Defense may not always be glorious, but it is imperative. Offense sells tickets, but defense wins games.

This fact is not lost on the Michigan women”s basketball team. Coming off two impressive offensive performances last weekend, including Sunday”s 62-percent shooting from the field against Syracuse, the Wolverines (3-1) are confident that their offense can fill the seats.

But Michigan also showed it can play defense to win games as it put together two imposing defensive halves over the weekend. The problem is these two halves came in different games.

Against New Hampshire on Friday, Michigan put together a superb second half of defense as it held the Wildcats to just 19 points on 28-percent shooting. Then on Sunday against Syracuse, the Wolverines played excellent defense in the first half, holding the Orangewomen to just 31 points.

But in each of these games, the defense was only able to hold up for one half. Michigan needs to find a way to play good defense for 40 minutes. The key to this lies in keeping up the defensive intensity.

“When our defensive intensity went down, obviously so did our defense,” coach Sue Guevara said.

The Wolverines have been stressing defensive intensity in practice this week. It is the intensity in practice that translates to good defense in the games. For example, Stephanie Gandy has been a solid defensive player for the Wolverines, due in large part to her work ethic.

“I think I”m one of the top defenders on the team because I work so hard,” Gandy said. “(Guevara) always puts me on the best player, period.”

Playing primarily on the wing, Gandy can find herself isolated with no one to help her. It is at these times that denying the middle of the floor becomes crucial.

“I try to keep them out of the middle,” Gandy said. “I always have the mentality that if my player goes down the middle the whole defense is dead.”

Despite high intensity, at times players will get beaten. This is when the second part of the Michigan defensive scheme becomes imperative. If she is beaten, Gandy immediately calls out to the rest of her team that someone is in the middle.

This type of communication is essential to playing defense. Talking on defense makes the other defenders” jobs easier.

“Sometimes you get caught watching your player and it helps a lot when someone is calling shot,” Guevara said.

The Wolverines place great importance on team defense, which is a result of good communication on the floor. It falls to the players to call out screens, picks and back picks for each other.

“If you are beat and you don”t call help, your teammate won”t know you”re beat,” Gandy said.

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