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April 23, 1996 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-04-23

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4B - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 23, 1996

BASEBALL
Continued from Page 1B
Michigan, Steketee worked five in-
nings and gave up only one run on two
hits.
Michigan will try to avenge last
year+'s 10-8 loss to Western Michigan
in Kalamazoo.
Right fielder-second baseman Brent
Sachs poses the Grizzlies' biggest threat
to Steketee and the Michigan pitchers.
Sachs is hitting .419 (54-129) with 31
runs and 17 multi-hit games.
Wolverine catchers had better be alert,
because Western Michigan has stolen 34
bases over 36 games as opposed to
Michigan's 40 steals in 40 games. The
two squads have similar styles. They get
on base and run, run, run.
But that's how the Wolverines suc-
ceed. They don't pride themselves in
being a long-ball team. Michigan's
strength is how active they are on
base.
"In order for us to win, we need to
execute the little things," Michigan
pitcher Brian Steinbach said. "We
need to do the aggressive hitting and
running to win. We don't hit many
home runs, so we have to rely on our
aggressiveness."
Michigan players such as Mike
Cervenak and Jason Alcaraz thrive on

linedrives through the holegto move
runners from first to second or first to
third.
%Cervenak upped his batting average
over the weekend to .328 and leads the
team with 29 RBI. Alcaraz is batting .348.
with 27 runs and 24 RBI.
These two are key in setting the
table for the big boys - Kelly
Dransfeldt (.352, seven home runs,
25 RBI) and Derek Besco (.403, four
home runs, 16 RBI).
If the Wolverines play their style of
baseball, they should make it to the
Big Tens.
This is a different team from a year
ago. And the way players are talking,
Michigan has all it takes to make the
Big Tens.
"The biggest difference (between
the this year's and last year's team) is
the way the guys are playing together,"
Muir said.
"Coach Zahn all year has been talk-
ing about picking up other guys when
they don't get something done at the
plate or make an error defensively.
It's a team, and we're there to pick
each other up."
Besides its remaining conference
games, Michigan is home against
Siena Heights for a doubleheader Sat-
urday, at Notre Dame on May 2, at
Eastern Michigan on May 7 and at
Cincinnati on May 8.

Zabn helps Michigan to turn around,

By Will McCahill
Daily Sports Writer
Cellar dwellers.The lowest ofthe low.
Last place.
These are all terms that applied to the
Michigan baseball team at this point last
season. Twenty games into the Big Ten
campaign a year ago, the Wolverines
were hovering below the .500 mark with
a 9-11 conference record, and 21-24 over-
all. That's hardly a stellar mark; Michi-
gan couldn't even see the sky from the
dark cellar, much less the stars.
This year, however, it's a whole new
ballgame. Gone are the endless refer-
ences to the team bringing up the rear of
the Big Ten standings. The Wolverines
are right up at the top,just ahalf-game out
of first place, sporting a 13-7 conference
record. The squad has already won three
more conference contests than it won all
of last year, and visions of the Big Ten
playoffs (the top four teams in the confer-
ence qualify) dance in the players' heads.
"It's a different type of atmosphere,"
redshirt freshman John Papp said, com-

paring this season to last.
Anyone familiar with this year and last
year must wonder how in the world
Michigan's turnaround has come to pass.
After all, seven starters from last season's
lineup are gone, lost to graduation or the

place - the dugout.

major leagues.
This year's team
is young, with
only four seniors
on the entire ros-
ter.
Not only are
there a bunch of
rookies on the dia-
mond, but there's
also one in an even
more important

said Penn State coach Joe Hindelang Sun-
day, after becoming the first Big Ten
coach to win a series against the Michigan
mentor. "I love the way (the Wolverines)
play." -
Hindelang points to the aggressive
brand of baseball that Zahn brought with
him as the key to Michigan's success.
Under Zahn's direction, the Wolverines
steal armfuls of bases, run the basepaths
as though possessed when the ball is in
play, and work the hit-and-run almost
every time someone gets on base.
"(Zahn and his staff) have done a mag-
nificent job - and we certainly see it -
with young kids," Hindelang said." think
Michigan baseball has a tremendously
bright future."
Wolverine centerfielder Papp agreed,
and said Zahn's offensive tactics are popu-
lar with the players.
"Everybody likes (Zahn's) philoso-
phy," Papp said.
Hindelang not only complimented the
work Zahn has done with the Wolverine
squad this season, but also took time to

praise the rookie coach.
"Geoff Zahn ... is a class person," the
fifth-yearNittany Lion coach said. "When
he walks into a room, he just brings
tremendous respect and class, and wants
to do what's best for the Big Ten and not
just what's best for Michigan."
Regardless of how the Wolverines
finish the Big Ten season, Zahn has
certainly done better with Michigank
than anyone-with the possible excep
tion of himself-could have expected
A tough road still lies ahead for the
team, including a four-game series May
4 and 5 with Ohio State, the defending
Big Ten regular-season and conference
tournament champs.
But whatever the outcome, Zahn has
brought the team quite a ways from where
it left off last year. The future is indeed
bright, not only for the next few seasonsj
but perhaps even sooner.
Maybe as soon as this season. With the
Big Ten stretch run underway, the Wol
verines are contending for a playoff spot
and a shot at the conference title.

At the helm of this surprising ballclub
is first-year coach Geoff Zahn. In his
college head-coaching debut, hehas taken
a losing team filled with youngsters and
molded it into a squad tobe reckoned with
in the Big Ten.
"I give all the credit to Geoff Zahn,"

GM Isiah gives Malone the Rap in Toronto

The Associated Press
TORONTO - Brendan Malone, his team having
finished its inaugural season with a 21-61 record, was
fired yesterday as coach of the Toronto Raptors because
of differences with general manager Isiah Thomas.
Malone, a Detroit Pistons assistant coach from 1988
until last season, was immediately replaced by assistant
coach Darrell Walker, a former teammate of Thomas'
who was signed to a three-year contract.
The moves came one day after the expansion team
completed what Thomas called a "great year." The
collection of castoffs and young players beat Chicago,
Orlando and Seattle this season, with home attendance
at 950,000.

Malone, who also had been an assistant coach with
New York, was in the first year of a three-year contract
reportedly worth $300,000 annually.
"He was a tireless worker," Thomas said. "Everything
that he did was about winning.
"Unfortunately, as you all know, we had philosophi-
cal differences about the way this, the organization,
should run and where we should go in the future."
Malone's departure had been expected forweeks after
he and Thomas openly disagreed about which players to
use and when to use them.
"As Brendan more or less said himself, his competi-
tive nature more or less made him shortsighted and
wasn't able to see the big picture in terms of where we

were trying to go," Thomas said.
In separate news conferences, the Raptors and Malone
called the parting amicable.
Asked ifhe was fired-as sources earlier indicated-
or if he resigned, Malone said: "Those are just words. It
was a good parting. It's a fair package. And now it's time
to move on."
Walker, 35, takes over after just one season as an
assistant. He came to the Raptors after a 10-year career
as an NBA player in New York, Denver, Washington,
Detroit and Chicago.
Malone, 54, stuck with a core of veterans aroun4'
prized rookie guard Damon Stoudamire, who played s
much he was eventually sidelined by tendinitis.

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