Big Ten passing leaders
illinois' Kurt Kittner coulJ spell trouble
for Michigan this Saturday. GC on the
Daily Sports Website to investigate.
Uf t iut ID a
SEPTEMBER 21, 2000
Coaches like 'M'.
to claim CCHA
No suinse: Olympi'c
ratings down i US
am going to be completely honest
here. I have only seen one Olympic
event all week.
I flipped on the television in my room
just in time to see Brooke Bennett and
Diana Munz, both United States natives,
Win the gold and silver medals, respec-
tively, in the 400 meter freestyle event.
Four years ago - when the Olympics
were in Atlanta - I remember watching
for hours each day.
I remember seeing the women's gym-
nastics team strike gold and whiny Ken-y
Strug hitting her vault routine on only
one good ankle, then being lifted up by
coach Bela Karolyi to receive her gold
medal. I remember those melodramatic
documentaries featuring odd athletes
with stranger lifestyles. I remember Tom
Dolan fighting allergies to win the U.S.'s
first gold medal of the games, edging
out fellow Wolverine Eric Namesnik in
the 400 individual medley.
Four years later Karolyi is still
screaming on behalf of the women's
gymnastics team, the melodramatic doc-
umentaries receive more airtime and
Dolan continues his success with two
more gold medals - or so I've read.
It seems one could relive that excite-
ment from the Atlanta games all over
again this year,r ight? Wrong. A more
accurate assessment of this year's games
is most Americans are just like myself.
The Olympics are taking a backseat.
.The ratings for the Olympics have
dropped 32 percent from four years ago
when the games were held in Atlanta.
What's worse is this year's ratings
don't even measure up to the extremely
low approximation made by the NBC
Sports Chairman before the Sydney
Olympics began -- which was still 25
percent less than the Atlanta ratings.
Advertisers on NBC must be furious
that 2 million fewer people are tuning in
for the Olympics than originally
promised when they signed the deal.
I knew this would happen. Anyone
could have predicted this. If you didn't
predict this, I'll let you in on a little hint
jor the future. There are three ways to
tell if the Olympic ratings will flop.
Reason No. 1: 1 will restate the obvi-
ous. Not a single competition has been
held live on NBC. The network chose to
tape delay everything in order to height-
en its ratings. This obviously didn't
work and actually forced avid Olympic
viewers to turn away from NBC and
towards CBC - channel 9 on most
televisions - for live coverage.
There is not one person who would
rather watch a taped sporting event than
one live. It would be like sitting through
that agonizing Michigan-UCLA game
again after knowing the outcome.
Reason No. 2: This one is almost as
obvious - its fall, not summer here in
the U.S: It may be summer in Australia,
but the 90-degree temperatures are long
gone here. And so are the days of limit-
ed televised sporting events.
During our summer, fans consume
themselves with baseball -- its all that's
on. There are the occasional golf and
tennis matches, and the WNBA has its
two-month stint, but baseball reigns
king among summer sports.
Now, college football reigns king on
college campuses, baseball enters the
playoffs and the NFL is in full swing.
To sum this one up, the summer
forces people to watch the Olympics -
other than baseball, its all that's on.
Reason No. 3: This one is a little less
obvious. The women's gymnastics team,
falling to injury, failed to medal this year.
That should come as no surprise. I
remember the hype around the Atlanta
squad with Shannon Miller, Dominique
Moceanu, Dominique Dawes and unfor-
tunately, Kerry Strug. And the drama
that went along with that team made the
sport almost a soap opera.
Now, the women's gymnastics team is
unknown, and rightfully so. It finished a
distant fourth, and Michigan recruit
Elise Ray topped the U.S. qualifiers for
the individual all-around at No. 14.
When the women's team won gold in
Atlanta, NBC received its highest view-
er ratings in that Olympics. For some
reason, Americans love their female
gymnasts. And if you can't watch them
succeed, why watch them at all?
-- Stephanie Often can be r1-ached at
sOff fenl(U~umich. edu.
Michigan State freshman Amy Sibbernsen wards off a Sarah Behnke spike
last night at Jenison Fleidhouse in East Lansing.
In 5-game battle
By Joe Smith
Daily Sports Wter
DETROIT - The preliminary hear-
ing is over, and the opening statement of
CCHA coaches is ringing loud and
For the sixth time in the last seven
years, Michigan is the favorite to repeat
as CCHA Champions, after receiving
I 1 of the 12 possible first-place votes in
yesterday's annual coaches' preseason
poll. The Wolverines then flip-flopped
with Michigan State, as they finished a
close second to the Spartans in the
media poll - just seven points shy of
the defending CCHA tournament cham-
This isn't anything new for the
Wolverines, as high expectations and
Michigan hockey go hand in hand. The
program has won more national titles
than any other school (nine) and has
reached the Frozen Four in six of the
past nine seasons.
But Michigan coach Red Berenson
knows that the trial hasn't even begun
with the season still more than two
"We're flattered to be ranked that
high with the coaches and media,"
Berenson said. "But the team that ends
up in first place has to do more than
look good on paper - they really have
to put it together on the ice every night."
The players echoed their coach's
opinion after practice yesterday.
"Once the first puck drops in the first
game of the year - that's when it starts
and when we find out who's going to be
first in the league;" captain Geoff Koch
said. I really don't think it has any real
bearing except for being a nice flattery."
Facing the largest and longest sched-
ule in team history, the Wolverines are
without the option of a plea bargain -
every team in the highly-competitive
CCHA will be gunning for the Maize
and Blue. The Wolverines must go to
war with last year's top three teams -
Michigan State, Northern Michigan,
and Lake Superior - four times a
The Lakers proved last season that no
team in the CCHA is a pushover.
Predicted to finish eighth, Lake
Superior proved everyone wrong by
beating the Wolverines twice and then
sweeping Northern Michigan on the
CCHA Coaches Preseason Poll
1.Michigan (11) 143
2.Michigan State (1), 132
4.Lake Superior 97
5.Notre Dame 92
7.Ferris State 74
8.Northern Michigan 71
9.Bowling Green 49
10.Ohio State 44
11;Western Michigan 34
12.Alaska Fairbanks 15
CCHA Media Preseason Poll
1'. Michigan St.(19) 467
2. Michigan (20) 460
3. Lake Superior 350
4. Northern Michigan 343
5. Nebraska-Omaha (1)315
6. Notre Dame 270
7. Bowling Green 222
8. Ferris State 202
9. Miami (1) 183
10. Ohio State 163
11. Western Michigan153
12. Alaska Fairbanks 70
By Richard Haddad
Daily Sports Writer
EAST LANSING - Last night,
the biggest rivalry match in the Big
Ten coincided with the conference
opener. It was promoted as the night
to "jam Jenison," and 2,096 Spartan
faithful did just that, packing Jenison
Field House to see No. 23 Michigan
visit No. 17 Michigan State.
The vast majority of those 2,096
- the ones dressed in green and
white - left Jenison satisfied. The
Spartans outlasted the Wolverines in
a five-game marathon, 15-11, 11-15,
13-15, 15-6, 15-5. Michigan was out-
hit (.243 to .165) and outblocked (16
Michigan started the match
promisingly. The first three games
went back and forth, and the
Wolverines scored four straight
points to take the first game on a
Sarah Behnke kill.
The second game played out simi-
larly, with the conclusion providing
the contrast. This time, Michigan
State jumped ahead after a tic at
seven. Michigan put up a valiant
attempt, and Shannon Melka dove
for the ball at game point in an effort
to survive, but the ball went out of
bounds with Michigan's hopes for a
win. Game three saw a streak of
surges. After Michigan scored the
first two points, the Spartans reeled
off six straight before a vicious kill
by Michigan's Nicole Kacor ended
the Green-and-White rally and
spurred Michigan to roar back with a
vengeance, going up 13-8.
But the Spartans stopped making
the long hits and weak blocks that
had allowed Michigan to come back,
and State proceeded to close out the
game without letting the Wolverines
chalk up another tally. Michigan did-
n't play State's final serve, thinking it
was too far, but the ball landed pre-
cisely in the corner of the court, pro-
viding a bitter ending to a game that
Michigan should have won.
See STATE, Page 13A
final weekend to take third place.
"There's a fine line between a team
finishing eighth and a team finishing
fourth," Berenson said. "It could be just
one point, one game, one injury or even
just one break that decides it. That's how
competitive this league is"
Only time will tell for the Wolverines,@
who start their trial next Friday with an
intrasquad exhibition game at Yost Ice
Arena. The Wolverines will then have
one week to prepare for the Ice Breaker
Tournament, with Michigan hosting
perennial powers New I Hampshire and
defending national champion North
When the season is over and the final
verdict is in, many coaches agree that
Michigan has enough firepower wit
their returning representatives to be o#
top - even without last year's leading
scorer Mike Comrie.
"I think Michigan will be outstanding
this year," Lake Superior coach Scott
Borek said. "They're less predictable
now without Comrie, which makes
them even more dangerous. I expect
Michigan to be in the top three in the
country from the preseason poll all the
way up to the end.