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March 26, 2002 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-26

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PORTS

michiganddily.com
sportsdesk@umich.edu

TUESDAY
MARCH 26, 2002

11I

JEFF
PHILLIPS

Martin toes line between

old and new
By now, hopefully, you have
read Athletic Director Bill
Martin's comments regarding
the Ed Martin scandal. In his first dis-
cussion of the scandal with the media
yesterday, AD Martin stressed that the
indictment is just a list of allegations
that still have to be proven.
Now before you get your knickers
in a bunch over this sentiment, under-
stand Martin's position as AD.
Martin is stuck between a rock and
a hard place when it comes to the
issue of Ed Martin. There are two
general opinions about the scandal.
One: This is the most embarrassing
situation in the history of Michigan
athletics and as such, the "Fab Five"
era and the following years did much
more harm than good for Michigan
and its image.
Two: Despite the indictment, the
"Fab Five" and the following mid-
1990s period of Michigan basketball
was the most exciting time for college
basketball and the players' accom-
plishments should not be ignored.
It should not come as a surprise
that the majority of those with the
first opinion are fans from an older
generation, while the majority of
fans with the second opinion grew
up with or were fans of the "Fab
Five." Martin has the unenviable task
of combining the two opposing
views. He is forced to tread a thin
line by not alienating fans on either.
side.
Martin and basketball coach
Tommy Amaker have stressed the
importance of bringing back former
players to renew a sense of success
with the basketball program. This has
led Amaker to make images of the
NCAA Championship team and the
"Fab Five" more prominent in Crisler
Arena and the lockerroom. The latest
revelations have forced Martin to
reconsider the place of those linked
with Ed Martin.
AD Martin told Detroit Free Press
writer and former Daily Sports Editor
Michael Rosenberg that he would
welcome back Webber and even for-
mer coach Steve Fisher, who is now
coaching at San Diego State, to talk
over a cup of coffee.
Martin would still like to have that
coffee, but this time he certainly has
more questions, and, as he told the
media yesterday, he would like

generation
Michigan's General Counsel to be
present.
For better or for worse, the Michi-
gan basketball program will always be
tied to Chris Webber, Maurice Taylor,
Robert Traylor and Louis Bullock.
Their images are pasted on the walls
of everything from dorm rooms to
athletic facilities. They are the most
recognizable players associated with
Michigan basketball. Martin knows
all of this very well and has respond-
ed accordingly.
He easily could have said that he
wants to-completely disassociate the
University from Webber, Taylor, Tray-
lor and Bullock in addition to Eddie
L. But this action would have sufficed
only for the people like former AD
Don Canham and would have left
many students and younger fans
miffed.
If you are frustrated by Martin's
comments thus far, I would advise
you to put your trust in him, just as
the family of Michigan's coaches
have.
Since his ascension to the athletic
director position two years ago, Mar-
tin has been open and available to the
media without being intimidating or
scared. He knew what he was getting
into, and he has made calm, rational
decisions on everything from hiring a
new basketball coach to forming a
new athletic budget.
Martin's choices have always been
made with the athletic department's
integrity in mind, and he wasn't afraid
of any task he has faced thus far.
Likewise, Amaker knew about the
possibility of an indictment of or plea
bargain by Ed Martin when he was
hired, and he isn't jumping ship.
Righting this ship isn't going to be
easy, but the steps are in place to do
so.
Now AD Martin has his toughest
job of all - being the spokesperson
for the Michigan athletic department,
while waiting for NCAA sanctions on
the basketball program. After his first
contact with the media regarding the
scandal, he is off to a good start -
and members of both opposing views
should be glad to have him in the
position.
Jeff Phillips can be reached at
jpphilli@umich.edu.

Comley named
new coach at
Michigan State
By Naweed Sikora
Daily Sports Writer
Ron Mason and Rick Comley have had a histo-
ry together. Yesterday, they added another chapter
to that history when Comley, who has been the
hockey coach at Northern Michigan for the past
26 years, was named to succeed Ron Mason as
Michigan State's new hockey coach. Mason is
stepping down on July 1 to become Michigan
State's athletic director.
"It's a proud moment for me to replace him
here," Comley said. "It's a dream come true for
me and my family."
Comley was the only head hockey coach in
Northern Michigan history and also served as the
school's athletic director from 1987-2000.
The relationship between Comley and Mason
began back in 1967, when Comley played for him
at Lake Superior for four years. He then went on
to become Mason's assistant and took over the
Lakers' head coaching position in 1973, when
Mason departed to coach at Bowling Green.
Three years later, Comley left for Marquette,
where he successfully built a competitive hockey
program from scratch.
"We've always been close friends, whether it's
through hockey schools in the summer or talking
to each other throughout the years," Mason said.
"He's been a good confidant."
Mason also said Comley was the perfect fit for
the job because of his competitive nature behind
the bench and his ability to run an entire hockey
program - not just coach a team.
"Rick's a proven, accomplished coach - he
knows what it takes in this league to be success-
ful," Michigan coach Red Berenson said. "He
knows all the teams in this league. I think he'll be
able to keep the ball rolling at Michigan State."
Although Comley has an impressive past at
Northern Michigan, including a national champi-
onship in 1991, it will be difficult to follow in
the footsteps of Mason.
With 924 career victories, Mason{ is the all-
time winningest coach in college hockey history.
Comley is currently seventh on the list with 597
wins.
For Northern Michigan, Comley's departure
comes at a time when the program was beginning
to move in the right direction. The Wildcats fin-

BRETT MOUNTAIN/Daily
Michigan State freshman Kevin Estrada will be under the tutelage of new head coach Rick Comley next
season. Comley, Northern Michigan's head coach for the past 26 years, was chosen to replace Ron Mason.

ished this season with an overall record of 26-12-
2, good enough for third place in the CCHA.
Their season ended with a 2-1 loss to Michigan
State in the semifinals of the CCHA Tournament.
The Wildcats are on a streak of five consecu-
tive winning seasons, and have a goaltender in
sophomore Craig Kowalski who has the ability to
keep his team in games all by himself.
Michigan State (18-6-4 CCHA, 27-9-5 overall)
had a disappointing end to its season, losing to
Colorado College 2-0 in the first round of the
NCAA West Regional. The loss came less than a
week after it lost to Michigan in the CCHA Tour-
nament championship game.

The Spartans were pleased with the decision
about their new coach, also stating that it was
good that the decision was made so early.
"I think he's a very intense coach, and I think
he'll turn that over to u! and make us a more
intense team," Michigan State junior Brad Fast
said. "He also has a style that is a little more
offensive than we've seen here in the past, and
that's what everyone seems to be talking about."
"I have a couple buddies that play at Northern
right now," Michigan State junior Brian Moloney
said. "They said he loves a physical style and he's
a tough coach that loves to get 110 percent out of
each player."

Softball trades travel for new challenge

Gymnastics excellence
now routine for Plocki

By Bob Hunt
Daily Sports Writer
After coming back from the Louisville Invitation-
al on Sunday night, Michigan softball coach Carol
Hutchins had a talk with her team about the signifi-
cant new challenge that lies ahead: Playing at home.
When the Wolverines run onto Alum-
ni Field this afternoon to face Bowling
Green, it will be their first time playing ALUM
in,.the Midwest this season. Since
Michigan started its season at the Bwl:'Michi
beginning of Feb., it has left the cold Bowln g G
climate of Ann Arbor almost every Latest: Mic
weekend for warmer pastures, playing returns hon
tournaments in California, Florida, tournament
Georgia and Kentucky. But now that two months
the Wolverines finally have the chance Florida, Ge
to play a contest without having to tucky.
spend hours on a plane or bus, it does-
n't make things any easier.
"Being at home is not a home field advantage,"
Hutchins said.
While the Wolverines may not have to travel on a
plane to play against the Falcons, they will have to
incorporate softball with the rest of their lives,
something they have not had to do until now.
"It's going to be a good practice for us to get used
to rushing from class, coming to the lockerroom
and getting yourself mentally prepared for a game,"

[ N
ga
ree
hig
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Is o
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org

junior pitcher Marissa Young said.
As with every team in the Midwest, the Wolver-
ines have to start out every season by playing games
down south or out west - leaving late Thursday
and coming back late Sunday - in order to play a
comparable number of games to western and south-
ern teams. This forces the Wolverines to do just
about everything together, from eating
breakfast to riding on a bus for more
FIELD than six hours.
"You have to learn to get to know
n (21-) vs. each other and get to know each other
(10-9) well." senior third baseman Stefanie
an finally Volpe said. "And learn how to not get
after playing annoyed at people."
ver the past The grueling early schedule forces
California, the Wolverines to play as a team and
ia, and Ken- keep them away from the distractions
of their everyday lives here in Michi-
gan.
"Our group. does really well with staying togeth-
er," Young said. "We enjoy road trips. It gives our
team a chance to spend time together, be close and
keep away from distractions that we might have at
home."
Today's contest will be the final tune-up for the
Wolverines before they start Big Ten play this week-
end, but it is by no means something they can over-
look.
The Falcons' won the Mid-American Conference

Eastern Division last season and finished No. 6 in
the Mideast region in the NCAA rankings. Two
weeks ago Michigan went against another MAC
opponent in the Seminole Classic in Tallahassee and
played with a lackluster approach. The Wolverines
ended up losing to Ball State 5-4 in extra innings.
"We definitely took the wrong approach to (that
game)," Volpe said. "Bowling Green can easily
come out and beat us at any time. We just have to be
on top of our guard and still play like with the same
intensity as if it were a Big Ten game."
"We need to have a no fear attitude," Hutchins
said.
Coming home
The Wolverines finally return to Alumni Field
after weeks on the road.
SEMINOLE CLAssic (TALAHASSEE, RA.), MARcH 8-10
vs. Winthrop W 8-0
vs. Missouri-Kansas City W 6-3
vs. Ball State L 4-5
at No. 22 Florida State W 1-0
vs. Minnesota L 0-7

By Josh Holman
Daily Sports Writer
It was business as usual yesterday at
practice for the Michigan women's
gymnastics team. The Wolverines were
two days removed from their fourth
consecutive Big Ten championship -
their 10th in 11 years - but no one
could tell.
Coach Bev Plocki kept a close eye on
freshman Chelsea Kroll, who was work-
ing on her beam routine. She would
bark occasional words of instruction or
encouragement, but other than that, she
just let her athletes work.
Plocki has been exposed to very little
besides winning in her tenure at Michi-
gan. In 13 years of coaching at the Uni-
versity, she has led the team to 10 Big
Ten titles. It is an enormous swing con-
sidering the 2-19 record the team posted
in the year prior to Plocki's arrival. But
that was still a time where Michigan
gymnastics routinely lost to Mid-Amer-
ica Conference teams, and women's
sports in general weren't always taken
seriously,
"It was under the older philosophy
that women's sports were just around'
because the NCAA required that we
have them," Plocki said. "A lot of the
head coaches also had secretarial
duties."
Enter then-Athletic Director Bo
Schembechler, who decided if women's
sports were going to be around, then

was, 'What can we do next?"'
The Wolverines don't lose to those
pesky MAC teams anymore. In fact, a
number of her gymnasts have turned
down scholarship offers from those
schools for a chance to walk, on at
Michigan and compete for a national
title.
Plocki's current class of seniors all
walked on when they arrived at Michi-
gan. They may not have gotten the
tuition money, but the opportunities
they received were endless. Senior
Shannon MacKenzie is a two-time bal-
ance beam All-American, an honor she
would not have had a chance to receive
at any smaller school.
A team cannot be built from eager
walk-ons ready to learn, though. Plocki
has also been entrusted to coach the
likes of sophomore Elise Ray, captain of
the 2000 Olympic gymnastics squad.
Ray has received some of the finest
coaching in the world - coaching most
gymnasts can only dream about. Ploc-
ki's job is to continue to coach Ray the
way she is used to without interfering
with any of the instruction that Ray has
already received.
"If what I'm saying is not clicking for
them, they need to let me know what
does work for them," Plocki said. "My
job is to almost individualize the way I
coach with every single athlete in the
gym."
Whichever methods Plocki's gym-
nasts bring with them, they must be

LouIsvILLE INVITATIONAL,I
vs. St. Louis
vs. St. Louis
at Louisville
at Louisville

MARCH 22-24
W
W
W
W

8-1
3-2
1-0
3-0

ColeeofLteatrAcenead hvAt

College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Twenty-Fourth Distinguished Senior Faculty Lecture
Terrorism
and Testimonial:
consequences of aftermath
Ross Chambers
Marvin Feiheim Distinguished University Professor
of French and Comparative Literature
2001-2002 Warner G. Rice Humanities
Award Recipient
Tuesday, March 26
410 pm

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