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November 09, 2018 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily

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This year shouldn’t be about replacing Flaherty

t definitely felt odd.
Last week, the Michigan
women’s basketball team
defeated Findlay in an exhibition.
And for the first game in a long
time, the name Katelynn Flaherty
wasn’t announced emphatically,
over and over again throughout
Crisler Center.
But as odd as
it was, it might
not be a bad
Entering this
season, there’s
been ample
talk about
how and if the
will be able
to replace
Flaherty, who
graduated last spring. Michigan
coach Kim Barnes Arico brought
this to light just a few minutes into
the team’s Oct. 10 media day.
“I’m sure the question of the day
will be, you know, where do we
go without Katelynn Flaherty?”
Barnes Arico said. “And how is
our team going to look without the
program’s all-time leading scorer?”
It’s an understandable question
to have. After all, Flaherty led the
Wolverines in scoring the last four
years. She was a true playmaker
and certainly wrote a chapter of
the school’s history.
Players like Flaherty rarely
come around, and to be frank,
the Wolverines don’t have what
it takes to replace her right now.
Yes, they have a talented point
guard in freshman Amy Dilk, who’s
ready to contribute right away.
And while she may develop into a
dominant, Flaherty-esque player
down the line, right now she’s
only a freshman. Thus, it’s naive to
expect her to be Michigan’s savior
this season.
But maybe the Wolverines don’t
need a savior; maybe they don’t
need to replace Flaherty. In fact,
I’d argue that they shouldn’t try to
replace her.
Even with Flaherty — and all
of her dominance — the program
only qualified for the NCAA
Tournament once in the last four
years, just to get trampled in the
second round by then-No. 2-seed
Now I’m not saying that the
team accomplished nothing with
its star player, because it certainly
found success. Two seasons ago,
Michigan won the Women’s

National Invitation Tournament
and hung its first banner. The team
frequently spends time in the top-
25 rankings. Last season, it even
notched signature wins against
then-No. 8 Ohio State and then-No.
13 Maryland.
However, let’s not forget about
the bludgeonings this team took
against top teams last season.
Against then-No. 5 Louisville,
Michigan went into halftime with
a five-point lead only to lose by 25.
The Wolverines had no answer
for then-No. 3 Notre Dame —
who went on to win the National
Championship — or Baylor either,
and suffered similar fates.
Let’s not forget Michigan
held a 16-point lead against an
average Purdue team, only to lose
in overtime, and how the loss
spurred a bad stretch in which the
Wolverines lost four out of five
games. Although they did end up
making the NCAA Tournament,
that slump significantly
jeopardized the team’s chances at
the time.
And let’s not forget the Big Ten
Tournament disappointment, when
the Wolverines got bounced in

their second contest by Nebraska.
Yes, the Cornhuskers were a better
seed, but it was a game Barnes
Arico’s squad could have and
should have won.
All this is to point out that
even in Flaherty’s senior year, the
program was far from perfect. That
shouldn’t be the standard. That
shouldn’t be Michigan’s ceiling.
This program still has far
more to accomplish. It has yet to
truly establish itself as a national
contender — as a force to reckon
But now, the Wolverines have
the tools to do so.
A quick glance at the roster
is all one needs to recognize
the potential of this program.
Michigan has seniors Hallie Thome
and Nicole Munger — a duo that
has already proved itself and will
be key this season.
Then there are players such as
junior Akienreh Johnson as well
as sophomores Hailey Brown and
Deja Church. They all flashed
glimpses of their talent at various
points last season and could make
big strides moving forward.
But to top it off, Michigan has

one heck of a freshmen class — on
paper at least. Composed of a five-
star recruit in Dilk — as well as
three four-stars and a three-star
— the group was ranked No. 12 by
ESPN. It’s the program’s all-time
best recruiting class.
Lack of depth has been an issue
in the past, because when a team
only has a small rotation, the
season becomes more physically
demanding and takes its toll. It’s
one reason the Wolverines often
face the end-of-season slump.
But depth shouldn’t be an issue
this year.
“I think the thing that we have,
that we haven’t had since I’ve
been here,” Barnes Arico said, “is a
tremendous amount of depth.”
Fans can’t blame Michigan’s
offense too much for revolving
around Flaherty the last four years.
When a team has top-caliber talent,
it has to use it to its advantage.
That said, an offense becomes
predictable when it uses only
one weapon. This season, while
many players have potential to
contribute, none are set to garner
all the attention like Flaherty did.
Thus the Wolverines can use a

more diverse attack, which may
fare better against opponents.
“Definitely missing Katelynn is
a huge — I don’t know what to call
it — but it creates a huge deficit for
the points. I mean, she averaged a
lot and she contributed a lot to our
scoring,” Brown said after practice
on Oct. 22. “But with our team, I
think now the floor will be open
more because we have more people
that are scorers.”
There’s a saying that if it ain’t
broke, don’t fix it. I’d like to create
my own saying: if it ain’t perfect,
don’t replace it.
The mindset for this team should
not be about replacing Flaherty;
that’s too tall of a task, and the
team wasn’t flawless with her.
Instead, the program’s focus
should be about taking the next
big step and competing with the
And with a roster filled with
potential, Barnes Arico has
the threads to strengthen the
underlying fabric of the program
and take it to the next level.

Kumar can be reached at



Friday, November 9, 2018 // TIP OFF 2018

Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico believes her team has “a tremendous amount of depth” — something the Wolverines have lacked in past seasons.

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