The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 25, 2001- 9A
Blackburn aims for
return to prior form
By Steve Jackson
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan hockey team has
allowed three goals in each of its first
A number of forces have been
blamed for the defensive woes,
including penalty -killing, 12 freshmen
and careless passing in the defensive
But despite all these other prob-
lems, senior goaltender Josh Black-
burn's performances have not lived up
to his typically high standard as a
fourth-year starter for the Wolverines.
During his first three years between
the pipes, Blackburn stopped over 90
percent of the opponents' shots, while
posting a goals-against average of
So far this season, Blackburn has
allowed 2.98 goals per game, and his
save percentage has fallen below 86
After Saturday's 5-3 over Western
Michigan Blackburn had a long meet-
ing with Michigan goalie coach Stan
"I didn't know what was wrong, but
I knew something was wrong," Black-
Despite the victory, Matwijiw knew
that something had to be done.
"He hasn't gotten off to a great start
this year," Matwijiw said. "Last week-
end wasn't one of his best series of
This week, Blackburn has gone
back to the basics.
Matwijiw has been a much more
visible presence in practice this week,
and Blackburn has worked really hard
to build his confidence through repe-
tition and mechanics.
"We've identified some things and
worked hard on those," Blackburn
said. "I'm getting back to where I was
last year, getting out of some bad
habits. It's the little things that we've
Matwijiw's biggest change was
moving Blackburn an extra step away
from the net.
"I was back a little too far," Black-
burn said. "I just need to be more
patient and hold my ground just a
split second longer.
After extra coaching and extra
practice this week, Blackburn's coach
expects to see a better performance in
"I can pretty much assure you that
you are going to see a different Josh
In his fourth season as a starter, Josh Blackburn hasn't quite played up to his
standards. But, by no means is he the only reason for Michigan's defensive woes.
Blackburn this weekend," Matwijiw
Despite his early struggles in the
net, the Wolverines still believe in
their senior netminder.
"We know that he is one of the best
goalies in the league," captain Jed
Ortmeyer said. "We shoot on him
every day and we know that he can
stop all the pucks we need him to."
"He gives us a chance to win every.
night," alternate captain Mike Cam-
Michigan coach Red Berenson was
quick to point out that solving the
Wolverines' goals against problems
will involve much more than Black-
"Our overall defensive play this
year has been average," Berenson
said. "And average isn't going to be
t Crisler Arena, it costs less than
$3 per game for a women's bas-
etball season ticket.
The price hasn't gone up since last
year, but the quality of the team has.
Maybe the attendance finally will,
too if the team gets the respect it
Two years ago, the Wolverines set
school records with 22 victories and 13
conference wins, finishing second in
the Big Ten. Michigan cracked the Top
25 for the first time in its history and
ended the year ranked No. 25.
But it received no respect. Last yeah,
there was no preseason recognition, and
Michigan wasn't even predicted to fin-
ish in the top three in the conference.
Michigan answered with another
solid performance on the court, going
19-12 and advancing to the second
round of the NCAA Tournament for
just the second time in school history.
The Wolverines completed the "most
successful four-year run for the pro-
gram," according to Michigan coach
Sue Guevara. But while the season was
.a year of firsts for the Wolverines-
including their first victory over a top
10 team in a 69-66 upset of perennial
power Louisiana Tech in Michigan's
home opener - one discouraging thing
remained the same.
The paid attendance for that
Louisiana Tech game, a landmark win
in the program's history, was 1,572.
Sure, the newly created student section,
M Hoopla, rushed the Crisler Arena
floor, but it could hardly fill it up.
"You never want to walk into Crisler
and see empty seats," Guevara said. "It's
discouraging. Especially when you go
into Columbus and play in front of
10,000 people - you can get a high off
"The crowd is supposed to be the
sixth player. It's disheartening, (the
fans) just don't understand."
What the fans may not realize yet is
that this year's Wolverines will be even
better. They return eight of their top
nine players from last season, who
accounted for more than 75 percent of
the points and rebounds.
Plus, Guevara added blue-chip recruit
Tabitha Pool, who was one of the top
players in the nation a year ago. With
the inside presence of Jennifer Smith,
LeeAnn Bies and Raina Goodlow, com-
bined with the slashing ability of Pool,
Purdue coach Kristy Curry says that
Michigan has an overpowering inside-
It's a situation that many teams would
drool over. As a result, others are finally
starting to recognize a growing power in
"Several years ago, you didn't worry
about Michigan (on a national.level),"
said Louisiana Tech coach Leon Bar-
more, whose Lady Techsters will host
Michigan this fall when the Wolverines
play nine of their first 10 games on the
road. "But you sure do now. Sue's
brought the program a long way. No
question that their program is on the up
and up and is even going to get better."
A top 10 caliber team with aspira-
tions for a conference crown and a
Sweet Sixteen appearance? I know of
another team playing at Crisler which
would swap its Nike sneakers for a situ-
ation like that.
But will anyone be there to watch
history in the making? Michigan finally
garnered some respect from the media
and coaches around the nation. Now it's
the fans' turn.
Sure, there won't be any dazzling
dunks and high-wire acts, but there will
be something that fans should care
equally about - a winning team out on
the floor that can make Michigan proud.
And it costs nothing - if you're a stu-
dent - to get in. If you're anyone else,
it costs no more than a Jimmy John's
"It's 30 dollars for 11 home games
- you can't even take a family of four
to the movies and have pop and popcorn
for that type of money," Guevara said.
"It's the most affordable entertainment
ticket in town and I think they'll see one
of the best basketball teams in the coun-
try out on the floor."
Let's hope that more of those tickets
Joe Smith can be reached at
Powerful Illini want more than Big Ten title
By David Horn
Daily Sports Writer
Despite an injury to key forward Lucas Johnson,
Illinois is still one of the best teams in the country and
begins this season with the realistic expectation of
' repeating as Big Ten champions.
Last year, the Illini shared the title with Michigan
State, but this year, Illinois will be in position to take
sole possession of the Big Ten crown if it is able to
replace the toughness that Johnson brings to the floor.
Johnson, a 6-8 senior, will be sidelined for at least
half of the season with a knee injury. Two other sen-
iors, 6-11 Robert Archibald and 6-9 Damir Krupalija,
will have to step up for the Illini until their fallen team-
mate can return.
Inside the paint
ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI
28-5 Overall (13-3 Big Ten), No. 3
Pos. NAME 2000 STAT
G Frank Williams 14.9 PPG
G Corey Bradford 9.9 PPG
F Brian Cook 6.1 RPG
G Luther Head
F Blandon Ferguson
C Marcus Griffin - graduation
F Sergio McClain - graduation
BIG TEN PREVIEWS
As the college basketball season approaches, the Daily bas-
ketball writers will give you the inside scoop on every Big Ten '
team as they count down the days until they release their spe- Ii
cial section "Tipoff" in November. CONFERENCE
Last year, after losing by two to Indiana in the semi-
finals of the Big Ten Tournament, the Illini fared well
in the Big Dance. Illinois received the No. 1 seed in
the Midwest Region and advanced to the Elite Eight
before being knocked off by Arizona.
This year, the boys ii Champaign want more.
"Last year ended on a very positive note," Illinois
coach Bill Self said. "(But) we weren't satisfied with
the way it ended."
The majority of last season's roster will be returning,
including leading scorer Frank Williams, a 6-2 junior
who is considered by many to be one of the best point
guards in the nation.
Williams, who played this past summer with
Michael Jordan, knows that opposing defenses are
going to be targeting him.
"I think everyone's going to be coming for me, just
the same as we're going to be gunning for other
guards," Williams said. "I just have to prepare myself
in practice to deal with it."
The Illini also return one of the top shooters in the
conference, 6-3 senior guard Corey Bradford.
While Williams and Bradford will be the core of
Illinois' offense, the effectiveness of the supporting
cast will determine just how far this team will be able
to go in March, especially if Johnson is unable to
return. One key contributor will have to be 6-10 junior
Brian Cook, one of the more versatile players in the
conference. Cook averaged 11.2 points per game last
season while leading the team in rebounds with 6.1 per
"If we keep all the pieces in place then there's no
question this team has a chance to be pretty good," Self
said. "I don't know if we're deserving of all the presea-
son predictions of all the so-called experts, but I do
think this: We're in the game."
Other important pieces of the puzzle are Luther
Head - who is one of four freshmen joining the Illini
this year - as well as transfer Blandon Ferguson.
"Blandon is probably the second-best athlete,
behind Luther, on our team" Self said.
With nonconference games against the likes of Gon-
zaga, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Arizona and Arkansas
in addition to the Big Ten slate, the Illini will once
again face one of the toughest schedules in the country
and will be tested early and often.
Though the loss of Johnson will be a severe imposi-
tion to Illinois' early-season success, Self is optimistic.
"If we do our job and players play like they're capa-
ble of playing, there's no question that this team has
'M' hopes to keep ticking at Rolex Regional
The Michigan Spa Daily Dispa Team_____
o t he week.
By Melanie Kebler
Daily Sports Writer
With the return of several key players
from last year and the strength of this
year's entering class, the Michigan
men's tennis team is set to improve on
last season's third-place Big Ten finish.
This weekend, the Wolverines will get a
chance to see how they stack up against
the entire Midwest at the Rolex Region-
al Championships in East Lansing.
Unlike the ITA All-American Cham-
pionships earlier this month, the Rolex
* Regional Championships will include
all Big Ten teams as well as teams from
around the Midwest.
Although no team scores will be kept
this 'weekend, Michigan will still get a
good look at its Big Ten rivals.
"We will see who the strong teams are
likely to be," said assistant coach Dan
Goldberg. "There's a certain amount of
rivalry involved, but probably not as
much as in a team event."
Even with their rivalries on the back
burner, the Wolverines still plan to make
a strong showing.
Michigan will send five singles play-
ers and two doubles teafns to East Lans-
ing. The Rolex Championships are
single elimination, so the Wolverines
will have to step up and win from the
beginning in order to keep advancing.
Both the singles and doubles sides of
the tournament will be open draw,
meaning players will be matched up ran-
domly rather than by previous rankings.
"This tournament gives players that
may be in the middle or lower part of the
lineup a chance to play against other No.
1 and No. 2 players," Goldberg said..
Michigan's top players are expecting
to give good performances. Senior
Henry Beam - who is currently ranked
No. 42 in the nation - broke out at the
Rolex Regionals last year, reaching the
semifinals, and is expected to finish in
the tnn eight this var
Who: Michigan at Rolex Regional Championships
When: All day, tomorrow through Monday
Latest: The Wolverines will be facing a number of
top teams from around the Midwest, including
defending Big Ten champion Ohio State.
Corner of lst and Huron St.
Downtown AA (734) 623-7400
Henry Beam has his sights set on a good showing at the Rolex Regional.
advancing and possible pulling some
upsets," Goldberg added.
Along with Beam, Cox and Lockin,
senior Greg Novak and sophomore
Anthony Jackson will also play singles
for the Wolverines. Novak went 2-1 at
the regional tournament last year.
On the doubles side, Michigan will
send its No. I doubles team of Chris
Shaya and Chris Rolf. Lockin and
Novak will make up Michigan's second
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
With the start of our season approaching, we would like to extend to all of you a special
invitation to join our Michigan Basketball team for several open practices.
We invite you to join us on the following Friday afternoons:
Friday, October 19
Friday, October 26
Friday, November 2
Open Practice and Fan Night
For the open practices, the Crisler Arena doors will open at 3 p.m., and open seating will
be on a first come- first served basis. Following our November 2 practice, we will host
our first Fan Night, an opportunity for you (and your family) to meet our team. Our
players will gladly pose for photos and sign autographs on that evening.
We are so excited about our first season together, and WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT!!
Please join us on these dates and throughout the season at Crisler Arena. This is a very
special time in the life of Michigan Basketball. Please be a part of it with us.