The Michigan men’s basketball team is deeply divided over one issue.

Which is tougher: defending on the interior or on the perimeter?

Against Delaware State on Saturday, the Wolverines’ big men got a chance to play outside of the paint. The Hornets lacked a post game, which meant seniors Brent Petway and Courtney Sims were forced to play outside of their comfort zone on defense.

But both players contributed in stifling Delaware State’s offense, holding the Hornets to 33 percent shooting. Even Petway showed his prowess on the perimeter by notching a steal.

“It’s rough,” Petway said of playing perimeter defense. “But we like to pressure (teams) as it is, and we were able to keep the big men in front for the most part.”

Michigan’s twin towers prepared for Saturday’s game by working on the perimeter with the guards in practice. Senior guard Dion Harris said the interior guys played the guards well all week.

“I think that gave them confidence,” Harris said. “They were confident when they had to go out there and guard those guys on the perimeter.”

Michigan coach Tommy Amaker acknowledged that Delaware State’s style of play made matters difficult for the forwards and gave them credit for their hard work in chasing players down and playing the entire court.

The Hornets’ forwards went just 10-for-21 from the field (3-for-9 from 3-point range) thanks in part to Petway, Sims and freshman Ekpe Udoh.

Sims said the biggest difference for him was having to worry about his own man more often out on the perimeter. The Boston native explained that instead of looking for the ball and watching for players driving to the basket, he had to be more concerned with playing defense on the ball and moving his feet to stay out in front of the defender.

But even though the interior players got a taste of what life is like on the outside, all of them swear that post defense is tougher than perimeter defense.

“It’s like boxing,” Sims said. “You take body shots in the post.”

Sims pointed out that forwards have to run the full length of the court, from post to post, while guards only have to run from 3-point line to 3-point line.

Petway agreed.

“We’re taking a physical beating the whole night,” Petway said. “They get to hit all the jump shots and be pretty out on the perimeter. We’re the ones that have to be in the trenches.”

But if you take the issue up with Harris, he just smiles wryly.

“No,” Harris said in response to Petway’s comments that interior defense is harder than defending the perimeter. “I have to play 94 feet of defense every time down. We always have that argument in the locker room, and I disagree with (Petway).”

So which is tougher: interior defense or perimeter defense?

After Saturday’s game, Delaware State can’t tell the difference.

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