Hailey Brown's road back

Monday, November 12, 2018 - 8:21pm

Sophomore forward Hailey Brown played in her first game since being injured last season on Thursday.

Sophomore forward Hailey Brown played in her first game since being injured last season on Thursday. Buy this photo
File Photo/Daily

February 11, 2018. Late fourth quarter. Michigan State 64, Michigan 61.

As Wolverine center Hallie Thome draws a charge on a Spartan layup attempt, there’s a collision under the basket. Amidst the chaos, Hailey Brown falls to the floor and has to be helped off the court.

It would be her final appearance of the season.

Before suffering a bone bruise during that game, Brown had started 27 consecutive games and blossomed into one of the team’s most consistent contributors, averaging nine points and 5.2 rebounds per game. The injury forced Brown to watch the 2018 NCAA Tournament from the sidelines, in which the Wolverines fell to Baylor in the Round of 32.

“After I got the results from the doctor of the bad knee bone bruise, I couldn’t do any running or impact stuff,” Brown said. “…It was definitely tough to watch my teammates go out there and like live one of the dreams and goals that I’ve had.”

But despite this setback, Brown persevered and fought her way back over the course of the offseason. 

Early on in the recovery process, Brown was still able to lift weights, and eventually transitioned to using an underwater treadmill to stay in shape, which helped to alleviate weight when exercising. Eventually, Brown made a full recovery and played in the Mount St. Mary’s game on Nov. 8 — her first game since the injury.

After tip off, Brown picked up right where she left off in her stellar freshman season.  She scored six of the Wolverines’ first 12 points and showed tremendous hustle early with two offensive rebounds on the game’s first possession. She finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, a performance made even more meaningful with her family in attendance.

“It was definitely special,” Brown noted.

“She’s worked so hard to come back after being injured last year, and she’s a really special player,” added Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico.

While it was a long road back to the court, Brown is now focused on this season and what the Wolverines can achieve. She’s said that one of her goals this year is to average a double-double, which both she and her coaches believe is a task that she is more than capable of accomplishing. However, Brown’s priorities are not solely on her individual accolades, but more so on what her team can achieve this season.

“I want national recognition for Michigan women’s basketball this year,” Brown said. “I want our team to go far and stay up in the rankings.”

And after a season where the team reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013, Brown feels that her team can achieve even greater feats this year.

“You always wanna achieve more,” she said. “Every time, every game, every moment you’re on the court, you’re there to prove something. Michigan women’s basketball, we’re here, we’re on a mission to prove that we can be champions.”