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April 17, 2002 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-04-17

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ellRiTSugmttilp

michigandaily.com
sportsdesk@umich.edu

WEDNESDAY
APRIL 17, 2002

13

0-line must
readjust again
neXt season
By J. Brady McCollough
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan offense has already found a
theme for the upcoming season: Please be better
than last year.
Just about every position has made this rally-
ing cry in spring practice, and
the unit that could make or FOOTBALL
break the Wolverines' quest Notebook
for improvement is the offen-
sive line - a group that per-
formed below Michigan's lofty standards last
season.
The unit allowed 30 sacks, the most given up
by a Michigan offensive line in more than four
seasons, and the Wolverines' rushing attack pro-
duced just 143 yards per game - 72 yards fewer
than in 2000, when future NFL first-round draft
picks Steve Hutchinson, Jeff Backus and Mau-
rice Williams manned the line.
Like last season, there is significant turnover
on the line. Stalwarts Jonathan Goodwin and
Kurt Anderson - the only holdovers from 2000
- are gone, and the makeup of this year's line
remains uncertain.
"Last year, when times got rough, we stuck
together," junior offensive lineman Courtney
Morgan said. "We have to step it up from our
performance last year. We just know we got a job

David Stern and his
capitalist conspiracy

DAVID KATZ/Daily
Fifth-year senior Joe Denay (No. 73) and sophomore Adam Stenovich consult with new offensive coordinator
Terry Malone on the sidelines during last Saturday's spring game.
to do." tem.
The line's job description is simple, yet Michigan coach Lloyd Carr has made the
demanding: Resurrect a running game that aver- establishment of consistent running attacks para-
aged 3.6 yards per carry last season and protect a mount in preparation for this season. The run-
group of quarterbacks that desperately needs ning backs' goals are to average at least four
time to deliver the ball, while also learning yards per carry and to break out for more size-
offensive coordinator Terry Malone's new sys- See 0-LINE, Page 15

t has become fashionable in recent
years to not just criticize the NBA,
but to pick it apart - piece by
piece - to expose its overall sucki-
ness. It is the
worst organiza-
tion in sports, and
perhaps in the
entire world. If
the NBA were a
president, it
would be Taft. If
the NBA were a
drink, it would be DAVID
carrot juice. If the HORN
NBA were a Tootin
baseball team, it
would be the my own
Tigers. If the
NBA were a building, it would be
Frieze. If the NBA were a television
station, it would be Oxygen.
So at the risk of coming off as
hackneyed and cliche, I want to take
my shots at the once-magnificent
league that has become nothing more
than an uninteresting, exploitative,
irrelevant and greedy excuse for a
governing body.
My purpose here is to expose a
very specific aspect of the NBA that
is particularly germane, given the
approaching two-month odyssey that
is the NBA Playoffs. I want to clue
ya'll in to something called the NBA
conspiracy. Take me very seriously.
The NBA Finals, like every other
aspect of the league, are dictated by
the greed of the league and its owners.
The NBA's primary sources of rev-
enue come via television and market-
ing, and nothing sells more for them
than winning basketball. Folks who
don't tune in for a Heat-Cavs game in
January do watch a Kings-Timber-
wolves playoff game in May, and
sales of Kobe Bryant and Allen Iver-
son jerseys are at their peak when
those players are playing in the Finals.
More to the point,People in Sacra-
mento don't watch the Heat and Cavs
ever, but do watch their hometown
Kings, and they do buy Chris Webber
jerseys for their kids.
So in order to capitalize most on
the playoffs and the Finals, the NBA
has figured out a way to ensure that a
team from one of the league's top
media markets is represented in the
Finals every year.
The three biggest markets are as
follows: New York, Los Angeles and
Chicago. Look back over the last 22
years and tell me how many NBA
Finals did not include a team from
one of those markets. The answer?
Four. 1981 Boston-Houston, 1986

Boston-Houston, 1990 Detroit-Port-
land and 1995 Houston-Orlando.
Since the early '80s when television
and basketball became so chummy,
only one team from a city not among
the top-10 television markets - the
1995 Orlando Magic, led by the
always marketable Shaquille O'Neal
- made it to the championship, when
one of the top-three marketable teams
did not.
Obviously, two of the teams that
represent those media markets - the
Knicks, Nets, Lakers, Clippers and
Bulls - have benefited from two of
the best players in the league's history
(O'Neal and Michael Jordan). But
think of how those players got to their
teams. O'Neal was drafted by Orlan-
do, but found his way to L.A. after
just four seasons. The league just
couldn't deal with all that marketabili-
ty lost in a second-tier market like
Orlando.
As for Jordan, we're all familiar
with how he slipped to third in the
1984 draft. There is no way the NBA
was letting that guy play in Houston
or Portland.
How is the league so manipulative?
I don't know. I don't know what those
conniving capitalists do to make the
wheels turn on the NBA greedmobile.
But there's something at play here.
Looking again at the recent history
of the NBA Finals, consider this:
Those other four teams that have
played in the Finals over the last 22
years (Houston, Philadelphia, Boston
and Detroit) are still top-10 media
market teams. The question is, where
are the Milwaukees and the Cleve-
lands? They haven't sucked because
the cities do; they suck because it's
profitable for the NBA that they do.
The league has gone to great lengths
to see that New York, Los Angeles
and Chicago have fielded strong
teams over the years.
Look at the year San Antonio made
it to the Finals. Now, San Antonio
happens to be the worst market in the
entire Western Conference. So who
did Commissioner David Stern decide
should represent the East? Surprise,
surprise. The Knicks. A coincidence?
Of course not. For the NBA to sur-
vive, people need to watch the games
and buy the merchandized crap. There
really aren't any people in San Anto-
nio, but there are plenty in the New
York tri-state area. When the Spurs
made it to the Finals, the league made
damn sure the Knicks did too.
Oh ... one more thing about that
Knicks run to the Finals. That year -
See HORN, Page 16

WOMEN'S
GYMNASTICS

TUSKALOOSA,
ALA.

CHAMPIONSHIPS

M' needs fast start to
win first NCAA crown,

By Josh Holman
Daily Sports Writer
As members of the Michigan's
women's gymnastics team prepare for
this weekend's NCAA Championships
in Tuscaloosa Ala., they can only won-
der: Could this be the year?
The Wolverines are making their 10th
consecutive trip to the NCAA Champi-
onships, but they have never been
crowned national champions. They've
managed runner-up finishes in 1995 and
1999 and have always hit a roadblock
against one of the nation's other premier
programs.
If the Wolverines are to beat this
year's elite, they'll have to do it right
away. No. 5 Michigan drew the after-

TUSCALOOSA, ALA.
what: NCAA Championships
When: 2 p.m. tomorrow, 8 p.m Friday (if nec-
essary). Individual finals on Saturday, 8 p.m..
Latest: No. 5 Michigan looks for its first NCAA
title in 10 consecutive trips to the NCAA
Championships.
noon session at 1 p.m. tomorrow along
with No. 3 Georgia, No. 4 Utah, No. 6
Louisiana State, No. 8 Nebraska and
No. 12 Arizona. Just the top three teams
will advance to Friday's Super Six.
"In the past, teams have felt like they
needed to save something for Friday,"
Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. "We're
not going to be able to save anything
See CHAMPIONSHIP, Page 14

ALYSSA WOOD/Daily
Sophomore Calli Ryals concentrates on perfecting her uneven bars routine during
the NCAA Regional last weekend in State College.

First place
at stake
for softball
By Courtney Lewis
Daily Sports Writer
Catcher Monica Schock has
recorded a base hit in each of Michi-
gan's last six games, but she isn't
doing anything superstitious to keep
the streak alive. In fact, she wasn't
even aware of it until someone
informed her yesterday afternoon.
Schock's hitting streak, her
longest of the year and currently the
longest of any Wolverine, has been

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the result of
routine
before her
at bats and
creating a
g a mn e
atmosphere
in practices.
"In prac-,
tice, I've
been trying
to have the
same mind-
set as I do in
the game,

sticking to a simple
KALAMAZOO,
EVANSTON
AND IOWA CITY
Who: No. 12 Michigan at
Western Michigan, North-
western and No. 20 Iowa
When: 2 p.m. today, 2 p.m.
Friday, noon Saturday and
11 a.m. Sunday.
Latest: The Big Ten named
Marissa Young Pitcher of
the Week for the second
straight week.

and I think that's helped a lot,"
Schock said, adding that she has
been "trying to see the ball all the
way in on every pitch instead of real-
ly just going out there and hitting."
The sophomore, batting .385 -
second on the team behind Stefanie
Volpe's .404 - and leading the
team with 31 RBIs, enjoys the
expectations placed upon a clean-up

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