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March 08, 2001 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-03-08

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24A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 8, 2001

Blue sends three to nationals

By Shawn Kemp
Daily Sports Writer
Three's company when you reach
the national level.
Charles DeWildt, Mike
Wisniewski and Ike Okenwa, three
members of the Michigan men's
track team, face the end of their
seasons tomorrow at the NCAA
Championships in Fayetteville, Ark.
The pressure that the trio will
eticounter - both mentally and
physically - is greater than in any
other meet, as the best collegiate
athletes across the country will
meet in the culmination of the sea-
son.
Wisniewski, a senior who enters
the 5,000-meter run with a time of
14:05, didn't think his season would
ever conclude in at the national
championships - he labeled his
season "the scariest (he's) ever had."
'"For eight weeks in the middle, I
thought I was done," Wisniewski
said. "I didn't know what was going
to happen, if I wasn't a runner any-
more, because I couldn't race - I
couldn't do anything."
After struggling with a bout of
sickness and over-training,
Wisniewski has regained his confi-
"dence and enters the NCAA meet on

a high.
"You definitely have to have the
mindset or else your body's just not
going to listen to you," he said. "But
I feel confident enough that right
now I'll have a decent race."
Also dealing with a "roller-
coaster season" is Okenwa, who
qualified in the 200-meter dash with
a time of 20.94.
Okenwa, a junior, credited his
"up-and-down" performances to a
lack of concentration. Coming off
of a good race, he said the most
important thing for him to remem-
ber is to continue doing whatever
made him successful. In failing to
do so, Okenwa lost his focus. As he
puts it, "it showed there out on the
track."
But Okenwa approaches the
national meet with a new attitude.
"It doesn't matter what you've
done all season - these guys have
done it, too," Okenwa said. "You're
only as good as your last race, so
hopefully this will be my best race
of the season."
One Wolverine who has been
peaking at just the right time is
DeWildt. After soaring to a person-
al-best height of 17-9 in the pole
vault one week ago, he expects to
finish in the top three at the NCAA

meet.
DeWildt's season was a steady
progression from the start. He said
his coach, assistant track coach
Ricky Deligny, didn't understand
why he wasn't jumping higher at the
beginning of the season.
"I told him everything was fine,
and that it was just going to take
time," DeWildt said. "He was wor-
ried, but it took a while to just get in
the groove."
Now that DeWildt is in peak con-
dition, his goal of a top-three finish
is conceivable, as evidenced by his
high national ranking in the event.
"I'm glad I'm seeded higher," he
said. "I want somebody to look up to
me as well as I'm looking up to
somebody else."
Coach Ron Warhurst explained
that at a meet like the nationals, 70-
80 percent of success depends on
mental approach. With that in mind,
DeWildt, Wisniewski and Okenwa
all have to enter the meet with a
level of confidence.
"We can talk to them until we're
blue in the face and tell them how
great they are, but if they don't
believe in themselves, it's not going
to help," Warhurst said.
"They're in there because people
know who they are now."

WI LLIAMS
Continued from Page 12A
are completely geared towards stop-
ping him.
Robinson is the team's only true
slasher, and his size and speed allow
him to create mismatches, especially
with defenses keyed in on
Blanchard. Furthermore, Robinson
draws defensive help, so even when
his shots don't fall, space is often
created for offensive rebounds.
2. A little help from the underdogs
- If every member of the Michigan
basketball team can find perfect
spiritual harmony, the Wolverines
can beat Penn State and Michigan
State (the Wolverines lost by 21 and
27 in their two meetings). But even
a Zen awakening couldn't boost this
team past No. 2 Michigan State and
No. 4 Illinois in the same weekend.
Therefore, Michigan would need
some help from the rest of the Big
Ten to create a more manageable

semifinal and final. Iowa, Indiana,
Wisconsin: I'm looking in your
direction.
3. A totally restructured offense
- The motions, screens and post-
ups in Michigan's offense this year
have been fruitless - the least
effective I've seen in 15-plus years
of watching college basketball. The
talent exists on this team, but it has
yet to be harnessed.
I know Ellerbe would have a con-
niption fit if I told him that - he
prefers the "we're getting the oppor-
tunities, we just aren't finishing"
explaination.
Pish posh. When your average
margin-of-loss is 18.2 points over
the course of a season, it's this
writer's opinion that everyone else is
taking a lot better shots than you
are.
Even fans can usually tell what
Michigan is trying to do offensively
long before legs are set in motion.
When Avery Queen and Josh Moore

are isolated on one side for 10 sj-
onds. Michigan is trying to post
Moore. When Groninger sprints
from one corner to the other, hcC s"
hoping to free himself up for a 3-
point shot.
Teams with videotape at their ,Ois-
posal have had no trouble observing
and stifling these plays.
I asked Ellerbe if he planned on
altering strategy in practice at all
this week, and he said the team v
working on some new wrinkles. 1
think Ellerbe needed to be incredibly
creative in practice this week,
because Michigan needs to catch,
opponents by surprise.
Also, a team that's used to losing
needs its coach to institute some
changes - when you've been suffo-
eating in defeat all season, it's tough
to believe that the same old tactics
will suddenly become successful.,
Dan Williams can be reacheat
dbwainumich.d

2001 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament

'I-

Thu rs.'
Ma, 8

F.
Mar.9

Maa 10,

Sun.
Mar. 11

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(4) Indiana
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(2) Michigan State
(7) Penn State Game 6
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game 8
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11

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