A season that began filled with questions is looking brighter every day for the Michigan women’s basketball team. A 4-0 start has given the Wolverines momentum as they cruise into Cincinnati this weekend for their first road trip of the year at the Provident Bank Xavier Invitational.

The start is the team’s best since the 1999-2000 season. That team started the year off 7-0, and eventually finished with a school record 22 wins, good enough for second place in the Big Ten.

History isn’t necessarily on the Wolverines’ side, though. Last year’s squad opened 11-1 before combusting in conference play. This weekend’s tournament will be Michigan’s first test in the away jerseys, and it could be a good gauge for the rest of the season.

“I’m really excited about going on the road,” junior Jennifer Smith said. “We’re a good away team and it gives us a chance to bond.”

Smith has been Michigan’s force inside during this young season, stealing a bit of the thunder from senior LeeAnn Bies, a preseason All-Big Ten selection. Smith has scored 20 points or more in three of Michigan’s four games, including a career high 29 against Detroit last Sunday.

Smith’s play is only one of many successful trends that coach Sue Guevara would like to see continue. Guevara’s young backcourt players have nearly cut their turnovers in half since the beginning of the season. Michigan lost the ball 21 times in its first game, but improved to just eight turnovers in Sunday’s win over Detroit.

“The kids have been trying very hard not to make the same mistakes,” Guevara said. “I think now we need to work on our defense. We had a little bit of a mental breakdown against Detroit in the second half.”

Thus far, Michigan’s cast of freshmen has passed the test. Guards Mie Burlin and Niki Reams have solidified the starting positions so far. They are backed up by one of the youngest and deepest benches the Wolverines have possessed in years, and the results they’ve been posting have been impressive. Every player on the roster has already scored, and Guevara now seems overrun with fresh options down her bench.

“Seeing them have confidence, gives me confidence,” Guevara said. “You never know what’s going to happen with injuries or illness, so I’m hoping that’s something we’ll have until we’re done in April.”

Junior Stephanie Gandy has been leading the charge off the bench, averaging nine points a game. Her consistent play has carried over from the end of last year’s season.

With all the pieces coming together, the Wolverines are knocking on the door of the national top 25. While the Wolverines have yet to crack that threshold, a pair of victories this weekend could change that.

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