Michigan coach Kevin Borseth compared senior guard Carmen Reynolds to Derek Jeter after Thursday night’s game against Northwestern.
How does the New York Yankees’ shortstop compare to a women’s college basketball player?
After failing to do so for several games, Reynolds finally hit her 183rd shot from behind the arc to set the program record for career 3-pointers.
Once she began to approach the record, Reynolds began to struggle offensively. Borseth recognized her slump and explained how the pressure surrounding that milestone affected her game.
“(She has) had that laying over her head the whole year,” Borseth said. “(It’s) nothing but records, records, records, and it’s in her head. And all of a sudden, it’s like Derek Jeter trying to get his 3,000th hit. You have a tough time getting it because you’re so anxious to do it, it almost works against you.
“Well, that’s over with. Hopefully tonight was a good sign that that was done, and it’s off her mind now.”
Reynolds seemed to have a clear mind in Thursday’s game, shooting 3-for-5 from behind the arc. She finished with 11 points, the first time she’s scored in double figures since Dec. 30 against Illinois in Michigan’s Big Ten opener.
FRESH FACES: Freshmen guards Brenae Harris and Nicole Elmblad have typically played second fiddle to their more experienced teammates and haven’t seen much action in Big Ten play. But Thursday’s game was different.
Harris entered the game at the 14:54 mark and played a considerable amount in the first half while senior guard Courtney Boylan rested on the bench. Harris, who has averaged just 6.4 minutes in conference games, played 14 minutes on Thursday. And Elmblad, who was a starter earlier in the season, saw significant action and put forth a solid defensive effort.
Reynolds believes it’s good to let the younger players gain more experience, especially since they might have a vital role down the stretch. Sheffer agreed, saying it gives the team a different look on offense.
“I think the second time around when you’re playing a team, it’s just nice to throw different things at them,” Sheffer said. “They haven’t seen (Harris and Elmblad) play as much, and they’re very strong players.
“It’s really nice having (Harris) there. She’s quick. She does different things (than) Courtney does and it’s nice to see different things from point guards.”
Though Harris took just three shots against Northwestern, Borseth said she’s a deadly shooter. Several times, Harris had wide open looks from behind the arc but dished the ball to a teammate for an easy jumper.
Borseth believes that as Harris gains more confidence, she can develop into a talented point guard and give the team a different pace.
“She’s really a good shooter,” Borseth said. “We sit and shoot in practice all day long and (she) just buries them one after another. But she’s a kid that’s a very good player, and they’re going to have to guard her because she can shoot it.
“Brenae plays at a faster pace. She jumps really well — she’s a kid that can touch the rim. … She can pressure the ball, she can get you moving in transition, but we haven’t really given that opportunity yet to do it.”
FOUL PLAY: Borseth always stresses the importance of free throws, and they were critical in the victory against Northwestern.
The Wolverines are the second-best free-throw shooting team in the conference, shooting 77 percent on the season. They made 70 percent of their shots from the charity stripe on Thursday, making 21-of-30, 10 more makes than their season average.
The significant increase in free throw attempts came from a battle in the paint between Sheffer and Northwestern’s 6-foot-5 junior Dannielle Diamant.
Sheffer and Diamant battled in the post all game long. Though Diamant recorded 20 points, she committed four fouls and was forced to sit out for much of the second half. Sheffer was able to capitalize, going 5-for-6 from the line, in addition to an impressive 6-for-7 in the paint.
“When (Diamant) was out, (the guards) really could start throwing me the ball down low and just go at them,” Sheffer said.
Junior guard Jenny Ryan was also able to capitalize on the Wildcats’ foul trouble. She went 7-for-10 from the charity stripe down the stretch, eventually icing the game for the Wolverines.