Michigan has won three out of its last four after starting the Big Ten season 1-6, but the Wolverines aren”t fooled they know their problems haven”t been fixed.
Michigan coach Sue Guevara was angry the past two days because of the numerous mistakes she saw during Saturday”s practice and yesterday”s game against Northwestern. Both days, Guevara said the Wolverines also were not focused and lacked leadership.
“We only had 14 turnovers, we shot 77 percent from the free-throw line, but there are obviously some things I was not happy with,” Guevara said after the game. “I addressed those with the team and will continue to address those, specifically with our seniors and any other person that will step up and show some leadership.”
Guevara did not fault her players for a lack of intensity during the game yesterday, but did question their intelligence at points.
“(They) are students at the University of Michigan,” the coach said. “They are supposed to be smarter than the average bear. So when the mistakes are coming from the same people, then I”m (asking), “Where are you right now?”
“When we run a sideline out-of-bounds play and we don”t have someone set the screen, it”s like “Yoo-hoo, what are you thinking?””
Bubble trouble: Michigan (4-7 Big Ten, 14-8 overall) still has the opportunity to earn an NCAA Tournament berth. Michigan is No. 26 in the RPI despite a poor conference record.
Guevara believes the Wolverines can still earn a bid, but that getting into the tournament will require four wins in their last five regular season games.
Despite its current ranking, Michigan is ranked No. 37 in the projected RPI standings, which would be the standings at the end of the regular season if every team defeats every team lower than it in the RPI.
Last season both No. 34 Virginia and No. 36 Wisconsin made the tournament with 8-8 conference records the same Big Ten record Michigan would have if it won four out of its last five games.
Guevara also said that the Wolverines will need a 20-win season, which would require the Wo1verines to win a couple of games in the Big Ten Tournament as well.
But the Wolverines won”t reach any of those goals if the team fails to get its act together.
Michigan will have a week to correct its mistakes before it faces Ohio State next Sunday, one of just five games remaining for the Wolverines. The game against the Buckeyes is especially important because its next two games are against Purdue and Penn State, teams it lost to earlier in the season.
“We cannot play like we played today and expect that we will be near a bubble,” Guevara said.
Smooth smitty: Jennifer Smith is not part of Michigan”s leadership problems she”s led by example the last two games.
Thursday against Iowa, Smith had career highs in points (26) and rebounds (19). Yesterday, Smith recorded 17 points and seven rebounds and also displayed her toughness.
With less than three minutes remaining in the game, Northwestern center Sarah Kwasinski fouled Smith and threw her to the ground. Kwasinski then glared at Smith to a chorus of boos from the crowd. But Smith regained her composure and Guevara did not take her out of the game.
Guevara”s only concern is how tough Smith is on herself. With two minutes remaining, Smith missed an open layup. While Smith swung her arm in frustration, Guevara yelled from the bench, “Smitty! Focus!”
“I think (Smith) is trying to do a better job of not letting it affect her,” Guevara said. “When she misses some easy puppies (layups), she tends to stay with that mistake.”