ANN ARBOR, Mich. — This Michigan women’s basketball team could be legendary.
This team is special
The Wolverines women’s basketball program started in the 1973-74 season with coach Vic Katch at the helm. In their first 39 seasons, they won over 50 percent of their games in just 13. For whatever reason, the program couldn’t find success and hold on to it. This lack of production is likely linked to various reasons, but the biggest is that it simply wasn’t a priority for the University for quite some time.
For the most part, the program had been so unsuccessful that in those first 39 years, they had 12 seasons with 20 or more losses. In comparison, within that same stretch, the team had just four seasons with 20 or more wins. It simply wasn’t good enough, and if the program was going to turn around, something needed to happen fast.
Michigan then made a change going into the program’s 40th season. That change was the hiring of coach Kim Barnes Arico. Unbeknownst to most at the time, she would go on to completely change the tide for this team.
The KBA era in Ann Arbor
Since Barnes Arico’s hiring in 2012, Michigan has gone over .500 every season. She has a record of 219-109, bringing the Wolverines to 20 or more wins in nine of her 10 seasons with the program.
Even more impressive is that she’s brought her team to five NCAA tournaments in her short time here. That is good enough to account for half of the Wolverines’ NCAA tournament appearances all-time.
Last year, Barnes Arico and the Michigan women’s basketball team had their second-most wins in program history and made it to the Elite Eight for the first time.
They went 25-7 overall and 13-4 in the Big Ten. Naz Hillmon led this team with 21.0 points per game and 9.6 rebounds per game. Hillmon was so successful with Michigan that she now plays for the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA. One year prior, they went to the program’s first Sweet 16, showing that this team is on the rise.
More boxes being checked
Every season with Kim Barnes Arico at the helm leads to another accomplishment. Who knows what she can still accomplish as the Wolverines’ head coach?
Moving on from last year’s roster, Michigan women’s basketball has retained several key pieces. The list is extensive, including but not limited to players like Emily Kiser, Leigha Brown, Laila Phelia, Maddie Nolan, and many others.
Those four players alone have combined for 59.4 points per game. Despite losing Naz Hillmon and her 21 points per game to the WNBA last season, this team has plenty of star power in its own right.
As we currently find ourselves in the December stretch of the season, Michigan now sits at 9-0 and is showing no signs of slowing down. The Wolverines beat the Northwestern Wildcats for their ninth win in their Big Ten opener. Despite being close throughout most of the game, the Wolverines pulled away in the end, showing just how dominant they can be.
This team is different
This Michigan team has been so dominant they are winning their games by an average of over 23 points. That kind of point differential is not something anyone should take lightly.
The Wolverines now rank No. 14 in the country, but I would not be surprised to see them continue to rise all season long. This team is one of the best in the country, and they go out and show it every single game.
As Michigan women’s basketball still has 20 games remaining on its schedule, they are on pace to have one of the most successful seasons in program history. They certainly have the will to make it happen.
If the 2022-23 team can find a way to make it to the Final Four or higher, it could push this program into a completely different tier regarding how we view them. Only time can tell.