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March 06, 2002 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-06

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PeRiTSgan tilq

michigandaily.comIsports
sportsdesk@umich.edu

WEDNESDAY
MARCH 6, 2002

8

Jones could see time at point

Simply the best
The Big Ten coaches and media
concurred on the five best players
in the conference.

By Steve Jackson
Daily Sports Editor

According to Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker, Leon Jones could
see significant time at the point
guard spot against Northwestern
tomorrow.
Avery Queen, who has logged the
vast majority of
the minutes at BASKETBALL
the point this
season, has not Notebook
practiced this
week because of a bruised knee he
suffered on Saturday against Ohio
State.
"I don't know that he had ever
missed a practice this year," Amak-
er said of Queen. "He's a pretty
tough kid, so when he sits out I
Cagers cla

know he's hurt."
Queen wore a brace on his left
knee and rode a stationary bicycle
while his teammates practiced yes-
terday, but he remains confident that
he will be able to play tomorrow.
"We aren't as concerned (about
not having a true point guard on the
floor), because they aren't a team
that is going to fast break you as
much or dribble drive you as much,"
Amaker said. "So, there will be an
opportunity for Leon to play more at
(point guard), but that is contingent
on Avery's health."
AND THE WINNER is: The Big Ten
coaches and media announced their
choices for the all-conference team
yesterday. Michigan forward LaVell
Blanchard was named to the third
team by the media, and no other
im

Wolverine received recognition.
"It's an honor, but it's not where I
want to be," said Blanchard, who
made the second team last year and
the third team as a freshman.
Blanchard was a preseason candi-
date for Player of the Year in the Big
Ten. But despite leading the team in
scoring for the third straight season,
his numbers in conference play are
down dramatically
After posting 17.6 points and
nearly eight rebounds per game last
season, Blanchard has tallied just
13.4 points and 6.3 boards in
Amaker's new offense.
"Anytime you have transition,
things can happen sooner than you
predict or they can happen a little
later," Amaker said. "If you look at
Bill Carmody (who is in his second

NAME
Brian Brown
Jared Jeffries
Kirk Penney
Marcus Taylor
Frank Williams

TEAM
Ohio State
Indiana
Wisconsin
Michigan State
Illinois

Pos
G
F
G
G
G

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jared Jeffries
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Rick Rickert,
Minnesota
COACH OF THE YEAR: Bo Ryan,
Wisconsin
year at Northwestern), I don't know
what people said about his offensive
system last year, but I'm sure they
don't have problems with it today."
Whatever the reason for Blan-
chard's statistical decline, the
Wolverines' 10-17 record certainly
didn't help his cause.

TOM FELDKAM P/Daily
Michigan freshman Eric Nystrom has been one of Michigan's top clutch goal
scorers this season, and he was rewarded for it on Monday.
Werner, Nystrom nab
CCHA rookie honors

By Chris Burke
Daily Sports Writer

The Michigan hockey team
wrapped up a CCHA regular season
title this past weekend, and on Monday
the conference honored two Wolver-
ines that have been a big part of the
team's success.
Freshmen Eric Nystrom and Eric
Werner were
named to the HOCKEY
seven-player HOCKEY
CCHA All-Rookie Notebook
team.
"It's nice to get recognized - the
other guys on the team are pretty good
players too," Nystrom said. "I think I
got lucky to get on there, and it's pret-
ty special."
The two Wolverines joined Western
Michigan's Jim Dwyer, Michigan
State's Jim Slater, Alaska-Fairbanks'
Aaron Voros and Ferris State's Matt
York and Mike Brown on the team that
is selected by the league's coaches,
who are not allowed to vote for any
players on their own team.
Nystrom, a forward, has scored 24
points (15-9-24) - good enough to
lead all Michigan freshmen in scoring
and place him second on the team in
goals.
Werner, meanwhile, has been one of
the Wolverines' steadiest defensemen.
He is one of just five Michigan players
to have played in all 36 games, and he
has also tallied 21 points (3-18-21)
and a plus-16 rating - tied for fourth
best on the team.
"For them to do as well as they
did and to get that kind of recogni-
tion is good," Michigan coach Red
Berenson said. "You have to have a
pretty special season to be recog-
nized at that level."
Junior forward John Shouneyia was
also recognized by the league on Mon-
day, when he was named offensive
player of the week for his goal and
three assists in Michigan's sweep of

Western Michigan this past weekend.
BANGED Up: Every college hockey
team has its share of bumps and bruis-
es when the end of the season comes,
and the Wolverines are no exception.
Defenseman Andy Burnes and for-
ward Jason Ryznar both missed prac-
tice yesterday due to injury. Burnes is
expected to be in the lineup for Michi-
gan's CCHA playoff series against
Lake Superior beginning Friday, but
Ryznar will be a scratch.
Burnes "has a bit of an ankle sprain
but he's fine," Berenson said. "Ryznar
will be out this weekend. He broke a
finger on his hand - we'll look at
him for next week."
Ryznar's absence from the lineup
will most likely give freshman Milan
Gajic an opportunity to get back on
the ice. Gajic sat out both games
against Western Michigan to allow
junior Mike Cammalleri to return to
action.
FINALLY ON THE BOARD: Heading into
the playoffs, the Wolverines appear to
have found another scoring threat on
offense.
Well, sort of.
Junior J.J. Swistak tallied a short-
handed goal over the break in Michi-
gan's 6-3 victory over Ohio State on
Feb. 23. It was Swistak's first goal of
the year, ending a 60-game scoreless
drought for the junior.
"I've had so many chances this year,
I've hit posts and haven't been getting
the bounces," Swistak said. "It was a
relief."
But while Swistak has not estab-
lished himself as a top-notch scorer
for the Wolverines, his contributions
have not gone unnoticed during
Michigan's hot streak in the second
half of the season.
. "His niche on this team is to be a
solid defensive player, a penalty killer
and a physical player," Berenson said.
"Those are things he's good at, and
he's been doing them. Right now he's
playing the best hockey of his career."

improvement
By Joe Smith
Daily Sports Editor
Michigan has a new coach this season, but the
results seem very familiar.
The Wolverines hold nearly an identical record
(10-17) and equally poor rankings in several key
statistical categories. But Michigan tri-captain
Chris Young feels that the Wolverines are "a lot
better than last year's team."
What could make the senior center feel so pos-
itive about a team that is one loss shy of tying
last year's dismal 10-18 mark - its worst finish
in nearly two decades?
"Guys are so much more into the game than
last year," said Young, who late last season
admitted that he thought his Wolverines quit try-
ing. "Last year, we wouldn't bring that intensity
at all in a 40-minute game. And now we're play-
ing it for 20-25 minutes, and even longer."
Several Wolverines have pointed to the fact
that there's been much better leadership and trust
this. season. These are less tangible, but they're
signs that the program is going in the right direc-
tion.
"It was more separated last year, and some guys
wanted to go out and do things on their own,"
Michigan junior guard Gavin Groninger said.
Players said that practices have improved dra-
matically since the departure of former coach
Brian Ellerbe, whom they said often did not have
a plan for practice.
But energetic and spirited workouts haven't
translated into success during games this season.
Granted, Michigan does have one more Big
Ten win this year, but the Wolverines still fin-
ished in 10th place in the conference and last in
several important statistical categories.
For example, first-year coach Tommy Amaker
claimed that a newly inspired effort on the defen-
sive end would be one of the pillars to his pro-
gram. While there has been improved effort and
Better than what?
Many feel that this season's men's basketball
team is much improved since last year. But
upon closer inspection, it seems that Michigan
may not have improved as much as it hoped to.

DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily
Even after six consecutive losses, senior center Chris Young still insists that the Michigan program is In
better shape than at the end of last season, when the Wolverines finished 10-18.

choosing a concentration?
The LS&A

intensity, Michigan still finished in last place in
the Big Ten in scoring defense, field-goal per-
centage defense, 3-point field goal percentage
defense and steals:
But Young said that these numbers are deceiv-
ing, as he sees a lot of improvement on the
defensive end.
Last year, "we had no sense of help-side,"
Young said. "Now we have guys in the passing
lanes, we got guys helping other guys. And it's
like, 'dang we're still not winning.'
"It's just frustrating that we've made so many
improvements - just on the defensive end alone
from last year - and yet we're still not able to
put together a win."
Offensively, the Wolverines have proved to be
just as inept. Michigan finished last in assists,
ninth in scoring offense, 10th in field goal per-
centage and last in assist-to-turnover ratio.
"We just need to put the damn ball in the bas-
ket," Amaker said.
In the few categories Michigan improved upon
from last season - scoring defense, scoring

margin, steals and free throw shooting - the
Wolverines finished last in the conference in all
of them except for an impressive second-place
performance from the charity stripe.
But Young said that each Wolverine is more
"invested" in the team, spending more hours before
practice to improve themselves than ever before.
"We played well against all the top teams in
the league," Young said. "Granted, the final
scores haven't really reflected it. But we showed
a lot of effort and played pretty well for at least
half the game.
"And that showed that we can play with pretty
much anybody."
But the Wolverines have a chance to turn
things around and create a springboard for next
season in the conference tournament, starting
tomorrow at 4:30 p.m., when they take on North-
western in what Amaker calls a "winnable
game."
"There's new hope, new life," Amaker said.
"You never know when you can make your
mark."

.1

Record
Big Ten rank
Road wins
20-point losses
RPI
Bad losses
(below 100 in the R
Quality wins
(top 50 in the RPI)

Last season
10-18
10
2
6
130
2
PI)
3

This season
10-17
10
1
8
151
4
1

Concentration & Adising

. rJ -

Fair can help!

Seniors have exceeded expectations

-" ' -

where: Michigan Union Ballroom
when: Thursday, March 7
11:00am-3:00pm

INV

By Matt Kramer
Daily Sports Writer
One thing will be certain Saturday
night in the minutes before the No. 4
Michigan women's gymnastics team
takes on No. 13 Denver and unranked
Washington at Crisler Arena: Coach
Bev Plocki is going to be crying.
That's because Plocki must say good-

see website for Concentration Fair Week programs and events:
http://www.Isa.umich.edu/saa/conefair

bye to her five seniors - Jodie Rosen-
berg, Shannon MacKenzie, Amy Kucz-
era, Melissa Peterson and Erin McWatt.
"I always cry," Plocki said. "I have a
really hard time with senior night
because it's so bittersweet. I'm so proud
of all these kids, but on the other hand, I
don't want to lose them at all."
Four years ago, Plocki never would
have dreamed that this senior class
would have produced so much.
The seniors have gone 70-20 in their
four years, winning three Big Ten and
NCAA Regional Championships and
losing just one Big Ten meet.
Rosenberg and MacKenzie, arguably
the two most important seniors on the
team this season, are both walk-ons
who came to Michigan hoping to spe-
cialize in one event. But they've ended
up providing the team with consistent
scores on two or even three events per
meet.

CRISLER ARENA
Who: No. 4 Michigan (82) vs. No. 14'Denver
(6-2) and Washington (3-5)
When: 4 p.m.
Latest Five Michigan seniors, who boast a
combined 70-20 career record, will compete in
their final home match.
we would ever be doing and have come
a long way."
Plocki says that Kuczera and Peterson
are both gymnasts that showed the grit
and determination to overcome injuries.
"What I'm going to remember most
about Amy is her dedication," Plocki
said. "She has persevered through so
much injury and back pain, and to be
able to continue to even do gymnastics
as a senior is a statement to her passion
for gymnastics."
None of the gymnasts have had to go
through as much under the X-ray
machine asPetersn.

9

E k3

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