I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
For the first time since December 23, 2002, the Michigan women's basketball team has been voted into the AP top 25. At 14-2 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten, the team is off to its best-ever start both overall and in the conference. They're also on a nine-game winning streak. Next up: Northwestern on the road Thursday at 8pm ET.
Barnes Arico has been in this position before. She led St. John's to its first ranking in 22 years back in 2006 and the Red Storm turned into one of the better teams in the Big East under her leadership. She's hoping for the same success at Michigan.
''We're going to talk about get ranked. Don't forget how we got here and the hard work it takes to stay,'' she said. ''I'm having them come in and we're going to talk about how to handle it. Make sure we continue to work and not let it go to our heads. We're going to enjoy it too. It's a place that Michigan hasn't been in the last 10 years.''
As the wins this season kept piling up, Barnes Arico admitted that her son Trevor had been ''bugging'' her to see when the Wolverines would get ranked. The last time Michigan was in the poll, he was just four months old.
''He'll be really happy when he comes home from school today,'' she said laughing.
As the men's basketball team approaches the program's best-ever start, the women's squad got to that point yesterday with an impressive road win over Iowa, 68-64 (highlights below). The team is now 13-2 overall—which is the program's best start through 15 games—and they're off to a 2-0 start in Big Ten play.
So kudos to the new coaching staff and obviously the players for what they've accomplished so far.
It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the season goes. The team didn't play a particularly tough nonconference schedule, and the first half of their Big Ten schedule looks much easier than the second half. So depending on how they do down the stretch, the team could end up anywhere from being on the NCAA bubble to securing a fairly lofty tourney seed. This seemed a bit on the high side to me, but ESPN's women's bracketologist had Michigan as a 5 seed heading into Big Ten play.
Kim Barnes Arico's first Michigan recruiting class is a pretty impressive one, especially considering she was hired only about half a year ago. At least according to one rankings list, two of the four signees for the class of 2013 are top 100 players nationally. The only downside is that all four are guards. Michigan was a finalist for two top-50 prospects—one a center, the other a wing—but both chose other schools.
Here's the first part of the mgoblue.com press release. See the full release for details on the signees. (Note also that the last paragraph below [see the bolded part] makes the first mention that I'm aware of that the team is planning a foreign trip next summer.)
Nov. 14, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan women's basketball head coach Kim Barnes Arico announced Wednesday (Nov. 14) the signing of the following players to National Letters of Intent. They will join the Wolverines for the 2013-14 campaign.
Name Pos. Ht. Hometown (High School) Paige Rakers G 5-11 Carlyle, Ill. (Carlyle) Shannon Smith G 5-7 Gastonia, N.C./Forestview [Trinity Valley CC] Siera Thompson PG 5-7 Gardena, Calif./Serra Danielle Williams PG 5-9 Phoenix, Ariz. (St. Mary's)
"I am excited about the young ladies who will be joining our program," Barnes Arico said. "I think it was really important for us to make inroads and get this first recruiting under our new coaching staff on board. They are all tremendous young ladies who come from very successful high school programs. They have played in AAU programs that compete at the highest level. It was important for us in the process of building our culture to get players that come from winning programs. These young ladies are all from great families and are excellent students. They will represent Michigan in the best way. They are leaders and best in everything that they do.
"Considering this was our first year and I didn't get hired until late in the recruiting process, I think this is an exceptional class," Barnes Arico said of the quartet. "We are really excited to get them on campus and coach them. We have a foreign trip next summer, which will give us the opportunity to get in the gym with them prior to practices starting in the fall. The staff did a great job of getting involved with players at this high level, considering how late we got started in the process. We are thrilled and think they will do a great job here at Michigan, representing the University the way they should."
Slippery Rock Exhibition
On Friday night, the Michigan women's basketball team defeated Slippery Rock 106-35 in their lone exhibition game of the the 2012-13 campaign. The more up-tempo style of offense that Kim Barnes Arico is known for was clearly evident and is the focus of this Daily article. The one thing that surprised me was the coach starting sophomore Brenae Harris at point guard rather than highly touted freshman Madison Ristovski. Harris did fine, however, scoring 16 points on 7-8 shooting and also had 3 assists and just 1 turnover plus 3 steals. Ristovski actually ended playing more minutes than Harris (25 vs. 22), though, so that starting spot is probably still up for grabs. Ristovski tallied 10 points on 4-6 shooting, along with 4 assists, just 1 turnover, and 2 rebounds.
Jenny Ryan Named Captain
Prior to the exhibition, senior guard Jenny Ryan was named team captain.
"After talking to our players today about leadership and who we want to lead this team, we gave them the opportunity to vote on a captain," Barnes Arico said. "I don't think there is any doubt in anyone's mind that she is the person that we want to lead this team. She is a coach on the floor; she is a coach in the locker room and just has a passion to be the best at everything she does. She is a team first kind of kid. I think that it was a very good selection."
AMWBHG Strikes Again
This previous women's hoops update noted that 7 out of the 15 players on the 2012-13 roster have suffered ACL injuries either during their Michigan career or in the year prior to their arrival in Ann Arbor. Make that 8. A few days ago, junior forward Kendra Seto tore an ACL, ending her season. Four players on the team thus might have to sit out this season with ACL injuries, as Val Driscoll and Kelsey Mitchell are definitely out, and freshman Rebecca Lyttle, who tore an ACL during her senior year in high school, is still recovering and was in street clothes for the exhibition game. An unbelievable string of bad luck for the team.
Season Opener vs. Detroit
The team has its season opener at Crisler this Friday, November 9, at 6:00 vs. Detroit. Anyone attending the men's opener vs. Slippery Rock can come early and get into the women's game for free. Mgoblue.com has the full rundown of promotions for this game:
• Happy Hour -- Grab dinner at Crisler Center with our new Happy Hour special: $5 for a hot dog, chips and a drink!
• Doubleheader -- Got a ticket for the Michigan men's basketball game at 8:30 p.m. vs. Slippery Rock? Beat the rush and come to Crisler Center early to watch the women's game. Receive FREE general admission to the women's game with your valid men's basketball vs. Slippery Rock ticket.
• Military Appreciation Night -- In honor of Veteran's Day on Nov. 11, all active and retired military personnel and their families are invited to attend this game at a discounted ticket rate. Contact Michigan Sports Marketing at (734) 763-0824 for more information!
• Giveaway -- Commemorative 2011-12 Michigan women's basketball NCAA Tournament team photo.
The men's team is deservedly getting loads of attention as the basketball season nears, but I hope more Michigan fans pay at least a bit of attention to the women's team as well and perhaps attend a game or two (such as the doubleheaders that have been scheduled) during this first year of the Kim Barnes Arico era. As a Daily article titled "Enthusiastic Barnes Arico aims to lay new foundation in first week" points out, the new coach has been doing her part to raise the program's profile:
From coaching clinics to speaking at the student watch party at Michigan Stadium before Michigan football’s season opener, she has quickly immersed herself in the city and the University community.
. . .
Barnes Arico . . . already has plans to open up a practice to season ticket holders and host a clinic for girls in the community later this month.
. . .
Her goals also extend beyond the court as well, as Barnes Arico said she hopes to enhance the reputation of Michigan women’s basketball in the community.
“I think the number one thing is for the community to feel connected,” she said. “They need to feel a relationship with us and I think it’s part of my job is to go out and build that relationship. (We want to) promote the program and what these young ladies stand for and how much they work and how we’re building a championship year for the women’s basketball program.”
Barnes Arico was also on WTKA yesterday morning with Sam Webb. A podcast of her appearance can be found here, and here's an embed attempt:
The coach has high praise for this year's senior class and also goes on at great length about how impressed she is with incoming freshman Madison Ristovski, last year's Miss Basketball in Michigan and perhaps the team's starting point guard for the next four years. (Note: Sam mentions Ristovski having a couple of younger sisters who also play basketball, suggesting they might be future Michigan recruits. One of those, Haleigh, has already committed to Detroit Mercy; the other is Lola, who's in the class of 2015 and still uncommitted.)
The biggest news to come out of her WTKA appearance was on the injury front. Several months ago, I discussed in this post all the ACL injuries that current or future members of the women's team had suffered. Well, late last season then-freshman Cyesha Goree tore an ACL, and Barnes Arico mentioned yesterday that two more players—incoming freshman Kelsey Mitchell and junior Val Driscoll—suffered torn ACLs during summer workouts. This means that out of the 15 players on the 2012-13 roster, no fewer than 7 have suffered ACL injuries either during their Michigan career or during the year prior to their arrival in Ann Arbor. Also, of the incoming four-member 2012 recruiting class, only Madison Ristovski has not suffered an ACL injury in the last 12 months.
The coach indicated that Mitchell and Driscoll are likely to redshirt, but the other three players who tore an ACL in the last year will be available for game action.
ESPN has released its first full top 100 for the 2013 women's basketball recruiting class, which shows that Kim Barnes Arico is making an impressive Michigan debut on the recruiting trail. She's secured two commits from guards so far, and they're both in the top 100: Siera Thompson at #68 and Danielle Williams at #97.
Michigan is also among the three finalists for ESPN's #46-ranked player, Alexandra Harris, a 6-3 center from Lorain, Ohio, who's also considering Louisville and Penn State. Harris will be visiting Michigan on September 8 (after visiting PSU on the 1st) and will make her college choice sometime after making her final visit to Louisville on September 15.
The team could also use a wing in this class, and there's an obvious candidate from Detroit, Antania Hayes, who's ranked #36 by ESPN. I've heard little about her recruiting, however, so I don't know where things stand with her. Barnes Arico has also offered Shayla Cooper, a 6-1 forward from Norcross, Georgia. ESPN has her at #35.
The bottom line is that having two top 100 players in one class is likely unprecedented in the history of the U-M women's hoops program. And Barnes Arico isn't through yet.
Addendum: I meant to note that the two 2013 prospects who had committed under Borseth both decommitted after the coaching change and have now picked new schools. Taylor Gleason is now pledged to Illinois, while Allie Havers accepted an offer from Nebraska.