Senior forward Hailey Brown has been a mainstay for the Wolverines ever since she arrived in Ann Arbor three years ago. With classmates Deja Church and Priscilla Smeenge having transferred to DePaul and Liberty, respectively, Brown is the only one left.
An energetic presence on the court known for shot-making abilities, Brown’s ability behind the arc has impacted Michigan’s ability to develop big leads. Last season, she led the Wolverines with 56 3-pointers, going 36.6% from beyond the arc.
This season, she has shown the ability to be a major contributor, scoring 18 points against women’s basketball powerhouse Notre Dame, three of which were from behind the arc.
The shots came at dire moments when the Wolverines were searching for the edge. In the first half against the Fighting Irish, Brown scored 10 points. Coming into the second half, she scored a clutch 3-pointer out of transition, giving Michigan a 39-34 lead. Her final 3-pointer grew the Wolverines lead to four in the third quarter, giving her team the confidence to finish Notre Dame in the fourth.
“She has just such great experience and such great feel for the game,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “That’s what makes us a different team this year than the team that we were last year.”
Brown’s experience comes into play this season. She’s just four games shy of 100 as a Wolverine, and she knows how to play off her teammates well and get open for shots.
It’s been a common theme for the opposition to have two or three players shadow junior forward Naz Hillmon, leaving Brown wide open. And as she’s shown this season, Brown has the ability to make them pay.
“She’s a kid that grew up playing with Team Canada,” Barnes Arico said. “She understands the game. Her IQ is exceptional. She just knows where to be, and she’s a shot maker.”
Brown’s ability offensively will be a major threat for the Wolverines all season, but her defensive game speaks for itself. The Wolverines blocked eight shots against Notre Dame, half of them coming from Brown. Last season, she averaged 3.3 rebounds per game and looks to improve that number this year, averaging 4.5 in the Wolverines’ first four games. Whether it’s her experience as a senior or the pieces aligning for one last ride at Michigan, Brown looks to be extremely valuable for the Wolverines offensively and defensively.
The Wolverines have an abundance of experience heading into Big Ten play. Barnes Arico will look towards junior guard Amy Dilk to find Brown off the transition and knock shots. In the dire moments of the game, the Wolverines know they can trust Brown.
“We have experience that helps,” Barnes Arico said. “We have depth that helps and our freshmen are going to be outstanding. They’re working hard every day. We have those key components, we have an All-American candidate Naz Hillmon, we have a fifth-year player and a senior that are pretty special.”
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