Before the Michigan women’s basketball season began, coach Kim Barnes Arico took every opportunity to talk about the player who had impressed her the most over the summer: Jordan Hobbs. Continuously, Barnes Arico emphasized junior guard Hobbs’ development over the summer and how she believed Hobbs will impact the team.
After the first game of the season, Hobbs is proving Barnes Arico right.
During the season opener against Purdue Fort Wayne, Hobbs was impressive on both sides of the ball. On offense, she knocked down a 3-pointer and went 2-for-2 from the foul line contributing to a 13-point performance. Hobbs also dealt the ball to her teammates with precision, contributing four assists with just one turnover. She took care of the ball and brought a fire to the court that was contagious among her teammates.
“Jordan is our big energy player right now, even in terms of practice,” Barnes Arico said after the Wolverines’ win on Nov. 6. “She’s growing (and) growing every single day in a leadership role and finding her voice on our team and she’s such a positive person. But she’s just growing in all areas and she’s playing with a bunch of confidence.”
That growth has also been notable on the defensive end. Hobbs led the team with a career-high eight rebounds last Monday, a noticeable jump from her 1.9 rebounds per game last year. Whether she was grabbing boards straight off the glass or chasing down missed shots after they ricocheted off the rim, Hobbs’ two offensive and six defensive rebounds that gave the Wolverines extra possessions.
More than that though, after playing 30 minutes — the second most on her team — against the Mastodons, Hobbs proved that she has the endurance to remain on the court for long periods of time. Hobbs averaged 15.1 minutes per game last season, and if the opener is any indication of Michigan’s expectations of her, she will likely double her playing time. And with a team-best plus/minus of plus-25, Hobbs showed that she can be productive in that time, too.
That productivity will be crucial for Michigan as looks to replace the three starters it graduated — Leigha Brown, Emily Kiser and Maddie Nolan. These players were top three in minutes played, blocks, steals and rebounds, and Hobbs will be trusted to be one of the players to make up the difference.
“She’s always been an incredible scorer,” Barnes Arico said. “But it’s her ability to do other things for our team that I’m most proud of. Obviously her getting eight rebounds, her having four assists and only one turnover and leading our team in the plus minus category is pretty incredible. So I thought she had a awesome night. I think she’s going to have an awesome year.”
Last season showed promise for Hobbs, who was sixth on the team in both points per game with 4.9 and games started with nine. She went 26 for 75 from behind the arc — the fourth-best 3-point percentage for Michigan — and with the departure of team triples leader Maddie Nolan, Hobbs will be expected to take on some of the 3-point load. When starters like then-sophomore guard Laila Phelia went down with injury, Hobbs stepped up. As she transitions into that starting role herself, Hobbs has the opportunity make a greater impact.
Hobbs is continuing to grow, and while there are high expectations for the upperclassman, Hobbs is showing signs that she has the ability to meet them.