STATE COLLEGE As LeeAnn Bies goes, so goes Michigan. Bies is the Wolverines” leading scorer and rebounder this season. With seven double-doubles on the year, she leads the team and is ranked second in the Big Ten in that category. Michigan is 6-1 when Bies records double-digit points and rebounds this season, with the one loss coming at Wisconsin. In the past, teams that could not stop Bies had no hope of stopping Michigan.
But Bies has struggled considerably over the last two games. The junior center who has been leading the team with a .558 shooting percentage from the floor connected on a combined 3-of-12 shots in the Wolverines” two most recent losses. This includes a dismal 1-for-7 shooting performance from the field against Ohio State, a performance marked by multiple missed layups. According to Michigan coach Sue Guevara, teams are still unable to stop Bies.
“I think the person that is stopping her, is her,” Guevara said.
Until Bies is able to recover from her recent shooting slump, the Wolverines will count on Jennifer Smith for point production. Stepping up her game, Smith produced one of her better offensive performances to date.
“I told (Smith) I thought this might be her day, because Bies had been so successful against Penn State, but I think (Smith) worked pretty hard today,” Guevara said. “She did a nice job of attacking the basket.”
Smith tied Penn State”s Kelly Mazzante, the nation”s leading scorer, with a game-high 22 points, nine more than her season average. She also pulled down five rebounds and recorded two blocks, one against Mazzante.
“I knew they were probably going to double on Bies so I had to get open and create shots for myself and put them in,” Smith said.
Even with Bies struggling recently, Smith has not felt pressured to score more. Instead she has relied on the guidance of her coach.
“I don”t really put that much pressure on myself, because coach always stresses “have confidence in yourself,” and I do,” Smith said. “I think I can score like that when I get the ball.”
The Price is Right: Freshman guard Sierra Hauser-Price was one of the bright spots on the afternoon for the Wolverines. Playing seven minutes, all in the second half, Hauser-Price helped pressure Penn State”s freshman point guard Jess Strom, who leads the Big Ten with just over seven assists per game. Against Price and the Michigan trap in the second half, Strom committed five turnovers.
“I think I”ve been working really hard, especially on my defense, trying to stop the best players out there,” Hauser-Price said. “I think the coaches saw that and put me out there and gave me a shot today.”
Guevara has stressed defense and defensive intensity all year, and Hauser-Price has been the model of that intensity. She credits her desire to play good defense as the key to her success.
“It is the intensity that I bring,” Hauser-Price said. “I think I”m a good defensive player and I work my butt off.”