Ex-UM coach Borseth at 'home' with Green Bay back in NCAAs
Detroit — Sometimes, the grass isn't always greener — or, bluer, as the case may be.
Kevin Borseth spent five years as women's basketball coach in the Big Ten, at mighty Michigan, before deciding the job just wasn't for him.
So he walked away, taking a job back at mid-major Green Bay — and moments like Tuesday's make that decision all the more worth it.
"Green Bay is home. I've never really had a place my family and I could call home," Borseth said, a piece of snipped championship netting sitting in front of him.
"Green Bay's now our home, which really feels good."
Top-seeded Green Bay used a hot start to cruise past Wright State, 62-44, in the Horizon League championship game at Little Caesars Arena.
The tournament title is Green Bay's seventh in eight years, including two in as many years during the tournament's run in Detroit.
Borseth is taking the Phoenix (29-3) to the NCAA Tournament for the 12th time in his 15 years as head coach, spread over two stints — divided by a five-year run at Michigan.
His senior class knows nothing but Horizon League titles, having won four in four years.
"We work so hard for this," said one of those seniors, Allie LeClaire, who scored 24 in the final and was named MVP of the tournament.
"A lot of people don't see that. They think it might be easy, but it's so hard."
Senior Jessica Lindstrom added a double-double (12 points, 14 rebounds) for Green Bay.
For Wright State (23-10), seniors Lexi Smith and Chelsea Welch had 14 and 13 points, respectively, though Welch shot just 2-for-15 from the field. She was 9-for-11 on free throws.
Wright State shot just 27.8 percent, 21 percent in the first half, which it ended down 38-21.
"They're the best defensive team in the country," Wright State coach Katrina Merriweather said. "That's not an opinion, it's a fact."
Borseth is an Upper Peninsula native who played at Lake Superior State and began his long head-coaching career at Michigan Tech, before moving to Green Bay in 1998.
He was there through 2007 before then-Michigan athletic director Bill Martin hired Borseth — who grew up a huge Michigan, Tigers and Red Wings fan — to take over the Wolverines. Borseth and Martin got along swell; it wasn't the case with Martin's successor, Dave Brandon.
So when Green Bay's job opened back up after the 2012 season, Borseth decided to go home. There were professional reasons. Green Bay, as Merriweather said, is a "program," not a "team." And there were personal reasons. Borseth's parents are near there, both still alive at 92.
"It was an opportunity to go back — in some regards, it's closer to home," said Borseth, who took Michigan to one NCAA and three WNITs in five years. "Every time I'd go back up north, it was like a 10-hour drive and it seemed like I got a speeding ticket every time I went there, somewhere around Gaylord. So it was starting to cost me money, too (laughs)."
Borseth, 63, recently signed an extension to stay at Green Bay, where he hopes to end his career.
But his long-term future is a topic for another day. His focus now turns to the NCAA Tournament, where he has a long track record of participating — but not necessarily succeeding.
Only twice has he taken a team past the first round, and not since Green Bay got a win in 2007.
On the men's side, No. 2 Wright State plays No. 8 Cleveland State, led by Detroit Cass Tech alum Kenny Carpenter, at 7 Tuesday night. For the third time in as many years of the Horizon League tournament's run in Detroit, a No. 1 seed failed to win a game.
HORIZON LEAGUE TOURNAMENT
Oakland 80, UIC 46
Northern Kentucky 76, Detroit Mercy 61
IUPUI 56, Oakland 49
Green Bay 62, Northern Kentucky 49
Wright State 83, Cleveland State 61
Youngstown State 62, Milwaukee 58
Green Bay 66, Youngstown State 45
Wright State 60, IUPUI 52
Green Bay 62, Wright State 44