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February 26, 1997 - Image 10

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-02-26

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-~ ~, ~

MEN'S
BASKETBALL
(21) Illinois 87,
PENN STATE 65
(5) W. FOREST 71.
Georgia Tech 55
(9) CINCINNATI 63,
So. Mississippi 49
(3) Kentucky 74,
TENNESSEE 64

(23) ST. JOS. 78,
Massachusetts 63
WOMEN'S
BASKETBALL
(14) Notre Dame 80,
WEST VIRGINIA 67
PRO
BASKETBALL
Seattle 72,
CLEVELAND 66

NEW JERSEY 97,
Sacramento 90
WASHINGTON 108,
Indiana 87
HOUSTON 100.
L.A. Lakers 96
DALLAS 86,
Charlotte 84
Toronto 124
DENVER 122

UTAH 110,
New York 99
PRO
HOCKEY
San Jose 2,
FLORIDA 2
TAMPA BAY 3,
St. Louis 2
Dallas 1,
CHICAGO 0

Wednesday
February 26, 1997

10

Fisher pulling out all the
stops for must-win game

By John Leroi
Daily Sports Editor
A week from today, the Michigan
basketball team may still not know its
fate for the postseason. But a win over
the nation's second-ranked team would
certainly go a long way toward impress-
ing the NCAA tournament selection
committee.
What the Wolverines are looking at
now is a bit dreary: a 17-9 record isn't
bad, but a 7-7 mark in the conference
won't exactly impress anybody.
No Big Ten team has been invited to
the tournament in place of one that fin-
ished higher in the conference stand-
ings - more bad news for the seventh-

ing streak have put the Wolverines in a
bigger hole.
"You try not to say everything's okay
when you're not okay," Fisher said.
"But you also have to say things will be
okay in time.
"And who knows, if all goes to hell
in a handbasket, then time might have
to be next year. We don't want to say
NIT, but the reality is, if we don't win,
that's where we're headed, that's where
we'll go, and that's not what any of us
want."
The Golden Gophers, however, have
no qualms about extending Michigan's
losing streak. Minnesota, which already
clinched a share of the conference title,

place Wolverines.
So the impor-
tance of No. 24
Michigan's 8
o'clock game
tonight against No.
2 Minnesota (13-1
Big Ten, 24-2 over-
all) is impossible
to understate.
Michigan coach
Steve Fisher is so
desperate for a vic-
tory he released a
statement Monday

Up next.

Who: No. 2
Minnesota (13-1

.. . .. . .

Big Ten,24-2 J
overall) L '
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Crisler Arena
Notable: The Golden Gophers have
already clinched a share of the Big
Ten title and can win it outright
with a victory tonight.

would sew up its
first Big Ten
c h am p i on s h i p
since 1982 with a
win tonight.
"They're going
to come in here
real cocky,"
Michigan center
Robert Traylor
said.
For the most
part, the Gophers
have a right to be.

Steve Fisher's
Statement
"It is extremely critical that
our basketball team have a
crowd that is extremely ener-
gized, supportive and helpful
before, during, and after
Wednesday's huge game with
Minnesota: I have never before-"
directly implored our fans to get-
behind their basketball team.
We need each and everybody in,
Crisler Arena to think that they.
are the missing piece to help qs
get a victory Wednesday.
I will use the comparison of
the Iowa game last Thursday
when the Hawkeyes were com-
ing off three consecutive losses
and their fans would not allow
them to lose. They were on their
feet for player introductions and
never sat down and were a huge
factor in Iowa's victory. I know
fans can't win the game but 1
also know that great fans, and
we have many, can be invaluable
in how we perceive ourselves
and how we play. We need you
not just when the going is great
- we need you right now. Let's
help make the victory a reality,.
with a full house filled with great
energy and emotion."
third-best defense.
All of this looks like trouble fo
bunch of Wolverines on a vicious losing
streak and on the brink of not making
the NCAA tournament. The search for
answers after Thursday's loss to Iowa
became so urgent that co-captains
Travis Conlan and Traylor called aplay-
ers-only meeting to discuss wht's
going wrong.
"We're frustrated because we know
that we're a better team than, how
we're playing right now," Conlan sa
"It's tough but we don't want
body's pity. It's nothing anybody did
to us, it's something we're doing. to
ourselves."

imploring fans to

show up "extremely energized, support-
ive and helpful before, during and after
Wednesday's huge game with
Minnesota."
"I hope you put it in the paper."
Fisher said yesterday, explaining his
rationale for issuing the unusual state-
ment. "We need help. We need 13,000-
plus saying, 'We're going to be the rea-
son Michigan wins."'
It's clear that the Wolverines' post-
season plans are in doubt. Three wins
in its last four games would almost
certainly secure Michigan an NCAA
tournament berth. If they split their
remaining games, the Wolverines will
have to sweat out the March 9 selec-
tion show.
Michigan's 9-9 record since late
December and current three-game los-

Minnesota has arguably the best player
in the Big Ten in 6-foot-1 guard Bobby
Jackson, who averages 14 points and
six rebounds per game. Jackson torched
Michigan for 20 points and I 1
rebounds in the Gophers' 70-64 win
Jan. 11 in Minneapolis.
"He's a great player and he makes his
team a lot better," Traylor said. "We
have to make sure we can control him"
But Jackson is far from Michigan's
only .worry. Eric Harris and Sam
Jacobson both average more than 12
points a game and center John Thomas
is nothing to mess with inside at 6-foot-
9, 275 pounds.
And it's no accident that the Gophers
are the second-ranked team in the coun-
try and have only two losses all season:
they lead the league in scoring and
rebounding and sport the Big Ten's

SARA STILLMAN/Daily
;Junior forward Jerod Ward hopes to rebound from his worst game of the year when he and his Michigan teammates face sec-
ond-ranked Minnesota at Crisler Arena tonight. The Wolverines are currently 7-7 in the Big Ten, making their last four confer-
-ence games pivotal in their quest to reach the NCAA tournament.
omen's basketball on a roll
Wolverines enjoy season of firsts; freshmen step into prime roles

Netters

.. . . 4.._. . . . .

By Richard Shin
Daily Sports Writer
After six consecutive losing seasons,
the Michigan women's basketball team
changed coaches and changed its tune.
This season's 15-10 record marked
the first time since 1989-90 - when
Michigan qualified for the NCAA
tournament - that the Wolverines
have finished with an overall winning
record.
The resurgent
Wolverines alsoS
achieved a number'
of firsts, and have a
chance to establish a
few more before the
season is finished.
The Wolverines
started the season
with an 11-3 record
under interim coach Sue Guevara -
their best start in school history.
Michigan also captured its first tour-
nament title in recent memory, win-
ning the Holiday Inn West Tournament
in November.
In the Big Ten, the Wolverines
defeated Penn State for the first time,
handing the Nittany Lions their worst
conference loss ever on Feb. 14. Penn
State had enjoyed a 8-0 mark against

the Wolverines until the 39-point
defeat.
Michigan also captured a rare road
victory against Iowa, beating the
Hawkeyes, 75-63, behind a 60.4-per-
cent shooting performance as a team.
In their final two games, the
Wolverines knocked off Minnesota
and Ohio State, marking the second
and third victories for Michigan in its
last four games.
It was an encouraging sign for the
Wolverines, who had lost three in a
row before their win over Penn State.
"I'm pretty pleased with the way
we're playing entering the (Big Ten)
tournament," Guevara said. "I thought
we had a pretty good weekend (beat-
ing) Minnesota and Ohio State."
FAB FROSH: After watching fellow
Michigan freshman Stacey Thomas start
for most of the season, forward Kenisha
Walker is also getting into the act.
Walker earned her first and second
starts of the season in the last week-
end of regular-season play, and pro-
vided the Wolverines with valuable
minutes and an extra rebounding
threat.
Guevara rewarded Walker's work in
practice with a spot in the starting line-
up against Minnesota on Feb. 21,

marking the first time that Walker and
Thomas have started together.
"I inserted Kenisha Walker into the
power forward position instead of
Tiffany Willard," Guevara said.
"Kenisha is quicker than Willard, who
is your prototypical power forward.
She is very effective for us at the top of
our press."
Thomas, meanwhile, has made a
case for herself for Big Ten Freshman
of the Year. She is second on the team
in scoring - 14th in the league -
averaging 13.3 points per game while
connecting on 52.1 percent of her
shots - good for sixth in the confer-
ence.
Thomas also ranks second in the
league in steals, trailing only
Wisconsin's Keisha Anderson, averag-
ing nearly three thefts per game.
BOARD GAMES: The Wolverines have
dominated all season on the boards,
outrebounding their opponents by an
average of 6.4 each game.
In 25 games, Michigan has averaged
43 rebounds per contest, led by center
Pollyanna Johns, who averages 10.5
rebounds each game - good for third
in the Big Ten.
The Wolverines have excelled at
what Guevara calls "the relentless pur-
suit of the basketball" this season and
have been outrebounded only three
times in 25 games.
Michigan's 43 boards per game
leads the Big Ten, while its 38.5-per-
game rebounding defense is good for
4th in the conference.

finally
back onY
the court:
By Alan Gomez
For the Daily
Once the season gets under 4
teams usually have a tough time cagh-
ing their breath along the way. This is
definitely not the case for the Michigan
men's tennis team - it has been
breathing easily for the past moth.
The Wolverines' only opponents vre
themselves.
When the Wolverines travel--to
Columbus this Saturday to face Noi 15
Virginia Commonwealth for thef
time ever, they will be competing-
the first time in a month.
Michigan enters the weekend with a
2-1 record and has its sights; n
improving on 'the impressive pertfr-
mance it put in at the O'Chariey's
Tennis Classic. The Wolverines' thild-
place finish took on added value, gIv n
that they lost to the tournament's even-
tual champion..
But a month is still a long time to et
ready for a dual-meet in the middle@
the season, so the Wolverines are hop-
ing that they can maintain what ihey
started at the O'Charley's tournament
and carry it over to this weekend. :z
Among the players the Wolverines
See NETTERS, Page 12

y

t

SPECIAL RATES
* 0
Commuter Transyortation Co.j
Metropolitan Airport Service :

Center Pollyanna Johns and the rest of the Michigan women's basketball team are
having their best season in seven years. The Wolverines have improved their
rebounding under the tutelage of new coach Sue Guevara. Michigan is averaging
43 boards per game, tops in the Big Ten.

I i li I

- - 0 1%0%42-V U m r-. u v-a--.

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