Not everything requires an explanation. Like why not to take a shortcut through a minefield.
But some things do require a bit more reasoning.
Especially when student-athletes are going out of town on a school night.
Playing 12 Big Ten games in a row before tonight and then at least five straight afterward, it”s hard not to wonder why the Michigan women”s basketball team is jetting to Worcester, Mass. to play Patriot League foe Holy Cross tonight at 7 p.m.
“We played them last year here, so we owed it to them to play them at their place,” Michigan coach Sue Guevara said. “To be honest, we tried to get them to schedule it next year, but they didn”t want to do it.
“We could not get (the game played in) the non-conference schedule (earlier this season) because everything was so jam-packed. We had two byes in February so we took the earliest one we could.”
Though the game is non-conference, the Crusaders (15-7 overall) are a viable opponent who have won nine in a row and currently sit atop their conference, undefeated. Michigan, on the cusp of being considered worthy of a postseason bid, knows that a contest late in the season can make or break it.
“This game is big,” Guevara said.
Guevara doesn”t expect her team”s intensity to dwindle, although Michigan”s history with Holy Cross isn”t quite as rich as it is with teams that the Wolverines get to see a couple times a year.
“There is no doubt this game will receive the same focus” as conference games, Guevara said. “We have to get our team defense better. I want this whole darn team to step up.”
A strong Holy Cross team will give the Wolverines an opportunity to see if they can execute against a zone defense.
“I have a feeling we”re going to see a lot of zone, so we”ll work on our zone offense and our running game,” Guevara said.
One of the Crusaders” biggest threats may be Amanda Abraham, who went to high school just minutes away from Ann Arbor at Plymouth-Salem. Abraham is second on the team in scoring, averaging 11 points a game, and she is a long-ball threat, nailing 38 percent of her shots from behind the arc.
“Anytime a kid leaves the state and then plays against a state school, they always are jacked,” Guevara said.
Michigan assistant coach Eileen Shea sent a scout to check out the Crusaders” strong points and gave the scoop to Guevara.
“They”re a very disciplined basketball team,” Guevara said. “They run a lot of off-ball screens, they hustle and they”re very scrappy. I anticipate it”s gonna be a pretty rough game.”
Winning for Michigan is important because Guevara feels her team needs 18 wins to be a strong contender for a berth in the NCAA tournament. Right now the team has 14, and coming up are games against a tough Illinois squad, a ranked Penn State team on the road and a contest versus Iowa who clobbered the Wolverines the last time they played.