The Michigan women’s basketball team is losing its grip on the season.
In January, the Wolverines were flying high on a six-game winning streak, but now the tables have turned after suffering back-to-back losses against Michigan State and Minnesota.
Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico noted that the game at Michigan State was where the effects of the long season began to take hold.
The Spartans started out with a seven-point run, and the Wolverines couldn’t seem to catch up and lost 66-61.
“Katelynn (Flaherty) has a little bit of a nagging injury that she got in the Northwestern game, and she’s not 100% but she’s able to play through it,” Barnes Arico told WTKA. “But she just felt like she wasn’t herself and didn’t have her normal bounce.”
Flaherty isn’t the only one feeling exhaustion. Freshman forward Hailey Brown went down with an injury during the Michigan State game.
For Flaherty and junior center Hallie Thome, it’s the constant defensive pressure over the course of the long season that is taking a toll.
“It’s been tough at times for Katelynn and Hallie with the defenses that they have been facing night in and night out and the double-team and the triangle-and-two,” Barnes Arico said.
But what has made this season so tough for the Wolverines? According to Barnes Arico, the Big Ten schedule has forced the team to step on the gas pedal and not let up.
“This year’s Big Ten schedule, every team in our league gets a bye and every team gets an opportunity to get a week off and to rest and recover well we haven’t had that yet. So we’re the only team in our league who has played two additional games to pretty much everyone else,” Barnes Arico said. “So going down the tail end of the season, our kids are a little worn, they have some nagging injuries, they have some fatigue that we’re battling through and we don’t want to use that as an excuse so we’ll never use that as an excuse, but the reality is we’ve played two more games than everyone else and we haven’t had that bye week yet.”
The team’s confidence is wavering as well. With every loss the exhaustion rises and self-confidence lowers. Michigan is struggling to pick itself back up, but with a game against No. 13 Maryland on Thursday, and the Big Ten tournament around the corner, it will need to find some way to get out of the funk.
“For our players, when they lost in a tough way against Purdue, it kind of did wear on them,” Barnes Arico said. “And Nicole Munger had a couple tough games when she missed some shots and then you start questioning yourself and your confidence wavers a little bit.”
Barnes Arico’s answer to the problem? Enjoy the moment.
“I think it’s really important to go back to the process and not worry about the outcome as much and try to enjoy the moment. When the pressure becomes great and the stress becomes great, you lose the enjoyment,” Barnes Arico said. “You’re so worried about ‘we have to win, we have to win’ instead of playing that game to the best of your ability.”