Welcome to the eighteenth opponent profile for the 2003-2004 season. Each profile will include information about the opponent’s women’s basketball team and a player or coach on the team. Web page addresses will follow each section. Look for a profile on each opponent 1-2 days before the tip-off.
The Wolverines enter Thursday’s game with an overall record of 10-12, 3-6 in the Big Ten conference. The squad has lost its three most recent games at Iowa, versus Ohio State, and at Illinois. Other losses have come at the hands of Minnesota, Penn State, and Michigan State. The Wolverines were victorious over Indiana, Northwestern, and Wisconsin.
Coach Cheryl Burnett’s squad has a nice blend of experience and youth, with five of the 12 players being either juniors of seniors. Five of the Wolverines stand taller than six feet, including senior center Jennifer Smith and junior forward Tabitha Pool.
On offense, Michigan isn’t the best shooting squad in the conference (35.8% FG-tenth, 21.5% 3-pointers-eleventh), but the team does a good job on the offensive boards, corralling 13.78 per game, third-best in the conference. Because of those rebounding efforts and a decent showing at the free throw line (72.5%-fifth), the Wolverines average 56.4 points per game, which places them eighth in the conference. While Michigan doesn’t average many assists per game, it also doesn’t turn the ball over a lot. Michigan’s 0.77 assist:turnover ratio is sixth-best in the conference.
Defensively, the Wolverines are average among conference teams, although they do have a +1.4 rebound per game margin over their opponents, fifth best in the conference. Opponents have been able to shoot fairly well against the Wolverines, making 44.5% of their field goals and 33% of their three-point attempts. But while the Wolverines don’t turn over the ball much, they don’t force their opponents into many either: 14.6 in conference play. Michigan also doesn’t rate highly in steals or blocks per game, with 8.11 and 1.89 per game, respectively.
The Michigan women’s basketball team’s official website can be found at:
Senior center Jennifer Smith is looking to make her final year in the conference a memorable one, as she currently ranks in the top 15 of six different categories in conference play. She leads the Big Ten in scoring (20.9 ppg), is tied for fifth in offensive rebounds (3.11 per game), seventh in rebounding (7.1 rpg), eighth in free throw percentage (83.1%), thirteenth in field goal percentage (47.8%), and tied for thirteenth in defensive rebounds (4.0 per game).
Jennifer has caused problems for the Boilermakers in years past and looks to continue that role on Thursday. The left-hander from Lansing, MI, is undoubtedly the Wolverines’ leader offensively and the Michigan players know to get the ball to her as often as possible: she averages just over 15 field goal attempts and seven free throw attempts per conference game. She receives support, however, from 6’1” junior Tabitha Pool (14.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.75 spg in conference play) and 5’10” senior Stephanie Gandy (10.8 ppg. Six-foot sophomore Niki Reams hits the boards well, especially on the offensive end.
Jennifer has been an on-and-off starter during her first three years in Ann Arbor, improving upon her statistics each year. She shot better than 50% from the field all three years and shows an excellent touch from the charity stripe as well, making 81.5% of attempts in three years. If she continues at the pace she’s set this year, Jennifer may be named first-team All-Big Ten as she is probably the best center in the conference.
Jennifer Smith’s bio page on the official Michigan women’s basketball website can be found at:
Michigan attacks the glass well when it’s got the ball, so the Boilermakers will have to do a solid job ending Wolverine possessions with a defensive rebound. Michigan doesn’t shoot well from the field, and there may be plenty of opportunities for both teams to snare rebounds. The guards will especially have to work hard on rebounding because the Wolverines attempt an average of 18 three-point shots per game. Because they’ve made just 21.5% of those in conference play, the court may be littered with long caroms.
Teams are shooting pretty well against the Wolverines, so the Boilermakers shouldn’t rely on just outside shots in Crisler Arena. Emily and Lindsey may get back on track against the Wolverines if the guards can find them on the block and Shereka has done well against the Wolverines many times in her career, including a school record 40-point effort in a game that clinched a share of the Big Ten championship her sophomore year. As usual, getting the most out of offensive opportunities by limiting turnovers should be a priority for the Boilermakers.
Purdue may be able to wear down Michigan, both offensively and defensively. The Wolverines may have to play Smith, Pool, Gandy, and Reams a lot to keep their offense flowing. If Purdue bench is able to score points and keep the pressure on those Wolverines to hit big shot after big shot, Michigan may wear down. Sharika, Carol, Ashley, Erin, and Katie will have to step up and play as intensely as the starters if the Boilermakers are going to win.