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2B - December 2, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

2B -Deceber2, 213 he Mchian Dily- mihigndaiyco

The Glenn Robinson III conundrum

Michigan men's bas-
ketball coach John
Beilein has plenty of
good players, but they don't fit
cleanly into the positions in his
offense.
And as the
biggest,
most ver-
satile wing
on a deep
Michigan
attack,
sopho- NEAL
more
forward ROTHSCHILD
Glenn
Robinson
III has to play out of position,
where he's not as threatening
and not as comfortable.
Last April, Robinson held
court in a crowded news confer-
ence in the Crisler Center media
room. He announced that he'd
return to school the following
year for his sophomore season,
passing up the NBA Draft where
he was projected to be a top-15
pick.
"I feel like I haven't really
shown everybody what I can do
on the basketball court," Robin-
son said.
And there was a reason
behind that.
Robinson had played the 2012-
13 season at the '4,' a position
similar to the power forward
that, in the Beilein offense,
demands passivity. The '4,' as
Robinson plays it, awaits his
opportunities. He doesn'tgen-
erate possessions but finishes
them, depending on the guards'
decisions on a given play. The '4'
hangs out in the corners, waiting
for the wings to penetrate and
attract attention, looking for a
pass. The '4' crashes the boards
for put-backs and makes back-
door cuts for alley-oops, layups
and short jump shots. The '4'
waits for his chances, he doesn't
create them.
With Trey Burke, Tim Hard-
away Jr. and Nik Stauskas in
the backcourt, it made sense for
the bigger, 6-foot-6, 220-pound
Robinson to find his way into

the starting lineup as the '4.' But
when he made his decision in
April, he was intent on moving
to the '3' this season. At the new
position where he could create
his own shot and drive to the
rim consistently, he'd be able to
showcase all he could do on the
court.
Beilein understood this. He
knew the player with the highest
ceiling needed to be given the
chance to shine, and he said so.
"We've always envisioned him
to be the '3' man," Beilein said
last April.
That couldn't happen last year
because it was more a matter
of, "How do we get our best five
guys on the floor as much as pos-
sible?"
Reasonable enough. So this
season, Robinson would play
the '3.' It wasn't a deal, per se,
because Beilein has too much
integrity to pull something like
that, but it seemed like an unspo-
ken agreement. To reward his
star player who had foregone the
pros to return to school, Rob-
inson would get to play the '3,'
where he could flash his offen-
sive creativity and flex his abili-
ties beyond jaw-dropping dunks.
Trouble was, it's not that
simple. The Wolverines still had
to find a way to get the best five
guys on the floor, and the way
to do that was to keep Robin-
son at the '4.' Michigan's depth
lies with its backcourt and not
its frontcourt. For Robinson to
play the '3,' two big men need to
start, but outside of sophomore
forward Mitch McGary, no other
big is amongthe team's best five.
In Michigan's exhibitions
earlier this year, Beilein tried to
make the two-big-man set-up
work. With McGary out, red-
shirt junior Jon Horford and
fifth-year senior Jordan Morgan
started, and as expected, Robin-
son flourished at the '3,' explod-
ing for 33 points on 12-for-15
shooting in a 117-44 victory
over Concordia. He'd score an
efficient 15 points the next game
against Wayne State.'
Then the five-best-guys-on-

potential best player is being
constrained from realizing his
full abilities. Ideally, Michigan
would be able to let Robinson
maximize his abilities. With cur-
rent personnel, that's not reality.
For a player dogged by a
reputation for being passive and
pass-first, the position change
doesn't help Robinson shed that
label. This season, Robinson has
looked tentative and caged while
never the go-to option for Michi-
gan late in games. Stauskas,
playingthe '3,' took over that
role. In the three games decided
by less than 10 points, Robinson
shot 9-for-26 and 2-for-9 from
behind the arc. He bruised his
back in the second half of a 63-61
loss to Charlotte in the Puerto
Rico Tip-Off Final and was held
out of the final 18 minutes of the
contest. Robinson has been a
shell of what he was presumed
capable of.
But then Friday in a blowout
win against Coppin State, an
ankle injury to Stauskas allowed
Robinson to play the '3' again. It
was a small sample size against
an inferior team, but he looked
comfortable again, scoring 14
points on 5-for-11 shooting.
It's a complicated issue. You
can't blame Beilein for not com-
promising in playing the team's
five best players, though perhaps
you can fault him for lacking the
foresight that given the team
composition, the '3' wouldn't be
available to Robinson. Unless
Beilein was truly astounded
that LeVert was able to earn a
starting spot, he could have laid
out the situation to Robinson
in April. And maybe he did. But
unfiltered honesty could have
meant Robinson would punch
his ticket to Brooklyn for the
draft.
Michigan's five best players
don't include a natural '4,' and
that's at the heart of the issue.
It's the position that has put
John Beilein ina tough position.
Rothschild can be reached
at nealroth@umich.edu and
on Twitter @nrothschild3

6
I
0
6

ADAM GLANZMAN/Daily
Sophomore forward Glenn Robinson Ill is stuck in the middle of two positions, the '3' and the '4.'

the-floor issue reared itself as
the regular season was set to
begin. Sophomore guard Caris
LeVert played so well in the pre-
season that Beilein couldn't keep
him out of the starting lineup.
The best five players were fresh-
man point guard Derrick Wal-
ton, LeVert, Stauskas, Robinson
and McGary. Not much dispute
about it.
So for the rest of the season,
barring injury, Robinson's stuck
at the '4.' To shoe-horn Robin-
son into the '3' requires a two-
big-man set, something Beilein

doesn't see as anything more
than a situational option.
The philosophical problem is
that the interests of the guy that
could potentially be Michigan's
best player don't align with the
interests of the team.
Robinson certainly won't
voice displeasure with the situ-
ation. He's said that he's willing
and happy to play wherever is
best for the team. Whether he is
the consummate team guy and is
willing to sacrifice a great deal
of production for the good of the
team, or if he's simply providing

lip service, is open to interpreta-
tion.
But a reasonable person who
passed up a spot in the lottery
of the NBA Draft to return to
school with the stated purpose
of playing a specific position
would be upset about playing
elsewhere out of necessity. The
situation could cost Robinson
millions depending on how his
draft stock is altered.
But it's not just Robinson
personally who is affected by
the circumstances. It's also to
Michigan's detriment that its

0

Michigan'st
season ends
in Elit Eight

MWOMEN'S BASKETBALL
'M' falls short of upset

By JAKE LOURIM
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan women's soc-
cer team spent all season break-
ing records - best start to a
season, best Big Ten finish, most
shutouts.
But on Friday, it finally ran
into an MICHIGAN 1
offense VIRGINIA 2
that broke
its own.
No. 1 seed Virginia notched
the go-ahead goal in the 68th
minute to eliminate Michigan
from the NCAA Tournament in
the Elite Eight, 2-1.
The Cavaliers (24-1) came in
with the nation's top offense at
3.13 goals per game, so Michigan
(18-4-1) countered with a 5-3-2
formation. It pushed freshman
Madisson Lewis from outside
midfielder to forward, and the
holding midfielder into the back
line.
"Virginia throws the kitchen
sink at you, and a couple of pipes
from the basement and a crow-
bar from the back ofyour trunk,"
said Michigan coach Greg Ryan.
"You've got to be able to deal
with so many attacking options
that they have. We decided that
if we were going to give them
anything, give them the flanks,
not up the middle. Unfortunate-
ly, we were out of position on
that first goal in one spot, but it
happens."
In the 24th minute, Virginia
became the first team to score
on the Wolverines in the NCAA
Tournament. Forward Makenzy
Doniak fed a pass into the box
for midfielder Morgan Brian,
who poked it past Michigan
freshman goalie Taylor Bucklin.
The goal came on the Cava-
liers' sixth shot of the game. On
the previous five shots, the Wol-

verines stopped a shot and tried
to clear it, but a Virginia player
was right there to keep it in the
Michigan half.
The Wolverines fought back,
sticking to their game plan of
playing defense and scoring on
counter attacks.
In the 28th minute, Bucklin
prevented a 2-0 deficit by catch-
ing a point-blank shot and send-
ing it the other way.-In the far
corner, senior forward Nkem
Ezurike pushed over a Virginia
defender, gained possession and
crossed it to senior midfielder
Meghan Toohey for the finish.
"After they scored, we hud-
dled together and said we need-
ed to keep going after it and not
let it affect our play," Toohey
said.
Despite being pounded from
all angles, Michigan went into
halftime tied and played an
even game in the beginning of
the second half, with neither
team allowing any chances. In
the 68th minute, Virginia for-
ward Molly Menchel shot the
ball off the post and then put the
rebound in to give the Cavaliers
the lead that would hold for the
remainder of
the game. -
"I think we
did well for a "They
lot of the game
to keep them war
contained,"
said senior l
defender
Holly Hein. -
"They put
a couple in behind us, but we
really fought the whole game to
make sure they weren't able to
get behind us. They did a couple
times, but that's the way it goes
sometimes in soccer."
Michigan pushed forward,
looking for an equalizer in the

By MAX COHEN man guard Paige Rakers hit her
Daily Sports Writer first 3-pointer of the game to give
the Wolverines an eight-point
Going into the season, few lead with 11 minutes left. Rakers
thought the Michigan women's scored the next nine Michigan
basketball team's season would points on three 3-pointers, but
produce championships of any LSU showed why it's a top-25
sort. Returning only one player team, responding each time. But
who earned significant minutes the Wolverines didn't fold, keep-
last season, junior guard Nicole ing the Lady Tigers from taking
Elmblad, winning just about any- a lead until there were less than
thing seemed far-fetched. two minutes remaining.
Yet, eight games in, the Wol- "But the progress that we've
verines were two points shy of seen with this team has been
earning a championship trophy, incredible," Barnes Arico said.
after losing to No. 15 LSU, 64-62, "And they're babies. I said down
in the final of the Barclays Invi- the stretch, we're playing LSU,
tational in the No. 15 team in the country
Brooklyn, MICHIGAN 62 with a Naismith candidate on
N.Y. The LSU 64 their team surrounded by other
resiliency high-school All-Americans, and
the team showed in overcoming we have two freshmen on the
its inexperience made the defeat court, a sophomore on the court
even more devastating once and two juniors at times."
freshman guard Siera Thomp- In the end, the experience
son's potential game-tying jump- of the Lady Tigers prevailed as
er fell short with 3.4 seconds Michigan faltered in the final
remaining. minute. After Thompson hit
"I'll be sick about this one for a 3-pointer to tie the game in
quite some time," said Michigan the last minute, the Wolverines
coach Kim Barnes Arico. "I don't failed to respond when forward
know when I'm going to get any Danielle Ballard made a layup to
sleep again." give LSU the lead with 20 sec-
Going into the game, the onds to go. For the first time of
matchup had the makings of a the second half, Michigan's inex-
blowout. The Lady Tigers (6-1) perience showed, as it did not
featured preseason Wooden seem to have a go-to player eager
Award candidate Theresa Plai- to take the final shot.
sance, while Michigan (5-3) Senior forward Val Driscoll -
was without its own offensive in the starting lineup because of
catalyst, junior guard Shannon Smith's injury - stepped up for
Smith, because of a back injury Michigan, playing her best game
sustained in Friday's victory over of the season. Driscoll gathered
Texas Tech. But the Wolverines 11 rebounds and blocked six shots
displayed mettle beyond their while outplaying Plaisance. Plai-
years, battling back late after a sance was held in check through-
sub-par first half. out the game, scoring only three
After 16 turnovers and Wol- points.
verine foul trouble allowed the Thompson and sophomore
swarming Lady Tigers to take guard Madison Ristovski were
control of the game in the first the Wolverines' leading scorers
half, Michigan came out with with 13 points, followed by Rak-
a different kind of fire in the ers with 12.
second. Junior forward Cyesha While their scoring was criti-
Goree - who sat out much of the cal in replacing Smith's produc-
first half with two early fouls - tion, the Wolverines needed
scored the first six points of the three more points for the tour-
half to cut the deficit to one. Still, nament win. Michigan left the
the Wolverines' comeback didn't Barclays Invitational without a
end when Goree's run ended. trophy, but it came much closer
Michigan had started the half than anyone initially dreamed it
on a 21-9 run by the time fresh- could.

TRACY KO/Daily
Senior midfielder Meghan Toohey scored Michigan's only goal Friday.

final 20 minutes, but Virginia
kept possession away from the
Wolverines. Ezurike, the pro-
gram's all-time leading scorer,
was limited to one shot, and the
team finished with only two on
goal, both in the first half. The
Cavaliers outshot Michigan,
22-4.
Despite the
shot differen-
didn't tial, the Wol-
verines scored
at least once
it to for the 12th
time in their
Te... past 13 games.
They also tied
the record for
wins, falling one short of the
program's first College Cup.
In the end, Michigan ran into
the best team it had played after
two rounds of playing lower-
seeded teams in the second and
third rounds. The Cavaliers
were undefeated until the ACC

Tournament.
"I think Virginia plays the
best brand of soccer in the
women's college game that I've
seen in a long time," Ryan said.
"We've seen in recent years
Stanford has played a similar
style, but Virginia's doing it at
a higher pace, not only with the
ball, but when they're out of
possession, they're so quick to
press. It's very difficult to get a
rhythm going."
Ryan walked into his press
conference late and started
congratulating Virginia, his
players' sniffles audible in the
background. He had to make his
way out of a somber team huddle
before talking to the media.
"They didn't want to leave,"
Ryan said. "They said, 'We're
not disappointed that (we) lost
to the No. 1 team in the country.
What we're disappointed about
is that we won't be together
every day in the future."'

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