After finishing third on the team in scoring and second in rebounding as a freshman, LeeAnn Bies told Michigan women”s basketball coach Sue Guevara something she will never forget.

“She told me she had a really good freshman year because there weren”t any expectations,” Guevara said. “There weren”t any expectations, so she could just go out and play. Well, maybe now there are some expectations.”

The expectations started at Big Ten Media Day on Oct. 28, when Michigan was announced as a preseason favorite to win the conference and Bies was selected to the preseason All-Big Ten first team.

Bies quickly started to earn the accolades by carrying the team through its early10-game winning streak. She recorded double-doubles in Michigan”s victories over defending national champion Notre Dame, then-No. 21 Louisiana State and Washington. Against the Huskies, Bies also hit two free throws with 10 seconds remaining to give Michigan a 71-70 win in Seattle.

Even though she was playing as well as anyone in the Big Ten, Bies still didn”t believe in herself. This was evident by her mindset before hitting the game-winning free throws.

In an interview with BigTen.org., Bies was quoted as saying that she didn”t feel as much pressure shooting the free throws, knowing that there was still 10 seconds left on the clock in case she missed.

Bies made both free throws. But would she have hit them if there was just one second remaining?

Unfortunately, Bies has even less confidence in herself now than she did then. Bies hasn”t just doubted herself in the final 10 seconds of the game she has doubted herself for the entire 40 minutes. In Michigan”s last two games against Ohio State and Penn State, Bies has combined for just 12 points on as many shots from the field.

Coach Guevara has made it clear that she is not going to push Bies harder. Instead, her coach wants to take pressure away from Bies and give the star center time to regain her form. In fact, Guevara said that Bies would not be starting if Raina Goodlow was not out for the season with an infection. That way, Bies would have gotten a chance to watch the game and see what she could do differently. But without that option, Guevara has thrust fellow center Jennifer Smith into Bies” lead role on offense, because Smith has something Bies does not: Self-confidence.

“We are going to go to Jennifer Smith,” Guevara said. “I keep telling her (Smith), “You”re good. I have all the confidence in the world in you.” And she tells that to herself and she believes it. So let”s put the focus on (Smith), and then maybe Bies will come around.”

Bies admitted that she has always been a “garbage player” and never liked the starring role. But she is willing to do whatever is in the team”s best interest.

“Honestly, I”d love it if we had five people in double figures,” Bies said. “That would be the ideal situation for me, instead of a few of us in double figures, high double figures. So I want (the lead role), as far as if that is what the team needs, I want it.”

Bies may want the lead role now, but is it too late? How much confidence can her teammates have in a leader who doesn”t believe in herself, and one that admits she doesn”t like that role.

Furthermore, if Bies has never been a leader before, will she know how to play that role now?

At 1-5 in the Big Ten, Bies is in the same situation she faced at the free throw line against Washington everyone is counting on her to bring Michigan from behind. Except, now the entire season is on the line, and there is no time for someone else to help Bies if she misses.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.