If Toledo’s Danielle Bishop, Detroit’s Joyce Massey and Central Michigan’s Angel Chan were tests for the Wolverine defense, then the Michigan women’s basketball team now looks like a straight-A student.

That’s because the Wolverines have always had an answer.

All three players posed threats to what was thought to be a mistake-prone Wolverine defense.

But in the end, they were all left scratching their heads, puzzled at how solid Michigan’s defense actually was.

Meanwhile, the Wolverines walked away with three wins.

Bishop, who was averaging 16 points a game, managed just five against the Wolverines.

Massey came in scoring 20 per game, but that didn’t matter either. She left Crisler Arena scoreless on 0-for-11 shooting.

And Chan, who lit the Wolverines (5-2) up last year with a 19-point performance, failed to get on the board against Michigan this year, too.

In fact in seven games this season, the team has allowed just one scorer to reach 20 points – and something that occurred 13 times during last year’s tumultuous 6-23 campaign.

The million-dollar question is, what’s accounted for the difference?

The easy answer is freshman center Krista Phillips, who has wreaked havoc in the paint defensively. In Tuesday’s game alone, she swatted seven shots, frustrating the Chippewas and forcing them to shoot from the outside.

“She’s just a big house,” Central Michigan guard Sharonda Hurd said after the game. “She made us think twice about going inside.”

Michigan coach Cheryl Burnett’s personnel changes have forced teams to think more, too. After the team’s loss to Ball State two weeks ago, she decided to shake things up by playing a taller lineup.

That choice has yielded positive results.

Not factoring in last Saturday’s ugly loss against No. 5 Duke, the Wolverines have allowed just 45 points per game – 11 less than they were averaging before the change.

The team’s preparation before each game has also helped. Burnett has made sure her team knows exactly who the opposing team’s offense goes through.

“We were really well prepared for this team,” starting point guard Jessica Minnfield said following Tuesday’s victory. “We practiced all their plays, we worked together as a team and we rotated onto their shooters. We’re doing really well as a defense.”

Preparation is needed for this weekend’s matchups, as the Wolverines will host Notre Dame and Miami (FL) at Crisler Arena tonight and Sunday, respectively. The Irish’s Charel Allen is scoring nearly 16 points a game, while Miami’s Renee Taylor tallies 21 a contest.

Although the Irish (4-2) and Hurricanes (6-1) enter Crisler Arena playing good basketball, Michigan has every reason to believe it can come away victorious.

“We’re trying to start a tradition,” sophomore forward Melinda Queen said. “We’re finally trying to make a change from last year and show that we’ve improved this year.”

Notre Dame at Michigan

When: Tonight, 7 p.m.
Where: Crisler Arena

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