“The player development is the main thing I like (about Michigan),” Williams said. “You can see that they develop their players. They get them in the gym and they work them hard. And their hard work pays off.”
- MSU (17-11, 5-11, RPI: 33) @ #14 Michigan (22-7, 10-6, RPI: 13)
- Wednesday November 18
- Cliff Keen Arena
- TV: BigTenNetwork
- Radio: MGoBlue
Michigan returns to the floor for it's second Wednesday night special of the season against Michigan State as the two teams set out to battle for the State Pride Flag. Michigan currently leads the race including a 3-0 win over MSU by scores 33-31, 25-22, and 26-24. That's really close for a 3-0 sweep, and by all indications, that'll probably be the case again tonight.
Momentum Coming In
Michigan enters this game on a 3 game winning streak, but all three of those wins came against the 3 of the bottom four teams in the BigTen. To make it sound worse, two of those games involved Michigan squeaking by in 5 sets. That's not the way a top 15 team should be winning.
The Spartans also have struggled of late, including losing 3 of their last four. One of those losses was a respectable sweep by Illinois (the Illini are a top ten team), but the other two came at the hands of Northwestern and Indiana, teams guaranteed to finish the conference season with a losing record.
A little bit has changed since the last time Michigan faced the Spartans. In that last game, Lexi Zimmerman dislocated her thumb, and that has definitely made a noticeable difference in the team's play. While Lexi's thumb should be getting closed to healed. The last time I saw it was two weeks ago, still wrapped in the support brace. In the picture to the right, from mgoblue, you can see the thumb wrap at it's largest. You can also see some excellent control of her body.
Another player that has been missing is middle blocker Courtney Fletcher. While I don't have the exact diagnosis, her being on crutches with the ankle soft cast (or that's what it appeared to be, feel free to leave what you know in the comments) is still a fixture on the sidelines. Karlee Bruck has taken her place on the court, and has done well so far. Bruck was the starter to finish last season and has plenty of experience. She should be a solid replacement on the net.
The real loss with Fletcher's injury is on the serve. Bruck's serve is the reason she lost her starting job to Courtney in the first place. To try and keep a solid 6th server, Coach Rosen has been using Maggie Busch as a defensive specialist as a substitute. Busch has already had 7 service aces on the season, but she's very inconsistent, claiming 7 service errors as well.
What to Watch
While I think Michigan should be a heavy favorite across the board in this game, the Wolverines have been letting too many teams stay in close games. With teams like Indiana and Purdue, our team's talent can pull through. Against Michigan State, they'll have that added motivation which could really hurt Michigan. We need to keep the intensity high and not take the boot off their throats. If Michigan starts to let MSU go on any 5-0 run or better and we haven't called timeout, I'll start to worry.
Oh, and we need to cut down on the service errors.
Again, I'm not sold on these charts yet, but I think they may put a couple things in perspective.
|Serve Errors/Game||2.5||Serve Errors/Game||1.9||MSU|
|Passing Errors||29||Passing Errors||37||Michigan|
As I'm sure you all know, Michigan upset ranked Notre Dame in mind blowing fashion. That in its self is enough to make an amazing saturday for me. As I'm sure you also know by now, MSU lost, also in mind blowing fashion to CMU on a late field goal. And, as I'm sure you know, OSU lost to USC in yet another mind blowingly good game that was won in the final minute. I really don't know how this Saturday could've been better. It was simply perfect. All three of our biggest rivals lost and one of those teams played us. This doesn't make the Big Ten look like crap either, except for maybe MSU slightly. OSU had a good effort but came up short to my liking. MSU had a close game, but they lost to a MAC school. All in all, it was an amazing Saturday and I only see a possibility of two weekends beating this one (MSU and OSU weekends?). Thoughts on the weekend?