Meet Madison Ristovski.

Perhaps you already know her. Maybe you know her as the top-rated basketball player in the state of Michigan for the class of 2012, or maybe you know her as the most recent Michigan Miss Basketball Award winner. Or maybe you’re way ahead of the game and you know she is a freshman guard competing for Michigan’s starting point guard position.

Now it’s time to know her as a Wolverine.

Ristovski may only be a week into practice, but she hasn’t let her inexperience hold her back.

“College basketball is not at all like high school,” Ristovski said. “The game’s faster, the players are stronger, everyone’s IQs (are) higher, so transitioning took a little while, but I think I’m finally getting used to what the game is like now.”

Ristovski’s transition might seem like it lasted only a week because of her rave reviews, but her success is a product of her commitment and hard work. She dedicated her summer to speeding up the learning curve, so that she could hit the ground running in the fall. No stranger to hard work, Ristovski spent her summer vacation giving the game everything she had before the start of classes.

“Being here all summer definitely helped out because I was able to see more game experience with an open gym,” Ristovski said. “I want to do everything I can and work as hard as I can to help my team out (because) it’s not about me, it’s about the team.”

But game experience wasn’t the only thing the freshman guard spent her summer working on. Conditioning became the central point of Ristovski’s offseason program, and it’s already clear that the extra time she put in at the gym has paid off.

“Conditioning is a major, major adjustment for the freshman, but she has been one of the first, if not the first, in sprints,” said first-year Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “Physically she is a lot stronger than I thought she would be, and she has been one of the most impressive players we’ve had in practice.”

Added Ristovski: “I think that if you play college basketball you’re going to have to be in the best shape that you can possibly be in. Coming in I knew that (conditioning) was my weakest link (and) that I had to keep working on (it).”

Ristovski, however, had no idea what Barnes Arico had in mind. With a new coach and system in place, the pace of practice was unlike anything any of the players had ever been a part of.

“After our first day of practice we ran a lot,” Ristovski said. “And after practice was over I called my dad and I said, ‘Dad, that’s why they call that college basketball.’ ”

But Ristovski didn’t let the pace overwhelm her or let her success during the first week make her complacent. Unlike many other past Miss Basketball winners, Ristovski isn’t done developing her game.

“Winning Miss Basketball was pretty important to me, but at the same time I wasn’t going to let that title define what kind of player I am,” she said.

In fact, she has consistently worked on getting better. Over the last week it hasn’t just been her play and work ethic that’s stood out, but also her leadership presence on the court.

Senior guard Jenny Ryan — one of the team’s leaders — has found many similarities in Ristovski’s personality and approach to the game.

“I see a lot of myself in Madison,” Ryan said. “She’s very intense and driven and I think she’s really come into the system and done phenomenally well for the first few practices we’ve had. The sky’s the limit for Madison. She’s taken on a vocal role as a point guard and I see a lot of myself in her.”

The future of Michigan women’s basketball hopes that Madison Ristovski’s ceiling is as high as Ryan thinks it can be. So far, so good.

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