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April 02, 2002 - Image 14

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-04-02

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0

Ate IIbia ~di
SPORTS

michigandaily.com
sportsdesk@umich.edu

TUESDAY
APRIL 2, 2002

14

r

Simply Juan-derful

ARUN
GOPAL

Ugly matchup
was better than
CBS' coverage
rWe're not old enough to remember Indiana's
WAIprevious two championship games, and were
not born for the previous three. But we're pret-
ty sure that this one - the Hoosier's sixth trip to the
championship and their first loss - was the ugliest yet.
Maryland's 64-52 win over Indiana may well have
been the worst championship game in most of our life-
times. Indiana was all but incapable of hitting a field
goal that was not a 3-pointer, and it did not get to the
free-throw line in the entire second half. Maryland,
meanwhile, played sloppi-
ly and carelessly, in a style g
that CBS commentatorsr
Jim Nance and Billy Pack-
er repeatedly referred to as
"out of sync."
Regardless, a champi-
onship banner will hang 2 0 LN
from Cole Field House
before they tear the old CO
barn down.
Some observations from last night's game (and CBS'
broadcast):
UGLIEST MAN EVER?: Jared Jeffries followed up his
lackluster Final Four performance against Oklahoma
(eight points) with an equally disappointing game
against Maryland (eight points).
LIVE BY THE THREE, DIE BY THE THREE: Indiana has all
season long, particularly in this tournament. The
Hoosiers were a combined 10-of-23 from behind the arc
last night, but unlike Saturday against Oklahoma (when
they shot 6-of-6 on 3-pointers in the second half) the
Hoosiers faded down the stretch, and were outscored by
Maryland 22-10 as the clock wound down.
BIGGEST DISTRACTION: There were surprisingly few
commercials for CBS's new sitcom 'Baby Bob.' Thank
God. But the repeated use of the stattracker to show that
yes, Juan Dixon STILL led the tournament in scoring
average, was deplorable. While Mountain Dew and Mer-
cedes do deserve their due ad time, CBS found a way to
take away from an enjoyable viewing of an important
game in a way that only FOX'S World Series broadcast
could rival.-
BEST INFOGRAPHIC: CBS decided it would be couth to
superimpose Maryland sharpshooter Juan Dixon's head
on the body of a cartoon terrapin and label the graphic
"Juanderful." Brilliant. Runner-up was an animated lot-
tery ball dispenser illustrating how the Terrapins have
faced the 16th, 8th, 4th, 2nd and 1st seeds to advance to
the championship game. Muy impresivo.
BEST NECKTIE: Indiana coach Mike Davis' red Indiana
tie, which he has worn for two games in a row. Davis
makes up for his poor fashion sense by his honesty and
integrity, and the shot of him walking off the court with
his arm around guard Tom Coverdale, which will surely
be used in sappy CBS montages for years to come.
And the winner is ...

4

Michigan nine deserves
its fair share of criticism

e Michigan baseball team is
Tprobably feeling pretty good
about itself right now, and with
some reason - the Wolverines just
won three of four games against Iowa
this weekend to open up the Big Ten
season. Thanks to some solid pitch-
ing performances from Bobby
Korecky and Rich Hill, Michigan
was able to give the fans at The Fish
something to cheer about.
I hate to rain on Michigan's parade
(well, that's actually not true at all. I
enjoy it an awful lot), but taking
three of four from the Hawkeyes
doesn't erase the awful start that the
Wolverines had to this season. For
those who don't remember, here's a
little refresher - Michigan lost 12 of
its first 15 games and entered this
weekend ranked last among all Big
Ten teams in pitching, hitting and
defense.
Yes, you read that correctly. Michi-
gan was dead-last in the Big Ten in
all three phases of the game. The
absolute low point for the Wolverines
had to have come against San Diego
on March 3, when Michigan gave up
13 unearned runs in one inning en
route to a 21-2 flogging at the hands
of the Toreros. How do you go about
giving up 13 unearned runs in a
game, let alone in one inning? That
might be the most astonishing statis-
tic I've ever seen, but Michigan
demonstrated that when you put your
mind to something, anything is pos-
sible, including feats of staggering
ineptitude.
In fairness to the Wolverines, 14 of
their first 15 games were played on
the road. But that's common for col-
lege baseball teams in the Midwest
and the Northeast. Since the weather
in those regions is frigid until May,.
teams like Michigan usually have to
play a ton of road games before they
can play a home game. Sure enough,
the Wolverines had 12 road contests
before they finally got a home game,
and they made the most of their
chance to play at The Fish by beating
Bowling Green 4-3 on March 19.
Still, it's impossible to overlook
just how horribly Michigan played to
start the season. In past years, the
Wolverines have had moderate suc-
cess in their season-opening road
swing, but they've never been any-
thing special. The Big Ten hasn't
been very kind to the Wolverines
either - the last two years, Michi-
gan has a combined record of 20-32
in conference play.
Why am I picking on the baseball
team, you ask? The main reason is
that I can't understand how the base-
ball team can get swept by Texas-San
Antonio while the softball team

ranks among the nation's best.
Michigan's softball team currently
sports a record of 24-7, and the
Wolverines are coming off a two-
game sweep of Ohio State, which
was ranked No. 25 in the nation at
the time. The wins over the Buckeyes
give Michigan seven wins over top
25 teams this season, and it's only
April 2.
Michigan's softball team is annual-
ly one of the best teams in the coun-
try, even though it has to deal with
all of the same obstacles that the
baseball team deals with. Much like
baseball, softball has its greatest
popularity in the west and in the
south, so that's where the best players
and the best teams, like Oklahoma
and UCLA, are. The Wolverines
never get to play any of those power-
houses at Alumni Field - instead,
Michigan plays them in early-season
tournaments (read: road games) in
California and Florida. This season,
the Wolverines played their first 27
games on the road and amassed a
record of 21-6. Michigan appears
well on its way to another NCAA
Tournament bid and could make a
return trip to the Women's College
World Series.
The tremendous success of the
softball team renders all excuses for
the baseball team's mediocrity moot.
Considering how much flak the foot-
ball and basketball teams at this
school receive (and make no mistake,
it's all justified), it's amazing how lit-
tle criticism the baseball team gets.
The Wolverines annually fight to
finish in the middle of the Big Ten
pack and are on their third coach in
the last decade, yet nobody ever
wonders what's wrong with the base-
ball program.
I'm not saying that Michigan's
baseball team should be contending
for the national title every year, but I
don't think it's unreasonable to
expect winning records in Big Ten
play and a decent nonconference
showing (as opposed to two losses by
more than 10 runs and another loss
by nine, which Michigan suffered
this year between Feb. 24 and March
3). The fact that the softball team is a
national power makes the baseball
team's ineptitude that much more
glaring.
With that said, maybe this week-
end's success against Iowa is a sign
of good things to come for the base-
ball team. Now that they're only
seven games below .500, it's time to
start thinking Big Ten title, isn't it?
Arun Gopal can be reached at
agopal@umich.edu.

4

AP PHOTO1
Maryland's Juan Dixon falls on top of teammate Lonny Baxter after defeating Indiana 64-52 to win the
NCAA final in Atlanta last night, while Tahj Holden hangs over the celebrating seniors.
Terrapins taste NCAA title

ATLANTA (AP) - For more than 20 min-
utes, Juan Dixon was nearly invisible, a little
man lost in the cavernous Georgia Dome.
Then, when Mary-
land needed him . 'INDIANA 52
most in the NCAA -
championship game, MARYLAND 64
Dixon knocked down
two of the biggest shots of the night against
Indiana.
No way he was going to let this title get
away from the Terrapins.
Dixon endured too much heartache in his
life, losing both parents to the drug culture.
He heard too many people say this skinny kid
couldn't make it at a big school such as
Maryland.
When the Terps were reeling, Dixon was
there for them - just as he had been all sea-
son.
The All-American guard scored 18 points
and made five steals last night to propel
Maryland to its first national title, 64-52 over
Indiana.

After going 20:22 without scoring, Dixon
made a 3-pointer that put Maryland ahead to
stay with 9:40 remaining, erasing the only
lead the Hoosiers had all night.
Then, with the look of a man on a mission,
Dixon sank a fadeaway jumper over his des-
ignated stopper, Indiana's Dane Fife. Mary-
land steadily pulled away from that point,
overcoming a sloppy performance that threat-
ened to ruin its first appearance in the cham-
pionship game.
"I was patient and let the game come to
me," Dixon said. "I can't put into words what
this feels like."
When the horn sounded, he hurled the ball
into the air and collapsed to the court
between teammates Lonny Baxter (260
pounds) and Tahj Holden (247).
Somehow, Dixon's 165-pound body held up
in the human sandwich.
"I may be small, but I'm not weak," he said
a day before the game. "I may be 165, but
don't let it fool you."
See TERPS, Page 15

The winner of the michi-
gandaily.com/Pizza House
Challenge is Eric Goodman.
Congratulations, Eric - you
and your friends have won a
pizza party with 10 pies
from Pizza House.
We all envy your knowledge

<,y ,.
-. ;;
f '~

- and luck.

MEN'S GYMNASTICS NORMAN, OKLA.
CHAMPIONSHIPS

Michigan golf not so
'fabulous' on par 5s

Blue turns to talented seniors as
run for national title culminates

By Evan Brown
Daily Sports Writer
It has the confidence.
It has the talent.
But does the Michigan men's gym-
nastics team have the leadership and
competitive edge to win an NCAA
Championship?
After placing second in the Big Ten
Championship over a week ago, the
Wolverines were one of 12 teams invit-
ed to compete for the national champi-

onship this weekend in Norman, Okla.
The championship will last two days,
with the field of 12 being cut in half
after the first day of action is complet-
ed Thursday. The final six teams will
then battle for the crown on Friday.
"We (gained) a lot of confidence
from our performance (in the Big
Ten's)," Michigan coach Kurt Golder
said. "We need to go out and gain
some consistency from match to
match, though."
Michigan is grouped with this year's

Big Ten champion Ohio State, as well
as Illinois, Minnesota, Temple and
Stanford for the first day's preliminar-
ies, The Wolverines lost to the Buck-
eyes by three points in the Big Ten
Championship but beat them in the
first match of the year. Michigan has
faced Illinois and Minnesota two other
times this season, defeating Minnesota
both times and splitting with Illinois.
The Wolverines' season has had a lot
of ups and downs. Lately there have
been a lot of the former, as they have
continued to improve and gain confi-
dence. Michigan still hasn't performed
up to expectations, but it surprised
some by finishing second in the Big
Ten. The Wolverines will need to focus
on consistency and leadership to come
out on top.
The first place to look for such lead-
ership is with the captains, seniors

LLOYD NOBLE CENTER
What: NCAA Championships
When: 2 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m.
Saturday
Latest: This could turn into a Big Ten show-
down. Ohio State is the favorite to win the title,
but the Wolverines fell just short of the Buck-
eyes at the Big Ten championships.
gan man," Golder said. "There is never
a worry about his responsibility. (He
has) great leadership, evident from his
four-time captainship. You can't say he
was a coach's pet to get it for four
years, he was nominated and elected
by his peers."
Senior Daniel Diaz-Luong is on the
U.S. National Team as well, and he has
also been a gymnast for 17 years. He has
been a multiple All-American over the
last three years, and he also has added
several Big Ten titles to his resume.
"He is hitting a peak lately," Golder
said. "He is looking very good in prac-
tice, we need him to have a good meet
this weekend. We have high expecta-
tions for him."
Fellow senior Brad Kenna has never

The number fivecarries certain
significance for everyone.
But, for the Michigan women's
golf team, the number five has been
troublesome.
Halfway through the
Wolverines' spring sea- BLOOM
son, statistics show that Who: Michiga
par 5 holes have taken ana invitation
their toll on Michigan. When: Saturd
"I think that par 5s day morning
are the worst of any- Latest: The
thing we are struggling haven't comps
with,"coach Kathy fourth-place ft
with," Lady Seahawi
Teichert said. "This on Mar. 25-2
year, we haven't played
par 5s as well as we should have,
given the caliber of our players, and
how they hit the ball."
Unfortunately for Michigan, this
lack of consistency doesn't end
with par 5s. The Wolverines have
been struggling to stay consistent in
all aspects of their game during the
spring season.

By Gennaro Filice
For The Daily

progress this weekend at the Indi-
ana Invitational in Bloomington.
Michigan will keep the same start-
ing lineup it has used all year:
Seniors Misia Lemanski, Cortney
Reno, LeAnna Wicks, junior Kim
Benedict and freshman' Laura Olin.

INGTON
an at the Indi-
al
lay and Sun-
Nolverines
peted since a
inish at the
k Invitational
6.
and we c

With just two more tour-
naments beore the Big
Ten Championship
(April 26-28), this week-
end's action carries great
significance for the
Maize and Blue.
"We have to go into
every tournament with
focus and determination
to succeed," Teichert
said. "We're here to win,
can't take any competition

Experience and strength

Justin Toman
The fifth-year senior was a member of the U.S.
National Team for three years. Toman was also
voted by his teammates into a captainship for
an unprecedented four straight years at
Michigan. The former Big Ten and national
champion on the parallel bars will leave with

I

lightly."
Teichert feels confideat that her
team will be sturdy competitors in
both the Big Ten Tournament, and
possibly the NCAA regional in
May.
"I really feel like we 'have a
strong team," Teichert said. "I think

i

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