Oct. 22, 2013
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan women's basketball team held its annual media day on Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 22) at Crisler Center. Head coach Kim Barnes Arico addressed the media, followed by the players available for one-on-one interviews following.
Michigan Head Coach Kim Barnes Arico
Opening statement ... "Hello everyone, thank you for coming as always. I would like to thank my staff too -- we're rolling in deep today. I'm really excited about year two. I think my first year at Michigan was truly incredible, and we spoke a lot about that over the past year. I don't think I could have imagined as special of a year as it was. We miss our senior class; they are the winningest class of all time in Michigan women's basketball, and they really helped promote a culture and a winning tradition. We're in constant contact with all of them, and they are all doing exceptionally well, which is to be expected of all of our Michigan graduates, but especially these young women.
"We're excited about the future. I think this year is going to be a little bit of a transition year for us. Obviously, we graduated probably over 90 percent of our scoring. We have, I think, six total points returning in Nicole Elmblad's four and Madison Ristovski's two. So it's definitely going to be a young and inexperienced team. I think the most exciting part for me is that they are following the lead of last year's team, and they are working extremely hard. They are buying in to our culture and our expectations, and they have made tremendous strides. For those of you who haven't seen our team in a while, since last year, you will recognize the difference in their appearance immediately. Cyesha Goree has lost weight, Val Driscoll has taken 30 seconds off her mile time, Madison Ristovski looks in great shape, and Nicole Elmblad is running a sub-six mile, so I think they've all really committed to getting themselves in better shape and getting themselves to where they need to be to help us be successful this year.
"Our new kids have been tremendous, a great addition. The foreign trip obviously helped us see what our young ones are going to be all about, and they've really stepped up and made immediate contributions. They're doing a great job. Transfer, Shannon Smith, will probably be our go-to scorer this year. We're trying to work on her defense a bit, but she can score the basketball. We've got a little point guard Siera Thompson out of California who is doing a tremendous job filling that position that Jenny (Ryan) has left. So all in all it's been a great 15 first days of practice, but we know that we're going to have our challenges this year, we know that we're going to have our hands full, but we are excited about the team that we have, the group of young ladies that we have in the program and how hard they are working.
On playing against bigger teams and this team's lack of size ... "That is probably our number one concern, and that's a great question. I think we faced it a little bit last year, and we had more size then we do this year. We really put an emphasis every day in practice on boxing out and being able to chase balls down. A ton of drills to make sure that we're working on that. We know that every contest that we're going to be in this year, we're going to be the smaller team, so that's definitely a concern of ours. Cyesha Goree is doing extremely well in practice, but here's a young lady who her first two seasons has played 25 total minutes, so I said to her, her first game her junior year she could possibly get more minutes then she has in her career here, which is kind of scary for me. She's going to have to rebound the basketball for us, and she's really going to have to do it on both ends of the floor. She's been doing a great job in practice, but I think other people are going to have to step up and do it. We've been doing it by committee. We talked this past week about Jenny Ryan and how she rebounded the ball at 5-7. She did a tremendous job and when I first took over, I read the stats sheet, and she was our leading rebounder her junior year as a 5-7 guard. We need to find some guards that are really going to get in there and are really going to scrap for the ball. Nicole Elmblad is one of them, but we have to do it by committee, so we need a couple more people to step up."
U-M Junior Forward Cyesha Goree
On what this team is capable of ... "We are really quick and really small, so we are capable of a lot of defense and transitions, which we are looking to do more of this year."
On the biggest thing she worked on this offseason ... "I worked on being strong in the post, because we lost two of our dominant post players last year. That role needs to be filled, so I worked a lot inside so I would be able to step up and score inside for the team."
On any personal goals she has this season ... "This is going to be a big season for me. My personal goal is to do what the team needs me to do, score inside, rebound and be able to run up and down the floor."
U-M Freshman Guard Siera Thompson
On what this team is capable of ... "I think we're capable of doing big things; I think we dictate how far we can go, so as long as we play hard I think we can go far."
On any personal goals she has this season ... "Personally, I just want to lead the team and make everyone around me better, not just myself. I want to find open people, run the plays and do whatever my coach and my team need me to do."
On why she chose Michigan ... "The academics and the school is in the top five percent. It isn't a normal school, you have to be the best of the best, and I didn't want to go to an average school."
On what has been the toughest adjustment to the college game ... "Adjusting to the play. You have to think more in college. You can't just go out there and play; you have to know where people are going to be and think about the game more. That was tough, but I think I've gotten used to it."
U-M Junior Guard/Foward Nicole Elmblad
On what this team is capable of ... "I think that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, and as long as there's hard work and everyone is on the same page, there are no limits to what you can and cannot do. We're a new team, and we don't quite have as much experience as we did in the past, but I think our team can have an extremely successful season. Those are goals, and I think our team is capable of succeeding at this level this year."
On how and when she started playing basketball ... "I started playing basketball pretty much since I can remember. We had camps starting when we were in kindergarten, so I can remember going to some of those and always playing in my backyard with my dad. My first team was probably in fifth grade."
On the biggest thing she worked on this offseason ... "I worked on finishing a lot on the offensive end. As far as on the court, that was my main focus -- working on my offensive skills and having more of a role on the offensive end. I've also been working on my skills as a leader and developing into more of a leadership role this season. Trying to be somebody that people can lean on and ask questions and be there to encourage and help our younger players."
On what sport she would be playing if it wasn't basketball ... "I would absolutely be playing hockey. I actually played hockey for as long as I can remember, and I skated as soon as I could walk. My brothers were big hockey players, and they got me into it, so I was actually choosing between hockey and basketball in high school."
Contact: Sarah VanMetre (734) 763-4423