Just a few months ago, it seemed as if Tabitha Pool was going to be the player that would put Michigan into the college basketball elite.
Pool came to the program this year as perhaps Michigan”s greatest recruit ever. Ranked as the top player in the state and one the top players in the nation by many publications, Pool was sought after by almost every major program. But after considering traditional powerhouses like Tennessee and Georgia, Pool decided to stay in her hometown of Ann Arbor and play for the Wolverines.
At Ann Arbor Huron High she averaged 21.6 points, 17.1 rebounds, three assists and six steals a contest. Pool was so good that she was named Michigan”s Miss Basketball even after she tore her ACL halfway through her senior season. In fact, when the Detroit Free Press profiled the award”s 11 finalists, five named Pool as the best player they had ever played against.
Because of this hype Michigan fans thought Pool would come in and make an immediate impact, even coming off the serious injury.
But things have not, as of yet, come to fruition.
“Offensively she”s just making a lot of mistakes. It”s almost to the point where “you know what Tab, you have to stop playing afraid to make mistakes,”” Michigan coach Sue Guevara said.
Pool started off the season dominating opponents with her athleticism, the same way she did back in high school. In the third game against New Hampshire, Pool debuted in the starting lineup and shined, pouring in 21 points. A couple of weeks later at the Big 10/Pac 10 Challenge against Washington in Seattle, she pulled in her first double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
But in Big Ten play, Pool”s offensive production came to a halt. Since scoring 14 against Wisconsin on Jan. 6, Pool”s field goals have been few and far between, resulting in her removal from the starting lineup after playing Penn State on Jan. 13. She hasn”t hit more than two shots from the field in a game since she hit three at Penn State her shots have gone all over the place. On Feb. 3 against Northwestern, Pool”s first two shots were airballs and her third hit the bottom of the backboard.
“I think I just have to work a little harder,” Pool said. “Because my shot”s not falling.”
Although Pool has played well on defense, she has had trouble adjusting to the pressure applied by the defenses of the Big Ten.
“The quickness she saw against Ohio State, she”s just as quick as them,” Guevara said. “But she”s never seen that at Huron High School.”
While it may be too late to make a real impact on this year”s team, Pool”s best days are ahead of her. Her athleticism still stands out on the court, and the traces of her injury are all but forgotten.
“I almost want her to play like she”s on the playground when she”s on offense,” Guevara said. “Because she can get to the basket, and she”s got a sweet shot.”
It”s just going to take time.