After yesterday’s 89-57 loss to Illinois, Michigan coach Sue Guevara struggled to find answers to her team’s worst performance of the season. She watched the Illini jump out to a fast start while her team could barely complete a pass. For more than seven minutes in the first half, the Wolverines were held without a field goal. Guevara decided her team needed to return to fundamentals.

“I am going into practice (today) and I am going to pretend it is October 14, when we started,” Guevara said. “We’re going to go back to the very basics: defensive fundamentals, passing and catching. We’re going right back to the drawing board.”

Guevara has said that scheduling a tough nonconference schedule would prepare the Wolverines for the conference season. With a strength of schedule that was ranked as high as third nationally and a 9-2 record heading into the Big Ten opener against Minnesota, it appeared that the scheduling had paid off.

“We were a much better basketball team in December,” Guevara said. “I honestly thought our nonconference schedule got us ready for the Big Ten.”

Through the two Big Ten games this season, the Wolverines have committed 49 turnovers and have allowed 187 points, two of the highest totals in their respective categories all season. These two statistics had been sources of pride for Guevara earlier this season, considering her young lineup.

“All the things that we had been doing well as a team – defense as a team, shooting free throws better, taking care of the basketball – it was a snowball effect in the other direction,” Guevara said.

In addition to losing any progress that had been made so far this season, Guevara is concerned that she may be using her players too much on certain occasions, resulting in fatigue. With such a deep bench, Guevara is fortunate that she has numerous players who are able to step in once starters become tired.

Although she doesn’t want her players to feel that she is threatening to bench players who aren’t performing, she is going to make a better effort to monitor who is making the most of her playing time.

“I have a habit of staying with people a little bit too long,” Guevara said. “I have to go with people that are going to give the effort and are efficient with their time.”

Last year saw a similar transition once the Wolverines faced Big Ten opponents. After a 10-1 start, Michigan went 6-10 in conference play, eventually losing in the first round of the NIT. Guevara is confident she has the ability to control her players as the season wears on.

“I am not going to lose this basketball team,” Guevara said.

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