Michigan women’s basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico is no stranger to seeing former players continue their basketball careers after leaving her tutelage. Some have moved on to play professionally, or, like her former player Linda Cimino, become coaches themselves.

A few weeks ago, Barnes Arico coached against Cimino, who is now at the helm of Binghamton. Barnes Arico knew Cimino would become a coach years ago, saying that she was an outstanding leader and teammate in college.  

When asked if she could see any players on her current roster leading a team someday, two names stuck out to Barnes Arico: senior guard Madison Ristovski and junior guard Danielle Williams.

“Sometimes you have underdogs on your team that maybe aren’t the most skilled players, but have a great understanding and make people around them better,” Barnes Arico said. “Sometimes those are the best coaches, because they really understand what each person’s role is, and it’s not really just the superstar on your team.”

Ristovski and Williams aren’t leading scorers, but are important for the Wolverines’ success with their leadership at the guard positions. Both have invaluable experience that helps their teammates in practice, in games and in off-court situations. Thompson, a team captain, racked up 20 starts last season, while Ristovski has appeared in every game in her four years in Ann Arbor.

Both Ristovski and Williams hope the lessons they’ve learned at Michigan can bolster them toward a career in coaching basketball someday.

Basketball has always been important to the Ristovski family. Both of her sisters play basketball at the University of Detroit. She said basketball is in her blood and hopes to fulfill one of her dreams of becoming a college coach in the future. Her uncle, Dean Ristovski, was an assistant coach for the Titans.

“I hope after my career is over playing, I can continue and keep coaching,” Ristovski said. “I told (Barnes Arico) that I want to get my teaching certificate after this year, be a (graduate assistant) somewhere to really understand the coaching lifestyle as well as get my degree, and hopefully go from there.”

Williams, meanwhile, would also like to take the path of becoming a graduate assistant after her playing days as a Wolverine are through. She expressed interest in working with Barnes Arico and her staff at Michigan, admiring their passion and knowledge of the game.

Coaching isn’t a set-in-stone option for Williams, but it is something she has thought about doing before. Either way, she is certain basketball will be in her life forever.

If Williams does decide to become a coach, she might start with players younger than those at the collegiate level. Two of her coaches before she came to Michigan started off with younger kids and grew with them. Williams could see herself doing the same. The most exciting part of coaching for Williams is seeing everyone on her team and staff grow together.

“Just seeing teammates and coaches work and get better is so exciting,” Williams said. “Especially after people have put the time and the work in. You see them struggle and then you see them come out on the other side. It’s exciting for me as a player, and it’s exciting to see my teammates do that as well.”

As for her coaching philosophy, Williams would like her prospective team to emphasize defense and the fundamentals of shooting and passing the ball. She wants to keep it simple, nothing too flashy. Those goals don’t sound too different from the building blocks of Williams’ current coach.

Cimino is proof that Barnes Arico has spotted players who had the potential to become coaches and did later on. It wouldn’t be a surprise if she was right again about Ristovski and Williams.

Maybe they’ll be coaching against Barnes Arico someday.

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