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October 14, 2010 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-10-14

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8A - Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
By Ben Estes I Daily Sports Writer{

Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Robinson has refused to speak with media this season.
Coach Robinson,
it',s time to start talking

As the defensive coordinator
of the Michigan Wolverines, you
should be willing to answer ques-
tions about
your unit -
even when
you give up 45
points and the
questions will
undoubtedly be
negative. Rob-
inson should
feel compelled JOE
to at leastgive STAPLETON
an update about
the defense
every once in a while, even ifit's
for nothing else than the 100,000
people packing the stadium every
Saturday, for one of the most loyal
fanbases in college sports.
That was written by former
Daily Sports Editor Andy Reid
almost one year ago. It was the
end to a column asking Michigan
defensive coordinator Greg Rob-
inson to answer to the media fol-
lowing several games in which the
defense played extremely poorly.
That column was written during
one of the worst statistical stretch-
es in Michigan history. And a year
later, the same thing is happening
all over again.
The Wolverine defense is cur-
rently ranked 112th out of 120
Football Bowl Subdivision teams,
allowing more than 450 yards
per game. Only one team, Tulsa,
is worse against the pass. The
Michigan unit allows more than
26 points per game, and the only
outlier performance against Con-
necticut in the first game of the
season keeps that average out of
the 30s.
And Greg Robinson still isn't

After every game, win or lose,
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez
goes in front of the media and
answers questions. Then, there
are a select few players who speak.
After that, it's a free-for-all in the
Crisler Arena parking lot to get
other players and coaches. Nearly
every coach, win or lose, will stop
and talk for at least a few minutes
to reporters.
But not Robinson.
It kind of makes sense, in a
twisted way. Why would Robinson
want to talk after all these games
in which his defense plays so poor-
ly? No one wants that job.
Certainly not redshirt junior
defensive end Ryan Van Bergen.
After one of the most disappoint-
ing losses in recent memory to
Michigan State last Saturday, I'm
sure that Van Bergen, along with
many of his teammates, wanted
to crawl into a hole for a while
and not talk to anyone. I certainly
would have.
But there he was at the podium.
The game had clearly taken its toll
on him, physically and emotion-
His voice was hoarse and soft.
His eyes were red and puffy and
disbelieving and vacant. It was
painfully obvious that right there
at that podium was the one place
in the world he didn't want to be at
that moment. Despite all of this, he
stood there and he took questions
about the defense, which gave up
more than 520 yards to the Spar-
"Run defense is simple. Every-
body has one gap," Van Bergen
said. "You're accountable for that
gap, and we weren't in the right
one twice. Same play. We have to
figure it out, we will figure it out
and we'll bounce back from this."

I know it's hard, Coach. But if a
21-year-old can do it, so can you.
I don't know enough about
football to tell you exactly what's
wrong with the defense. ButI
know enough about sports to know
that good coaches make their
teams overachieve. And right now,
this defense is underachieving on a
massive scale.
Sure, this defense is playing a lot
of freshmen in the secondary and a
coach can't force his players to get
off blocks. I get it. But they should
be playing better than they are.
The coaches and players both
contribute to what happens on Sat-
urdays, and Robinson is contribut-
ing far too much to how poorly his
defense is playing to not occasion-
ally step in front of the media and
be held accountable.
Even making Rodriguez answer
for the defense every week seems
a bit unfair to the coach, who has
admitted to being mostly con-
cerned with the offensive side of
the ball.
I'm not asking for a pound of
flesh. Just a simple quote. The
point is that it's Robinson's obliga-
tion to speak with the media. Does
Rodriguez feel like talking to the
media after a loss like that? What
about offensive coordinator Calvin
Magee? What about sophomore
quarterback Denard Robinson
(especially after throwing three
No, no and no. But they do.
Instead of leaving his defensive
players and his head coach totake
responsibility for what are undeni-
ably at least partly his shortcom-
ings, Robinson needs to be held
accountable. It's the professional
thing to do, and more important,
it's the right thing to do.
So do it.

I t was 1901, and the sun was
still nowhere close to setting
on the British Empire.
And it was Great Britain, the
political and social monstrosity of
early modernity, diffusing its home-
grown games across the planet.
So at the turn of the 20th cen-
tury Miss Constance Applebee - a
member of the British School of
Physical Education - came to the
United States, stick and ball in tow,
and showed off her country's cre-
ation at a Harvard Summer School.
Field hockey had arrived in
And 109 years after Applebee,
freshman forward Rachael Mack
traced Constance's path to the
States, though she detoured about
830 miles west and landed in Ann
Just over a month into her
Michigan career, Mack has already
become a standout. Only in the
U.S. since the summer, the Brit has
stampeded past any concerns of a
cultural adjustment to help lead the
Michigan field hockey team to its
best start in several years.
Howshegot to Michigan, though,
is a somewhat serendipitous story.
Mack didn't begin playing the
sport until she entered middle
school at the age of11-relatively late
in English terms, though still early
compared to most Americans.
But even before she ever picked
up a stick, the Bromsgrove, England
native had dreamt about crossing
the Atlantic.
"I actually wanted to come to uni-
versity in America since I was about
five years old, just purely because
I'm a big sports person and sport
here is, like, huge," Mack said after
a recent September practice. "So I
always wanted to come and play. I
wanted to experience a new country
and play with different people."
When it came time to seriously
considere her college field hockey
options, Mack, who had experience
playing for her school (Bromsgrove),
Olton, a club team in England's
Women's Premier Division, and
the English U-18 women's national
team, first started to gather infor-
mation via U.S. College Prospects, a
recruiting company.
For Michigan, it's not a rare
occurrence to go international to
recruit for field hockey - the sport
is larger in countries in Europe and
even South America. Various mem-
bers of the Wolverines' staff have
recruited in places like Argentina
and Uruguay in years past.
In this instance, assistant coach
Ryan Langford received a tip from
an old coaching friend, Michael
Boal. Boal had several players in
England who he knew were poten-
tially interested (and skilled enough)
to play field hockey in the States.
Boal was one of Mack's coaches at
Olton. He had seen enough of her to
know that it was worth Michigan's
time to get a closer look at the for-
Heeding his advice, head coach
Marcia Pankratz sent Langford over
to watch Mack in April 2009, as she
was playing in a tournament with
the U-18 national team.
Langford said that Mack played
"outstanding" and Michigan was
determined to recruit her, but
because of NCAA contact rules,
he could only communicate with
the forward via email. Eventually,
though, the coaches were able to get
a visit lined up for her.
"She and her mother came to Ann
Arbor during Art Fair and we got to

show them around," Langford said.
"(It was) beautiful while they were
here, and I think they fell in love
with it."
Contact continued between both
parties until last fall. While Michi-
gan was on a road trip to Louis-
ville during the season, Langford
received a call from the young Brit
making it official - Mack would be
a Wolverine.
From the beginning, if it was
going to be America, it was going to
be Michigan for Mack.
She could have stayed home in
England and played collegiately
there, or possibly. elsewhere in
Europe. But as Pankratz said, "peo-
ple know Michigan all over the
The same combination of athletic
success and academic excellence
that draws students and athletes
from all over the country managed
to have the same effect on a girl
halfway across the world.
"I looked at various other places,
but I really like it here because aca-
demically it was really good," Mack
said. "And I knew I'd be pushed
physically and mentally if I came
here playing hockey, so it just really
appealed to me. The coaching staff
and the girls I met when I was here
were all really nice, so that kind of
inspired me to come here as well."

In some cases of international
players coming over to play colle-
giate field hockey in the States, ath-
letes may only stay for a year or two
before going back home and con-
tinuing their careers there.
But Mack says she loves it here
too much to do anything but stay all
four years and get her degree. For
a Wolverine team that already
relies on the freshman heav-
ily, that's a good thing to
"(We) got luckyk
you might say,
because she's
working out
outstanding for us," Langford said.
Mack made her presence known
early on in the season. In just the
team's fifth game, she scored twice
and assisted on the game-winning
goal as the Wolverines defeated
then-No. 14 James Madison 4-3 in
She went on to score once more
in the team's 4-0 win over Central
Michigan two days later and was
rewarded by being named the Big
Ten Offensive Player and Co-Fresh-
man of the Week.
But Mack wasn't done yet. After
strong performances against then-
No. 19 Albany and Quinnipiac, she
was named Big Ten Freshman ofthe
Week for the second straight time,
and collected the award once again
for her play last weekend against
Miami (OH) and Iowa.
"I was really chuffed with (the
awards)," Mack said. "I didn't even
know they were awards ... I was
really, really happy with that. I
think I've been playing well, so I'm
just chuffed that it's come out like
Her languagereveals that Mack is
a fish outof water of sorts ("chuffed"
is British slang for "excited"). So one
wouldn't necessarily expect her to
be able to have the early impact that
she has had.
Mack scored in five straight
games from Sept. 10 to Sept. 24 and
currently leads the team in goals
with nine, good for fourth in the Big
Ton. She has been key in the Wol-
verines' recent run of nine wins in
ten games, defeating four ranked
opponents in the process and nearly
toppling then-No. 1 Maryland on
Oct. 3.
Part of it is her experience play-
ing against top European competi-
tion, but it is more a reflection of her
skill and personality. She's supreme-
ly talented, and also mature enough
to jump right in to collegiate action.
Pankratz said that the coaches
hoped for an early impact from
Mack, which is a key reason they
recruited her in the first place.
"She's a very polished, skilled
player," Pankratz said. "We knew
that she's a dangerous striker and
that's why we recruited her and
(her) certainly coming in and hit-
ting the ground running, we're
not surprised. We're certainly
happy that she's been able to do
Ask Rachael Mack what's been
the most difficult adjustment about
life in America and she doesn't hesi-
tate to give you an answer: the food.
"(It's) having to eatreally healthy
and not (being able) to eat the stuff
that's in the dorms ... I do like it.
There's just loads more of it," Mack
said, laughing.
Her parents, though, were very
receptive to allowing Mack to
come to America. The family lived
in Texas for a year when she was
a child because of her father's job.

And because her parents knew it
was their daughter's dream to play
in the U.S., they were happy to let
her go.
They moved her in like any other
freshman, but they can't hop a
trans-Atlantic flight every weekend
to see their daughter play. Mack
communicates with them on Skype
whenever she can, and they are
planning to visit in the next month.
But that's not alot of contact when
you consider just how significant
Mack's move was.
Still, the freshman seems to be
handling it all remarkably well. She
says that she hasn't been nearly as
homesick as she thought she'd be,
and a big reason is the open arms
with which she's been received.
"Sometimes, if you have bad
games, it's hard when your parents
aren't there but it's been good so
far," Mack said. "(Coach Langford's)
been great ... and all the freshmen.
The three captains have been really
helpful just explaining stuff I don't
understand or stuff like that."
Added Langford: "I think
Rachael's a very self-aware per-
son. She's not someone who has to
be taken by the hand and dragged
through. She can take careofherself
for sure."
The United States women's field

the Olym-
pics since
1996, and even
then, America -
only made the
field because it was
the host.
Yet in Britain, the sport's birth-
place, field hockey has enormous
So why would Mack - a player
with past national experience and
future Olympic aspirations - take
a competitive step down for her col-
lege years? The answer lies in the
fact that the quality of play in the
U.S. is often understated, she said.
"I think it's kind of a miscon-
strued idea that (the sport) is not
as popular here because I think it's
definitely up-and-coming," Mack
said. "I did a lot of research into it @
before I came.
"I'd say (U.S. and English field
hockey) are actually pretty similar.
I think actually fitness here is prob-
ably better. Skill may be better in
England, but on the whole, people
work really, really hard both places"
That difference in emphasis is
commonly noted. Because Europe-
ans start playing the sport so much
earlier, they tend tobe more skilled,
whereas Americans place a greater
importance on fitness and endur-
Mack struggled early on in
meeting the more rigorous train-
ing demands at Michigan than she
was used to, but is in much better
shape now. Adding that element to
her game only makes her more well
rounded, and puts her one step clos-
er to being a complete player - one
that can dominate in any country.
"Her knowledge of the game is
outstanding, whether she's on the
ball, whether she's off the ball, she's 0
always moving into good spots,"
Langford said. "And if she refines
herself, makes fitness a goal, she's
going to have a great chance to rep-
resent England in the Olympics or
the World Cup."
That's after Mack completes her
goal of helping Michigan win the
Big Ten for the first time since 2007,
of course.
Despite her breakout perfor-
mance, the Sept. 10 win over James
Madison was significant for Mack
for a different reason.
Everything - her English life,
her new American one, her field
hockey career - came full circle for
the forward.
Standing on the opposing side-
line with a front-row seat for Mack's
goals and game-winning overtime
assist was Boal.
Her former club coach had start-
ed applying for jobs soon after Mack
had committed to Michigan and
eventually landed an assistant posi-
tion with the Dukes.
There was Mack: the first home
game of her career, playing a nation-
ally ranked team, staring down a
3-0 deficit, and seeing the coach of
her childhood pacing the sidelines
just a few yards away.
Mack promptly scored twice in
the first five minutes in the sec-
ond half - the first two goals of
her career - to begin what would
become the Wolverines' signature
win in 2010.
"The interesting thing about
that is ... if (Boal) had gotten
that job earlier, Rachel probably
would've gone there, just (to) fol-

low her coach," Langford said.
"Who knows?"
Luckily for Michigan, she didn't.
So began a partnership: England
and America, Mack and Michigan,
one that Pankratz called a "win-win
for everybody."
Back in June, England and the
United States were set to square off
in each team's opening match of the 0
World Cup, the single biggest sport-
ing event on the planet.
Mack was less than a month
from starting her new life in her
new country, and here was the first
clash between old and New - with
thoughts of America looming on her *
mind, would she be tempted to root
for her soon-to-be adopted home-
"I was thinking 'Come on Eng-
land,' obviously," Mack said. "I'm
still a Brit"

Caporusso finds scoring stride
in season's first few matchups

Daily Sports Writer
Entering the Michigan hockey
team's fifth game last season, Wol-
verine forward
Louie Caporusso NOTEBOOK
was still searching
for his first point after being a Hobey
Baker finalist during his sophomore
But when it came to postseason
hockey, Caporusso was ready to
play. He notched five goals and eight
assists in an eight-game run during
the CCHA Tournament and NCAA
regional play.
And Caporusso has carried his
torrid scoring pace into his senior
season, wasting no time in finding
his way into the box score.
Just fifteen minutes into Wolver-
ines' season opener against Mercy-
hurst, Caporusso took a pass from
senior defenseman Chad Langlais
and buried the puck in the back of
the net to give Michigan a 1-0 lead.
And he hasn't slowed down yet.
Through three games this year,
Caporusso has a team-high six points
- a number he didn't reach the 12th
game in 2009.
Caporusso acknowledges that his
early-season success has taken a load
off his shoulders.
"I put a lot of pressure on myself
coming into (last year)," Caporusso
said. "I expected a lotof myself, peo-
ple expected a lot out of me, and I got
down on myself too much and didn't
get a chance to play well because I
was so hard on myself."

A key turn-around for Caporusso
last season was Michigan coach
Red Berenson's decision to pair the
center with then-sophomores Luke
Glendening and David Wohlberg.
That line proved tobe the Wolver-
ines' strongest throughout the post-
season, and Berenson has kept them
together in the early-goings this fall.
"They have a lot of camaraderie
and chemistry on that line rightnow,
and Louie isn't the only one playing
well, they're all playing well," Beren-
son said.
Caporusso is the first to credit
his linemates for bolstering his per-
formance thus far. Wohlberg is tied
with Caporusso and senior forward
Matt Rust with a team-leading two
goals apiece.
"When you've got the same
guys on your line it helps so much,"
Caporusso said. "You know what to
expect, you know what you're going
to get every day. You start to get a
feel for each other, and right now I
just feel so in tune and in synch with
Luke and Wally."
junior netminder Bryan Hogan went
down with a groin injury during the
final weekend of the regular season
last year, Berenson and the Wolver-
ines were forced to live or die by the
goaltending of backup Shawn Hun-
Fortunately, they lived, riding
Hunwick's 5-foot-7 frame all the way
to the NCAA regional finals in Fort
Wayne, Indiana.
When the team reconvened this
fall, both goalies were back for their

senior years, and the starting job has
been up in the air.
Through three games and two
exhibition matches, Berenson has
alternated goaltenders in every
game. But he switched up the order
this week, playing Hogan in a 4-0
shutout of the U.S. National Team
Development Program Under-18
team on Tuesday. That decision
has given Hunwick an opportunity
between the pipes against No. 9 New
Hampshire this upcoming Saturday.
Berenson has not discussed any
plans to select a starter as of yet -
he may continue flip-flopping the
two goalies all season if they both
continue to perform up to expecta-
"We think they're both going
to play well, and it gives us a one-
two punch in goal," Berenson said.
"It was a good game for Hogan (on
Tuesday), Hunwick's got a tough
game going into New Hampshire.
They don't lose much at home, so this
will be a good challenge for him."
INJURY REPORT: Rust participat-
ed in practice yesterday after sitting
out earlier this week due to a lower
body injury sustained against Bowl-
ing Green last Saturday. ... Glenden-
ing took a puck to the hand before
the U.S. NTDP game and sat out
for the game, but he also was back
in practice yesterday. ... After ding-
ing his shoulder during the second
period on Tuesday, sophomore for-
ward Kevin Lynch did not practice
the following day. But according to
Berenson, Lynch will practice on

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