Ristovski's leadership lies deep in experience
Through the first three years of her career, Madison Ristovski learned from her older teammates, but now she fills the veteran role.
The guard is one of just two scholarship seniors on the Michigan women’s basketball roster. In previous seasons, Ristovski found herself adapting to roles wherever the team needed her. From appearing off the bench as the Wolverines’ sixth player in her sophomore season to being an outside shooting threat in certain situations last year, Ristovski has collected an assortment of experiences.
Ristovski has been able to contribute wherever she has played, averaging five points and two assists per game through her career as well as proving herself to be a 3-point threat.
But the senior’s consistency has been the strongest asset of her game, and Michigan will need it now more than ever.
With a lack of proven upperclassmen, Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico has been working hard at grooming Ristovski into her new role as the Wolverines’ go-to leader.
“I think being a senior and having a lot of experience, I’ve been able to talk to the younger girls about the games I’ve played in and the way we practice,” Ristovski said. “Having that experience, I can help them. With my help, the freshmen and others can become better players.”
Whether showing the freshmen the ropes on the court or confidently answering questions at Big Ten Media Day in Rosemont, Ill., three weeks ago, Ristovski is proving herself as a vocal force in all areas.
In the weeks preceding the Wolverines’ opening set of games, Ristovski has stressed to her young teammates the importance of staying focused.
The 5-foot-10 guard has been a part of several talented rosters in the past few years but admits this year’s squad could have the highest ceiling of them all.
With a lot of excitement surrounding a top-20 freshman class and a rising star, sophomore guard Katelynn Flaherty, Ristovski has managed to keep Michigan’s best intentions within Crisler Center and not let the hype get to the team.
“One of the biggest things this team is focused on is that we’re not going to worry about what others are saying about us,” Ristovski said. “The only people who we care about what they think are in this gym right now. We have expectations for ourselves, and remembering that, we’re not going to get rattled by what anyone else says.”
Working with the group of nine underclassmen has been challenging, but the senior is enjoying it. She doesn’t feel as much pressure on Michigan than in years past, and it’s been Ristovski’s job to remind the underclassmen not to take anything for granted.
“This year, I think because we are so young, we bring a lot of energy,” Ristovski said. “But we need to also bring the understanding that we can’t take any possessions off. Everyone here is talented, but we’ll have to see when the games start if we’re mature.”
While the guard brings a lot of expertise to the table, she lacks the experience of playing in several consecutive high-minute contests. Ristovski has appeared in 102 games in her career but has landed in the starting five just 19 times.
Even for a veteran like herself, educating others could very well be a unique opportunity even for Ristovski. Not only can Ristovski help the Wolverines reach the high bar they’ve set for themselves, but she can also begin to instill the championship mindset that Barnes Arico desires to establish in order to sustain a rising Michigan program.