TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Veronica Hicks has often been referred to as the rock of the Michigan women’s basketball team. And in the preseason, analysts said the Wolverines would go only as far as the senior guard could take them.

In Michigan’s 63-58 victory over Indiana State on Monday night, though, Hicks did not play like the team’s most valuable player, a distinction she earned last season. She shot 3-for-14 from the floor, including 0-for-6 from beyond the arc, to finish with just eight points.

But it wasn’t the end of the world for the Wolverines against the Sycamores. In fact, it could be a blessing in disguise for the rest of the season.

It is unrealistic to expect a player to be perfect every time out. Players have off-nights — it’s just part of the game, regardless of the sport. And when Hicks doesn’t play well offensively, it forces other Wolverines to step up. Players like Nya Jordan and Jenny Ryan, who finished with 17 and 16 points, respectively, are forced to create on offense.

Nobody expects Hicks to make every game a spotless one, no matter how good a player she is.

“She’s just pressed,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said after the win. “She has the weight of the world on her shoulders, thinking she has to do it all because she is the only senior. I think she feels that.”

Don’t get me wrong: Michigan needs Hicks to shoot better. Still, it is encouraging to see other Wolverines respond when she doesn’t. Jordan scored 10 points within the first nine minutes of play, while Ryan consistently knocked down shots in her 39 minutes on the floor.

Jordan entered the game averaging only 1.3 points per game, but she was given the start and did not disappoint early on. She set the tone for the Wolverine offense by knocking down open shots and forcing Sycamore to play tight defense for the rest of the game.

“They were laying off defensively and not covering a lot of our screens,” Jordan said. “That opened up a lot of shots for us.”

And Ryan’s offensive ascension continued, as the player who averaged just over five points a game last year kept hitting shots. She was all over the court, hustling not only on offense, but also on the boards and on defense. Ryan played a huge role in Michigan’s victory, and her rapid improvements are really going to help the Wolverines down the road.

The other encouraging sign from Hicks’s offensive off-night was her defense. She did not give up defensively, no matter how frustrated she was on the other end. Borseth could continue to rely on Hicks late in the game because of her outstanding defense, an aspect of her game that often goes unnoticed.

“She took the first option away defensively,” Borseth said. “They have three or four different things they can do, so we took away the first option to try and make it difficult. They made some second and third options, but Ronnie is really good at taking the first one away.”

The fact that Hicks played poorly on the offensive end in what still amounted to a Michigan road victory is a good sign for this team. She should not have to be the offensive centerpiece in every game.

Hicks will eventually bounce back and play the way she usually does. And when that happens, the Wolverines will be much better for it with added threats on the offensive end.

Good teams have more than one legitimate option. And it looks like Michigan is developing just that, an encouraging sign for a team with such a brutal Big Ten schedule looming in January.

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