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November 13, 1996 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-11-13

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12 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, November 13, 1996

Inconsistency plagued 'M' sticker,
Rookie coaches encouraged by play of Wolverines in close contests

By Pranay Reddy
Daily Sports Writer
Like most years, players on the Michigan
field hockey team had a lot to learn about
themselves heading into the season.
Who thought the coaches would, too?
Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz entered
the season with no previous head coaching
experience, having only served as an assistant
coach at North Carolina from 1988-91.
Assistants Tracey Fuchs and Peggy Storrar
came into the season with no prior coaching
experience at all.
However, the collective lack of coaching
experience was countered by the threesome's
tremendous experience as players. All had pre-
viously competed at an international level,
including Olympic appearances for Pankratz
and Fuchs this past summer.
Nevertheless, all the playing experience in
the world couldn't have completely prepared
the coaches for their first season in the Big
Ten.
"I learned that in the transition from player
to coach, a lot of things are out of your con-
trol," Pankratz said.
And being on the sidelines definitely
impairs one's ability to influence the outcome
of a contest, as Pankratz found out quickly.
"Even though you might outplay a team, or
on paper you are supposed to be better -
sometimes it doesn't work out that way."
Throughout Michigan's up-and-down sea-
son, a lot of things didn't work out Pankratz's
way.
The Wolverines ended their most recent

campaign last in the Big Ten with a 2-8 con-
ference record and an overall 7-10 clip.
Michigan then bowed out of the Big Ten tour-
nament in the first round, dropping a 4-1 con-
test to Penn State.
It was a disappointing season for many, but
for the Wolverines, it was a stage in the learn-
ing process. With a new coaching staff, a
young team and a difficult Big Ten schedule,
Michigan was bound to be in for a long sea-
son.
But it wasn't all bad times for the
Wolverines, as Pankratz is quick to point out.
"We had lots of really great high points,",
she said. "We had some really exciting games
that ended in the last couple of minutes."
The Wolverines had their share of losses,
but they were competitive in the majority of
their games. Michigan's record didn't reflect
its competitiveness in one-goal defeats at the
hands of Michigan State, Ohio State and
Northwestern, to name a few.
But for a team with few senior leaders,
Michigan circled the wagons like a group of
seasoned veterans. Following a number of dif-
ficult losses, the Wolverines were able to pull
off a 3-2 upset of Ohio State, vaulting the
squad to a No. 18 national ranking.
"(Our) game against Ohio State was a real
culminating moment, when we scored in the
last 40 seconds against the No. 9 team in the
country," Pankratz said.
Michigan's will in that game was a testa-
ment to the dedication of Pankratz's seniors, in
her eyes. The four Michigan seniors, Michelle
Smulders, Bree Derr, Selina Harris and

The tem really
played off the
character of the
seniors. "
- Marcia Pankratz
Michigan field hockey coach
Meredith Franden, all had spectacular seasons
and spearheaded Michigan's efforts through-
out the season.
"Our seniors have been unbelievable," s
said. "They are really terrific girls
mature, responsible, hardworking, dedicated
group.
"The team really played off the character of
the seniors."
But with the departure of the core of her
squad, Pankratz realizes the importance of the
next few months - for a couple reasons.
"We are in the middle of recruiting," she
said. "So it is important to try and fill those
seniors' shoes with some excellent players."
In addition to recruiting, Fuchs will b
working with players individually during the
offseason. Training with one of the world's-
best players is what Pankratz hopes will drive
next season's improvements.
"She is going to really improve our funda-
mentals, and hopefully we will learn to com-
pete at a higher level."

JOE WESTRATE/Daily
This season was a learning experience for Michigan field hockey players and coaches alike. Despite
struggling in the win-loss department, the Wolverines stayed competitive in most of their matches.

00,

WHITE
Continued from Page 11
going to do it now," Tepper said. "I
wish every coach could have an AD
like Ron.
"I disagree with his decision, but
have great respect for him."
What makes Tepper's firing tough is
that it happened to a man that cleaned
up lllinois' program.
When he took over from forme
coach Mike White, the Fighting I lliiT
were in trouble with the NCAA and the
police, and they weren't graduating a
whole lot of players.
Today, there is no trouble, and grad-
uation rates are up. So does it simply
come down to wins and losses these
days?
"It absolutely does," Northwestern
coach Gary Barnett said. "Why else
would you fire Lou Tepper, Jim
Wacker and Bill Mallory?" 0
As funny as it sounds, Barnett's suc-
cess may have something to do with
what has happened the past couple of
weeks.
Before the season began, coaches
talked about how Northwestern's suc-
cess last season gave the lower-level
echelon of the Big Ten hope.
It may have given them too many
expectations.
"Yeah, that dirty Barnett," Wacke*
wise-cracked. "Wait until I see him
again."
At least he's kept his sense of humor,
if not his job.
Tepper said he would love to coach
again, and he turned down an adminis-
tration job in the Illinois athletic
department. He even said he would
love to coach with Wacker.
"I always told him that if we could
get his offensive philosophy togethe
with my defensive philosophy, we
might win a national championship,"
Tepper said.
Wherever the two end up, it is sure
to be a good move by the team that
hires them. Despite what Wacker said,
he probably didn't give himself enough
time at Minnesota, and Tepper felt he
was headed in the right direction at
Illinois.
There are now four job openings ir*
the Big Ten, and what that means for.
the conference is anybody's guess, but
chances are it puts a little more pres-
sure on the seven employed head
coaches.
-.Ryan White can be reached over
e-mail at target@umich.edu.

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RITCHLIN
Continued from Page 11
Botterill, who."didn't miss one day"
visiting Ritchhn in the hospital.
When Ritchlin entered the hospital, he
weighed 200 pounds. When he left, the
scale read 155. "Three and a half weeks
of eating lots of Jello," he said. It took
him a couple of weeks to get back his
fluids, to eat normally, and to learn how
to walk again.
He stayed in Ann Arbor all summer
for therapy. He worked four hours a d
with upper-and lower-body routines.
Michigan coach Red Berenson was
thrilled with Ritchlin's rehabilitation, but
he feels he is not yet in his groove.
Berenson is expecting more from him.
"In terms of working hard and rehab-
--- I - - 1 1 e^ n r.2+ik

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