Oct. 25, 2012
KIM BARNES ARICO: Well, thanks, everybody, for being here this morning. 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. But 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.
Q. When you meet the kids for the first time, how well did you know these kids, but what's the toughest thing about coming into a new program and meeting kids for the first time and saying, hi, I'm your boss now.
KIM BARNES ARICO: First, I had the opportunity to watch them play in the NCAA Tournament live because they were at the same site as we were, so that was really nice, so I kind of got to see them a little bit and see how hard they worked and got a little bit of a feel for them. They were coming off one of their most successful years in program history, so I didn't know how they would receive me.
Their coach wasn't let go; they really loved their coach, so I wasn't sure what things were going to be like. But I can tell you this: From the first minute I was hired I reached out to them, and that was the first thing I did was to give them all a call, and then the next day I had an opportunity to meet with them, and they are just such wonderful kids that they opened their arms to me. They embraced me, they embraced my family, and they welcomed having a new coach in their program.
That has made my transition a lot easier than it could have been, because you never know. Like you said, when you take over a team, you never know how the players and the program are going to respond. But these kids are just really incredible kids. They're Michigan kids, and they're great character kids. They've welcomed me and my family with open arms, and that has really helped make the transition smooth.
Q. Your words on Jenny Ryan are pretty strong, saying she's the strongest leader for her age. Can you give a specific example of what she has done that maybe took you aback?
KIM BARNES ARICO: 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 'nother level.
Q. What have the first couple of weeks of practice been like, the adjustment to you and the adjustment of the freshmen to the upperclassmen?
KIM BARNES ARICO: Every coach up here is kind of going through the first couple weeks of practice, but when you take over a new program, and I always have to remind myself at the end of the day, golly, these kids have never done these drills or it's their first time with me, so it's a learning curve. It's a learning experience. So it's taken a little bit of time, but the culture that's already established, the culture that's already been developed is one they're going to work extremely hard at anything they do. I never have to question their commitment, their work ethic and whether or not they're buying into what we're trying to do.
For every freshman it's a big, big adjustment. We have four freshmen, three of which are coming off of ACL injuries, so that's pretty tough.
The other freshman is Madison Ristovski, who was Miss Michigan last year, so there are a lot of high expectations for her. But she's really come in and adjusted to college basketball pretty smoothly. She's getting adjusted to the schedule because when you're a college basketball player, there's never really a second off. She's kind of adjusting to that. But her play on the court has been really good, really solid, and she's going to contribute for us this season.
Q. Since you're new in the league, what will be your style? What will be your stamp on this program? What should people look for when watching your team?
KIM BARNES ARICO: 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.
Q. You're not the only new coach in the conference right now. Do you take any comfort in knowing you've got some other newcomers in the conference and the type of struggles you might go through or the ups and downs?
KIM BARNES ARICO: 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.
Q. You come from a league that gets 9, 10 teams in the NCAA and they get in the Final Four. Kind of a two parter, but what was your view of the Big Ten before you got here and how does the Big Ten take that next step?
KIM BARNES ARICO: Last year was really a big step for the Big Ten, and they kind of took that first step. Being in the BIG EAST for the last 10 years, I've kind of watched it go from a league that had five 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 and 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.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports.