Michigan and Villanova have never met before, but the respective
head coaches have plenty of experience against each other.
The No. 8 seed Wolverines’ Kim Barnes Arico and the ninth-seeded
Wildcats’ Harry Perretta will renew acquaintances in a first-round
game Sunday night in Stanford, Calif.
Barnes Arico is in her first season with the Wolverines (21-10)
but is fresh off a 10-year run with St. John’s, where she guided
the Red Storm to a regional semifinal appearance last year. Her
tenure also included regular matchups with Perretta in the Big
East, where Perretta’s clubs held a 6-5 edge, though Barnes Arico
won five of the last seven meetings.
That doesn’t necessarily mean she’s thrilled to match up against
Perretta’s unique, five-out attack that features a barrage of
3-pointers. Villanova makes an average of 8.3 shots from long
distance per game, ranking seventh in the country. Seven players
have made at least 20.
“It’s kind of a bummer it’s Harry and he runs that system,”
Barnes Arico said. “It took me a long time at St. John’s to be able
to beat them and be able to stop them.”
But Barnes Arico does have the benefit of five seniors who also
played in the tournament last year, marking the first time Michigan
has made back-to-back appearances since 2000-01. The senior class
is the school’s first to record three 20-win seasons and includes
three double-digit scorers – guards Kate Thompson (14.5 ppg) and
Jenny Ryan (10.1) as well as forward Rachel Sheffer (12.7). Two
other seniors – Sam Arnold and Nya Jordan – join that trio to
account for 84 percent of Michigan’s scoring this season.
“I think any time you can have experience it’s just another
benefit,” Ryan said. “We have been there before. I think our senior
class knows what it’s like and hopefully having that game under our
belts in the tournament atmosphere will help us out a little bit in
But the team will need to snap the offensive slump it ended the
season with. The Wolverines finished 2-4, averaging 53.2 points on
37.9 percent shooting in those games.
That could prove difficult against Villanova (21-10), which
ranks among the nation’s best in scoring defense allowing 52.3
points per game.
The Wildcats are making their first tournament trip since 2009
and hope to get leading scorer Laura Sweeney back on track after a
concussion kept her out of the team’s 61-56 Big East tournament
quarterfinal loss to Syracuse.
The senior forward averages 13.9 points and is also the team’s
leading rebounder with 6.9 per game.
Villanova’s best finish was a trip to the regional finals in
2003, while Michigan has never advanced beyond the second
Sunday’s winner will meet top-seeded Stanford or No. 16 seed
Tulsa on Tuesday.