Danielle Rauch is a team player. 

Whether the junior guard needs to step up and perform when another player gets injured, or provide structure to the off-court interactions among the Michigan women’s basketball team, Rauch is ready to roll in any capacity  — and that starts with the team’s first practice on Wednesday

“I was fortunate enough to be able to get in the gym at home over the quarantine period, which is really helpful,” Rauch said. “I think we’ve been very fortunate, given the hard work by all the medical people and the medical staff here to put us in a position to be able to be as a team and come into the gym.” 

“I’m really, really excited. … Having something to look forward to, like we actually are going to be able to play games and have a season.” 

Rauch hopes to build off of last season, in which she averaged just over 10 minutes per game, and continue to improve as a player. When senior forward Kayla Robbins suffered a season-ending knee injury, Rauch stepped up to fill in. Last February, however, Rauch suffered a broken hand that sidelined her for four weeks, returning just in time for the Big Ten tournament. 

Rauch has been stepping up as a leader in the eyes of her teammates this year, too — and they’ll need it. The team is bringing in four freshmen that have barely practiced in a collegiate setting, let alone played a game. 

“Its definitely something that Ive been trying to work on and take upon myself to kind of grow myself into the leader that I want to be for the underclassmen” Rauch said. “I think it was really helpful as a freshman to have someone like Nicole Munger and Hallie Thome really kind of lead, showing us the way.”

Basketball is ultimately a team sport, and Michigan is not a one-woman army marching to take on the Big Ten. If the Wolverines want to have a shot at any kind of postseason success, they’ll have to work as a cohesive unit that trusts each itself. 

“[I’m prepared for] really filling whatever role that my team needs me to do, whether that be helping the freshmen get acclimated, or you know, on the court, like making shots and doing things like that,” Rauch said. “And I think my role definitely will expand this junior year.

“I kind of just want to pick up where I left off and the strides that I was making and continue to get better each day and just be whatever the team needs me to be in whatever capacity.” 

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