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January 28, 1999 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-01-28

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12A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 28, 1999

Crippled 'M' to tackle Hoosiers
Michigan gets advance look at Big Ten Championships venue

The
Grind
Mark Snyder

FA

By Jon Zemke
and Josh Kleinbaum
Daily Sports Writers
Sports that include racing in one
form or another are the closest thing to
scripted drama in the athletic world.
Coaches use this to their advantage to
see where swimmers should race in
order to give their team the best chance
to win.
According to the numbers, the
Michigan men's swimming and diving
team shouldn't be too worried about the
upcoming meet at Indiana tomorrow at
7 p.m. The Wolverines should win 12
out of 21 events, including several
sweeps.
"We should be able to win,"
Michigan men's swimming coach Jon
Urbanchek said. "We have the better
team on paper, we just have to perform."
But there's a more important issue in
this meet than just winning it. Indiana
will host the Big Ten Championships a
month from now, and this meet gives
Michigan the opportunity to scout out
the venue.
"Mentally, it's better if you've been
there before," Urbanchek said. "You get
familiar with the area. Even the pool is
a little different - the ways the walls
are shaped, the lighting ..."
But the Wolverines aren't looking

ahead too much - despite having the
better team on paper, they're going to
have their hands full with this meet.
With his team plagued by injuries,
Urbanchek expects it to be exciting.
"Any time you go down there it's like
war," Urbanchek said. "It's always a
stressful meet, and without some of our
top swimmers, it'll be exciting."
Normally, Michigan would expect to
dominate the distance freestyle events.
But the Wolverines will have to do it
without Olympic silver medalist Tom
Malchow, who is suffering from pneu-
monia.
"Tom Malchow is not going to
accompany the team," Urbanchek said.
"And John Reich is staying home with
an illness."
And when you throw freshman Jason
Mallory into the injury mix - Mallory
is out for the season with a knee injury
(see Page 10A for story) - the
Wolverines will have to go without
three of their top swimmers.
But Michigan swimmers Werner and
senior Andy Potts should make up for
the loss of Mallory in the 200- and 400-
meter individual medley. Indiana's best
chance to score in this meet is sopho-
more Joe Trent, whose best time is just
below that of Michigan's third-best time
in each event.

In the 50- and 100- free sprints,
Indiana has a strong swimmer in sopho-
more Bryan Stryker. The young swim-
mers'times are only two tenths ofa sec-
ond better than Michigan's top swim-
mers in the 50- and 100- free, Scott
Meyer and Jordan Watland.
The 100 and 200 breaststroke seems
to be a little bit tighter competition for
the Wolverines, with Indiana senior
Tom Davis bringing Indiana its best
chance at scoring points. But Michigan
sophomore Scott Werner should win
both events - his times have already
earned him consideration for the
NCAAs.
Indiana looks its strongest in the relay
and diving competition. Indiana has
better times than Michigan in the 200 -
and 400- free relay and the 200- medley
relay. Normally, the Wolverines would
look to dominate the 800- free relay, but
without Malchow and Mallory, it could
be difficult.
In the diving competition, Indiana
boasts senior Mike Colleir, who is one
of the Big Ten's best divers in the one-
and three- meter springboards.
Michigan senior Brett Wilmot, also one
of the conference's premier divers, will
look to score some points for the
Wolverines, while facing his stiffest
competition so far this year.

This yar'sv crop offootball blue-
ckh5pers brings about exected hoopla

Right now, Section 29, Row 42, Seat 11 is blanketed
in a layer of white. So is the rest of Michigan
Stadium, for that matter, but my main concern lies
with that painted number on that seat and the one to its left.
That's where my roommate and I sat freshman year at
our first Michigan football game. Amazingly enough, our
seats got progressively worse as the years went on, and now
we're left with no seats at all as our final home football
game is three months in the past.
He's one of those guys who picks up the paper daily (no
pun intended) usually in search of a quick crossword but
more often to see what's going on in the Big House. He's
interested in the information - even when the Wolverines
won't play for months.
But the more you think about it, the more the dates, com-
ments and ugly incidents circle about, the more you realize
Michigan football has no offseason.
From the end of the bowl game on Jan. 1 until the first
game on Labor Day weekend, the Michigan football team
is a contradiction. Few see it practice, even fewer know
what happens inside Schembechler Hall, but it remains in
the spotlight - for better or for worse.
Though recently we've been besieged by the worst the
program has to offer - accusations of theft, violence and
the reminders of previous sexual assaults - the better is on
the way.
Six days from now we'll see that next big news day. But
unlike the episodes thrust into the spotlight by Jason
Brooks and William Peterson, next Wednesday's announce-
ment is planned and well-orchestrated.
National letter-of-intent day falls on Feb. 3 this year and
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr - despite spending this past
weekend in Maui coaching an all-star team - will stand in
front of a horde of media to announce the new players who
will dress for his football team in seven months.
While to a normal bystander such announcements may
seem absurd for the arrival of 20 players (presumably) still
in high school classrooms, many fans live for this day.
Both Detroit newspapers ran sections last week preview-
ing the big day and where all the local players will be tak-
ing their talents. There was analysis, discussion and even
profiles on the profilers, the recruiting gurus who feed the
frenzy with their analysis of each school's crop.
A year ago, Carr was amazed by the media attention the

announcement received. He had been up until the wee
hours of the previous night, coaxing Justin Fargas to sup-
plement an incredible recruiting class. Fargas and line*
backer Larry Foote were the final commitments, with
Foote coming through hours before the press conference.
Traditionally after such success, the next year would
experience a lull. The next class is often in sharp decline
because nobody wants to play backup to a stellar group like
the year before.
But once again, Carr and recruiting coordinator Bobby
Morrison have dumbfounded the experts. Michigan is
expected to reel in as many skill players as last year -
including six running backs - and some blue-chip line
men to match.
Texas is drawing raves as the top class in the country,
headlined by the son of former New York Giant great Phil
Simms, Chris, an all-everything quarterback touted as
being better than his father, but Michigan is in the thick of
the hunt for a top-five class. Evidently, success breeds suc-
cess.
Before anyone starts making Sugar Bowl plans, though,
remember this season.
Even with the best recruiting class in the nation, very
few of them played.
Fargas ran solid in just one game (at Northwestern},
Drew Henson was relegated to mop-up duty on the fe
occasions he played and David Terrell caught an occasion-
al third-down pass. With the notable exception of place-
kicker/punter Hayden Epstein, this freshman crop barely
played, let alone made an impact.
They'll get their chance, there's little doubt about that,
but the frenzy over the mere possibility that they might be
All-Americans is amazing.
Few can predict the future and Carr will readily admit
that come Wednesday. He'll talk about how these area
Michigan men, good character people and how they'l
enhance the Michigan program.
With the incidents of late, the program's image could use
any positive publicity it can scrounge up.
My only question for these new guys: Can they get my
seats back?
- Mark Snyder can be reached via e-mail
at msnyder(ajumich.edu.

i

New rankings stick 'M' at No. 6

KELLY McKINNELL/Daily
Senior Andy Potts and the rest of the Michigan men's swimming team will have to cope with the loss of freshman upstart
Jason Mallory to a knee injury as they face Indiana tomorrow.5
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Stephen A. Rom gymnastics coach Beverly Plocki said.
For the Daily "This is good for our team, because we
After it seemed like it might only be a have been consistently scoring in the
bad dream, the Michigan women's gym- 194-range."
nastics team soon realized its early sea- And when the smoke cleared, like after
son loss to Minnesota, by the tiniest of one of the many high-fives by Michigan
margins (193.050-193.550), was enough teammates this season, these scores were
to awaken the beast - also known as the good enough to land the Wolverines in
NCAA ranking system. quite an enviable position. The women
To their dismay, the same Wolverines currently find themselves ranked sixth in
who once enjoyed a lofty, pre-season the nation, first in the region and first in
ranking of seventh in the nation, were the Big Ten. ,
immediately dropped to No. 12 overall. This Saturday, the Wolverines look to
Yet each day brings a new dawn. And defend these newfound honors.
today, Michigan awok'e to find itself sit- Michigan welcomes conference rival
ting comfortably atop the Big Ten. Ohio State, and first-time opponent
Before today, the rankings were based Rhode Island to Cliff Keen Arena.
on each school's highest team score each With both visiting schools at 2-1 to
school had. begin the 1999 season, some would con-
"As of this morning, the rankings go sider No. 22 Rhode Island to be a not-
to total averages," Michigan women's too-worthy opponent for the Wolverines.
{ Iyou STI Lbhaven'T roun
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Open Discussion: We). 9PM

This, perhaps, could be due to the fact
that their only two victories have come to
unranked foes Brown and Kent. Plocki
explained the circumstances of such a
matchup at this point in the year.
"Some smaller schools want to com-
pete against us for their own experi-
ence," she said. And as Rhode Island is
in competition with the Wolverines fog
the top spot in the fifth Region, the Rams
are certainly going to be looking to butt
heads.
No. 16 Ohio State is a different story.
"They have made a lot of strides in the-
last three years," said Plocki.
And with their only loss on the season.
coming to No. 5 Alabama, in which they
got rolled by the Tide - 195.075-
190.275 - the Buckeyes have shown-
some hops. They already bounced
Michigan State and No. 10 Bowlin"
Green.:
SAnd although Michigan got the better
of the Buckeyes by taking them in both.
meets last season - as well as closingi
the gap in the all time record to 20-18 in
favor of Ohio State - the Buckeyes are
'ooking to spring to new heights.
They're off to a good start and are sixth
in the nation with a score of 48.500.
Despite such notable competition,
Plocki wants to attract attention to issue9
closer to home. "Our key focus is that we:
need to be more consistent," she said.
All in all, with its strong early seasoA.
rebound, Michigan has displayed
enough promise to keep the Wolverine
faithful loyal. And with the progress
they've made in practice, they have
hopefully honed their skills to razor
sharp. At least sharp enough to Rauv
some Buckeyes this Saturday.

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