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March 14, 2002 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-14

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SPORTS

sportsdesk@umich.edu

THURSDAY
MARCH 14, 2002

8A

Defense a surprising strength for 'M' icers

STEVE

By Naweed Sikora
Daily Sports Writer
During playoff time, one defensive mistake might
not just cost a team a goal, it might cost it a season.
The Michigan hockey team almost saw its season
end last Friday night when a few key defensive mis-
takes led to four Lake Superior goals and a loss. But
Michigan was able to win the series and advance to
the CCHA Super 6 Tournament this weekend in
Detroit.
The Wolverines' defense was expected to be the
strength of this year's team. That, for the most part,
has held true. Senior Jay Vancik has been a consistent
force for Michigan at the blue line, while sophomores
Mike Komisarek and Andy Burnes have also provided
depth and experience. Junior Mike Roemensky strug-
gled during the season, but appears to be picking up
his game now that playoff time has come around (he
posted a plus-2 in the Lake Superior series).

Even freshman defensemen like Eric Wener, Bran-
don Rogers and Nick Martens have been making sig-
nificant contributions.
After 39 games this season, the Wolverines have
held opponents to 23.9 shots and 2.3 goals per game,
while averaging 32.7 and 3.5 themselves. These num-
bers are slightly better than last season wlIen they held
opponents to 24.1 shots and 2.4 goals per game.
Considering that Michigan lost nine seniors to grad-
uation and junior defenseman Jeff Jillson to the NH's
San Jose Sharks, the fact that it has been able to main-
tain the same defensive numbers is impressive.
The Wolverines' stinginess has helped them to a
CCHA regular season title. But the playoffs, of course,
are a different story. No matter how many shots a team
allows, one bad defensive play might end it all.
"Mistakes are bound to happen," Burnes said. "But
(Michigan) coach (Red Berenson) harps on eliminat-
ing breakdowns because they're simple to prevent."
Said Roemensky: "As long as we don't give them

anything, they're not going to get anything. If we take
that approach, we'll be successful in the playoffs and
hopefully the NCAA Tournament."
The Wolverines definitely gave the Lakers some
gifts this past weekend -two breakaways in the first
See DEFENSE, Page 12A
Holding them down
Even though they lost nine seniors to graduation
and two underclassmen (Andy Hilbert and Jeff
Jillson) to the NHL, the Wolverines have not
missed a beat on defense. Here are some of the
key opponents' statistics against Michigan.

JACKSON

Follow the rules and make
March a pro fitable month

Shots per game
Goals per game
Powerplay pct.

2000-01
(40 games)
24.1 2.
2.4
12.5

2001-02
(39 games)
23.9
2.3
10.7

I

Cagers end season
in embarrassment

By Jim Weber
Daily Sports Writer

A season that turned bad quickly
ended last night with a thud.
The Wolverines, who were a presea-
son favorite to win the Big Ten title, lost
62-49 to Val-_
paraiso last 4N VALPARAISO 62
night in the
first round of MICHIGAN 49
the women's
NIT. It was the third lowest point total
for the Wolverines all season.
Jennifer Smith led Michigan with 20
points on 7-of-11 shooting from the
field. The rest of the Wolverines shot
just 24 percent from the floor.
Not even Smith could match Val-
paraiso's 6-foot-5 center Marlous
Nieuwveen, who scored a game-high
26 points. She made all nine of her
field goals and all eight of her free
throws. Guard Katie Boone followed
with 14 points and a game-high 12
rebounds, nine of which came in the
second half.
Trailing by four points with five
minutes remaining, the Wolverines
allowed Valparaiso (13-1 Mid-Conti-
nent, 25-6 overall) to pull away with a

four-point possession. Jeanette Gray
failed to convert a three-point play, but
the Crusaders got their own offensive
rebound. Tabitha Pool was called for a
foul on Nieuwveen after what
appeared to be a clean block, and
Nieuwveen made both shots from the
charity stripe.
Michigan (6-10, 17-13) scored just
four points in the final five minutes of
its season.
The game ended the careers of sen-
iors Alayne Ingram, Heather Oesterle
and Susana Jara.
Ingram, who was in tears after the
game, shot just 2-of-16 from the field.
The Michigan career 3-point shooting
leader was also 0-for-5 from behind
the arc and had five turnovers.
"(I went) into the lockerroom and
realized it's not my lockerroom any-
more, and that's hard," Ingram said.
She was especially disappointed
after how well the team played at the
Big Ten Tournament. Michigan beat
Illinois by 20 points and took Big Ten
Champion Purdue intoovertime before
bowing out in the second round.
"It's disappointing," Ingram said. "It
hurts and it sucks"
See CRUSADERS, Page 12A

day' is the day. All the stars have
finally aligned, and the basketball
gods have blessed us with the
greatest gift of all time. It's tourney time!
Every single sports fan with a pulse
knows that he or she has just two jobs
today - fill out a bracket and watch
CBS till their shape has been perma-
nently molded to the seat.
You could have a midterm tomorrow,
an afternoon shift at work, a hot date
tonight, or even a protest to attend. But
frankly, my friends, none of that matters.
Once my picks have been set in
stone, I'll be firmly planted in front of
the television, eating cheese balls and
enjoying a Nate Newton size container
of my favorite beverage.
But before anyone can reach that nir-
vana of March Madness bliss, he must
first tackle the michigandailycom/
Pizza House Challenge, or one of the
thousands of pools like it.
Because I knoi that a number of you
have been too busy listening to the Dan
Dickau song (available on the audio
page of gozags.com) to fill out a brack-
et, I have summarized my basic rules of
the road so that you too may avoid los-
ing to somebody's dog this year.
Rule No. 1- Right now, before you
think about how badly Gonzaga got
screwed, before you find your favorite
(non-Michigan) team, before you do
anything other than find a pen - put
Duke into the Final Four. It's a done
deal. Unfortunately, we will all be sub-
jected to Dick Vitale drooling all over
the Dukies for the rest of the month.
Rule No. 2 - Don't predict four
No. 1 seeds to reach Atlanta. First of
all, it's about as original of an idea as
opening another New York style
pizza place on East William Street.
Secondly, you want to at least try to
avoid picking the same teams as your
neighbor's hamster, and most impor-
tantly - it's never happened.
This sort of thing is possible in the
women's tournament, but last time I
checked just 10,345 people cared about
women's hoops. (Note this number was
determined using the athletic depart-
ment's random number generator,
which is ordinarily reserved for men's

basketball attendance figures).
Rule No. 3 - Identify perennial
chokers. Kansas, Indiana and Cincin-
nati, I'm looking at you here. Choker
points are also awarded to top-four
seeds that have no players that are rec-
ognizable outside of their immediate
geographic region. Oregon and Ohio
State fit that description nicely.
You should look for a good place to
knock these jokers out before they get
too far. A first-round upset isn't always
the answer, but you must beware.
Rule No. 4 - Educate yourself.
There is just one difference between the
average sports fan and the members of
the selection committee. Every single
sports fan can scour collegeRPI.com
and watch SportsCenter to make intelli-
gent decisions about how good a team
like, say, No. 6 Gonzaga actually is.
For example, if you saw any of the
Bulldogs' games this year, you would
know that Dickau's fiancee, Heather
Nevenner, is absolutely scorching. CBS
may rig a game or two just to keep her
on camera.
Rule No. 5 - Make your decisions
and stick with them. I have /monoga-
mous relationship with my picks. I
never fill out five brackets with five dif-
ferent champions. I love the feeling that
my money is riding on every game in
the early going. I have my "Picks of
Destiny" and I will live or die with
them. Even if I lose out to some crack-
head's 22nd different entry.
Rule No. 6 -Pick one team simply
because of its mascot. Last year, I took
Kent State just because I wanted to
cheer for the Golden Flashes. But this
year, the Salukis of Southern Illinois are
.in a class by themselves.
As an added bonus, the Salukis will
face Bobby Knight (choker) in the first
round -in Chicago.
Knight is a coaching genius, but any
team built around junior college trans-
fers and two guys named "Mikey" is
ripe for an early exit.
Steve Jacksons "Picks ofDestiny" say
that Maryland will cut down the nets. He
can be reached at siackso@umich.edu.

4

0

BRENDAN O'DONNELL/Daily
Michigan forward Heather Oesterle played her last game as a Wolverine last
night in a 62-49 loss at the hands of Valparaiso.

-41

0

Blue not the same team without Guevara

By Bob Hunt
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan women's basketball team may
have been on the floor with Valparaiso last night,
but its mind was elsewhere.
Michigan coach Sue Guevara was not in atten-
dance to see her team end its
season last night because she BASKETBALL
had to tend to her ailing moth-
er who had a relapse of cancer, Notebook
a disease that she has been
battling for quite some time. Guevara was at prac-
tice yesterday but had to leave after her mother's
condition got worse.
Associate head coach Angela Jackson took over,
but things were obviously not the same as Gue-
vara's feisty attitude was missed.
"When you're used to one way, it's definitely
different," Jackson said.
Guevara followed the game over the Internet
and phoned into the bench frequently, "We defi-
antly felt her presence, she just wasn't in the build-
ing," Jackson said.
Guevara is the reason many of these players

came to Michigan. She has known most of the
Wolverines since before they were teenagers play-
ing AAU. The Wolverines had a great deal more
talent than Valparaiso. But without Guevara the
team looked like it was in another place.
"We came to play for her," junior center Jennifer
Smith said. "It just didn't work out."
FALLING FLAT: The women's NIT was supposed to
be a springboard to next season for the Michigan
women's basketball team, but that was until its fire
was taken away. While Michigan had advantage on
the glass, Valparaiso tracked down almost every
loose ball. Valparaiso guard Katie Boone tracked
down eight offensive rebounds of her own.
But that was possibly because Valparaiso had a
lot more to play for. After winning 20 out of 21
games, the Crusaders lost to Oakland in the Mid-
Continent Tournament, keeping them out of the
NCAA Tournament. So they had something to
prove in the WNIT. And while they had beaten
some major conference teams at home, the Cru-
saders had never beaten a major opponent on the
road. Winning against the Wolverines was a his-
toric victory for their program.
"I felt like we were in a good position," Val-

paraiso coach Keith Freeman said. "I'm so happy
for our school and for our program. We're happy
to be here, we're excited."
For Michigan, such a disappointing loss hurt
even more after the Big Ten Tournament. After
playing so well against Illinois and Purdue, Michi-
gan came out with no desire. Other than a solid
20-point performance by Smith, the Wolverines
showed just about nothing. The team's new lineup
got off to a horrid start, falling down by 10, less
than five minutes into the game. Michigan had no
points off the bench and only four combined
points from Alayne Ingram and Heather Oesterle
in their final game at Michigan.
"We didn't play like we played at the Big Ten
Tournament," Jackson said.
For a team that was supposed to finish at the top
of the Big Ten, Michigan is going to have to start
from sqdare one after finishing ninth in the con-
ference. It had the talent to succeed against just
about any team in the conference but came out flat
on countless occasions, turning over the ball and
playing lackluster defense.
"We have to push ourselves harder," Gandy said.
"So we don't end up like we did this year."

France invades Cliff
Keen Arena tomorrow

By Dan Rosen
Daily Sports Writer

For the second season in a row, the
Michigan men's gymnastics team will
face one of Europe's best national
teams. Last season, the Wolverines
used solid all-around perforrhances
from juniors Scott Vetere, Daniel
Diaz-Luong and Brad Kenna to defeat
the Spanish National Team on its home
floor in Madrid, Spain. Tomorrow, the
Wolverines' trip will be slightly short-
er, as they welcome the French Nation-
al Team to Cliff Keen Arena for the
Corritore Classic.
In addition to last season's interna-
tional success, Michigan can be opti-
mistic because its senior leaders seem
to be peaking at the right time. In the
Wolverines last meet, an upset of No.
5 California-Berkeley on Mar. 3,
Kenna and fellow senior Justin Toman

I

tify your future.

DAILY PouRTs:
BRAcKETS DUE AT
NOON TODAY*

CLIFF KEEN ARENA
Who: No. 8 Michigan (3-2 Big Ten, 7-5 overall)
vs. the French National Team
When: 7 p.m.
Latest: The Wolverines get their first look at
international competition in their final home
meet of the season.
combined for four first-place finishes
to lead the Wolverines to victory. Diaz-
Luong has performed well enough at
practice over the last two weeks to
earn extra attention from his coach.
"(He) seems to really be stepping
up," Michigan coach Kurt Golder said.
"It's even possible that he'll work the
all-around this weekend:'
Golder says that he does not expect
a let down after the team's big win
because the athletes have had so much
time to refocus. The long break has
allowed Michigan to rest some of its
injuries and make some minor adjust-
ments entering the final home meet of
the season.
"(Kenna) took a full week off (from)
training and so did Geoff Corrigan,"
Golder said. "So, I think having those
12 days off can be nothing but a plus
for us.
The primary concern for the
Wolverines is the amount of extra
preparation time that a national
team has to train as compared to a
See FRENCH, Page 12A
Food for Thought
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