Evaluating the No. 25 Michigan women’s basketball roster for the upcoming season, there’s one notable hole:
The Wolverines lack a true point guard.
This year’s team features a number of talented guards, but none of them have consistently facilitated the offense. Last season, seniors Danielle Rauch and Amy Dilk occupied the position.
After their departures, the spot is up for grabs.
“It’s probably the question that in the offseason was the one most talked about in our office,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said at Michigan Media Day on Oct. 25. “What are we gonna do with this position, how are we gonna handle this position and how are we going to get our players ready for this position?”
Barnes Arico mentioned four players currently in the mix to earn minutes at point guard: sophomore Ari Wiggins, senior Michelle Sidor, sophomore Greta Kampschroeder and fifth-year Leigha Brown.
“We have a pool of people that, you know, haven’t signed up for it but they’ve played it in their career,” Barnes Arico said. “And we feel like we have a chance to be really good at it.”
Wiggins showed flashes of potential last year, appearing in 16 games off the bench in her first season. Barnes Arico claims that Wiggins is “probably faster” than anyone on the team and is dynamic with the ball in her hands, setting her up as a strong contender to earn minutes at point guard.
Sidor, who has yet to solidify herself as a consistent contributor through her three seasons, is vying to make the jump as a senior. Kampschroeder, on the other hand, is looking to establish herself as she enters her first year in Ann Arbor after transferring from Oregon State. Both guards have played at the point sporadically throughout their careers and have spent time practicing in the position during preseason.
Brown enters the mix with a different background, as an established leader and the Wolverines’ top returning scorer. Barnes Arico considers her one of the best guards in the country, someone who can effectively shoot and pass the ball.
“Obviously, she scores the basketball at such a high level, but her ability to make other people better I think is her separator,” Barnes Arico said. “She just has a special knack to pass the basketball.”
Last year, Brown was second in total assists with 81, behind only Rauch’s 85, and she led the team in assists per game with 3.4. Those passing abilities will prove especially valuable at the point guard position.
“(Point guard is) not going to be her permanent position, but I think she could really give us some great minutes at that spot,” Barnes Arico said.
As the team works to fill that hole, Barnes Arico also emphasized the importance of assistant coach Val Nainima, who coaches the point guards. Nainima was a point guard herself, playing for South Carolina prior to making her professional debut in Germany, where she spent three seasons before transitioning into coaching.
Barnes Arico pegged Nainima as one of the best point guard coaches in the country, someone who has been instrumental in getting the candidates ready for the position — ever since the team’s final game last year.
With four options and an assistant coach dedicated to successfully filling the gap, the Wolverines appear to have the pieces in place to find their next point guard.
“There’s gonna be a lot of opportunities for people to see, and then I think someone’s going to earn it and someone’s gonna grab it and someone’s gonna run with it,” Barnes Arico said.
That competition is warranted. Michigan needs to find a dependable leader on the court for its offense to find consistent success.
Which player will emerge as that leader, however, remains in question.