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November 18, 1996 - Image 19

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-11-18

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The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - November 18, 1996 - 9B

'M' cagers wage battle down low,
sink Slovak Republic, 81-55

By Richard Shin
Daily Sports Writer
The cool, crisp air outside Crisler Arena on
Friday night contrasted the heated intensity
inside, as a fired-up Michigan women's basket-
ball team defeated the Slovak Republic, 81-55.
Although the game was only an exhibition
and did not count toward the Wolverines' season
record, the Wolverines took their first game as
seriously as a midseason Big Ten matchup.
"It feels good to get a win,' senior guard
Jennifer Kiefer said. "I think that it's a good
indication of where we are and what we need to
work on to get ready for next week.
"It was good to play someone besides our-
selves."
Behind the dominant performance of
Polyanna Johns in the post, the Wolverines dic-
tated the inside game against a taller, but weak-
er Slovak team. Johns finished the game with 27
points behind 9-for-i I shooting and grabbed a
game-high 11 rebounds.
Michigan established the inside game early
with Johns and junior forward Tiffany Willard
accounting for 26 of Michigan's 38 first-half
points.
Johns outplayed her Slovak counterparts,
who, at times, resorted to fouling - forcing her
to hit free-throws. The Slovaks' five centers
accounted for 18 fouls and 6-foot-2 Lucie
Prochazkova fouled out of the game with over
six minutes left in the second half.
Sending Johns and Willard to the free-throw
line did not prove beneficial for the Slovaks, as
the two combined to shoot 18-for-20 from the

charity stripe, each hitting 9 of 10.
"That's what I expect from Johns" Michigan
coach Sue Guevara said. "I thought that (Johns
and Willard) played physical inside, and I've
been after them all week about being physical
and being cutters."
In the first half, the Slovaks matched the
Wolverines in aggressiveness, using fast-break
opportunities to trim the deficit to 20-19 with a
little over eight minutes left. Michigan extended
the lead to as much as 10, again taking advan-
tage of its strength inside.
After a Michigan timeout with 1:45 left in the
half, the Slovaks used full-court pressure to
force two turnovers and convert two quick bas-
kets to cut the lead to four points going into half-
time.
The turning point in the game came after a 7-
1 run by the Slovak Republic to start the second
half. Michigan called a timeout, trailing 41-39,
and Guevara rallied her players.
"We (had) broken down defensively and I told
them what they had to do;' Guevara said.
"When we went down, I thought the kids came
back - they didn't buckle - they took the lead,
and then we went."
The Wolverines responded to Guevara's pep
talk, taking the lead on Amy Johnson's 3-point
basket. From that point on, Michigan never
trailed in the game, outscoring the Slovak
Republic 42-14 in the final 15 minutes.
Michigan went back to Johns and Willard in
the interior toward the end of the game and wore
down the Slovak Republic, which was playing
its fourth game in as many days.

Instrumental to Michigan's second-half surge
was the play of senior guard Amy Johnson, who
provided a much-needed spark coming off the
bench. Johnson connected on all five shots she
attempted in the second half, including two from
behind the arc. All told, Johnson finished with 12
points in the half and scored 15 in the game.
In fact, all of the guards picked up their play
after struggling in the early minutes of the sec-
ond half, including freshmen Stacey Thomas
and Kenisha Walker.
In limited playing time, Walker brought the
crowd to its feet, scoring on a running jumper as
she was fouled. She converted on the foul shot
to complete the 3-point play, and finished the
game with five points.
Thomas grabbed four rebounds and hit lier
only shot attempt. Although the speedy guard
committed five turnovers, Guevara is looking
for Thomas to be more involved in the offense.
"For Thomas to take one shot in a game -
that's not acceptable," Guevara said. "She is
very quick, and she is going to be an offensive
threat. You just didn't see it tonight.
"She had a freshman first night.'
In the impressive victory, the Wolverines
played with an intensity that was not present for
most of last season. The spark is due in part to
Guevara's animated nature, and in part because
the players are ... well, happy.
"This year everyone is just more relaxed and
they're just going out there and having fun,"
Johns said. "When you're having fun, you play
better.
"(Guevara) just makes it much better."

MARGARET MYERS/Daily
The Michigan women's basketball team won its first game under coach Sue Guevara Friday night, beat-
ing the Slovak Republic, 81-55. Amy Johnson spurred the Wolverines with 12 second-half points.

'New coach, new attitude for Blue

By Pranay Reddy
Daily Sports Writer
Something peculiar happened Friday
night during the Michigan women's bas-
ketball game at Crisler Arena.
The crowd was cheering and the play-
Wrs were screaming, but most unusual of
all - the coach was excited.
Though common to many women's
basketball programs across the country,
it was definitely a change of pace for
Michigan. And that pace was being set
by interim head coach Sue Guevara - a
stunning contrast to previous coach Trish
Roberts' stoic demeanor.
Guevara explained her animated
antics along the bench.
"I have a lot of energy, and I can't sit
-bn a bench;" she said. "I sat on a bench
for 15 years when I was an assistant -
it's time to walk.
"That's just me - that's who I am?'
And it was Guevara who led the emo-
tional charge for Wolverines, as they
walked all over the Slovak Republic.
Early in the season, it might have to be
Guevara who takes the reins of the
Wolverines, while an on-court presence
Os established. However, she is more than
ready to give up that position.
"Right now I'm waiting for someone
to emerge as the leader" Guevara said.

"I'm waiting for somebody to take
everybody and just kick them in the
butt?'
And after a dominating performance
Friday night, it looks like junior center
Pollyanna Johns is more than capable of
doing just that.
With her 27
points and 11
rebounds, Johns
led by example.
Johns' play, in " ea
addition to the
play of senior
guard Amy:
Johnson, gives
Michigan a o
promising core of leaders. Throw in
Jennifer Kiefer, Catherine DiGiacinto,
Mekisha Ross and Silver Shellman, and
the Wolverines have more seniors on this
squad than in the past two seasons com-
bined.
"I think that (our leadership) is key,"
Kiefer said. "It is important that we set a
good example for (the rest of the team)."
Nevertheless, the seniors won't be the
only ones responsible for setting the tone
this season for Michigan. As opposed to
last season, the Wolverines will have a
coach, in Guevara, who is more than
willing to express some emotion in the

Michigan lockerroom.
"(Guevara) is definitely more animat-
ed," Kiefer said. "She's getting people
pumped up and fired up to get out there
and play. We're just really excited with
the change.
"We're having a lot more fun out
there?'
With a long season looming, just how
long will it be until the games stop being
fun for Michigan? It's a question that
isn't a concern to the team if you ask
Johns.
"I don't want us to focus on the win-
loss record," Johns said. "I just want us
to get better as a team."
And it looks like Michigan won't have
too difficult a time getting better. After
finishing last season with a 1-15 record
in the Big Ten and a 7-20 record overall,
the Wolverines can only go one way -
up.
A newfound intensity among
Michigan's coaches will only help a
squad that had trouble getting fired up
for games last season.
Even with the Michigan bench
spurred by Guevara, it will take more
than her energy to turn the Wolverines
around. Guevara knows this all too well.
"I'm into the game and I want my
players to be into the game?'

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