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April 09, 2002 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-04-09

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Ctbe 1MidciganBail
PORTS

michigandaily.com
sportsdesk@umich.edu

TUESDAY
APRIL 9, 2002

11I

... . .......

ARUN
GOPAL

My years at Michigan:

A sports fan
S o here it is -my last column for
The Daily. The years at this place
have flown by pretty fast.
With graduation approaching, I've
found myself reminiscing about my
senior year of high school in 1997-98,
when I was anticipating what four years
in Ann Arbor would be like.
I applied to three other schools, but
Michigan was always my top choice for
one reason: Sports. I'd been a rabid fan
of Michigan sports for years, and as I
dreamt about four years at this school, I
couldn't contain my excitement.
You see, 1997-98 was an especially
good year for Michigan's revenue teams.
How good, you ask? How do national
titles in football and hockey and a Big
Ten Tournament title in basketball
sound? From my home in the Upper
Peninsula (insert your tired, rehashed
U.P joke here), I watched all of this ath-
letic success unfold, and all I could think
to myself was, "Man, Michigan sports
are going to be sweet while I'm there.
This is going to be great."
As my fellow seniors will readily
attest, the last four years haven't exactly
been all wine and roses for the Wolver-
ines. For the rest of you, I decided to
dedicate this column to a little game of
"1997-98" and "Now" for each of the
Big Three - football, men's basketball
and hockey.
FoomAu. THEN: Charles Woodson
winning the Heisman, Brian Griese
playing like Joe Montana and Lloyd
Carr looking like a genius. I watched
every one of Michigan's games that
year, and I just kept waiting for the
Wolverines to stumble. Coming off four
consecutive four-loss seasons, not even
the most die-hard Michigan fan
could've foreseen a national title.
But, the improbable kept happening.
This was largely thanks to Woodson -
a man I will worship until the day I die
- who capped off an unforgettable reg-
ular season by single-handedly beating
Ohio State to clinch the Big Ten title
and Rose Bowl berth.
I went to the Rose Bowl and watched
Michigan beat Washington State to win
the national title. Simply indescribable.
To this day, whenever I hear what Carr
told the Wolverines after the game -
"Congratulations, gentlemen. You just
won the national championship" - I
get goosebumps.
FooTBAU Now: Three Citrus Bowls.
Three Citrus Bowls!! A horrible defense
one year, a horrible offense the next
year. Two of the worst cornerbacks in
the history of football, James Whitley
and Jeremy LeSueur (interesting ques-
tion: Who do you think was worse?).
John Navarre. And, last but not least,
hearing "Rocky Top" so many times
this past New Year's Day that the song is
still stuck in my head.
MEN'S HOOPS THEN: Basically, they
were the Ed Martin All-Stars. But, man,

s nightmare
was that team ever sweet. Tractor Tray-
lor. Jerod Ward. Maceo Baston. Louis
Bullock. Hell, even Travis Conlan was-
n't entirely awful. In Brian Ellerbe's first
season as coach, the Wolverines won the
Big Ten Tournament and earned a No. 3
seed in the Big Dance. Granted, watch-
ing Bullock shoot 4-for-50 in a second-
round loss to UCLA wasn't much fun.
But Michigan still won 25 games that
year, including a win over Michigan
State (yes, that's right, once upon a time,
we beat Michigan State).
MEN'S HOOPS NOW: One postseason
game in four years (no, the BTT doesn't
count). Three losing seasons in four
years. I think I've witnessed the worst
four-year stretch in the history of
Michigan basketball.
I remember going to the Michigan
State game at Crisler my freshman year.
There were about 9,000 of Sparty's
biggest fans in attendance, and the
"Flintstones" quickly turned the game
into a rout. With about 10 seconds left,
Jason Klein came down on a fast break
and tossed an alley-oop to Morris Peter-
son, whose tomahawk dunk brought
down the house (which was devoid of
Michigan fans by that point). As my
friends from Michigan State celebrated,
I buried my head in my hands. That
pretty much sums up my four years of
watching this pitiful excuse for a bas-
ketball team.
ICE HOCKEY THEN: Michigan wasn't an
underdog in the NCAA Tournament -
the Wolverines were usually a favorite.
Michigan posted eight consecutive sea-
sons of 30 or more wins from 1990-
1997. In that time, the Wolverines
advanced to six Frozen Fours and won
two national titles. The 1996-97 team
was particularly dominant - led by
Hobey Baker Award winner Brendan
Morrison, Michigan compiled a 35-44
record and scored at least seven goals in
a game 15 times.
ICE HOCKEY NOW:Zero 30-win sea-
sons -in fact, during my freshman
year, Michigan had its worst team in a
decade. The Wolverines won just 25
games and broke a run of four straight
Frozen Fours by falling in the quarterfi-
nals. After losing in the quarters again
the next year, Michigan returned to the
Frozen Four last season and made it two
in a row this year. Not too shabby, espe-
cially in comparison to the basketball
team, but not nearly up to the standards
that previous Michigan teams had set.
So there you have it. Four years at
this school, and not a whole lot to smile
about. With my luck, things will be bet-
ter next year. If (more like when) that
happens, well ... I'm sure I'll be at a bar
somewhere, cheering.
This is Arun Gopal'sfinal columnfor the
Michigan Daily. He can be reached at
agopal@uzmich.edu.

BRENDAN O'DONNELL/Daily
Michigan shortstop Brandon Jominy runs down an Iowa baserunner during the Wolverines' series with the Hawkeyes on Mar. 29-31. The Wolverines will take a break from
Big Ten action this afternoon as they try to improve their nonconference record against Division I St. Joseph's (Ind.).

Baseball welcomes Pumas in
a hastily scheduled matchup

By Jim Weber
Daily Sports Writer

The Michigan baseball team has
faced a tough nonconference sched-
ule this season. That difficult slate,
featuring teams like San Diego, is
one of the main reasons the Wolver-
ines have gone just 4-12 outside of
the Big Ten.
But today should be different.
Michigan will play St. Joseph's
(Ind.), a Division II team, this after-
noon at 3 p.m. at The Fish. Because
previous games against Kansas and
Western Michigan were canceled due
to bad weather in the last few weeks,
the game was added to Michigan's
schedule last week. It has been on St.
Joseph's schedule all season.
The reason for the discrepancy is
that until the cancellations, Michigan
was already scheduled to play the
maximum number of games allowed
by the NCAA.
The Pumas have an unusual
record. After Oakland City swept
them last weekend, St. Joseph's is
18-16-2. That's right - two ties in
one season. The Wolverines didn't
come close to a tie last season when
the two schools met. Michigan
crushed St. Joseph's, 11-1, and 22
different Wolverines got the opportu-
nity to play because of the rout.

St. Joseph's is busy with its own
problems this season. Because of
that, assistant coach John Russo said
that his team has not had a chance to
scout Michigan.
It might not have done much
good anyway, as Michigan is plan-
ning on using a variety of pitchers,
as it did a week ago in a 10-0 victo-
ry over Detroit. -
St. Joseph's coach Rick O'Dette
isn't concerned about the lack of
preparation or about playing a Big
Ten school. In fact, he said the play-
ers are not even looking forward to

playing the Wolverines more than
the Division II schools they ordinari-
ly face.
"Every team we play we get
excited for," O'Dette said. "The
size of the school doesn't make a
difference. It's the guys you put on
the field."
About 80 percent of the guys
O'Dette will play today come from a
junior varsity program that he also
coaches. The junior varsity squad
practices with the varsity and allows
younger players to develop for the
Pumas.

RAY FISHER STADIUM
Who: Michigan (4-4 Big Ten, &16 overall) vs.
St. Joseph's (66 Great Lakes, 1&16.2)
When: 3 p.m.
Latest: The Wolverines look to improve their
record against St. Joseph's, a Division II school
that they defeated 11-1 last year.
Like last year, this game should
improve Michigan's nonconference
record and give valuable experience
to seldom-used players.
But the question remains: Why
does a Division II team like St.
Joseph's schedule a game against a
superior, Division I opponent?
"I don't really know," Russo said.
Hopefully, St. Joseph's will find a
good reason before it leaves The
Fish.
If last year's shellacking is any evi-
dence, there's a good chance that rea-
son won't be an improved record.

Webb battles
Kwan for top
amateur honor
By Steve Jackson
Daily Sports Editor
It may be two more weeks before Michigan track star Alan
Webb competes in the maize and blue again, but the spotlight
is still shining on America's best young miler.
Today in New York, Webb will be vying for the James E.
Sullivan Memorial Award, which honors the best amateur ath-
lete in the United States.
Along with Webb, the other finalists will be figure skater
Michelle Kwan, swimmer Natalie Coughlin, gymnast Sean
Townsend and former Southern Cal. pitcher and current
Chicago Cubs' prospect Mark Prior.
The candidates were chosen based on their leader-
ship, character, sportsmanship and the ideals of ama-
teurism in 2001.
Despite the fact that Kwan makes millions of dollars in
endorsements each year, many people feel that she is the
leader heading into tonight's presentation.
Kwan won the bronze medal at the 2002 Olympic Games
in Salt Lake City.
,k "This is iust an educated guess, but I think it's between

offer topportunity to earn college credits
e Q Y-- wile still having time to enjoy the summer.
Sand and all.

i

BRETT MOUNTAIN/Daily
Michigan freshman miler Alan Webb was the first high school
runner to break the four-minute mile since Jim Ryan in 1965.
"It hasn't really been fully felt yet," Warhurst said. "Every-
body hasn't really been interested in watching us because he
hasn't been running (Webb has missed the last several months

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