Oct. 25, 2012
ROSEMONT, Ill. -- University of Michigan women's basketball head coach Kim Barnes Arico and seniors Rachel Sheffer (Watervliet, Mich./Watervliet) and Jenny Ryan (Saginaw, Mich./Saginaw Nouvel Catholic Central) took part in Big Ten Media Day on Thursday (Oct. 25) at the Hyatt Regency.
Barnes Arico, who is in her first season at Michigan, started the day with a press conference. All three then participated in roundtable interviews for two hours.
Michigan Head Coach Kim Barnes Arico
Opening remarks ... "I am truly excited to be here and represent the Big Ten as well as the University of Michigan. I was at St. John's for the past 10 years, and I didn't have to leave, and I would have only left for something incredibly special, and that something is the University of Michigan. Michigan is a wonderful place. I'm truly excited to be there. I'm truly excited to have the opportunity to coach the student-athletes in our program as well as an opportunity to coach against some of the best coaches in the country in the Big Ten, as well as some of the best players in the country. Our league is getting stronger and stronger. Last year, we sent seven teams to the NCAA Tournament, and we returned a lot of great players and a lot of great teams, so it's just getting tougher and tougher each and every year. I'm excited to be a part of it.
"Our program, we graduated two special players last year, but we have a core group of five seniors returning, led by Jenny Ryan and Rachel Sheffer. Jenny Ryan is really a special young lady. I don't know if you guys will have the opportunity to meet with her today, but she is truly the heart and soul of our team. I've been doing this for a long time, and I've really never found a leader as strong as her for her age. She's a special young lady. And Rachel Sheffer is probably our most talented kid. She works extremely hard every day. Our team is led by that core group of seniors, and they have done some pretty terrific things since the day they stepped on campus. I am excited to be their coach and to be at the University of Michigan and to be here today."
On Jenny Ryan's leadership ... "A lot of times kids are afraid to say things or to act a certain way because they don't know how their peers are going to respond, so a lot of times for players that age, it's more about making friends or keeping friends than saying the right thing and doing the right thing. And Jenny never has a fear for that. She's our most energetic player. She comes to practice every day with a certain passion for the game of basketball. She wants to win and be the best at every single thing that she does every second. And you know, you have kids, and I'm sure you guys see this, where one minute they look great and the next minute they're not so great and they have bumps in the road and they're up and down, and that's a typical kid. But Jenny is never like that. She never has a bad day. She never takes a possession off. She just is an incredible worker, does everything she does 100 percent all the time. And that's kind of the consistency with which she's performs. It's a whole other level."
On her playing style ... "My first couple years, it's probably going to be a combination of the style that I played for the last few years at St. John's, but also a style that fits our program. I have to play to the strength of the players in the program. I can't come in and try to revamp everything if I don't have the players to play the kind of style that I want to play. I'm in the process of figuring out the strengths and weaknesses of our team and playing to our team's strength. It's going to be a combination of things. I'd like to pick up pressure defense and play full-court type of style. Our team really shoots the three really well. We move the ball well. We share the basketball extremely well. It's going to be a combination of the old style and a little bit of mix of my style."
On not being the only new head coach in the conference this season ... "Well, it's always nice to know that you're not the lone ranger, so it's nice to know that people are going through the same struggles as you are. But also we just have to worry about our program and trying to get better each and every day. I'm sure they feel the same way, but they are tremendous coaches, the new coaches coming in the league as well as the coaches that are already here. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to coach against some of the best coaches in the country."
On going from the Big East to the Big Ten ... "Last year was really a big step for the Big Ten. Being in the Big East for the last 10 years, I've kind of watched it go from a league that had five (in the NCAA Tournament) to a league that had record-breaking teams go, and it was really kind of neat to be a part of that because you knew that you didn't have to win the league to go to the tournament. It was always pretty tough to win the league with Connecticut and Notre Dame. But you knew if you were in the top of the league, you were probably a top-20 team in the country, and that's kind of special. You knew you were going to get a berth every year being in the top half of our league. The Big Ten is on its way there. Last year was really a step in the right direction. Getting seven teams is incredible. Our league is growing each and every day. Just being at Michigan for a short period of time, players around the country want to play in the Big Ten. The schools in the Big Ten are so rich in tradition and pride and their campuses are unbelievable atmospheres, so to be at Michigan and just to be surrounded by the teams in our league is really great, and our league is going to get better each and every year."
U-M Senior Guard Jenny Ryan
On getting closer to games starting ... "We are excited for our last go-round. But is also sad at the same time because everything we do will be the 'last.' We have a great group this year and have a great coaching staff that will help make this year our best one yet."
On being a senior leader ... "I have really tried to be more vocal, but not just on the basketball court. It goes beyond that, to academics and your life outside of basketball. You just basically want to take care of everybody and act like an extension of the coaching staff while still relating as a player to your teammates. I think it is about being that bridge between the two."
On what she wants to bring to the team ... "I think I want to bring confidence and experience. I want to be able to guide people since I have been through this before. As seniors, we can help everyone else through the rough patches or the bumps in the road because we had those same problems before. We can bring that experience in a vocal way."
U-M Senior Forward Rachel Sheffer
On being a senior leader ... "I think with the new coaching staff, our big thing is getting the underclassmen ready, preparing them for a lot of change. They were nervous coming in here with school and everything that goes along with being a student-athlete at Michigan. We really focused on taking the younger players under our wing this past summer."
On what she wants to bring the team ... "I want to not only be a vocal leader, but a leader in all areas. I want people to look to me because I am doing things the way they are supposed to be done. I think, as a senior, I have that experience and hope that everyone on the team feels that they can look to me."
Contact: Sarah VanMetre (734) 763-4423