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Michigan to face Detroit in battle of Ristovski sisters

Tracy Ko/Daily
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By Alexa Dettelbach, Daily Sports Writer
Published November 14, 2013

Nov. 16 has been circled on the Ristovski family calendar since its middle daughter decided to play basketball for Detroit Mercy in 2012. Michigan sophomore guard Madison Ristovski will face her sister, Titan freshman guard Haleigh Ristovski.

Michigan (1-2) will face Detroit (1-1) in a matchup of the Ristovski sisters as the Wolverines look to rebound from an overtime loss to Xavier on Wednesday.

“It’s all about the bounce back,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico “That’s part of our job as coaches to say, ‘Hey, we don’t have much time. We have to turn around and play again on Saturday, so we have to make sure we’re getting better every day, and we’re ready to go for Detroit.’ ”

When asked at Michigan media day which game she was most looking forward to playing this season, Ristovski smiled and answered almost immediately. Facing her sister would be great, even if she was going to see limited minutes, but with Ristovski a late preseason addition to the starting lineup, the sisters will find themselves on the floor together for much of the game.

“We are going to have a sister rivalry,” Ristovski said at media day. “We’re probably going to end up guarding each other, so that will be kind of cool.”

Though Ristovski calls the matchup “cool,” her mother, Svetlana Ristovski, couldn’t be more stressed about the game.

“They’ve always played together, so it’s really hard, and I know they’re so close, so it will probably be really emotional for them,” Svetlana said. “And for me, I’m sitting in the middle, wearing neither color and rooting for both teams. May the best team win.”

To make matters more complicated for the Ristovski family, Madison’s uncle is an assistant coach for the Titans, and her youngest sister also committed to play for Detroit next year.

“For Madison, I’m sure it’s a pretty big deal,” Barnes Arico said. “I’m sure it’s going to be a big game for the Ristovski family as a whole. Madison usually plays well in big games, so hopefully she’ll be up to the challenge.”

Added junior forward Nicole Elmblad: “I think there’s going to be a lot of emotions on Madison’s end for sure, but if the rest of the team can just be around her and just keep her focused, I think she’ll be ready to play.”

Though it’s early in the season, the starting lineup has had success with Ristovski in it. After recording her first career start against Bowling Green, Ristovski came off the bench in Michigan’s second game of the season, against Arizona.

Barnes Arico decided to put Ristovski back in a starting role in the Wolverines’ home opener loss to Xavier. The Sterling Heights, Mich. native posted a career-high 12 points, adding two rebounds and an assist.

Because Michigan has a quick turnaround after a tough loss, Barnes Arico may continue to tinker with the starting lineup, citing practice performance as the primary determinant of who sees playing time.

“With a young team that we have, I don’t think anybody’s really established themselves starting night in and night out with the exceptions of maybe (junior forward Cyesha Goree) and Nicole,” Barnes Arico said.

With Detroit looming, the Wolverines need to look out for guards Ellisha Crosby and Senee Shearer, who average 14 and 13.5 points, respectively. Crosby also adds 9.5 rebounds per game. The Titans also field a fairly small team, but their guards, particularly Crosby, are on the bigger side and could pose matchup problems for Michigan.

But for Madison, the most important guard on the floor is going to be Haleigh, and the battle of the Ristovski sisters should provide for an entertaining affair.