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March 13, 2002 - Image 10

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-13

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sportsdesk@umich.edu

WEDNESDAY
MARCH 13, 2002

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NIT
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Georgetown's.Esherick
the class act of March

By Bob Hunt
Daily Sports Writer

For the Michigan women's basketball
team, a new season begins today.
The Wolverines' first-round game of
the Women's National Invitation Tour-

team kept its season alive.
"I wanted to take a team that could
show me that they wanted to go," Gue-
vara said. "And that's what I saw when
we came back from practice. It's not
good for our program if I say -'no, we
are not going to go.'

nament against Valparaiso
tonight at Crisler Arena
represents a new begin-
ning. While Michigan's
goal at the beginning of
the season was to make the
NCAA Tournament, going
far in the WNIT would go
a long way toward putting
in the past this season's
disappointments.
"I told the team yester-

CRISLER ARENA
Who: Michigan (6-10 Big
Ten, 17-12 overall) vs. Va[-
pariso (13-1 Mid-Continent,
24-6 overall)
When: 7 p.m.
Latest: Michigan will fea-
ture a new lineup, with
Tabitha Pool stepping in for
Susana Jara.

Not having played since
March 1, the Wolverines are
on a new quest with a new
starting lineup. Tabitha Pool
will start tonight in place of
Susana Jara in a more ath-
letic lineup that will also
include senior Alayne
Ingram starting at point
guard.
Jara, who walked-on four
years ago, had started at the
games this season. But Gue-

day 'I'm tired of hearing how disap-
pointed we are and how we didn't live
up to expectations,"' Michigan coach
Sue Guevara said. "The reality is that
we are in the WNIT. Let's do the very
best we can."
After playing far below expectations
in Big Ten play, there was some discus-
sion as to whether the team would be
playing in March at all, but after play-
ing well at the Big Ten Tournament the

point 19

vara wanted to replace her with the
more offensive-minded Pool to help
dictate the tempo at the start of the
game.
"I felt that with that five we are
going to start out right away," Guevara
said. "It's not a knock on (Jara), but I
want five weapons on the floor to start
the game."
See WNIT, Page 11

DAVID ROCHKIND/Daily
In an attempt to put a more skilled, attacking team on the floor, Michigan coach
Sue Guevara has inserted Tabitha Pool into the starting lineup for Susana Jara.

Cagers taking advantage of home court

By Charles Paradis
Daily Sports Writer
The last time the Michigan women's basketball
team played at Crisler Arena, the Wolverines were
trounced by Penn State, 65-47 on senior night. Now
Michigan has one more chance to make a stand at
home as it takes on Valparaiso in.the first round of the
WNIT tonight.
One of the major differences between the WNIT
and the Women's NCAA Tournament is that after the
first two rounds WNIT games are still played at cam-
pus locations. After the embarrassment at the hands of
Penn State, Michigan is anxious to get back on the
court at Crisler and defend its turf.-
"I think it is going to be nice to play a couple of
tournament games at home," senior guard Alayne
Ingram said. "It is just good that we get another
chance to win on our own court."
Michigan earned the right to host the first-round

game and has petitioned to host its remaining games
as well. Part of what will determine whether Michigan
continues to host games is the attendance tonight.
"With the WNIT, in the second round, a lot of times
it is based on attendance," Michigan coach Sue Gue-
vara said. "I'm hoping we can get a decent crowd in
here and we play well and that we will be playing here
on the weekend too."
Michigan hopes its strong performance in the Big
Ten Tournament over spring break, including a first-
round upset over Illinois and an overtime loss to top-
seeded Purdue, will bring the fans to Crisler.
"Our faithful are going to show up," Michigan jun-
ior center LeeAnn Bies said. "We can get a pretty nice
crowd in here to support us."
Bies and Ingram were both named to the All-Big
Ten second team this season, and both are glad to
have the chance to play at least one more game in
Crisler this season. Michigan hopes to put on a better
show than it did against Penn State.

"I think it is great, because for the seniors, we did-
n't have a good senior night for them;' Bies said. "I
think it is a second chance for us to play better for
them and for them to have another chance to play at
Crisler for a win."
If Michigan wins the game tonight it will play the
winner of the Ball State/Louisville game, and the
Wolverines may have to travel to either campus site
depending on the WNIT committee's decision.
Regardless of where the team plays, Guevara knows
her players will relish the opportunity to play one
more time with maize and blue on their backs.
Michigan has high expectations for itself going into
the tournament. The Big Ten is ranked third among
conferences in the RPI, and with their success in the
conference tournament, the Wolverines are excited
about their chances.
"As long as we keep playing the way we ended the
season, we should go pretty far," Ingram said. "(But)
we gotta knock down this first game."

The best story in college basket-
ball during this 2002 edition of
March Madness is that of the
Georgetown Hoyas. They won't be
participating.
When Georgetown was not given an
at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament
and instead received an invitation to the
NIT, coach Craig
Esherick respectfully
declined. He
explained that in
order to play in whata
is considered to be
the "loser's" tourna-
ment, Georgetown
would have to travelD
west, because the DAVID
MCI Center in Wash- HORN
ington, D.C. will be Tooting My
hosting East Regional Own
games for the "real"
tournament. The traveling would require
Esherick's players to miss classes, and
the coach would rather his players attend
class and receive an education than par-
ticipate in the "Not Interesting Tourna-
ment."
"We wanted to play, but didn't want to
play at all costs;' Esherick told The
Associated Press. "We're in school now
Last year we spent two weeks out west
and didn't want to do it again."
Thank you, coach. This is the most
refreshing thing I have ever heard from
an NCAA basketball coach.
It's bad enough that the NCAA Tour-
nament lasts three weeks, keeping 12
players from 64 teams out of their class-
es for half a week (and much longer for
some). That the NIT exists at all, keep-
ing an additional 480 players out of class
is ludicrous.
The prestige of the NCAA Champi-
onship is not on the line in the NIT. The
level of competition is decent, but noth-
ing spectacular. Watching Butler and
Minnesota battle in the NIT could be
interesting, but I would just as soon take
satisfaction in knowing that those Min-
nesota players were back in Minneapo-
lis, writing their poli-sci papers.
The NIT, really, is just an excuse for
the NCAA to generate more television
revenue.
Esherick admitted that to play for a
national championship in the NCAA
Tournament, his team would be happy to
travel. But all that traveling for the NIT?
"After a while I said, 'Look, maybe
we're better off not doing it," Esherick
said.
I can't praise Esherick enough for this
kind of thinking. I wish more coaches
didn't accept the NIT scraps the NCAA
was throwing to them. I wish they all
took as much pride in their players' class
attendance as they do in winning what is
perhaps the most unnecessary tourna-
ment in sports (besides, perhaps, the
CONCACAF World Cup qualifying
tournament).
The NCAA hypocritically professes
to be a friend of the student, and claims
that scholarship takes precedent over
athletics. Then why have the NIT at all?
The teams involved didn't make the Big
Dance; do they deserve this pathetic
consolation prize at the cost of missing
more class?
It's a long season, and players miss

enough class already. The argument can
be made that this is preparing them for
the rigorous travel schedule of the NBA,
but such a small number of these players
will ever play professional basketball
that I don't think that argument holds
water.
After covering the Michigan basket-
ball team this season, and I thank heaven
that the season is over; not because I
didn't enjoy covering the team, but
because I spent months making excuses
to professors about how I couldn't hand
in my paper on time because I would be
traveling to Bloomington for a game. I
can only imagine how many excuses
need to be made on behalf of student-
athletes.
The NCAA is sending student-ath-
letes from Hawaii to Dallas for their first
round game, kids from Ohio State to
Albuquerque and kids from UCLA to
Pittsburgh.
Every year, the NCAA Tournament is
arguably the most exciting sporting
event in the country. It is a great part of
the national sporting landscape, and I
would be vilified if I suggested here that
it be tampered with too drastically. But
to keep the Bruins, Buckeyes and Rain-
bow Warriors closer to home in the
future, some changes ought to be made.
I propose a system of "regionaliza-
tion." The quality of teams is fairly even-
ly dispersed across the country (except
of course for Big Ten country), and I
think it would be pretty intriguing to see
regional matchups leading up to the
Final Four. Put all the teams that make
the Tournament from the WAC and
PAC-10 in the West; put all the teams
from the Big East, Atlantic-10 and ACC
in the East, etc.
This year, three of the eight-
seed/nine-seed matchups could be
regionalized. In the South, Notre Dame
is playing Charlotte. In the West, UCLA
is playing Mississippi. In the Midwest,
Stanford is playing Western Kentucky.
Wouldn't it be easier to have Notre
Dame play Western Kentucky in the
Midwest, Charlotte play Mississippi in
the South and UCLA play Stanford in
the West? Sure, part of the fun of the
NCAA Tournament is seeing teams that
don't usually get to play each other do so
in the early rounds, but as Esherick says,
"At what cost?" It would make a lot
more sense to let teams battle for region-
al supremacy in the early rounds, and
have true regional champions battle in
the Final Four.
As graduation rates for basketball
players decrease, the NCAA needs to
recognize how consuming it is for stu-
dent-athletes to play an entire season of
basketball. It takes away from their stud-
ies, their social lives and their capacity
to work a job and earn money. The NIT
is a joke, and Esherick realizes that there
is something more important than play-
ing in it. The NCAA Tournament is fan-
tastic, but still needs some work to make
it student-friendly. I hope coaches will
follow Esherick's lead in coming years,
and force the NCAA to become a true
friend of the student-athlete.
David Horn can be reached via e-mail
at hornd@umich.edu.

49

Breakaways could be key for M' playoff push

By Chris Burke
Daily Sports Writer

With 10:17 remaining in the second
period of the Michigan hockey team's 4-
1 win on Sunday night against Lake
Superior, freshman Dwight Helminen
bad a lot of ice to himself.
The forward was selected by Michi-
gan coach Red Berenson to take a penal-
ty shot that Michigan was awarded after
a Lake Superior defender covered a
loose puck in his own crease.

Helminen skated as the Yost Ice
Arena crowd rose to a fever pitch, and
snapped a shot from the slot. The
attempt beat Lake Superior goalie Matt
Violin, but rang off the goal post, pre-
venting the Wolverines from going
ahead 3-0.
"He took a good shot from about the
hash marks and he beat the goalie, he
just missed by a little bit," said Michigan
associate head coach Mel Pearson, who
played college hockey at Michigan Tech.
"I think you just try to shoot the puck,

you don't want to over-handle it - if
you saw me (play) and my hands, you
knew that I had to shoot the puck
because I couldn't handle it."
Helminen's attempt was the second
time this year the Wolverines have failed
to tally a goal on a penalty shot. Forward
J.J. Swistak was stopped in Michigan's
5-4 overtime loss to North Dakota in the
Great Lakes Invitational on Dec. 28. As
opposed to Helminen's near-miss, Swis-
tak was unable to get a shot off as North
Dakota goalie Jake Brandt rushed out
and poke-checked the puck away from
the charging forward.
But as simple as the aim of a break-
away or penalty shot might appear,
every player approaches an attempt at
hockey's most exciting play differently.
"A lot of guys know what they're

going to do," Michigan forward Milan
Gajic said. "I personally like to go five
hole or (top) shelf, but I hardly ever
deke. But then a lot of guys that never
shoot always deke, so it's just what
works for you."
"If you can shoot from the hash
marks stickside it's a good place to go,"
freshman Michael Woodford said. "But
if you think about it too much, you
might lose the puck or shoot it wide."
The goalie in a breakaway situation is
also faced with some decisions of his
own. Brandt opted to charge out after
Swistak, but his strategy was unusual.
"Basically you want to think about
cutting down the angle, staying out and
forcing (the shooter) to deke," third-
string goalie Justin Spurlock said. "You
See BREAKAWAYS, Page 11

S

>ishi-- u

TOP FIVE 7
.REASONS TO M °
NTh ssimr
SIATTEND THE
SUPER SIX
CHAMPIONSHIP: .......*

5. A good reason to yell "ROAD TRIP!" and get off campus
for the night.
4. See Mike Cammalleri light up the scoreboard.
3 Student tickets only $7.50 (what a deal)
2. You can call MSU goalie Ryan Miller a "SIEVE!"
1. Cheer on your Wolverines to the 2002 CCHA
Championship playoff title.

>your first time traveling abroad, that is.
>europe from $55 a day! our textbooks cost more than that. contiki
has 100 worldwide trips to choose from and you can do it with people
your own age. with such a great deal what are you waiting for?!??!!!
h e re > greek island hopping > mediterranean highlights
14 days from $969 14 days from $859
to go: > european getaway > simply italy
8 days from $589 13 days from $749

}4 n

F

CCHA CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND
FRI., MARCH 15 " QUARTERFINALS
SEED #3 VS. SEED #6 " 4:00 PM
SEED #4 VS. SEED #5 " 7:30 PM
SAT., MARCH 16 " SEMIFINALS*
SCnF 1 &1 -t w#n 2A . -Pn: ;M

Ab

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