The No. 11 Michigan women's basketball team is in the midst of a historic season. Dominick Sokotoff/Daily. Buy this photo.

Michigan women’s basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico came to Ann Arbor to help bring the program to a place it had never been before.

“A goal of mine when I first got to the University of Michigan was to be a top program year in and year out,” Barnes Arico said. “And for us to have achieved that at this point is really awesome.” 

That goal started to come into fruition in December when the Wolverines defeated No. 5 Baylor for their first top-five win in program history. This win earned Michigan a No. 8 ranking in the AP Poll, its highest ranking ever. For the seniors, having the Wolverines become a top-tier program was a goal they set all the way back as freshmen.

“We always say our class, we pride ourselves on continuing the tradition and culture,” senior guard Amy Dilk said. “That’s something that we really focus on is our culture. Coming in here as a freshman, we had a goal and we had a vision and as a freshman, it’s kind of hard to see that, but we really did stick to it.”

The team making strides and players returning from injury all at the right time may lead to a very dangerous Michigan team for the rest of the Big Ten. This team has still not played with a 100% healthy roster, something that Barnes Arico is looking forward to. 

The Wolverines have believed that this ranking was possible since media day. 

“I just think it’s a different position than we’ve ever been in and I think there’s a ton of excitement and a ton of energy around our program,” Barnes Arico said. “One, because of the success and two because of the type of people we have in our program. I think that speaks volumes to the character of our kids in our program and it’s so exciting when you can have unbelievable kids that are unbelievable basketball players as well and represent our university in such a positive way.” 

Despite achieving the highest ranking in program history, the players don’t want to let up. Being now viewed as a top-tier program, Michigan is getting its opponents’ best every single night. 

“Now we’re in a position where people are coming for us on any given night,” Barnes Arico said. “We’re seeing everybody’s best shot. So we have to bring our best game and we can’t have lapses and just really being consistent for 40 minutes. Each and every game is the goal because on any given night, anybody in our league can come at you.” 

The Wolverines got Nebraska’s best when they lost on the road, 79-58, last week. This loss dropped them to No. 11 in the AP Poll. 

“We learned that the other night at Nebraska, we have some unbelievable teams in our league,” Barnes Arico said. “Some great teams that will prepare us for March.”

Michigan rebounded against Rutgers, winning 76-47, showing it still deserves an elite ranking. 

The Wolverines want to keep that momentum rolling. 

“We don’t want to stop here,” Dilk said. “That’s not the end goal. So for our program for the people that come after us and for the people that come before us, we’re doing this all for Michigan.”

The win against Baylor helped put Michigan back on the map, but a deep run will build off of last year’s success and hope to translate regular season momentum to tournament wins. 

“It’s not an opportunity to take a breath,” Barnes Arico said. “We have to continue to plug away, continue to keep our focus, continue to stay locked in and we can celebrate those accolades come March.”