That’s the number of guards the No. 11 Michigan women’s basketball team had in rotation in its win over Rutgers on Sunday. It’s the most guards the Wolverines have used in a conference game thus far.
And it’s why they won.
“We have a lot of depth in the guard position,” senior wing Leigha Brown said after the matchup with Rutgers. “And (we have) a lot of people that do different things, whether that’s shooters coming off the bench, Amy (Dilk) coming out trying to create just as good as anyone. Our ability and the versatility that we have with that position.”
Most teams don’t have a multitude of guards to choose from. It’s an important facet of Michigan’s squad that is beginning to shine.
Of course, there are the usual suspects. Brown, senior guard Danielle Rauch and junior guard Maddie Nolan each started the game, ending with over 25 minutes of play a piece.
But there’s also a new cast of characters entering the rotation.
Senior guard Amy Dilk is back on the floor after a lower leg injury sustained in the first game of the season. Dilk was the starting point guard last season, and while she’s still not 100%, it’s clear she’ll once again become a regular fixture.
Against Rutgers, Dilk logged six points and four assists in her 19 minutes. She’s a facilitator, opening passing lanes for senior forwards Naz Hillmon and Emily Kiser in the paint. She can also knock down a three from time to time, and isn’t afraid of a driving floater.
“(Dilk) just gives us someone else at that guard position that has experience, that can handle pressure, that is really super strong with the ball, makes good decisions,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said after the Rutgers game. “It’s just nice to have her level of play and her experience back on the court.”
Sophomore guard Elise Stuck is another newer face. As a freshman, Stuck averaged 6.2 minutes per game. Against Rutgers, she had a new career high of 11 minutes, scoring two points and grabbing five rebounds. Stuck might not be the focal point of the offense, but she’s contributing in meaningful ways and adding another layer of depth to the rotation.
Freshman guard Jordan Hobbs also saw a considerable jump in time in the Rutgers game, also playing 11 minutes. Like Stuck, she’s not the shining star on the floor, but she’s brought valuable minutes to the Wolverines and gives the upperclassmen guards a chance to rest.
Junior guard Michelle Sidor and freshman guard Ari Wiggins also logged minutes in the matchup with Rutgers. Sidor, an upperclassman, brings experience to the floor that’s clear in her compatibility playing with the other guards. The younger Wiggins is lighting fast and brings a change of pace on defense, allowing the Wolverines to drop into their 1-2-2 press.
Having eight guards to choose from gives Barnes Arico a wide variety of lineups to choose from, each of which brings its own strengths, whether it be a 3-point shooting heavy or defense-oriented group.
Michigan’s game plan traditionally rests in the paint. Opposing teams already know about Hillmon — it’s no secret that containing her is the key to success against the Wolverines. But when Hillmon is locked down, like she was against Nebraska, Michigan will have to rely on their guards to pull them through.
And it seems they have a plethora to choose from.