In May, Michigan’s women’s basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico flew to a Big Ten coaches’ meeting in Chicago at the last minute. Afterward, the second-year Wolverine coach showed her practicality by asking MSU coach Suzy Merchant for a lift back. Merchant said, “Sure.”

It was a smooth, uneventful trip, Barnes Arico told the Downtown Kiwanis Club in July. But, she recalled, “I telephoned my assistant coaches from Suzy’s car, and they all questioned my sanity. ‘Don’t tell her anything about the team,’ they cautioned.” Smiling, she concluded, “I’m not sure the word ‘basketball’ was mentioned.”

The Michigan women compiled a 22-11 record last season and qualified for the NCAA tournament, but, after losing five veteran players to graduation, didn’t make ESPN’s preseason Top 25 (MSU was seventeenth). They start their regular season against Bowling Green on November 8.