Achter, Cecil excited about new possibilities at Detroit Mercy

Yaneek Smith

Sports Editor

For Oregon native Kate Achter, coaching women’s basketball at the University of Detroit Mercy is an opportunity to build a winner in her backyard.
For Oak Harbor native Andrea Cecil, coaching the Titans is the start to her post-playing career.
Achter, a Clay alum, is in her first year as the coach of at Detroit Mercy after six seasons coaching at Loyola Chicago. She had to rebuild that program from the ground up, winning two games in her first season and 18 in her final season, quite an impressive turnaround.
Achter is known to many for being an Oregon native and for her stellar basketball career at both Clay and collegiately at Bowling Green State University. Her efforts playing for the Falcons earned her a spot in the university’s Hall of Fame four years ago. In Achter’s four years, BG went 108-23, won four Mid-American Conference titles — and went 57-7 in league play — and made three appearances in the NCAA Tournament while advancing to the Sweet Sixteen in ‘07. (She graduated in ‘08.)
Achter was a three-time All-MAC selection, a three-time MAC All-Tournament Team member and a MAC Tournament MVP. The All-American point guard finished her career ranked fifth on the school’s all-time scoring list (1,580) and as the Falcons’ all-time leader in both assists (688) and free throws made (551).
Achter, who got hired in late April, talked about taking over at Detroit Mercy — a private Catholic university with just over 2,700 undergraduate students — and implementing her philosophy.
“It wasn’t about change for me, it was about establishing what was going to be important for our program. I had to figure out what we have in terms of personnel and who I was going to hire, what recruiting is going to be going forward, how the players are doing in the classroom and on the (basketball court),” Achter said. “We wanted to make sure we were helping our players grow.”
Coaches are famous for working long hours, but Achter tries to balance her job with her family life. She is married to Tina and has two children — Reese, who is 3, and Archie, who is 1.
“Work/life balance is about what’s important to you. My job is very important to me, but my family is most important. My family is part of what we do,” Achter said. “I get to be closer to my family in Detroit. You might have a 7 p.m. game on Wednesday night when your child has to get up early for school the next day.”
The Titans are currently 1-2. They lost to North Dakota (70-61) and Xavier (71-57) before defeating Canisius, 70-65, in the home opener.
Detroit Mercy plays its home games at Dick Vitale Court in Callahan Hall. Vitale, who has worked decades as a sportscaster covering men’s basketball, coached the Titans from 1973-77 and led Detroit Mercy to a 26-3 record and an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen in his final season with the club.
The Titans have three players averaging in double figures — Amaya Burch (12.7 ppg), Imani McNeal (11.7 ppg) and Irene Murua (11.3 ppg).
“Irene is in her second full season as a Titan,” said Achter. “She is one of six Europeans on the roster; they’re as tough as they come. She just plays with so much effort; she may not be the most skilled, per se, but she’s as old school as they come, and she’s the consummate teammate. Imani can score at three levels and we’re empowering her to be her best self. Amaya was one of the few kids we were able to bring in. She’s a freshman with a ton of potential, she competes at a really high level.”
Achter, who was a standout in high school in golf and track, in addition to basketball, still holds a bevy of school records. She graduated from Clay in ‘04 and played in the Great Lakes League and the City League before graduating. “It’s crazy to think how many Division I college basketball players have come out of Northwest Ohio,” Achter said. “It continued with Zia Cooke at South Carolina. It started well before me and (continued) well after Zia and me, too.”
Cecil, who was hired in July, is the director of operations for the Titans. She played for three years at BG and the final two at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.
“It’s been a lot of fun. It is a little different being on the coaching side as opposed to the playing side, that has taken some adjustment,” said Cecil. “I can see sometimes when my coaches, when I was a player, would get frustrated. I feel for my coaches a little bit more now.”
Achter tried to recruit Cecil to play for her at Loyola, plus there was the BG connection.
“I’ve known her for almost my whole college career,” said Cecil. “She let me know, and I obviously couldn’t refuse it.”
She talked about some of the experiences she had as a player that she wants to pass along to her players.
“I have always been very appreciative of what basketball has done for me and my life. It was a stress-reliever and something that I can always go do and enjoy, but further than that, it’s given me some amazing opportunities to travel the world, meet some of my best friends and have awesome experiences,” Cecil said. “I couldn’t have done it with my coaches leading me and I want to pass that along and be a coach for other young women.”


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