Every successful basketball team needs a reliable, backup point guard. While a starter is expected to be a key player on the team, the backup’s job is to come in, put in a shift and make an impact before they are called back to the bench. 

The Michigan women’s basketball team has found this in junior Danielle Rauch. 

Rauch doesn’t appear heavily on the stat sheets. She averaged 1.4 points and one rebound across 11.4 minutes per game last year, although this was partially due to a hand injury last February that caused her to miss four weeks. Yet her distribution of the basketball is key to the Wolverines’ offense. 

Rauch has been junior Amy Dilk’s backup since they both arrived in Ann Arbor in fall 2018. Her time comes in short windows, often playing two to three minutes before subbing back out for Dilk. Although her playing time is limited, her impact is immense. 

The Daily broke down Rauch’s film to see how Michigan’s offense relies on her. 

Finding the open player: 

Rauch isn’t a fancy dribbler or a selfish shooter. She dishes the ball out wide to the open player and maintains her roll at the top of the arc.

Rauch makes a few key plays against Wisconsin. After intercepting a pass, she doesn’t try to dribble out and drive the ball into the attack. She plays the quick transition to Dilk, who then completes the layup. At a mere 5-foot-8, Rauch is one of the smallest players on the court and doesn’t get in the paint that often. She keeps it simple and it works. 

Creating space:

As seen in the same Wisconsin game, Rauch is a combo guard, so her and Dilk share the court occasionally. Dilk is a powerful guard who drives the ball. Opponents often double or triple team her, leaving Rauch loosely marked on the 3-point line. 

Days before her hand injury, Rauch had a breakout performance, scoring eight points — a career-high — in the Wolverines’ 78-63 victory over Iowa. In the clip, Rauch creates space for herself and stays behind the arc, unmarked. When the ball is dished out to her, she has time to shoot and capitalizes. 

Passing before shooting:

Rauch is a passer. 

Limiting her time on the ball creates a fast style of play. She thinks quickly, often not even dribbling, before she dishes the ball. She doesn’t tally many assists, rather she provides the key pass before the assist. She finds the open woman and creates opportunities for other teammates. The first part of the clip shows Rauch cutting into the lane and kicking it to the 3-point line for the hockey assist. In the next possession, she dishes the ball to a teammate, who then lays it up high in the paint for junior Naz Hillman. 

Rauch played 24 of 32 games last season. She’s not a substitute that plays a few minutes, grabs a rebound or two and heads back to warm her seat. She’s a main contributor to the team and a key reason to Michigan’s success. 

With the season starting in late November, the Wolverines will try to reset themselves after a disheartening semifinal loss in last season’s Big Ten Tournament. Consistent starters like Dilk and Hillman will be important. But the depth of their roster will be what pushes them into later rounds of postseason play. Rauch will need to be a key component in Michigan’s success and journey towards a Big Ten title. 

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