Two things became extremely apparent in yesterday’s women’s basketball game between Michigan and Michigan State. The Spartans can shoot the ball. The Wolverines cannot.
It’s no secret that the strength of the Wolverine offense is the high-low post play, but it never became so obvious that that seems to be the only part of the Michigan gameplan.
Michigan’s 35.3 field goal percentage was the fifth straight game in which the Wolverines shot less than 40 percent.
What’s even more disparaging is that most of the shots they made were easy ones. A glimpse at Michigan’s shot chart reveals just four made field goals from outside the paint. The Wolverines may have a producer down low in junior forward Jennifer Smith, who scored 27 points yesterday, but they couldn’t produce anything outside of her.
“We had a lot of people in the stands today,” Michigan coach Sue Guevara said. “If you were sitting in the stands and thought we needed a shooter, we do need a shooter. We need someone to score consistently.”
Conversely, the Spartans had no problem finding a shooter. Senior Syreeta Bromfield and sophomore Kristin Haynie repeatedly penetrated on the Michigan defense and pulled up for the open shot. Bromfield went 7-for-13 shooting for 19 points, while Haynie went 10-for-14 for a career high 22 points.
“We knew against big post players the jump shot would be there for us all game,” Haynie said. “We could penetrate and pull up in the middle of the paint.”
No place like home?: Yesterday’s attendance of 4,474 was the second-biggest ever for a women’s basketball game at Crisler Arena. But it wasn’t big enough.
The Michigan sports marketing office was promoting a Break the Attendance Record Day, which was set last year against Michigan State at the mark of 4,558.
Area basketball teams and Girl Scouts were given free admission and 2,500 inflatable fingers were handed out in an effort to set the record, but as was the trend yesterday, the effort fell a little short.
Michigan fans can actually thank a loud group of Spartan fans behind the Michigan State bench for coming so close to the record. The large contingent had its way from the tip, as the Spartans opened up a 17-point lead in just over five minutes.
“I don’t think the first five minutes was because of the crowd,” Guevara said. “They got on a roll, and we called a timeout. We just needed a basket.”
Old story with a new twist: After a Michigan loss, there’s usually a list of sure-fire reasons explaining why they lost. Yesterday was no different, as the Wolverines watched an early 21-4 run and horrible shooting effectively kill their chances for victory, just like every other loss.
A new problem arose yesterday, though, as the Spartans shut down every Wolverine except for Smith, turning Michigan into a one-player team. The Wolverines can normally expect contribution from a few players down the bench, and the Jennifer Smith Show proved that the team concept is something Michigan has to get back to.
” It’s tough to defend a team when you have five people that can score,” Guevara said. “And it’s easy to defend a team when you only have one person that is scoring.”