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November 15, 2000 - Image 10

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-11-15

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JoId shines
Fpxer Michigan linebacker Ian Gold
S dtfllisbest game as a pro Monday
night. Go online to read about it.
ichigandaily.com/sports

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WEDNESDAY
NOVEMBER 15, 2000

10

CHRIS
DUPREY

Blanchard practices;
may start in opener

and

pray'

Oakland too
ig or MidCon
fter just two seasons as a Division I basketball
program, tiny Oakland University in Rochester,
Mich., is faced with the prospect of outgrowing
,it peers.
Coach Greg Kampe spent 14 years leading Oakland's
program in Division II competition, and his success
entitled him to take the Golden Grizzlies - then nick-
.named the Pioneers, much to the fright of no one - into
Division I play, beginning in the .1998-99 season.
" Oakland joined the Mid-Continent Conference upon
its entry into Division I. One of the stipulations in its
agreement to join the MidCon was that the Golden
.Grizzlies were not allowed to represent the league by
taking its automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, if
they were to win it.
. That transitionary period would last two years, after
which Oakland would be granted all the rights associat-
ed with conference membership.
Mere legalese, most thought. There's no way the
Qlden Grizzlies would even be competitive in the
-*#4idCon, much less challenge for its championship. That
Itwo years' clause wouldn't even come into play.
i Not so, said Kampe and his team. After finishing 8-8
, In the MidCon in its inaugural season, Oakland stormed
' 1o an 11-5 record last year, good enough for the league
title.
~ Of course, per its agreement, Oakland and its 13-17
t overall record were left home for the NCAA
;" ournament. Instead, Valparaiso took the automatic bid
ind was destroyed in the first round against eventual
Champion Michigan State.
This season is the first in which Oakland is a full
*VidCon member. In just two seasons of Division I play,
3:he Golden Grizzlies have transformedrthemselves into
x* :erennial contenders for an NCAA berth.
Oakland must now consider its next transition -
ifinding a way to get out of the conference it just got
$nto. The MidCon is too weak, as evidenced by its Jeff
:agarin rating. The league is ranked 23rd out of 31 con-
* erences.
This will prove costly when Oakland does actually
J ake it to the NCAA Tournament. The low rating of its
uc will inevitably doom the Golden Grizzlies to
serving as one of the field's four No. 16 seeds.
M Oakland will always be fodder for a No. I seed, and
because of that, it will never make it past the first
round. Even moving up to a No. 14 or 15 would give it a
better chance of pulling an upset.
Kampe does everything he can to boost his team's
strength-of-schedule numbers. Oakland doesn't duck
anybody. This vear the Golden Grizzlies play Michigan
(this Friday in Rochester), at Michigan State, at Detroit
and at Cincinnati.
But playing a brutal schedule can only help so much.
Weak MidCon programs like Western Illinois, Indiana-
Purdue-Indianapolis and Chicago State drag Oakland
down in the Sagarin ratings. Meanwhile, Oakland is
killing itself night in and night out against some of
America's toughest programs, almost always on the road,
trying to make a stand.
The Mid-American and Midwestern Collegiate
Conferences are Oakland's best options for transferring.
Both are locally based. The Golden Grizzlies are used to
the level of competition in each league, having played
schools like Western Michigan and Bowling Green
(MAC), as well as Detroit and Wright State (MCC).
Either of the two conferences would be a step up for
Oakland. The MAC was rated ninth in last season's
Sagarin ratings, ahead of the Atlantic 10 and the WAC.
The MCC came in a very solid 14th.
To be polite and honor the commitment it made,
Oakland will probably end up spending another five
years in the MidCon. In that time, it will try to establish
itself as an NCAA Tournament regular while improving
against the top-tier programs in Michigan.
The day is coming when Oakland will need to jump
ship to the MAC or MCC. If Kampe'continues the fore-
thought that got him where he is today, he'll be prepared
for the move.
- Chris Duprey can be reached at cduprevyumich.eeh.

.
:: :

By Dan Williams
Daily Sports Writer
LaVell Blanchard participated
in a full practice yesterday and it
appears he will play in the
Michigan men's basketball team's
first regular-season game at
Oakland Fridav.
He sat out Michigan's two exhi-
bition games with a nagging ankle
injury.
Michigan fell to the CBA's
Grand Rapids Hoops, 71-70, and
beat Wayne State, 82-56, in
Blanchard's absence.
The sophomore forward's mood
was light yesterday, but it was
clear that Blanchard was anxious
to return to the court.
"It's going to have to be good.
We have no choice," Blanchard
said about the status of his injured
ankle.
Michigan coach Brian Ellerbe
said Blanchard would probably
play, but he wasn't fully certain
last year's leading scorer would be
ready for Friday's game.
"I hope and pray he'll be able to
play," Ellerbe said. "I said an extra
prayer last night."
Blapchard spent the two exhibi-
tion games on the bench in street
clothes, and he got a chance to
observe the learning curve for
Michigan's freshmen as they com-
peted against two very different

teams.
"We've got a lot of great play-
ers," Blanchard said. "Bernard
(Robinson) stepped up and Josh
Moore looked real good. The
upperclassmen stepped up too. I
wish I could have been out there
playing but it was fun to watch
them."
In a contest that seems like eons
ago, Michigan opened up last sea-
son with a 82-62 victory against
Oakland at Crisler Arena.
"The only thing I remember
about it was that we won the game,
and that it was my first game in
college," Blanchard said.
A portion of Wednesday's prac-
tice was devoted to defending
Oakland's Dan Champagne. The
junior scored 26 points against
Michigan a season ago and Ellerbe
told his players he did not want to
witness a repeat performance.
Ellerbe had freshman Colin Dill
assuming the role of Champagne
while Michigan's big men, Josh
Asselin, Josh Moore and Chris
Young, practiced defending the
signature moves of the 6-7 for-
ward.
Champagne's season was cut
short by injury just sixhgames into
last season, but the Golden
Grizzlies still managed to win the
Mid-Continent Conference regu-
lar-season title with an 11-5
record.

MARJORIE MARSHALL/Daly
Michigan forward LaVell Blanchard did not play in the exhibition season because of an angle injury.
Coach Brian Ellerbe said he hopes to start Blanchard against Oakland Friday.

* AROUND THE HORN
Northwestern aims to clinch Big
Ten title against Kittnerless Illini

By Mark Francescutti
Daily Sports Editor

Rivalry week is upon the Big Ten,
but while most of America looks
toward Columbus for a prolific bat-
tle, two teams have chances to crush
some caviar wishes and Rose Bowl
dreams.
Illinois plays at Northwestern and
Indiana travels to Purdue. Both
Northwestern and Purdue will surely
watch the tapes of this past week-
end's game a little more closely, as
the video will show defenses from
Michigan State and Iowa taking out
the two high-powered offenses.
The Spartans used the option to
their advantage in their 30-10 win
over Purdue -- something that
Indiana does well, and often.
"It was something we've wanted to
do in our offense all season long,"
Michigan State coach Bobby
Williams said. "We went to it a little
more often. There were things we
saw on film that we wanted to take
advantage of."
Freshman quarterback Jeff Smoker
improved his status, gaining 54 yards
on Il carries, which included three
first-down runs. He earned Big Ten
Offensive Player of the Week honors

after accounting for 241 total yards
in the-Spartans' upset win.
But Michigan State has the top-
ranked defense in the Big Ten, some-
thing Indiana won't have when it
faces Drew Brees and the
Boilermakers.
"Our defense has played well at
times," Indiana coach Cam Cameron
said. "We just need to play good
defense for 60 minutes."
But there's hope for the not-so-per-
feet defenses of Indiana and Illinois.
Iowa's defense, ranked 10th in the
Big Ten, held Northwestern to 306
yards fewer than the Wildcats rolled
up on the Wolverines (654 to 348).
The Hawkeyes 27-17 victory proved
that Northwestern's offense can
crumble from a little overconfidence.
KrriNER our: Illinois will have to
try for an upset over the Wildcats
without Kurt Kittner. The quarter-
back was knocked out this past week-
end when he slid and took a helmet-
to-helmet hit from Ohio State's Mike
Doss in a 24-21 loss to the Buckeyes.
After staving motionless for 10 min-
utes, Kittner walked off the field.
"He was knocked unconscious and
the doctors have a policy so it's going
to be a week," Illinois coach Ron
Turner said. "He had headaches
(Monday) and they were gone
(Monday) afternoon. If we had a
game the following week he would
play."
Turner contacted Big Ten Director
of Officials Dave Parry questioning
the hit. Turner said Parry told him it

Purdue
Northwestern
Michigan
Ohio State
Wisconsin
Penn State
Minnesota
Iowa
Illinois
Indiana
Michigan State

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AP PHOTO
Illinois quarterback Kurt Kittner (15) will not play against
Northwestern after a helmet-to-helmet hit last week.

SATURDAY'S GAMES
Michigan at Ohio State, noon, A$C
Iowa at Minnesota, 12:10
Illinois at Northwestern, 3:30
Indiana at Purdue, 3:30
Michigan State at Penn State, 3:30
THIS WEEKEND'S RESULTS
Michigan 33, Penn State 11
Wisconsin 43, Indiana 22
Ohio State 24, Illinois 21
Iowa 27, Northwestern 17
Michigan State 30, Purdue 10
Minnesota Idle
was a "borderline hit."
The NFL has a rule against hea
contact to the quarterback, but in th
college game referees have to dectar
a late hit for a penalty.
"I don't think it was late," T
said. "I do think it was deliberate
we're not in the NFL."
The Illini will miss Kittner, 'wh
has completed 173-of-297 passesfc
1982 yards with 18 touchdowns an
eight interceptions on the year.
See HORN, Page 1

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