There hasn’t been a lot going on in Michigan sports. Basketball is done. Hockey is done. Spring football is underway, but we really won’t know what that looks like until the Spring Game on April 14.
So since very little is going on in Michigan sports, we can look at what’s going on in Ann Arbor. In recent news, it got kind of cold this week (well, not cold, just March-like), but I had Girl Scout cookies delivered to my house. I would consider that breaking even, though I believe Tom VanHaaren would consider it an automatic win (cookies trump weather for Tom). Mike doesn’t eat cookies, so he would be pretty disgruntled all around.
But enough about cookies and on to the Michigan sports mailbag! To get in next week’s mailbag send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them to @mikerothstein.
Tyler Desy, via Twitter: Who do u think the biggest weakness is for the football team heading into this season?
A: It should be interesting to see the flow of the offense through quarterback Denard Robinson. I think he is going to show some improvement from last season, but the question is: how much? Junior Hemingway is gone, and Roy Roundtree and Jeremy Gallon are back, but Robinson really has no safety net and people don’t know what exactly the chemistry will be like between those players. And outside of those two receivers I think true freshmen Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson have real chances to compete for playing time, but obviously, there isn’t going to be a well-established quarterback/receiver chemistry there either.
On top of that, one must wonder how much time in the pocket Robinson will really have. The offensive line is changing dramatically and with David Molk and Mark Huyge gone, there will be breakdowns that happen.
A: I think there’s a solid chance that Michigan can pick up guard Amedeo Della Valle (Henderson, Nev./Findlay). He would fit in perfectly to Michigan coach John Beilein’s offense. He’s a terrific outside shooter and he has the size (6-foot-5) that creates a few difficult matchups for opponents. He could easily step into Evan Smotrycz’s role, while being more of a deep threat. I know that Michigan has also started to look at point guard Monte Morris (Flint, Mich./Beecher). Morris doesn’t have any major offers, so if the Wolverines were to offer, it would be the only big name school on his list. I’d say there’s a very good chance Michigan can pick up one of those guys.
Janell, Ann Arbor: Obviously the end to Michigan hockey season this year was disappointing. What’s the main thing they have to improve on for next year?
A: I asked fifth-year senior goaltender Shawn Hunwick this yesterday and he said the team needs to work on picking its moments. “I think if we would’ve gone into the NCAA Tournament playing like we were when we swept Miami here at Yost, I think we still could be playing,” Hunwick said. “Just getting hot at the right time. I think last year we got hot at the right time and we weren’t even close to being the best team in the country and we almost pulled it off.”
I’d agree with Hunwick, but I think the part of the team that will struggle the most early next season is the goaltending. Hunwick has been in the net for the Wolverines for 2½ years and Berenson said on Monday that Jared Rutledge should be the starter next season. But there are obviously qualms about putting a 18-year-old in the net for a team like Michigan. The defense will need to step up so Rutledge isn’t facing breakaways and two-on-ones from his first minute.