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January 27, 1999 - Image 9

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-01-27

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Scoreboardt
EN'S NCAA NATIONAL
BASKETBALL HOCKEY LEAGUE
(21) MINNESOTA 90, Detroit 4,
a(15) Indiana 83 (OT) NASHVILLE 1
(6) Kentucky 91, BUFFALO 1,
GEORGIA 83 (OT) Phoenix 1
Montreal 2,
TAMPA BAY 1
NY Rangers 4,
WASHINGTON 1

NEW JERSEY 4,
Ottawa 1
NY ISLANDERS 4.
Boston 1
PHILADELPHIA 3,
Florida 3
Carolina 5,
PITTSBURGH 3

U I~ e B i c iio Jlt i g

Tracking 'M' teams
See the Michigan track teams this weekend at the
Michigan Track Building when they host the Michigan
Intercollegiate. The women's meet takes place on
Friday, while the men's team faces off on Saturday.

Wednesday
January 27, 1999

9

Thomas puts
squad back on
winning track
Geoff Gagnon
tly Sports Writer
Michigan guard Stacey Thomas has long been regarded for
her larceny.
After all, the Flint native ranks first in the Big Ten in steals
with just less than four per game. And as her team reeled off
two conference wins this past weekend, the fact Thomas was
the one who stole the show shouldn't surprise anybody.
In marshalling her squad past Northwestern on Sunday
afternoon, Thomas was able to tally six steals to move into sec-
d place all-time on the Michigan career steal list.
or her efforts, which included a half-dozen assists, 10
rebounds and four blocks to go along with a 15-point output,
Thomas was honored by the Big Ten as the conference's play-
er of the week. The honor marks the second time Thomas has
earned the distinction and comes as her team is in the midst of
a three-game win streak.
More than simply instrumental in her team's win on Sunday,
Thomas helped the Wolverines reclaim respect by leading the
team past a trio of conference foes in the past week to bring an
end to a demoralizing five-game slump.
With 15 points and six steals, Thomas helped put the brakes
Michigan's skid as the Wolverines drove over Michigan
te a week ago. In helping to lead her team past the Big Ten's
fifth-place Spartans, Thomas dazzled fans and caught the
attention of opponents.
"She's a hustler, I credit her offensively and defensively,"
Michigan State's Maxann Reese said. "You just have to be
ready to go against her all the time. She does great things and
is a great ballplayer."
And against Michigan State, as has been the case so man
times in her career, Thomas' greatness was apparent, largely in
the way she controlled the game defensively.
'Stacey Thomas does a nice job getting her hands on balls
it create steals, that turn into easy baskets on the other end,"
Michigan State coach Karen Langeland said.
Thomas' performance against Langeland's squad served as a
mere hint of what was to come for the Thomas in the week that
followed. In the past three games, for which Thomas' Big Ten
honors have come, she has averaged 14 points, nearly three
assists, 7.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots - a statistic bol-
stered by a four-block performance against the awed Wildcats.
"Stacey Thomas is incredible. I've never seen such an ath-
letic player," Northwestern's Clarissa Flores said. "She pene-
t' ted against us and hit some key shots. She's just an all-
nd player."
Despite suffering through a bit of a shooting drought as she
and her squad stumbled through a five-game slide, with her
play this weekend, Thomas boldly erased any doubt that she is

PICKING A FIGHT
Gassoff believes that fighting is a necessary evil

FILE PHOTO
Stacey Thomas leads the Big Ten in steals, which trans-
formed into many Michigan points over this past weekend.
the offensive catalyst of her team. Though she's led her team
back into the Big Ten hunt, not measured in any statistical cat-
egory, however, are the contributions Guevara said Thomas
makes in terms of leadership. On a team lacking a senior,
Thomas' leadership has helped guide a talented cast of younger
players who've grown to complement the former Big Ten
freshman of the year.
"Stacey is a leader who leads by example," Guevara said.
And that example has served to fuel a Wolverine resurgence
that has the team gaining momentum as the heart of the con-
ference season approaches. Yet in defining herself as
Michigan's veteran leader, Thomas has found some of her
younger teammates anxious to share the burden of scoring.
"Stacey was frustrated for a while, trying to take the world
upon her shoulders, and her jumpshot suffered," Guevara said.
"But I think she's realized she has teammates that can hit the
jumper and help out"
And those contributions have not only taken the pressure off
Thomas, but have allowed others to flourish for the Wolverines
while creating a sense of enjoyment
"I'm very proud of the freshmen," Thomas said. "They're
coming in, working hard and doing the extra things to make
contributions. It makes things a lot of fun."

By Marsk Francoscutti
Daily sports Writer
Bob Gassoff has a reputation as a
physical player, or- in plain English -
as the type of guy that would rip your
head off if you took a cheap shot at one
of his 26 Michigan hockey teammates.
But the NCAA thinks differently.
In college hockey, physical play is a
little different than that of the juniors and
professional ranks.
There's one little element that helps
make the college game different:
fighting.
Due to harsh NCAA penalties, you
won't find much brawling from
Michigan hockey players, because the
only barbaric pastime that occurs at Yost
Ice Arena is the cutting in line at the con-
cession stands.
The lack of aggressiveness can make
players like Gassoff feel a little out of
their territory.
"In juniors I fought all the time,"
Gassoff said. "That's my type of game
- that's the way I always played."
Tough bruisers coming from the
junior leagues sometimes find them-
selves held back in college hockey, cre-
ating a fightless gap between juniors and
the pros.
And Gassoff, a strong proponent for
the return of physical battles, has strong
feelings on the subject.
"I can see what they're trying to do in
college by taking the violence out, but
it's part of the game and it's never going
to go away," Gassoff said.
The sophomore's problem not only
covers the gap between juniors and the
pros, but the fact that in college, referees
are supposed to protect the players from
the rink bullies.
Gassoff believes that fighting is a nec-
essary evil to protect star players who
sometimes get attacked endlessly.
This seems to be especially true for
players like Michigan centers Mike
Comrie and Mark Kosick, who aren't
exactly the biggest players on the line
chart. The duo often takes a lot of abuse
from opposing defenders. But Gassoff'

DAVID ROCHKIND/Daily
Bob Gassoff is a strong proponent of the NCAA giving fighting a fighting chance.

says if college hockey allowed fighting,
brutalizers would receive more than just
a simple penalty.
"Guys are going to take cheap shots,
and sure they'll get a penalty, but who
cares, you just go sit in the box,"
Gassoff said. "Guys (in college hock-
ey) aren't really held accountable for
their actions, whereas in juniors and
the pros, guys are held accountable
amongst each other, not just the offi-
cials.
"If a guy takes a cheap shot, he's got
to know that he is going to pay the price."
One of the biggest deterrents to any
sort of fighting in college hockey, other
than facing a suspension, is the face
mask.

With sturdy bars protecting players'
faces, only Beavis or Butthead would
throw a punch at an opposing defender's
head.
Built as a protective measure, the iron
masks sometimes cause even more prob-
lems than they try to solve.
"I don't like the face masks, I think
they are a deterrent to the quality of
hockey," Berenson said. "I think players
would play more aggressive without face
masks and there would actually be less
injuries."
Berenson also agrees that fighting
keeps players honest and deters them
from abusing other players.
"In college hockey, you have the
See FIGHTING, Page 10

Gymnasts to rock Cliff Keen

Dan Dingerson
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan men's gymnastics
team hosts its first dual meet of the sea-
son Friday when Ohio State and Illinois
visit Cliff Keen Arena for the BMG
Showdown.
The music company is sponsoring
the event and giving away free CDs to
the first 1,000 people in attendance. No
need to worry, word is there won't be any
.f those annoying cards sent to those
Uceiving the free CDs and you won't
have any responsibility to buy more
CDs.
With that said, the meet should be a
very interesting matchup of some of the
best gymnastics teams in the country.
Ohio State is ranked third, Michigan
fourth, and Illinois sixth in the latest poll.
The teams have already faced off
against each other, battling two weeks
.o at the Windy City Open in Chicago.
. t that meet, the Buckeyes beat the
Wolverines and Illini by a slim margin.
Ohio State finished second and
Michigan was third, less than a point
behind. Illinois was fourth, less than a
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point behind Michigan.
Although the Wolverines recently
dominated Illinois-Chicago, this meet
should prove to be much tougher.
Possibly Michigan's biggest weakness is
its lack of experience, something that
this weekend's opponents have a lot of.
Ohio State is led by five seniors,
including Doug Stibel. Stibel is one of
the country's top all-around competitors
and a member of this year's United
States Goodwill Games team. He helped
the Buckeyes finish sixth nationally last
year and has raised expectations in
Columbus this year.
Illinois advanced to the champi-
onship finals last year and finished third
nationally. Many observers think the
Illini could be even tougher this year.
They return all but three of the mem-
bers from last year's team, and now have
the experience of competing in nation-
als. With their No. 6 ranking, they are
one of the top contenders for a national
title.
The Fighting Illini are led by junior
Travis Romagnoli. Last year Romagnoli
won two national championships, one in

vault, and the other in the all-around
competition.
Michigan will try to counter its high-
ly regarded opponents with an injured
squad that is being led by a youth move-
ment.
Freshmen Daniel Diaz-Luong and
Scott Vetere have led the Wolverines in
their first two competitions this year.
Diaz-Luong has edged Vetere in the all-
around in both meets so far this year, but
both have been extremely close. They
both need to continue their success if the
Wolverines hope to earn victory on
Friday.
Returning to aid the freshmen will be
sophomore Justin Toman. Toman, one of
the team captains, was limited to only
three events against Illinois-Chicago. He
was impressive in the three events that he
performed in though, earning a first in
the high bar with a career-best perfor-
mance. His other two events, parallel
bars and pommel horse, earned him two
second-place finishes.
Michigan coach Kurt Golder was
particularly impressed with Toman for
See BMG, Page 10

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