You could tell from the very start that it was going to be that type of night.
Within the first two and a half minutes, Michigan had jumped out to a 10-2 lead over Division II Findlay. Senior center Hallie Thome accounted for six of those points, with every Oiler attempt to guard her in the paint proving futile.
Thome, and the Wolverines as a whole, continued this dominance through the end of the first quarter, en route to a 84-38 win in their lone exhibition game before the regular season.
Unlike last year when the Michigan offense was predicated on the playmaking ability of superstar point guard Katelynn Flaherty, there seemed to be a conscious effort in this game to play from the inside out.
“(Thome’s) presence is very known, obviously,” said sophomore guard Deja Church. “This year a lot of teams are going to be scouting us for Hallie because they know we have that big threat in the middle. So Hallie’s been working on dishing it out or making a quick move down there.”
With that being said, Michigan’s guard play didn’t disappoint either. Freshman point guard Amy Dilk — a five-star recruit — Church and sharpshooting senior Nicole Munger proved they can’t be forgotten about either.
In the second half, when Thome’s impact in the paint was no longer needed, Dilk’s skillset really came to the forefront. On two consecutive transition plays, Dilk unleashed pinpoint passes from the opposing three-point line to streaking teammates downcourt for easy layups. A few possessions later, she drove into the paint and adeptly dished it off to a wide open Emily Kiser, another freshman, under the basket.
“Amy’s really, really a special player,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “We knew she was going to have an immediate impact on our program. She sees the floor so well and she has great size, so she can affect the game on the offensive end and the defensive end.”
Church and Munger contributed their fair share of offense too, pitching in a team-high 15 points each. Church’s mostly came off the dribble and in the lane, while Munger hit a few spot-up threes and finished some breakaway opportunities started by her pesky defense.
The Wolverines’ length defensively caused Findlay fits, and the Oilers struggled to put the ball in the hoop as the game went on.
Michigan cleared the bench in the fourth, affording reserves and other freshmen valuable game experience to build on.
“We’re longer and deeper than we’ve ever been,” Barnes Arico said. “Freshmen are always a work in progress, but they’re really a special group. I’m glad everybody had the opportunity tonight to see what they could contribute to our program. It’s about continuing to grind, and continuing to improve for them.”
It was a good first glance at their depth and athleticism, and Findlay’s effort never waned. But there will certainly be tougher tests ahead for the Wolverines, who open up the regular season next week with a home game against Mount St. Mary’s.