On Thursday, the No. 13 Michigan women’s basketball team will host Purdue in the program’s annual “Pink Game.”
The Wolverines will wear white jerseys with pink trim, and the players and coaching staff will sport pink shoes as well. This annual tradition was created to raise awareness for breast cancer and celebrate breast cancer survivors.
“That was something that our marketing team, in conjunction with our coaching staff, implemented when I first got here six years ago,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico told WTKA. “It’s a wonderful, wonderful event.”
On Jan. 21, the Wolverines met and had dinner with a group of breast cancer survivors to discuss the importance of self-care and of being a health advocate.
“We actually have about five or six breast survivors every year come in and meet with our team and have dinner with our team,” Barnes Arico said. “We break up into groups and we get to know them and we get to hear their stories. I think that it’s a great reminder to our players, and to our staff and everyone involved in our program, how fortunate we are and how truly blessed we are, but also that this can happen to anyone.”
Michigan (8-2 Big Ten, 19-4 overall) is coming off a win on Sunday against Northwestern, and is in the midst of a six-game winning streak. The victory marked the third-longest winning streak in program history and Barnes Arico’s 400th career win.
Barnes Arico attributes the Wolverines’ great success this season to the leadership of their upperclassmen.
“I think it’s our senior leadership and our junior class. Their maturity and their experience is really shining through and that’s Jillian Dunston and Katelynn Flaherty but also Hallie Thome and Nicole Munger,” Barnes Arico said. “They are really on a mission and they seem to play for Michigan every game and they don’t get caught up in the opponent.
“We obviously are prepared and we do our scouting and we are ready for the opponent, but it’s not about Northwestern or Purdue or Michigan State, they want to play the best Michigan basketball that they can play.”
Purdue (5-3, 14-8) is coming off a 88-73 win over Penn State on Sunday.
While the Boilermakers boast three double-digit scoring players in Andreona Keys (13.8 ppg), Ae'Rianna Harris (13.0) and Dominique Oden (11.8), this trio of talented scorers will have to deal with the Wolverines’ stingy defense, ranked as the conference’s second-best scoring defense. Of course, Purdue isn’t so shabby either, boasting the Big Ten’s third-best scoring defense — possibly hinting at a low-scoring slugfest.
“Purdue is a great program,” Barnes Arico said. “They’re a team that is year in and year out a NCAA tournament team, they have some great tradition and some great history. They’re a team that is improving as well.
“They’re playing with a lot of confidence, they’re going to come in here just a game behind us in the standings. They will be fired up, they will be excited for the opportunity to come in here and play us. It’s going to be a great game on Thursday night.”