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March 21, 2012 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-03-21

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8A - Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com a

.... .ro e n . .MEN'S BA SKETBALL
Projecting the starting five

PAUL SHERMAN/Daily
Michigan coach Red Berenson will take Michigan to its 22nd-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance this weekend.
Michigan not concerned
withcomeback troubles

By LIZ VUKELICH
Daily Sports Writer
With the start of the NCAA
Tournament just days away,
Michigan coach Red Berenson
reflected on one of the best come-
backs he's witnessed in his tenure
as coach of the Michigan hockey
team.
His thoughts turned back to a
different tournament - a game
against Denver in 1999.
With the Wolverines trailing
by three, Berenson called a time-
out midway through the second
period to try and put some life
back in his squad.
"I just talked to the team,"
Berenson said. "Just reminded
them why we came here, how we
have to play to be a good team."
Michigan left the bench a
rejuvenated team and went on to
trounce Denver, 5-3.
So, where was that same sense
of comeback during Saturday's
CCHA Championship game
against Western Michigan, a
contest in which No. 2 Michigan
trailed by three for most of the
game? According to senior for-
ward David Wohlberg, it's always
there - the Wolverines just had a
little difficulty unearthing it.
"It's tough to dig a hole for
yourself and then have to come
out of it," Wohlberg said. "Coach-
es really stress about getting a
jump-start on teams, getting a
first goal and then playing with a

lead an
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The

d growing that lead." make a distinction between work
e aren't empty words - ethic and luck. On Friday night,
m has stats to back them Michigan trailed Bowling Green
chigan has a command- by two in the second period. With
-6-4 record when scoring 10 seconds left in the frame, soph-
is season. The Wolverines' omore defenseman Jon Merrill
n isn't necessarily giving got a lucky bounce that fumbled
first goal - it's letting too its way past the Falcon goaltender.
time pass between when But Michigan would rather
st goal is scored and when play not have to rely on quirky
d twine. bounces or lucky breaks. Wohl-
berg was definitive that the team
becomes beatable the instant it
doesn't come out and play for
(ou can't go the full 60 minutes. It's a point
that the coaching staff routinely
)ut and try emphasizes. It starts with the
team coming out focused and in
nd do it all the right mindset. But after that,
it all comes down to grittiness
yourself." and mental toughness.
"We've got to earn it," Beren-
son said. "We've got to work
harder than the other team
doesn't rattle me (when and then you've got to be a little
er team scores first), and patient, too. You can't go out and
think it rattles our team," try and do it all yourself. We're a
on said. "(But) the longer team, and let's do it together."
without scoring, the longer The Wolverines recognize Sat-
irt pressing. You've got to urday's loss as the exception rath-
momentum, and one way er than the rule. So, even with the
ore. The one way to lose first round of the NCAA Tourna-
tum is to give up a goal." ment looming, they're not worried
was the team's biggest about repeat performances.
n on Saturday. The Bron- "Hopefully, we won't be in (a
red midway through the hole), and that's the most impor-
same, and the Wolverines tant thing," said junior defense-
respond until 35 minutes man Lee Moffie. "I think we have
ven then, they were in the a lot of confidence in ourselves
f a five-minute penalty kill. because we're able to come back
team also knows how to and get over the obstacles."

By DANIEL WASSERMAN
Daily Sports Writer
Had everything gone accord-
ing to plan, senior guards Zack
Novak and Stu Douglass and the
rest of the Michigan men's bas-
ketball team would be busy prep-
ping for a Sweet 16 matchup with
North Carolina.
But after an upset by Ohio sent
the Wolverines packing, it's time
for a first look ahead at a 2012-
13 campaign that may bring the
program's highest preseason
expectations since 1996, when
the team opened the year ranked
No. 7.
Since he finished an impres-
sive freshman campaign in 2011,
there have been talks surround-
ing the chances of sophomore
guard Tim Hardaway Jr. bolting
for the NBA this offseason. But
after a less-than-stellar shoot-
ing performance for much of
the year, murmurs of the Miami
native leaving have quieted.
And ever since November's
Maui Invitational, when fresh-
man Trey Burke burst onto the
scene - prompting ESPN NBA
Draft analyst Chad Ford to tell
The Michigan Daily he believed
Burke would be a first-round
pick this summer - rumors have
swirled about Burke departing,
too.
But in the locker room after
the Wolverines' loss last week-
end, both underclassmen
pledged to return to Ann Arbor
for next season.
With Burke and Hardaway Jr.
back, along with the best recruit-
ing class the program has seen
in well over a decade, Michigan
is expected to open next year
ranked near the top 10.
Let's take a look at what next
season's roster will look like:
Point guard: projected starter
- Burke.
Assuming Burke returns, he
may be a unanimous selection
for All-Big Ten first team, and
he should find himself near the
top of the preseason list for the
Bob Cousy Award, given to the
nation's top point guard. Burke
has already demonstrated lead-
ership ability, and Novak - who
has been grooming the freshman
- indicated that Burke should be
a captain next season.
A healthy Burke, along with a
more talented surrounding cast,
should spell trouble for foes.
Expect his 4.6 assists per game
to increase with more scorers
on the floor, while his already
impressive 2.8 turnovers could
drop, as his decision-making
improves with another year
under his belt.
But Burke will be tasked with
an even greater burden than this
year, when he led the team with
36.1 minutes per game. Douglass
was Burke's backup this year,
and his departure leaves a glar-
ing void on the bench behind the
Columbus native.
Just two other players on the
roster have (albeit limited) point
guard experience: freshman
Carlton Brundidge and junior
Eso Akunne.
In only 44 minutes this sea-
son - and just nine in confer-

ence play - Brundidge looked
overmatched on the floor. His
five turnovers in limited action
is concerning, and his ball han-
dling and quickness don't appear
to be Big Ten-quality. A sparse-
ly used Akunne, who's also a
below-average ball handler, is a
last resort.
Guard/wing: projected start-
ers - Hardaway Jr. and incoming
freshman forward Glen Robinson
Ill.
Hardaway Jr. should be hun-
gry to improve upon a disap-
pointing sophomore campaign,
when his 3-point shooting took
a significant step back. Though
his scoring numbers improved
slightly, his field-goal percentage
dropped slightly and his 3-point
mark fell to an abysmal 28.3 per-
cent.
Still, Hardaway Jr. has one of
the wing positions locked down.
His running mate remains a
mystery. Douglass, the starter
at two-guard for most of year,
played 33 minutes during con-
ference play and was Michigan's
most reliable on-ball defender.
Junior guard Matt Vogrich
saw a drop in his minutes this
year, and though he should see
more time next year, he's not
starter material. Vogrich - a
sharpshooter who struggled to
find his touch for a long stretch
of conference play - possesses
some of Novak's tenacity at chas-
ing down loose balls against
more physically gifted athletes,
but his shortcomings are too
much. Vogrich is too slow to stay
with opposing wingmen, and he
lacks the first step to create his
own shot.
Don't expect blog-writing
junior guard Josh Bartelstein to
grow into a formidable option
this offseason, which means
Michigan coach John Beilein
will have to rely on a newcomer,
either guard Nik Stauskas or
Robinson III.
Stauskas, a 6-foot-5 Canada
native is one of the most dan-
gerous 3-point shooters in the
nation. Stauskas is more of a true
shooting guard than Robinson,
but he has the ability to get to
the basket and create his own
shot, earning him four stars from
Rivals.com.
Robinson, the son of former
NBA star Glen "Big Dog" Rob-
inson, is a true wing player. He
appeared more talented than
Stauskas, but will Beilein want
a second wing on the floor to
accompany Hardaway Jr.? The
two players' style of play closely
resemble each other, and since
Hardaway Jr. struggles to defend
shooting guards, it'd be risky to
throw an inexperienced wing
on the floor to guard the opposi-
tion's two-guard.
Expect to see Stauskas and
Vogrich on the floor at times, but
it'll be Robinson's name called
over the PA system before games.
Post: projected starters -
incoming freshman forward
Mitch McGary and redshirt soph-
omore forward Jordan Morgan.
Beilein will again slate a true
power forward to play the four
position to kick off the season,
but unlike this year, don't expect

the plan to be scrapped midsea-
son in favor of a four-guard sys-
tem.
At 6-foot-10, McGary is taller
than Michigan's starting five-
man, Morgan, but is a natural
power forward. After spending
a year in prep school, his body is
college-ready, and he should be
able to step right in and collect
rebounds among the Big Ten's
best.
While his offense may be a
work in progress, McGary has
a nice midrange game and can
even step outside and shoot the
three. The mental aspect to his
game needs growth, but he won't
be asked to do a whole lot aside
from collecting rebounds and
setting screens. The high energy
level that he plays the game with
should help at both, and if he
can average close to10 points, 10
rebounds and a block-and-a-half
per game, Michigan will finally
have the big man it has lacked in
the Beilein era.
With his height, McGary can
easily slide over to the five if
Morgan gets into foul trouble.
With another offseason, Mor-
gan should improve on a steady
sophomore year.
The Detroit native shot an
impressive 61.9 percent from the
field but had several puzzling
point-blank-range misses. His
points (7.3) and rebounds (5.6)
may not see notable increases,
but if he can add strength and
stay out of foul trouble - some-
thing he improved upon greatly
this year - he'll be a dependable 0
option down low.
Additionally, Beilein should
finally have a bench full of low-
post options. Despite going
cold for most of conference
play, sophomore forward Evan
Smotrycz still managed to shoot
a team-high 43.5 percent from
3-point range.
Last offseason, he returned
to Ann Arbor close to 35 pounds
heavier, and it showed, as he was
able to attack the rim - danger-
ous for a 6-foot-9 shooter. He'll
be highly motivated to have
another superb offseason after
his turnover ended Michigan's
season, so expect him to bulk up
even more to improve his ability
to defend the post.
The biggest improvement
Smotrycz needs to make is a
mental one. Too often, he picked
up fouls away from the ball or
basket, limiting his play time. If
he can stay out of foul trouble,
look for him to be one of the con-
ference's top sixth men.
Sophomore forward Jon Hor-
ford, who played in just nine
games before being shelved with
a foot injury, should be back at
full strength.
While he might be squeezed
out of ever seeing significant
minutes, the 6-foot-10 Horford
should prove to be a defensive
burst of energy off the bench.
In just under 11 minutes per
game this season, he notched
3.6 rebounds and a block per
game. If he can provide similar
results, Michigan can transform
from a team with almost no low-
post depth to one of the deepest
benches in the Big Ten.

SOFTBALL
M' opens home slate vs. EMU

By GREG GARNO to No. 7 Oklahoma and No. 5 Ari-
Daily Sports Writer zona State, and it will be looking
to gain much-needed confidence
Having played six tourna- before its Big Ten opener against
ments on the road to begin the Penn State this weekend.
season, Michigan coach Carol Eastern Michigan enters
Hutchins and - Alumni Field with a 9-14 record
the Michigan EMU at on the season.
softball team The Eagles won three of
can't be blamed Michigan their last four games during
for wanting to Matchup: the Miami (Ohio) Tournament
get a head start EMU 9-14; and are led by a pair of pitch-
on their home Michigan 17-9 ers, junior Jenna Ignowski and
season. When: sophomore Lauren Wells. Both
On Mon- Wednesday, pitchers carry an ERA under
day, the 6 p.m. 3.00 and have combined for a
20th-ranked Where: total of 82 strikeouts through-
Wolverines Alumni Field out the season. Ignowski, who
(17-9 overall) TV/Radio: threw a no-hitter over the week-
announced the MGoBlue.com end, will look to take advantage
addition of a of a Michigan team in an offen-
regular non- sive slump. But Michigan has a
conference game against East- pitching ace of its own in fresh-
ern Michigan for Wednesday at man Haylie Wagner, who holds a
Alumni Field. Michigan holds a 1.26 ERA and a 12-4 record com-
52-8 all-time advantage over the ing into Wednesday's matchup.
Eagles, and the team won last Eastern Michigan has also been
year's matchup, 9-7, in one of the unable to succeed offensively
Wolverines' closest regular-sea- so far this season, as it has a
son games. combined team batting average
"We thought we would take of .235. The key, though, will
advantage of the great weather be how Wagner's arm holds up
we have been having," Hutchins after pitching 21straight innings
said. "After our games were over the weekend. Hutchins will
rained out this weekend, we turn to another freshman, Sara
have the opportunity to add a Driesenga, to close out the game
game to our schedule. This will and provide relief for the Wol-
be a great chance for our fans to verines.
get out and catch us in action for Michigan relies onsenior third
the first time." baseman Amanda Chidester and
With the weather predicted to senior center-fielder Bree Evans
reach an unseasonably high tem- to spark quality at-bats and get
perature in the 80s on Wednes- runners on base. The captains
day, conditions should be similar have been an important part of
to the warm weather of Florida any offense the Wolverines have
and California the Wolverines produced this season. Junior
have seen already. second baseman Ashley Lane is
Michigan is coming off a two- also a critical piece of the Wol-
game losing streak after losses verine offense, being the major

source of power and a contribu-
tor of seven home runs this sea-
son. Michigan hopes to return
its "one pitch at a time" men-
tality to the diamond as well -
something Hutchins has yet to
see as of late. The Wolverines
have combined for 127 strikeouts
on the season and just 66 walks.
The Wolverines will see the
Eagles later again in two weeks
in one of four games against
Mid-American Conference
opponents.

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