Emily Kiser’s name doesn’t get announced often over the loudspeaker of Crisler Center.
After suffering an ankle injury earlier in the year, the junior forward didn’t see the floor until the eighth game of the season. But her importance to the Michigan women’s basketball team was immediately felt when she was finally able to rejoin the team.
Last season, Kiser averaged just 8.3 minutes per game. This season she’s nearly doubled that with 14.8 minutes.
Kiser’s impact was evident in her first game back against Wisconsin. The Wolverines were down to eight players due to COVID-19 protocol, and embodying the Wolverines’ motto of “next-man-up,” Kiser stepped up to fill the missing spot. Coming in first off the bench, she knocked down two shots from beyond the arc and ended the night with eight points.
But in a game where junior wing Leigha Brown scored 26 points, and junior forward Naz Hillmon added 22, Kiser’s points were less important than her presence on the floor. Subbing in for senior forward Hailey Brown and working well in the post with Hillmon, she added depth to the team that’s necessary in a year where coaches can’t always rely on their entire roster to be available.
“Her being able to be on the court with us, it’s just really, really good,” Leigha Brown said Dec. 31 after the game against Wisconsin. “She brings another layer with (sophomore center Izabel Varejão) gone. She brings another big fore presence, and she can shoot the ball.”
Since that game against the Badgers, Kiser has consistently gotten playing time. For Michigan, she’s the perfect sub: She’s reliable on the floor, rarely turns the ball over and contributes valuable minutes to give starters some much-needed rest.
Her rebounding ability has also kept her on the floor. Averaging over three rebounds per game, Kiser crashes the boards and gets putbacks. Against Northwestern, Kiser grabbed four rebounds, some leading to fouls and 3-point plays.
“She went out for every single rebound, every single loose ball,” junior guard Amy Dilk said after the Wisconsin game. “I mean, you can see her out there hustling.”
Kiser also adds depth on the defensive end. As a tall forward, she can guard teams’ post players, adding more flexibility for Hillmon down low. She’s also quick on her feet and can jump out to help on the wing, closing passing lanes and making long-range shots more difficult.
Since the loss of Leigha Brown to COVID-19 protocol, the Wolverines have relied upon Kiser even more. She’s shown more depth on offense with her passing and contributed with assists. Her experience has been evident as she connected with Hillmon for easy layups against Illinois. Before, Leigha Brown took on the weight of facilitating the offense along with Dilk. Without her, another player has had to contribute those assists, and Kiser has stepped nicely into that role.
“She does provide us another four player similar to Hailey Brown that can really shoot the basketball,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said after the Central Michigan game on Nov. 25. “Great IQ, and good experience — and there’s nothing like experience.”
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