Senior forward Tabitha Pool is the most experienced player on
the Michigan women’s basketball team. But it’s not hard
for her to remember what it felt like before she had ever played a
game for the Wolverines.

As a freshman, Pool wondered what the pace of a college
basketball game would be like. Practices helped, but it was her
first exhibition game that really prepared her for the season.

“It felt like an actual game,” Pool said.
“Then, when we played our first game, I was like, ‘All
right, that’s how our exhibition game was.’ It helped
me a lot.”

After replacing eight players that either graduated or left the
program with seven freshmen, Michigan’s first exhibition game
tonight against Athletes in Action will be even more important than
usual.

“Really, our first exhibition game will tell our coaching
staff as much about our team as any first exhibition game in all
the years I’ve coached,” Michigan coach Cheryl Burnett
said. “Because there are a lot of unknowns, going back to the
fact that we could be starting three of those young
players.”

But that uncertainty doesn’t mean Burnett has changed her
approach to tonight’s game. Burnett still plans to determine
the starting lineup based on which players have worked the hardest
and played the best defense in practice — even if it means
putting an unusual assortment of players on the court.

“I’ve had walk-ons start, I’ve had four guards
start — it doesn’t matter,” Burnett said.
“(Those players) will be rewarded the first exhibition game,
and we build the chemistry of the basketball team off of
that.”

One area that Burnett will focus on is finding a point guard.
Right now, Burnett believes Michigan has three — freshmen
Becky Flippin, Krista Clement and Sierrah Moore.

“Becky has watched the program since being a sixth-grader,
so she knows the style,” Burnett said. “Krista is one
of the best basketball minds and leaders that I have ever seen. And
Sierrah is very physically gifted. She’s very strong, very
athletic.

“(But) there’s no question that a point guard is
going to have to step forward.”

For the freshmen, the opportunity to play in an actual game
— exhibition or not — is the culmination of a summer of
hard work.

“It’ll be good for us to experience things in a real
setting together,” Flippin said. “We’re all
really excited to see what’s going to happen, to take on the
challenge.”

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