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January 17, 2013 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 7A

Kiper: Robinson
earns early pick

Freshman forward Glen Robinson 111 could be tasked with guarding Minnesota's Rodney Williams who is viewed by some as the most athletic player in the Big Ten.
Next challenge waits in Gophers

By EVERETT COOK
Daily Sports Editor
Last Sunday was a good test
for the Michigan basketball
team, but in the end, it didn't
reveal much.
It's hard to gauge how a young
team that gets significant min-
utes from five ° true freshmen
will respond
to the first Michigan at
real road chal-
lenge of the Minnesota
season, espe- Matchup:
cially when Michigan 16-1;
that challenge Minnesota 15-2
is against Ohio When: Thurs-
State with the day 7 P.M. ET
country's No. 1 Where: Wil-
ranking on the laws Arena
line.
The Wol- TV/Radio:
verines looked tSPN
awful in the
first half, and needed a 21-point
comeback to tie up the game late
in the second half. In the end,
though, five of the eight leaders
in minutes played suffered the
first loss of their college careers
for No. 5 Michigan.
The challenge only gets
tougher on Thursday night when
the Wolverines (2-1 Big Ten,
16-1 overall) will take on Min-
nesota (3-1, 15-2), who freshman

pointguard Spike Albrecht calls,
"freakishly athletic." This game,
not the one last Sunday, is the
game that will end up defining
the early stretch of Michigan's
season.
Why? For a team as young as
the Wolverines, the response to
the first loss of the year is more
important than the actual loss.
This would be true against any
,Big Ten team, but it's especially
true for a road game against the
veteran, ninth-ranked Golden
Gophers.
On paper, the biggest chal-
lenge for Michigan would be
another tough, loud atmosphere
on the road. That environment
will be a factor, but it's not neces-
sarily the thing Michigan coach
John Beilein is most concerned
with.
"It's not as much about the
loud," he said. "It's about the
quickness and the intensity and
the speed that some of the teams
in the Big Ten have. Minnesota is
no different."
The Gophers present several
matchup problems that make
Beilein more concerned with the
talent on the floor rather than
the noise from the stands.
The first is fifth-year senior
Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota's
star forward who was forced to

sit out most of last season with
a knee injury. He averaged a
double-double in his junior year
while leading the conference in
rebounding. This season, he's
less than two rebounds and one
point per game from getting
back to that point.
"Mbakwe causes problems
just because he's a tremendous
rebounder, shot blocker, dunker
- the whole deal," Beilein said.
"He doesn't need much space,
he operates really well in small
spaces."
Against Ohio State, one of
the biggest positional battles
was between Buckeye forward
Deshaun Thomas and Wolver-
ine forward Glenn Robinson
III. Thursday, it doesn't look
like Robinson will get much of a
break. The freshman will likely
be tasked with guarding Gopher
senior Rodney Williams, whose
12.5 points per game is good for
second-best for Minnesota.
Like Thomas, Williams . is
6-foot-7, and like Thomas, he
possesses the athleticism to
crash the boards like a center
while being able to play offen-
sively from the wing and the
post. .
"Williams plays way above
the rim," Beilein said. "He's
probablythe most athletic player

in the Big Ten."
The week of practice follow-
ing a loss is important, particu-
larly the first loss of the season
for a team to have a short mem-
ory. It's impossible to duplicate
a tough road atmosphere, but
Beilein was still encouraged by
how his team responded to the
loss.
"There's a hit-home type of
attitude," Beilein said. "I love
the way we responded yesterday
in practice, there was no finger
pointing."
Added sophomore pointguard
Trey Burke: "I think the level of
intensity is higher (in practice)
when we lose. A loss humbles
teams and allows them to make
adjustments and get better. Our
practice yesterday was similar to
that."
On Wednesday, a question
was floated to Beilein about
whether the game against Min-
nesota was considered a "must-
win." All the veteran coach
could do was smile.
"I'd be dead if I looked at
games like that," Beilein said.
"The journey and the process
is what leads you to the end, so
there is never a must win."
Maybe not a must win, but a
game that will prove a lot about
Michigan nonetheless.

By STEPHENJ. NESBITT
Daily Sports Editor
Denard Robinson, the former
Michigan quarterback who set the
all-time NCAA quarterback rush-
ing record in the Outback Bowl on
Jan. 1, now has the label of "wide
receiver" slapped beside his name
for the foreseeable future.
With the 2013 NFL draft just
three months away, ESPN draft
analyst Mel Kiper Jr. laid out his
projections for Robinson, as well
as the remaining Michigan foot-
ball seniors, on a conference call
Wednesday afternoon.
"He's just a great football play-
er," Kiper said of Robinson, who
heads down to Mobile, Ala. this
week for Senior Bowl practices. "I
think everybody loves his passion
for the game, his toughness. Obvi-
ously he's got great speed, great
athleticism, great versatility. He
can catchtheball, he canrunwith
the ball.
"After he runs, after. he tests,
after he works out, Ithink Denard
Robinson is no later than a sec-
ond-round draft choice."
Robinson has just three catch-
es in his career and has never
returned a punt, but he'll be used
at both positions in Senior Bowl
practices in preparation for his
future role in the NFL.
Some have theorized that Rob-
inson could end up as a corner-
back at the next level, but Kiper
still pegs him as "an offensive
entity" and a threat in the return
game. He said Robinson could
help himself at the Senior Bowl
if he draws comparisons to Ant-
waan Randle El, a second-round
pick out of Indiana as a quarter-
back. He may not have a position
secured, but Robinson will no
doubt impress scouts at the Senior
Bowl and upcoming NFL Com-
bine by simply doing what he does
best, Kiper said, and that's using
his speed and toughness.
MID-ROUND PICKS: A for-
mer five-star defensive tackle out
of Detroit, 6-foot-5, 308-pound
Will Campbell is one of the more
"intriguing" cases in this draft,
Kiper said.
"You just kept waiting and
waiting," Kiper said. "He did
flash, an various times, future
NFL ability. We know he has the,
physical capabilities and physical
presence you want, you just kept

waiting for that performance to
elevate him into the early-round
mix. It didn'thappen, for me."
Campbell emerged as some-
thing of a space-eater in the mid-
dle for Michigan this fall, tallying
44 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and
a sack, but his numbers never
matched his potential. Kiper sees
him as mid-to-late-round talent
with early-round potential.
"We've seen it happen before,
the light goes on and they become
a guy who can at least help you as
a backup," Kiper said.
Kiper also praised safety Jor-
dan Kovacs and linebacker Kenny
Demens and slotted them as
"middle-round possibilities."
Kovacs, a former walk-on
turned team captain, had 68
tackles, two sacks and an inter-
ception this fall. Demens added
82 tackles, six for loss and an
interception.
"I want to see Demens and
Kovacs at least have a chance to
push themselves onto an NFL
roster as maybe fifth- or sixth-
round picks," Kiper said.
LATE-ROUND PICKS,
FREE AGENTS: Kiper high-
lighted receiver Roy Roundtree
as "a guy who can make a team
as a fifth receiver" and should fall
into the late rounds.
Roundtree exploded in his
sophomore season, Robinson's
first as starting quarterback,
accumulating 72 catches for 935
yards and seven touchdowns,
but floundered since - except
for two highlight-reel catches
in victories over Notre Dame in
2011 and Northwestern in 2012.
His production picked backup
once junior Devin Gardner took
over as quarterback. Roundtree
finished his fifth-year senior
season 31 catches for 580 yards
and three touchdowns.
The analyst made quick ref-
erence to cornerback J.T. Floyd,
who was suspended for the Out-
back Bowl for a violation of team
rules, and Craig Roh.
"Floyd, the kid's got ability,"
Kiper said. "Roh is another kid
that's got a chance."
Kiper made no mention
of offensive guard Patrick
Omameh, who was named first-
team All-Big Ten this fall or of
center Elliott Mealer, who will
take part in the NFLPA Bowl on
Jan. 19.

'M' set to extend streak in Evanston

By ALEXA DETTELBACH
Daily Sports Writer
Life is good for the Michigan
women's basketball team.
The 25th-ranked Wolverines
are listed in the Associated Press
women's basketball poll for the
first time
since 2002
and they Michigan at
have won Northwestern
their first
three games Machop:
Michigan 14-2;
in confer- Northwestern 8-8
ence play for
the first time When: Thurs-
in program
history. They Where: Welsh-
face North- Ryan Arena
western (0-3 TV/Radio:
Big Ten, 8-8 mgoblue.com
overall) on
Thursday at
Welsh-Ryan
Arena looking to extend their
program-best 10-game win
streak.
Oh, and Michigan (3-0, 14-2)
is off to its best start in program
history.
Life is good for the Wolver-
ines.
"It's really great for our pro-
gram to be recognized," said
Michigan coach Kim Barnes
Arico. "I think it would be great
for people around the country to
see Michigan women's basket-
ball in the Top 25.
"But I don't want us to get
caught up in all that because I
don't want us to forget how we
got here and what we're trying
to do."
Instead of getting caught up
in the national fanfare, first-year
head coach Barnes Arico is going
to continue pushing the Wolver-

ines to do what they do best: get-
ting the ball to the seniors.
Through the first 16 games
of the season, Michigan's five
seniors have been the key to its
success - senior guard Jenny
Ryan, senior forward Kate
Thompson and senior center
Rachel Sheffer are all scoring in
double digits. Thompson leads
the way with 15.4 points per
game. Her 3.69 3-pointers per
game is not only ateam best, but
also second in the Big Ten.
Thompson is coming off her
worst performance of the season
- a six-point showing - against
Wisconsin where she was held
without a 3-pointer for the first
time all season.
"I thought Wisconsin did a
great job on Kate," Barnes Arico
said. "I thought (Sunday) was
just the night we couldn't get
anyone going. Rachel wasn't
making plays. Kate wasn't mak-
ing plays. (Senior forward) Sam
(Arnold) came in and didn't real-
ly make any plays. So all the peo-
ple that have really helped us on
the offensive end really couldn't
get it going."
The cold offensive showing
against the Badgers could have
ended the Wolverines' winning
streak but instead showcased
the team's versatility. With two
offensive threats shut down
against Wisconsin, the Wolver-
ines looked to Ryan to lead the
way - and she did so perfectly.
"Wisconsin really exposed
us offensively," Barnes Arico
said Sunday. "(But) Jenny really
stepped up when we needed her.
Tonight she knew that we need-
ed her to score, and she did what
she had to do to help us find a
way to win. She was incredible."

Senior Kate Thompson is second in the Big Ten in 3-pointers a game this season.

Ryan scored a career-high 19
points and played all 40 min-
utes. But the Wolverines will
need production from elsewhere
going forward.
"My philosophy, is to take it
one game at a time and really not
look past your next opponent,"
Barnes Arico said.
Going into their game against
Northwestern, the Wolverines
will look to shake off their slow
offensive showing and continue
finding new ways to score.
The Wildcats' .500 record is
misleading. Northwestern lost
two games to top-10 teams by
only four points each and has
proven to be a trickier opponent
than anticipated.

The Wildcats have five players
that average double digits. For-
ward Kendall Hackney leads the
team in scoring with 14.6 points
per game and forward Dannielle
Diamant's 8.1 rebounds pergame
also leads the team. In addition,
Northwestern has guard Karly
Roser, who averages 6.3 assists
per-game, which is second in the
Big Ten and 16th in the nation.
The Wildcats have a huge size
advantage over Michigan and
will have to attack the post when
they are on offense. The Wolver-
ines have had size issues in most
of their games this season, but
their quickness and ball move-
ment have helped them compen-
sate.

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is expected to be drafted by Round 2.
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