Michigan coach Kevin Borseth was visibly upset after the Michigan women’s basketball team lost to No. 11 Michigan State last Sunday.
He was frustrated by a Spartan defense that wouldn’t let the Wolverines get into any sort of rhythm, holding his team to one of their worst offensive performances of the season en route to a 69-56 loss.
“I just thought our offense was awful,” Borseth said. “I thought our defense did a pretty decent job under the circumstances, though.”
Luckily for Borseth and Michigan (7-5 Big Ten, 14-10 overall), the Wolverines host the worst defensive teams in the conference on Wednesday in Indiana. The Hoosiers allow almost 68 points per game, which is worst in the Big Ten, and Indiana is near the bottom in almost every major defensive category.
Indiana (3-10, 9-16) has not won since early January, losing 10 out of its last 11 games. That one victory, though, came against last-place Illinois. Still, Borseth doesn’t want to overlook anyone after a loss to basement-dwelling Minnesota two weeks ago.
“You’re going to have to come out every game and play, it’s a very tough conference,” Borseth said after a game against Ohio State on Jan. 27. “I don’t think anybody is that much better than anybody else, or that there is that big of a separator that you can’t come in one night and not show up with your best effort.”
Michigan is currently in fourth place in the Big Ten, just three games out of first. It is right in the thick of the conference, though, because there are three teams within a game of fourth place.
Even though Indiana doesn’t have a great record, they still feature some talent. The Hoosiers are led by a trio of seniors who average more than 10 points per game, none more impressive than Jori Davis. The 5-foot-9 guard averages 19 points in close to 35 minutes per game, and also leads the team with almost six rebounds per game. She is the heart and soul of this Indiana team, and slowing her down will be key for the Wolverines.
The other two main senior contributors are forward Hope Elam and guard Whitney Lindsay, who each average close to 10 points per game. The issue for Indiana is not its top-level players but its lack of depth.
The Hoosiers don’t have a bench player who averages even five points a game, even though they have 11 players who average more than 10 minutes a game. Michigan should be able to exploit Indiana’s lack of a bench by running its high-energy defense that forces a lot of turnovers and tires opponents.
Indiana also isn’t a very good defensive rebounding team, which will be a huge benefit to the Wolverines offense. Indiana is last in the Big Ten in rebounding defense, which will give the Michigan a lot of second-chance opportunities. This in turn will help to spread things out offensively and get its offense into a rhythm, something the Wolverines struggled mightily with against the Spartans.
Michigan’s struggles this year have usually been defensive, but against Michigan State, it was the other way around. Playing Indiana could be the Wolverines chance to right the offensive ship, as they should be able to take advantage of the Hoosiers lack of defense. Look for Michigan to do what it usually does—score, and score often.
“What we maybe give up on the defensive end we try to create on the offensive end, because you have got to guard us too,” Borseth said before the season. “No matter how much we stop them, we have to score too.”