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January 11, 2005 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-01-11

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 11, 2005 - 11

Starling shines

Hensick provides
offensive value


e Wright

By Stephani
Daily Sports W

ng spot
sive skills, but did believe that she wasn't
working hard enough. After Michigan
suffered a lopsided loss to Western Michi-
gan on Dec. 14, Burnett knew her team
needed a spark.
So she reluctantly named Starling a
starter for the following game at Maine.
"She actually hadn't worked her way

Jessica Starling is usually a shooting
guard and sometimes a forward. But in a
few of the Michigan women's basketball
team's early-season games, Starling occa-
sionally took over the point guard role from
freshman Krista Clement.
On some possessions,
Starling took the ball from
Clement and was able to
run the offense, despite her }'
background of inexperience. 7
Before coming to Michi- C
gan, the Tallahassee, Fla.,
native had played organized
basketball for years but never the "struc-
tured" form of the game that coach Cheryl
Burnett employs. So in addition to adapt-
ing to Burnett's offensive and defensive
schemes, Starling had to learn a whole
new vocabulary.
"All through high school I was taught
that you guard your player and don't let
her score," Starling said. "But now I have
to guard four other players on the court.
It's just a matter of key words that I had
never heard before."
It took time for the freshman to learn
the meaning and use of terms like "help
side" and "jump to the pass," and this
learning curve limited her playing time
early in the season. In the Wolverines' first
five games, Starling logged just 10 min-
utes per game and averaged 3.4 points.
Burnett never doubted Starling's offen-


into the lineup," Burnett
said. "It's not a way that I
like kids to get in the lineup.
a < . I said, 'Jessica, here's your
Sta& V opportunity.' And I told her
. r she hadn't earned it."
Once Starling got her
________chance, she proved she
deserved it. In just her third
game as a starter, the freshman scored
16 points and grabbed six rebounds
and followed that performance with a
15-point afternoon against then-No. 10
Michigan State.
But Clement has been most impressed
with the increasing amount of effort Star-
ling has shown, especially in Michigan's
60-43 loss to Purdue Sunday. At one point
in the game, Burnett told her team that
someone other than Starling needed to
take a charge, producing giggles among
the players.
"Early in the season, we wouldn't say
(Starling) is the girl who's going to take a
charge or get a dive," Clement said. "It's
nice to hear that she's starting to do the
things that we need to do to win basket-
ball games."
It hasn't been a perfect transition for

Freshman Jessica Starting is averaging 5.2 points per game this season.

Starling. She was held to just five points
at Northwestern last Thursday and did
not start against the Boilermakers. But
Starling was more upset about getting
into foul trouble and not being able to
contribute than about starting the game
on the bench.
"I think it only matters who finishes
the game," Starling said. "Starting doesn't
determine the game. It's what you do in
the minutes that you play."
For the Wolverines to end their seven-
game losing streak tonight against No.
9 Ohio State, they will need Starling to

produce offensively. The Buckeyes lead
the Big Ten in scoring with 76.5 points
per game - 16 points higher than Mich-
igan's average. While the Wolverines
will try to contain Ohio State's explo-
sive lineup, it may be most effective for
them to try to match the Buckeyes point
for point.
It's a role Starling seems made to fill.
"She has offensive flair," Burnett said.
"We needed something offensively, so we
inserted her into the lineup. And she has
given us a whole new added dimension on

f the Michigan hockey team
keeps playing this wild first-to-
six-goals-wins style of hockey,
then its forwards are going to have
to keep scoring at a torrid pace. And
when called upon to create opportuni-
ties and score goals, Michigan must
keep looking to sophomore center T.J.
Hensick's remarkable skating and
stick-handling ability were on display
Saturday against Western Michigan
when, on a power play, he took the
puck from behind the net and circled
out to the high slot. He surveyed the
ice and headed toward the goal. A
defender made him juke right, and,
before he knew it, he was heading
back to his original position behind
the net. He had literally skated a
circle around the four Broncos on the
ice. Few players in college hockey are
fast enough to do that.
Hensick is not just a speedster,
though. His passing ability was
apparent last season when he led the
CCHA in assists as a freshman. But
this year, he has taken his game to
the next level. He leads Michigan
with 13 goals this season. He scored
12 all of last season. Michigan
coach Red Berenson appreciates that
Hensick has evened out his assist-to-
goal ratio.
"I like the fact that he's a threat to
score," Berenson said. "Even (Wayne)
Gretzky reached a point where he
needed to shoot the puck more so that
then he'd be a threat to score. Then
(the defense) would come to him, and
then he would make a play."
In addition to his 13 goals, the
sophomore sniper has already tallied
15 assists in 19 games thus far. He is
on pace to score more points than he
did last season when he led the Wol-
verines with 46 points in 43 games.
He tallied a combined two goals
and two assists in Michigan's 6-4 and
6-5 wins over Western Michigan on
Friday and Saturday night. In both
shootouts, Western Michigan was the
team to first light the lamp, and, in
both instances, it was Hensick who
played a critical role in leveling the
score to keep the Wolverines from
falling too far behind.
On Friday night, Hensick found
himself in the right place at the right
time. He was just to the side of the net
when senior Milan Gajic fired a shot

at Broncos goalie Daniel Bellissimo.
The rebound squirted to Hensick,
who promptly evened the score at 1-1.
On Saturday at Western Michigan
- one of the most hostile environ-
ments the Wolverines have played in
all season - the Broncos fed off their
crowd and looked to push their lead
to 2-0. But almost immediately after
Michigan was granted its first power
play of the game, it was Hensick who
set up the tying goal. Hensick skated
behind the net and centered the puck.
The puck was deflected but found
Milan Gajic at the top of the left
circle. Gajic slapped the puck into the
net, and the Wolverines were back in
Hensick's value was even more
apparent during the three games
that he missed this season. In the 19
games that Hensick has played this
season, Michigan has averaged 4.7
goals per game. And in the three
games that Hensick has missed,
Michigan has averaged just two goals
per contest.
Berenson benched Hensick for a
game against then-No. 2 Wisconsin.
The veteran coach wanted to send a
message to his leading scorer that he
needed to make a better effort on the
defensive end of the ice. However,
he maybe should have waited for
the Wolverines to compete against
a weaker team. Without Hensick,
the offense sputtered, and Michigan
lost 3-1.
Hensick also missed Michigan's
two games in the Great Lakes Invita-
tional Tournament when he traveled
- with fellow Wolverines Mike
Brown, Matt Hunwick, Al Montoya
and Kevin Porter - to play for the
U.S. squad at the World Juniors
Championship. Without its young
star, Michigan's offense stalled
again. After a 4-2 win over a lowly
Michigan Tech squad (2-17-1), Michi-
gan struggled on offense against a
familiar foe: Michigan State. The
Wolverines dropped a 2-1 decision
in overtime against the Green and
White. Earlier this season, Michigan
swept the Spartans in a weekend
series, winning 4-2 and 5-4 on the
strength of three goals by Hensick.
Going into this weekend, Berenson
was not sure how much he would be
able to get out of his players who had
just returned from the World Juniors,
but apparently, he learned his lesson
from the Wisconsin game. In Satur-
day's 6-5 win, Hensick received the
most ice time of any Michigan player.

Hostile atmosphere doesn't faze Blue

By Matt Venegoni
Daily Sports Writer
Going into the season, 70 percent of the Michigan ros-
ter had never played in a collegiate game. Accordingly,
many of the players did not have experience competing
in hostile atmospheres. In their 60-43 loss at Purdue
on Sunday, the Wolverines were introduced to Mackey
Arena - a loud, raucous crowd that
was all too willing to let the officials
know if they had made a mistake. ,
"I think (Mackey) affects teams a
lot," Purdue forward Lindsay Wis-
dom-Hylton said. "We were talking
about this the other day. Everyone is
so close, so the crowd is right there
to get in their heads - make them turn over the ball."
At the beginning of the season, senior forward Tabitha
Pool knew that it was important for the upperclassmen
to teach the freshmen how to approach road games. Pur-
due's home court proved to be a test of how much the
freshmen learned from Pool, senior BreAnne McPhila-
my and sophomore Kelly Helvey - the three non-fresh-

men on the team.
Throughout the game, the large Purdue crowd of
11,783 fans yelled and harassed both the officials and the
Wolverines. Because of their intensity, the Boilermaker
fans even seemed to affect Michigan's plays as they were
being called out. But the coaching staff thought the young
Wolverines responded well.
"It's a great game environment," Michigan coach
Cheryl Burnett said. "I thought our players responded
extremely well. Something (that has) affected (us) regard-
less of the numbers in the crowd has been turnovers. I
really don't think that the crowd was the problem, but I
never underestimate the homecourt advantage."
LET'S GET PHYSICAL: The Big Ten is known as a physical
and rough conference, and Sunday's game was no excep-
tion. The game featured many loose balls, hustle plays
and even an accidental elbow to the nose.
"I think we were hustling, diving on the floor," Pool
said. "Everybody was contributing, and that really
In the first eight minutes of the game, Michigan shot
just 11 percent from the field but was still making hustle
plays. At one point, freshman point guard Krista Clem-

ent dove on the floor to retrieve a loose ball. She was
able to flip the ball to Pool, who converted the layup.
With the Wolverines struggling from the field, it was
imperative that they took advantage of high-percentage
With less than a minute left in the first half, freshman
forward Ta'Shia Walker grabbed a rebound and looked
for a teammate to receive her outlet pass. As she swung
her elbow around, she hit Purdue sophomore Erin Law-
less in the nose. The foul seemed to energize Lawless, as
she scored 12 of her 16 points in the second half.
"As soon as I got hit in the nose, it kind of brought up
the spark," Lawless said. "We just knew that they were
going to be tough and come in hard defensively."
CASHING IN: Michigan shot a season-low 28 percent
from the field, but was able to hit its free throws to stay
in the game until late in the second half. With everyone
but Walker struggling with her shooting, getting to the
free throw line proved to be the difference for much of
the first half.
"(Making free throws is) important, which means we
have to attack the basket and draw more fouls," Pool said.
"It kept us in the ballgame a little more."

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