The Wolverine

August 2022*

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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AUGUST 2022 THE WOLVERINE 29 history — is something she will never forget. "The people that we got to play with and the girls that we got to create life- long friendship and sisterhood with [are so special]," she said after the 52-50 Elite Eight loss to Louisville. "I didn't know if I was ever going to play a minute at Michigan, and I just played in the Elite Eight as the starting point guard for this university. This is something that's going to stick with me for a while — that and the support that I've had. "I cherish the relationships that I have created and the blessings that I have had to put on this Michigan uniform. We just played in the Elite Eight. "Michigan women's basketball his- tory is not written that way, and we made it that way. Leaving after these four years and understanding the impact that our class had, I wouldn't trade for anything what I went through to get to this point. It all made it possible for us to be here." Barnes Arico has great admiration for the players that helped the Wolverines reach the Elite Eight. "This group stuck together and per- severed through so much. Danielle and Emily [Kiser], in the day and age of the transfer portal, stayed the course, believed in the process and wound up making an impact their senior year," praised Barnes Arico. "Then you have Amy Dilk. She wasn't able to go to the NCAA Tournament last year, hurts her knee in the first game this year and we think it's a season-ending injury. She comes back, perseveres just to have an opportunity to play with this group. "Naz [Hillmon] is probably one of the best males or females to put on a Michi- gan uniform. "I would say they lived up to the hype. They've been amazing. "And they're even better young women than they are basketball play- ers. They represent our university in a first-class manner in everything they do, whether that's in the community, the classroom or on the basketball court. They're true Michigan women." Rauch is among the now-former players that want the success to go a step further. "We set a new bar and a new stan- dard for what Michigan basketball is supposed to be," Rauch told The Wolverine this summer. "We will be remembered forever. We went to the first-ever Elite Eight [in program his- tory] and went undefeated at home. "I want success for Michigan wom- en's basketball for many years to come. We paved the way for that and left it better than we found it." U-M's next leader could very well be guard Leigha Brown, who will use a fifth season of eligibility in 2022-23 due to the COVID pause. Brown was All- Big Ten second team last season, while averaging 14 points, 3.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds in 26.5 minutes per game. T h e fo r m e r Ne b ra s ka t ra n s fe r fought through injuries last season but maintained a presence throughout the year. "She is a difference-maker for us," Barnes Arico said. "She is a super- star and one of the best guards in the country. She's great at scoring and passing the basketball. The energy and the passion that she plays with are off the charts. It just makes a dif- ference. "When she is not playing, she does it from the sideline. When she is on the court, it's just contagious. She brought that spark and instant offense — whether that is scoring or her ability to pass." Barnes Arico has constructed a mentally tough program and wants to make it clear that whatever comes next, the Wolverine women will not take their challenges lightly. "When one thing after another thing happened, there was never an excuse," she said. "It was like, OK, Coach, we're going to get up and do what we can do and control what we can control and be ready to play the next day. "That's our culture. We're going to figure out who is gone and who is re- turning. That was the challenge I gave everyone besides our seniors in the locker room. "They're leaving a legacy. Now it's the responsibility of the rest of us to continue on that path and learn from what they taught us with their hard work, their perseverance, their never- quit attitude that all of them have." ❏ Runners-Up While Kim Barnes Arico and the wom- en's basketball team took top honors with their Elite Eight appearance, they were not the only high achievers in this category. Here is a look at the four next- best women's teams from last year: 1. Gymnastics — The Wolverines added another Big Ten championship, the 25th under head coach Bev Plocki, this past season in hopes it could fuel another NCAA title run. U-M spent eight weeks ranked No. 1 in the coun- try but finished in last place during the NCAA semifinals. Junior Sierra Brooks and seniors Natalie Wojcik and Abby Heiskell picked up All-America honors at the season's end. Wojcik returns for a fifth season in Ann Arbor. 2. Golf — Sophomore Monet Chun's 8-under-par 205 during the Big Ten Championship helped clinch Michi- gan's first-ever conference title. Senior Ashley Lau earned the program's first WGCA first-team All-America nod and was the Big Ten Golfer of the Year. Lau and junior Hailey Borja tied for 13th individually at the NCAA Champion- ships, while the team finished in 20th place, its second consecutive top-20 conclusion. 3. Water Polo — Michigan finished its season with a 26-9 overall record, going 12-0 in conference play and winning the CWPA championship for a sixth consecutive season (11 times overall). The season came to an end on May 6 in the NCAA quarterfinals at Canham Na- tatorium in Ann Arbor, with U-M falling 10-4 to No. 3-ranked California. Athletics director Warde Manuel an- nounced June 15 that head coach Dr. Marcelo Leonardi would not return next season. He spent eight years with the program, posting a 190-70 (.731) re- cord and 54-2 mark in CWPA contests. 4. Soccer — Head coach Jennifer Klein guided her group to one of the best seasons in team history, winning a Big Ten championship, making an NCAA Elite Eight appearance and fin- ishing the year with an 18-4-3 record overall. Michigan's 18 wins and 12-1-1 mark at home both tied for the most in pro- gram history. The team scored 46 goals and posted 12 shutouts on the year, each tied for second in the history of the program. U-M was ranked No. 7 in the final United Soccer Coaches Poll after starting outside of the rankings.

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