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Miami women lose historic seniors, but will return plenty of talent

If the Miami University women’s basketball season didn’t quite live up to the RedHawks’ expectations, it would be incorrect to call it disappointing.

The injury-plagued squad went 19-13 and reached the WNIT for the second straight year, ending the campaign with a 73-60 defeat at Illinois.

“Nineteen wins and getting to a postseason tournament is a positive year,” 15th-year MU coach Maria Fantanarosa said. “I think when you realize that less than 50 percent of the teams nationally had winning records and only 144 teams get to the postseason, leaving 201 out, you’re way ahead of the curve.

“Are our goals higher? Yes. I think it’s hard for me to find a balance in how good of a season it was because we constantly strive for more.”

Miami was picked to win the Mid-American Conference East Division, but ended up in third place. The conference turned out to be better than anticipated, sending a record six teams to the postseason.

It’s the end of the collegiate road for the RedHawks’ two seniors, guard Courtney Osborn and forward Kirsten Olowinski. Osborn is the top scorer (2,166 points) and Olowinski is the No. 1 rebounder (1,154 boards) in school history.

“We’re a little bit in denial that we lose Courtney and Kirsten,” Fantanarosa said. “You don’t want to make the transition too quickly, but it’s our nature to refocus. Will I take a lot of time to reflect on how good or bad the season was? Not much longer. Our first team meeting is (Wednesday).”

Hannah and Haley Robertson, Kristin Judson, Erica Almady and Kelsey Simon will be seniors next year, Courtney Larson will be the lone junior, Hannah McCue, Maddie McCallie and Jessica Rupright will be sophomores, and Tamira Ford will be a redshirt freshman.

Fantanarosa believes Rupright, a 6-foot-2 center and former Indiana Miss Basketball, could have a breakout year in 2013-14. She averaged 3.4 points and 2.4 rebounds per game this season.

Look for the three incoming freshmen — guard Jillian Spurlock of Hamilton, forward Nicole Anderson of Terre Haute, Ind., and point guard Rachel Goddard of Wadsworth — to compete for playing time right away. Spurlock and Anderson have signed, while Goddard has made a verbal commitment.

“I’m optimistic. I think we have a lot of pieces,” Fantanarosa said. “We’re going to be under the radar, but I think it’s going to be a year where we’re going to develop, and that’s going to change who we are every month. I’m OK with being the underdog because I don’t think we’re that far behind any of the other teams in the MAC.

“Our players should feel confident and feel like we’re going to contend again. It’s just going to look different. It’s not going to look like Courtney and Kirsten. It’s going to look like Miami.”

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