This season and last season have presented two completely different point guard situations for the Michigan women’s basketball team.
Last year, the Wolverines lacked a true point guard, and Leigha Brown served as the main communicator and facilitator throughout the season. This time around, however, Michigan is in a polar opposite position.
The Wolverines are looking to run a system that incorporates not one but two point guards — graduate Lauren Hansen, the starting point guard, and freshman Macy Brown, the backup coming off the bench in relief. And while this could create potential conflict with the two true point guards fighting for minutes, thus far, the Wolverines and both players have complemented each other well.
“They’re both doing a really good job for us,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said after the win against Purdue Fort Wayne. “They’re both contributing and they’re both a little bit different, which is great.”
Although only one official game in the season, Barnes Arico has shown confidence in both players and given the two point guards a similar amount of on court minutes to showcase their abilities.
On one side, Hansen provides stable scoring abilities. In Michigan’s first game of the season against the Mastodons, she showcased her ability to create flashy opportunities, recording 11 points in the process.
One of Hansen’s flashy chances came in the final second of the first half against Purdue Fort Wayne when she took an inbound pass around the paint and layed it in for an and-one. That not only showcased her ability to create buckets that most players can’t, but it also gave Michigan a much needed three points and momentum boost going into halftime.
“Lauren has that scoring mentality,” Barnes Arico said. “… She’s just an incredible scorer. She’s got a little bit of swag to her.”
That swag and ability to score the ball is what helped drive many offensive chances, including that final-second moment of the first half. Her contributions were especially helpful for the Wolverines during a game in which some shots weren’t falling for other players on the team.
While one of Hansen’s main strengths is scoring, one of her weaknesses is her one-to-three assist to turnover ratio — and that’s where Brown comes in and shines.
Coming off the bench, Brown provides crucial minutes facilitating and finding teammates for open looks. In Michigan’s exhibition win against Saginaw Valley State, Brown had six assists and zero turnovers. Against the Mastodons, she had four assists and one turnover. As one of the most inexperienced players on the team, her ability to pass the ball efficiently is something the Wolverines don’t take lightly.
“Macy is probably one of the best passers we have on our team,” Barnes Arico said. “And as a lefty she catches people off guard all the time.”
Both point guards bring different assets to Michigan’s game, and those contributions are something it looks to utilize throughout the season. And no matter which of the two is starting, each brings different strengths and weaknesses on the court.
But they’re better together. Hansen brings the scoring that Brown might fall short with. And Brown deals the ball out with efficiency and collects assists while Hansen is still working on facilitating without turning the ball over. While Hansen can do one thing, Brown can do the other and when they work to complement each other, the Wolverines benefit the most from their dual point guard system.
Despite their early success, though, Hansen and Brown are still new to the team and need time to figure out the system. And communication is the main factor to figuring out that system.
“It’s hard for any point guard, let alone a point guard in this system, to succeed and I think they’re doing a great job,” junior guard Jordan Hobbs said. “They’re learning every day and they’re communicating more and more every day. … I just think that we need to talk more, so we need to keep supporting them more on the court and just keep communicating.”
With the help and communication from those around them, Hansen and Brown look to settle into a system that they’re still trying to figure out. If both players can work out the kinks, harness their skills and truly complement each other, the Wolverines could maximize the possibilities of having more than one true point guard.