On February 18, 2012 St. John’s University traveled to Gampel Pavilion, and knocked off a UConn team that was going for its 100th consecutive home court victory, 57-56 on a Shenneika Smith three-pointer with time running down. This week the eyes of the women’s basketball world were again on Gampel and UConn’s quest for 100, although it was 100 consecutive regardless of location this time.
Meanwhile, in Ann Arbor, Kim Barnes-Arico, the coach of that St. John’s team that beat the Huskies, has the University of Michigan women’s basketball program on the rise. They sit with a 20-5 record, 12-0 at home, and only two wins from the Michigan season victory record. Currently they are ranked number 20 in both polls, third in the Big 10 behind Maryland and Ohio State.
That 2012 season was Barnes-Arico’s last at St. John’s, culminating in a Sweet Sixteen appearance, before moving to Ann Arbor. In her fifth season now, the Wolverines have won 20 games in each season, and, after three consecutive WNIT appearances, are projected as a six seed in ESPN’s current bracketology.
Her team’s improvement has been gradual; she has really been building this team over the last few years and she has been doing it by getting kids to believe that Michigan is a place that you can be successful. Barnes-Arico has them wanting to be the "first" to do something; first to hang a banner, first to win the conference, and do things that haven't been done before.
Balance is a key to their success, and it has come with pieces that were recruited and emerged one year at a time. Senior point guard Siera Thompson came first, followed by the junior; leading scorer Katelynn Flaherty and all-hustle, all-everything player Jillian Dunston. Sophomore Hallie Thome is a force in the paint. Freshman Kysre Gondrezick has joined the fray this year, and may be the biggest difference maker in the program’s history.
Gondrezick was highly recruited out of high school, with basketbal
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