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January 24, 2003 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-01-24

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January 24, 2003
michigandaily. com
sportsdesk@umich.edu

Pe ORTS

8

0

TURNING

THE

TIDE

.. Michigan vs. Michigan State Sunday, 1 p.m. Crisler Arena
Wolverines hope the future of the instate rivalry will be different than the past

The last time Michigan and Michigan State met in
Crisler Arena was two years ago. The stands were filled
with green and white as the cheers of "We own Crisler"
drowned out the meager handfuls of Michigan fans in the
arena. Michigan was humiliated on its own court while Jason
Richardson, then a sophomore, and the rest of the Spartans
tore the Wolverines to the tune of a 91-64 defeat. When the
Spartans were up big in the second half, Richardson was bold
enough to go for a 360 dunk on a fast break.
The ball clanked off the front iron and Spartans coach
Tom Izzo was irate with Richardson on the sidelines. But it
didn't matter. The game was over, and it just added to the
humiliation.
So why are the Wolverines treating Sunday's rematch like it
is just another game? Every player you talk to recites coach
Tommy Amaker's mantra - that it is just one more game in
the conference. "A win's a win in the Big Ten," they say.
"The game's a little heightened because they are rivals, but
we are just going to go out there and play it like another
game' Michigan freshman Graham Brown said.
WHO OWNS CRISLER?
It was Jan. 10, 1998 the last time Michigan beat Michigan
State. The Wolverines secured a 10-point victory at home
against the Spartans. But in the last five years, Michigan State
has handed Michigan eight consecutive losses.
The pinnacle of the Spartans' domination came on March
4, 2000 when Michigan loft 114-63. The 51-point defeat was
a complete degradation at the hands of its arch-rival.
The Spartans have humiliated the Wolverines both in East
Lansing and in Crisler. But cheers of "Go Green, Go White"
were heard all too often when Michigan State traveled to Ann
Arbor.
"It is great to look up in the stands and see that cluster of
Michigan State fans," Michigan State fifth-year senior Adam
Ballinger said earlier this season. "They are usually pretty
loud, too. That kind of support really helps a lot."
The Wolverines' have had almost no home-court advan-
tage, as Crisler has seemed more like a neutral site than
Michigan's home arena. The Spartans have had everything
they could wish for as their fans made the trip down to Ann
Arbor.
But this season things could be turning around. Sunday's
game has been sold out for weeks now, and Wednesday's
game against Minnesota saw almost 11,500 fans pack
Crisler, as the lower bowl was packed with Maize Ragers
standing in the aisles.
SSunday could be an opportunity for Michigan to retake
Crisler - if its fans show up like they have been recently.
Izzo relishes the times he brought his team to Ann Arbor
with a train of fans following the Spartans. But he knows the
tide may be changing, and with it, the rivalry could be reborn.
Having fans travel "is a dream come true," Izzo said. "I
don't think you are going to see that happen anymore. I
think they've figured out how to sell tickets down there
the right way.
"That was a period of time when they were in a down
period. We did take advantage of that just like they would.
I really think this rivalry is going to be back where all the
fans and the media want to be because Tommy (Amaker)

going right there."
BREATH OF FRESHMAN AIR
Earlier this season, Amaker's Wolverines found themselves
0-6 and off to their worst start in school history. Then came
the well-documented turnaround. The Wolverines have not
lost a game since then and hold the nation's second-longest
win streak;, behind only Oklahoma State.
A k it; this turnarotind was a bit of psychological manip-
gtiklAiynaker. After the sixth loss; Amaker gathered his
troops and told them they would put the, past behind them and
start fresh.
Michigan has an opportunity to do this again. The
Wolverines start three freshmen, who have never played
Michigan State, and as Amaker said, do not bear the scars
of those losses.
Michigan freshman Daniel Horton will see' his first Michi-
gan-Michigan State game Sunday when he snits up. He's seen
the Spartans play other teams, but has never watched a game
betweq he two schools.
To some people, it would be insane to say the Michigan
State game is just like any other.
But there is a certain method to the Wolverines' madness.
They are staying close-lipped because that's the best thing
they can do right now. This is not just because Michigan wants
to avoid giving the Spartans bulletin-board material, it is also
a good idea because, psychologically, it is better for them to
think of it as just another game.
Horton, when he was asked if the eight straight losses were
weighing on his mind, said it best.
g"It really doesn't matter to me, because if you come in
thinking, 'We haven't beat them in eight games,' then you are
gointo be pressing to do things you can't really do, (and)
take shots.you aren't really supposed to be taking. You have to
come in witelearmind and clear focus, that if we do what
we've been doing in the past 12 games, then we will be suc-
cessful," Horton said.
Michigan fans are showing up to Crisler mi droves, the
schools are in a fervor over the rivalry, the Wolverines have as
good a team as they have had in years and the last time the
Spartans traveled to Ann Arbor, they embarrassed Michigan.
Think it is just another game?
Last eight vs. State
On Jan. 10, 1998, LeBron James was 13 years old, Barry
Sanders was a Detroit Lion and the Wolverines defeated-
Michigan State. Michigan's steight against the ry
Date: Score: Loss by:
Feb. 17, 1998 75-80 5
Jan. 1, 1999 . . 1 .y..... 14.,
Feb. 18, 1999 58-73 15
Jan. 1 2000 62-82 20
March 4, 2000 63-114 51
Jan. 30, 2001 64-91 27
March 3, 2001 57-78 21
Jan. 30, 2002 44-71 27
Average: 61-84 23

PHOTOS BY DAVID KATZ/Daily(teft)and FILE PHOTO
The Michigan basketball team hopes that the new faces such as Daniel Horton can erase the old memories of State.

is going to do a good job there. Yet when our fans fill that
arena, that's as good as it gets."
NARROWING THE GAPl
The last half-decade of losing has not been indicative of1
the rest of the rivalry. Michigan is 88-64 against the Spar-
tans in the history of their meetings, and the last time one
team dominated the rivalry to such a degree, it was Michi-
gan. The Wolverines won 12-straight meetings between the
two in the 1920s.1
Even Izzo, who has had Michigan's number of late, tasted1
defeat at the hands of the Wolverines more than once.1
Because of the cyclical nature of the rivalry and the losses he;
faced early on at Michigan State, Izzo believes the rivalry is
getting closer.I
"We've dominated recently, and I was dominated in my 1
first three years here," Izzo said earlier this season. "I don't
usually forget where I came from. Everybody talks about the
20-25- point wins, but I was a part of about five 25-point loss-+

es. I see that rivalry getting better because they are going to be
better. It is still a big game because it is your rival."
The rivalry could indeed be getting better as Michigan is
now the hot team. The Wolverines are sitting in first place in
the conference at 5-0 and riding high on a 12-game win
streak. Conversely, the Spartans are 2-3 in the Big Ten after an
impressivenonconference-season thatinoluded a win over
Kentucky in Lexington.
The fact that Michigan is boasting one of its strongest
teams in years and that the Spartans have struggled of late has
to give the Wolverines confidence goinginto Sunday's game. -
Izzo himself said the Wolverines are playing with confidence
and admitted to how powerful a weapon that can be.
For the upperclassmen, who have never beaten the Spar-
tans, this season's matchup is as good an opportunity as they
have had.
"For me, I've never beaten Michigan State, and this will be
a good chance for me to beat them for the first time in my
career," swingman Bernard Robinson said. "That gets me

Cagers overwhelm Wildcats with defense

Icers return and bury
Lakers in first period

By Gennaro FlIce
Daily Sports Writer
In the last two months, the Michigan
men's basketball team has produced a

turnaround of remarkable proportions.
Its relentless effort in running off 12
straight victories, after opening the year
0-6, has caught the attention of people
around the country - especially a

Attention Michigan Hockey fans,
Tickets are still available for the
COuLEGEHOCKEY Michigan vs. LSSU game at the Joel
AT "THE JOE"
s)udent 1Tickets c
t. at
Athlettick3e3t 7575._
Or ca\133)3 95'to

group of basketball-obsessed ladies
right here in Ann Arbor.
"I think my players see what our
guys have done," Michigan women's
basketball coach Sue Guevara said.
"The turnaround that the guys have
gone through, ;going 12-0, (has
occurred) because of their defense."
L a s t
night, Gue- NORTHWESTERN 50
vara's squad
flexed its MICHIGAN 65
defensive
muscle, defeating Northwestern (1-6
Big Ten, 6-12 overall) in a laugher, 65-
50. Michigan's suffocating defense
accumulated 11 steals and caused 20
Wildcat turnovers.
"Honestly that's my philosophy - it
starts with the defense," Guevara said.
"They are buying into and seeing the
results of defense."
The Wolverines (2-3, 11-5) mixed up
their defensive looks throughout the
game, having the most success with a 1-
3-1 zone.
"We like the 1-3-1 because we feel
like we are always out on shooters, and
that it's a big zone, and we can rebound
out of it."
In the first half, Michigan's defense
caused many turnovers that produced
multiple fast break points and helped

Michigan gain a commanding 33-17
lead at the break. Although the game
was close for the first 10 minutes, the
Wolverines took control with an 18-1
run late in the half.
"We always talk about starting the
first five minutes and finishing the last
five minutes with intensity," junior Jen-
nifer Smith said. "We knew Northwest-
ern or any team can make their runs, so
we wanted to continue to put pressure
on them."
The second half proved very anticli-
mactic as the Wolverines consistently
countered any Wildcat attempt to get
back in the game.
Junior Stephanie Gandy enjoyed a
productive game, recording 15 points,
eight rebounds and three steals.
Gandy "has been consistent and
that's what we need her to be," Guevara
said. "She was able to knock down
some jumpers, kept the ball alive by
rebounding, and was all over the place
defensively."
Although Smith struggled in the first
half, she had her way with the North-
western defense in the final 20 minutes,
finishing with 17 points and four boards.
"I challenged (Smith) specifically at
halftime," Guevara said. "She was 1-5
(in the first half) and she finishes 8-12.
"She's getting back to where she was
(before her injury earlier this year).
She's not there yet, but it's coming."
In two days, the Wolverines face one
of their toughest tests of the season, as
Penn State, the Big Ten's No. 1 team,
makes a pit stop in Ann Arbor.

SAULT STE. MARIE - One would
have never known it was Michigan that
had last week off, because it was Lake
Superior State that was suffering from
jet lag for most of the Wolverines' 4-1
win.
Michigan, which had just two prac-
tices with
coaches in MICHIGAN 4
the past two
w e e k s , LAKE SUPERIOR 1
attacked
early and often in the first period. This
set the tone for the entire 60 minutes.
"That was the most important part of
the game," Michigan coach Red Beren-
son said. "One team is going to get the
momentum and we were that team."
With the Lakers managing just two
shots from the blueline in the first five
minutes - five shots total for the period
- Michigan was able to keep the pres-
sure on Lake Superior goalie Matt Vio-
lin. Six minutes into the period, David
Moss scooped up a loose puck and sent
it through Violin's five-hole.
Michigan's next two goals were even
easier than the first. During a shift
change, freshman Jeff Tambellini skated
in unchallenged, shot from the left side
of the blue line and scored between the
legs of Violin for his 13th goal of the
season. At 15:43 of the first, forward
Eric Nystrom went from behind Lake

By Kyle O'Neill
Daily Sports Writer

Superior's goal, skated around two
defenders untouched and recorded a
backhanded five-hole tally.
"I'd say they were hard-worked goals,
especially Nystrom's," Berenson said.
"We worked hard down low and we
attacked the net. Every goal ... put more
pressure on them"
Another plus was the amount of puck
control the Wolverines had in their own
zone at even strength. They avoided
defenders and passed to one another as
if on the powerplay.
"We did some good things in the
offensive zone, and we did some good
cycling" Berenson said. "Did we get a
lot out of it? At times we did."
Without defensemen Eric Werner
(ineligible) and Andy Burnes (strained
groin), the defense relied on little-used
Reilly Olson and forward-turned-
defenseman David Wyzgowski. Wyz-
gowski made a stop on a Mike Adamek
breakaway, and Olson recorded his first
point of the season with an assist on the
Tambellini goal.
"Overall, I thought they did a good
job," Berenson said. "We're not expect-
ing them to carry the team, we just
expect them to fit in. There's one good
thing about practicing every day with
(their teammates), because there's
nobody any better who's going to come
down on you than Jeff Tambellini and
(senior) Jed Ortmeyer."
The first period's excitement was
matched by the second period's lethargy.
Lake Superior State had its best
chance of the period three-quarters into
it when Montoya took a fall in the right
faceoff circle.
None of the Lakers were in position
for the wide-open shot, but the puck did
manage to squirt from a scrum of
Wolverines and Lakers toward the
empty net. On his hands and knees,
Montoya lunged at the puck from 10
Co ,,, -,.I i 4- A _

This Saturday!
January 25 at 7:30pm
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