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March 15, 2000 - Image 9

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-03-15

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wind Out when all your favorite teams

The other March Madness

A

Wind 'out when all your favorite teams
begin first-round NIT action tonight.
michigandaily.com/sports

PRS

WEDNESDAY
MARCH 15, 2000

9

'Practice corps
keeps 'M' sharp

Vignier cuts hair;'M'
takes on Notre Dame

f' Don Bth Ksher
Daly Sports Writer
What most women's basketball afi-
ionados don't know is that behind
every good woman plays a good man
- at least in this particular case.
When a want-ad ran in The
Michigan Daily at the beginning of the
school year, five juniors and one
freshman answered Michigan coach
Sue Guevara's call for some strong
recruits to play with the women's
team.
*0 .The catch - despite four or five
practices a week, the new recruits
would receive zero game time and
face the potential humiliation of the
women beating them in practice.
"That's not necessarily that impor-
tant," LSA junior Scott Ottolini said.
Just being able to practice in Crisler
Arena is reward in itself for the group.
Ottolini and his four house mates --
LSA juniors Matt Barrett, David
Knox, Matt Schettenhelm and
Engineering junior Joe Klamo -
promptly answered the ad.
LSA freshman Russell Rogan also
responded to Guevara's request. The

six have become a part of the best
women's basketball team in Michigan
history.
"They help us in a lot of ways,"
Michigan assistant coach Eileen Shea
said. "They're faster and they're
stronger. They push us and make us
play at a higher level. We can't get
away with the things that we get away
with when we play each other."
Junior point guard Anne Thorius
said the six have forced the team to
improve its patience, shooting and
passing.
"It's definitely what we need,
because if you want to go out and
play the big teams like Lousiana
Tech this year, you need to practice
against the same kind of speed and
against the same kind of strength,"
Thorius said. "That's what the guys
do for us."
Thorius said that working with the
guys has given the Wolverines a com-
petitive edge - helping Michigan win
three games over ranked opponents.
Maybe the hard work will pay off once
again this weekend as eighth-seeded
Michigan (24-7) takes on ninth-seed-
ed Stanford (20-8) in the first round of

the South Regional in the NCAA
Championships.
"I think (the guys) have helped us
all season, not necessarily just for the
postseason," senior center Alison
Miller said. "They've been pushing us
in practice all season. They're a chal-
lenge for us in practice. I think it's a
great experience for us."
Guevara, who is not the only Big
Ten women's basketball coach to use
men for the practice team, has the
same group of men for the first time in
her four years as Michigan's coach.
"It's exciting to watch them do so

Six young men
have helped the
Michigan
women's basket-
bah team gear up
for opponents.
SAM HOLLENSHEAO/Oai'
well and to be a part of it,"
Schettenhelm said.
Although his counterparts may not
necessarily agree, Schettenhelm
admits that he's a little afraid to play
some of the Wolverines one-on-one.
"A good amount of them could give
me a good game," he said.
Schettenhelm and his friends have
given Michigan a good game all sea-
son, and it will be disappointing to see
their association come to an end once
the Wolverines' season is finally over.
"I enjoyed having them," Guevara
said. "They work hard."

my J-e Whwelew
Duly Sp Edio
How fitting that Peter Vignier, the only
holdover from the Michigan basketball
team's last NIT appearance, is sporting a
brand new look for today's opening-
round game at Notre Dame.
Vignier has lopped off most of his
throwback-era afro since Michigan's last
game -a heartbreaking loss to Penn
State in the Big Tournament - even
though he scored a career-high 16 points
including a double-double
against the Nittany Lions.
At a press conference this T
past Monday, Vignier claimed Jot
he's not superstitious. But he VVo:M
did acknowledge coach Brian None
Elerbesapproval of the haircut 1ThU
- his first since November. W
"Coach must have told me 1
fnre, six times in practice how f
much he liked it;' quipped the
senior center.t
Ellerbe doesn't institute a
team dress code, but as he professed to
the media earlier this season, he is no fan
of 'wild looks'-long hair, big hair, tat-
toos or even headbands.
But there's more to Vignier's haircut
than his coach's conservative style. He
may be shedding the past.
Vignier was a meek freshman on the
1997 Michigan team that won the NIT.
After finishing the regular season with a
come-from-behind win at Ohio State,
those Wolverines felt snubbed when they
didn't receive a berth in the NCAA
Tournament.
They were angry, and that anger
pushed them through the NIT field and
into New York City for a championship,
albeit of lesser proportions.
"We're playing in this tournament and
we're gonna win it;' Vignier recalled
Robert Traylor as saying. "That was our
mindset from day one."
But analogies between the '97 squad
and this year's team are futile. The cur-
rent Wolverines held no expectations of
landing in the NCAA Tournament, espe-
cially after last week's poor performance
in the Big Ten Tournament.

Vignier, the veteran of this year's tam,
isn't giving any motivational speeches
before tonight's game in South Bend,
because he has very little material to
build upon from this season's forgettable
second half.
Instead he got a haircut.
This year Michigan (15-13) isn't the
veteran team that just missed the Big
Dance and could use that fire under the
belly to win the NIT. That's Notre Dame,
tonight's opponent.
The Fighting Irish (18-14) were a bub-
ble team that just
'N Hmissed the NCAA
ONIGHT Tournament aftar'-
YCE CENTER ishing 8-8 in the -ig
idAgm (15-13)at East conference And
e(18-14) they're upsetabout
9pa. that.
; "&Wiol "We didn'thave a
Willthe fe a"t winning record inde
league' Notre Dame
____coach Matt DoheUty
Q om.said. "But we had a
tougher schedule
than other teams in the Big East.:
"Our motivation is we've got topion
that we belong in the NCAA
Tournament. It's a tough mental process.
Maybe Michigan is proud to be in the
NIT because they weren't a bubble team
likce we were"'
The Irishboastthe BigEast p1yof
the year in forward Trry Murph=-a
franchise player who poses problems for
Michigan because he can damage his
opponent from the perimeter as well the
low post. Murphy is averaging 22.8
points and 10.8 rebounds per game.
"In the awards ceremony he might as
well just stand up on the podium while
they bring up Santa Claus' bag:"Doherty
said about the decorated sophomore.
Ellerbe said that LaVell Blanchard will
inherit the task of guarding Murphy first.
Blanchard has had some success in
defending the opponents' most danger-
ous players, notably shutting down Jason
Collier at Georgia Tech.
"But we're gonna give him an awful
lot of help" with forward Chris Young
and center Josh Asselin spelling
Blanchard, Ellerbe said.

Vancik a crucial cog of Berenson's blue line

By Unm Subramuia
Dafly Sports Writer
0 He may not be the guy who scores the
spectacular goal or throws the brusing
hit. And he may not be the player who
grabs your attention as the maize and
blue colors streak across the ice.
But this season, Jay Vancik has quietly
and solidly become one of the most criti-
cal players on the Michigan hockey team.
At the start of this 1999-2000 season,
no one knew what the Wolverines were
capable of. They had lost three impact
'l efensemen over the summer and the
questions loomed large.
The coaches knew they had three vet-
eran, tested defensemen in Dave
Huntzicker, Jeff Jillson and captain Sean

Peach. But the other three spots were
anyone's for the taking.
By the sixth game of the season, after
scoring a goal and two assists and going
plus-2, Vancik had earned himself the
fourth spot on the Michigan defensive
roster.
Six months later, Vancik has played in
37 out of Michigan's 38 contests and
become a solid, indispensable force on
the defensive front.
This past Friday against Western -
Michigan, in perhaps his finest game of
the season, Vancik went plus-4 - mean-
ing he was on the ice for every Michigan
goal and did not get scored upon.
That impressive mark was the highest
individual game plus/minus total record-
ed by any Wolverine this year.

Vancik totaled a plus-6 mark in
Michigan's CCHA playoff first-round
sweep of the Broncos - the sophomore
now leads the team with a plus-29 total
on the season.
All this from a guy who last year did-
n't play in the final two months of the
season.
Vancik "is a guy who has had to step
up big time this year and step into impor-
tant roles," Michigan coach Red
Berenson said. "He's done a good job,
and he's a very coachable player."
Vancik's teammates have also noticed
his progression and have confidence in
the fact that he will make the crucial
stops when he's on the ice.
"Vancik has been playing well in the
second half of the year and all year;'

Peach said. "You can't say enough about
him. He's been rock solid."
Vancik's rise through the Michigan
hockey ranks in many ways resembles the
Little Engine that CouldA trek up the hill.
He was the unproven player who stepped
in and has climbed his way to the top.
"I played a lot last summer and gained
my confidence back," Vancik said. "I
knew I could play, it was just a matter of
getting confidence. I had a pretty good
start in the first few games and my confi-
dence just kept rolling on and built up
ever since."
That quiet confidence is an important
element for a defenseman. Defensemen,
according to Berenson, are often times
judged not by the positive statistics they
See VANCIK, Page 10

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