To most people, junior guard Jenny Ryan is just one of five starters for the Michigan women’s basketball team. But if you ask her teammates, they’ll tell you she’s the hidden key on both sides of the ball.

Not only does she lead the team in rebounds and assists, but she’s the leader of the third-best scoring defense in the Big Ten, averaging 3.3 steals and almost a block per game.

When asked about Ryan’s contributions to the team, junior forwards Rachel Sheffer and Sam Arnold both emphasized her leadership on defense.

“That’s where we all start, with Jenny,” Sheffer said. “She’s probably one of the biggest leaders on our team. Defensively, she gets us going. Offensively, she finds people. She finds me in the post all the time. She’s just a great leader to have, and we all really feed off of her.”

Added Arnold: “Jenny, she’s such a hard worker. She’s always out there making stuff happen. She’s the one who does all the little things and is always in the right place at the right time, and we definitely need someone like her on our team.”

Her effort on the court on game-day is expected — she fills the stat sheet every game — but just like any player who yearns to develop their game, she continues to work hard in practice.

During Tuesday’s practice, Ryan was working with associate coach Dawn Plitzuweit on driving to the basket and finishing layups. Every time she missed, she went at it again. Ryan seemed unsettled and frustrated when she missed, but still wasn’t satisfied when she succeeded. Her focus and determination were apparent to anyone watching, as she continuously looked to challenge herself.

The Michigan Daily got to talk to her one-on-one to discuss how she fits on the team.

The Michigan Daily: Tell me a little bit about your role on the team.

Jenny Ryan: It’s whatever is needed on a given night. It’s nothing prescribed, it’s nothing I come in thinking, “This is what i have to do today.” It’s just whatever is kind of the atmosphere or the feeling of the team, and I just try to fill the hole, whatever it may be.

TMD: (Senior guard) Courtney (Boylan) is obviously the leader, she’s the point guard, the senior, but do you think you go with the flow, or try to mold to what the team is trying to do?

JR: I try not to be obnoxious, but at the same time, be seen. I don’t want to be the one just like in your face, “listen to me, follow me.” But at the same time, I want people to know my presence (and) mold to what’s needed at the same time.

TMD: Do you say you probably lead by example?

JR: I like to, especially on the defensive end on the floor. I’m not the type of person to tell someone to have energy if I’m not bringing it myself. I have to do it first before you can expect it from anyone else. And I think that’s the mindset of our team — to believe in each other — and trust that if one of us does it, then the other one will too.

TMD : So do you think teams key in on you when reviewing the scouting report?

JR: I don’t really know. We have so many great scorers on the team, I really always wonder how people scout us and who they focus on. On any given night, we have (junior forward) Kate (Thompson) coming off the bench who scores in double digits; Rachel who is a scorer from both inside and out; and Courtney … I don’t really know if they can key in on me, because I don’t really know what I’d bring to the table or show up on the scouting report.

TMD: People describe you as kind of intimidating. How do you feel about that?

JR: (She laughs) It’s kind of funny, because I don’t really consider myself an intimidating person. If you talk to anybody, I’m hard to take serious most days of the week. I’ve never really been called intimidating before, so it’s kind of funny to me. I guess my intensity and yelling on the court would bring that about. I usually say if I was to play against myself, I’d find myself obnoxious.

After all, Ryan did pound her chest after she blocked Ohio State guard Samantha Prahalis’ shot, en route to a marquee victory over the then-eighth-ranked Buckeyes.

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