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January 14, 2000 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-01-14

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 14, 2000

'M' hopes to toast in Champaign
Win would spark Wolverines to a run at tourney bid

By Michael Kern
DalySports Writer
One week after its biggest win of the
season, the Michigan women's basket-
ball team will face perhaps its biggest
challenge of the season, traveling to
No. 12 Illinois on Monday.
The Fighting Illini are 4-
1 and second in the Big T
Ten standings after suffer- THis
ing their first loss of the Who: Mid
Big Ten season at No. 5 llino (14-
Penn State last night. Whee: A
Illinois won five straight when: 2
before last night, including Latest: Aft
two Big Ten road victories Purdue, the
an a win over then-No. 5 n adi
"Illinois is always a win ands S
tough place to play,"
Michigan guard Anne
Thorius said. "They have a great home
crowd, and we've had difficulty play-
ing them."
Last season, Illinois was a thorn in
the paw of the Wolverines. The Illini
beat Michigan in overtime to end the
Wolverines' nine-game winning
streak, the longest in team history. The
loss sent Michigan into a tailspin, as
the Wolverines dropped their next four
games after a 9-1 start, also the best in
team history.
Illinois also knocked the Wolverines
out of the Big Ten Tournament in the
quarterfinals, a blow that may have
cost Michigan an at-large bid to the

fter b
in fir,

NCAA Tournament.
Mirroring last season's good start,
Michigan began the season with seven
straight victories and is now 11-4. The
Wolverines also sit alone in third place
with a 3-1 Big Ten record, after their
biggest win of the season against No.
18 Purdue, last Sunday.
That makes
!EEKEND Monday's game with
an014)vs. Illinois critical as
Michigan enters a
mbly Hal stretch of four games
- Monday in a week-and-a-half,
beating including road games
efending at No. 5 Penn State
pions, the and Wisconsin, picked
rst penithea by the coaches to fin-
stp with a ish first and third
respectively in the Big
A win for the Wolverines could

scoring from Stacey Thomas and
guard Alayne Ingram. Likewise,
Illinois depends on the perimeter scor-
ing of Alison Curtain and Tauja
Cummings, who combine for 33
points a game. The game could then
come down to which team performs
better in the post.
"Alison (Miller) and Raina
(Goodlow), along with the post players
on the bench, scored and contributed
(against Purdue)," assistant coach
Yulonda Wimbish-Gay said. "It helps
for us to be able to score on the inside.
"People try and key on Stacey, but if
we can have an inside-outside game, it
makes it difficult to key on one play-
Another key player for the
Wolverines will be Thorius. The point
guard struggled over stretches this sea-
son but recorded her best game against
Purdue with 18 points and four assists,
leading Michigan to victory with
Thomas resting on the bench in the
game's waning minutes.
"Last year, I had that role where,
with 10 seconds left, the ball was in
my hands, and I would look to create a
shot for myself or create a shot for
someone else," Thorius said. "This
year, because of my lack of confi-
dence, I haven't had the ball in that sit-
uation that much. But against Purdue I
felt comfortable, even though they had
pressured me all day up and down the

Who: Michigan vs. Illinois
Where: Crisler Arena
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
The Latest Illinois lost to
Purdue, Wednesday, 88-85. The
FightingIlilini now have lost ┬░two in
a row.
A closer look at the last three
Michigan-Illinois matchups:
Jan. 28, 1999, in Ann Arbor:
Illinois 61, Michigan 59. Up
two points with a foul to give,
Michigan let Illinois walk down
the court and find Victor
Chukwudebe for the game-win-
ning 3-pointer.
Jan. 9, 1997 in Ann Arbor:
Michigan 88, Illinois 74. The
Wolverines held Kiwane Garris in
check for the entire game, holding
him to 14 meaningless points, as
they played won of their best
defensive games of the year in the
home victory.
Ja.n. 9, 1996, in Ann Arbor:
Michigan 83, Illinois 68..
Michigan's three big men,
Maurice Taylor, Maceo Baston
and Robert Traylor dominated
down low, combining for 48
points and 25 rebounds, beating
the Kiwane Garris-less Illini.

spark a run at the NCAA Tournament.
But a loss could start another free fall
back into the middle of the Big Ten
Michigan hopes that it can carry the
momentum from its victory over
Purdue, and some strong games from
players who struggled earlier in the
season, into the game with Illinois.
Against the Boilermakers, the
Wolverines post players were finally
able to do damage inside and provide
Michigan with valuable scoring.
Both teams rely heavily on their
perimeter players. Michigan counts on

Continued from Page 9
into this weekend," Berenson said.
"They're going to come in here with
something to prove."
And that's the same thing freshman J.J.
Swistak says Michigan will do in its first
game since grabbing a share of the
league lead.
"They probably outplayed us in that
game," J.J. Swistak said. "To come back
the way we did in the final minute and
then in overtime, we knew we were
lucky to get a win. That means we need
to come out from the start and not let up
at all this weekend."
Helping fill that bill, the Wolverines
return Koch from a nagging leg injury.
Koch who boasts three goals in seven
career games against Miami, completes
Michigan's top offensive line for the
first time in over a month.
"It'll be good to have some guys back
in different lines," Berenson said.
"Hopefully we'll get a semblance of a
three line system."
That added depth, Berenson is hop-
ing, will give Michigan the firepower to
combat a stingy Miami defense.
"This is a team that thrives on defense
and one that doesn't give up many
goals," Berenson said. "If they should
get a lead on us it'll make it tough."
Michigan is looking to make thing
tough for Miami though with Blackburn
back in net and the team finally back
home after three games away from Yost.
"We're very happy to be back home,
Langfeld said. "You never get tired of
playing in this old barn. The minute you
step on the ice and the band starts to
play, that's a feeling you can't explain"
And its a feeling that Blackburn will
feel again tonight
Continued from Page 9
sive presence for the Wolverines, who
need a little more banging on the
inside after struggling against larger
"He's playing a lot of minutes,"
Ellerbe said. "I don't get caught up in
who starts the game, it's more impor-
tant who finishes."
Ellerbe said while Smith won't be
starting against the Illini, Smith can
earn his playing time with his perfor-
mance on the court.
And thanks to trainer Steve
Stricker, Smith said his health
remains out of contention to halt his
"There are no problems with the
knee," Smith said. "I felt comfortable
playing the last game.
The comfort Smith has felt in his
smooth transition to the lineup makes
up for the rigorous rehabilitation he
went through for six months.
"I am surprised. I wasn't sure that I
could come out and play as well as I
did so quickly. Strick is the reason
I'm here. There were days when I was
so frustrated, I didn't want to go see

Spartans upset by-
Nebraska-Omaha scored late goals
in the second and third periods to
force overtime, when Dave Noel-
Bernier scored with 3:48 left in over
time, giving the Mavericks a 4-3 win.
The loss was Michigan State's sec-
ond in a row. It dropped the Spartans'
record to 11-5 in the CCHA, and 154
overall. The loss also leaves Michigan
State in a three-way tie for first place,
with Michigan and Northern
Nebraska-Omaha's record is 5-6-4
in the CCHA, and 7-10-4 overall. The
Mavericks are tied for seventh place in
the conference.
Beamer lights up
at coaching honor
Frank Beamer, who guided Virginia
Tech to an undefeated regular season
and an appearance in college football's
national championship game, received
the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year
Award yesterday.
Beamer was the choice of the9
Football Writers Association of
America, beating out June Jones of
Hawaii and Glen Mason of Minnesota.
Beamer guided the Hokies to an 11
0 season and an appearance in the
Sugar Bowl against top-ranked
Florida State. Led by freshman qua-
terback Michael Vick, Virginia Tech
held a 29-28 lead entering the fourth
quarter but lost, 46-29.
The annual award has been given
out since 1957. In 1996, the FBWAA
agreed to name the award after
Robinson, the winningest coach in
Division I college football. Only
Division I-A coaches are eligible.
Parcells to coach
the Jets again?
Bill Parcells could become the high-
est-paid coach in NFL history if he
returns for one more year with the New
York Jets.
NFL sources told The Associated
Press that Robert Wood "Woody"
Johnson IV, the winning bidder
Tuesday in the sale of the team, is will-
ing to pay Parcells more than the $4
million Seattle coach-general manager
Mike Holmgren makes.
The sources, speaking on the condi-
tion of not being identified, said
Johnson is willing to abide by any deci
sion Parcells makes. But Johnson also
let it be known during a two-hour meet-
ing with Parcells on Wednesday that
the new owner's first choice is Parcells,
who stepped down on Jan. 3.
Hornets postpone
another for Phills
Plans of city officials and the*
Charlotte Hornets to honor the memo-
ry of Bobby Phills were scuttled by the
desire of his teammates to postpone
Friday's home game against the New
York Knicks.
According to a statement released
tonight by NBA Players Association
executive director Billy Hunter, mem:
bers of the Hornets would rather nt.
play the game, which is scheduled '
start less than six hours after a memr-
ial service for Phills.
The union spoke tonight with Ieagqe
executives. NBA deputy commissione
Russ Granik and vice president of bas{
ketball operations Rod Thorn spoke,

with Hornets center Elden Campbel
and acceded to the Hornets' wishes to
have the game postponed.
Phills, 30, was killed instantly O-
Wednesday when he slammed his
Porsche into another vehicle after lea -
ing a shootaround at the Charlotte
Coliseum. Wednesday's home game
against the Chicago Bulls was post-
poned. Saturday's road contest at New
York is still scheduled.
Jones denies trying
to fill position early
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones
denied rumors yesterday that, hours after
he announced the firing of coach Cha~_
Gailey, he phoned the coaches o
Arkansas and Texas about the opening.
Jones went further, saying that not
only has he not contacted Texas' Mack
Brown or Arkansas' Houston Nutt, but
he doesn't plan to, either.
On Tuesday, Jones fired Gailey after a
disappointing 8-8 season and a first-round
playoff loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
While Jones has not said who he will
pick as a replacement, observers think b*
has done enough in recent days to sug-
gest his next coach will be someone who
has a background in offense and has the.
approval of quarterback Troy Aikman.
Aiassi dispels rumor

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