The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
January 21, 2014 - 3B
Youth, offense key to success
now tied for first in
Big Ten conference
Illinois coach Matt Bollant
crouched low on his sideline,
watching the Michigan women's
basketball team's offense go
to work. He focused on every
movement on the floor, mentally
willing a needed defensive stop
with the Fighting Illini trailing
late in Saturday's game.
less, his eyes
son Ristovski COHEN
had just hit a
give the Wolverines a 12-point
lead, and Bollant watched on. He
stared for a matter of moments
then turned around, muttered
something to his assistants and
beckoned for another player to
come off the bench.
Michigan's offense has had
a tendency to elicit this sort of
reaction from opposing coaches
this season. If there is a surefire
way to stop these Wolverines,
Big Ten coaches are still
searching for it.
That's because Michigan's
offense works like a tag-team
schoolyard fight. You can stop
one player, but then you have
to stop another who will step in
Going into the season, the
Wolverines' youth made the
team irrelevant, a non-factor
in a Big Ten conference fraught
with experienced stars. Their
returning leading scorer, junior
guard Nicole Elmblad, averaged
just over four points per game.
Now, more than halfway
through the regular season,
Michigan's biggest weakness
has turned into one of its big-
Maybe the solution is to hold
junior guard Shannon Smith
and junior forward Cyesha
Goree - two of the team's top
Freshman guard Siera Thompson has been one of multiple freshmen to give opposing coaches headaches this season.
four scorers - without a field
goal in the first half. Nice try,
but even as Illinois managed to
pull off the feat, it still trailed by
four entering the half.
If an opponent can stop
Smith from scoring for a half,
Michigan doesn't have to worry.
Freshman guard Siera Thomp-
son will deliver the knockout
blows instead, delivering four
jabs to the abdomen in the form
of 3-pointers as she did in the
first half against the Fighting
Illini. Prevent Goree from get-
ting to the basket and Elmblad
will run laps
around the -
she finds an "They 1
er from the workin
And defens- and I th
es can't for-
get about are so
can create for -
and hit a shot from anywhere
on the court, or senior forward
Val Driscoll, who will scrap
for every offensive rebound
and then lay it in for a Michi-
gan basket. Add in freshman
guard Paige Rakers - who has
attempted the second-most
3-pointers on the team - and
the Wolverines have seven
players that can give opposing
coach Kim Barnes Arico had
whatever the opposite of a
headache is after her team
finished off Illinois. She gushed
about her team's performance,
thrilled with her team's start to
"They have great chemistry,
they are so unselfish, they buy
into working hard, and I think
they're so naive," Barnes Arico
said. "They just go out and play."
Barnes Arico spoke with an
buy into like calling
.g hard would be the
I highest of all
ink they compliments.
For this team,
naive." it is.
"It isn't like,
'Oh, I'm play-
State,' or 'Oh, I'm playing Illi-
nois,' " Barnes Arico said. "They
play the same way all the time,
and they believe every time they
go outon the court they're going
to have an opportunity to win."
The fact that these play-
ers haven't scored more than a
smattering of points at the col-
legiate level helps Michigan
on each possession. It doesn't
matter to the Wolverines who
scores, as long as the possession
ends with the ball funneling its
way down the basket.
This complete lack of selfish-
ness rears its head each game as
Michigan lasers the ball around
the perimeter looking for the
best shot. The Wolverines weave
the ball inside and outside, until
the optimal look arises.
The formula isn't foolproof,
but nobody expected it to be.
A slow start against Michigan
State turned out to be costly, but
the versatile offense appeared
late in the first half, giving
Michigan a fighting chance in
its lone Big Ten loss up until the
final moments of the game.
After Saturday's win, Barnes
Arico broke out in joyous
laughter when asked if she
expected her team to have this
"Oh my goodness, no," Barnes
Arico said. "But knock on some
serious wood. You know what?
It's the kids. They are just
It's unbelievable that the
Wolverines' offense has trans-
formed the-team from probable
cellar dweller to very possible
NCAA Tournament team. If any-
one thought this could've hap-
pened before the season, they
would've been naive.
In Dallas, victory
By MAX BULTMAN relays is that we don't know
Daily Sports Writer who toput on them," said senior
Connor Jaeger. "We have so
Having won four of the past much depth and so many guys
five SMU Classics, last year's that are good at different things."
close loss to USC left a bad taste Usually able to overwhelm
in the mouth of the Michigan teams with that depth, the
men's swimming team. Wolverines were forced to use a
The meet was one of just two bit more strategy while coming
the Wolverines lost last season. up with their meet plan.
This past weekend, Michigan, Sophomore Peter Brumm,
the 2013 NCAA champion, went senior John Wojciechowski
to Dallas for this year's iteration and juniors Bruno Ortiz and
of the meet against three Funk started the meet in domi-
top-10 teams - USC, Florida nant fashion, winning the 400-
and Louisville - along with yard medley relay in 3:07.76,
Purdue and the host Mustangs. multiple body lengths ahead of
Surrounded by teams they Florida's relay.
expect to see at March's NCAA Jaeger - one of the best col-
Championships, the Wolverines legiate distance freestylers in
redeemed last year's loss in a the country - found himself in
narrow victory over the Gators, an usual position: the 200-yard
333-321 - their smallest margin butterfly. In an abnormal result,
of victory this season. Jaeger swam in the consola-
Junior Richard Funk, who tion heat to take seventh place
has emerged as a near lock to overall despite swimming the
win both breaststroke races fourth-fastest time in the event.
in just about any meet, did so Beside the rare blemish on his
again over the weekend - he race card, Jaeger looked strong.
won the 100-yard breaststroke In the 500-yard freestyle, he
in 52.31 and the 200-yard ver- swam head to head against
sion in 1:54.75. USC's Christian Quintero, the
"It's been agreat year because only swimmer in the nation
we have a lot of great guys in the with a faster time in the event.
breaststroke events that I train Jaeger, though, showed why
with every day," Funk said. "In he's the defending NCAA
practice every day everyone ison champion in the race, winning
and going really fast in practice. in 4:16.54.
It pushes me to the places I've "Looking at his splits
been going in competition." (before the meet), I knew he
The rules of the SMU was somebody that had a lot
Invitational offered Michigan of speed," Jaeger said. "It's
a challenge on their own. The probably easier for him to (start
meet had some quirks that kept fast) than it is for me. With the
things interesting and required a understanding that this is just
little more thought on the parts a midseason meet to get a feel
of the coaches. where guys are in the training, I
Teams were only allowed to think we're both excited to race
bring eight swimmers and one each other again in March."
diver to the meet, a significant Sophomore Timothy
departure from the nearly 20 Faerber took third place in the
traveling teams usually carry. one-meter and three-meter
Swimmers could enter into diving competitions, areas in
three events per day - provided which Michigan's divers have
one was a relay - only one swim- steadily improved their scores
mer from each teamwas allowed this season.
to compete in the championship While last season's team
heat and one in the consolation. proved it doesn't take a perfect
Only one relay team was record to hoist the only trophies
allowed from each school, that matter, Michigan's
creating an unusual dilemma performance at SMU may have
for Michigan. shown just how realistic a
"What's so great about our repeat could be.
In Stefan, 'M' finds its
replacement for King
By JAKE L
A yellow si
number one wa
baseline, a group
the other. The
see what the M
without Evan Ki
For the first
years, a new
court that the t1
American had ru
But when junio
crushed a fore]
hold serve at 2-1
had found its
on Saturday mo
Toledo, 6-1, on S
Stefan had a
being held out
matches, he play
junior is also ret
kept him out unti
He came out
Stjepan Sisko of
to volley off po'
"That's my s
to hit a big shot,
try to come in a
LOURIM away," Stefan said.
rtsWriter Stefan's power wore on Sisko,
who grew more frustrated
ign with the throughout the match. Stefan
as behind one pulled ahead by breaking serve
of fans behind in the first set, then held serve
fans wanted to the rest of the way. In the
Michigan men's second set, he broke Sisko three
No. 1 singles times, the last of which caused
Id look like Sisko to hit the ball against the
ng. back wall out of frustration.
time in four After Stefan converted
face took the match point, Sisko threw his
hree-time All- racket against the back wall for
sled for so long. a one-game penalty.
or Vlad Stefan "I thought I was more con-
hand volley to sistent than him," Stefan said.
in the first set, "That was the key of the match.
than I did, so
"He missed way that played a
more than I did, Stefan capi-
talized off Sis-
so that played a ku's miscues,
huge factor." shotfteshot
from the net.
"He hits the
ball really big
rning, and over off the baseline," said Michigan
aturday night. coach Bruce Berque of Stefan.
sore ankle on "He's got really good technique
ling, so after at the net, but he doesn't always
of the morning feel that comfortable coming
ed No. 1 singles in. Tonight he was able to
The 6-foot-4 finish at the net and he's going
covering from a to get those opportunities if he
y last June that keeps hitting the ball as big as
il the fall. he does."
strong against With Stefan out for the
f Toledo, eager morning, 5-foot-10 junior Alex
wer shots from Petrone started at the No. 1
singles position, only to be
trategy, to try overpowered by Western Mich-
and if I see the igan's 6-foot-3 Nadin Indre.
h for the ball, I Petrone started more
nd put the ball consistently than Indre, using a
double fault to break serve early
in the first set. However, Indre
proved too strong, hitting a
forehand winner to break back
at 3-3 before winning the final
three games. He finished the
first set with an ace.
"(Indre) settled down and
started playing much better
- I think that was the biggest
difference," Berque said. "Alex,
in the beginning, he didn't have
to do as much because the guy
was making some errors. Then,
as it turned out, he probably
needed to pick his game up a
little bit more."
Petrone battled in the second
set, planting a forehand in
the corner that the strong but
slower Indre couldn't reach.
But Indre went up a break and
held serve the rest of the match
to win, 6-3,6-3.
"When I was trying to do
more of the finesse stuff and
angles, he really liked it, and
he was able to step up and hit
it big," Petrone said. "I would
try to isolate the forehand and
really press on that side."
The Wolverines got into
some trouble against Western
Michigan in the morning after
winning only one of the first
three singles matches.
Late in the meet, however,
freshman Kevin Wong fought
through in his first dual meet
to beat the Broncos' Matt
Hamilton and clinch the win,
5-6 (7), 6-2, 6-0.
Seniors Barrett Franks and
Alex Buzzi won, 6-4, at No. 1,
and Petrone and junior Michael
Zhu won, 6-3, at No. 2. The
Wolverines gained the doubles
point, and even in the season
opener, they almost needed it.
From Page 1B
top teams assert themselves
by winning a tournament-style
But instead of a statement,
there was a one-possession loss
to Charlotte. Then there was
a lead lost down the stretch
against the Wildcats.
After that, they'd have to
take on every challenge minus
McGary. The early returns in
Big Ten play were inconclusive
despite the 4-0 start. They
picked up some important
wins, but nothing against high-
Appropriately, the line for the
game was Wisconsin by eight.
But all of a sudden, Michigan
found itself up 60-45 with ten
minutes left on Saturday. Up
13 with eight minutes to play?
They still had it.
Until they didn't. Four
minutes and a 10-0 Badgers
run turned the Wolverines'
chances of winning from very
likely to very much in doubt.
Michigan's offensive strategy
had become to keep shooting
from deep and pray that
enough of them went down so
that the lead didn't get away.
The window that had some-
how been pried so far open
had gotten greased up and was
falling fast. When else would
Michigan be in such good posi-
tion to grab a top-five road win?
"Any time you can wipe down
a lead like that and get it to one?
I'd do backflips if I could still
do them," said Wisconsin coach
It would have been a full 15
years since Michigan had last
won in Madison.
"I thought when they made
that run, I saw a couple of the
heads go down," Beilein said.
"And they needed to pick it up.
We had to challenge them to
say, 'We're going to win this
game, and we're going to win
the game by being aggressive.
And if you're afraid to shoot it,
you're afraid to take it at them,
then get out of the game.'
"And nobody checked out."
Despite missing five of his
last six shots, Stauskas kept
shooting. With the lead down
to one, he hit a step-back
3-pointer, the dagger.
Stauskas was the player who
wouldn't be denied from a team
that seemed destined to be
denied and has been all season.
As Wisconsin fouled to prolong
the game in the final minute,
Stauskas sprinted to the ball
each time and defied the double
team so that he could take the
foul shots. He made all six. And
so they won.
The Badgers haven't just
been more skilled than
Michigan over the years,
they've been Stronger. They
haven't just been unhealthy for
Michigan, they've been Toxic.
And heading into Saturday, it
seemed that a win against Wis-
consin - and a statement to the
college basketball world that
Michigan has something great
to offer this year - wouldn't
come 'Till The World Ends.
But afterward, it was time to
party like it was 1999.
Rothschild can be reached
at email@example.com or
on Twitter @nrothschild3
Freshman guard Derrick Walton Jr. and the Michigan men's basketball team remain undefeated in Bi