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September 27, 2001 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-09-27

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PORTS

michigandaily.com/sports

THURSDAY
SEPTEMBER 27, 2001

5a

Underrated
rivahy returns
to Big House
By Jon Schwartz
Daily Sports Editor
When one looks at Michigan's schedule, a few
games pop off the page. There's Michigan State,
always a huge in-state rivalry. There's Penn State, a
matchup between two legendary college football pro-
grams, even if one has recently fallen on hard times.
And there's Ohio State, year-in, year-out the most
1 anticipated matchup in the; Big Ten.
Of course, all of Michigan's games are special. On
the schedules of its Big Ten opponents, the Michigan
date is often circled as a defining game of the season.
Still, generally speaking, the Illinois game rarely
stands in the same light as those marquee games listed
above.
But for a few Wolverines, facing the Illini can be
the bread and butter of the season.
"The last few seasons have made for a great rival-
ry," senior cornerback Todd Howard said. Howard, a
native of Bolingbrook, Ill. is one of four Michigan
regulars that hail from the Prairie State.
Two of the others, center Kurt Anderson and offen-
sive lineman Tony Pape, also spoke of the excitement
that comes with playing against their home-state
school.
"It's our Michigan State game and it's really big for
me," Anderson said. His brother, Erick, was an All-
America linebacker for the Wolverines in 1991.
"Growing up before Erick came here, the Michigan
game was always a big game. It was evident because I
had one neighbor that played at Michigan and one at
Illinois so it was a big week."
Part of what makes the game so big for the Illinois
natives is the fact that they chose to leave the state,
rather than play in Champaign.
"When decision time came, Illinois was a school
that I thought about," said Pape, a Clarendon Hills
native. "Michigan just had more to offer me and it

JOE
SMITH

Jordan must overcome age,
his legacy and the Wizards

If Michigan wants to beat Illinois for the second straight year, it will need to keep Kurt Kittner (15) on his back.

was the same distance from home. 1 had too many
friends going to Illinois so I wanted to go somewhere
new and meet new people and find a new experi-
ence."
Anderson spoke of a similar rationale.
"Obviously," he said, "Erick came here and his
advice was to go where you felt the most comfortable
with the coaching staff and I felt Michigan was the
place for me. Nothing against Illinois, but Michigan
was where my heart was."
The last two times that Michigan faced the Illini
were epic battles. In 1999, Michigan blew a 27-7 lead
late in the third quarter and lost 35-29. Last year, Illi-
nois was controlling the game until quarterback Drew
Henson entered the game - his first appearance of
the season, already three games old - and rallied the
Wolverines to a 35-31 win.
So for seniors Anderson and Howard, the game has

added importance. This is the third time they'll face
Illinois - the teams didn't meet in 1998 - and with
their record against the Illini standing at 1-1, the two
players are hoping to prove that they made the right
choice.
"Every game as a big game in the Big Ten," Ander-
son said, "but there is something special about Illinois.
Being from Illinois, it's always going to be a big game
for me."
As with almost every team in the Big Ten, Illinois
fans have an ingrained hatred for the Wolverines, a
point that makes winning even more important for the
players from Illinois.
"All the Illinois people I know like me," Howard
joked, but added, "I know we have some Illinois peo-
ple on our side. You go there and they yell out 'You
should have come here.' It makes for a great rivalry
and it makes it fun to play."

Crunch time

it's official. Michael Jordan,
arguably the greatest player to grace
the courts of the NBA, will make a
return from retirement.
Again.
Predicting that his "Aimess" would
not have the gall to make his third cur-
tain call at age 38 - I was wrong.
But that doesn't mean that Jordan's
decision is necessarily a good one. He
will be in for a rude awakening when he
laces up his Nikes again as the only
proven player on the lowly Washington
Wizards.
Don't get me wrong. The man has
proved to be superhuman on the floor
countless times during his illustrious
career. He's a smart player, and many
say that he wouldn't come back if he felt
he'd embarrass himself.
But the truth of the matter is that he's
just a man - and an old one at that. Jor-
dan will turn 40 by the time his two-year
contract is over, if he can make it that
far. Jordan battled the injury bug several
times in his "summer workouts." His
Aimess suffered from tendonitis and
two cracked ribs - and don't think that
he will be immune from injury during an
exhausting 82-game grind.
Playoff contention?
Don't start buying your postseason
tickets yet, Wizard fans. A team that
won only 19 games last season has a
couple'veterans on their last-leg, several
unproven young players and Jordan.
Picture the starting lineup if Jordan
would have remained in the owner's
box: Kwame Brown (No. 1 draft pick
out of high school), Courtney Alexander
(good, but unproven), Christian Laettner
(free-agent flop from Pistons), Richard
Hamilton (last big shot was at Connecti-
cut) and Chris Whitney (who?) at the
point.
Oh yeah. Don't forget the deep bench
that includes spark plugs such as Bren-
dan Haywood, Tyronn Lue, Loy
Vaught, Etan Thomas, and Tyrone
Davis.
Looks like Jordan has his work cut
out for him - and a lot of "teaching" to
do. Plus, if he's been known to blow up
in his executive offices after losses last
season, how will he react on the floor
when his team (players and coaches that
he drafted, signed and hired) can't live
up to his standards?
It won't be pretty, that's for sure.
Why ask why?
"I am returning as a player to the
game I love," Jordan said.
It'd be hard for everyone not to take
Jordan for his word - for why else
would he risk so much?
It's not about money. Jordan has
enough money to live a million life-
times, and is even donating his entire
salary ($1 million) for the upcoming
season to relief agencies working with
the victims of the terrorist attacks on
Washington and New York.
It's not about unfinished business. He
already came back once for that. Win-
ning six NBA titles in his final six full
seasons and winning 10 scoring titles
leaves nothing for Jordan to prove. Sink-
ing his last shot in the last seconds of his

last game to win the championship
would have been an impeccable legacy.
Jordan doesn't necessarily want that.
He wants to play.
But does he want to or need to?
Jordan needs the game. It's an addic-
tion that he couldn't get over by merely
being the President of an NBA team. He
needs to be in the spotlight - show that
he can still hang with the big boys.
But they'll be waiting for him, and
this time - they'll be ready.
Changes
When Jordan comes back, he will
have to utilize his knowledge of the
game to succeed in a league filled with
rule changes and electrifying young tal-
ent. After all, there won't be many high-
lights of him gliding from the free-throw
line or hanging in the air between two
Laker defenders - while simultaneous-
ly deciding what move to make.
Jordan added new dimensions to his
game when he returned to the NBA last
time in 1998. His patented fade-away
jumper became nearly impossible to
stop, but will coaches around the league
today just let him do that?
One of the rules changes involves the
elimination of "illegal defense." Unfor-
tunately for Jordan, this means teams
can take him out of the game by shad-
owing him on the floor with a "Box-
and-One" defense. They'll let Chris
Whitney or Laettner beat them, not a 38-
year old Jordan.
Not only that, but rising stars such as
Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Tracy
McGrady and Ray Allen's mouths must
be watering at the chance to take it to a
living legend. Jordan had problems four
years ago guarding Iverson's killer
cross-over. What makes you think he'll
have the quickness to keep up now?
Jordan won't be the same player he
was at age 24. He won't even be the
same player he was three years ago. He
will be an impact player, scoring about
20 points per game while probably only
playing in two-thirds of the Wizards'
games.
With him, the Wizards will definitely
be a better team. They'll win more
games, have people actually watch their
games, and make more money. But the
playoffs are a far reach.
More importantly, Jordan won't be
the best, and that will be a lot for his fans
and his ego to take. Everyone wants to
see their heroes in their "greatness."
They don't want to see Willie Mays
stumbling over himself in center field,
Joe Namath in a Chargers' uniform or
Magic Johnson hosting a sub-par televi-
sion show.
They want to see Jordan slashing
through defenses, sinking last-second
shots and winning championships. The
sad thing is, their last memory of Jordan
may be him leaving the game, on terms
other than his own - in the form of a
serious injury or in a shocking realiza-
tion that he can't hang.
And that's what they'll see - unless
Jordan proves me wrong.
It wouldn't be the first time.

' eyes crucial weekend

By Jim Weber
Daily Sports Writer

a free kick from 30 feet away as time
expired.The No. 23 Badgers (3-3 overall, 0-
2 Big Ten), on the other hand, started flat by
losing 3-0 to Purdue and 1-0 to Indiana. The
Wolverines still feel that the Badgers are the

After starting the Big Ten season 1-1 last
weekend, the Michigan women's soccer

team (3-4 overall) will host
Northwestern and Wisconsin
this weekend in what the team
views as pivotal games in its
season.
"You lose a game now with
one loss in the conference, you
take yourself out of the confer-
ence championship picture,"
assistant coach Scott Forrester
said.
Northwestern (1-0-1 Big Ten,

ANN ARBOR
Who: Michigan (3-4) vs.
Northwestern (2-3.1) and
Wisconsin (3-31)
When: 4p.m. tomorrow, 1
p.m. Sunday
Latest: Michigan looks to
improve on its 1-1 Big Ten
record and continue its
dominance at home.

stronger of the two teams they
will be facing this weekend.
"Wisconsin is more of a bal-
anced team that can take on any
defender. I think they're more
balanced and stronger overall
than Northwestern."
Captain Carly Williamson
noted that Wisconsin is tradition-
ally a very physical team with
speed. They are also known for
their strong strikers in years past.

DANNY MOLOHOK/Daily
Michigan sophomore Stephanie Chavez and the rest of the Wolver-
ines search for some offensive punch in two home Big Ten games.

2-3-1 overall) is coming off of a 'strong
opening weekend. After tying Indiana last
Friday, Northwestern beat Purdue 2-1 in
dramatic fashion as Kase McCoy scored on

Fortunately, the Wolverines won't have to
face Allison Wagner who graduated and now
plays for the Boston Breakers of the WUSA.
See WILDCATS, Page 8A

Flyers provide
By Rohit Bhave
Daily Sports Writer
As the Michigan men's soccer team (1-1 Big
Ten, 5-1 overall) marches towards important
games against Indiana and Ohio State, it needs to
prove itself against quality teams.
In Steve Burns' eyes, tomorrow's 7 p.m. game
against defending Atlantic-10 champion Dayton
(3-3-1 overall) will provide an indication of the
Wolverines' progress.
The Flyers "are capable of scoring a lot of
goals," Burns said. "It is a defining moment in
our season."

'defining moment of season'

The Flyers employ a 4-3-3 look,
incorporating three forwards on the
attack. Dayton's outside defenders
can join the attack as outside mid-
fielders, and their forwards contin-
ually pressure defenders by playing
the game on the flank. This forma-
tion is seen by many as an evolu-
tion in college soccer.
Michigan marking backs Joe
Iding and Dave George will have
their hands full containing Day-

ANN ARBOR
Who: Michigan (5-1) vs.
Dayton (3-3-1) and Western
Michigan (1-3)
When: 7 p.m. tomorrow,
3:30 p.m. Sunday
Latest: The Wolverines look
to stay hot in the early sea-
son as a date with power-
house Indiana approaches.

communication.
For their offense, much of the
Wolverines' focus in practice this
week has been on coordinating the
movement of the two forwards and
three attacking midfielders.
Sniper Robert Turpin should benefit
- last weekend he was constantly
mugged.
With better spacing, Turpin should
have some room to turn his skills
loose.
the heavyweights of the schedule com-
See FLYERS, Page 8A

- Joe Smith can be reached at
josephms@umich.edu

ton's forwards. At the same time, Sweeper Kevin
Taylor must effectively oversee the defense's

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