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March 26, 1999 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-03-26

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 26, 1999 - 9

Denver to
be close
ntinued from Page 8
the Wolverines, because their late-sea-
son offensive surge has been keyed by
their crisp passing. Can Denver pull off
the upset in that department? They
may not be fast enough to keep up with
the Wolverines, but the Pioneers would
love to try and wear Michigan down.
Ohio State won the season series
with the Wolverines by playing patient
4efense - just waiting for Michigan
make a mistake. If Denver can do
t ..same and slow Michigan's quick
forivards, it could be a long night for
the Wolverines.
But if the Michigan defensemen get
,ihVlved with the offense, like they
have in past weeks, Denver may be bit-
ing off more than they can chew.
SPECIAL TEAMS: If there is any cat-
' ory that Denver wins outright, it's
ecial teams. Despite the fine
improvements the Michigan coaches
have made to the Wolverines' power-
play, Denver was ranked as high as No.
2 in the nation with the man-advantage
this season.
Special teams turned out to be the
difference for the Pioneers in the
.WCHA championship game. Denver
netted a perfect 2-2 on the power-play,
while blanking North Dakota in its
ur chances.
Michigan must not take the foolish
and costly penalties it has committed
throughout the year. If the Wolverines
can stay out of the penalty box, and
pick up a power-play goal of their own,
they might be able to withstand the
Pioneers special attack. But Denver
could easily break the game open by
tallying a few goals with the man
GOALTENDING: Normally, you
would look at the program for this
game, see a 'Fr.' next to Josh
Bli3 kburn's name and immediately
question Michigan's goaltending. But
the young netminder showed his play-
off prowess in four games so far, giv-
ing up three or less goals in each of
them. Denver's Steven Wagner has
played brilliant at times, but lackluster
others. I'll go with consistency over

'C' word lifting 'M'

By Stephanie Offen
Daily Sports Writer
Confidence. The Michigan softball
team says the reason their squad is cur-
rently on the upswing is because of- in
the words of head coach Carol Hutchins
- the "C" word.
It could be attributed to their 17-game
winning streak, or the rise to No. 8 in the
And if you ask Hutchins, she will list
both of these things as reasons for the
improvement. But most of all the confi-
dence comes from within the players.
"I will always tell the kids that I won't
give it to you, Hutchins said. "I don't
give people confidence. That is some-
thing they have to show me on their own
and then I will have confidence in them."
And this weekend the team has confi-
', dence in its ability to capture its third-
straight tournament championship in the
Boilermaker Invitational.
The tournament, which takes place
tomorrow and Sunday, will be
Michigan's final chance to make
NATHAN RUFFER/Daily improvements before doubleheader play
ki for leadership and good special teams begins.
The Wolverines will face two teams
Blue beginstore

each day, starting with Indiana State and
Loyola, tomorrow.
The match-up with Indiana State will
provide very familiar competition for the
Wolverines. Michigan faced them a
week ago in the Capitol Classic and
came away with the 8-0 victory.
Sophomore Marie Barda pitched her
first career one-hitter in the game, and
may be looked upon to repeat that feat
this weekend.
We choose pitchers "by what we know
about the other team and who we think
will be best against them," assistant
coach Jennifer Brundage said. "We look
at whose strengths are going to exploit
the other team's weaknesses."
Since Barda has already proved her-
self against the Sycamores, the team may
count on her power to give them their
first victory of the tournament.
Loyola brings a fresh face to this tour-
nament for the Wolverines. Sunday's
first opponent will do the same. Bradley,
Michigan's 9 a.m. opponent on Sunday,
will be directly followed by No. 25
Central Michigan.
Central Michigan is also a familiar
face for Michigan.

Fisher on cusp of
job at San Diego St.
- Steve Fisher, whose career as
Michigan's basketball coach ended as
abruptly as it began, reportedly is on
the verge of being hired to take over
San Diego State's sad-sack program.
The deal could be finalized as
soon as this weekend, Fox Sports
News reported yesterday, citing
sources close to Fisher who were not
Fisher, an assistant with the NBA's
Sacramento Kings, did not return two
phone calls placed to his room at a
Los Angeles-area hotel. The Kings
are scheduled to play the Lakers
San Diego State Athletic Director
Rick Bay, who also has ties to
Michigan, said he was still talking to
candidates yesterday evening.
"As of this moment I don't have a
coach," Bay said. "I'd like to think
I'm getting closer, but I don't have a
A school official involved iJnthe
coaching search denied that an agree-
ment had been reached with anyone.

Michigan will count on senior Dale Rominsh
play in the NCAA Tournament.
COACHING: Denver coach George
Gwozdecky coached at Miami for five
seasons, so he knows what how to play
against a CCHA team. He even led the
then-Redskins to a CCHA regular sea-
son championship. But when it comes ,
to consistent playoff coaching,
Michigan coach Red Berenson takes
the cake as one of the best. He's led
underdog Michigan teams to two
NCAA championships and he might
just lead another one. Always give a
Berenson-coached team some extra
INTANGIBLES: The Pioneers enter
the tournament winners of nine
straight. The Pioneers have a squad
chock-full of seniors, so they won't be
panicking if they fall behind. But
Michigan's streak entering the game is
almost as impressive, standing at five.
Michigan is also 103-4-0 when leading
after two periods. So if the Wolverines
can grab a lead, chances are Michigan
can stave off a Denver rush and move
on to face New Hampshire. Both teams
are hot, Denver has seniority, but the
Wolverines have a surplus of playoff
experience. I'll take the champion
every time.

Continued from Page 8
another pair of games in the CCHA.
That could be the best prescription
for Mike Comrie, Jeff Jillson and
Josh Blackburn, a trio of freshmen
that are bound to be nervous, enter-
ing their first NCAA game and fill-
ing key roles for Michigan at the
same time.
"That's why you pick this school,"
Jillson said. "You know you're going
to play in big games."
All Zen techniques aside, the
Wolverines must make Denver accli-
mate to their pace of play right from
the start.
In past games against rugged
opponents, Michigan has been outhit
early and hasn't been able to recover.
"We know they're going to be a
scrappy, physical team, not unlike
several teams in our league,"
Berenson said.
Despite that reputation, the
Pioneers rely on a precision power
play for much of their offense.
Denver's excellent 24.8 percent
conversion rate with the man advan-

tage is threatening to a team like
Michigan, the most penalized team
in the CCHA this season.
"Our special teams have been one
of the key reasons we've been suc-
cessful," Denver coach George
Gwozdecky said. "We're not highly
skilled, but we can score."
So can Michigan.
The Wolverines have scored often
as of late, and should be considered
one of the hottest offensive units in
the nation right now.
But all matchups and comparisons
make the teams look evenly
That being said, Michigan would
serve itself well to take a deep
breath. It's sure to be one wild week-

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Baseball anxious for Big Ten play

By Geoff Gagnon
Daily Sports Writer
After playing its first frosty game in
Michigan at frigid Western Michigan
ednesday, the Michigan baseball team
ilI open its Big Ten season by travelling
south again - sort of.
In opening the conference season at
Iowa this afternoon, the Wolverines like-
ly won't find themselves battling the bit-
ter winds of Kalamazoo. But it also won't
find the warmth and sun of places like
Florida, California and Texas where
instead of the elements, the team fought
some of the nation's toughest squads this
past month earning a respectable 7-10
ark on the year. , .
'Happy with what he's seen so far,
despite the sub-.500 start against talented
southern opponents like No. 9
2epperdine and No. 10 Texas A&M,
;Mdicigan coach Geoff Zahn said after
Wednesday's game that he's anxious for
:te conference season.
2"I'm very pleased, we're starting to
swing the bats real well," Zahn said. "I
thlink we're ready for the Big Ten season."
I More than displaying a potent offen-
sive surge that has propelled the team to
score an unthinkable 26 runs in its last
two games, Michigan's pitching has
given Zahn something to smile about and
conference foes something to fear.
Leading the way for the Wolverines on
the hill Wednesday, Bryan Cranson gave
Op only two runs in six innings of work to
:,arn the win for Michigan. The victory,
"said Cranson is just what the team need-
d as they eye a four-game series in Iowa
fore next week's home-opener.
"We've got some momentum going
coming of a big win on Monday and then
Wednesday things felt good as well '
transon said. It feels like we're hitting
-the ball well so things look good for the

weekend to start the Big Ten, things are
really looking up."
And things couldn't be looking up at a
better time as the Hawkeyes look to spoil
Michigan's streak as they begin a difficult
march toward the top of the conference.
"The Big Ten is a tough conference but
it'll be good games for us," Zahn said.
Despite losing 10 letter winners from
last year's squad, Iowa has reloaded and
added youth in several positions.
"As for Iowa, they're a good young
club, I think they start four or five fresh-
man," Zahn said. "They're going to be
home and they're going to be pumped
after a big win against Miami. It certain-
ly won't be an easy time for us."
Besides the challenge Iowa poses, the

Wolverines are giving this first Big Ten
game a bit of special attention after a
number of non-conference contests.
"I'm excited," second baseman and co-
captain Bobby Scales said. "This is con-
ference play now. It's the season really"
Scales, who came up big Wednesday
in the win over Western Michigan scor-
ing once after a pair of hits and driving in
a run, says his squad is hoping for coop-
erative weather and a solid Michigan per-
formance this weekend.
"Hopefully the weather will be good
so we can get the games in," Scales said.
"We're looking forward to it very much.
We don't know much about Iowa but I'm
sure they'll come hard at us, and we'll do
the same."

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