Wolverines look scared against strong defensive teams
The Michigan women’s basketball team is now in a two-game slump after ending its six-game win streak last Thursday in a matchup against Purdue.
Though the Boilermakers came out strong, the Wolverines fired back and held a significant lead until Purdue went on a 16-point run to tie the game. Sophomore forward Kayla Robbins had a chance to win the game with two free throws, but missed both and sent the game into overtime.
“The game was not based on one play,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Airco told WTKA. “There were a lot of different opportunities throughout the course of the game when we could’ve gotten one stop or one score and the game would’ve been different.”
It seems that the downfall of the Wolverines was based on Purdue’s defensive pressure. The Boilermakers changed the defense halfway through the game to four guards, playing into freshman forward Hailey Brown’s weakness.
“So we got kind of settled in to what they were doing defensively and then they switched it,” Barnes Arico said. “Once they changed the defense, we were never really able to get in a rhythm.”
The defensive aggression, even at the beginning, clearly threw Michigan for a loop. The Wolverines were able to recover at halftime, but then lost their footing.
“Purdue made a run and we really couldn’t stop the run. We were in a position to win the game a few times down the stretch and we weren’t able to do that,” Barnes Arico said to WTKA. “But it was probably the first time all year where we looked a little scared and looked different prior to any other games we had played in this year.”
Shortly after the tough loss on Thursday, Michigan traveled to Rutgers to face another strong defensive team.
This time, the Scarlet Knights didn’t rely on a mid-game defensive shift to beat the Wolverines, but instead applied the pressure early on which resulted in 26 turnovers.
“That’s been a theme of ours this season and when we’re successful we really do a great job of taking care of the basketball and Rutgers just swarmed us,” Barnes Arico said to WTKA. “We got rattled a little bit, that’s a tough place to play. They really do it on the defensive end; they’re a swarming defensive team. They pressured us, and they forced us into a lot of turnovers.”
It is clear that the Wolverines are afraid to suffer another loss and strong defensive teams seem to be their weakness. The Boilermakers and Scarlet Knights used their defensive skills to out-maneuver Michigan, which led the Wolverines losing back-to-back games for the first time this season.
“That’s what Purdue and Rutgers are both known for — is their toughness on the defensive end, really physical, really scrappy, really in your face, bumping and clawing and playing aggressive on the defensive end,” Barnes Arico said to WTKA. “Probably the two most defensive programs we have in our league.”
The Wolverines will look to stop those defensive setbacks and bounce back to stop the losing streak on Thursday, when they face off against Northwestern.