Women's Basketball

The Michigan women's basketball team answered a series of unnecessary questions throughout the season.

After 32 games and five months on a beat, you learn a lot about a team. What plays they run, what the rotation is, what their strengths and weaknesses are and even who the mom of the team is — senior guard Akienreh Johnson.

Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico thought her team would get an NCAA Tournament bid this year.

This week in Michigan basketball is depressing. COVID-19 has forced the NCAA and Michigan to stop all athletic events for the rest of the year. There’s not much else to it, other than depressing. Seniors won’t see their season off the way they want to. Neither will coaches or fans or other players.

It brings a finality to the season that no one wanted, forcing us to reflect on an almost-done women’s basketball team far before anyone ever wanted.

Maddie Nolan recovered from injury to play her freshman year.

Maddie may never regain the same speed or explosiveness that she had before. She still has to wear the bulky brace. She has to go through intensive preparation before each game just to be able to play, including cutting off 80 percent of the blood flow to her leg and doing leg presses to strengthen it.

But to Maddie, it’s all worth it.

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And when the Wolverines scored the game’s first eight points in under three minutes, they were clearly up for the challenge. After a 67-59 win, they were set to face a more manageable opponent — sixth-seeded Ohio State. Another start like that, and Michigan would be in good position to advance to the tournament championship game.
But against the Buckeyes, the opposite happened. The Wolverines missed their first seven attempts and made just two shots in the first five minutes. Without the same offensive intensity that it opened with against the Wildcats, Michigan ultimately fell short.

Sophomore guard Amy Dilk has been instrumental to Michigan's success this season.

Kim Barnes Arico stood in the corner of the locker room, a smile on her face. 

Sophomore guard Danielle Rauch came back from breaking her hand in just four weeks.

Two-and-a-half weeks ago, Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico laughed as she held out her hand, pretending it was in an icebox. She was acting out sophomore guard Danielle Rauch’s squats as she tried to prevent her left hand from sweating while staying in shape.

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INDIANAPOLIS — Midway through the fourth quarter Saturday, as Ohio State nursed a three-point lead, junior forward Hailey Brown found herself open with an opportunity to tie the game. 

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INDIANAPOLIS — Hailey Brown walked off the court three minutes into the second quarter, her head hung low, and slammed a towel down on the scorer’s table. The junior forward turned the ball over twice in the last minute and missed her first four shots of the game.

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INDIANAPOLIS — Michigan, for the second year in a row, stared down a chance to do something it had never done. No team, in the history of the program, has played in a Big Ten Tournament title game.

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INDIANAPOLIS — Danielle Rauch couldn’t keep the smile off her face. She stood, in the midst of a timeout huddle, one ear perched to listen to what Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. Other players hid their excitement behind stone faces, only occasionally letting a grin out.