In their last three games, the Wolverines shot a combined 31 percent from the field.
And for a team with postseason aspirations, that’s not cutting it.
“If we can’t shoot the ball better than we are now, we can’t beat anybody,” Borseth said after the loss to Penn State last Thursday.
Against Michigan State and Penn State, Michigan shot 28 and 29 percent in the first half. And on Sunday, they team shot 37 percent to the Badgers 46.
But the Wolverines always play their best games in the second stanza, so there was hope. But even when they are able to step it up in the last 20 minutes, they haven’t been able to dig themselves out of their first-half holes due to lack of offensive performance.
“We came out a little bit on,” Hicks said after the loss to Wisconsin Sunday. “But then we didn’t get a few calls and we flattened out in the first half and we dug ourselves in a hole and unfortunately that hole was insurmountable tonight.”
Michigan had numerous free-throw chances in all three defeats, but only on occasion did those really make a difference, and never in the eventual outcome. Against Penn State, freshman guard Dayeesha Hollins shots from the charity strip with fifteen seconds remaining gave the Wolverines a second chance, sending the game into overtime before they lost 71-65. Against Wisconsin – a team that shot 46 percent at Crisler last Sunday – free throws were Michigan’s saving grace, allowing them to stay in the game before coming up short.
Recruiting assets: After nine winning seasons as head coach at Wisconsin-Green Bay, Kevin Borseth had some adjusting to do when he came to Ann Arbor three years ago.
And in his third year as the Michigan women’s basketball coach, it looks like those adjustments are finally beginning to pay off.
Borseth inherited a squad largely made up of upperclassmen, and in two seasons, eight seniors graduated, giving him a chance to rebuild the program.
Last season, the starting roster was made up of four seniors and the team record was 10-20. Neither of Borseth’s first two recruits at Michigan averaged even 20 minutes per game.
This year, he has had six new freshmen to work with, handpicked by Borseth himself. And while NCAA tournament hopes are all but gone, the squad is 14-12 with two games left in the regular season.
Starting with now sophomores-Carmen Reynolds and Courtney Boylan, Borseth has been able to pick the players he sees potential in, as well as players who are coachable and adaptable.
“I saw (freshman guard Dayeesha)Hollins in a tournament down in Atlanta,” Borseth said at Big Ten Media Day at the end of Oct. “One time was enough for me. She was a junior. They had a shootout in Atlanta I was watching her play. And I said there ain’t no way we’re getting this kid. She’s a good guard. She’s very good.”
After playing as reserves in their first year, Reynolds’s and Boylan’s impacts are felt this year. Reynolds shoots almost 50 percent from downtown, and has scored double digits in all of Michigan’s conference victories this season. Boylan consistently provides a spark off the bench.
While Borseth hasn’t had that same success he had in Green Bay just yet, that could be different a few years down the line when the players Borseth recruited are juniors and seniors. They sure have shown flashes of success.
When she is performing, Hollins puts up double digits and takes the ball down the court with surprising conviction for a freshman.
“You know, you hate to put the weight of the world on the kid,” Borseth said at Big Ten Media Day. “But I think Hollins is a real good player. She’s legit. She can move. She plays the way I coach. She’s a natural for what we do.”
Hollins and freshman guard Jenny Ryan have started every game this season. And while Ryan’s contributions are the ones you don’t see as much on stat sheets, she is second on the team in rebounds, only four behind only 6-foot-6 senior Krista Phillips.
Senior Shine : Senior guard Kalyn McPherson scored a season high eight points in the last 10 minutes of the Wolverines’ loss to Wisconsin Sunday. Off the bench, she contributed five points to Michigan’s 12-5 run, putting the Wolverines within four with four minutes remaining.
“I just tried to provide a spark for the team coming off the bench,” McPherson said. “A lot of (posting up), it’s just body strength and body position, learning how to score.”
McPherson, 5-foot-7, took over 6-foot-6 senior center Krista Phillips’s usual role, penetrating the Badgers’ defense to post it up for all eight points.