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January 20, 2011 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-01-20

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8A - Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

8A - Thursday, January 20, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Wohlberg shines in
bounce-back season

Blue defense crumbles .
in early Big Ten action

By MICHAEL FLOREK
Daily SportsEditor
Why has the No. 6 Michigan
hockey team won seven of its past
eight games? Part of the answer lies
in one of the Wolverines' biggest
question marks headed into this
season.
Junior forward David Wohlberg
has eight points in Michigan's past
eight games and is second on the
team with11goals.
But after struggling with a nag-
ging back injury all last season,
health was a concern as October
dawned and the puck dropped
inside Yost Ice Arena. Without a
clear-cut diagnosis on what was
ailing Wohlberg, it was unknown
whether the injury would fester
into this season.
"If you talk to the doctors that
have talked to him and have looked
at the X-rays and so on, they can't
tell you exactly," Michigan coach
Red Berenson said after practice
Tuesday. "A back is like a moving
target. This isn't defined. It's not
'this' and when 'this' gets better,
the back will feel better."
A hampered Wohlberg mustered
10 goals and 27 points his sopho-
more season, a step backward after
a surprising 15 goal, 30-point fresh-
man campaign.
In his first season with the Wol-
verines, the South Lyon, Mich.
native came in as a gritty forward
who was good with the puck. He
entered the spring as CCHA Rookie
of the Year.
"I thoughtI was justcgoing to try
and play, get in the lineup, help the
team any way I could," Wohlberg
said. "I started off on the fourth
line, just fighting for a spot every
night. Puck luck started happen-
ing - going my way - and I slowly
moved up."
But then the back troubles start-
ed. Though Wohlberg missed just
one game last year, he frequently
sat out of practice early in the week.
Berenson said he "never really got
going." Wohlberg called ita "disap-
pointment." However there were
still some flashes of his goal-scoring
ability.
In Michigan's double-overtime

By BEN ESTES
Daily Sports Writer
in the wake of the Michigan
men's basketball team's subpar
defensive performance on Tues-
day night in its 74-60 loss to North-
western, one may find it difficult to
believe that the same group - just
a week-and-a-half prior - was able
to hold then-No. 3 Kansas to just 51
points in regulation.
But iii recent games, the Wol-
verines' defense has been playing
like a completely different unit
from the one that stifled the high-
powered Jayhawks - and not in a
good way.
Before the conference opener
against Purdue on Dec. 28, Michi-
gan had played stifling man-to-
man defense all season, holding
opponents to 38.1 percent shooting
from the field and just 56.7 points
per game - top-SO in the nation at
the time.
In Big Ten play, the Wolverines
(1-5 Big Ten, 11-8 overall) have
allowed 72.8 points per game,
fourth worst in the conference and
befitting of their 10th-place stand-
ing in the league.
"Our will is there," junior guard
Stu Douglass said after the North-
western loss. "Our eagerness is
there. Maybe we're a little too anx-
ious.
"We're just not staying poised.
One through five, everyone out
there is not playing solid every
single possession. That's basically
going to take the win out from
you."
Part of the problem has been
foul trouble for several Wolverine
starters. Even with its full roster
available, Michigan is thin and
inexperienced as it is.
So when key contributors like

sophomo
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got
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ore point guard Darius "Several of our guys have
freshman forward Evan got to learn the hard way about
z (against Indiana) and (fouling)," Beilein said after fac-
freshman forward Jor- ing Indiana on Saturday. "It just
rgan (against Ohio State) disrupts us. It's been a persis-
d to go to the bench after tent problem. We're trying to
up cheap fouls, the team find ways to remedy it, whether
een able to keep up defen- we bench them, whether we run
them, whether we just continue to
s, for example, played just teach them."
lutes in the first half on Whatever the reason, the Wol-
t Wisconsin and just nine verines just haven't been getting
on Tuesday night before enough stops. The Buckeyes shot
k. Against the Badgers, it 52.4 percent from the field in their
urprising when an out-of- 68-64 win. Indiana scored 80
Morris couldn't contain points and shot 67.4 percent while
part Jordan Taylor, who outrebounding Michigan, 37-18.
game open in the second And the Wildcats only turned
route to a game-high 20 the ball over five times against the
Wolverines, shooting 48.2 percent
in the process.
After the Ohio State game, Mor-
gan pointed to how difficult the
ur guys have Buckeyes were to defend because
of how many weapons they had.
to learn the And the Hoosiers, according to
Beilein, simply missed an astound-
rd way about ingly low number of shots, though
he also admitted his team played
(fouling). y poor defense.
As for Northwestern, Beilein
added: "They're as good of a pass-
ing team as I've seen, (and) they
Morris's quickness and shoot the ball so well ... We had
sm would've been useful trouble guarding that. We fought
rst half on Tuesday. Many as hard as we could, but truthfully,
ailed switches and rota- they're a much better team than us
defense left star Wildcat right now."
John Shurna open on the Though the Wolverines won't
er. Shurna, who is battling have a talent or experience advan-
e injury, scored 22 of his tage against the many higher-
s in the first half - nearly ranked teams they face in their
he 12.5 points per game he remaining games, tough defense
aged to that point in con- often just requires hustle.
play (a step down from his With Michigan's lack of fire-
verage of 19.3). power, it will have to start getting
gan coach John Beilein more stops to turn things around ,
be running out of answers - as was the case in the near upset
rith this issue. of Kansas.

JAKE FROMM/Daily
Junior David Wohlberg is second on the eam with 11 goals scored this season.

loss to Miami to end the season,
Wohlberg scored one of the Wolver-
ines' two goals, had a couple break-
aways and launched four shots on
net - the most on the team.
That momentum continued into
this campaign. Wohlberg, who
hasn't had any trouble with his
back this season, had five goals in
Michigan's first seven games. But
after a roller coaster career through
two years, the ride didn't stop
in his third season. It hit a down
slope. Wohlberg registered just two
points in the next 10games.
"He got off to such a good start,
and I think he thought everything
was going to keep going that way,"
Berenson said. "Well it doesn't keep
going that way. And sometimes
you're lucky and sometimes you're
good. But I think Wally got into
some, maybe taking it for granted
or just expecting things to go well."
At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Wohl-
berg is big, but not overly intimidat-
ing. He's reserved when talking to
the media. But according to Beren-

son, despite his good-natured man-
ner off the ice, it's Wohlberg's grit
that defines him on the ice.
In the past eight games, he's
found the scoring touch again. Last
Saturday against Ferris State, with
Michigan shorthanded, Wohlberg
went after a loose puck at center ice.
He pushed away a Bulldog defense-
man, who arrived at the same time,
away and fed it to senior forward
Scooter Vaughan, who was break-
ing into the zone. Vaughan did the
rest to put the Wolverines up 4-0.
That hustle play came in between
Wohlberg's two goals that night.
His three points in the game tied
his career high.
"Right now you're seeing what
you get," Berenson said. "An hon-
est player, working hard and his
game's starting to come together. I
thought that was his best weekend
of the year."
So why has Michigan won
seven of its past eight games? Look
to plays like Wohlberg's assist for
the answer.

And
athletici
in the fir
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tions on
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CHRIS RYBA/Daily
Sophomore guard Darius Morris and the rest of the Michigan defense has allowed opponents to score 73 points per game.

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