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February 25, 1998 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-02-25

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 25, 1998

Michigan swimming coaches differ in
style while maintaining 'M' tradition

By Jacob R. Wheeler
Daily Sports Writer
At 61, Michigan men's swimming coach lon
Urbanchek is old enough to be a grandfather to
many of his swimmers.
Just out of college, assistant coach Eric
Namesnik has hardly lost his youthful step.
To say Namesnik is still wet behind the ears in
terms of coaching experience would be correct,
literally. The first-year assistant graduated from
Michigan just five years ago, but he continued to
swim with the team under Urbanchek's tutelage
for the next three years while training for the 1996
Olympics. After volunteering as an assistant last
year, Namesnik was hired full-time.
The two-time Olympic silver medalist went
from pupil to teacher in just a couple of years.
Now, instead of swimming alongside fellow
Olympians Tom Malchow, Derya Buyukuncu and
Ryan Papa, Namesnik stands next to Urbanchek.
watching over them.
"It's probably a little difficult for them,"
Namesnik said. "Before, I was swimming with
them and in the locker room with them. But now,
I'm up on deck coaching them, trying to make
them better athletes.4
"I try not to treat them different than when I was
swimming with them. I think they've been open to
see my position differently than it was before.
Hopefully they accept what I have to offer."
If this relationship poses a problem, Urbanchek
doesn't see it as a long term situation.
"It's especially hard for Erik because he swam
with some of these guys," Urbanchek said.
"There's some overlap there. Once all these peo-
ple who he trained with are gone, the young guys
coming in will look at him differently -- perhaps
look up to him.
"I don't think the guys he swam with respect

him a great deal for the amount of dedication he
had when he trained."
Namesnik certainly has a lot of experience to
offer. He's used to the Michigan swimming pro-
gram because he's been a part of it for nine years
- and that means he's experienced plenty of
winning. Namesnik swam on Michigan's 1989,
'90, '91 and '93 Big Ten championship teams. He
redshirted his junior year to train for the Olympic
Big Ten championships are as important to
Michigan swimming as water is to a pool. The
Wolverines have won 11 of the past 12 -- the one
exception coming in 1996, when Urbanchek
opted to have his athletes instead concentrate on
the Olympics.
Despite that break in the streak, performances
by Michigan swimmers at the Atlanta Games
made up for the absence of a Big Ten title.
Current Wolverine Malchow and former swim-
mers Tom Dolan, Gustavo Borges and Namesnik
all won medals. Dolan took home the gold in the
400 individual medley, and Namesnik, Malchow
and Borges each won a silver in separate events.
Minnesota won the championship in 1996-
after taking a back seat to Michigan almost every
year before that. Once again, the Golden Gophers
and Wolverines should be the top two teams this
weekend at the Big Ten Championships. So
there's an awful lot of pressure on Michigan to
defend its crown and win its 30th title.
But that's where the veteran coach and his
young assistant differ. Urbanchek has preferred
the low-pressure approach during his 15 years at
Michigan. He's known for his humor at practice
and during meets, not his intensity.
"Jon likes to create a laid-back, fun environ-
ment because sports are supposed to be fun."
Namesnik said. "When you feel like there's

always pressure on you, that generally doesn't
create the best results.
"There's a lot of initial pressure in this program
- winning the Big Ten championships and win-
ning NCAA championships. Jon's style is relaxed
because that's what has gotten him results for
Namesnik is a little different. He's an intense
motivator who openly expects more from his
swimmers. Age might account for the difference
between the two coaches. But according to
Urbanchek, Namesnik hasn't changed much
since his swimming days.
"Eric's probably the most dedicated athlete I've
ever worked with," the veteran coach said. "He
was not easy to coach, though. He was very stub-
"But being stubborn is sometimes good,
because it gives you the will to stick with some-
thing. I think some real good athletes are stubborn
- that's what makes them what they are. When
Michael Jordan makes the jump shot, he does it
because he's stubborn."
If Namesnik is the equivalent of an intense
trainer who expects perfection, then Urbanchek is
the wise old man who lets his team motivate
itself. He jumps in every once in a while and sput-
ters out an anecdote.
"It would be pretty boring if every coach were
the same," Urbanchek said. "The biggest differ-
ence is that Eric has a hard time dealing with peo-
ple who are not as dedicated as him. But not
everyone can be as dedicated as him.
"He's an excellent motivator, lie motivates by
the way lie designs practice. But he's pretty dry. I
don't think he's as witty as I am. Some coaches
are able to come back and crack a joke at the right
time with the right person. You learn that by
coaching for a long time though"

After years of success holding the reins of the Michigan men's swimming program, Jon Urbanchek
has one of his finest products working with him. Eric Namesnik is in his first season as an asisstant.

Jon Urbanchek
Men's swimming coach
1 Viewed as a genius at age 61
* In his 16tn year as men's swimming coach
® Has won 11 of the past 12 Big Ten titles
M Coac hed in four Olympic Games
(1984, 8 '92, '96)
* Eight of his swi1mmers have won Olympic medals

Eric Namesnik
Men's swimming assistant coach
M Viewed as an intense motivator at age 27
® In his first full year as an assistant coach after
serving the same capacity for half of last season
r Won silver medals in the '92 and '96 Olympics
* U.S. National Team Representative on U.S.
Swimming Board of Directors


Sweet Lou


Pistol Pete is the

matchup to watch at Penn State

Louis BullockG
remains one of.
cornerstones as
postseason play
approaches. He ;x
will square off:
tonight against
Penn State guard
Pete Lisicky.

Continued from Page 9
given touch and accuracy a new mean-
ing, have a great deal of respect for each
other. In fact, they know each other well.
They were even teammates at one point.
playing together on the US. 22-and-
under collegiate squad in 1994.
"Bullock is one of the most consistent
players in the Big Ten," Lisickv said. "l e
comes to play eveiy game and lie is prob-
ably one of the best shooters in the lBia
Ten, if not the country. He's a real.talent-
ed kid and a real competitor."
Bullock said that Lisickv is so lethal
because extra help from his teammates
leads to uncontested shots.
''The key is to try not to let him have
an open look," Bullock said. "IHIis extra
weapon is that it is tough to guard him

because his teammates set good screens."
Bullock had many open looks in
Michigan's thrashing of Indiana last
Sunday. But it could be tougher for him
in State College.
The Wolverines must contend with a
team that has won four of its past five
games, including a 74-63 upset over
then-No. 5 Purdue in Happy Valley.
The Nittany Lions' only home loss this
season was to Illinois. They are 11-1 at
the Bryce Jordan Center this season.
4o that makes things a little different,
even following the Indiana massacre.
"They are coming to our place, our
home court," Lisicky said. "We can't
worry about what they just did on nation-
al TV or who they beat in the past. We've
got to do what we can do and control
what we can control."
Big Ten defenders have had a hard

time controlling Lisicky and Bullock.
Both of the players' numbers are impres-
sive. Both shooting guards are leading
their respective teams in scoring. Bullock
averages 16.3 points (17.9 in Big Ten
games) and Lisicky has chipped in 15.5
points per game (15.0 in the conference).
Each player is his school's record hold-
er in career 3-point field goals made.
Bullock has 249 triples while .isicky.
306 3-pointers place him in 22nd place
on the all-time NCAA list.
-esitation rarely enters the equation
when these two are concerned. Bullock
nailed a 3-pointer in East Lansing last
week from practically next to his coach,
Brian Ellerbe, who was near half-court.
And in Penn State's game against
Purdue, Lisicky dropped in a 3-pointer
from near the sidelines - where the
Penn State fans were closer to blocking
the shot than were the Boilermakers.
Bullock is shooting at a 46.5-percent
clip from long range, having converted
72 of 155 3-point attempts -- which
places him third among conference scor-
ers in overall games. He is second in 3-
point field goal percentage during con-
ference games.
Lisicky is sixth among Big Ten scor-
ers, after making 34 3-pointers in 14 con-
ference games.
Overall, he is 60 of 173 from 3-poii
But who would win a game of H-O-R-
"His range is a little bit longer than
mine,' Bullock said. "I mostly don't take
the long shots in game situations, but I
mean, he feels comfortable from all over
at any time."


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