The margins of defeat for the Michigan women’s basketball team its past two games: 21 and 15.

At first glance, it looks like the Wolverines are regressing from where they were earlier in the Big Ten season. But a harder look at those games shows that, while Michigan may not be notching marks in the win column, the freshmen are learning valuable lessons that they can use down the road.

Freshman forward Ta’Shia Walker is the prime example. She went up against Minnesota center Janel McCarville — an All-American and Wooden Award candidate — in Sunday’s game. Walker did not score a single point and fouled out of the game with 3:38 remaining, but she believes that her experience will make her better the next time she faces a premier player.

“Janel is a very good player, and I like playing against her,” Walker said. “I think it will better prepare me down the road as I get older and (gain) more experience to know how to play players of her caliber.”

One of the main problems for Walker and Michigan going into — and during — the game was the Wolverines lack of height and size. The Gophers boasted a frontcourt of 6-foot-2 McCarville, 6-foot-3 forward Jamie Broback and 5-foot-11 forward Shannon Bolden. The bigger Gophers were able to control the boards throughout the game, out-rebounding Michigan 33-23. More importantly, Minnesota moved much of its offense through its post players, leading to many high-percentage field goal opportunities.

“We tried to not let McCarville and the other posts go where they wanted,” Walker said. “Because we are smaller everyone wants to push around under the basket, we tried to avoid that.”

In the first half, Michigan kept the Gophers’ post players from going where they wanted to. But the second half was a different story. Minnesota controlled the tempo and got the ball to McCarville to pull away from the Wolverines.

“We knew, coming into the second half, that they would definitely go back to their inside game,” Burnett said. “But they have a great combination of talent. So we were trying to give help to the post play, but you have players off their bench, (Katie Alsdurf) for them, touching the ball making threes.”

Once the Gophers pulled away and the game was out of reach, the Wolverines did not give up. The last five minutes of the previous two games have been good opportunities for Burnett and the rest of the staff to implement a different part of their game plan. Instead of launching haphazard 3-pointers, the team worked on its offensive sets and pressure defense.

“We have told our kids that we want them to play hard all the way through 0:00, and they are doing it,” Burnett said. “That style of play with this particular group, we are really using it for experience.

“We are really coaching all the way through to the end on exactly we want to be doing and not be doing and what position we want to be in, because that, eventually, is going to be our style for 40 minutes in this program.”

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