Much of the concern surrounding the Michigan women’s basketball team is not its actual Big Ten record of 2-8. The most distressing fact is that a good team is sitting near the bottom of the Big Ten at 2-8. The Wolverines certainly weren’t expected to walk away with a Big Ten title this year, but this wasn’t supposed to happen either.
“That game was our awakening,” sophomore Tabitha Pool said of Sunday’s loss in Evanston. “We lost to Northwestern by a lot. It was just embarrassing.”
The flashes of inconsistency up and down the Michigan roster are a telling sign of what could have been this season. A handful of players have been contributing each game during the current five-game losing streak, but any type of production came to an abrupt halt in the 29-point loss to the Wildcats on Sunday.
There had been signs of life in the games prior to that game. Last Thursday’s game against Iowa marked the return of senior LeeAnn Bies to the starting lineup. She responded with 15 points and eight rebounds. Bies was non-existent, though, for the Feb. 2 game in Wisconsin. Freshman Niki Reams was more than ready to shoulder the load that game, notching 15 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Senior Raina Goodlow had a breakthrough game in East Lansing against Michigan State. When the rest of the team couldn’t buy a shot, the forward was draining every jump shot she took, going 7-of-9 from the field for 15 points.
“We all know we can do it,” Reams said. “We have the talent. We all need to get clicking, and things will turn around.”
The best example of what this team is capable of came against Big Ten leader Penn State, when six Wolverines scored in double figures. Michigan lost 72-70, its smallest margin of defeat during the streak.
The consistency level has been falling ever since, though. Not knowing which player will show up any given day has forced coach Sue Guevara to start playing musical chairs with her lineups. She’s used three starting lineups in the last five games, as well as countless rotations on the floor during the game.
Whether the constant changes have shaken the confidence of her players is unknown, but any change may be viewed as positive in the middle of all this losing.
“When you walk into a gym afraid you’re not going to win, that’s tough,” Guevara said. “We have to talk about the disappointment, which we have, but we have to stay as positive as we can.”