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February 15, 2000 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-02-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


Who's polling whom?
The new teen's and women's basketball
polls were released yesterday. Are the
women ranked? Go to the Daily Website.
michigandaily.com /sports


. a
r 10

FEBRUARY 15, 2000

Struggles new
to freshman
grappler Grant
By Jon Schwartz
Daily Sports Writer
Sometimes during Michigan wrestling meets,
usually around the time that the 125-pound match
begins, it becomes a bit cathartic to reach a con-
clusion that A.J. Grant must have done something
If one believes that his matchups were some sort
of punishment, then it becomes easier to under-
stand what Grant is going through. After all, each
of his last four matches have been against
wrestlers in the top 12 of his weightclass.
"He hasn't had an easy match," Michigan coach
Joe McFarland said of the Clarkston native.
That's putting it lightly.
Grant has truly been thrown into the fire, and in
one of the most unforgiving sports. As a true
freshman he was given no time to mature as a
Rather, he had to gain the experience on the
mat, not against other redshirted freshmen, but
against the top wrestlers in the country.
And adding to it, the 125-pound weight class in
the Big Ten is one of the toughest. There are six
representatives from the conference in the latest
Amateur Wrestling News poll, including top-
ranked Jeremy Hunter of Penn State, the team that
Michigan and Grant face this Friday in State
When Grant came to Michigan, he held the role
of star recruit. He was a wrestler that coaches
around the country salivated over while leading
competitors to nightmare-filled sleeps.
"When I came to high school, everyone said
'there's this A.J. kid from Clarkston ..." said Etai
Goldenberg, a current redshirt freshman who is
also a Michigan native. "He was just intimidating.
He had this reputation."
It was difficult for Grant to make the adjust-
ment, especially considering the fact that he felt
that he should have redshirted the season.
"I wanted to (redshirt) at the beginning," Grant
said. "But coach told me, 'It's not your choice.
You're doing fine."'
Suddenly, A.J. had to adjust to college
wrestling. And he can clearly see the differences.

Ellerbe sheds lght
in forbidden places

does Brian Ellerb
when the winter blue
on and the cobwebs p
in rooms which haven't seen th
day in years?
He conducts an early-spring r
cleaning, inviting the local bask
media into the Michigan locker
the deep annals of Crisler Arena
place where they haven't beenv
since Maurice
Taylor's infamous
car crash in 1997.y
And what a time v
for it. Ellerbe did-
n't shed light on
any breaking news
at yesterday's infor-
mal gathering, JACOB
other than claiming Wj
he didn't know
Barry Henthorn -- the Wheel
the fat-pocketed
Seattle businessman who gave J
Crawford all kinds of care pack
But he did air out a long-stan
feud between the media and hir
reclining in a black leather sofa
nearly succumbing to relaxation
Sports Information Director Tor
Wywrot passed out bottles of ju
the journalists on hand.
The past three weeks have be
continuous nightmare for Ellerb
Crisler's proverbial housemaid-
inherited a mess the minute he=
in as basketball coach three sea
ago. With the dirt of a once-elit
gram in his hands, Ellerbe hasa
been examined under a microsc
And this year's freshman clas
supposed to place Ellerbe on its
and walk out from under the mi
scope, putting the excitement b;
Michigan basketball.
But the shimmer of this pron
season faded when the Wolveri
embarked upon a murderous si>
stretch, playing four games aga
10 teams, while Crawford, Mic

Freshman A.J. Grant has struggled this Big Ten season in the 125-pound weight class, the strongest in the
conference. Things don't get any easier - he will face top-ranked Jeremy Hunter of Penn State this weekend.

e do first scoring option, sat on the bench.
s drag The media rode Ellerbe for restrict-
pile up ing access to players after the press
e light of reported rumors that Crawford might
transfer after this season. The NCAA 4
house- weakened his team because of
etball Crawford's relations with lenthorn -
room in culminating in the resignation of athlet-
a - a ic director Tom Goss. And some of
velcome America's best guards walked all over
the Wolverines on the court. Whew.
Through it all, Michigan's Big Ten
record has fallen to 3-7.
No matter what he does, the third-
year coach cannot shake the negative
spotlight. After Sunday's 21-point loss
to Indiana, for instance, Ellerbe picked
up dinner, went home to bathe the kids
and put them to bed, because his wife
Ingrid was away on business.
But the minute he sat down to review
the game tapes, his media-liaison
Wywrot called to inform him that local,
lamai TV stations and wire outlets had sug-
ages. gested Crawford's departure to the
ding NBA - a report everyone involved
m, with Michigan basketball denies.
and "It was comical," Ellerbe said vester-
while day, chuckling at the roadblocks his
M team has faced the past couple weeks,
iice for though they've thinned the few remain-
ing hairs left on his head.
en one Michigan's current six-game losing
- - streak may well have doomed this sea-
- who son, since the Wolverines probably need
stepped at least five victories for an NCAA
sons Tournament berth. And the future is far
e pro- from certain in an athletic department
always that won't be run by Goss come April.
:ope. But murderers' row is over.
ss was Michigan's schedule quickly levels off
back in the next two weeks, with games at
icro- Wisconsin and Northwestern, and hone
ack in games against Penn State and Purdue.
The worst is over, prompting Ellerbe
nising to clean house yesterday. A day of rec-
nes onciliation.
x-game - Jacob Wheeler isn't afan of cobweb-
inst top laden iromsforbidden to the media. He
higan's can be reached atjwheelerwfanich.edu

"If you had a tough match in high school, it
came down to the wire," Grant said. "Here, if you
have a tough match, you can get pinned easily.
"It's a big shift. It was a lot different in high
school. They were more afraid of me than I was of
But McFarland loves Grant's never-say-die atti-
tude. He knows that despite the difficulties, he is
still a freshman with at least three years of
wrestling ahead of him.
"The thing that I keep telling A.J. is a technique
that I used my freshman year," said McFarland, a
former star for the Wolverines at the 125-pound
class. "He's a freshman. He's got no pressure on

him. I know he's going up against some strong
competition and if he can just divert all that pres-
sure off, I think he's able to go out there and open
up a little bit more and wrestle a little bit better.
"That's all that you can expect right now."
The road will certainly not get any easier for
Grant this season with the matchup against Hunter
this weekend and the Big Ten Championships
three weeks away. But as long as he keeps on
working hard, the team sees good things coming to
him in the future.
"He's a good kid, a positive kid," McFarland
said. "I don't think that he's going to let this stuff
get him down. He's going to get his wins."

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Tuesday, Feb. 15th


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