In the majority of her seven years at Michigan, coach Sue Guevara has kept her defensive strategy plain and simple: The Wolverines start off the game in man-to-man, then when tired, turn to man-to-man, and during the stretch run, utilize a healthy dose of man-to-man. At times, the zone has made a guest appearance when defending an out of bounds play, but it quickly disappears when play settles and the Wolverines have had a chance to switch back to their patent man-to-man.

In Sunday’s 71-68 victory over Indiana, Michigan snagged 12 steals and produced 20 Hoosier turnovers – relatively normal numbers for the Wolverines’ pressure man. Only one problem: For much of the game, Michigan wasn’t running its bread and butter.

“They had been struggling from the floor, so in order to make that difficult for them, we stuck with the 1-3-1 zone until they figured it out, and then we switched to a 2-3 zone,” Guevara said.

1-3-1? 2-3? What about M-A-N?

“You don’t want to be too predictable all the time,” Guevara said.

The Wolverines have diversified their once man-heavy defensive approach, hoping to rattle opposing teams with a foray of defensive sets.

“I know as a point guard you always have to read the defense, and if we keep switching it up on them, it takes them more time to get in sync,” freshman point guard Rachael Carney said. “We can throw them off guard a little bit, which is what we are really looking to do.”

The Wolverines have especially taken a fondness to the steal-friendly 1-3-1.

“It’s a different look for us,” Guevara said. “With our 1-3-1, I think it lends us to trapping a little bit more. We’ve got decent size to run it, and the kids really like it.”

Guevara is keen on how much ground the 1-3-1, a very widespread defensive set, covers

“If you’ve got big kids with long arms, it looks like it’s going to take up the whole half court,” Guevara said.

Although Carney, who has started at point guard for the last two games, is just in her first year with Michigan, she is a seasoned veteran, Guevara says, in the Wolverines’ favorite new set.

“Rachael Carney ran a 1-3-1 when she was in high school, so she’s very familiar with it up top,” Guevara said.

Senior captain LeeAnn Bies supports Michigan’s varied defensive gameplan because it gives the Wolverine’s more flexibility.

“It makes us very adjustable and adaptable in a game situation,” Bies said. “If a team is pounding it down low, then we can go zone and sag it in, or if they’re hitting from the outside we can switch it up, and we’re not stuck in a defense.”

Look for the Wolverines to incorporate their new defensive attack in games against Northwestern tomorrow and Penn State this Sunday.

“We’re going to try and mix it up a little bit- change up what zone we’re running, and play some man,” Guevara said.

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