Despite a 67-62 overtime victory, the No. 11 Michigan women’s basketball team didn’t have much to celebrate.
One minute into Tuesday night’s game against IUPUI, senior point guard Amy Dilk slipped out from underneath herself and hit the ground, appearing to have suffered some form of knee injury. While the severity is not yet known, it took her a few minutes to hobble off the court on one leg after the trainers put a brace around her left knee.
If Dilk is out long term, her absence would be a major blow to the Wolverines. For three consecutive seasons, she led the team in assists, starting every game she was healthy for. Dilk also looked much improved from last year based off of her exhibition game performance against Grand Valley State, in which she scored 15 points and dished out eight assists.
After her season ended just before the NCAA Tournament run a year agor, Dilk was expected to have a bounce-back campaign. Last year, Dilk’s points, rebounds and assists regressed from her sophomore season totals. Despite this, she still led the team with 3.9 assists per game.
Knowing that the 2021-2022 season would most likely be her last, she wanted to give it her all.
“Being a senior, I just want to go out and leave everything on the court every single day, whether that’s in practice or games,” Dilk said on Oct. 14. “Because it does go by fast and the season, it’s long, but it goes by fast.”
As a senior, Dilk is one the team’s leaders both on and off the court. It will be difficult for Michigan to replicate her ability to find open players. Her chemistry with senior forward Naz Hillmon helped the Wolverines start last season 10-0, the best in program history.
“If Amy didn’t go down, she’s a key experience player in our squad that’s probably gonna play 25 to 35 minutes a game,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “When she went down other people had to step in and give us good minutes.”
As a result of Dilk’s injury, Michigan had to alter its rotation Tuesday. The underclassmen became involved in the game, with three of the four freshmen seeing playing time. Freshman guard Laila Phelia saw 23 minutes on the court, finishing the night with four points and four defensive rebounds.
“The freshmen are awesome and they’re gonna get some playing time,” Barnes Arico said.
It is difficult to point out one particular player who will start in Dilk’s place. Based on Tuesday’s game, when senior guards Leigha Brown and Danielle Rauch filled Dilk’s role, the Wolverines will do it by committee.
“It definitely shook a lot of us off,” Rauch said. “But we got in the huddle and said, ‘We got to do this for Amy and play hard for her.’ Obviously with a fluke thing like that happening, you don’t want to see that happen to anybody.
“We tried to use our nerves and emotions to fuel our game, nurse away and use that momentum and play hard for her.”
Michigan’s response to adversity will be tested quickly, as their next game is this Saturday against St. Francis Brooklyn. The Wolverines’ mantra throughout the Barnes Arico tenure has been that they are the hardest working team in America.
They’ll need to work harder than ever to make up for Dilk’s absence.