Usually, beating Duke in basketball is considered a good thing, but don”t tell that to Mark Ehlen.
Ehlen, the head coach of Toledo”s women”s basketball team, will admit that it was a good thing when his Rockets upset then No. 4 Duke on Nov. 18. But he will also point out that the 71-65 upset of the Blue Devils had some negative effects on the team as well.
“It hurt us a little bit because we thought we were better than what we are,” Ehlen said.
That thought carried over to Toledo”s next games. The Rockets hit the road and it has not been pretty since then, as they dropped winnable games to Evansville and DePaul. The DePaul loss was especially poignant for Toledo (3-4) because it was a result of a failure to capitalize on opportunities.
By stunning Duke in its home opener, Toledo established itself as a premier defensive team. The Rockets have allowed just one team (Xavier) to score more than 70 points in a regular season game. The 105 points put up by the Muskateers was not indicative of the Rockets defense, as the game went to three overtime periods and two of the Rockets” best players fouled out before the third overtime expired. The Xavier loss was one of the low points for Toledo this season.
“A three-overtime loss at Xavier is not where we want to be,” Ehlen lamented.
Toledo, like Michigan, has been on the road for most of its nonconference schedule. This schedule has taken its toll on the Rockets, who have won just two out of six games on the road this season. Fortunately for Toledo, it will be returning home tonight to face No. 14 Michigan (7-1) at 7 p.m. Ehlen hopes the team will be able to turn things around during this four game home stint.
The Rockets must ask themselves if they can pull out another upset at home this week. But Toledo will not face another shell-shocked team like Duke. Michigan is coming off an incredible finish in a hostile environment against Washington.
“I think the lesson to be learned from that is that we are a very capable basketball team of weathering the storm, weathering the momentum change, the changes in the game and playing in front of a noisy, boisterous crowd,” Michigan coach Sue Guevara said. “I think we found out that we can really maintain our composure.”
Tonight”s game will test the Wolverines” poise. The game features a desperate Toledo team that has shown flashes of brilliance and a Michigan team that has won seven games in a row.
These wins have come in different ways for the Wolverines. They have blown out teams like Notre Dame and New Hampshire and they have won in the last minute, as they did against Washington. One key to Michigan”s success in all of its victories has been the balance it possesses.
“I think you play a team like Michigan, and there is not just one thing they do well,” Ehlen said. “They are strong inside, but if you take that away, they are strong on the outside. Any time you have that, you have a good thing going.”