Over Thanksgiving break, there was little rest for the Michigan women’s basketball team, who went 1-1 in the Cancun Thanksgiving Classic, beating Buffalo 69-49 before losing to No. 8 Texas A&M 67-49.
In the loss, the Wolverines showed a lot of heart in coming back late in the second half, after being down 14 at halftime. Such resiliency will be key moving forward for the young Michigan team, which faces a tough schedule this year.
The Wolverines (3-3) will need to combine that resiliency with better offensive production to improve this season, starting with Wake Forest on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Crisler Arena in the ACC/ Big Ten Challenge. Wake Forest (5-1) boasts an offensive attack that produces 84.3 points per game, scoring more than 85 points three times. When it comes to offense, the Demon Deacons don’t mess around.
Wake Forest has four players averaging more than 11 points per game and a fifth who contributes just over nine. They are led by their 6-foot-3 sophomore center Sandra Garcia, who averages 12.3 points and almost seven rebounds a game.
In a dangerous offense stocked with talent, the Wolverines will also have to look out for junior guard Secily Ray. She is only 5-foot-11, but she manages to snag close to seven rebounds a game, along with an average of just over 11 points.
While they feature a potent offense, the Demon Deacons also give up a lot of points. In their only loss of the season, they allowed Notre Dame to put up 92. Butler also dropped 81 points against them in a close victory.
Michigan will need to play well on the offensive end to win this matchup. Shutting down the potent Demon Deacons offense will be the focus, but ultimately, this one will be a battle of offenses.
All season long, the Wolverines have relied on their ability to shoot from outside. Not surprisingly, they have shot well in their wins, and not so well in their losses, evidenced by their most recent loss to the Aggies. They shot only 14 percent from beyond the arc in the first half and finished the game at a paltry 18.8 percent. For a team that relies so much on its outside shooting, that number will have to increase for Michigan to win.
Last season’s leading scorer and the team’s only senior, Veronica Hicks, has been inconsistent early in the season. She scored zero points with five turnovers against the Aggies after leading the team with 17 points against Buffalo.
Sam Arnold and Kate Thompson emerged as offensive threats in the Cancun tournament, but Michigan needs its best offensive weapon to prove why she holds that distinction. If Hicks doesn’t score against Wake Forest, the Wolverines will not have a chance. Her ability to drive and finish sets up the outside shooting Michigan relies on, so her playing the way she usually does is crucial.
If Hicks plays the way she usually does, Michigan should be able to score a lot of points. And if Michigan scores early and often, it will be in good shape to handle the Demons.