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November 17, 2011 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-11-17

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 7A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Thursday, Novemher 17, 2011 - 7A

Elmblad, Ryan emerge
as unheralded heroes


Sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz has scored a total of 27 points as a starter in Michigan's first two games of the 2011-12 campaign.

Blue looks for complete effort

Daily Sports Writer
While the game of basketball
would be nothing without the
stars that helped shape it, there
is something to be said for the
tary players Utah at
on the court
- those whose Michigan
contributions Matchup:
may not always Utah 1-0;
appear on the Michigan 2-0
scoreboard, When: Thurs-
but are crucial day 6 P.M.
for winning Where:
games. Crisler Arena
For the
Michigan TV/Radio:
women's bas-
ketball team,
those players are junior guard
Jenny Ryan and freshman guard
Nicole Elmblad.
Ryan is a returning starter
renowned by teammates and
coaches as a hard worker who
has the talent to create oppor-
tunities for her teammates.
On Monday in a game against
Florida Atlantic, Ryan racked up
nine steals, eight assists and four
rebounds to lead the Wolverines
to victory after trailing in the
first half.
"Jenny makes a lot of things
happen," said Michigan coach
Kevin Borseth. "She's got really
fast hands, always tryingto make
her teammates better, and she's
got the ability to shoot it. She's a
tough kid, a tireless worker and I
think the kids feed off of that.
"I think good players create
and do things for themselves,
but great players make the play-
ers around them better. I think
Jenny is one of those players."
While Ryan had the steals
and assists locked down, Elm-
blad led the team in rebounding,
grabbing a total of seven boards
for the Wolverines. While her
four points and three assists
went relatively unnoticed, Elm-
blad filled a very important role
for the Wolverines on the glass.
This complementary style of play
seem st tb e miut watBorseth

"(Elmblad) really melds in
well with the other players,"
Borseth said. "Everything she
does seems to flow with the rest
of them. If her teammates aren't
where they are supposed to be,
she knows to get to that spot.
She knows how to move offen-
sively, and defensively she is very
smart, and makes great deci-
sions. She's a strong-willed kid,
which is hard to teach."
Borseth is a huge advocate
of rebounding and going hard
after the ball. It's clear that he's
imparting these skills well onto
his young players, who see these
skills as a top priority going into
Thursday's matchup against
"We're planning to go out
and not let up on the boards,"
Elmblad said. "We can't afford
to take any possessions off. This
game is going to come down
to everyone making the effort
to grah rehounds, hoth on the
offensive and defensive ends."
Aside from its strong rebound-
ing, Utah demonstrated its abili-
ty to put points on theboard with
its 74-60 victory over Southern
Utah last Monday. Borseth and
Ryan are convinced that the
game will come down to much
more than justrebounding.
"Defensively, Utah is very
stingy and offensively they are
very pointed," Borseth said.
"They know exactly what they
want to do, they take care of the
ball, they are spreadbutstrategic
at the same time. They are ateam
that really controls the pace on
offense and mucks it up with
their great one-on-one skills on
defense. It's going to be a chal-
lenge for us."
Those inside looks will likely
go to the hot hands of the team's
leading scorers, junior center
Rachel Sheffer and senior guard
Courtney Boylan, but it's impor-
tant to remember where those
passes are coming from. Those
players - the Ryans and the
Elmblads of the program - are
who Michigan will rely on when
the gamei an theline

By BEN ESTES more about perfecting their own
Daily Sports Editor collective game than worrying
about the challenges Ferris State
The Michigan men's basket- and Wayne State presented.
ball team knows that a lapse in "I think it's a little bit of both,
focus like it had in the second but we're really focusing on
half of Monday's win over Tow- ourselves," Hardaway Jr. said.
son won't cut "(We're) just trying to make sure
it against top W. llinois at that everyone's on the right page
competition. W I (and we're) preparing for the
The Wol- Michigan game."
verines played Matchup: W. While Michigan has looked
"lackadaisi- Illinois 0-1; very good at times, not every-
cal," in the Michigan 2-0 thing has been clicking. The
words of soph- When: Thurs- team has yet to play a complete
omore guard day 8:30 P.M. game from start to finish, some-
Tim Hardaway thing players said is the goal
Jr., allowing Crisler Arena Thursday night against the
the Tigers to Fighting Leathernecks.
shoot 52.4 per- TV/Radio: The Towson game was symp-
cent in the sec- ESPN3 tomatic of that.
ond half and The Wolverines went on a 21-0
make the game a lot closer than run to start the game and knock
it should have been. the Tigers out of the game, but
With the Maui Invitational then slipped defensively when
- and the bevy of storied pro- closing out the contest.
grams No. 17 Michigan (2-0) will Meanwhile, after the hot
be up against - looming next start, Michigan's offense went
week, the team knows it has to stagnant - it, too, has yet to
take advantage of its final pre- fully get off the ground. A lot of
tournament game against West- that is due to missed open shots,
ern Illinois (0-1). but the Wolverines have shot
While not disrespecting their themselves in the foot by been
opponents in the early going, the settling for too many outside
Wolverines recognize that their opportunities.
first few contests have been "When we drive, good things

happen," said sophomore for-
ward Evan Smotrycz. "We've got
guys who can get to the rim and
plenty of guys who can shoot it. I
think the game will get a lot eas-
ier if we don't just start shooting
threes right away.
"We've got to get the easy
baskets, the transition baskets,
(and) work on getting two feet in
the paint."
But Smotrycz hasn't been the
problem. The Reading, Mass.
native has put his added weight
to good use this season. In a
stark contrast from last year,
just nine of his 27 points so far
have come from 3-pointers. Last
season, Smotrycz was often con-
tent to hang on the perimeter
and fire from deep - this year
he's shown an affinity to scrap
around the basket and score off
cuts, adding new dimensions to
his game.
"Evan's points (against Tow-
son) were a great step," said
Michigan coach John Beilein. .
"None of them were pretty, but
he just found ways to get the ball
in the basket. That's a big step
for him."
Beilein said that the team
needs to score more points from
"just executing our offense,"
as much of Michigan's produc-

tion has come from transition
opportunities off defensive
stops. Those fast-break chances
won't come with as much con-
sistency against tougher oppo-
nents, meaning the Wolverines
have to develop more flow to
their offense - particularly
with freshman point guard Trey
Burke now poised to run the
team full-time.
Western Illinois, which
Beilein called a solid defensive
team, presents a good oppor-
tunity to do so. The Fighting
Leathernecks fell at Dayton,
87-58, making the coach's words
ring a little hollow, but the team
was down just three points at
Again, though the team may
not say it, Michigan should have
no problem dispatching Western
Illinois on Thursday. The true
challenge for the Wolverines is
to come through with a complete
effort in preparation for what
lies ahead.
"(It's about) just playing the
whole 40 minutes on the defen-
sive end," Hardaway Jr. said.
"Trying to be a top-ranked
team, or trying to be up there
with the top-ranked teams,
you can't you do that. You can't
slack off."

Hoke addresses Robinson's fumbles at QB

Daily Sports Editor
According to Michigan offen-
sive coordinator Al Borges,
there was one way the Michi-
gan football team could have
"screwed it up" against Illinois
last Saturday - by fumbling the
For the most part, the 22nd-
ranked Wolverines held onto
the ball just
fine en route NOTEBOOK
to a 31-14 vic-
tory. But there was one player
Borges noted - junior quarter-
back Denard Robinson - who
fumbled twice in the first half.
Often this season, Borges has
been asked about Robinson's
difficulties throwing the ball.
During his Tuesday press con-
ference, it was a different story.
"The issues with Denard, I
think, were pretty much ball
security deals," Borges said.
"Other than that, he didn't real-
ly throw the ball too bad."
On a 2nd-and-5 play late in
the first quarter, Robinson kept
the ball after play-action, run-
ning into a swarm of Illinois
defenders. The three Fighting
Illini just ripped the ball out of
his hands.
"There was a lot of pulling
and scratching, all that kind
of stuff," said Michigan coach
Brady Hoke of the play. "The
guy hits the ball right and you're
trying to get some extra yards or
you're trying to make a play, and
you lapse a little bit in your ball
Later in the second quarter,
Robinson dropped back to pass
and was pancaked by a pair of

Illinois defenders, sending the
ball flying in the air and squash-
ing an opportunity for Michigan
to build on its 14-0 lead.
Borges said Robinson needs
to be more aware of when he's
about to get hit in the pocket.
"We have to keep the ball
inside the perimeter of your
shoulders, so that you naturally
brace when you get hit," Borges
Robinson also had a costly
fumble two weeks ago in the
24-16 loss to Iowa when he
held the ball with one hand as
a Hawkeye defender pressured
him. Falling to the ground, Rob-
inson tried to keep his balance
but lost the ball as his hands hit
the turf.
"He got the ball away from his
body one time when he was run-
ning," Borges said. "You usually
fumble when you're fundamen-
tally bad.'You don't keep the ball
with five points of pressure, and
it gets away from your body and
somebody strips it."
Robinson's struggles to hold
onto the ball also played a fac-
tor in deciding to keep him on
the bench in favor of sophomore
Devin Gardner with Robinson
Borges said he would have
"put (Robinson) back in a min-
ute," but he and the coaching
staff were concerned Robinson
would have even more trouble
holding onto the ball with his
injured wrist.
Despite Robinson's three
fumbles in two games, Borges
and the coaching staff remain
confident in Robinson - who is
healthy and will start this Sat-
urday against Nebraska - and

his ability to run and hold onto
the ball.
"He's featured as a runner in
our offense and will continue to
be featured as a runner," Borges
said. "He's been pretty good
running the ball, taking care of
the ball."
BACK: On Saturday, Michigan
will be facing one of the bet-
ter mobile quarterbacks in the
nation in Nebraska's Taylor
Martinez, who is third in the Big
Ten in total offense, behind only
Robinson and Wisconsin quar-
terback Russell Wilson.
Luckily for the Wolverines,
they have the perfect scout team
quarterback to prepare for the
speedy Martinez - Brady Hoke.
"I become the scout team
quarterback on walk-throughs,"
Hoke said. "I run the offense.
We'll have a walk-through Sat-
urday morning. I'll be a big part
of that.
"I was a really good quarter-
back at one time."
Says who?
"Ido," Hoke said. "But I never
played quarterback. I was a
blocking fullback."
Though Hoke will lead
the offense in vigorous walk-
throughs on Saturday, Michigan
does indeed have the perfect
quarterback to prepare for Mar-
tinez in practice this week.
Statistically, Robinson is one
spot ahead of Martinez in nearly
every offensive category, and
features a similar skill set.
Former Michigan coach Lloyd
Carr is set for induction into the
National Football Foundation
and College Football College

Football Hall of Fame on Dec.
6, and he will be honored with
a pregame ceremony in Michi-
gan Stadium on Saturday.
Hoke, who was an assistant
coach under Carr from 1995-
2001, had nothing but praise
for the former coach.
"I thought Lloyd handled
the team as well as anybody
I've been around," Hoke said.
"I think that's probably the big-
gest thing. (He) wasn't always
(that) nice - there's some
tough love in there.
"I think that's always been
a part of who I am, but I think
you get some affirmation when
you see the success that some-
one else has doing it that way."
Saturday is also Military
Appreciation Day at the Big
House, and Carr's ceremony is
one of several events planned
before the game, including a
card stunt that will involve the
Because of the pregame
plans, the Athletic Department
is asking that fans get to the
game early.
NOTES: Redshirt junior
offensive lineman Ricky Bar-
num, who has missed the last
two games with an ankle inju-
ry, will be available on Satur-
day, but Hoke said he's unsure if
Barnum will play. ... Fifth-year
senior safety Troy Woolfolk,
who hurt his leg last week, will
play at full strength against the
Cornhuskers. ... If Michigan -
which is 4-2 in conference play
- wins on Saturday, it could
help 5-1 Michigan State win
the Legends Division of the Big
Ten. "Doesn't matter," Hoke
said. "We care about winning."

7I Gae


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