EUGENE, Ore. – Green Bay women’s basketball coach Kevin Borseth saw a job that would move him forward in his career a decade ago and he jumped at the opportunity.
After taking the Phoenix to seven NCAA tournaments in nine seasons from 1997 to 2007, Borseth headed to Ann Arbor to try and make his mark at Michigan.
“Young coaches are always trying to get to a level because we think the grass is greener on the other side and that bigger is better,” said Borseth, who will make his 13th appearance in the NCAA tournament Friday against the Gophers. “When I went to Michigan, I had a good time.”
The move from the Horizon League to the Big Ten, however, wasn’t as smooth as he had hoped. The Wolverines made three NIT appearances, but they only once reached the NCAA tournament in Borseth’s five seasons, his last year with the program in 2011-12.
The thing he was remembered for the most at Michigan was probably his emotional postgame speech after a loss to Wisconsin in 2008. Borseth threw his notes, slammed his hands down on the table and shouted about his team giving up 25 offensive rebounds and not boxing out. It has been watched on YouTube nearly a million times.
In 2012, Borseth returned to Green Bay and has been a lot more at ease coaching and winning at the mid-major level again.
“Quality of life is what I’ve learned,” he said. “It was certainly a thrill to be there at that level because it is different. But coaching is coaching and quality of life is everything.”
The Phoenix has averaged 28 wins, won six Horizon League regular-season titles and played in five NCAA tournaments in his six seasons back in Green Bay. Borseth also plays the Big Ten every year and beats those teams consistently, including Wisconsin and Northwestern this year.
“He’s done a tremendous job there over the years, came back and is doing the same thing,” Gophers coach Marlene Stollings said. “It’s as though he never left, really. So we have a lot of respect for him and for what he’s been able to do at Green Bay certainly.”
Growing up in Burnsville, Lyndsey Robson always felt a connection with former Gophers star Lindsay Whalen because they shared the same first name. Now Green Bay’s 6-1 freshman forward gets to play against Whalen’s alma mater.
“To have my first time being against the Gophers is just great,” Robson said. “To share this experience with the Gophers is awesome. Lindsay Whalen was one of my biggest role models. I went to a lot of games growing up.”
Robson, who averages 2.4 points and 7.9 minutes a game for the Phoenix, also played in the same North Tartan AAU program as Minnesota junior guard Kenisha Bell.
“She would always come back and scrimmage against us,” Robson said. “I also played against her when she was at [Bloomington] Kennedy.”