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ie bdji~m du
JANUARY 25, 2001
Two times a charm for cagers?
De ensei Sin
7 u've heard it from almost every
football coach and every foot-
ball player over the course of a
season: "Defense wins games."
And you laugh it off while trying -
unsuccessfully - to name just 10
defensive starters in the NFL. In the
*eantime, you can probably name the
starting quarterback and star receiver
(or running back) for each pro team.
"Defense may win games," you say
with a chuckle. "That's just a nice way
for the offensive big wigs to give those
no-namers some respect"
With Super Bowl XXXV only three
days away, the question of whether or
not defense wins games is the lead to
every Andrea Kramer monologue.
Two seasons ago, Brian Billick
W ould have laughed in Kramer's face.
n offensive coordinator for five years,
Billick had to uncomfortably adjust to a
crop of defensive-minded Ravens when
he became head coach last season.
With Ray Lewis leading a record-set-
iing defense, Billick had to accept that
defense may be the only way he could
possibly win games this season. And he
did win games - only allowing 165
oints along the way, an NFL record
r a 16-game season.
So there's the answer: Defense must
win games. It wasn't Trent Dilfer's I11
interceptions that led to success.
But its not that simple.
Take Michigan's season for instance.
The Wolverines defense struggled all
year, allowing 229 points in a 12-game
season. But the offense managed to put
enough points on the board in big
games against Illinois and Auburn to
in those tight contests. And Michigan
dn't really need defense to beat Rice.
Bowling Green, Indiana or Michigan
State for that matter. The guys who
carry the orange down-markers up and
down the field could have stopped any
of those four dismal offenses.
Defense did not win nine games for
the Wolverines this season. Michigan
didn't need defense to end the season
with a decent record. For Michigan, the
swer to the question of defensive
importance lies in the team's losses
Fifty-one points should be enough to
beat Northwestern. But it wasn't An
18-point lead against Purdue should be
enough to bring a victory. But it wasn't.
Michigan needed a defense when it
mattered; the Wolverines needed a
defense in these big games; they need-
ed a defense against other dominant
offenses. Michigan may not have need-
ed a defense to win games, but it need-
a defense for the important victories.
On Sunday, defense is what will mat-
er most. Two top defenses will battle it
out to decide who is the best team in
the NFL- or more accurately, which is
he best defense in the NFL.
Whichever team has the misfortune
of not having its defense show up will
afro have the misfortune of being
,rowned Super Bowl runner-up. If
ther defense looks anything like the
ichigan defensive backs that showed
up in Evanston, it is in trouble.
The answer to the question is no,
defense doesn't win all games. But
defense is what collects important vic-
tories. And Sunday's victory will be the
most important victory of them all.
- Stephanie Q.J n wouldn 't be sur-
prised ifRav Lewis wins the Super
Bowl MVP She can he reached at
soeffn( z uunich.ed.u
By Raphael Goodstein
Daily Sports Writer
Inspired by a new coach led by a senior
who couldn't miss, Michigan entered its
1989 Final Four matchup with Illinois con-
fident it would win.
The two teams battled TON
back and forth until the final CaRstE
seconds when, with the game Who:Michigar
tied at 81, junior forward 8 overal)jvs.
Terry Mills took an open 16- When: 7 p m1
footer that was way off --- in Latest: Coming
fact, it was so off that it was victory over lov
dead on. The shot took a looks to aveng
bounce that nobody expected to the Fighting
and the rebound was right ago.
there for sophomore forward
Sean Higgins to flip in at the buzzer.
With a win over Seton Hall in the cham-
pionship game, the Wolverines captured the
school's first national title.
"You know what they say. 'Three's a
charm,' " Higgins said recently. "We were
together when coach (Bill) Frieder was
there. We kept on through when he left (and
Steve Fisher replaced him). That was Glen
Rice's senior year, and he was playing like a
mad man and we just stepped right in there
and played with him.
"We just had to make some adjustments
and caught them by surprise."
That's exactly what this year's Wolverines
will need to do if they are to beat the sev-
enth-ranked Fighting Illini tonight. Illinois
pummeled Michigan, 80-51, two weeks
ago. But a competitive game against Ohio
State and a road win over No. 14 Iowa have
"We're playing at home
GHT and we're confident we can
ARENA win," sophomore guard
_3 Bg Ten.- Gavin Groninger said.
oisi(-1, 15-4 After the Illinois game,
ight on ESPN Michigan heads back on the
f an upset road to play lowly
Michigan Northwestern on Saturdav.
a29.xont loss While Northwestern is in last
i 12 days place in the Big Ten,
Michigan hasn't forgotten
last season's game at
Evanston, when 0-16 Northwestern took
Michigan into overtime before succumbing,
"There's no such thing as an easy team,"
Michigan coach Brian Ellerbe said. "We've
got to play well (tonight). We can't look
ahead to Saturday. We're not in a position
where we can look that far ahead."
The Wolverines especially cannot afford
to look past Illinois. In the preseason, some
experts picked Illinois to win this year's
national title. Considering that the Illini beat
Michigan by 29 without starting point
guard Frank Williams and with starting cen-
ter Marcus Griffin on the bench for the see-
BIG TEN STANDINGS
Team W L WL
Illinois 5 1 15 4
Michigan State 4 1 15 1
Minnesota 3 2 15 3
Iowa 3 2 14 4
Purdue 4 3 12 6
Ohio State 3 3 12 6
Indiana 3 3 12 8
Wisconsin 2 3 11 4
Michigan 2 3 8 - 8
Penn State 2 4 12 5
Northwestern 0 6 7 11
Michigan State AT NORTHWESTERN, inc.
IOWA AT MINNESOTA, inc.
OHIO State AT WIScONSIN, Inc.
ond half, it would be foolish to look past
Illinois. To make matters worse, both play-
ers will play tonight.
In 1989, the Illini pummeled Michigan in
both regular season meetings. But the
Wolverines would have the last laugh in the
"We need to limit our turnovers and play
good defense (if we're going to win),"
junior guard Leon Jones said.
A well-timed putback wouldn't hurt,
in the 1989 Final Four, Michigan forward Sean Higgins (far left)
watched his game-winning putback advance Michigan to NCAA Final.
Spartans' Miller rewrites records
By Joe Smith (bas, mbk)
Daly Sports Writer
Western Michigan coach Jim Culhane
said that it's tough to lose when you have
the Spartans' Ryan Miller in net.
With Miller's domination as of late and
his stifling 96-percent save percentage,
losing has become increasingly foreign
to No. 1 Michigan State. which hasn't felt
by notching his 16th career shutout -
and fifth in his last six starts.
"It's unbelievable for a team to be
under a goal-against in this league,
regardless of your schedule," said
Michigan coach Red Berenson about
Miller's stingy 0.93 goals against average
in the CCHA. "Ryan Miller is a top goalie
and they're on aroll right now. They're the
best defensive team in the countrv."
Not only is Miller a brick wall in net,
but the rest of the
and outshooting their instate rivals.
Adding to the drama of Saturday's
rematch is that No. 7 Michigan will be
playing the unfamiliar role of underdogs.
This is something that it relishes consid-
ering what happened in the College
Hockey Showcase over Thanksgiving
break. In beating nationally-ranked
Wisconsin and Minnesota on the road,
the Wolverines swept a tournament they
weren't expected to win.
"I like the underdog role," said
Berenson, who feels that his team might
be as focused as it has been all year. "I
think our team will respond well in that
that empty feeling
months since suf-
fering its lone loss
of the season to vis-
Spartans are riding
a 23-game unbeat-
en streak (20-0-3)
going into their
s e e o n d - p 1 a c e
in more than thrcee
JOE LOUIS ARENA
Who::No.7 Michigan (1242CCHA, 1864 over-
all) vs. No.1 Michigan State (141-3,2144)
When: 7:35 p.m.
Ltest: There are still tickets available at all
Tick etmaster outlets.
Team W L T PTS
1.Michigan St 14-3 31
2. Michigan 1242 26
3. Western Michigan 9-4.4 22
Spartans play a dis-
scheme that com-
plements the goalie
well. By rarely giv-
ing up rebounds
down low and
once they get an
early lead, the
Spartans seem to
Michigan State goalie Ryan Miller broke the NCAA record for shutouts in just his
second season between the pipes for the Spartans.
Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Michigan has the best offense in col-
lege hockey, averaging more than four
goals per game. Michigan State has the
best defense in college hockey, allowing
just more than one goal per game. And
Miller is the major reason why.
"Ryan has lifted this team to a level
that we weren't sure we'd reach in the
beginning of the season," said Michigan
State coach Ron Mason, whose Spartans
have a five-point lead over Michigan in
the CC[IA. "He's kept us in every game."
That is quite an understatement, as
Miller holds a scoreless streak of 207
minutes on his way to five shutouts this
month and an unreal 0.20 goals against
average in January.
The Buffalo Sabres' prospect tied a
70-year old NCAA record Tuesday night
play their cards perfectly.
"Their style of play really suits Miller
well,' said Miami coach Enrico Blasi,
whose Redllawks were one of Miller's
latest victims in two consecutive shutouts
this past weekend. "He's a first-save
goalie and nine-and-a-half times out of
10 times he'll make that first save. They
rarely give up a second chance."
That's why Saturday's matchup with
the Spartans poses such a big challenge
for the explosive Michigan offense.
The Wolverines are coming off their
highest offensive output of the season in
Tuesday night's 9-0 shellacking of Notre
Dame. But they distinctly remember the
only previous meeting this season with
Michigan State. On Nov. 4 the Spartans
frustrated then-No. 1 Michigan, 1-0 at
Yost, despite the Wolverines outplaying
Pageant Candidates Wanted
The Michigan Beekeeper's Association is looking for
candidates for the 2001 Michigan Honey Queen.
The Pageant will be held at MSU on March 10, 2001.
Applicants must be 18-21 years.
Prize is a $1000.00 scholarship.
or call 231-
(click on queen site)
THIS WEEKEND IN
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iOte 14 at~et rnzin
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Fri. Jan.26 7pm
.. - " " UCliff Keen Arena
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