In an effort to take better care of the ball, Michigan women’s basketball coach Sue Guevara has implemented a new system in practice.
“We have a ball rack, and we have 18 balls,” forward Tabitha Pool said. “Throughout the whole practice, she throws away a ball every time we get a turnover.”
When the team is out of balls, it spends significant time running.
This new practice policy is a result of Michigan’s second mid-season collapse in a row. The Wolverines opened the season by winning eight of their first nine games, but have since lost four of their last five. During the slump, turnovers have been a problem for the Wolverines, who are averaging 23.7 per game over their last three. Michigan will need to take better care of the ball against Indiana if it hopes to come out on top.
“We’re never going to play a game where we have no turnovers,” Guevara said. “But aggressive turnovers, I understand. You’re driving to the basket and maybe it goes off your foot. Well, okay, we can work on ball handling.”
But Guevara believes her team is committing too many sloppy turnovers and not enough aggressive turnovers.
Overall, Guevara is happy with the way her team has been practicing with the new policy. She is hoping that the recent work ethic will carry over to the games. But that is easier said than done.
“There might be some people that are struggling a little bit with their confidence,” Guevara said. “I’ve just tried to be very positive, and to let this team know that I have a lot of confidence in each one of them. I have faith that we can pull it together and cut down on our mistakes.”
Michigan will have an opportunity to gain some confidence and its first win of the Big Ten season when Indiana comes to Crisler Arena on Sunday.
“Winning helps everything,” Guevara said.
Indiana is 9-4 overall, including a 2-1 record in Big Ten play. Last Sunday, Indiana defeated Ohio State 54-50 in Bloomington.
Another key for the Wolverines will be center LeeAnn Bies, who has been quiet recently. After averaging 14.2 points and 6.3 rebounds over the team’s first nine games, Bies has put up just half the points and half the rebounds in the team’s last five.
Guevara believes Bies’ struggles have been due to a loss of intensity, and she went so far as to not start her last weekend in Purdue.
According to Guevara, she hoped “to get Bies a little bit hungrier. To get her a little bit more aggressive, calling for the ball, wanting the ball, scoring and rebounding.”