Oct. 10, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan women's basketball head coach Kim Barnes Arico and her team addressed the media as part of Media Day on Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 10) at the Junge Family Champions Center and the William Davidson Player Development Center.
Michigan Head Coach Kim Barnes Arico
On this year being a continuation of past success ... "One of the most important things for me, is I can't look at the big picture, of what it is going to be like down the road. That is not my mentality. I think I have to take one thing at a time, and as a team we have to take one thing at a time. I remember (Connecticut head coach) Coach Auriemma said to me the first time we (St. John's) went to the NCAA tournament in 2005, and he was at the same site. He said, 'you know it is easy to get here' and I laughed. St. John's hadn't been there in 50 years, it is not easy to get here, and we haven't been here in forever. He said, 'No, trust me, it is easy to get here, the hard part is to stay here.' That year was 2005 and we didn't go back -- I don't think until maybe 2008 or 2009 and then we have gone three years since. I think sometimes if teams play together for a long time they can reach the NCAA tournament, but to have a consistent program you need to have depth, you need to have people coming back. It is building, it is always building, and I think that is what we are excited about, as a staff, is the opportunity to build. We have already been out there and just the excitement that people have about Michigan, and the excitement people have about our University and the opportunity to play basketball. We know it is going to be a process. But, I also think, like you had mentioned, this group, this senior class is coming off of three years of doing things that hadn't been done in a long time. We owe it to them to give every single thing we have to make this the best year that we can make it."
On where the scoring production will come from with the departure of Carmen Reynolds and Courtney Boylan... "Courtney (Boylan) and Carmen (Reynolds) are going to be missed. They were really special players. But, when you have a group of seniors, and I have talked to these kids about it every single day, you have to do a little bit more. This is your time to shine. You have committed to this program for four years, you're a senior; it is your time. Kate Thompson you have got to step up, you have got to make some shots, you have got to make some plays, and you have to contribute. Nya (Jordan) you have got to be able to contribute. Sam (Arnold) you have got to be able to contribute. I spoke individually to Jenny Ryan as well. Jenny you have got to give more. If you look at Jenny's stats, she pretty much led us in every single category except for scoring. So it is tough to ask a kid, who is 5'7" and led your team in rebounding, in assists, hardly turned the basketball over that you have to do more. But, I said to her, Jenny you have to do more. You defer to a lot of people, and in the past you got the ball to Courtney and you got the ball to Carmen, but now it is your time to shine. You are going to have to take more shots; you are going to have to be more active on the offensive end, because that is going to be a big question. Who is going to score? Rachel (Sheffer) and Jenny obviously, Jenny has to step up a little bit. Madison (Ristovski) has to contribute; Kate has to be able to score. Nicole (Elmblad) is a pretty solid shooter; she has to be able to score. We have to find some points, and we have to find out who is going to have that scoring mentality for sure."
On how difficult the Big Ten Conference will be in the 2012-13 season ... "I think the league is going to be really strong this year. A lot of teams are bringing back a lot of players that have had a good amount of success last year and they are bringing back a core group. I think the league is going to be really, really tough. Obviously Penn State is coming off of a great year and they followed it up with some really solid recruiting classes. They play an uptempo style, which I know has given us trouble in the past. I think they are going to be great. Ohio State always has a solid group, Purdue has a solid group, and Minnesota, just looking at them, and following them they have a good core returning. Obviously, the team down the street, I try to keep that out of my mind as much as possible, but they are always really athletic and rebound the heck out of the ball and really give us a difficult time."
On who has improved the most since arriving to Michigan ... "I think Brenae Harris. I think she is exceptionally quick. She is exceptionally athletic, and we need to use her, especially on the defensive end to be able to give teams a little but of pressure. We don't really have anyone that stands out probably athletically as much she does."
On adjusting to a new team at Michigan ... "I think anytime you are building a relationship, and I talk to our kids about this all the time, relationships are two-way streets. Obviously, I think it is really important anytime you take over a program to remember that those kids committed to Michigan before I was here. It is their program and I am coming into their program. It is really important for me to learn about them and not forget who they are or the strengths of that team. For me, first and foremost, that is what I tried to do. The great thing about these young ladies, and that is what I tried to allude to in the beginning, is that they have bought in. They want to be great. They want to find a way to win. They want to figure it out and they believe."
U-M Senior Guard Jenny Ryan
On her energy level ... "I've always looked at myself as a high-energy, intense person in anything I do, whether that's basketball, academics or a game of chess. I'm competitive. Knowing that's my personality, and knowing I'm a vocal person, I think every team needs that. Not everyone on the team likes to yell as much as I do, but it's something I've always done, and I hope the rest of the team responds well to it."
On freshman guard Madison Ristovski ... "I see a lot of myself in Madison. She's very passionate, intense and driven. She's come into the system and done phenomenally well in these first few practices we've had. She'll take on a vocal role as the point guard, and as she gets older, she'll take on the vocal role as a leader. The sky is the limit for her."
On striving to become the "hardest working team in America" ... "That's one of the things we all bought in to. We all understand it. To compete in the Big Ten and on the big stage, we know we have to be the hardest working team in America. Even if we don't have the All-Americans here at this moment, we do have the hardest workers. I believe that hard work trumps talent on any given night, and that's what we want to show every day."
On if she can handle taking on more of a scoring role ... "I think so, yes. I think it's the nature of me being a senior, and the graduation of last year's seniors. It's a role we need to fill. I'll still do the little things, those 'blue collar' areas, but if the team needs me to score, I'll do that. As long as we get the win in the end, that's what matters."
On what practices are like ... "They are intense and passionate. You can feel Coach Barnes Arico's love for the game, and that rubs off on us. We focus a lot on the fundamentals, defense and getting up and down the floor, which are all key components to her style of play. The biggest thing I take away every day is that it's intense, passionate and that no minute goes to waste. We want to work hard in everything we do."
On achieving success ... "It starts with a hard work ethic. Nothing comes easy. Success doesn't come without hard work. If you show up every day, and you buy into her system, if you're the hardest working team in America, and bring the passion every day, the sky is the limit."
U-M Senior Guard Kate Thompson
On role for her senior season ... "I'm just doing whatever I can to help the team. We are a very hard-working team this year, and I'm just working hard in practice and making sure I do all the little things right and buying into the system -- that's going to be huge."
On goals for upcoming season ... "As always, our goal is to win the Big Ten championship and win the Big Ten season. Also, we made it to the NCAA Tournament last year, and we want to continue that success and go farther in the tournament this year."
On leaving mark on Michigan ... "I want to hang a banner. There is no Michigan women's basketball banner in Crisler right now, so I'd really like to leave with the class that does that."
On helping freshmen adjust to college basketball ... "I'm doing all the little things like giving them rides when they need it, making sure they know when to get up on time. All the stuff I struggled with as a freshman, like learning from my mistakes and passing it down to the freshmen. But they are a great group of girls and they work really hard every day."
On best student-athlete experience at Michigan ... "Just the culmination of athletics and academics together, and just all the people that I've met everywhere -- classes, basketball, out of basketball. Everybody that I get to meet is just a blessing."
U-M Senior Forward Rachel Sheffer
On what she sees as her role on the team ... "I think being a senior leader and being vocal on and off the floor. Just making sure the team comes together regardless of the obstacles. Just being there for my teammates, knowing we have a lot of freshmen coming in and a new staff. Just knowing that change is good and just buying in I think is really the key."
On if she anticipates leading the team in scoring for the second straight year ... "It's hard to say. I'm going to contribute as much as I can and Jenny (Ryan) looks to get me the ball a lot, but it all depends on the pace of the game. I think the big thing is being comfortable with the four other girls out there and knowing I can pass them the ball, they can pass me the ball and know we can all shoot the ball and knock down big shots."
On what she wants her legacy at U-M to be ... "I think just leaving here with a class of five seniors and going out with a bang. We've progressed every year that we've been here as a senior class, so I think just making sure I get the most out of our class and leaving here happy."
On what she thinks the team can do this year ... "I really think that experience-wise of our class is going to keep us moving forward and we're going to get deeper in the tournament."
On her best experience as a Michigan student-athlete ... "I think the atmosphere of Michigan in general. Being able to walk outside the Player Development Center on a Saturday and head to the Big House. Having all of the resources you get here at Michigan and just being in this atmosphere."
U-M Freshman Guard Madison Ristovski
On how the first few months as a college athlete have gone ... "It was definitely a big transition coming from high school to college -- different classes, the basketball schedule. It's a lot more work, but with the help of my teammates, it a pretty easy transition."
On if Michigan has been what she hoped for ... "I love Ann Arbor. I love the University of Michigan. It's exactly what I wanted."
On her role on the team this season ... "I think that when the games start, my role will be more defined, but I think it will be whatever the team needs it to be. All of us guards play differently -- some of us are better shooters, some are better at getting to the rim, so I think it's really nice to have a variety."
On head coach Kim Barnes Arico ... "Coach Arico is great. She's really intense at practice and she's doing whatever she can to make sure that we're learning the right way. Off the court, she's a great person. She'll always be honest with you and make sure you know exactly what you have to work on."
On the transition from high school to college ... "With basketball, the speed of the game is a lot faster and at the beginning of the summer you could tell the difference between the seniors and the freshmen, their foot speed compared to mine. That was a pretty big challenge at the beginning, so I've been working on that and will continue to work on that. It's just a faster game and a much more physical game."