Michigan women’s basketball team entered Sunday’s game against Indiana winless in Big Ten play. Losing its first three games to Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue by an average of 25.7 points per game, the Wolverines were off to their worst conference start since the 1995-96 campaign. Although Michigan coach Sue Guevara consistently attempted keep a positive mindset, she obviously was eager to harness the team’s first Big Ten win of the season.
“When you go 0-3, sometimes you wonder, ‘is it ever going to come?’ ” Guevara said.
In Guevara’s 100th Big Ten game, Michigan (1-3 Big Ten, 10-5 overall) held off a late surge by Indiana (2-3, 9-6), and defeated the Hoosiers 71-68. With the victory, Guevara evened her personal mark against Indiana to 6-6, and the Wolverines finally rid themselves of a notorious primate.
“It’s good to get that monkey off our back,” senior captain LeeAnne Bies said.
The anti-“rally monkey” is gone, and the Wolverines look to continue improving and gaining Big Ten wins.
“I think now that we have our momentum going, then we can hopefully continue to play as well as we did tonight,” junior Jennifer Smith said.
But, in the Big Ten, victories are hard to come by. Possibly the most talented conference in the country, the Big Ten currently boasts three teams ranked in the top 15 nationally, as well as 10 teams with nine or more wins (an impressive stat considering all teams have played just 14-17 games).
“On any given day in the Big Ten, you’re in for a battle,” Guevara said. “It doesn’t matter who it is or where you are playing, you’ve got to come ready to play.”
Guevara credits the Wolverines’ recent Big Ten turnaround to being mentally prepared for the competitive conference.
“This job has a lot more to do with psychology than with X’s and O’s,” Guevara said. “It’s a fresh start for us because there is still a lot of season to go. You have to go in (to the Indiana game) 0-0 and forget you’re 0-3. It’s not about that right now. We’re a different basketball team than we were two weeks ago, and we still have an opportunity to accomplish our goals.”
Not only were the Wolverines mentally prepared for the Hoosiers, but with all scholarship players in uniform for the first time this season, they were physically ready as well.
“I’m glad to have Niki Reams back, and I’m really glad to have 12 healthy people,” Guevara said.