while critics have insinuated that the elder Zeigler's contract extension with CMU, agreed-upon last week but finalized on Tuesday, was linked to his son's commitment. If anything, the extension may have been the deciding factor for Trey, rather than vice-versa.

There might be some disappointment from fans of bigger schools in the state — both U-M and MSU were hoping Zeigler would fall in their laps late — but this seems to be a win-win situation for both families. Both programs get a boost of publicity — as well as a top-notch player — and neither kid has to look his father in the eye and say, "Your program isn't good enough, Dad."

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Central Michigan re-ups with head coach Ernie Zeigler

A share of back-to-back Mid-American Conference West Division titles has earned Central Michigan University men's basketball coach Ernie Zeigler a payday.

Zeigler and CMU AD Dave Heeke have reached a verbal agreement on an incentive-laden, four-year contract extension, worth $200,000 next season a source close to the situation told Journal Register Company's CMU beat writer Drew Ellis of the Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun. Read his blog entry here.

While the Chippewas' season ended with a MAC tournament loss to rival Western Michigan there's been little of the drama associated with the tenure of Zeigler's predecessor, Jay Smith. Smith's time at CMU was highlighted by a run to the second round of the NCAA tournament, led by eventual NBA lottery pick Chris Kaman, but there was also a tremendous yo-yo effect. In a four-year span, the Chippewas went worst-to-first-to-worst-to-first.

Not exactly the definition of consistency.

The biggest drama this spring has been whether or not Zeigler would be able to talk his own son, coveted swingman recruit Trey Zeigler, to play for him at CMU. The younger Zeigler is ranked the No. 4 shooting guard in the 2010 class by

Even if Trey doesn't choose to stick around Mt. Pleasant another four years (heck, he grew up in LA, when his father was an assistant at UCLA), the Chippewa program seems to be in good hands with his father. Trey Zeigler is uncommitted heading into the regular signing period next week, but CMU already has commitments from four players — Detroit Loyola C Jevon Harden, Grand Haven C Nate VanArendonk, East Grand Rapids PF Colin Voss and Cleveland Benedictine SG Derek Jackson.

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Friday, April 2, 2010

UDM's Mulroy wins national 3-point contest

Brigid Mulroy finished the regular season as the most accurate 3-point shooter in NCAA Division I women's basketball.

The Birmingham Marian grad and University of Detroit Mercy senior finished her postseason appearance with a claim on that same title, as she won the women's 3-point shooting competition held in Indianapolis to kick off Final Four weekend.

“It’s just one of those things that my nerves were going crazy, but as soon as I stepped out onto the court it was pure adrenaline going through me,” Mulroy told “I wanted to do so well for everyone that came out to see me and am so happy with how I am ending my career at Detroit.”

Mulroy tied for second with a 20-point first round, then won the semifinal round with another 20-point showing. In the finals, she beat Notre Dame's Ashley Barlow, 16-11, to claim the women's title. Facing men's champion Eric Hayes of Maryland to determine the overall champion, Mulroy's final shot bounced off the rim, as she fell, 22-21.

To read Mulroy's story — including a video of her expectations for the contest — click here.