The Wolverine

November 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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2011-12 basketball preview Five Questions Facing The Maize And Blue In 2011-12 Who will make a jump similar two emerging threats down low to Rachel Sheffer last year? in juniors Rachel Sheffer and Sam A 6-1 forward from Watervliet, Arnold. Mich., Sheffer upped her points Sheffer developed into a go-to per game from 1.4 to 11.0 from player for the Maize and Blue last 2010 to 2011. She increased her season, ranking second in field rebounding by more than two goal attempts (252) and first in per game while playing sound deshooting percentage (.464) while fense down low against opposing also leading Michigan in scoring centers often four or five inches with an average of 12.4 points durtaller. ing 16 Big Ten contests. A versatile While teammates cite 6-4 guard player that converted 32.2 percent Kate Thompson and 6-0 forward of her 60 three-pointers, Sheffer Nya Jordan among the promising has room to grow her game, espebreakout players, the juniors have cially around the basket. already begun scratching the surSheffer has the best chance to face of the potential. Sophomore lead Michigan in scoring, but ArVal Driscoll, on the other hand, nold could also blow up. The 6-4 would be coming out of nowhere forward wanted to play the finesse after appearing in just 16 of 30 game when she first arrived, atgames and averaging 3.8 minutes tempting almost the same numlast season. ber of three-pointers (22) as twoThe 6-5 forward/center was a Junior Rachel Sheffer developed into a go-to player for the pointers (23) in 2010. She still likes terrific low-post defender in high Maize and Blue last season, ranking first in shooting per- to shoot from the outside ��� and school, and can immediately add centage (.464) while also leading Michigan in scoring with she can hit it, connecting on 31.5 an element of toughness and in- an average of 12.4 points in 16 Big Ten contests. percent of 73 threes last season ��� photo by per kjeldsen but she���s becoming more adept timidation to the Wolverines. She would allow Sheffer to play a forward position, creating more around the basket, and could form a perfect complement favorable matchups for the junior, while serving to impede with Sheffer this season. athletic guards from driving to the hoop. How will Michigan finish in the Big Ten? Driscoll may still be a year away offensively, but she can A year ago, Michigan was one of four teams to finish with a impact defensively right now. 10-6 record, good for a third-place tie. There was no dominant Which true freshman will make the biggest impact this team in the Big Ten, with Michigan State finishing in first with season? a 13-3 mark. This season, there again doesn���t appear to be With rookie Dayeesha Hollins and junior Veronica Hicks, one team that will run away with the title, giving a program Michigan featured one of the most athletic backcourts in the like U-M reason to believe, with a few breaks, it could earn the Big Ten in 2010, but Hollins transferred to be closer to home conference crown. after her freshman season and Hicks graduated in the spring, The Maize and Blue probably lack the athleticism to win 12, leaving U-M with only one elite athlete with experience this 13, 14 games, but another 10-6 record isn���t an unreasonable season ��� junior Nya Jordan. And Jordan is coming off an ACL expectation. injury that sidelined her for 17 games. Will U-M qualify for the NCAA Tournament? Michigan���s four-woman rookie class ups the overall athletiWhile the NCAA offers no magic number, it would be hard cism of the team considerably, but head coach Kevin Borseth for the selection committee to say no to a 20-win campaign. traditionally favors playing his veterans while making his For U-M to reach that milestone, it will need to at least repeat freshmen work their way into the lineup. Still, speed, quickits 10-6 record in the Big Ten, win a conference tournament ness and scoring demand playing time, and both guards game (which it failed to do a year ago, proving a death knell Brenae Harris and Aquashia Anderson have plenty. for the Wolverines) and win eight or nine of its 13 non-conferAnderson, however, blew out her ACL this summer and is ence contests, a very doable achievement. poised to take a redshirt. Harris is fully healthy and ready to Michigan has been on the bubble each of the past two go. She probably won���t average double digits, but she could years, and it has to eliminate the possibility of being left out of bring energy and excitement to the team every time she the NCAA Tournament. A year ago, the Maize and Blue didn���t steps on the floor this season. do that, losing their final regular-season home game to 4-12 Who will lead the Wolverines in scoring? Minnesota and its opening round of the Big Ten Tournament Though it is easier for guards to create scoring opportunities to 2-14 Illinois. U-M has to start strong this year, play well in for themselves, Michigan���s roster features more shooters than January and finish strong. playmakers, and there will be nights the shots simply aren���t There is no excuse for this team not to make NCAAs, and dropping for seniors Courtney Boylan and Carmen Reynolds, the players and coaches, feeding off that urgency, will earn and juniors Jenny Ryan and Kate Thompson. Chances closer a berth. to the basket, however, are far easier to convert, and U-M has ��� Michael Spath November 2011��� ������ the wolverine��� 83

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