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November 27, 2001 - Image 10

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-11-27

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10 - The Michigan Daily -- Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Jilison who? Komisarek takes on a new role
Blueliner named CCHA Defensive Player of the Week after strong offensive weekend

Bowl berths up for
grabs in Big Ten

By Naweed Sikora
Daily Sports Writer
At 6-foot-4 and 200-plus pounds, Michigan soph-
omore Mike Komisarek is the biggest player Michi-
gan coach Red Berenson has ever had at Michigan.
His physical presence on the ice is the main reason
why he is Michigan's top defenseman, and one of
the top blueliners in the league.
Komisarek was named CCHA Defensive Player
of the Week for his efforts at the College Hockey
Showcase. It is the first time in his career he has
won the award.
The only thing is, Komisarek was actually Michi-
gan's best offensive player this past weekend, scor-
ing three of the team's seven goals over the two
games.
In fact, with 10 points already this season, Michi-
gan's top defenseman is slowly turning into one of
it's most potent scoring threats - from the blue line.
Selected as the seventh overall pick in the 2001
NHL Entry Draft, Komisarek already has one more
goal this season (5) than he had in 40 games last
year. His 10 points puts him third on the team,
behind juniors Mike Cammalleri and John

Shouneyia.
Komisarek's lethal slapshot from the point is rais-
ing eyebrows all across the league. Both of Komis-
arek's goals in Michigan's 5-3 win over Wisconsin
Saturday night came off blasts from the point. His
second goal came shorthanded, the first of his
career.
"The one thing you notice is that he shoots heavy
and that he passes heavy," Berenson said. "When he
snaps off a pass, you better be hanging on to your
stick, because he passes with authority. He learned
how to pass and shoot well before he got here."
Even with his size, Komisarek has at times dis-
played the athleticism and quickness of a forward on
the ice. Berenson has also been very impressed by
his mental preparation this season.
"For his size and his age, he's a much better player
right now than he should be," Berenson said.
Last season, junior Jeff Jillson was arguably
Michigan's most talented offensive defenseman. But
his premature departure for the NHL opened the
door for Komisarek to lead the defense. Berenson
feels that the bar has certainly been raised for the
young player, but that he is up for the task.
"When Jillson left, it was a challenge for him to

increase his role," Berenson said. "He's establishing
himself as a physical defenseman because people
know who he is now. He's doing it defensively and
offensively."
Offense has always been something Berenson left
up to his forwards. But with such a limited number
of experienced players up front this season, Beren-
son doesn't mind seeing some of his defenseman
jumping into the play.
"I think that it's a bonus if your defense scores,"
Berenson said. "The way the game is being played
now with all the man-on-man coverage, the only
player that's open sometimes will be a defenseman,
and they need to get a shot through or get a pass to a
forward.
"We want the defense to be available. We want
them to jump into holes when there is a spot or an
opening for them."
. Komisarek has done that and more for the
Wolverines this season, displaying leadership and
experience on a team in need of both.
"He's grown so much over the past year, and he's
got all the tools to be a top NHL pick," Michigan
goalie Josh Blackburn said. "You can tell that he's
got a lot more confidence with the puck now."

By Kyle O'Neill
Daily Sports Writer

USCHO top 15

f
I

Team (First Place Votes)
1. Minnesota (37)
2. St. Cloud (3)
3. Michigan State
4. Denver
5. New Hampshire
6. Boston University
7. UMass-Lowell
8. Northern Michigan
9. North Dakota
10. Cornell
11. Nebraska-Omaha
12. Colorado College
13. Michigan
14. Ohio State
15. Maine 61

Points
597
545
496
491
442
383
338
300
238
217
177
156
151
115
61

Last Week
1
3
4
2
6
5
7
10
9
12
8
13
11
14
15

So much has happened since Sep-
tember.
Michigan State has gone from Big
Ten contender to flop in a matter of
three weeks. Pur-_
due looked to have A OND
another Drew Brees
in freshman Bran- the Big Ten
don Hance, until
Illinois, Ohio State and Michigan each
took their turns rendering him helpless.
Then there are Penn State and Indiana
who each looked to battle for the cellar
position of the Big Ten until they went
on 5-1 and 3-1 runs, respectively, to
complete their conference seasons.
Now all four teams look to continue
on or improve upon their previous suc-
cesses.
MIssouRI (3-5 BIG 12,4-6 OvERAu.)
AT MICHIGAN STATE (3-5 BIG TEN, 5-5)
11 A.M. ESPN2: It was only Nov. 3
when Michigan State was mentioned for
the Big Ten title and BCS possibilities.
Now it fights for a bowl berth and
anything to say that it didn't have anoth-
er one-game season.
For the past three weeks, the Spartans
have looked like the Detroit Lions in
finding ways to lose. They've let one
person beat them - Indiana's Antwaan
Randle El. They've beaten themselves
- six turnovers in a loss to Purdue.
They've even blown large leads - 17
points to Penn State last weekend.
Unfortunately for the Spartans, their
final opponent is just the type they don't
need to see. Missouri has played consis-
tently well all season. The Tigers have
defeated the teams they should beat, and
they've lost to the teams they had no
chance against. Starting quarterback
Kirk Farmer is not by any means the
best of the Big 12, but has been inter-
cepted the fewest times in the confer-
ence. With the Big 12's defensive talent,
having just five interceptions in 260
attempts is quite an accomplishment.
Offensively, Michigan State should
have no problems against a defense that
allows over 25 points a game. Expect
T.J. Duckett and Little John Flowers to
each have big games against a Missouri
rush defense that has only kept one team
- Southwest Texas State - under 100-
yards rushing.
This game will be much closer than
most will think as Missouri will control
the clock, but the Spartans will make
up for their lack of ball possession with
one- or two-play scores by Duckett or

wideout Charles Rogers.
Michigan State 32, Missouri 21
PENN STATE (4-4 BIG TEN, 5-5) AT
VIRGINIA(3-5 ACC, 4-7) 12 P.M.
ESPN: They said he was too old to
coach a winning team. His offense was
too predictable. His recruiting inabili-
ties left him with a team too weak and
an 0-5 start to the season.
Penn State coach Joe Paterno heard
it all, ignored it and humbly finished
the conference slate 5-1.
The change in fortunes can be attrib-
uted to the change of the offense's focus
to the pass. Quarterback Zack Mills has
turned many heads in his emergence as
the most exciting quarterback in the
league. He's been successful as a
starter, evident in the Michigan State
and Ohio State games, and even more
dangerous as a backup, starting the
turnaround winning streak against
Northwestern with a fourth-quarter
comeback to win the game.
The Lions will need to put up a
strong defensive effort, though, as Vir-
ginia has a threesome that most teams
would envy. Quarterbacks Bryson Spin-
ner and Matt Schaub are each in the top
ten of the ACC in passing efficiency,
and wide receiver Billy McMullen
leads the conference with 80 receptions.
With the concentration on each of the
passing attacks, it will be the running
game that makes the difference. Penn
State's Larry Johnson and Eric McCoo
have each had their best games in the
past two weeks and look to be the
game-breakers in converting on the
chances their quarterback gives them.
Penn State 24, Virginia 16
NOTRE DAME (4-6) AT PURDUE (4-4
BIG TEN, 6.4), 4:30 P.M., ABC: This is
Bob Davie's final chance to show that
he belongs as Notre Dame's coach.
But unfortunately for him, no matter
the outcome of this in-state rivalry, he is
on his way to being the first Notre Dame
coach ever fired - with good cause.
There is a chance for the Irish to win
as Purdue's "fast-break football"
offense has looked more like the sput-
tering Chicago Bulls in the past month.
Brandon Hance has thrown six inter-
ceptions to his three .touchdowns his
last six games.
Don't expect running back Montrell
Lowe tobe able to carry the load for
Purdue either, as Notre Dame's defense
has been the only strength in this disap-
pointing season.
Notre Dame 10, Purdue 7

DEFENSE
Continued from Page 9
loss to Minnesota. With so many shots flying at the
opposing goaltender, Michigan knows it should be
scoring more points than it is. The Wolverines are
currently ninth in scoring in the CCHA with an aver-
age ofjust over three goals per game.
In the Minnesota debacle, Michigan had the first
two legitimate scoring chances of the game - one
on a pass from Mike Cammalleri to Eric Nystrom,
and one from Cammalleri to fellow junior Jed Ort-
meyer. If the Wolverines had been able to find the net
on just one of those opportunities, the game probably
would have unfolded much differently. Michigan also
was unable to light the lamp on several breakaways.
"In the Minnesota game, we had the first two
grade-A scoring chances, and had we scored those

DANNY MULUSHUK/Daily
Michigan goalie Josh Blackburn and the defense are working hard to correct the miscues of last weekend.

goals, we "would have had an easier time scoring on
the breakaways," Berenson said. "We are missing
good chances that we need to capitalize on."
PULLING THE SWITCH: In the middle of Friday's
game, junior forward Mark Mink was demoted from
the second line to the fourth line in favor of freshman
forward Milan Gajic.
Mink, a player the Wolverines are counting on to
score, has only tallied one goal since his return from
an injured hand on Oct. 19. Gajic is one of Michi-

gan's most natural scorers, but has yet to play to his
full potential on the fourth line. Berenson served two
different motives by making this change.
" Mink has struggled," Berenson said. "We were
hoping that he would score 15 or 20 goals for us.
He's putting a lot of pressure on himself to score, and
so I'm taking a little pressure off of him. Mink has
always played with (junior forward John) Shouneyia,
but it hasn't been clicking. I want to see if Gajic can
get something going with him."

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