Brown's contributions fuel Michigan

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 12:45am

Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico has been pleased with the contributions of freshman forward Hailey Brown.

Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico has been pleased with the contributions of freshman forward Hailey Brown. Buy this photo
Sam Mousigian/Daily

 

It’s often challenging for freshmen athletes to adjust to the demands of college. It can be even more difficult when you are far from home.

But that hasn’t stopped forward Hailey Brown from excelling.

The Hamilton, Ontario native hasn’t had any trouble settling in this season. She found her role on the starting lineup for the season opener and has embraced it ever since. Her contributions have been quite meaningful for the Wolverines, who lack depth on the roster.

“I think it’s really important for the growth of our team that our younger kids continue to improve, ” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico after Tuesday’s game, “because we don’t go deep into our bench.” .

Brown has had a quality first year so far, averaging 8.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest. Her efforts have been crucial to the Wolverines’ defense too — she leads the team in blocks with 17 on the season. She knows how to play with confidence, which was on display Tuesday night at Crisler Center.

Against North Florida (5-5), the No. 23 Michigan women’s basketball team (9-2) dominated all game and clinched a 79-34 victory. The Wolverines’ defense plowed the way, barely giving the Ospreys any chance. Though Brown didn’t tally flashy stats she still played a central role on defense, doing all the small things right.

And that’s the type of player Michigan needs — a reliable one. The Wolverines already have talented scorers in senior guard Katelynn Flaherty and junior center Hallie Thome. They’ve got energy from senior forward Jillian Dunston and hustle from junior guard Nicole Munger.

But Brown is a young player who has contributed significant minutes so far. She is the player who can lay the foundation for the program’s future.

Barnes Arico understands that it can be difficult adjusting to college basketball.

“I think freshman year is difficult in terms of maintaining that consistency,” Barnes Arico said. “Sometimes they look good, other times they look bad. And it doesn’t have to be game to game — it can be minute to minute, play to play. But that’s experience, and that’s growth.”

But so far, Brown has looked good and has been fairly consistent.

Much of Brown’s success can be attributed to her past experience. Despite being a freshman, Brown has had a notable amount of practice playing with top-notch athletes. For the last few years she has been involved with the Canadian National Team, and this past summer she won a bronze medal with the U-19 team at the FIBA World Cup. This impressive international resume has helped her ease into the college competition.

“I’ve been on the team for five years now,” Brown said at the team’s Media Day in October. “It kinda prepared me for coming here. … My transition was pretty smooth.”

Michigan’s coach recognizes that for freshmen, it’s all about developing game experience.

“They gotta prepare themselves each and every single day in practice to get those game opportunities,” Barnes Arico said on Tuesday. “Then when they come, take advantage of those.”

So far, Brown has taken advantage of the opportunities. And if she continues to do so, the Wolverines may continue to find success.