Against Mississippi State last Saturday at the Daytona Beach Invitational, senior guard Danielle Rauch caught the ball at the 3-point line and launched it. It splashed through the hoop, giving the Wolverines their first double-digit lead of the game halfway through the third quarter.
With senior guard Amy Dilk still out due to a day-to-day lower body injury, Rauch’s new role in the Wolverines’ lineup appears as if it will hold steady for at least the near future. Rauch has thrived in the starting point guard spot, improving on her numbers from last season across the board. She’s averaging 8.1 points and 2.6 assists in 32.9 minutes per game, which is up from last season’s averages of 16.2 minutes, 2.3 points and 1.5 assists.
While Rauch has seen a massive jump in her statistical contribution to the team, she’s also coming up big for Michigan in important moments that don’t show up on that stat sheet.
Earlier in the Invitational, Rauch had another crucial play that helped the Wolverines clinch a win over Oregon State. With just 3:32 minutes left in fourth quarter and a four-point lead, senior forward Emily Kiser found Rauch open behind the arc. Rauch fired and found her mark, boosting the Wolverines’ lead to seven late in the game.
Rauch’s 3-point shooting has been consistent this season for Michigan. She’s 10-for-18 from deep, good for a team-high 56% from 3-point range. Her dependability from behind the arc has been one of the most reliable aspects of the Wolverine offense this season.
“She does a really good job of letting the game come to her,” coach Kim Barnes Arico said after last Monday’s win over Oakland. “She takes what she has. Having a statline of 10 points, four rebounds and four assists with only one turnover is really good. I thought she was just outstanding for us tonight.”
As a senior, Rauch has also stepped into a leadership role on the team. In the first quarter against Oregon State, Rauch could be heard through the broadcast, clapping and screaming, while applying smothering on-ball defense against Oregon State’s Talia Von Oelhoffen. Von Oelhoffen couldn’t handle Rauch’s pressure, ultimately throwing a wayward pass that was intercepted by junior guard Michelle Sidor. Sidor took it all the way to the basket for an easy layup enabled by Rauch’s defense.
That infectious energy in the backcourt has been one of Rauch’s biggest contributions to the team. Her energy has paid off on the stat sheet as she has managed to come up with six steals in just seven games this season.
Rauch’s leadership is also evident on the offensive end. In the season opener against IUPUI, she was thrown into a prominent role immediately after starter Amy Dilk left the game in the first minute with an injury. Rauch rose to the occasion.
With just over two minutes left in overtime and the Wolverines up by one, it was still anyone’s game. Senior guard Leigha Brown swung the ball to Rauch who was waiting in the left corner. Rauch beat her defender on the baseline and threw up a floater. It dropped through the hoop, giving Michigan a three-point lead it desperately needed.
Rauch wasn’t afraid of the moment. She stepped up, and faced it head on.
“I think one of the biggest things is leading by example. I’m a big proponent of that,” Rauch said at Michigan’s media day. “I don’t want to be somebody that tells other people to do something that I wouldn’t do.”