With its 68-64 victory over Iowa on Sunday, the Michigan women’s basketball team (2-0 Big Ten, 13-2 overall) achieved a new record, and is off to its best start in program history. And with the victory, the Wolverines have won eight straight games — something they have not done since the 2001-02 season.
“I didn’t know that,” said Michigan head coach Kim Barnes Arico regarding the team’s program record. “That’s pretty exciting. I think this group of players we have in the program are really special.”
The Wolverines were able to garner 25 votes in the latest Associated Press poll, putting them at 28th overall and on the cusp of entering the Top 25 for the first time since Dec. 23, 2002, when they were ranked No. 25.
While it’s easy to point at one player or another for Michigan’s success, Barnes Arico has had issues recently on who the MVP of its recent victories has been.
“We give out a game ball after every game, and the last few games have been incredibly difficult to choose who gets the game ball,” Barnes Arico said. “That really says something about our team.”
It also says something about Barnes Arico, who became the first-ever Michigan women’s basketball coach to win her first two Big Ten games.
But for the first-year coach, this accolade is not important — what’s important is her five-member senior class, led by captain Jenny Ryan, setting a lasting legacy for future teams to replicate.
“There’s a group of five seniors that have been together for four years and want to go out doing something that’s never been done at Michigan before,” Barnes Arico said.
THREE POINT HAVEN: A key statistic that has helped the Wolverines win their last game and aided in their success so far this season has been their accuracy from the 3-point stripe.
One player in particular that has been deadly from beyond the arc is senior Kate Thompson, who is second in the nation in 3-pointers per game, averaging 3.93.
Thompson’s prowess from deep carried Michigan in the first half against Iowa as she scored 17 points, including five 3-pointers.
Thompson has already made 59 3-pointers this season, putting her at fourth best in Michigan women’s basketball history for 3’s in a season.
Thompson is on pace for 114 for the regular season, which would shatter the record held by Carmen Reynolds, who made 85 during the 2009-10 season.
While the bulk of the Wolverines’ 3-pointers have come from Thompson, her teammates have not been too shabby either. Michigan is currently ranked fourth in the country in 3-point percentage at 41.4 percent, and have hit 108 out of 261 attempts.
“When you have a shooter like Kate on your team, it really allows you to slip and get open on a lot of plays because on a lot of plays so many players go out to Kate,” said senior forward Rachel Sheffer.
WE ARE FAMILY: Though it’s not hard to argue that Michigan’s win over Iowa was due to the play of Sheffer and Thompson, it’s also not hard to argue it wasn’t because of Barnes Arico’s son, Trevor.
Trevor, the oldest of the Barnes Arico children started school again on Monday, but that didn’t dissuade his mother from allowing him to travel with the team to Iowa City on Sunday.
“I knew he’s going back to school,” Barnes Arico said. “I figured this might (be) one of the only (road trips) that he gets to take for a little bit of time so I brought him with me. He is one of our biggest fans.”
The good vibrations started before Sunday as Trevor helped out at the team’s practice, collecting rebounds. Trevor was even more of a factor during the pregame and postgame on Sunday.
“He went into the locker room and he was so proud of the team and said ‘I knew I was coming here for a win.’ ” Barnes Arico said. “He got them all fired up.”