Kim Barnes Arico on the freshmen ... "The freshman class is super exciting. They come in as a top-25 class, so that was pretty exciting for us as a staff. But anytime with freshmen, it is an unknown. Playing in high school is extremely different than playing college basketball so there is an adjustment period. We are still though so excited about them as coaches. Every day at practice, they will do something and we will be like 'oh my goodness, did you just see Maria make that move?' Or 'did you see Terra catch that ball?' They are really stepping up and doing a great job.
"Two freshmen have kind of stood out since the first day of practice. One we kind of expected to and one has really stepped up and transitioned quite smoothly. The first is Katelynn Flaherty. She was a top 25 kid coming out of high school, but she is a little thing and makes me look tall. She is maybe 5-7 but she is a scorer. She reminds me of the freshman at Michigan State last year (Tori Jankoska) and hopefully she can have the type of impact that she did. She is a flat-out scorer. She shoots the ball really well. Her mom told me over the summer that she was rebounding 1,000 shots for her and she mad 975. Now you know mothers, I am a mom, tend to exaggerate a little bit. But since she has been on campus, she has been close to that percentage. That is without defense of course. She does a great job of going off the bounce too. She has been trained her whole life, her dad was a college basketball player, her mom was a college basketball player, to play at the highest level.
"The other freshman who will have a chance to make an immediate impact and contribute right away is Jillian Dunston. I think coming into college, everyone was unsure because in high school she was a little inconsistent. We are 16 practices in and I can tell you that she is one of our hardest working and toughest players in practice. She is a big, strong, physical kid who can play the 3/4 spot, kind of similar to Nicole but even stronger. She is explosive; she has a great first step. Her shot is a little inconsistent and we are working on that. She has a motor, she is athletic. She will definitely be able to compete at a high level in our league. We are super excited about her as well. She is a gym rat, who is in there every day. I just walked by her on my way over here and she was in there. That is something that coaches get super excited about. I think those are the two who will either fight for a start or contribute in the rotation.
"The other three have potential to be great talents as well. We have a 6-4 freshman, Terra Stapleton, from Ohio who has lost at least 25 pounds since she got on campus. She has really bought into what we are trying to do. She is working out really hard. She has great hands and a great touch, similar to Val Driscoll. She is a work in progress.
"Maria Backman is a 6-1 wing who can really score and has a great shot. She can get to the rim. She just has to adjust to the toughness of the college level and what is expected of our program on a day in and day out basis. The same for Emoni Jackson, but they are getting there. They are an exciting class and says a lot about the future of our program. The biggest thing for them is that they will learn from a tremendous group of seniors."
To hear the Michigan assistant coaches share their takes on the expected freshman impact, press play below.