It could be intimidating for freshman forward Nya Jordan. The former high school star will be thrust onto the Crisler Arena stage as one of six freshmen on the Michigan women’s basketball team.
With a strong presence on the floor, the six-foot-tall Jordan may not be able to have much of an adjustment period, since she will likely play a prominent role in the Wolverines’ season opener against Ball State next Friday.
“There is going to be a big difference between college and high school,” Jordan said. “Once I start the game, I gain confidence and that makes me play better.”
Jordan attended Detroit Community High School and averaged more than 15 points per game. For her dominant high school performance, she was selected for the Detroit Free Press All-Detroit team. Michigan lost two senior forwards in Carly Benson and Stephany Skrba, and it needs someone to step up. Like in high school, Jordan is expected to heavily contribute to the Wolverine offense as a leader of this year’s newest class.
“The coaches did a good job at bringing (the freshmen) in and making them feel welcome,” senior center Krista Phillips said. “They all want to play well. They all want to win.”
And Michigan has struggled to do just that in recent years, so one of Jordan’s biggest immediate contributions will be her desire to succeed.
“I think they want to win,” Jordan said. “I just want to do good for my team. Freshmen will play a big part this year, being that it’s half of the team.”
One worry is that Jordan and the other five freshmen will struggle to adapt. Being back at the bottom is typically a difficult thing for recruits to adjust to, but Jordan disagrees.
“I play better at the bottom,” Jordan said. “I don’t like being on top, because I feel like there is nobody to go against.”
This year, the team hopes to restructure its offense with the help of Jordan and the other freshmen.
Michigan was ranked dead last in the preseason Big Ten media and coaches’ polls. The freshmen-filled roster’s chance for success has been considered doubtful by many outlets, except for one — its coach.
“Those kids have to be ready to be a presence,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said. “I think the freshmen are ready to play. But I don’t think it’s fair to put the weight of the world on their shoulders.”
In the Wolverines’ first game next week, the Cardinals also hope to capitalize on Michigan’s expected last-place conference finish.
“They are going to compete,” junior guard Veronica Hicks said. “This year, we are just going to go out. We’re not gonna do too much talking — we’re just going to act on it.”