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January 29, 2003 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-01-29

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 30, 2003
:h-'M' battles Bulldogs for first place

By Courtney Lewis
Daily Sports Writer

Last season, Ferris State finished
ninth in the CCHA, and it was
picked in this season's preseason
polls to end the 2002-03 campaign
in the same spot. Needless to say,
the Bulldogs raised a few eyebrows
by roaring to first place and staying
there to this point.
But Michigan must have known
something nobody else did, because
several Wolverines said they
expected Ferris State to be among
the league leaders.
"We knew they'd be up there,"
freshman Jeff Tambellini said.
"They've got some guns on their
team."
Guns blazing, the Bulldogs will
battle to keep their top spot when they

clash with the Wolverines in a home-
and-home series this weekend. Ferris
State sits four points ahead of second-
place Michigan in the CCHA stand-
ings. The Wolverines have two games
in hand, but finish with a tougher
schedule than the Bulldogs. No won-
der Tambellini said this weekend is
"huge."
Michigan coach Red Berenson said
goaltending had been the one question
about Ferris State, and sophomore
Mike Brown has answered it, posting
a 2.38 goals against average.
The Bulldogs sport the No. 1
offense in the league, led by senior
Chris Kunitz. The forward leads the
league with 48 points, and his 20,
goals rank first in the CCHA and
third in the nation. But Ferris State's
offense isn't one-dimensional.
Besides Ku'nitz, sophomores Jeff
Legue and Derek Nesbitt are also
among the league scoring leaders.
For the Wolverines, this isn't exact-
ly the best time to face such a prolific
offense. Berenson has been looking
for better team defense for several
weeks, and now Michigan is under-
Victory over

manned behind the blueline. Junior
Andy Burnes is returning from a
groin injury. Forward J.J. Swistak
skated as a defenseman in practice
yesterday and may fill the sixth spot
this weekend.
Tambellini said defense is Michi-
gan's biggest concern this weekend,
and that it will take "a group effort" to
shut down Ferris State's snipers.
Still, after chasingthtBulldogs
all season, the Wolverines are more
than ready to finally meet the
upstarts on the ice.
"This is what you dreamabout - a
weekend where you can grab first
place, and playing against one of the
better teams in college hockey," Tam-
bellini said. "It doesn't get any better
than this right now"
r THIS
YOST ICE ARENA, EWIGLEBEN ICE ARENA
Who: Michigan (1141 CCHA,17-&1 overall)
vs. Ferris State (1341, 18-1)
When: 7:35 p.m. tomorrow, 7:05 p.m. Saturday
Latest: A Michigan sweep would tie the teams
atop the CCHA standings. Ferris State has
never finished higher than third in the league.
Spartans

key to Big Ten recovery

By Josh Holman
Daily Sports Writer

The best thing to do in the Big Ten
is forget. Whether it's a string of quali-
ty wins or a tough loss, the conference
schedule demands respect one game at
a time. If the Michigan women's bas-
ketball team hasn't learned that lesson
yet, it can learn it the hard way tonight
at the Breslin Center against in-state
rival Michigan State.
The Wolverines are coming off a
heartbreaking 72-70 loss against Big

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Ten leader Penn State, in which they
led by 13 at one time.
There's little time to dwell on what
could have been for Michigan (2-4
Big Ten, 11-6 overall), which is fac-
ing a Spartan team that's won four of
its last five. A win in East Lansing
pushes the Wolverines just a bit clos-
er to the 4-3 log jam in the middle of
the conference between Minnesota,
Illinois and Michigan State. A loss
drops the Wolverines to 2-5 in the
Big Ten, miles away from contention
right before another road game
against Wisconsin.
"We have to prepare by going hard
in practice," sophomore Tabitha Pool
said, "Everybody might be a little
tired, but we have to suck it up and go
out there and perform."
While the key may be to forget past
performances, Michigan has been
fighting against the memory of last
season, when it managed only a 6-10
Big Ten record after a 10-1 preseason
start. While the record will be the final
judge, Sunday's game may have
shown that it's not time to give up on
the Wolverines yet.
"I saw a lot of good things in that
film," Michigan coach Sue Guevara
said. "Now it's just a matter of finish-
ing the pldy out. I think we can play
with anybody,"
Guevara attributed part of that per-
formance to her team's improving
health status. Junior center Jennifer
Smith and freshman Niki Reams are
both slowly recovering from knee and
wrist injuries, respectively.
The Wolverines need to be as
healthy as possible against the Spar-
tans. While the combination of Smith
and senior LeeAnn Bies is usually
enough to bully the opposition, Michi-
gan State brings its own set of bruis-
ers, boasting five players listed at six
feet or taller. One of those is freshman
Liz Shimek, who leads the Big Ten in
rebounding, averaging 9.7 per game.
The Spartans seem to match up
well on paper, but Michigan hasn't
forgotten that it's also playing a bitter
rival that it's beaten the last four
times in the series.
"I let the media talk about the rival-
ry in it," Guevara said. "We're going
to go down and play on Thursday and
guess what? We're going to get up and
practice on Friday."
BRESLIN CENTER
Who: Michigan (2-4 Big Ten, 11-6 overall ) vs.
Michigan State (4-3, 11-7)
When: 7 p.m.
Latest: Michigan has won four straight in the
series, but is slumping as it faces a Spartan
team that has won four of its last five.

0l

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SMITH
Continued from Page 5A
That's when the avalanche started
building.
Brandon Smith, a would-be captain,
transferred, as did Anderson - all
engulfed in a mess involving the theft
of a student's Palm Pilot.
And after an erratic, controversial
and stress-packed freshman year filled
with suspensions and school troubles,
Crawford bolted and went pro, leaving
Michigan with little to build on. Soon
thereafter, Gaines was kicked off the
team for a DUI.
That's four players - three likely
starters - gone in four months.
Now that's a mess.
Much worse than this year's depar-
tures of Avery Queen and Dommanic
Ingerson.
But just like Daniel Horton didn't
watch the Michigan State game in
street clothes (like Crawford did due to
alleged NCAA violations), this core of
freshmen won't falter.
They're too mentally tough. They're

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