Flaherty, Barnes Arico playing the numbers game

Monday, January 29, 2018 - 8:20pm

Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico (center) reached 400 career wins after her team's 80-59 win over Northwestern

Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico (center) reached 400 career wins after her team's 80-59 win over Northwestern Buy this photo
Aaron Baker/Daily

 

For the No. 13 Michigan women’s basketball team (8-2 Big Ten, 19-4 overall), this season has been all about numbers. Coach Kim Barnes Arico and senior guard Katelynn Flaherty have set the tone, trading statistical milestones.

It all started in mid-November, when the Wolverines faced then-No. 5 Louisville on the road. Though her team lost in a lopsided contest, Flaherty finished with 23 points to reach a career total of 2,091, breaking Diane Dietz’s program scoring record of 2,076 points.

With an upcoming trip to Madison, Barnes Arico decided to join in the fun.

To start the new year, Michigan conquered Wisconsin, 80-57. The victory marked Barnes Arico’s 124th triumph, and she became the program’s winningest coach in history, passing Sue Guevara.

Nine days later, Flaherty continued her own dominance as the Wolverines played Nebraska in Lincoln — where Michigan fought back from a late-game deficit to prevail in overtime.

During the second quarter of that same contest, Flaherty — in her usual element — drained a shot from well beyond the arc. But that 3-pointer was different. It propelled Flaherty beyond Glen Rice’s record of 2,442 points, making her the program’s all-time leading scorer, man or woman.

Then last Sunday in Evanston, it was Barnes Arico’s turn yet again as the Wolverines dismantled Northwestern, 80-59. The signature win was the 400th of her head coaching career — a career that began back in 1996 at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, N.J.

Barnes Arico then coached for two years at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and then another three at Adelphi University in New York. Prior to joining Michigan in 2012, she held the reins at St. John’s for 10 years.

Although Sunday was a notable moment in her career, before the game she was more focused on the matchup against the Wildcats. In fact, she wasn’t aware of the milestone.

“Yeah, I didn’t know,” Barnes Arico professed to MGoBlueTV. “Today I was watching the Big Ten game at noon and they said it on the broadcast. So, I was a little nervous that I might get swarmed with some water. I need to start being like coach Beilein and get a Super Soaker so I can fight back.

“It’s just a great honor to be at this university and have an opportunity to coach the players that I do. So, it’s me being old and me having great players. So, just thank you for everyone that’s decided to come here and play for this great university. It’s made a difference in my life.”

But it’s not just Flaherty and Barnes Arico who have been posting record numbers.

The Wolverines, as a team, are doing so too. They boast a six-game winning streak and sit at their highest national ranking since hitting No. 12 in 2001.

Michigan is also second in the Big Ten, just one game behind No. 14 Maryland.

“The strength of our team is everybody else is getting better and better and better,” Barnes Arico told WTKA, “which makes us tough to defend.”

If the Wolverines can maintain their momentum, they could move into that top conference spot. But unsurprisingly, Barnes Arico isn’t fixated on this number either.

“We’re gonna take it one game at a time,” Barnes Arico said. “I like where we are. I like the confidence in our kids. I like how they’re staying focused and they’re staying locked in.”