Michigan women’s basketball guard Veronica Hicks should have been tired. The senior played all 40 minutes of a hard-fought game against a hard-nosed Wisconsin team that did not give up an inch defensively, scoring 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Instead, after the game, she bounded into the media room looking like she could play another 40 minutes. All five Michigan starters — who led an impressive 75-59 victory over the Badgers — showed a similar stamina.
“Some of us are teenagers, some of us are only 20 years old, so there is no way we should go out there and be tired,” Hicks said. “(Conditioning coach Joe Sanderson) tells us all the time even his mom can get up and down the court, so we just need to go out there and play basketball, because that is what we are here to do.”
Michigan (3-2 Big Ten, 10-7 overall) snapped a two-game losing streak thanks to its starters. The Wolverines had a total of just 15 minutes come off the bench, and 12 of those minutes came from sophomore forward Kate Thompson.
Wolverine starters played 93 percent of the game — a stat rarely seen at the collegiate level. Besides for Hicks playing the entire game, guards Courtney Boylan and Jenny Ryan played 38 and 33 minutes, respectively. Even the Michigan post players played the majority of the game. Junior forward Carmen Reynolds and sophomore center Rachel Sheffer each played 37 minutes.
“They have to learn to be able to play over, through, and around pain and tiredness, and really concentrate,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said. “If you do concentrate, you make a lot of good things happen”
But the Michigan starters looked full of energy the entire game. They forced nine turnovers in the second half, with many coming on hustle plays.
Tired teams often have low 3-point percentages, as shots will fall short because of a lack of energy from the shooter. But after shooting 44 percent from beyond the arc in the first half, the Wolverines put away the game by shooting 50 percent from 3-point range in the second half — a considerable achievement given the amount of time the starters played.
With sophomore guard Nya Jordan sidelined with a knee injury, the depth of the Wolverines was assumed to be tested. Without Jordan, who is a regular starter, Borseth has relied on his starters to play more, and so far they have responded positively. The starter minutes will likely decrease upon Jordan’s return, but it is a good sign for the team’s future that its best players have the ability to play all night.
But for now, not having to take players like Hicks out of a game because they’re tired is a boost for Michigan.
“I love playing basketball, and if I get to stay in there and stay out of foul trouble, then that’s good enough for me,” Hicks said.