Defend the Block: Barnes Arico on Building on Success, Big Ten, Returning Fans

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Defend the Block: Barnes Arico on Building on Success, Big Ten, Returning Fans

This week on “Defend the Block” Brian Boesch catches up with Michigan women’s basketball head coach Kim Barnes Arico on the busy offseason for her and the schedule, her thoughts on some of the key players on the squad this season, and her first Big Ten analysis ahead of 2021-22.

By Kyle Terwillegar

Last season was a unique year in the history of the University of Michigan women’s basketball team and coach program. Kim Barnes Arico.

In the context of a world changed by the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic and the threats and realities of postponements and cancellations, the 2020-21 campaign had it all: a thrilling race to the very first Sweet Sixteen of the team in the NCAA tournament, an overtime heartbreaker against Baylor, the team’s highest seed in the team’s NCAA tournament at No.6, and a 50-point explosion from the star Naz hillmon which made waves in the world of sport, among many others.

Well he had almost everything, anyway. Each of these moments came and went with a few lucky family and friends present as a public health measure to help mitigate the spread of the pandemic.

“I think we’ve had huge support, and I think our fan base has really grown over the past couple of years,” said Barnes Arico in the last episode of the “Defend the Block” podcast with host Brian Boesch. “It was so disappointing that they weren’t able to celebrate last season with us, so reuniting with them and allowing them to celebrate our senior class this year but also what we were able to accomplish last year and our young ones. going forward will be really special.

“There’s no place like home, there’s nothing like putting on that Michigan uniform and going out to Crisler (Center), and that’s something we talked to. our student-athletes all the time. To be a part of this amazing and amazing atmosphere the culture and amazing community that is Michigan is truly special. “

The Barnes Arico Wolverines and Michigan Faithful will reunite in person in just over a month as the Crisler Center hosts a showdown between UM and Grand Valley State on November 4, followed by the appropriate season opener on November 9 against IUPUI.

While Team Wolverine fans will see in early November and into the future, whoever captured their hearts and imaginations last winter will look very familiar – with the notable exception of the major contributors who have died. Hailey brown and Akienreh Johnson – Barnes Arico is aware of how her team is adjusting and moving from last year’s pandemic phase to what is emerging as a ‘new normal’.

“Our sophomores really are freshmen in a lot of ways,” she said. “I have [a son who is] a sophomore in college and I feel like it’s his first year because he didn’t really have a season last year.

“Well our kids had a season, but there was so much that wasn’t typical of their first year, so they’re going through a lot of the same things as our first year class. So it’s almost like , for me we have seven new people and eight ghosts – six of which are experienced – so it’s almost two teams and we are trying to match the new ones with the experienced group. “

Led by program’s first All-American at Hillmon and NCAA tournament star Leigha Brown, and supported in expanded roles by amy dilk, Danielle Rauch, Emily kiser and Maddie nolan, among others – all of the roles and expectations Barnes Arico discussed in the latest “Defend the Block” – the Wolverines will look to complete the gelation process in time to face what Barnes Arico predicts will be the best iteration of the Big Ten conference. for women’s basketball.

“I think the Big Ten is stronger and deeper than it’s ever been, and I know I’ve said that every year, but pretty much in my last four or five years here, he continued to improve, ”she said. “I think the world has recognized that last year four Big Ten teams went to Sweet Sixteen. I mean how amazing it is? So many times you hear about SEC women’s basketball or the ‘ACC, and here we represent with four teams in the Sweet Seize. “

The depth of the conference extends far beyond his own team in Michigan and his skilled colleagues in Iowa, Maryland and Indiana, the latter of which has reached the Elite Eight.

“We had two people who moved and graduated, but roughly, especially with [the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA because of] COVID, each team has everyone back, so everyone is going to be a lot improved without a doubt, ”she said.

Screening every team in the conference during the preseason with the mindset that anyone could be a contender is something, according to Barnes Arico, that could pay dividends when the stakes are much higher. during the regular season and the playoffs.

“I think it’s important with new staff who aren’t from our league to really do their homework on our conference,” she said. “To really learn the intricacies of each team, their styles and tendencies, as it can come down to possessions in every game. How do we stay ahead and how can we prepare for the biggest conference? from the country ?”

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