When was the last time a No. 3
seed won the NCAA men's
(Answer, page 2)
Abe Atiigan &idg
NI '0 ND
M Sports Calendar
Athlete of the Week
NCAA tournament bracket
Men's gymnastics squeaks by Illinois-Chicago in final home meet ever
By AARON BURNS
DAILY SPORTS WRITER
In the midst of his floor exercise Saturday
night at the Michigan Invitational, Michigan
gymnast Bob Young stared wide-eyed into
the crowd and whispered to himself, "Whoa,
It was that kind of night for the Wolver-
ines, whose program is scheduled to be
dropped at the end of this season.
Team members received plaques and a
standing ovation in a moving pre-meet cer-
emony which honored them as they took the
floor for the final time at Cliff Keen Arena.
They then proceeded to coast through a
solid display of gymnastics in the first five
events, pulling away from the other seven
teams and easing toward a new school record.
But then on the horizontal bar, one of their
stronger events, the roof caved in. Scoring
only 45.65 points, the Wolverines (281.8) not
only fell short of the school record, they
barely eked out a victory over Illinois-Chi-
The Wolverines needed a 46.1 on the hori-
zontal bar to equal the school record which
they set last week at Ohio State. So coach Bob
Darden decided to play it safe. He instructed
his men to execute simple routines, not the
more intricate ones that some of them had
Unfortunately, his plan backfired.
Michigan struggled through the event as
Royce Toni (7.6), Seth Rubin (8.6) and Raul
Molina (8.15) all had breaks in their routines.
Molina said Darden should have let him do
the routine he had practiced all week, even
though it is more difficult than the one he
"I begged him to do it because I felt more
comfortable with it," Molina said. "I told him,
'I'm not gonna miss.'... I wasn't mentally
prepared for the routine he told me to do."
Darden said he was guilty of over-coaching.
"I asked them for just their normal best on
the horizontal bar ... and that might have been
changing gears too abruptly," he said.
Molina said that in a pressure-packed situa-
tion, coaches should let their athletes go for it.
"We came in feeling ready to give every-
thing we had, but Darden didn't let us do that
on the horizontal bar," he said. "It may be
risky (to do a more difficult routine), but
that's what gymnastics is all about."
Toni said that nerves were definitely a
factor, and not only on the horizontal bar.
"From the very beginning of the meet,
receiving the plaques, getting the standing
ovation and knowing that fifty years (of Michi-
gan men's gymnastics) would be thrown out
the window, I was a bundle of nerves," he
Kris Klinger, whose 9.75 on the horizontal
bar almost rekindled Michigan's hopes for
breaking the record, said the team could smell
the record through the first five events.
"Going into the horizontal bar, the coaches
said, 'We need this certain score to get the
school record.' That put a little pressure on us,
but I hope that's not our excuse," he said.
Still, the Wolverines did win the meet.
Illinois (275.8), Temple (275), Syracuse
(272.95), Michigan State (272.5), Western
Michigan (270.4), and Kent State (267.5) all
finished well behind Michigan and Illinois-
"We did well. I'm proud," Klinger said.
"We are, without a doubt, Big Ten con-
tenders," Toni said, looking ahead to the Big
See GYMNASTICS, Page 9
Blue gets third
seed in Midwest
for tourney run
By RACHEL BACHMAN
*DAILY BASKETBALL WRITER
When the NCAA tournament brackets flashed on the
TV in Crisler Arena's lounge, few were surprised by
The Wolverines were named the No. 3 seed in the
Midwest Regional, and will face No. 14 Pepperdine
Thursday in the first round. The game will take place at the
Kansas Coliseum Wichita, Kan. The starting time had not
been determined at press time.
"We got about what I thought and anticipated we
would get," Michigan coach Steve Fisher said. "The last
couple years we've
had some immense The NCAA tournament
success (in the bracket is on page 10.
we are looking forward to trying to have that same kind of
run on Thursday."
Besides Michigan, the lower half of the Midwest
bracket includes No. 2 Massachusetts, No. 6 Texas and
No. 7 St. Louis, among others. Should the Wolverines
beat Pepperdine in the first round, they would face either
Texas or Western Kentucky in the second round.
"From what I saw of Texas, they're on a huge long win
streak, and Western Kentucky is very, very good," Fisher
The No. 1 seeds are Arkansas in the Midwest Region,
Missouri in the West, North Carolina in the East and Big
Ten champion Purdue in the Southeast.
The tournament seedings were a welcome diversion
for the Wolverines after they finished the season with their
worst losing spell in 1993-94, a streak in which they
dropped three of four. After falling to Wisconsin March 2,
Michigan lost to Purdue and Northwestern the following
"Truthfully, I'm not frustrated at all," Michigan center
Juwan Howard said. "I'm disappointed with our perfor-
mance the last four games.
"(The Purdue game) disappointed me, because I knew
that was my championship right there," Howard said.
Team co-captains Howard and senior Jason Bossard
said that a team meeting was held after the Northwestern
game. Its purpose, according to Bossard, was to give every
player a chance to voice his concerns about the team.
"Coach Fisher decided we needed to talk about some
things we needed to correct," Bossard said. He said the 90-
minute meeting was "positive. I walked into the lockerroom
today and it was a different atmosphere," Bossard said.
Fisher said that in team meetings, "most of the time,
See TOURNEY, Page 4
Wolverines blow chance at Big
Ten title with 97-93 loss
By CHAD A. SAFRAN
DAILY BASKETBALL WRITER
EVANSTON - It was supposed
to be simple.
Beat Northwestern Saturday and
Michigan would have at least a piece
of the Big Ten title. Then, move on to
the NCAA tournament with at least a
No. 2 seed.
However, something happened on
the way to the land of 64. The eighth-
ranked Wolverines lost to the Wild-
cats, 97-93 in an overtime thriller
before a sellout crowd of 8,117 at
Welsh-Ryan Arena. The loss dropped
Michigan from a probable No. 2 seed
to a No. 3.
For the Wildcats (5-13 Big Ten,
14-13 overall), the victory produced
their first winning record in 11 sea-
sons and earned them a bid to the
National Invitational Tournament.
The Wolverines (13-5, 21-7) were
just lucky to earn a chance in the extra
session. Trailing by two, 79-77, Juwan
Howard connected on 1-of-2 from
the free throw line, cutting the North-
western lead to one. The Wildcats'
Kevin Rankin had an opportunity to
put his team up three but made only
one of his attempts from the charity
stripe. Michigan had a chance.
And as usual Jalen Rose made the
most of what was there. The junior
swingman hit a leaning, two-foot
jumper for an 80-80 game, reviving
the chance to win the conference
"I felt we had them in regulation,"
said Northwestern's Pat Baldwin, who
was one of five Wildcat seniors play-
ing their final home game. "We had
to put them away in overtime."
Northwestern began the overtime
with a basket just 12 seconds into the
extra five minutes. Cedric Neloms,
who scored a season-high 28 points,
dropped in a short layup off a pass
from Rankin, one of the 6-foot-11
center's nine assists on the day.
Neloms repeatedly found himself
with uncontested layups. When a
Michigan defender decided that he
might want to stop the senior forward
from scoring, Nelloms took advan-
tage of his free throw chances, hitting
12 of 16.
"Ced's a lot quicker than their
post players," Rankin said.
Wildcat guard Todd Leslie called
the basket a turning point in the game.
While that may have been one of the
contest's several turning points, no
basket was bigger than a Rankin trey,
just his 10th in 27 tries this season,
with 4:04 remaining in OT. The field
goal gave Northwestern the lead, 85-
84 - a lead it would not relinquish.
Yet, Michigan did not close the
game without openings to cut its defict
or stop it from growing. Rose helped
the Wolverines get within three, 91-
88. It was the closest Michigan would
come to Northwestern for the final
1:54 of the game.
All the Wolverines needed was a
strong defensive stand and they could
jump back into the fray. Baldwin
stopped that goal shortwhen he canned
a three with just seconds left onathe
35-second shot clock, giving the Cats
a six-point bulge.
See 'CATS, Page 4
Michigan's Ray Jackson is stuffed by Northwestern's Dewey Williams in Saturday's 97-93
Wildcats win. The loss put the Wolverines out of the Big Ten title race.
icers survive Friday
scare, sweep Kent State
The Shark bites back
By ANTOINE PITTS
DAILY HOCKEY WRITER
The playoffs have finally begun.
After clinching the CCHA title
Feb. 11, the Michigan hockey team
finished the season losing four of its
last six games as it waited for the
postseason to begin.
The Wolverines (31-6-1 overall)
defeated Kent State (6-22-2), 10-3,
Saturday to complete a sweep of the
CCHA first round series at Yost Ice
Arena. Michigan received a scare Fri-
day - having to go to overtime in the
series opener to top the Golden
Michigan dominated Kent from
the start of Saturday's game, scoring
early and often, to take the best-of-
"We got the early goals," Michi-
gan coach Red Berenson said. "We
P-ot the momentum and nlaved with a
"A couple of things we saw from
our team early in the season, like the
power play was a real factor in the
game," Berenson said. "That gave us
a jump start. I thought after that our
team played well."
Four more goals in the second
period gave the Wolverines an 8-2
lead. Kevin Hilton, Brian Wiseman,
Rick Willis and Ryan Sittler all tal-
lied goals for Michigan.
Following Wiseman's goal - a
shot from between the circles - the
Michigan captain sheathed his stick,
a la golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez.
"Not to put it in their face or any-
thing - I don't want to be known as
that type player," Wiseman said. "It
was just a satisfaction thing. I worked
hard out there that shift."
Morrison scored his 19th of the
year and Knuble his 32nd to conclude
the scoring in the third period.
By JAESON ROSENFELD
DAILY HOCKEY WRITER
The warning flags are up at
college hockey arenas
across the Midwest.
It seems the frozen waters of the
CCHA are no longer safe.
It's the heart of shark season,
and attack numbers are reaching
A blue shark has been reported
to prey on Spartans, Redskins and
even on occasion open Flames.
Not since Jaws has'a shark
attacked with this ferocity, sending
defensemen and forwards alike,
from Saulte Sainte Marie to
Kalamazoo, scurrying from the
corners of rinks for safer ground.
Opposing coaches plead for this
dangerous beast to be put in an
aquarium, and when he is, the ice is
Rnnl y fr n min t,;.Q_
Left winger Rick Willis brings
fierce physical play to Michigan
having his best scoring season this
year with eight goals and five assists.
Yet Rick Willis doesn't always
leave his marks on the score sheet.
He leaves them on the bodies of
For his part, Willis is content
with this role. His surprisingly
easygoing nature off the ice allows
him to shed his ego and be the
consummate team player.
"He gets along with everybody,"
captain Brian Wiseman said. "I
don't know if anyone has ever
gotten mad at the guy."
Indeed, Willis is a study in
contrasts. When the shark leaves the
ice, it seems he turns into a dolphin
"Off the ice, he's pretty laid
back. He never raises a finger,"
"He's very happy go lucky, and
he's always got a smile on his
fa " Wnlu.inP Q.Qnnt nn