Amy Dilk is one of the most experienced players on the Michigan women’s basketball team this year.
The junior guard started every game and led the team in minutes played last season. On a team with four new freshmen, her experience could pay dividends for the Wolverines this season.
This summer was different for everyone. With the spread of COVID-19 forcing players into quarantine and isolation, it would have made sense for Dilk and her teammates to undertake severe changes to their offseason plan. But that wasn’t the case.
“(The offseason) was different,” Dilk said. “But in terms of getting ourselves prepared for the season, that really wasn’t any different. … In terms of this summer, we were still able to do workouts together.”
With traditional locations to work out no longer an option, Dilk turned toward home in order to stay prepared.
“Fortunately, for me, I have a smaller system in my house where I have a couple of dumbbells and bands and a bench,” Dilk said. “Just staying active in those areas really helps me stay focused and locked in.”
Individual workouts are important for any athlete, but basketball is ultimately a team sport. On a team with a lot of incoming talent that has not seen a collegiate court yet, Michigan was able to work around restrictions to begin developing chemistry within the team.
“(We were able to) hang out with each other outside of the court,” Dilk said. “There’s some great athletes and great freshmen that have joined our team. And I’m just really excited to see where their journey goes.”
This year, the Wolverines bring in a strong freshmen class that includes guard Meghan Fiso, forwards Whitney Sollom and Cameron Williams and combo guard/forward Elise Stuck. They also add junior combo guard/forward Leigha Brown who joins the team after two seasons with Nebraska.
With as much talent as the new freshmen will bring to Michigan, Dilk and the other upperclassmen will have to help them grow up fast. Although it’s not clear what practices will look like, there is no doubt that they will be very different from last season. Luckily, Dilk doesn’t have to do all the heavy lifting alone.
“I think there’s been actually a lot of us that have stepped up,” said Dilk. “I’ll start with (guard Akienreh Johnson) just being that fifth-year returner, understanding what the program looks like, what we’re trying to do as a program, she really has stepped up as a main leader.
“I’d give (junior guard) Danielle Rauch a lot of credit. She’s really grown into her role outside and on the court.”
Johnson and Rauch are two other players that will bring experience to the Wolverines. Johnson played the third most minutes on the team last season and Rauch started three games and played in 24.
While the pandemic has clouded the season with uncertainty, Michigan is looking forward to getting back on the court. The Wolverines have a chip on their shoulder after exiting the Big Ten tournament in the semifinals in a loss to Ohio State. Regardless of what happened in the past, Dilk and the Wolverines still have championship aspirations.
“We’re going to treat the season the same,” Dilk said. “We’re going to try to win as many games as we can and our ultimate goal is to be Big Ten champs and make a run in the tournament.”
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