STATE COLLEGE About a month ago, the Michigan women”s basketball team was flying high. After winning 10 straight, the team had its sights set on winning the Big Ten, hosting its first ever regional and advancing farther then the team has ever gone before. But what is the team working on now?
“Passing and catching,” coach Sue Guevara said.
After falling to 1-5 in the Big Ten, to say the wheels have come off this team would be an understatement. A ranked team that beat defending national champion Notre Dame, Louisiana State in Baton Rouge and Washington in Seattle is now yearning to beat anyone.
“It”s back to the point where my very first team was way back when,” Guevara said of taking over a program that was 7-20 in the 1995-96 season before she was hired. “Because they had been beaten so badly before it”s like they walk into a gym saying “let”s lose, but let”s just lose close.”
The problems with this team on and off the floor are numerous.
While the Wolverines held teams to 35.7-percent shooting from the field in nonconference play, opponents have been shooting 45.3 percent against them during Big Ten action. After out-rebounding teams by more than 12 rebounds a game in non-conference play, Michigan”s rebounding edge has evaporated to about two boards a game. And the team continues to turn the ball over at an incredible rate 19 times a game in conference play.
“We”re not playing smart basketball,” Guevara said. “and we”re not playing team basketball.”
But the most alarming problem with the Wolverines is the lack of intensity they have shown in recent games on both sides of the ball.
“I believe it”s a very mental thing right now,” Guevara said. “It”s like, OK, if we can improve passing and catching, if we can improve our free throws, if we can improve being in weak side. It”s almost like we have to take baby steps.”
While the team has shown bright spots at certain times as Jen Smith played very well on Sunday against Penn State and Susana Jara and Stephanie Gandy stepped up in bigger roles on Thursday against Ohio State Guevara and her coaching staff are currently at a loss for how to turn this team around. Guevara is even considering bringing in Michigan Kinesiology professor Tom George an expert on the psychology of sport performance as a team consultant.
“He worked with us for a while early and I”m game to do anything and everything,” Guevara said. “We have to go back to Basketball 101, and I have to pray to God that I can get people to respond.”