The Michigan women’s basketball team is coming off its best year in program history. But now the Wolverines must say goodbye to a staple of their team, co-captain Siera Thompson.
The senior guard has played more minutes — 4,776 — than any Michigan player, male or female. Thompson stayed on the court for a team-high 1,259 minutes this season and finished off the Women’s National Invitation Tournament with the pinnacle of her playing-time records. In the 55-minute triple-overtime game, Thompson never once stepped off the floor.
During her four years as a Wolverine, Thompson has not missed a single contest. She has started in all but four of her 141 career games, and she’s averaged over 31 minutes of playing time each season — making her the most reliable player Michigan had on its roster this year.
Not only did Thompson have stamina for the Wolverines, but she got results. Thompson will end her career with 553 assists, beating out Anne Thorius, who held the program record since 2001. This year, Thompson tied her own record of 178 assists, the most any Wolverine has earned in a single season. Now she has done it twice.
“It means a lot to be able to do multiple things on the court, like score and pass the ball and just do different things,” Thompson said after Senior Night on Feb. 23. “I try to showcase that every time I step out on the court and it’s showing in the statistics. I think that’s just a testament to how hard I work on my game.”
Thompson tops Michigan’s list for best free-throw percentage in a season (93.3 percent in 2014-15), and is also in the school’s top five for 3-point field goal percentage, 3-point field goals attempted and 3-point field goals made.
She even holds an NCAA season record for consecutive games with a triple, after hitting a 3-pointer in every game of her freshman season.
For Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico, Thompson’s graduation will be a huge loss. She was Barnes Arico’s first recruit to commit to Michigan, and she’s watched Thompson grow as a leader ever since. Barnes Arico has been open about dreading this moment since the beginning of the season.
“I know it’s kind of early to be thinking about this,” Barnes Arico said on Nov. 21. “But when I lay awake sometimes at night, I think about her graduating and how much of a void that’s going to leave in our program because of what she’s meant to our program in the last four years.”
While Thompson has been a standout player for the Wolverines for four seasons, it wasn’t until her senior year that she managed to accomplish what she came to Michigan to do — win a championship.
“I’ve been talking about hanging a banner up since I was a freshman,” Thompson said after winning the WNIT. “We’ve all been talking about it. I’m so glad its finally come true.”
While she never got a chance to make an NCAA Tournament run, being a part of a WNIT championship (Michigan’s first ever) is still a groundbreaking accomplishment. But still, even in the thick of the celebration on the court after the WNIT victory, Thompson gave the credit to her teammates.
“My teammates fought through adversity,” Thompson said then. “There were times that we were down and times when the mood wasn’t right, but we kept fighting, and we knew we wanted this feeling right here, cutting down the nets.”
Though the finality of Thompson’s upcoming graduation and departure is nerve wracking, Barnes Arico has a history of hiring assistant coaches who have played for her in the past — like current assistant Joy McCorvery, who played under Barnes Arico at St. John’s.
And while, in an interview with MGoBlue, she expressed interest in playing overseas after college, perhaps, one day, Thompson will follow suit and return to Crisler Center in a different capacity in the future.