The Wolverine

March 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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MARCH 2018 THE WOLVERINE 15   INSIDE MICHIGAN ATHLETICS At 6-5, junior center Hallie Thome is the tallest player on Michigan's women's basketball roster. She was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman squad after the 2015-16 season, and then landed on the All-Big Ten first team the following year. Thome explained that while those individual accolades are meaningful, the biggest accom- plishment of her athletic career has actually been something the entire team accomplished. "Definitely last year's WNIT championship [over Georgia Tech]," she said. "To do some- thing that had never been done here was special. Raising that first banner in Michigan wom- en's basketball history is some- thing we're all going to remem- ber forever." Thome said that last year's WNIT championship was just a stepping stone, though, to bigger goals this time around. "We want to continue to do things that have never been done here before," she said. "Our goal is to make the NCAA Tournament, and if we keep working hard then everything will take care of itself." The center, who is a communications major, revealed that balancing school and athletics at Michigan has certainly been challenging, but actually is not as difficult as some people might think. "The assumption is that traveling days for basketball get pretty crazy, but the plane rides actually give us a ton of time to study," she explained. "We also have an academic counselor who is on top of things and helps us out so much. The resources Michigan provides for its student-athletes are also a big factor — I have the ability to simply send a text and a tutor will be there for me that night if I need it. "Michigan separates itself from everyone else in that you not only compete with the best on the court, but also in the classroom. Just being able to come to the University of Michigan has been the biggest achievement of my academic career." With just more than a year until graduation, Thome admitted she realizes how impactful it will be once she finally receives her diploma from U-M. "People know a degree from Michigan means so much more than anywhere else," the junior said. "The block M is everywhere and everyone recognizes it — when we traveled to Europe this past summer, people were giving us 'Go Blues' out there. "It's a universal language and is such a big deal for the people who graduate from this university. I don't think I could ask for much more than to get a degree here while playing basketball at the same time." Although her collegiate basketball days will come to a conclusion in a little more than a year's time, Thome said she'd like to continue her playing career — wherever it may be. "I'd love to play in the WNBA after I leave here, but I'd also be open to playing over- seas," she explained. "I just love to travel. This past summer's trip to Italy and Greece made me want to travel even more. "Getting a chance to go overseas and explore the world with the ball in my hand would be a dream come true." — Austin Fox Student-Athlete Of The Month Women's Basketball Junior Center Hallie Thome Through 28 games this season, Thome was averag- ing 16.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per outing. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN — Powers in the 50-yard backstroke (22.58), Ransford in the 200-yard free- style (1:37.78) and White in the 100-yard individual medley (49.33). With the victory, the Wolverine senior class posted an incredible 34-2 record in dual meets during their time at Michi- gan, while also claiming two Big Ten team titles during that span (2015 and 2016). With the regular-season now in the books, the squad will next turn its atten- tion to the Big Ten Championships Feb. 21-24 in Minneapolis. PRO FOOTBALL FOCUS INCLUDES TWO FORMER WOLVERINES IN TOP 101 NFL PLAYERS LIST Pro Football Focus released its an- nual list of the top 101 players in the NFL for the 2017 season, and two for- mer Wolverines made the cut — New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Philadelphia Eagles defen- sive end Brandon Graham. Only 12 schools had more than two players make the list, so U-M was tied for 13th in the country. The site placed Brady in the No. 2 spot (behind only Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald) and Graham at No. 27. Ironically, Graham stripped Brady for the game-winning play late in the fourth quarter of the Eagles' 41-33 win over the Patriots in Super Bowl LII Feb. 4. "Brady this season was the game's best quarterback by some distance, and did so at the age of 40," Pro Foot- ball Focus noted. "He led the league in passer rating under pressure at 95.8, even including the playoffs, more than 10 points higher than any other passer. In fact, Brady was around 10 points better than the league average in passer rating on all throws." The publication also had good things to say about Graham. "For the first time in his NFL career, Brandon Graham got enough sacks over the season to get some of the credit he has deserved for years," PFF wrote. "His run-stop percentage of 13.7 led all edge defenders in the regu- lar season." Graham played at Michigan from 2006-09, while Brady resided in Ann Arbor from 1995-99. — Austin Fox

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