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December 04, 2012 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-12-04

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8 - Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Michigan hopes to restore Big Ten's battered image

By ZACH HELFAND
Daily Sports Editor
The most wonderful time of
the year is just weeks away. Well,
except if you're a Big Ten football
team.
The Big Ten NOTEBOOK
hasn't been
quite so big in recent years come.
bowl season. In 2012, the confer-
ence was a combined 1-4 in New
Year's Day bowls, with three loss-
es to Southeastern Conference
teams. A year prior, the Big Ten
was swept on New Year's Day -
with another three losses to SEC
teams.
After perhaps the conference's
worst-ever regularseason in 2012,
Michigan feels some responsibil-
ity to restore some honor to the
Big Ten. As senior defensive tack-
le Will Campbell put it, "There's
more at stake this year."
The Wolverines are one of
three Big Ten teams that will play
SEC opponents on Jan. 1. All three
are underdogs. In fact, not asingle
team in the Big Ten is favored in
any of the seven bowls its teams
are playingin.

Combined, the conference
is a 53-point underdog, though
the lines do change. The SEC
is favored in all of its nine bowl
games, by a combined 52.5 points.
Currently, No. 19 Michigan is a
4.5-point underdog against No. 11
South Carolina.
The Wolverines are 5-3 against
SEC opponents in the past two
decades. Most recently, Mississip-
pi State handed Michigan a 52-14
loss in the Gator Bowl in 2011, and
in 2008, the Wolverines upset
Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer of
Florida in the Capital One Bowl.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke, nor-
mally focused on Michigan only,
said the team has a responsibility
to represent the conference posi-
tively.
"I think you're playing for
Michigan and your seniors first,
but we're proud to be in the Big
Ten, so why wouldn't (we) want
to represent and that be part of
our focus?" Hoke said. "It would
be really bad for us not to feel that
way about the Big Ten."
GETTING A FEEL FOR CARO-
LINA: Though Michigan holds the
title for 2012's best losses - with

Offensively, the Gamecocks
have been pedestrian, but they
have several imposing defend-
ers, including Jadaveon Clowney,
probably the nation's best defen-
sive end. Behind Clowney, South
Carolina has generated 40 sacks
this season.
Hoke said he has just begun
to break down the film, but he
has already been impressed by
the Gamecocks' athleticism and
defensive front. Clowney will be
blocked by redshirt junior tackles
Taylor Lewan and Michael Scho-
field.
"If you're truly a competitor, I
think it would be a tremendous,
fun opportunity," Hoke said of
blocking Clowney.
But as always, much of the
pregame discussion will center
around the man Clowney will
be chasing. It remains unclear
whether that person will be junior
quarterback Devin Gardner or
senior quarterback Denard Rob-
inson. And Michigan has shown
no indication of changing that.
Robinson injured his right
elbow on Oct. 27 against Nebraska
and hasn't thrown a pass since.

Michigan has used Gardner in
replacement, with Robinson as a
scat back or run-only quarterback
in the final two weeks of the sea-
son. Robinson said that he's "still
not throwing how I normally
throw," but he noted that the time
offwillgivehimanchancetoheal.
"I think it's a great opportunity
for me to get back healthy," Robin-
son said. "I'm feeling pretty good
right now, to be honest with you.
When we start back practicing
I can have more to say, but right
now I feel good."
NOTES: Junior fullback Ste-
phen Hopkins has left the team,
Michigan announced on Monday.
Later in the day, Hopkins tweeted
from his account, "I love the Uni-
versity of Michigan and every-
thing it means to be a Michigan
Man. I look forward to getting
my degree." ... Michigan will run
and lift weights throughout the
week and begin its schedule of 15
allotted practices before the bowl
game on Friday and Saturday; the
Wolverineswill practice againthe
following Friday and Saturday.
They will leave for Tampa Bay on
Dec.23.

,1

4

Senior defensive tackle Will Campbell will play in his final game on Jan. 1.
losses to the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 Florida and No. 9 LSU, both on
teams in the nation, all away from the road. Plus, South Carolina
home - South Carolina isn't far boasts that quality win that has
behind. eluded the Wolverines this year, a
The Gamecocks' only losses 28-point trouncing of No. 6 Geor-
of the year came against No. 4 gia.

Don't expect new wrinkles in tilt
with Western Michigan at Crisler

By NEAL ROTHSCHILD
Daily Sports Editor
The Michigan basketball team
is now through the brunt of its
non-conference schedule.
NIT Season Tip-Off title? No
problem. Big Ten/ACC Challenge
game against a preseason top-
10 opponent?
Next. First true
road test of the WMU at
year?Check. Michigan
So with
three straight Matchup
home games W MU 6-1;
Michigan 7-0
coming up
against a MAC When:
team that went :0dnesday
14-20 last year,
a 3-3 Arkansas Where: Crisler
squad and 2-6 Center
Binghamton, TV/Radio:
it might be a BTN
prime spot in
the season for
coach John Beilein to add some
complexities to the offense. Right?
"Oh no, no," Beilein said. "We
have enough offensive wrinkles*
right now. We're trying to close
it up a little bit. We need to cut it
down and we're trying to."
That may have been easier to
do if not for the emergence of Nik
Stauskas. The freshman guard
was named Big Ten Freshman of
the Week for the second consecu-
tive week after scoring 22 points
on 4-for-5 3-point shooting in his
first start Saturday, a 74-66 vic-
tory over Bradley. The Ontario
native also dropped 20 points in
Michigan's previous game, Tues-
day's 79-72 win over North Caro-
lina State.
"With the evolution of Nik
Stauskas, well, that opened a new
can of worms to go in one direc-
tionin certainareas," Beileinsaid.
"With Jordan Morgan, and Jon
Horford, Max Bielfeldt and Mitch
(McGary),thatwas anotherthing,
playing big/playing small, we got
a lot in the package. We need to
shorten it up."
Of the four big men, Morgan
has seen the most minutes, and
notched his second career dou-
ble-double with 10 points and 10
rebounds Saturday. He sees 20

4

4

Michigan coach John Beilein and Michigan are off to a sterling 7-0 start.

minutes per game, with the other
half distributed among the other
three. McGary has been the first
forward off the bench in each
game, usually replacing Morgan
five minutes into the game. Hor-
ford is usually the nextin line, but
Saturday, Beilein played Bielfeldt
for nine minutes because the red-
shirt freshman was returning to
his native Peoria.
Future playing time, however,
is up in the air.
"We'll evaluate every practice,"
Beilein said. "We'll keep looking
at that."
In both games last week, the
Wolverines (7-0) saw bigleadslate
in the second half evaporate in a
hurry. A 68-53 lead with just over
four minutes left became 70-65
in the final minute against Brad-
ley. Tuesday, another 15-point
lead with under six minutes to
play was shrunk to five before the
Wolverines closed it out.
"We haven't been really
focused out there, to me, in my
eyes," said junior guard Tim
Hardaway Jr. "That just comes
with practice. Just got to get more
practice, get more reps in situa-
tions where we're up by a lot or up
by a certain amount of points."
A comfortable lead is some-

thing Michigan can expect to
have tomorrow night against
Western Michigan. A close game
at the end is something the rest of
us can expect won't happen.
Though the Broncos are 6-1,
they've scarcely been tested. Cor-
nell took them down in the sea-
son opener, and since, Western
Michigan has been able to brush
by South Florida, High Point and
Oakland by single digits.
. Senior forward Nate
Hutcheson leads the underclass-
men-heavy team with nearly 14
points per game, which doesn't
match sophomore point guard
Trey Burke, Hardaway or Staus-
kas's output.
After a series of high-energy
games, including a hostile road
game, the North Carolina State
contest, aswell as the tournament
in Madison Square Garden, a
matchup with Western Michigan
would seem to be a step down in
terms of intensity.
Again, nonsense as far as
Beilein is concerned.
"When you walk out in our
building and we have great fans,
the energy is easily created. And
now it's a state team. We have a
lot of pride in being able to play
aoinstoeamwithinthe state."

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