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February 10, 2000 - Image 9

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2000 football schedule
* Wolverines will not be competing
in the Kickoff Classic next season, but
check out who their competition will
be on the Daily Sports website.
michigandaily.com/sports

SPORTS

THURSDAY
FEBRUARY 10, 2000

9A

IM bows out of
Kickoff Classic

Blue falls to Illinois;
basketball skid at 5

By Chris Duprey
Daily Sports Editor

By Stephanie Offen
Daily' Sports Editor
*eports last month suggested that
Michigan would accept an invitation
to play in the 2000 Kickoff Classic if
a suitable opponent could be found.
But yesterday, the Michigan
Athletic Department said an agree-
ment could not be reached with the
National Association of Collegiate
Directors of Athletics and the Classic,
so the Wolverines will not be compet-
at the Meadowlands on August
it "
Ii January, Michigan expressed
interest in competing in the Classic,
but turned down the option of facing
last season's national runner-up
Virginia Tech, according to a report in
the 'Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. The
newspaper added that another Big
East team, Boston College, was
approached by the Classic, but
declined.
that time coach Lloyd Carr told
the Detroit News that there wasn't
incentive to play the hardest schedule
in the-nation anymore.
Despite finishing No. 75 in the
BCS strength-of-schedule rankings,
Wisconsin finished first in the Big
Ten and earned a trip to the Rose
Bowl.
The Wolverines, who defeated the
Bs ers 21-16, finished second in
st gth of schedule. Even with the
difficult schedule, Michigan finished
the regular season at No. 8, four spots
behind Wisconsin.
But in the 2000 season, the

Wolverines face weaker non-confer-
ence teams then in the past. This
served as incentive for Michigan's
initial interest in playing the extra
game, along with a wish to gain East
Coast exposure.
Michigan will not face recent non-
conference foes such as Notre Dame,
Syracuse or Colorado, but instead
will compete against Bowling Green,
UCLA and Rice, none of which were
ranked at the end of last season.
Even though this decision came
one day after the resignation of
Athletic Director Tom Goss,
Michigan's associate athletic director
for media relations, Bruce Madej,
said the two were unrelated. Since the
Athletic Department is in the midst of
their "scheduling season," it was nec-
essary that the decision be finalized,
Madej said.
"The decision was a mutual agree-
ment between both parties that we
would not play this year," Sports
Information Director David Ablauf
said. "This decision does not influ-
ence our participation in the Kickoff
Classic in the future"
The Kickoff Classic scheduling
process was being handled by
Assistant Athletic Director Warde
Manuel, Goss' second-in-command.
Manuel reiterated Ablauf's senti-
ments in a written statement. But a
future in the Classic for the
Wolverines may not be a probability.
Prior to this season, the NCAA voted
to end all pre-season games in 2002,
giving Michigan only two more
chances to participate.

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f ^...
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"
.

AP PHOTO
Toasted in Champaign: Leon Jones and the Michigan basketball team extended
their losing streak to five games last night against Illinois.
Ellerbe's technical a
m arty r-w orthy -move

CHAMPAIGN - What a story it
would've been. The Michigan bas-
ketball team, facing adversity on the
road against Illinois and facing
adversity at home off the court, bat-
tles hard enough to squeak out a win,
righting its ship for a possible late-
season stretch run.
But it never happened for the
Wolverines. They blew a nine-point
first half lead and couldn't fight
their way back after affording
Illinois the same privilege. The
result was their fifth straight loss, a
75-59 decision to the Fighting Illini
(6-4 Big Ten, 14-7 overall) at
Assembly Hall last night.
The last four of those losses were
all blowouts, decided by at least 16
points.
Down just six at the half and still
breathing, the right ingredients for a
comeback always seemed to elude
Michigan's grasp. Sometimes it was
a single rebound, a single loose ball.
Other times it seemed like a single
player.
With or without Jamal Crawford
- now three games into his six-
game suspension - Illinois used its
classic aggressive defense to bully
the Wolverines, contesting shots
every time down the floor and mak-
ing life very tough for a Michigan
team depleted mentally as well as
physically.
"We know Crawford's a very good
player, but it doesn't really change
what you do" defensively, Illinois
coach Lon Kruger said. "It gives
them one less quality player to work
into their rotation, so it probably
affected them more."
Fatigued and foul-plagued
Michigan dug in as best it could in
the second half, but Michigan fought
a losing battle. Cory Bradford kept
the Wolverines in check with 22
points and no turnovers, while back-
court companion Frank Williams
added a variety pack of eight points,
five rebounds and seven assists -
all while avoiding a single turnover
himself.
Bits at a time, Illinois amassed a
10-point lead after halftime, one that
it never surrendered. The Wolverines
(3-6, 12-8) drew to within 57-50
with 7:15 left in the game, but that
was all they could do. Michigan was
missing that push over the top, the
one it had the last time against
Illinois.
This wasn't like the Wolverines'
last three gaines, in which they were
purely overmatched against Indiana,
Michigan State and Ohio State. In
yesterday's contest, Michigan had
the opportunity early to assert its
presence.

Michigan opened up a 12-3 advan-
tage with 11:48 left in the first half,
thanks to unusually poor shooting by
Illinois on its home court (1-for-10
in the initial 8:12 of the game,
including 0-for-6 marksmanship
from 3-point range).
"It was an unusual beginning to a.
game," Kruger said. "When you're at
home, you hate to see a game start
like that. It puts everyone to sleep a
little bit. I thought the guys handled
that pretty well."
Had the Wolverines hit a few shots
and kicked Illinois while the home
team was down, maybe Brian
Ellerbe's team would've pulled out
its most timely road win of the sea-
son. Instead, it sang a sad song that
would've made Elton John proud.
Soon, the game followed the same
plot line of the past three weeks.
Fouls piled up on Michigan's key
players, as Josh Asselin and Kevin
Gaines, pivotal parts of the
Wolverines' Jamal Crawford-less
offense, were saddled with three
apiece.
Ellerbe was forced to play pick-a-
mix with his lineup, trying to fill the
voids left by the constant foul trouble.
And Illinois began to stow points away
like a squirrel sensing winter- a cou-
ple of free throws here, a three-point
play there - and the Wolverines were
left to pick up the pieces of yet anoth-
er conference defeat.

Gymnasts face N 2
Georgia at Crisler

By arahEnsor
Daily Sports Writer
The air at the No. 3 Michigan women's
gymnastics team's practice facility has a
decidedly different feel this week.
The Wolverines typically spend the
week between meets focusing solely on
th oals of achieving a
new season-high team ToM
score and improving indi- CRIsLE
vidual performances. WhoNo2 C
There is hardly a mention No. h
of the next foe, regardless When:7 p.m.
of caliber, as the Crsler Arena
Wolverines generally pay Latest: Michij
very little heed to their pled Georgia k
opponent until meeting NCAAtitle. F
them out on the floor. the meet for &
Not this time.
Ore is no pretense of indifference
and no attempt to suppress emotion as
Michigan heads into tomorrow's
matchup with No. 2 Georgia at Crisler
Arena. This is one meet that the
Wolverines want to win badly.
"I definitely think (that the mood is
different)," Michigan coach Bev Plocki
said. "We pretty much try to focus on our
own performances regardless of the
op ent we compete against, but there's
nonying the fact that the adrenaline
level goes a little higher when you know
the competition is Georgia and you know
that they beat us by a mere three-tenths of
a point last year for the national champi-
onship. I definitely think the adrenaline
will be pumping."
Georgia has become one of
Michigan's nemeses as of late, the one
team against whom the Wolverines have
never managed a victory. No matter how
tal d and well-prepared Michigan is,
the ym Dogs always seem to be one
step ahead.
In last year's NCAA Championships,
Michigan trailed Georgia by only 0.325
points heading into the final rotation of

competition. Michigan senior Nikki
Peters scored a 9.95 on the uneven bars,
helping the Wolverines to an apparatus
score of 49.275. When Gym Dog
Caroline Harris stepped out of bounds on
her floor routine, it looked as though the
Wolverines would claim the first
women's team national championship in

ORROW
R ARENA
Georgia at
rn
)tomorrw at
igan nearly top-
ast year for the
Free t-shirts at
he first 500 fans.

Michigan athletic history.
But Georgia roared
back with a 49.25 on the
floor to capture the title by
0.3 points and shatter the
upstart Wolverines' hope
of an upset. Georgia went
home to Athens with its
fifth national champi-
onship in 12 years.
Meanwhile, Michigan
came home to Ann Arbor

By Chris Duprey
Dally Sports Editor
CHAMPAIGN - For one point,
Brian Ellerbe bought his Michigan team
some self-respect.
Ellerbe, upset at the way his
Wolverines had been nickel-and-dimed
all night by the referees, blew his stack
with 16:06 left in the second half vester-
day and received a technical foul from
referee Jerry Petro for his negative
enthusiasm.
Here's what set Ellerbe off- With the
Wolverines trying to keep Illinois from
busting the game wide open in the sec-
ond half, Michigan guard Kevin Gaines
took off on a break. As is Gaines' cus-
tom, the freshman drove to the hole
without fear. En route, two Illini bumped
Gaines hard at the hip and sent him fly-
ing.
The Michigan guard went down with
a thud. The basketball bounced harm-
lessly to an Illinois player, who began a
fast break of his own. The referees had
their arms at their sides, their whistles
dangling from their necks.
No call.
Ellerbe was livid. He stormed up and
down the Michigan sideline, strutting
like a marionette to show his displea-
sure. Then Ellerbe turned away from the
theatrical and went for the verbal
demonstration. lie cornered Petro and
barked his thoughts as Illinois rushed the
ball back upcourt.
Petro, tiring of the conversation, blew
his whistle and teed up Ellerbe. The
Assembly Hall crowd roared its
approval.
With Petro obviously not taking too
kindly to his argument, Ellerbe went to

work on his partner, Mike Sanzere,
telling him that "This is comedy" and a
few other choice lines. Sanzere shrugged
his shoulders and walked away, uninter-
ested in Ellerbe's point of view.
"I didn't really say anything. I just
said 'That was a block' and I ran (up
the sideline)," Ellerbe said. "I guess I
can't run.-
But Ellerbe's point had been regis-
tered with the whistleblowers, and they
took note. All it cost was a point, thanks
to a Frank Williams miss on one of the
technical free throws. The lead was just
10, 42-32. The Wolverines were alive
again.
All of a sudden, the ticky-tack
fouls began racking home on the
home team, not the Wolverines.
Loose ball scrambles began to result
in Illinois fouls, the same calls that
had been going against Michigan ear-
lier. The Illini had seven team fouls
by the 13:15 mark, helping Michigan
stay in the game and keep within
striking distance.
Sure, the technical might have seemed
like a dumb thing for Ellerbe to do at the
time. For a point, though, it was a bar-
gain. It gave the Wolverines some fire,
and a little bit of momentum to boot.
"I usually don't get techs," Ellerbe
said. "They don't listen to a young guy
in this league."
The Wolverines didn't win the game.
But that doesn't mean the technical was-
n't worthwhile. Petro and Sanzere work
quite a few of Michigan's games.
Maybe, down the line, they'll give
Ellerbe a little more respect than a third-
year coach is supposed to receive.
And for just a single point, that's quite
a good buy.

FG FT REB
MIN M-A M-A O-T A F PTS
Groninger 27 2-7 0-0 1-4 0 2 4
Blanchard 27 1-5 3-6 1-6 1 4 5
Asseln 8 0-1 0-0 0.3 0 3 0
Jones 36 3.11 4-7 1-3 1 4 12
Gaines 35 4-16 7-10 0-3 3 3 15
Hunter 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 (
Smith 26 4-6 1-4 2.3 1 3 9
Young 16 2-2 4-6 1-4 0 2 8
Anderson 5 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 3 0
Vignier 19 2-3 2-2 1-4 2 3 6
Totals 200 18-51 21-35 8-39 8 27 59
FG%: .353 FT%:.600 3-point FG: 2-15, .133(Jones 2-
6, Gaines 0-5, Gfoninger 0.4). Blocks: 2 (Asselin,
Vignier). Steals: 2 (Groninger, Jones) Turnovers: 15
Gaines 5,Jones 4, Blanchard 2, Smith 2, Anderson,
Vignier).
Technical Fouls: 1, bench.
ILLINOIS (75)
FG FT REB
MIN M-A M-A OT A F PTS
Johnson 23 1-4 7-8 2-4 2 2 9
McClain 26 1-6 4-4 0-8 0 2 6
Cook 19 3-7 1-2 1-3 1 5 8
Bradford 37 6-13 6-11 2-4 1 1 22
Williams 33 2-6 4-6 1-5 7 1 8
Chukwudebe 10 01 1-2 0-1 0 0 1
Mast 1 0-1 0-0 .0-1 0 0 0
Cross 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Archibald 2 0-0 0-0 0-0- 0 2 0
Harrington 8 0-2 0-0 0-0 1 2 0
Brown 12 1-5 1-1 1-2 1 3 3
Kuaija 13 3-6 3-5 2-3 0 2 10
Grii 1s 2-4 4-4 0-3 0 4 8
Totals 200 19-55 31-43 9-35 13 24 75
FG%:.345 FTI: .721 3-point FG: 6-20 300 (Bradford
4-10, Cook 1-3, Krupalija 1-2, Brown 0-3, Johnson 0-1,
Williams 0-1). Blocks: 3 (Cook 2, Griffin) Steals: 7
(Wiliams 3. McClain 2. Bradford, Harngton).
Turnovers: 9 (McClain 3, Johnson 2, Cook.
Chukwudebe, Mast, Griffin). Technical Fouls: none.

Michigan ......28
Illinois..................34

31 - 59
41 - 75

At: Assembly Hal
Attendance: 15,539

with the runner-up trophy, determined to
eventually finish what it started in Salt
Lake City.
Tomorrow the Wolverines' chance to
do that begins. While the Michigan gym-
nasts deny the presence of a revenge fac-
tor, they do admit that beating Georgia is
one of the team's goals.
"Nobody likes to lose," senior captain
Sarah Cain said. "It's a new year, we have
a new team, they have a new team, so
we'll just see how it goes."
This may be one of Michigan's best
chances ever to finally defeat the Gym
Dogs.- The season averages of the two
schools are only 0.367 points apart, and
Michigan's score of 197.5 against
Kentucky is higher than Georgia's sea-
son-best. While the Wolverines fell to the
Gym Dogs earlier this year in the Super
Six Challenge, they feel that the time is
right for a victory.
"A lot of our young kids are continu-
ing to grow and mature and understand
what collegiate gymnastics is all about,"
Plocki said. "I'll be very eager for this
rematch and see how the kids respond the
second time around."

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