Oct. 31, 2013
ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Head coach Kim Barnes Arico and juniors Nicole Elmblad (St. Ignace, Mich./LaSalle) and Shannon Smith (Gastonia, N.C./Forestview [Trinity Valley]) represented the University of Michigan women's basketball team at the Big Ten Media Day on Thursday (Oct. 31) at the Hyatt Hotel.
Barnes Arico began the day with a 10-minute press conference before sitting down with Stephanie White from the Big Ten Network. A photo shoot followed for the second-year head coach, who then had one-on-one interviews.
Smith and Elmblad opened their day with roundtable interviews and then hit the Big Ten Network and photo shoot. During the photo shoot, the players posed together before taking individual shots.
Michigan plays its lone exhibition contest tomorrow (Friday, Nov. 1) against Wayne State at Crisler Center. Tip is slated for 7 p.m., and admission is free.
Following is a transcript of head coach Kim Barnes Arico's press conference:
Opening statement ... "Well, I'm excited to be here as usual. This is year two so a little less stress, but a little more stress as well. Our team is coming off of the best season in program history, and our senior class was the winningest class in program history. We have graduated five of those seniors who really made an impact on our program, and I think it's 96 percent of our scoring as well.
So that being said, it's going to be a bit of a transition year for us. We have a lot of inexperience, we have a lot of youth, but we're really excited about the opportunity to get on the court. We have our exhibition game tomorrow night.
"I think another thing that I really just wanted to touch base on, we're excited about the opportunity to play in our league. I think our league has some of the best teams in the country, and it's getting better and better each and every single year with some of the best coaches in the country as well.
"We know we are going to have our hands full this year. We definitely know it's going to be a lot of bumps in the road, a lot of youth, inexperience; we have had some injuries as well. It's going to be a challenging year for us, but we're excited about it and we are excited to be playing against the best competition night in and night out in the country."
On who will be taking place of last year's seniors ... "I wish they could be there, to help our kids get their feet wet. We have one player on our team that's returning that actually played more than 10 minutes a game and that's Nicole Elmblad and she is with us today. She averaged four points a game but worked hard in the off season and she'll be the leader of our team. Some of the kids that are returning and coming off injury and battling back and playing well and are exported to contribute are Cyesha Goree a 6-3 post kid for us who has worked hard on her game and expected to contribute inside.
"Then we have three freshmen and a transfer, Shannon Smith, whose dad happened to play at Michigan State but now wears the Maize and Blue quite often. She transferred from North Carolina, via Trinity Valley and we are expecting her to step in and score some points. She can play the 1, 2 and the 3. And then we have three freshmen, and one is probably going to start at the point for us, and that's Siera Thompson from California. She is a tough, hard-nosed kid, plays both ends, will defend well, can handle pressure and has the ability to knock down the three.
"Danielle Williams is another freshman that we thought would be able to contribute and she went down last week with a broken finger that required a couple of pins, so she'll be out for at least a month, but hopefully when she gets back.She played on a great high school team and they won the national championship and her sister -- she is a twin -- is a freshman playing at UCLA.
"Our other freshman is Paige Rakers, maybe in a couple of years she would have the capabilities of someone like Kate Thompson but just isn't there right now. Your freshmen some days look really good and other days look inexperience and had young. Those are some of our new kids, Madison Ristovski is returning inside, Kendra Seto and Val Driscoll are both coming off ACL surgeries that will hopefully help us inside. Most of our returning team is either coming off ACL surgery or a new player to our program."
On who her starting lineup would be at this moment and if that is an indicator of the lineup for the whole season ... "That's a great question. I'm sure coaches don't give you the complete answer when they're up here because it's difficult to tell. With our rule changes, I'm concerned about fouling and making sure people don't get in early foul trouble as well. I think we have to be sensitive to who we are going to be playing out there and making sure that they're giving us great minutes. Right now if we started this minute, I know Siera Thompson would be in there, Nicole Elmblad and Cyesha Goree would be in there, probably Shannon Smith as well, but those last couple of spots are a toss-up. From a coaching perspective, it's good to have the kids unsure of who has the starting role because then practices become a little more competitive, and everybody is fighting for an opportunity to get on the court.
"I didn't mention two seniors that I know are really anxious to get out there and excited for the opportunity and chomping at the bit a little bit so I know they're going to be pushing some of those other kids. I think we will go in with three solid starters and then probably mix it up throughout the year as well."
On what her vision of her style of play is and how she wants to transform that through recruiting ... "I think we're headed in the right direction. Like you said, when I first got to Michigan I did have this vision and I think what was important for me last year is that I inherited a team with five seniors that I was not going to come in and change everything that had happened the last four years. As much as it was a transition for them, it was a transition for me, and I kind of went with their strengths and what they did best and they were phenomenal and embraced me and made the transition so smooth for me and I'm thankful for that class.
"Moving forward now, we have a bunch of young, inexperienced kids, so it's an exciting time for me to really say, hey, this is how we want to play and this is what we want to do. I think our transfer and our freshmen are really the style of play that we want to play. They can get up and defend. They want to push the ball, get up-tempo, knock down shots. I know we can't comment too much about the kids that haven't signed yet, but we are -- it's incredible where we are in terms of 14, 15, 16s and 17s, and I think that's truly because of the University of Michigan. When I arrived, I knew it was a special place, but now being there for a year, I truly feel blessed every day to come to work at such a prestigious university that prides itself on academics and being excellent in everything it does.
"When I go out on the recruiting trail it's exciting for me to talk about Michigan and get players to come and visit. Once they do they fall in love and see the vision and see what Michigan stands for. I'm excited about our future and I know this year might be tough at times and transition at times, but I've also felt that we have been there before, and we have young kids and they understand it's a process.
"I think from a coaching standpoint it's important for me to keep them positive and stress that it's a process and people are coming in, people are coming in behind you and I watched it happen with Coach Beilein and our men and that was exciting for me to watch last year with young kids, with freshmen and sophomores and to have the opportunity to be a part of that and go along for the ride and go to the Final Four and see how they did it. That's what we sell every day and it's been done at Michigan. We just want it to happen on the women's side."
Contact: Sarah VanMetre (734) 763-4423