The Michigan women’s basketball team will look to shed some offseason rust before it officially begins its season next Friday, Nov. 9, with an exhibition game tomorrow against Findlay University.
Led by senior forward Anna Hintz, the Oilers – a Division II program – are coming off of a 22-8 season which ended in defeat in the first round of the Division II Tournament. Hintz, who was Findlay’s leading scorer last season after averaging 18.4 points per game, will pose a preseason test for the Wolverines’ forwards – good preparation for the season to come.
For Michigan, this game will be a test run to see how they can adjust to life after Katelynn Flaherty (22.9 points per game), who graduated last year as the most prolific scorer in program history.
“Losing Katelynn … is a tremendous loss,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico during the Wolverines’ media day, Oct. 10. “But our program is in a tremendous spot and I am super excited about the team that we have right now.”
Barnes Arico will primarily look to senior center Hallie Thome and senior guard Nicole Munger –Michigan’s second and third leading scorers from last season at 17.4 and 9.1 points per game, respectively – to fill in for Flaherty on the offensive end this coming season.
Thome, who is 6-foot-5, should find success against the smaller Oilers in this exhibition matchup, as the only Findlay player taller than 6-foot-2 is center Sydney Kin, a 6-foot-3 freshman without a minute of college experience.
Going forward, Barnes Arico will place a heavy workload on Thome’s and Munger’s shoulders, but she also expects this year’s team to not rely on any one player nearly as much as it did last year with Flaherty.
“(Thome) is going to have a great senior season, as well as Nicole Munger,” Barnes Arico said. “Those two are leading the way with their leadership and their skill, but our junior class has improved tremendously; our sophomore class is playing with a ton of confidence. … Our freshman class, it’s been the highest-ranked class in program history.”
Of all the highly-heralded freshmen, guard Amy Dilk will play the most significant early role as she is set to replace Flaherty at point guard and will get the opportunity to show why she was a five-star recruit.
The Findlay game will give Barnes Arico a final glimpse of Dilk before the season’s start and allow her to correct any flaws she may have ahead of their first regular season game.
“(Dilk) is going to be our point guard and she’s a freshman, and that’s a big role for a freshman,” Barnes Arico said. “But I think she’s capable of handling that (role).”
While the game against the Oilers will not count for anything in the stat book, it does mean one very important thing: Michigan basketball is back.