6 - Friday, March 23, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
6 - Friday, March 23, 2012 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
Robinson developing into leader
By STEPHEN J. NESBITT
Daily Sports Editor
Denard Robinson is learning
to not smile.
Four days into the Michigan
football team's spring prac-
tice, the junior quarterback has
emerged as a distinct leader of
the offense. Robinson has been
a Heisman Trophy candidate, a
record-setting quarterback and
Big Ten Offensive Player of the
But Robinson's never had to
take the reins as the unques-
tioned leader of Michigan. After
three years, he's ready for that to
"I wasn't an outspoken per-
son," Robinson admitted on
Thursday. "I didn't do a lot of
telling people (what to do) or
patting them on the butt, so
that's what I need to start doing
and that's what I'm taking on
But being a leader also means
being the bad guy.
"Oh yeah, sometimes you've
got to get up in (their faces),"
Robinson said. "Help them out,
give them encouragement. You
can't always be nice to them. I
can't always have a smile on my
Is that even possible? Robin-
"Oh it's possible, it's possible,"
he said, laughing.
It's a work in progress.
Redshirt junior wide receiv-
er Roy Roundtree has already
noticed a difference in Robin-
son's demeanor. The timing is
better. The reads are better.
And the play calls in the hud-
dle are as clear as day.
"I used to tell (Robinson) that
he's so country that you can
barely hear him," Roundtree
Robinson said he has taken
freshman quarterback Russell
Bellomy under his wing, giving
instructions on timing, patience
and accuracy in the pocket.
The thought of the electric
Robinson's upcoming senior
season as Michigan's starting
quarterback is thrilling. But so
is the thought of him passing on
his lessons to underclassmen.
MARISSA MCCLAI N/Daily
Junior quarterback Denard Robinson is taking a larger leadership role for Michigan after an in-the-spotlight offseason in Ann Arbor.
"It is exciting to me," said
offensive coordinator Al Borges.
"It's exciting to all of us."
Ever since Robinson and the
Wolverines returned from a
Sugar Bowl victory in early Jan-
uary, Robinson hasn't been able
to keep himself out of the head-
lines or off TV screens.
But the soft-spoken leader
hasn't regretted one bit of the
As if Robinson hadn't already
been the face of the Michigan
football program, he was singled
out by President Barack Obama
during a speech at Al Glick Field
House in January.
"Where's Denard?" Obama
asked. "I hear Denard Robin-
son's in the house."
Robinson, hands planted in
ckets of his Michigan var- Two months later, Robinson
ket, was startled. Obama described the surreal experi-
Robinson to his left, seat- ence the only way he could.
a roped-off area beside "That's one of the days that
rt junior offensive line- I'm going to sit down and tell my
atrick Omameh. grandkids about: 'I've got a story
for you. I met the president.' "
Robinson said. "That's one of
"i ly goal the things that I'll always cher-
"As soon as I got done meet-
s lo m ake oing him, I called my mom, dad,
n b s brothers and told them, 'I just
met the president. I just met the
ev r da . President of the United States.'"
* The cameras have also found
Robinson in the Michigan stu-
dent sections at Crisler Center
and Yost Ice Arena. In the past
ear you're coming back, three months, in between off-
Obama said. "That is a season workouts, he's attended
eal for Michigan." men's basketball, women's bas-
ketball, hockey and women's
track events. Just how many
games? He couldn't remember.
"I'd go to all of them if I had a
chance," Robinson said.
Still, Robinson doesn't think
the off-season in the spotlight
has changed him. He's learning
not to smile, but it's nothing dif-
"No, because I enjoy interact-
ing with people," Robinson said.
"That's one of the things that
I've always enjoyed. I come from
a big family with me, so meeting
people is not a problem with me.
I'd love to meet anybody. If I see
anybody on the street, I want to
say hi to you.
"My goal is to make some-
body's day everyday, so hope-
fully I can do that."
By BOB McWILLIAMS
Every weekday morning, a
cheery group of student-athletes
gathers in Canham Natatorium
to play the strangest sport. The
result of basketball meeting
soccer and jumping into a pool,
water polo mixes familiar ele-
ments into a sport that can seem
very foreign to outsiders.
Though most water polo
matches take place in regulation-
size pools, the No. 10 Michigan
water polo team recently played
in a pool that was definitely not
"It had a shallow end," said
Michigan coach Matt Anderson.
"We're a team that likes to spread
things out, but since Hartwick
was the home team, they picked
a pool that would negate that."
Sportsmanlike or not, coaches
are allowed to do this in water
Unlike more popular sports,
where huge high-school tal-
ent pools force athletes to spe-
cialize to stand out, water polo
players have to be a complete
package. Players have to be fast
swimmers, able to throw bullets,
strong enough to fend off con-
tact, quick at decision-making
and tall enough to throw over
outstretched arms to have a
chance of playing at Michigan.
And that's the thing: Michi-
gan is really good at water polo.
In his 10-year tenure, Anderson's
team has never failed to win its
division. The Wolverines have
won five conference titles, quali-
fied for the national tournament
three times and created a rare
water polo powerhouse 2,000
miles from the Pacific Ocean in
a sport historically dominated by
This year's edition is no dife-
rent. There's junior attacker Kiki
Golden, an honorable mention
All-American junior who had
39 goals in 37 games last year. A
trio of experienced goalkeepers *
is led by junior Alex Adamson,
who ranks fourth in saves in
Michigan's history. The center
- a key position, also called the
two-meter because that's how
far away from the goal she camps
out = is junior Lauren Colton, a
commanding player who set a
school record for drawing seven
opposing player ejections in a
The list could go on. Four
other Wolverines have won divi-
sional awards this year. Eleven
different players scored against
Gannon two weeks ago. The
team has been thrashing local
competition and going toe-to-toe
with the best in the country.
Anderson pins his success on
having an established program.
The continuity of coaching style
allows his upperclassmen to
know what to expect.
"Katie (Card, the assistant
coach) and I, we only have two
sets of eyes hetween us, and
we're removed from the pool,"
Anderson said. "We can't stop
things and get into the pool for
any hands-on training. So we
rely on the seniors to bring along
the freshmen because they've
There's also volunteer coach
Jeff Kacerek too, who isn't afraid
to jump into the pool if an extra
body is needed. But hidden in
Anderson's words is the rev-
elation that the coaching staff is
remarkably small. Much of their
time must be spent on "house-
keeping" tasks such as putting
up nets and timing laps.
"There's a lot of schlepping we
have to do," Anderson said.
It's bizarre that a program
with such a national pedigree
would have so few caretakers,
especially when other collegiate
sports often have a sizable fol-
lowing of trainers and managers.
Even with the backdrop of cham-
pionship banners hanging from
the rafters and plaques of Michi-
gan legends posted on the walls,
there's something that feels
very laid-back and approachable
about Michigan water polo.
Anderson, as always, has an
"We're a working-man's
coaching staff," he said.
RELEASE DATE- Friday, March 23, 2012
Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
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