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October 12, 2000 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-10-12

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A different kind of court
I's been a wild week off the hardwood
for several NCAA notables. For a look
at who won't be suiting up, check
online.

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TS

THURSDAY
OCTOBER 12, 2000

michigandaily.comn/sports

Icers head north for
Anchorage tourney

f'I,..

STEPHANIE
OFFEN

By Amn Gopal
D~aily Sports Wrier

The Michigan ice hockey team is hit-
ting the road this weekend.
More precisely, it is hitting the friend-
ly skies - the Wolverines are off to
Anchorage, Alaska, for the Johnson
Nissan Classic, a tournament also featur-
ing Michigan State, Merrimack, and
host Alaska-Anchorage.
Though this is Michigan's first visit to
Anchorage, a trip to Alaska has become
aneagerly-anticipated yearly tradition for
the Wolverines.
Players and coaches alike enjoy the
opportunity to get away for a few days
and develop better team unity.
"It's good for team bonding," senior
forward Mark Kosick said. "It's always a
lot of fun. You're tired when you get
home, but hopefully we can go up there,
play really well and have fun doing it."
As pleased as Kosick is to be returning
to Alaska, the experience is even more
exciting for Michigan's freshmen.
Last weekend, defensemen Andy
-Burnes and Mike Komisarek and for-
wards Joe Kautz and David Wyzgowski
were introduced to top-level Division I
hockey in a big way with games against
Colgate and North Dakota.

This weekend will be another first for
the youngsters - their first road trip.
"It should be pretty exciting,"
Komisarek said. "It's the first game on
the road for us -I think all the guys are
excited."
Junior goaltender Josh Blackburn still
remembers the excitement of visiting
Alaska as a freshman two seasons ago.
As a result, he understands the eager-
ness of the Wolverines' current crop of
freshmen to make this trip and shares
some of their sentiments.
"I went there my freshman year and 1
grew up there," Blackburn said. "So I
look forward to going there again."
A trip to Alaska can be quite a shock
for someone who has never been there
before.
A freshman making his initial voyage
to the Last Frontier - like Burnes -
must rely on his veteran teammates for
wisdom and advice on how to deal with
the differences between Ann Arbor and
Anchorage.
"The guys haven't really told me what
to expect up there, other than it being
cold," Burnes said.
"We're expecting to have a little fun -
I know it's going to be another week of
being a freshman. They haven't told me
what they're going to do to me yet, but I

Northwestern out ofthe
cellar and smelling roses,

4i-

BRANDON SEDLC
John Shouneyla and the Wolverines may need warmer hats in Anchorage this
weekend as they open play in the Johnson Nissan Classic.

hear I'm not supposed to go to sleep on
the plane, so I'll be ready for some sleep
when I get back here."
The fatigue factor is one of the biggest
obstacles for any team traveling to

Alaska. There is a four-hour time differ-
ence between Anchorage and Ann Arbor,
which is why the team departed for
Anchorage yesterday. The players' ability
See ALASKA, Page 9A

The Northwestern football pro-
gram reminds me of The Bad
News Bears. Not because the
Wildcats are a no-talent, rag-tag squad
or because they brought in blue-chipper
Tatum O'Neal to save this year's team.
It's simply because the Wildcats -
like the Bears - are the perennial
underdog that you can't help but root
for.
It's the kind of team you love because
a few of years ago there was talk of
dropping out of the Big Ten to focus on
academics. Yes, academics.
But two bowl victories later, the
Wildcats remained in the conference.
It's the kind of team you love because
its idea of potential NCAA violations is
when star running back Darnell Autry,
a theater major, wanted to try out for a
motion picture.
Was he receiving special benefits
because of his athletic ability? No, he
just had an interest in acting.
It's the kind of team you love because
practice is open to the fans. Friends of
the players bring them sandwiches and
hugs to give after their hard work.
A friend of my parents watched the
Wildcats practice a couple weeks ago.
It was 4:30 p.m. and practice was about
to start. But there were only 12 players
throwing around the football.
This friend signalled to a team man-
ager to come over.
"Where is everyone?" he asked.
The student manager snickered.
"Excuse me," the manager respond-
ed. "These are student-athletes. They
are in class and will be here soon."
Class? Important? But for these con-
ference bottom-dwellers - at least in
the past - that is why they are going to
college. Most of these players won't go
on to the NFL, and until this year, these

players were going to leave this univer-
sity without a bowl ring on their finger.
These are true student-athletes. The,,.
kind you can't help to root for. The ons
you can't help but pull for.
Who knew all that pulling would pay
off this season?
Randy Walker did. In some ways hg
is the Tatum O'Neal of the turnaroun*
The two-year old coach took last yea
3-8 Northwestern squad (1-7, 10th ih
the Big Ten) and turned them complete-
ly around.
He did some research in the offsea-
son because he knew this team needed
a makeover - as soon as possible..
Instead of just wallowing in the sor-
row of being "that team everyone can,
beat," he introduced the team to a com-
pletely new offense - one that no Big
Ten team has been able to beat. One 1
used when he coached Miami (Ohio) to
a conference championship before be
came to Northwestern.
His no-huddle, spread offense caught
both opposing teams and critics off-
guard this season as the 22nd-ranked..,
Wildcats are currently undefeated in the
Big Ten. Nobody thought he could do it.
Pollsters picked Northwestern to fin-
ish 10th or 11th in the conference. An
now the Wildcats may smell roses -r
rather than the musty basement of the
Big Ten.
But there are no Heisman candidates
(at least for this year) on this squad.
There are no first-round picks in the
NFL draft. There is just an enthusiastie
head coach and some enthusiasticarld,
tricky student-athletes.
And that's why I love them.
- Stephanie Offen will be pullingfr
Northwestern to beat the crap out
Purdue this weekend. She can e
reached at soffen@urniched.

Michigan faces tough 'Tobacco Road' ahead
Blyenjamin Singer The Tar Heels handed the Wolverines its only loss, 4- Marcia Pankratz said. "But we're at that level, too. We
Daily Sports Writer 2 on Sept. 3. It marked the only time Michigan has play to be challenged."

The NCAA tournament hasn't started yet, but it's
hard to tell looking at the remainder of Michigan's
schedule. The field hockey team has four ranked oppo-
nnhts ahead and plays the first three on the road.
NThis weekend's trip is to Tobacco Road, where the
ACC is as dangerous in field hockey as it is in basket-
ball. No. 5 Michigan faces No. 3 North Carolina, fol-
owed by a game at No. 4 Wake Forest.
In Michigan's third game of the season, North
Carolina gave the Michigan defense its toughest chal-
enge yet.

allowed more than two goals in a game this season. It is
also the only match in which a Michigan goalie has
seen more than six shots on goal - junior goalie
Maureen Tasch faced 16 shots.
"We're a totally different team since the first time we
faced North Carolina," junior defender Ashley Thomas
said. "We make the little adjustments that we have to so
we don't face those shots on goal. That's all the way
down from the forwards to the backfield to the goalies."
Still, Michigan hasn't seen competition like the Tar
Heels since, well, the Tar Heels.
"Carolina is on another level," Michigan coach

Michigan resumes its Big Ten schedule at No. 6 Penn
State the following week.
The regular season rounds out at home against
Michigan State.
With the Spartans sporting a mediocre 6-5 record, the
game almost seems like a breather before the Big Ten
Championships. But with the No. 18 ranking in the
country, as Pankratz pointed out, Michigan State is a
good team.
More importantly, the Spartans are a Big Ten foe.
"We have to beat Michigan State to be in the Big Ten
See FELD HOCKEY, Page 9A

m

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