Michigan head coach Sue Guevara looks for improvement out of her players and asks nothing less of herself.
Guevara worked on the team”s zone defense this week during practice because this defensive scheme has been used more this season than at any other point in her six-year tenure.
“If we are not one-on-one the best defensive players, then we have to go to the zone,” Guevara said. “So it has been a change for me personally, my philosophy, that I don”t want to get stubborn and stay with something if it”s not working.”
Michigan”s current players are more effective in the zone than the more difficult man-to-man defense and Guevara learned this the hard way.
“There were games last year that we lost that I could kick myself because I was stubborn, and I can”t do that,” the coach said. “I have to grow, too. I make mistakes and it is like, “Listen fat head, you have to wake up and make this change.” ”
Guevara was impressed by the team”s defensive intensity after a practice session on Tuesday and she will need the same defensive effort in tonight”s home opener against Marquette.
Michigan has also faced a lot of zone defense this season because of its dangerous post players. Centers LeeAnn Bies and Jennifer Smith are the first and fourth leading scorers on the team, respectively. Senior Raina Goodlow, the team”s third most prolific scorer last season, started the season slowly but broke out with 15 points against New Hampshire last Friday.
“People are so concerned with our inside game, and why wouldn”t you be?” Guevara said.
According to Guevara, Michigan faced a lot of zone defense last weekend because Bies scored 23 and 25 points in her first two games against man-to-man defense. With the zone, opponents challenge Michigan”s perimeter players to hit outside shots.
Guevara called Michigan”s 3-point shooting last season its “Achilles” heel,” but you wouldn”t know that after last weekend”s games. The Wolverines were 12-of-21 from behind the arc, including five triples by Alayne Ingram. She is only one 3-pointer shy of the Michigan career record and the team is counting on her to beat the zone defense.
“I think everyone and their mother knows that when we need a 3-point shot, Alayne Ingram is going to be the one we go to,” Guevara said.
Guevara does not know how much zone they will see tonight because Marquette plays both zone and man-to-man. Either way, the Wolverines will have to shoot better than 37-percent from the field, the number they put up last season in a 67-58 loss.
“When we played Marquette last year, they were on a four game losing streak,” Guevara said. “We went there, and we got drilled. We got out-hustled, we got out-rebounded, and they did a very, very nice job of defending our penetration.
“They get after it. This is our home opener. We will not be out-hustled, we will not be out-worked. They are averaging 17 offensive rebounds a game. I will break something if they get 17 offensive rebounds.”