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U of M Bisons hand basketball to Hynes

Former player aims to raise women's program up again

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New Bisons women's basketball coach Michele Hynes has her work cut out for her.

PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT Enlarge Image

New Bisons women's basketball coach Michele Hynes has her work cut out for her.

It's time to get going places again, said University of Manitoba athletic director Coleen Dufresne on the occasion of Friday's appointment of former team captain Michele Hynes to the permanent post as women's head basketball coach.

"I think we've found the right person for where we are in the development of this sport," Dufresne said from her office on Friday. "I anticipate we will get back national prominence. That's the goal, though it's not going to happen overnight."

After coach Pam Danis stepped away from the job and the university two years ago, the Bisons ran on even tougher times, going 2-10 and 5-17 under co-coaches Hynes and Randy Kusano.

Bring on the goals, Hynes said Friday afternoon.

"I definitely do (like Dufresne's phrase of national prominence)," Hynes said. "I think it's nice to have goals and I think when you're in it, playing, coaching, you always want to be the best and that's what that is, national championships.

"It's something I love about Coleen. As you know, she coached here for so long and it's nice to have someone down the hall I can go and talk to all the time about this. She's so competitive and up-front and that makes a lot of things black-and-white for me. I get the standard, the standard we're trying to build."

Hynes, 26, was a five-year standout on the court for the Bisons, finishing her eligibility in 2010. She was the CIS 2009-10 Sylvia Sweeney Award winner for excellence in three areas -- basketball, academics and community involvement.

After her CIS eligibility was complete, she played one season for ZKK Partizan Basketball Club in Serbia.

Hynes is a native of Milgrove, Ont., and holds a bachelor of kinesiology from the U of M.

Dufresne certainly didn't rush the final decision but sounded awfully confident on Friday it's the right one.

"I think what this program needs is someone who is exactly like Michele, who understands the needs of the program, who understands basketball in our city and our province and is anxious to improve things and anxious to make a difference in the basketball community," she said. "And she's doing all the things she needs to do to in terms of professional development and involving herself with provincial and national team programs and I think, even though she's a young coach, she's going to grow and develop into a great coach.

"I'm looking froward to what she does in the next five or 10 years."

Dufresne said she has a depth of understanding of what Hynes is about.

"I worked with her the last two summers with the Canada Games team, the under-17 team," Dufresne said. "So I spent a lot of time with her taking about basketball and talking about student athletes in the program and about Michele and what her aspirations were and what she felt about coaching. It wasn't always clear to her from the beginning that coaching was the career choice she was going to make. "

Hynes said she has some ideas about how things are about to start changing.

"I think level of expectation," she said. "Now that this is kind of my program, it can reflect what I'm about. I want to take some time to make sure I've fully mapped that out."

Hynes admitted the last two seasons that featured way more losing than winning haven't been ideal.

"It's been a challenging two years and part of it is because I had success when I played here," she said. "I want our athletes to have that experience but when I think about my time here, a lot of it isn't wins-losses. Our athletes have to enjoy the whole experience. It's fun to be on the court and in the classroom and playing a sport not a lot of people get the chance at. It's about balance and success."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 26, 2014 C7

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