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January 22, 2009 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2009-01-22

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8A - Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com



Daily Sports Writer
This season has been a tale of two
roads for the Michigan women's
basketball team.
In coach Kevin Borseth's second
season at the helm, the Wolver-
ines have managed a 6-2 record at
Crisler arena, downing perennial
powerhouses Vanderbilt and Notre
Dame along the way. We'll call this
the "Yellow Brick Road."
But on the road, away from com-
fortable Ann Arbor - well, that's a
different story. Michigan is a dismal .
1-7. The team has lost easy matchups
it needed to win to build a worthy
NCAA Tournament resume. This is
more like "The Road To Perdition."
So, where does the team stand at
midseason? At a crossroads, that's
for sure. Here's how the Wolverines
did in the first half:
(best team performance)
This is an easy one - Michigan's
63-59 overtime win over then-No. 8
Notre Dame. Last season, the Lady

Irish embarrassed the Wolverines
by 30 in South Bend. In this redemp-
tion game, Michigan played its most
well-rounded game of the year, shut-
ting down the Irish offense and hit-
ting clutch shots on the other end. A
marquee win like this could get the
attention of the NCAA Tournament
selection committee.
(worst team performance)
A 58-49 loss to Akron - ouch,
that one hurts. The Wolverines' loss
to the Zips sent the squad on a road-
game tailspin that hasn't ended yet.
Michigan shot a season-low 29 per-
cent and had 22 turnovers. What's
with the Mid-American Conference
owning Michigan this year, any-
(most noticeable disappearance)
Junior Krista Phillips runs away
with this award. With opposing
defenses paying extra attention to
the six-foot-six-inch center, her pro-
duction has vanished this season.
After a sophomore campaign that

saw her average 10 points and six
rebounds, Phillips been replaced on
the court by senior Stephany Skrba.
Four points a game isn't going to cut
it from someone who was All-Big
Ten Honorable Mention last year.
Congrats, sophomore Veronica
Hicks. Since the beginning of the
season, the guard has inched her way
into the lineup and solidified the open
spot left by Janelle Cooper after she
graduated lastyear. Hicks's offensive
game - she's reached double-figure
points in four of the last five games
- is finally startingto catch up with
her stellar defense.
Yes, senior Jessica Minnfield has
shot just 23 percent from 3-point
range, but she's not necessarily the
Most Valuable Player for her statis-
tical contributions. But she is, hands
down, the Wolverines' floorgeneral.
And when she's on the bench, the
team lacks the poise and aggressive-
ness that are vital to a team's suc-
cess. Michigan's fate rests squarely
on Minnfield's back.



Senior Melinda Queen has averaged
seven points a game sofar this year.

Senior Jessica Minnfield has earned the Daily's midseason MVP award.

'M' to fight shooting woes and Hoosiers tonight

Daily Sports Writer
A basketball rim is one of the
great shape-shifters in sports.
Some nights, the rim looks like
the Pacific Ocean. On others, it
looks like a thimble.
In the Michigan women's bas-
ketball team's last three games, it
has taken the shape of the latter.
The Wolverines are in a major
shooting slump, especially from the
3-point line. They are shooting a
combined 24 percent from beyond
the arc during their three-game
losing streak.
"Well, it sure would help to put
the ball in the basket," Michigan
coach Kevin Borseth said of his
team's offensive woes. "That should
make a difference."
Michigan's shooting struggles
are nothingnew, but they're getting
worse. For the season, the Wolver-
ines are shooting just 37 percent
from the field and 28 percent from

behind the arc.
The numbers aren't great, but
they were enough for Michigan
to pull out some
tough victories Indiana at
over good oppo-
nents, includ- Michigan
ing two top-25 Matchup:
teams, Vanderbilt Indiana 13-3;
and Notre Dame. Michigan 9-9
The Wolverines When: Tonight
usually make up 7 p.m.
for poor shoot- Where:
ing with stellar Crisler Arena
defense, but even
that hasn't helped WTRadio:
as of late. KA
Recently, Mich- Live Blog:
igan shot 6-of- http://thegame.
35 on 3-pointers blogsmichigan
against Michigan
State. The Wol-
verines shot 55 percent from three-
point range in the first half against
Minnesota, and then made just two
3-pointers the rest of the game.
"Basketball is a game of runs,"

senior forward Carly Benson said.
"And right now, we're not on one."
But she also said no matter what
happens, this is not a team that will
get down on itself.
"Our team does a very good job
of picking each other up," she said.
"We're very complimentary of each
other. That will help us get out of
this slump."
At 9-9, Michigan is on the brink
of mediocrity after the season's
promising start to the season (8-5).
And it doesn't get any easier as
Big Ten giant Indiana comes to
Crisler Arena tonight. The Hoo-
siers boast a potent and well-bal-
anced offense, with all five starters
averaging double figures.
"I think they're the best offensive
team in the conference," Borseth
said. "They have the two best post
players offensively and they have a
WNBA point guard."
Senior forwards Amber Jackson
and Whitney Thomas both average
14 points per game.

As for the "WNBA point guard"
Borseth talked about, that would
be Jamie Braun. The praise is
well-warranted - Braun aver-
ages 12 points, five assists and five
rebounds per game. She dropped 19
against Iowa on Jan. 4.
Michigan always wants to get
the ball in the paint and it's not
going to get any easier against the
"People ask,'What's more impor-
tant, offense or defense?"' Borseth
said. "You need to be equally
good at both. Same thing goes for
3-pointers and shots around the
scoring zone. If you can't do both,
you're not going to be good at either
Accordingto Borseth, the way to
win is to get open shots in the paint.
And the only way to get open shots
in the paint is to hit 3-pointers,
which the Wolverines haven't been
able to do recently.
They had better hope they can

From page 5A
dumped it out," Berenson said.
"We had no retrieval. We had no
real outworking or outnumbering
the other team.... We work on this
in practice, but I can tell you, it's
been a real challenge for our play-
ers and our coaches."
After lastFriday's shutout loss to
Bowling Green, Berenson thought
the Wolverines got "too cute" with
the puck at times. Desperate for
great scoring chances, Michigan
tried zipping passesthrough heavy
traffic, which caused loose pucks
and turnovers.
The coaching staff is also-
searching for a consistent physical
presence who cansit in front of the
opposingteam'snet, blockcthe goal-
tender's vision and score goals off
deflections and rebounds. Senior
Travis Turnbull,junior Brian Leb-
ler and freshman David Wohlberg
have all tried wreaking havoc
around the crease, but Berenson
said Michigan's net-screening has
found "limited success." Because
power play success is streaky by

nature, there's no exact science to
bringing a struggling unit out of a
funk. Itnthe past,the coaching staff
has shown the players highlight
films of their power-play goals up
to that point in a season. Showing
the tapes is intended to have the
players learn from recent success
and maintain confidence.
The players don't believe the
cold streak has 'rattled them, but
they sometimes joke about escap-
ing reality any way they can.
"For power plays, I don't know
if it takes your confidence down
throughout the game," sopho-
more forward Aaron Palushaj said.
"When .we get on a power play,
some ofthe guys are like, 'Shit, let's
As quick as he is to illustrate
Michigan's shortcomings on the
man advantage, Berenson has also
put it in perspective.
"It's not a success rate," Beren-
son said. "It's a failure rate. 75 per-
cent of the time, the best power
play in the world fails. So you've
got to stay patient. You've got to
stay positive and you've got to stay


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Come to a Rhodes/Marshall/Mitchell Orientation Session:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 . 5:00-6:00pm
Koessler Room, Michigan League
Thursday, January 29, 2009 . 5:00-6:00pm
Pierpont Commons Center Room
Thursday, February 5, 2009 . 5:00-6:00pm
Kuenzel Room, Michigan Union


To learn more, please contact the Provost's Council on Student Honors at
734-763-8123 or visit the website at


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