I really thought I had a good sense of where our women's basketball team was at going into conference play. I knew we would be facing tougher defenses and would need to match or exceed the concentration and effort of our conference opponents.
Conventional wisdom would have said we would be sitting at 4-1 at this point in the conference schedule, losing at Penn State. Almost the exact opposite has happened along with the reschedule of the IU game at Mackey to this evening.
Instead, we find ourselves sitting at 1-3 in conference play. We knew that the unranked teams in the conference could win any game, but we lost to two unranked opponents (Ohio State and Northwestern) on the road, and also lost to unranked Michigan this past Wednesday at home. In the midst of all of that, we played probably our most complete game at Penn State and pulled the upset.
We have held our own in rebounds, and with the exception of one game, shot well from the free throw line. In the three losses, some of our team strengths became liabilities. Defense, both 2 point and 3 point shooting, really underperformed in these losses. I have to believe we will get our shooting touch back. But Michigan has shown the rest of the league that it is possible to limit both Houser and Moses. If other teams are having to try to shut down these talented seniors, then surely other players will have open looks. We need these other players to recognize what we are given and take advantage of it. Looks like our inexperience in the post is a problem. When we are scoring a lot in the post, teams will not be able to cover Houser and Moses with their outside shots. We need more options to go to when our 3-point shots are not falling. More taking the ball into the paint and getting fouled. That will definitely be an emphasis going forward. Also with such a guard heavy lineup, why do we have so many unforced turnovers? That is the $64,000 question. It can be really depressing watching us turn the ball over so much. At least we are getting steals and turning the other team over, too. What else can I say about turnovers? I guess it is just part of the style of basketball being played.
It would be logical to think that the season is lost. Certainly we have dug ourselves into a bad hole. But there is a lot of basketball to be played. We just have to continue to pull for our team and hope for more performances like at Penn State, and less like at Northwestern. We also need to get back to the smothering defense we have flashed earlier in the season. Michigan again proved that if you leave these players open shots, they are going to drain them.
I sure hope our team can get back on track tonight against IU. This has become a must-win game if we are to end the regular season in the top half of the conference. Plus it is IU and oh how we hate to lose to them. Despite their early season success, we should win this going away on our home court. Unfortunately I have to use the word "should." Come on, ladies, let's get back to our winning ways!