The Wolverine

November 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 45 of 67

46 THE WOLVERINE NOVEMBER 2022 2022-23 BASKETBALL PREVIEW BY ANTHONY BROOME U -M women's basketball is coming off its best season in program history, finishing 25-7 and making its first trip to the Elite Eight during the 2021-22 sea- son. The culture that head coach Kim Barnes Arico has built has sustained it- self, and wins and milestones continue to pile up as a result. Climbing up the next rung of the lad- der will be difficult, though. Program legend Naz Hillmon will not be stepping through the door when the season be- gins, creating an opportunity for U-M to carve its own path and find its next star player. "Our league is absolutely incredible," Barnes Arico said at Big Ten Basketball Media Days in Minneapolis Oct. 11. "If you are a women's basketball fan, you get to follow the best league in the country. Back-to-back years we had four teams advance to the Sweet 16, which is pretty incredible. "Our team will be different this year, but we're excited for the challenges that lay ahead. … I think that's what makes it exciting for a coach and for the players in our program to play differently than we have in the past. "I think our league is going to be more challenging than ever. From top to bot- tom there are tremendous, tremendous players in our league, as well as coaches. I would not be surprised if we have a na- tional championship ahead of us repre- senting the Big Ten Conference." Michigan's trip to the conference me- dia day was dominated by questions about the loss of Hillmon, who was the first woman in program history to earn All-America honors. She is the only Michigan basketball player — man or woman — with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career. "I mean, we're not stupid, Naz Hill- mon might be one of the greatest play- ers we'll ever get to play with," graduate forward Emily Kiser said at media day. "The big part of it is we will be a different team. Naz left, yes, but we can find our own identity as a team, and I think that's something we're looking forward to." Fifth-year guard Leigha Brown said, "You don't necessarily replace Naz. That caliber of player you don't really find very often. Instead of replacing her we're all going to have to kind of pick up the pieces." In addition to Hillmon's departure, the team also lost its point guard and captain from last season in Danielle Rauch. Se- nior guard Maddie Nolan has taken steps forward to fill those shoes, in addition to Kiser. "[Nolan] has really stepped up and she's really worked incredibly hard to not get down on herself, and to not get frus- trated in tough times, but to really stay positive and encouraging to the younger players in our program," Barnes Arico said. "Emily is another one that has re- PICKING UP PICKING UP THE PIECES THE PIECES U-M Women's Basketball Enters A New Era Looking For More Last season, head coach Kim Barnes Arico led the U-M women's basketball team to a 25-7 record and the program's first-ever trip to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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