Thursday, April 11, 2002

Munoz unsure where she'll land

UC, Xavier figure to be among her suitors

By Gary Estwick
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Deciding to leave the University of Tennessee is one of the hardest decisions Michelle Munoz has ever made. But Munoz said she had to.

        “I thought there was somewhere else I would fit in better,” Munoz said. “Not that Tennessee wasn't a great program. It's just not for everyone.”

        Munoz's father, Anthony, said his daughter wanted to play closer to home, in Ohio. But Michelle Munoz, a freshman, said distance wasn't the only factor.

        She wouldn't go into details but said she was looking for “a better mix of school and basketball.”

        There should be quite a few in-state women's programs looking to offer just that.

        Munoz, a former All-American at Mason High, said between classes Wednesday afternoon she has “no idea” what school she will attend in the fall.

        “I think she'll do well wherever she ends up,” Ma son coach Gerry Lackey said.

        The University of Cincinnati (27-5) is coming off its best season ever, including the team's first Top 25 ranking and NCAA Tournament win. UC has one scholarship left.

        Xavier had a down year (12-19) after reaching the Elite Eight the previous season. XU has two scholarships remaining.

        Ohio State hired Vanderbilt coach Jim Foster Sunday to replace Beth Burns, who went 14-15 this season. OSU officials could not be reached to comment on scholarships.

        This season, Munoz, a 6-foot-1 forward, played in 27 games but never started. She averaged 3.7 points and 2.0 rebounds.

        Munoz, 19, committed to UT after her sophomore year in high school. Her brother, Michael, is an offensive lineman at Tennessee.

        Because of NCAA rules, Munoz must sit out next season as long as she stays in Division I. She is still enrolled in school at UT.

        Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt said Munoz struggled early to adjust to UT's running and pressing philosophy.

        “But I was pleased with her progress overall,” Summitt said. “I felt she could have been a very successful player in our system.”

        Of Munoz leaving, Summit said, “I didn't see it coming.”

        This season, UT went 29-5 and reached the Final Four.


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