That is what the Michigan women’s basketball team faced – this time in the form of No. 22 Notre Dame.
Although the Wolverines’ defense was poor at best, their offense didn’t pull any of the slack, either.
Michigan interior cog Krista Phillips was mitigated by early foul trouble, and the Fighting Irish defense simply dominated a mediocre Wolverine offense.
“We’ve got people coming after us,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said. “Seeing the amount of free throws that we’re shooing and saying ‘You know what? They’re a piece of cake. We’re going to come after them and just bury them.’ “
After losing Phillips, Michigan was forced to move the bulk of its offense to the perimeter. Though the Wolverines had several open shots from 3-point range, they converted just five of their 22 opportunities.
“They didn’t shoot well from the 3-point line, which helped us,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said.
But the Wolverines made the most of a bad situation, ending the game with two quality 3-pointers from junior Jessica Minnfield after two strong offensive possessions by the Wolverines.
Despite the Wolverines’ success in garbage time, they played poorly on offense. Many of the Wolverines’ 22 turnovers came because of careless passes and Notre Dame’s pressure defense.
“Part of the problem is not being in the right spot,” Borseth said. “They’re mixing their zone, and we had some troubles getting into what we wanted to get into.”
Michigan was clearly frustrated by Notre Dame’s full-court pressure and mixture of man-to-man and zone defense. The Wolverines couldn’t adapt to the Irish’s defensive changes, which put them into a 33-18 deficit at halftime.
Road Warriors: Michigan has played its last six games on the road and has had woefully little practice time at home. The Wolverines played at Texas A&M on Thursday, giving them just two days to prepare for the Irish.
Crisler Arena hosted the NCAA Volleyball Tournament, relegating Michigan’s practice to the IM building Friday and at Eastern Michigan Saturday.
“With time constraints and being shuffled around makes it really difficult (to prepare),” Borseth said. “But it is what it is.”
Although the team’s preparation was limited for three games against top-25 teams, Borseth’s ultimate goal is to be prepared by the end of the year.
“I’m not going to desert the kids that play on that court. I guarantee you, I promise you, at the end of this year you’re going to see a different team,” Borseth said. “If you think we’re done playing basketball, you’re crazy.”
Quite a Crowd: Not only did the Irish enjoy the advantage on court, but they were also serenaded by the fourth-largest home crowd (10,825) in program history. The large showing was a stark difference from Crisler Arena’s normally sparse crowds, and the Fighting Irish faithful also stayed the entire game despite the lopsided score.
“It gives you an adrenaline rush when you play in front of a lot of fans,” Michigan senior Janelle Cooper said. “It gets you into the game and it kind of makes you want to quiet the crowd a bit.”