Texas A&M is known for its intense fan base.
But the 15th-ranked Aggies’ defense is what could give the Michigan women’s basketball team the most trouble.
“They’re all up in you,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said. “They don’t let you run what you want to run. They just make life very, very difficult for you.”
The Aggies (4-1) return five impact players from last year’s Big 12 Conference Championship team, four of whom started 20-plus games.
Texas A&M’s physicality could give the Wolverines trouble. Though Michigan (4-1) can counter with center Krista Phillips, the Aggies are faster and more athletic than the Wolverines.
“We saw the things that they do on videotape,” Borseth said. “We have to be able to play at a very elevated pace for an extended period of time against a very physical and mature team.”
Junior Jessica Minnfield will be a big part of Michigan’s plan to break down the Aggie pressure.
As the team’s primary ball-handler, Minnfield’s decision making and court awareness will be crucial.
The Aggie defense has forced its opponents to turn the ball over four times to every one assist – a startling ratio. Michigan will be pleased if Minnfield can live up to her 1:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
“They all better be on top of their game,” Borseth said. “When she (Minnfield) gets rid of it, they’re not going to let her get it back. The other kids have to be able to do their share as well. All of us need to be able to share a little bit more of the responsibility of taking care of it and not just giving it to one person.”
If the Wolverines have a chance to set their offense, Michigan’s post players will spend less time on the blocks and more time setting screens.
“One of the big points against Texas A&M is screening and getting our guards open,” Phillips said.
In Michigan’s lone loss, Iowa State’s Allison Lacey (13 points per game) scored a career-high 35 against the Wolverines.
So Michigan will have to pay close attention to Texas A&M’s top-scorer Takia Starks, who is averaging 15.2 ppg.
“I think we learned a big lesson,” Phillips said. “We’re not going to let anyone get hot. We’re going to put a hand in someone’s face and protect the shot.”
If Michigan keeps a leash on Starks and takes care of the basketball, it has a shot to come out of College Station with a win.