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Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 5A
The ichganDail - ichgandilyom hursayNovmber1, 012- 4
Taylor shines as starter
By LUKE PASCH
Daily Sports Editor
Raymon Taylor is still a little
uneasy speaking to the media.
Tuesday, he felt the need to
fill the silence before reporters
started asking questions with an
uncomfortable, "Um, hi every-
The reporters gave a little
chuckle and the interview got
underway. The spotlight is still
pretty new for the sophomore
cornerback, who has been doing
exceedingly well in replacing
sophomore Blake Countess, who
suffered a season-ending knee
injury in the opener against Ala-
Countess was supposed to
be the rising star of Michigan's
secondary this season, which
experts agreed was the Wolver-
ines' strong suit on the defensive
side of the ball. Very suddenly,
question marks arose over who
would fill in and play the second
corner position opposite fifth-
year senior J.T. Floyd.
Junior cornerback Courtney
Avery earned significant expe-
rience last season and had the
first crack at the job. But a cou-
ple weeks later, it was apparent
coaches had more faith in playing
Taylor, and they named him the
"Well, I think he gets better
each week," said Michigan coach
Brady Hoke. "I think the one
thing about Raymon, he's pretty
physical. He's tough. I think he's
Taylor's physicality makes a
lot of sense because of his back-
ground as the boundary corner,
meaning he plays more on the
shorter side of the field where the
ball is closer to the sideline.
The boundary cornerback
needs to be a good tackler because
he's oftentimes left on an island in
man coverage while safeties are
Sophomore cornerback Raymon Taylor has been a surprising success as Michigan's replacement cornerback.
Haley Jones vital
to Blue's success
By MAX COHEN success this season.
Daily Sports Writer "When they're having a good
game, I'd like to say I'm having a
When traveling to a daunting good game too," Jones said. "I'm
opponent's home field, the most comfortable with the defense
comforting thing for a team can that we have in the backfield
be turning around and seeing right now so it lets me step up
a stalwart goalie in its own net. and be a little bit more aggress
The Michigan field hockey team sive."
has relied on junior goalie Haley Pankratz said she feels that
Jones to be all that and more as having a dependable goalie has
she earned Big Ten Defensive a great effect on the rest of the
Player of the Week honors last team.
week for her performances at No. "The players in front of her are
12 Iowa and Central Michigan, playing with a lot of confidence
which culminated a successful because they know she's back
regular season. there playingsolid, and that mat-
Against the Hawkeyes, Jones ters alot," Pankratz said.
recorded 10 saves while setting in addition to her success in
the tone for Michigan's key con- the net, Jones plays a large role
ference victory. She followed up off of the field as a team captain,
that performance two days later earning praise from Pankratz for
by recording the team's fifth her leadership abilities.
shutout of the season against the "She works hard every day,"
Chippewas. Despite her personal Pankratz said. "She's responsible
success, Jones views the recog- and she's a good person."
nition as a part of the team's suc- Jones's stellar play couldn't
cess. have come at a better time for
"It shows that our program is Michigan as it enters the Big
doing well this year," Jones said. Ten Tournament with a poten-
"There was a lot of skepticism tial NCAA Tournament bid on
coming in because we're young." the line. Jones views the Big
The Wolverines will enter Ten Tournament as a chance to
the Big Ten Tournament against showcase the team's improve-
Ohio State on Thursday riding a ment throughout the year.
six-game winning streak, thanks "We've come a long way from
in large part to Jones. our first games to where we
"She's been keepingus in every are now," Jones said. "I think
game, making the saves that she we've grown a lot. Our ultimate
needs to make and then making goal is to show how much we've
some spectacular saves to help improved and get the wins."
us win the game," said Michigan If Jones continues her recent
coach Marcia Pankratz. streak of play that earned her
The Wolverines finished the Big Ten Defensive Player of
their regular season with a 12-5 the Week award, the potential
record, and Jones allowed just is limitless for the Wolverines,
27 goals on the season, only Pankratz said.
averaging 1.67 goals against per' "When she's playing well- like
game. Jones chooses to credit she is, our team can do amazing
the defense for a great deal of her things," Pankratz said.
helping more in the middle and
to the other side of the field. The
reason safeties tend to help less
on the boundary side is because
boundary corners, like Taylor,
can use the sideline as an extra
defender, forcing his man out of
bounds. Opposite the boundary
corner is the field corner, where
Floyd has been playing in Count-
ess's absence. The field corner
doesn't have the same luxury of
pushing his man toward the side-
line because there's more space
for the receiver to work with. So
he'd be more inclined to funnel
his man to the inside of the field,
where safeties are there to help.
It's crucial that the field cor-
ner's technique is solid because
coverage there is key. But Hoke
says that sometimes he has a
harder time finding .a physical
corner who could play the bound-
"I think they all want to be
cover corners," Hoke said. "So any
time it comes to physicality, that's
Taylor claims that he has
since been learning to play on
both sides of the field, which has
allowed him to become a more
"The corners can stay on each
side now, we don't have to keep
running back and forth from one
side to the other," Taylor said. "So
that's great for me and J.T. and
Essentially, from play to play,
the short side of the field could
be on either side, depending on
where the ball is spotted on the
line of scrimmage. So, closer to
the beginning of the season, Tay-
lor and Floyd had to keep switch-
ing sides between plays based on
where the short side of the field
was. According to Taylor, now
they can stay put for the most
part, with the understanding that
their responsibilities may change
from playto play.
"I could play both sides of the
field now," Taylor said. "The first
game, I was just boundary, and
now I could play field and bound-
ary, so that's the biggest part."
Taylor's qualityplayhas helped
Michigan's pass defense become
one of the best in the country -
the best, according to the stingy
145.3 passing yards it surrenders
per game. Part ofthat statistic is a
byproduct of opponents running
more against the Wolverines' rel-
atively weak front seven.
Still, coaches say they are
excited about Taylor's develop-
ment, especially as they look to
the future, when he and Countess
will presumably play together for
the next couple of years.
And Countess hasn't been
totally absent during his rehab.
He has been helping Taylor.
"Blakehe makes surehecomes
to all the meetings, so we still still
sit down. It's like he's playing, he's
just not on the field," Taylor said.
"Like he told me before we went
to Nebraska, because he played
against them last year, they were
running double moves.
"He just said, 'Your technique
will set you free.'"
Burke suspended for season-
opening exhibition vs. NMU
Junior defenseman Kevin Clare has returned to the defensive corps after missing some time with a right arm injury.
injuries set defense back
By LIZ NAGLE son.
Daily Sports Writer After skating with the U.S.
National Team Development
The Michigan hockey team's Program's under-18 team from
defensive corps has lost a little 2008-10, Merrill enjoyed a stellar
depth since the beginning of the rookie campaign. With the recent
season. injury, Merrill can't contribute to
The ranks began to slim on the struggling defense that has
Oct. 9 with Jon Merrill's injury surrendered 3.20 goals per game,
in the Wolverines' 7-3 exhibition the third-highest average in the
win over Windsor. The junior CCHA.
defenseman was checked into the Berenson originally anticipat-
boards and cracked his seventh ed a recovery time of six weeks,
vertebrae. Locked in a brace that but that frame remains uncer-
immobilizes his neck and armors tain. Merrill has spent his time
his torso, Merrill watches prac- watching film on the power play,
tice every day from the bleachers strengthening his lower body and
in Yost Ice Arena. Due to an exten- taking a more vocal role on the
sive recovery process, he won't be team.
back in actionfor several weeks. "He'll maximize his time off
Before he was injured, Merrill the ice," said Michigan coach
was named to the all-CCHA pre- Red Berenson. "He's been great.
season first team with 44 points, He's into the team. He's into the
including eight first place votes. school. He's into the program.
The defensive standout, however, He's had some tough setbacks, but
is on a limited timetable to "leave he's handled every one of them
a legacy" as Michigan coach Red with a lot of class."
Berenson expressed in the pre- Merrill skated with freshman
season. Merrill also missed a large defenseman Jacob Trouba while
portion of last season due to a sus- the lines were healthy and intact.
pension. But Berenson was forced to make
Merrill was suspended for the alterations when the plague of
first 22 games last year after an injuries struck without warning.
undisclosed violation of team Junior defenseman Kevin
rules. In his return, he helped Clare, who recorded the second-
lift the team to reach the NCAA most blocks on the team last
Midwest Regional and posted 11 season with 50, was paired with
points on a pair of goals and nine Trouba in the opening series
assists in the last half of the sea- against Rochester Institute of
Technology. But during the 7-2
win on Oct. 12, Clare was escorted
off the ice with a trainer support-
ing his right arm.
Fortunately for the Wolver-
ines, Clare was back in the lineup
with a timely recovery, justbefore
Miami (Ohio) last weekend.
But almost as soon as he
returned to the action, another
defenseman found his way to the
disabled list. Sophomore Brennan
Serville suffered a "facial con-
cussion," according to Berenson,
against the RedHawks that kept
him off the ice all week. -
Though, Berenson was hope-
ful for a quick recuperation, he
announced on Wednesday that
Serville will not make the trip to
Northern Michigan after showing
Sophomore Mike Szuma will
be the sixth defenseman dressed
for the series against the Wild-
cats, paired with sophomore Mike
Chiasson, to replace the sidelined
"He's played a tough role,"
Berenson said. "Every week, he
works hard and with the idea that
he's probably not going to play."
Because the injury-prone Wol-
verines have substituted healthy
players in and out of the lineup,
the remaining pieces of the defen-
sive corps have struggled to adjust
By NEAL ROTHSCHILD
Daily Sports Editor
Better an exhibition game than
a regular-season game, but prob-
ably best not at all. .
Preseason All-American Trey
Burke is suspended for the No. 5
ketball team's N .
first exhibition N.MiChigan
game Thursday at Michigan
against North- Matchup:
ern Michigan NMU 0-0;
for a "violation Michigan 0-0
of team stan- When: Thurs-
dards," accord- day 7 p.m.
tog to a team
statement. Where: Crisler
tt wasn't Center
the sophomore Radio:
point guard's MGoBlue.com
son infraction. Last year, Burke
was late to a team walkthrough,
and ended up coming off the
bench after it was announced he'd
start the season opener against
"Trey's a good kid and obvious-
ly, as we talked about, he's going
to sit out this game and he'll learn
a very valuable experience," said
Michigan coach John Beilein.
Freshman Spike Albrecht will
start in Burke's place, and will
account for a portion of the 30
minutes Burke was expected to
play. Senior Eso Akunne may also
see time at point guard.
Beilein announced that junior
Tim Hardaway Jr., redshirt junior
center Jordan Morgan and fresh-
man Glenn Robinson III will also
start. He didn't indicate who the
fifth starter would be.
That fifth starter may indicate
whether the Wolverines prefer
to go "big" or "small." If 6-foot-10
freshman Mitch McGary - who
is recovering from a foot injury
but will play tomorrow - gets the
start, Michigan will have McGary.
and Morgan in the frontcourt,
with Robinson and Hardaway
playing as off-the-ball guards.
If senior guard Matt Vogrich or
freshman guard Nik Stauskas
gets plugged into the starting five,
then Robinson may play as an
Sophomore guard Trey Burke is suspended for Michigan's exhibition opener.
undersized power forward mak-
ing for a smaller, but quicker and
Jon Horford will be out due to a
knee sprain. The redshirt sopho-
more center missed almost all of
last year because of a foot injury.
Though disappointed in his
point guard's violation, Beilein
was excited to see what some of
the others could do in Burke's
stead, particularly Albrecht, a
Crown Point, Ind. native with a
knack for hittingthe hardwood.
"It must be in the water in that
area of northern Indiana because
he takes charges, Glenn takes
charges, Mitch takes charges,"
Beilein said. "It says a lot about
their whole upbringing and that's
been good. Spike's led us so far."
The exhibition will give the
coaching staff an opportunity to
see how players who may be red-
shirted react to game situations.
"I think we have necessities in a
lot of areas that would be tough to
redshirt some," Beilein said. "But
if we feel somebody's not going to
get significant playing time, and
we really feel he'd be a great one
to have in a fifth year, we make
sure we have all the information
to make that decision."
The player most likely to be
considered for a redshirt is fresh-
man Caris LeVert. The long, rail-
thin guard from Pickerington,
Ohio was the last recruit in the
class to sign, but has impressed
nearly the whole team.
With a logjam of talent at
guard among freshmen though,
and with the other non-starting
guards being seniors, LeVert may
be hard-pressed to find minutes
"Just watching him play and
how he can use his body, his
frame isso small," Hardawaysaid.
"It's ridiculous how he can get to
different spots on the court."
Beilein also offered a couple
other hints at what this year's
installment of Michigan basket-
ball would look like.
As with last year, Beilein
intends to go mostly with man-
to-man defense, with the pos-
sibility of sprinkling in a few
zone-defense looks. He empha-
sized that the Big Ten was a "man
Beilein also pointed out his
comfort with Albrecht on the
court, noting that he's seen plenty
of time in practice with the first
and second teams.
"He's been very good," Beilein
said. "He's very clever, great
vision, makes some plays that'
make us smile. I'm sure he's going
to make a lot of mistakes along the