Tuesday, November 30, 1999 - The Michigan Daily - 13
Desperation pushes 'M' to victory
By Geoff Gagnon
Daily Sports Writer
They were desperate.
Desperate for a win, desperate to
break out of a scoring slump, desperate
for just about any sort of sign that hope
was on the way.
Saturday's non-conference test with
1eisconsin was Michigan's biggest bat-
t of the season so far, made impor-
tant by the extremes to which three
home losses can dampen a young
On a team that's grown accustomed
to winning, and in a building that's
grown so supportive of its team, losing
is something taken seriously by coach
Red Berenson's squad and something
almost unexpected by the fans at Yost
So it's not difficult to imagine what
three home losses can do to a team that
hadn't lost that many consecutive
games at home since before the fall of
the Berlin Wall Eleven seasons, nine
NCAA Tournament berths and two
national championships after the 1988-
89 season saw the Wolverines drop
four games at home, Michigan was
looking to put an end to a three-game
skid this weekend.
hat stumble included a sweep by
conference foe Lake Superior State
before being steamrolled 6-1 by
Minnesota to open the 1999 College
Hockey Showcase. All of this at home,
a place where the Wolverines lost only
four games all year last season, a place
where the 1996-97 Wolverines never
Michigan was desperate.
"We had to battle and they had to
come out and show their parents and
the fans and everyone else that they're
a better team," Berenson said.
And that challenge showed on the
faces of players like captain Sean
Peach, who led his team from its pre-
game huddle in the Michigan net
knowing it was a game his team simply
had to win.
Forget records and conference
standings, statistic totals and playoff
points. Michigan's game Saturday
night against Wisconsin was about
restoring a team's confidence and set-
ting a tone for the rest of the season.
And Michigan understood that.
"There's a lot of desperation coming
in on a three-game slide," freshman
Mark Mink said. "We were focused
and we knew what we had to do."
That desperate need to win was evi-
dent in the way Michigan clawed its
way back from behind early in the
game to dismantle a Wisconsin offense
with an inspiring defensive effort that
held the Badgers to just two shots in
the third period.
"All year we've been a good third
period team," Peach said. "So maybe
that's our secret to success, to be able
to win the third period. We definitely
did suck it up as a team to do the little
things that we had to."
And that's what made the difference
for Michigan on Saturday.
Desperate times pushed this
Michigan squad to sometimes use des-
perate measures-none more desper-
ate than those of Peach in the second
period. Peach's acrobatic effort to save
a Wisconsin goal with sheer will and
the blade of his skate exemplified just
what Saturday's game meant to the
captain and his Wolverine teammates.
Already trailing in the game, Peach
threw his body in front of a Michigan
net left ungua ded as netminder L.J.
Scarpace was racing to return to his
"That's desperation right there,"
Peach said. "It came at a time when
they were already up 1-0 and if that
puck goes in suddenly it's 2-0. I just
happened to get in front of it. I dove in
front of the net and it hit off my skate.
I was lucky."
And as Peach leads his team to
Jed Ortmeyer and the Wolverines had their backs to the wall this weekend, but
they responded with an emotion-packed victory against Wisconsin.
Continued from Page 11
Michigan did so while ranked sec-
ond-to-last in the conference with
what appeared to be no chance at a
"We could have very easily said,
'Well let's just sit at the bottom of the
Big Ten and throw the towel in,"'
Maxwell said. "But we all love to
compete and play, so we all stuck in
there for that reason."
Another big factor in the
Wolverines' selection was their non-
conference record. Michigan upset
then-No. 7 Brigham Young to start
off its season and then upset
Arkansas - ranked 16th at the time
- five matches later en route to an
8-1 non-conference record.
A 4-12 Big Ten record and a five-
match losing streak seemed to doom
Michigan to a losing record and no
chance at the NCAA Tournament.
But the resiliency that had been
Michigan's trademark all season
finally translated into wins, as a 3-1
finish brought them to a 7-13 record
in what is regarded as the nation's
toughest volleyball conference.
"We've worked extremely hard
these last couple weeks and we didn't
have to," outside hitter Nicole Kacor
said. "We continued to play hard
throughout the whole year. It's a big
relief that everything paid off."
The bid is the first since the
Wolverines' initial bid in '97. That
squad finished with a 13-7 Big Ten
record, but was 21-12 overall. That
team defeated Temple in five games
to advance to the second round of the
tournament, but was swept by Texas
A&M the next night to end
The tournament selection tops off
the Wolverines' first winning season
since '97. But the Wolverines said
they weren't nervous or overly antic-
ipating what will be for most of them
their first tournament experience.
"At this point anything can happen
and often does," Rosen said.
Bowling Green this weekend to face
the Falcons, maybe the Wolverines will
see that the real luck was in going
through an educational losing streak.
"We regrouped and we came out
with more determination," Scarpace
said of his team's 4-1 win over
In bonding together when times
seemed tough, maybe the young
Michigan squad learned more about
itself in losing than they could have in
winning. It's still unknown if despera-
tion has made Michigan a more
What the Wolverines proved with
certainty was that when the outlook
seemed bleak and forecast looked
treacherous, Michigan could deliver its
Hokies a Sugar Bowl lock; Michigan slides up to No. 9
The Associated Press
Book it: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 2
Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4.
In what will become a perfect ending
to a perfect regular season, Virginia Tech
is certain to hold off Nebraska in the
final Bowl Championship Series stand-
ings, setting up a No. I vs. No. 2 game
for the national title in New Orleans.
The Hokies (11-0) increased their sec-
ond-place lead over the Huskers from
.63 points to 1.54 points in the latest
BCS standings released yesterday. The
final BCS standings,. which determines
the teams that will play in its title game,
will be released Dec. 5.
The advantage, according to one com-
puter expert, is all but impossible to
overcome - even if Nebraska routs
Texas in Saturday's Big 12 Conference
title game in San Antonio.
"There's no suspense," Chicago-based
computer expert Jerry Palm said. "if
Nebraska wins 50-0, I'm not sure that
could overtake Virginia Tech"
From the start of the Hokies-Huskers
points battle, Virginia Tech coach Frank
Beamer has been confident the top
teams would end up in the national title
game. But until the final results are in,
he's not taking anything for granted.
"There's too much invested in the
BCS so that the two best teams will
play," Beamer said. "I personally think
one of the teams has to be Virginia Tech.
"With all the hard work by our coach-
es and all the hard work by our players, I
would be devastated if we did not make
it" The BCS standings are based on a
formula that considers The Associated
Press media poll and the USA
Today/ESPN coaches' poll, eight com-
puter rankings, strength of schedule and
Florida State and Virginia Tech are I-
2 in the AP poll and the coaches poll.
Nebraska (10-1) blew its chance to
stay close to Virginia Tech by barely
beating unranked Colorado 33-30 in
overtime last Friday. The Hokies, mean-
while, rolled to a 38-14 win over then-
No. 22 Boston College.
The results lowered the Hokies' com-
puter average and raised the Huskers'
average. Tech's strength of schedule
went from 66th toughest to 54th.
Florida State (11-0), which locked up
first place two weeks ago with a 30-23-
win over Florida, has 2.24 points - I
for poll average, I for computer rank
average, 0.24 for strength of schedule
and zero for losses.
Bowl Championship Series standings
1. Florida State 1
2. Virginia Tech 2
3. Nebraska 3
4. Florida 5
5. Tennessee 6
6. Kansas State 8
7. Alabama 7
8. Wisconsin 4
9. Michigan 9
10. Michigan St. 10
11. Texas 12
12. Marshall 11
13. Penn State. 14
14. Minnesota 13
15. Texas A&M 18
Poli Average - The average of The Associated Press media poll and USA Today-ESPN coaches poll.
Computer Average - The average of Richard Billingsley, Dunkel Index, Kenneth Massey, New York
Times, David Rothman, Jeff Sagarin, Matthews/Scripps-Howard and the Hester & Anderson/Seattle Times,
rankings. The computer component will be determined by averaging the seven highest computer rankings.
Schedule Rank - Rank of schedule strength compared to other Division [A teams divided by 25. This
component is calculated by determining the cumulative won/loss records of the team's opponent (66.6
percent) and the cumulative won/loss records of the team's opponent's opponents (33.3 percent).
Losses - One point for each loss during the season.
For a possible explanation of why
species become extinct, see...
Peter Warrick and the 'Notes will play
Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4.
UNIVERSITY ACTIVITIES CENTER
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