8 - Friday, March 18, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Michigan disappoints, falls to After promising
EMU in first round of WNIT start, season ends on
a sour note for Blue
By EVERETT COOK
Daily Sports Writer
YPISLANTI - The Michigan
women's basketball team went
into the WNIT as a clear favor-
narrowly MICHIGAN 59
missing EMU 67
Tournament. The Wolverines fin-
ished third in the Big Ten, their
best regular-season finish in 10
years and were expected to com-
pete with anyone. Even though
Michigan would not have a single
home game because of renova-
tions to Crisler arena, it still had
But just like that, the tourna-
ment - and the season - is over
for the Wolverines.
Michigan (10-6 Big Ten, 17-13
overall) took a short seven-mile
bus ride to Ypsilanti and was
upset in the first round of the
WNIT by Eastern Michigan,
67-59 on Thursday.
Sophomore forward Rachel
Sheffer led the team with 20
points, but after a while, the con-
tinuous beating she and the rest
of the Wolverine post players
received started to take a toll. The
Eagles (10-6 MAC, 23-12 overall)
played a tough, physical game
and didn't allow any easy buckets
"We got outplayed. In physi-
cal games we don't do very well,"
Michigan coach Kevin Borseth
said after the game. "They came
out and came after us, and they
'out physicalled' us tonight."
The staple of the Wolverines'
offense is making 3-point shots
that are set up from working
into the post. But even when the
double and triple teams down
low left perimeter shots open, the
Wolverines were not able to capi-
Sophomore forward Rachel Sheffer scored a team-high 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting against the Eagles on Thursday.
By CAITLIN SMITH
Daily Sports Writer
YPSILANTI - This was the
year the Michigan women's bas-
ketball team was supposed to defy
all odds. Though the Wolverines
finished the season just 17-13 over-
all, their season was marked by a
number of outstanding feats and
Michigan started off its Big Ten
season 2-0 for the first time since
the 1999-2000 season, after riding
a hot-streak of three consecutive
wins against ranked opponents -
including then-No. 24 Boston Col-
lege, No. 12 Ohio State and No. 14
Iowa. Michigan then went on to.
sweep the Buckeyes for the first
time in 10 years with a last min-
ute comeback win on the road. But
within the past four days, the Wol-
verines failed to grab an at-large
bid to the NCAA Tournament and
then lost 67-59 in the first round of
the WNIT to Eastern Michigan.
After coming into the postseason
as one of 31 teams selected with an
automatic bid, Michigan was sent
home in round one. Needlessto say,
Michigan was expected to win. In
fact, the Wolverines were a poten-
tial contender for the WNIT final.
"I mean it was a roller coaster,"
senior guard Veronica Hicks said
after the game. "The seasons are
full of ups and downs. Somebody
said something about peaking too
soon, and so I guess we maybe hit
a hot streak a little early."
After such a promising start to
the season, Michigan can't help but
wonder what led to its gradual fall-
out near the end of conference play
- a slump that was all-but exacer-
bated in post-season play.
In the final month of the sea-
son, the Wolverines went 4-6. That
included two losses to Minnesota,
a home-court stomping by Penn
State and a 55-47 loss to Illinois,
the 11th-ranked teaminthe confer-
ence, in the second round ofthe Big
According to Michigan coach
Kevin Borseth, his team simply
didn't have the defensive game
that it needed to succeed down the
"Defensively we're not really a
team that can impose our will on
other teams, and Ithink that really
hurts us," Borseth said. "That's
where our recruiting has to go - to
get kids who can guard, so we can
at least, on one end of the court; be
a lot better."
The Wolverines did have their
high moments defensively, includ-
ing against Ohio State when Michi-
gan held four-time Big Ten Player
of the Year Jantel Lavender to a
career-low 10 points. But the Wol-
verines ranked 10th in the confer-
ence in rebounding defense and
allowed their opponents an aver-
age of 62 points per game. And
Michigan's season was plagued by
a handful of embarrassing losses
to inferior teams like Marquette,
Detroit, Minnesota and Illinois.
"It was very frustrating before a
game trying to figure out how we
were going to match up - who was
goingto match up with who - and
we just gave up too many points
this year," Borseth said. "We gave
up too many easy baskets and the
games like this right here, when
your defense should be able to step
up and dominate."
With Hicks as the sole senior to
graduate from the squad, Michigan
has promise to come back next sea-
son with a strong, young team. But,
as a lesson learned from this sea-
son, the Wolverines will need to be
careful with wheretheir promising
'looks will take them.
talize. Michigan shot just 19 per-
cent from the field, including 15
percent in the second half against
"We just have to be good with
the ball, and all-in-all it's about
putting it into the hole, and that's
the bottom line," senior guard
Veronica Hicks said. "We were
getting good looks and they had
to go in."
The key to Eastern Michigan's
game plan is forcing turnovers.
The Eagles were able to do just
that against the Wolverines, forc-
ing 19 turnovers. And down the
stretch when Michigan desper-
ately needed a bucket, the Eagles
forced a couple key turnovers,
sealing the game.
Eastern Michigan also scored
14 points in transition, often tak-
ing the momentum back from
Michigan right after it scored a
big bucket. Before tonight, the
Wolverines talked a lot about
sticking to what it's good at, but
the Eagles were able to control
the tempo and control the game.
"When the game is fast and
physical, we just didn't do very
well this year," Borseth said. "And
that's how this game is played."
Michigan played solid defense
on the perimeter, forcing a lot of
bad shots. It's interior play wasn't
as good, allowing a lot of easy.
buckets underneath. The Wol-
verines defense deteriorated as
the game went on, as the Eagles'
physical style of play began wear
Michigan down. As open shot
after open shot failed to go in
for Michigan, the offense's inef-
fectiveness began to affect the
"We had some really good
looks and just couldn't buy a bas-
ket," Borseth said. "Around the
hole, from the outside, I mean,
you have to be able to make bas-
kets. Sooner or later your defense
is goingto cave in."
Whether it was the Eagles
physicality, Michigan not being
able to hit a shot or the Eagles'
green uniforms giving them an
extra lucky spark on Saint Pat-
rick's Day, it put a disappointing
damper on a Wolverines season
- a season that started off with
great promise. Michigan will
be forced to watch the rest of
the tournament from home, and
Hicks - the emotional backbone
of the Wolverines - will never
put on a Michigan jersey again.
"Right now it's just very emo-
tional," Borseth said. "It's very
just, sick. I don't know what the
word is for it ... I just don't think
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