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FEBRUARY 1, 2000
Cleaves stays a Spartan icon
Maize Rage takes on Izzone
By Jacob Wheeler
Daily Sports Editor
EAST LANSING - Yesterday at
Tom Izzo's weekly press conference,
the Michigan State coach tried to imag-
ine life at the Breslin Center next sea-
son without heralded senior Mateen
"I told my coaches in a meeting,
'Life is not going to be as good without
him around," Izzo said, reflecting on
the Spartans' catalyst who has sparked
Michigan State's re-emergence among
college basketball's elite.
"He is one of the best players ever at
Michigan State and in the Big Ten.
How will we keep a guy like that all
four years in the future?"
Another point guard has come
through East Lansing and dazzled col-
lege basketball with no-look passes
which have pushed the Spartans deep
into the NCAA Tournament every
March. Earvin "Magic" Johnson's
smiling face still peers up from the Red
Cedar River on campus.
But these days, very few marquee
players stay for their senior season.
In Cleaves and fellow senior Morris
Peterson, Izzo has retained two of the
puzzle pieces from the team that
reached the Final Four last season.
That means that going back to the
Big Dance is more than an attainable
goal for Michigan State - it's an
expectation. If the Spartans aren't one
f four teams in Indianapolis on April
3, the last chance for the dynasty that
Izzo built mostly out of players from
Flint will be considered a failure.
Cleaves scared the Spartan faithful
before the season when he suffered a
stress fracture in his right foot, because
they knew Michigan State wasn't a
Final Four-caliber team without him.
Without Cleaves on the court during
the season's first 13 games, the
Spartans struggled. They finished 9-4
in the non conference season and lost
in embarrassing fashion at Wright
State a week before Cleaves returned.
The point guard returned for the Big
Ten opener on Jan. 5. But Cleaves did-
n't play at full strength immediately.
After just 21 minutes against Penn
State, his playing time slowly increased
each game, and the Spartans regained
last year's confidence accordingly.
. Cleaves put on a show this past
Sunday against Illinois, leaving no
doubt that his defensive intensity and
determination to find Michigan State's
best shot on offense are back.
"I feel better," the point guard said,
after scoring 13 points and dishing out
12 assists in the 91-66 victory. "I think
this is the best game we've played since
I've been back."
Cleaves looked like an All-American
again, driving through a hole in the
Illinois defense for a pretty layup, forc-
ing a turnover on the ensuing stand and
finding teammate Peterson for three.
His return to form as one of the best
guards in the nation came just in time
for the Spartans, who face archrival
Michigan tonight in Ann Arbor and
host No. 6 Connecticut on Saturday.
The Michigan State fans, aware that
their beloved Spartans could leapfrog
the preseason No. 1 Huskies and land
back in the top five with two victories
this week, chanted "We want UConn"
as time ran out on the Illini on Sunday.
But first come the Wolverines.
Cleaves and junior Charlie Bell will
face down a couple of freshman
guards, Kevin Gaines and Jamal
Crawford. who, until the Indiana deba-
cle a week ago, have had no trouble
scoring this season.
By Mark Francescutti
Daily Sports Editor
The last time the Spartans and
Wolverines met on the Crisler Arena
court remains a black hole for many
Michigan basketball fans.
For one night, Feb. 18, 1999, Sparty
fans ruled Ann Arbor.
The Izzone, th' Michigan State fan
club, sent several busloads of Spartan-
friendly fans south to cheer on their
team's 73-58 victory over the Wolverines.
Michigan State not only clinched the Big
Ten title in the process, but embarrassed
the home crowd, as the Spartan fans
outcheered the Michigan faithful.
Rows of Michigan State fans lined
Crisler seats, and when the game fell out
of reach, cries of"We own Crisler" were
audible throughout the rafters.
"The Michigan fans must have been so
embarrassed," said Michigan State
sophomore Steve Young, also a member
of the Izzone. "The Michigan fans could
hardly hear their own cheersi"
This past November, the Michigan
Athletic Department tried to ensure a
Michigan atmosphere when it placed a
four-ticket purchasing limit for tonight's
Michigan State game.
To prevent further intrusion, the
department took 2,4(X) remaining tickets
offthe market in late November.
In December, ticket sales resumed, but
only for Michigan students and staff who
showed an M-Card at time of purchase.
Michigan Marketing Director Tom
Brooks deemed the ,ampaign a success,
as he expects a full pro-Michigan crowd
at the game. H is d partment also has sev-
eral pronotional giveaways, including
5,000 Jamal Crawford-style white head-
bands and a chance for a lucky student to
win a car or a free Michigan tuition.
The Maize Rage, 400 members larger
this season, also has a few select activities
planned, including handing out 7-Eleven
Big Gulp cups -to taunt Michigan State
point guard Mateen Cleaves since he was
arrested for shoplifting at a 7-Eleven last
year - and a special two-page edition of
the Full Court Press - its newsletter.
"I'm not going to class,' LSA senior
Jason McMann said. "We need a couple
hours to prepare and to paint faces. I did-
n't come to Michigan because I like Intro
to Psychology. I came here because I like
But will the Izzone make an encore
infiltration of Crisler this year?
The group will hold a pep rally outside
of Crisler Arena before the game. Some
Michigan State fans even plan to travel to
Ann Arbor without tickets.
"I know there will be a bunch of us,
maybe 100 or so, tailgating outside
Crisler," said Michigan State freshman
Sean Galvin, an Izzone member.
The Izzone won't blanket Crisler as
easily this time around due to the new
Michigan ticket policy.
"We were thinking about doing it
again, but because of the ticket limit, we
couldn't," Galvin said. "Most of us com-
ing down won't have tickets. No one I
know has tickets."
Several Izzone members denied
reports that more than 1,000 Michigan
State fans would try to engulf the pep
rally, despite Izzone president Kevin Udy
telling the Ann Arbor News yesterday
that "We will take over Crisler again."
The Izzone is planning a bus trip to
Wisconsin with 200-300 members for
Michigan State's game against the
Badgers next week.
"Wisconsin is one of the schools that
was stupid enough to sell us a lot of tick-
ets," Izzone member Cary Grimm said.
"We would have snatched (tickets) up at
Michigan too, but it wouldn't let us."
Senior All-America point guard Mateen Cleaves (12) dissected Michigan last year
at Crisler Arena in a 73-58 Spartan victory. Cleaves had 19 points in the game.
On the other hand, Gaines and
Crawford obviously have never tried to
guard or penetrate past cleaves bef ore.
"I'm a little older so I know more
tricks," the most prolific Spartan said
about facing Michigan's freshmen. "If
a guy doesn't know me yet, I want him
to get to know me real well."
Cleaves has been Michigan's
Achilles' heel ever since he turned
down a chance to play for the
Cleaves lit up the Michigan
dcfense in two Michigan State wins
last season, scoring 25 points in an
81-67 win in East Lansing, and then
scoring 19 points in a 73-58 victory
in Ann Arbor.
r aWith new faces, gymnasts vault near top of polls
By Sarah Ensor
Daily Sports Writer
Benjamin Disraeli once said that "almost
everything that is great has been done by
He must have been thinking of the Michigan
women's gymnastics team.
Many outside observers expected this to be
a rebuilding season for the No. 3 Wolverines,
the 1999 national runners-up. Michigan lost
five seniors to graduation, including five-time
All-American Nikki Peters, three-time All-
American Beth Amelkovich and Big Tin All-
Around Champion Lisa Simes.
The current roster of 16 gymnasts includes
four freshmen and five sophomores. Even
those who believed in Michigan's chance for
success this season assumed that it would take
some time for the new gymnasts to reach their
What gymnastics fans did not expect was
the caliber and competitiveness of this new
crop of Wolverines. Four of the sophomores
and three of the freshmen have stepped into the
heat of the battle, ranking among the team
leaders in almost every statistical category.
In Michigan's commanding 197.5-192.05
victory over Kentucky Friday night, the under-
classmen quickly made their presence felt.
Freshman Tara Tagliarino delivered a career-
best performance on the uneven bars, scoring a
9.925 on her way to first-place honors. She
was followed by sophomores Melissa Peterson
and Shannon MacKenzie on the balance beam.
who scored 9.95 and 9.875, respectively, to fin-
ish first and third in the event.
"I continue to be impressed with the fresh-
men and sophomores,' Michigan coach Bev ,
Plocki said after the meet. "So many of these
routines are in the lineup for the first time this
year, and they continue to go out there week
after week and really go after it."
Peterson, one of the few sophomores to
compete as a freshman last season, agreed.
"It's very hard losing over half of your rou-
tines (to graduation)," Peterson said. "But with
the strength of our freshmen, we've been able
to replace those. Everyone has been working
very hard because we know we have to step it
Freshman Janessa Grieco has been one of
those "stepping it up" since day one. She ranks
in the top three on the team on the vault, bal-
ance beam and floor exercise - consistently
scoring at least a 9.8 on each apparatus. She is
ranked in the top 10 regionally on both the
vault and the floor exercise.
Sophomores Amy Kuczera and Jodie
Rosenberg have demonstrated an equal
propensity for success. Rosenberg finished
second on the floor exercise in the Wolverines'
win over Michigan State earlier this season.
Meanwhile, Kuczera routinely ranks among
Michigan's leaders in the uneven bars.
The outstanding performances of the fresh-
men and sophomores have been recognized
and appreciated by the coaches and gymnasts.
"It's great to watch (the underclassmen), and
motivating to the rest of the team," junior
Karina Senior said. "There are a lot of people
who didn't get to compete last year. We had big
people last year, and they left, so now people
have their chance to shine - and they're shin-
With the performances of the Michigan
underclassmen helping the Wolverines achieve
the two highest team scores in the nation yet
this year, there is no telling how far this team
"I am very excited about what the future
holds for us because of the way they're com-
peting;' Plocki said. "If they continue to com-
pete the way they do, we'll get better."
A large youth movement has been a crucial reason for the
Eichigan women's gymnastics team's surprising success.
Swimmers alter routine for Big Ten finals
By Benjamin Singer
Daily Sports Writer
All season long, the importance of
- al meets has been downplayed and
referred to as "stepping stones" for the
Big Ten Championship by the
Wolverines. Last Saturday against
Indiana was more than a stepping
stone - it was a simulation.
The swimming Big Ten
Championships - which will take
place in Ann Arbor Feb. 24-26 - is on
the horizon and is Michigan's top pri-
Previously this season at Canham
*atatorium, Michigan raced in events
measured by meters instead of yards,
in preparation for the Summer
Olympics. For the first time in a home
meet this season, Michigan used yards
as the benchmark.
"We're going to stay with yards now
until after the Big Ten Championship
because the Big Ten is going to be in
yards," Michigan coach Jon
Urbanchek said. "We might as well get
used to it."
Splitting the meet up into two sepa-
rate sessions, with one starting at 10
a.m. and the other at 5 p.m., is another
attempt to imitate the championship
"It's preparation for the Big Ten
Championship because you have
morning and night," Urbanchek said.
"It's important for these guys to be
able to go two times in one day."
The home meet against Michigan
State and Ohio State next week was
originally scheduled the same way, but
the visitors decided against it so they
could go home earlier on Saturday.
Past dual meets had only 13 events,
but in these two sessions the teams
competed in a total of 19. The 800
freestyle is the only race the teams did
not swim Saturday that will be at the
The Wolverines did more than
change the meet's format.
"This meet gave people an opportu-
nity to swim their second and third
events because everybody is going to
enter three events in the Big Ten
Championship," Urbanchek said.
Michigan also used this meet to test
its weakness - relays. This was the
first time that Michigan had its best
combination of swimmers for its
"Three of the four relays were at
their season's best time, which gives us
a very good seed for the Big Ten
Championship," Urbanchek said,
"That was one of our goals today."
Senior tri-captain Scott Meyer and
freshman Tony Kurth were on all three
of the relays that finished first for
Michigan. Their fourth relay team was
disqualified because Meyer dove too
soon during the 400 medley.
"It's a mental mistake and it hap-
pens," Urbanchek said. "No big deal."
Such errors will be ironed out before
the championship now that the relay
teams will be working more together.
"Like I said earlier this year, our
relays are going to be improved a great
deal his year versus last year,"
Urbanchek said. "I think the biggest
improvement I see will be the relays
because of the addition of Kurth and
(freshman Garrett) Mangieri."
men' s swimming
team has been
changing its rou-
tine in prepara-
tion for the
upcoming Big Ten
be held in Ann
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