Freshman Nya Jordan had spent most of her first season as Wolverine on the bench. But on Jan. 14, that all changed.
Michigan coach Kevin Borseth played the Detroit native 18 minutes in Bloomington against Indiana after playing her for just four in the previous game. She contributed six points, a career record, and notched a 3-pointer to put the Wolverines back into the game when they faced a nine-point deficit.
In the following game, at home against No. 5 Ohio State, Borseth again trusted Jordan’s playmaking ability. He played her for 20 minutes, another career record, in a game that went narrowly to the Buckeyes, 58-56.
And last weekend, she played for 14 minutes at home against Indiana.
“It’s a lot of inspiration for me in practice because I felt like coach finally trusts me,” Jordan said after playing the Buckeyes. “I am just happy to be playing. Even though it sucks to lose, it’s just a blessing to play.”
Before the loss to Indiana nearly two weeks ago, Jordan had played an average of seven minutes per game, on par with the rest of the freshman class, with the exception of Jenny Ryan and Dayeesha Hollins, the only two freshmen in the starting lineup.
Five minutes into the second half of last week’s 58-56 loss to Ohio State, Jordan was handed the ball and dribbled right through the Buckeyes defense for a layup. The shot sent the crowd into a frenzy, and it started the Wolverines on an 11-4 run.
Jordan became a go-to girl after offensive rebounds, and she never failed to take the ball down the court against the Buckeyes.
“Nya is getting more comfortable, we are getting more comfortable with Nya,” Borseth said. “She just makes a lot of things happen she had a very positive production tonight. She had a couple assists and a steal, scored four points, had four rebounds — that’s pretty positive.”
Borseth put Jordan up to the challenge again in last weekend’s victory over the Hoosiers when she was the first sub he called in off the bench just six minutes into the game.
And while her game hasn’t been flawless — in last Sunday’s game she allowed two turnovers and went up for a block that the Hoosiers easily got around — but for an athlete with only 70 minutes of total playing time, she has been a much-needed spark off of the bench.
“I just keep working hard because I know coach doesn’t want to see us quit,” Jordan said after the 58-56 loss to the Buckeyes at home. “As long as I keep working hard I think I am gaining his trust.”
Sophomore guard Courtney Boylan has been Borseth’s main go-to player off the bench all year and continues to provide energy the team needs, playing an average of 15 minutes per game. But the Wolverines (3-6 Big Ten, 11-8 overall) can benefit from another dependable bench player — especially in games like last weekend’s against Indiana, for which three starters were out for much of the first half with multiple personal fouls.
“She makes a lot of things happen, it’s just a matter of getting more time and maturing with age,” Borseth said. “I knew it when I recruited her that she would be that kind of player. She learns as she goes like the rest of the young kids. She shows a great effort. She’s my kind of player. She really sells the farm on every play.”