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February 08, 2012 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-02-08

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - 7A

The ichgan ail - mchiandaly~om WdnedayFebuary8, 012 : 7

DeBlois leads scrappy penalty kill

Daily Sports Editor
The Michigan hockey team
wouldn't be successful if it was
littered with flashy offensive
playmakers that cared about
defense as much as Wes Welker
cares for Gisele Bundchen. The
Michigan hockey program is
built of scrappy, two-way for-
wards that enjoy the dirty work
as much as the offensive glory.
Michigan coach Red Berenson
stresses the importance of these
two-way forwards perhaps more
than any other type of player on
the roster, and he has no qualms
about rewarding those players.
Senior forward Luke Glendening
is the captain, and he has never
scored more than eight goals in a
And against Miami (Ohio) last
weekend, Derek DeBlois showed
why the two-way forward is so
For the casual observer, it
might have seemed that DeBlois
didn't do much. The sophomore
forward didn't appear on the stat
sheet and was an even zero in
the plus/minus category in both
But DeBlois was a lynchpin
° on a stellar penalty-kill unit that
scored a shorthanded goal and
didn't allow a goal on 12 power
plays. DeBlois was all over the
ice, breaking up shots and leaving
his impact on the boards.
"I thought he was a stud, one
of the best guys on the ice," said
sophomore defenseman Mac
Bennett. "We had to kill a lot of
penalties and that's one of his
strong points, so he really got a
* chance to shine. The penalty kill
speaks for itself, and he's a big
part of that."
A lot of credit for the unit's
turnaround has been given to
sophomore defenseman Jon Mer-
rill, rightfully so.
But the penalty-kill unit is
composed of guys like DeBlois,
who sacrifice the glory of being
an offensive stalwart in order to
help the team on the defensive
end. He has scored just five goals
on the season - and only one in

Behind Enemy Lines
wivth Brandon Ube
By LUKE PASCH go there. But it won't be too dif-
Daily Sports Editor ferent because we're going in and
just trying to get a win. It will be
The Big Ten hasn't been very business as usual, I think.
welcoming to coach Doc Sadler's TMD: Do you know anything
Cornhuskers this season. about Michigan's style of basket-
In Nebraska's inaugural season ball yet?
in the conference, the program BU: I watched (Michigan last
has garnered just three wins and year) on TV a couple times, when
sits one notch above bottom- they played Kansas and a couple
dwelling Penn State. That said, other times. Watching them last
the Cornhuskers aren't pushovers year, they've got some pretty tal-
at home, having knocked off a ented guards, and good big men,
very talented Indiana team last too. And I know they bring basi-
month in the friendly confines of cally everybody back except for
Bob Devaney Sports Center. (Darius) Morris. So they're obvi-
When Big Ten coaches say that ously going to be a really talented
wins in this league never come team, especially outside. I think
easy, they're not blowing smoke. that'll be a tough game for us,
And Michigan coach John Beilein just trying to match up with not
knows his Wolverines have to only the talent level outside, but
bring their A-game ifthey want to also their size inside. They've got
pick up their second road win of some bigger guards who are pret-
the season in Lincoln on Wednes- ty good rebounders.
day night. TMD: What do you know about
At Big Ten Media Day in Octo- the Big Ten brand of basketball,
ber, Nebraska forward. Bran- generally speaking, and how does
don Ubel - the team's leading Nebraska fit into that mold?
rebounder - sat down with the BU: What I've heard is that
Daily to discuss the upcoming the Big Ten is a bigger league
season. - it's stronger. And most of the
' The Michigan Daily: So, what's teams like to slow it down a lit-
itlike havingto scout up on a com- tie bit, really make you grind on
pletely new set of teams this sea- defense and execute on offense.
son? Is it exciting or is ita pain? That's something our coach
Brandon Ubel: I think it's pret- really stresses a lot. And we're a
ty cool. I'm a junior this year, so team, that I think if you look at
the fact that I got to play in the some of the scores last year and
Big 12 for two years, go to all some of the games last year, we
those places - go to KU, play at like to lower possessions, make
Allen Field House; go to K-State, you work on offense, and we play
play there; going down to Texas. some really good defense. I think
But this year, I'll get to go to the comparatively, we're a lot like
likes of Illinois, Wisconsin and Wisconsin.
Michigan State. So I think defi- TMD: Where do you think
nitely it's exciting for me because your team will stand at season's
I'll get to play in two conferences, end?
play in those venues and not have BU: We're coming in think-
to transfer at all. ing we've got the talent level at
TMD: What are you most excit- least to be a contender, top-five,
ed about? Big Ten-type team. As coach has
BU: I think it'll be cool to go been telling us, we've got to start
to some of the venues. You hear believing that we're that good.
about how loud Illinois, Michi- And until we start believing that
gan State, Wisconsin; Ohio State we're that good, it can't happen.
are. You hear about some of those SoIthink we're starting to unde'-
venues. So I think it'll be cool to stand how good we can be.

Michigan sophomore forward Derek DeBlois has just five goals this season, but he's been a force on the penalty kill.

2012 - but Berenson mentions player defense than offense,
DeBlois as a player he can't keep because defense is all about hus-
off the ice. tle and grit. There is little glory in
"He's got a good work ethic, defense.
he values defense, and he accepts DeBlois, rather, has flourished
a role that into a valuable
maybe isn't but unflashy
as glamorous nothing role. Berenson
as other roles I have often mentions.
on the team," L Thow important
Berenson said. baduI can say specific roles
"He's just get- about Derekj are for his
ting better and jb u ere. team, because
better." Nothi " not everyone
Before he 1 can lead the
got to Michi- . team in scor-
gan, DeBlois ing.
led his prep "For a team
team in scoring, soit's not like he to be successful, you have to have
doesn't know his way around the everybody understanding what
offensive side of the ice. their role is on the team, and
It's much harder to teach a accepting it, and embracing it,"

Berenson said.
"Some coaches would say
make that role the most impor-
tant part of your game - be a star
in that role."
Michigan's penalty-kill unit
has turned from a weakness to
a strength, partially because of
Merrill, but partially because
players are accepting their roles.
The scrappy DeBlois is an
exemplar of this mindset..
"He's gritty and really hard
to play against," Bennett said.
"I hate practicing against him
because he doesn't quit. Every
time he goes out there, he wants
to get something going or hit
somebody or make a play. He's a
great guy to have on your team.
"I have nothing bad I can say
about Derek. Nothing."

WOMENx 5AmKiEht foAhv
Examining the next step for Borseth and the Wolverines

ive years ago, Kevin Bors-
eth came to Ann Arbor to
jL become the eighth head
coach of the Michigan women's
basketball program.
He inherited a program that
dwelled near the bottom of the
Big Ten for a half decade and
hadn't made an NCAA Tourna-
ment appear-
ance since COLLEEN
2001. His THOMAS
teams showed
promise in On Women's
each of his Basketball
first four
years, but slow finishes hindered
any shot at a tournament berth.
This season, the team hopes to
change that story.
After posting a program-best
12-2 record to open this season,
the Wolverines appeared to be
a contender for the Big Ten title
and finally earn a spot in the
But in conference play, it's
looked like the same old story
for Borseth's squad.
Michigan has dropped games
to good teams in Penn State and
Michigan State - the Wolver-
ines haven't beaten the Spartans

since 2008 - and sub-par Wis-
consin in the last three weeks,
and it began to look like the
Wolverines were going to have
another breakdown near the end
of the season.
But there still is time to turn
the season back in the right
direction. If they want to take
that next step and earn a tour-
nament bid, the remaining five
games will be the most impor-
tant of the season.
If you compare last season's
and this season's conference
records, this year's squad is
behind last year's.
Michigan is currently 6-5 in
the Big Ten, whereas last year
at this point, Wolverines were
one game better. Michigan will
have to go 4-1 over the next five
games in order to have the same
conference record as last year -
and matching last year's effort
may not even be enough.
With opponents such as
Nebraska and Purdue still loom-
ing, the Wolverines have to take
their game to the next level by
beating the best teams in the Big
Ten. And that starts with beat-
ing the Huskers on Thursday.

They also have a home-and-
home series against Iowa that
can help them gain momentum
for the postseason.
The Hawkeyes maybe just
14-10 overall, but they're tied
with the Wolverines in the Big
Ten standings at 6th, just below
Michigan State. Iowa has beaten
Purdue on the road, and the
Huskers beat the Boilermakers
in triple overtime last week.
The Big Ten may be a mess right
now, but the Wolverines can
straighten it all out by simply
winning these games.
There are a few stipulations,
though. Senior guard Courtney
Boylan has cooled off after a hot
start in nonconference play, and
senior guard Carmen Reynolds
has been unpredictable all sea-
Those two were two of the
team's leading scorers last
year, but they haven't produced
this season, which has been a
problem for Michigan. Instead,
junior forward Rachel Shef-
fer has taken the reigns of the
offense and is now the Wolver-
ines' leading scorer.
Sheffer has come up big in

some of Michigan's games, but
one player doesn't constitute a
There are five players on the
floor, and all five need to con-
tribute for the team to be suc-
cessful. Boylan and Reynolds
are two pieces to that puzzle. As
seniors, they have the leadership
capabilities and the experience
to know what needs to be done
down the stretch.
They know what it's like to
hit a low - they lost to the worst
team in the Big Ten last year in
the conference tournament. In
order to make this season differ-
ent than the rest, they have to
take control.
The senior duo has shown
its potential. Boylan tallied a
career-high 22 points in Sun-
day's loss to Michigan State,
and Reynolds has gotten back
in stride after setting the pro-
gram's 3-point record. That
offensive production needs to
Sheffer, Boylan, and Reynolds
make three. There are two more
pieces in junior guard Jenny
Ryan and the Wolverines' bench,
but those aren't a problem for

Michigan. Ryan has consistently
contributed around the board
all season, especially on defense,
and the bench - whether it be
juniors Kate Thompson or Sam
Arnold - can step up in any
So it all comes down to the
seniors. Leadership and expe-
rience are two things a coach
can't teach, but they are things
Boylan and Reynolds possess
and have to use in order to finish
strong in the last five games.
Right now, ESPN's Bracketol-
ogy has Michigan as a 10-seed.
Earlier in the season, they were
as high as a seven. It's gener-
ous listing, though, as the same
bracket has both Michigan State
and Iowa as two of the First
Four Out. The Spartans swept
the Wolverines already and are
higher in the conference stand-
The Wolverines' nonconfer-

ence play was one of the best
of any team in the Big Ten. But
that has passed, and it again
comes down to the last push for
the team to gain a spot in the
64-team field.
The seniors have been here
before, and it's their job to make
this season different.
Borseth understands all of
"Everything is at stake right
now," he said. "(The difference
between missing the tourna-
ment) last year, two wins. The
year before, two wins. The year
before that, one win. That's
what-it comes down to, getting
your win total up.
"You have to do well at the
end of the season - that's what
you're judged on. We've laid the
groundwork in the nonconfer-
ence, and now we need to be
able to clos.e the deal here in our
conference play."

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