WEST LAFAYETTE – Michigan’s 0-3 start in conference play is the team’s worst start in Big Ten play since the 1998-99 season. It has supporters and critics alike wondering what’s in store for the rest of the season.
Last year’s now-almost infamous conference collapse had the Wolverines beginning 1-2, including a 69-47 loss to Purdue. The Wolverines went on to finish with a 6-10 conference record and eventually lost in the first round of the WNIT.
The 1998-99 team finished with similar results, going 8-8 in the Big Ten and exiting the second round of the WNIT.
While history speaks against the team, the future looks a little bit brighter for the Wolverines, who now host three conference games in a row. Michigan can also take some solace in the fact that yesterday’s game against Purdue was its final regular-season contest against the Boilermakers, a team it is 12-36 against all-time.
The tough crowd at Mackey Arena, a place many consider to be the hardest spot to win a game in the Big Ten, will also be the most hostile the Wolverines face all year, making the rest of their road games seem a little less intimidating.
“This is a crowd that appreciates good basketball,” Michigan coach Sue Guevara said. “Obviously when their team gets on a run, that’s a sixth player that is a great asset.”
Lack of Hacks: In Michigan’s 13 games prior to yesterday’s matchup, the Wolverines made 201 free throws – six more than their opponents attempted (195). Against the Boilermakers, Michigan made it to the charity stripe just 10 times (converting eight). This is a minute total when compared to Purdue’s 19 trips to the line, of which it made 16.
“To get to the line, you have to penetrate, and I didn’t think we did a good job of that,” Guevara said.
Although junior LeeAnn Bies comfortably leads Michigan in free-throw attempts this season (75), she made it to the line just twice against Purdue.