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February 19, 2003 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-02-19

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Wednesday
February 19,2003
michigandaily.com
sportsdesk@umich.edu

EPORTS

0

8

Unlikely leaders battle for first

By Chris Burke
Daily Sports Editor
When the Big Ten season started this year,
no one expected Michigan or Purdue to be at
the top of the conference stand-
ings come late February.
Well, maybe a couple of people TON

"The road hasn't fared well for most teams
thus far in the conference schedule," Amaker
said. "We have arguably the toughest road
game in the our conference, playing at Pur-
due against a team that's playing as well as

IGHT

did.
"I'll bet you (Michigan coach)
Tommy (Amaker) thought they'd
better do something - I don't
think he thought they had low
expectations," said Purdue coach
Gene Keady about the unlikeli-

Michigan at
No. 23 Purdue
Time: 7p.m.
Mackey Arena
No TV in Ann Arbor

anyone in our conference."
The Wolverines aren't the only
ones concerned heading into this
game, though.
Keady offered up some praise to
Michigan, comparing the matchup
problems that the Wolverines pres-
ent to the ones that No. 4 Louisville
gave the Boilermakers. Purdue upset
the Cardinals, 86-84 on Nov. 30.

Ohio State was able to do just that - one of
few things the Buckeyes did well in the Wolver-
ines' 70-54 win on Saturday - as center
Velimir Radinovic posted a team-high 19 points.
But the Boilermakers have received minimal
contributions from their centers this year. Their
most effective inside scorer has been 6-foot-10
power forward Chris Booker, who has aver-
aged 10.7 points and 6.1 rebounds a game.
"I don't think we can exploit (Michigan's
centers)," Keady said. "I'd like to, but I don't
think we can."
While Purdue will focus on trying to find a
way inside, Michigan will be concerned with
shutting down Big Ten Player of the Year candi-
date Willie Deane, who leads Purdue at 17.4
points per game.
That effort will probably start, as has been
the norm, with junior Bernard Robinson
matched up man-to-man with Deane.
"I think Bernard Robinson should get great
consideration for Defensive Player of the Year in
our league - he has been as good as anyone
when it comes to versatility," Amaker said.,
"Defense has been one of the staples of our pro-
gram, and we've talked about it since day one."

0

hood of the Wolverines and Boilermakers
being tied for the Big Ten lead. "That's just like
I'm the same way here."
Regardless of where Michigan and No. 24
Purdue were supposed to be in the standings
heading into tonight's game, the winner of the.
battle will take a step toward capturing the con-
ference title.
But for Michigan, taking that step will
require a monumental effort against a Purdue
team that is 13-0 on its home floor.

"I consider them a lot like Louisville.
They're a hard matchup because they have kids
that are 6-foot-7, 6-foot-6, who can play inside
and outside," Keady said. "They shoot 3's, run
hard, they're quick on (defense). We consider
them a hard matchup for us."
To counter Michigan's quickness at the
guard and forward positions, other Big Ten
teams have attempted to pound the Wolverines
inside, taking advantage of freshman centers
Chris Hunter and Graham Brown.

RYAN WEINER/Daily
Bernard Robinson will once again be tested defensively, likely matching up with Purdue star Willie Deane.

Richmond searches for consistency

By Courtney Lewis and Dan Rosen
Daily Sports Writers
How can you tell that the jump from
juniors to college hockey has been a
big adjustment for Danny Richmond?
Ask the offensive-
minded blueliner
about scoring.'
"Points aren't
really indicative of
how I play," the
freshman said. "I
think plus-minus would be (a better
measure)."
That might sound strange to those
who knew him as the highest-scoring
defenseman in the US Hockey League
last season, but the player who put up 9-
45-54 totals for the Chicago Steel has
had to work hard at learning the defen-
sive part of the game at Michigan.
"To come in as an offensive defense-
man, it's always a constant battle
between how much do I give up, in
terms of my offense, to really become a

reliable, trustworthy defenseman also,"
assistant coach Billy Powers said. "I
think Danny's going through that battle."
Still, Richmond's 17 points rank sec-
ond among Michigan defensemen, and
Powers believes those are solid numbers
for a freshman. But he is more con-
cerned with Richmond's lapses in his
own zone this season.
"We want Danny to make better deci-
sions in terms of jumping into the rush,
holding onto the puck too long some-
times, maybe high-risk offensive plays,"
Powers said.
Both Powers and Richmond said that
the defenseman had started to get in a
groove earlier in the season, but the win-
ter break was a blow to that momentum.
Richmond earned nine points, including
two goals, before the team's three-week
layoff in December. He registered two
points in the Great Lakes Invitational
Dec. 28-29, but then fell into a six-game
scoreless stretch. He has six points in his
last seven games and is plus-eight.
"There's been some bumps in the

road," Powers said. "I think there
has been progress for sure, I just
think there has been inconsistency.
We've seen signs that Danny is
going to be a tremendous defense-
man at both ends of the ice, and
then we've seen games where he has
reverted back to maybe not playing
as well without the puck."
Powers added that Richmond remind-
ed him a lot of Bubba Berenzweig, a
former Wolverine who took risks in the
defensive zone and struggled his fresh-
man year in 1995-96, but was a big part
of Michigan's 1998 National Champi-
onship team.
Improving his strength has been a
major issue for Richmond, and he said
that is one of the biggest differences
between the college game and juniors.
"It's a different experience than last
year. If you whacked a guy once, he'd
give up the puck right away. Here, the
guys are stronger. You have to work a
lot harder," Richmond said.
The coaching staff has been pleased
that Richmond has shown the willing-
ness to put in that extra work.
"The nice thing about Danny Rich-
mond is he's in watching videos every
Monday," Powers said. "He is conscious
that he has to be better, he has to do
things better without the puck and be

USCHIO Top 15 RANKINGS
Team Record Pts.
1 Colorado College 23-4-5 589
2 Cornell 20-4-1 553
3 Maine 20-5-5 505
4 New Hampshire 19-7-4 466
5 Boston College 19-8-3 406
6 Minnesota 17-7-7 384
7 North Dakota 22-6-4 375
8 Ferris State 23-8-1 313
9 Boston University 20-10-2 268
10 Michigan 21-8-1 256
11 Ohio State 21-7-3 190
12 MSU-Mankato 14-7-9 131
13 Denver 18-9-5 121
14 St. Cloud State 14-11-3 85
15 Harvard 16-8-1 78
stronger. He wants to be a better
defenseman, and that's half the battle."
BIGGER THAN HOCKEY: Michigan coach
Red Berenson's father passed away last
Thursday, and the coach returned to
Regina, Saskatchewan after last week-
end's series for the funeral.
"He went through the weekend
because his two sisters were up in
Regina, and they were able to handle
the arrangements for everybody,"
Powers said.
Berenson had gone back to Regina
early last week to visit his father, who
had suffered a stroke.
Powers said that Berenson is expect-
ed to rejoin the team before this week-
end's series in Omaha.

All may not be lost for
struggling Wolverines

By Josh Holman
Daily Sports Writer

Sitting at 2-10 in the Big Ten and 11-
12 overall, the only bright spot at the
end of tunnel for the Michigan.
women's basketball team might be
reaching the end of the tunnel.
In the midst of a seven-game losing
streak, all the goals and expectations at
the beginning of the season have been
whisked away. A chance for a Big Ten
title is ancient history, an NCAA Tour-
nament berth is a near impossibility
and even a consolation appearance in
the WNIT is in jeopardy.
With just four games remaining on
the conference schedule, the season is
already assured of going down as a dis-
appointment. Michigan was swept by
its in-state rival, Michigan State, suf-
fered an embarrassing defeat to tradi-
tional doormat Northwestern and, even
if the team wins out, it can only hope to
match its record in last season's
depressing campaign.
The numbers and the records have
left the Wolverines wondering what's
remaining to play for during the
remainder of the season.
"Our pride," junior Jennifer Smith
said when asked what motivating forces
are left. "We have a lot to prove not
only to ourselves, but our fans and
other teams that we're still capable of
doing the things that we wanted to do at
the beginning of the season."

While pride is something any team
can hope to salvage, a pot of gold still
remains at the end of a large rainbow
for the Wolverines. The Big Ten Tourna-
ment, beginning March 6 in Indianapo-
lis, couldn't come sooner for a team
looking to make something of nothing.
"Personally, I feel we should start
focusing on the Big Ten Tournament,"
senior co-captain Raina Goodlow said.
"I definitely think the focus will be to
use these four games as preparation."
If the Wolverines were to enter the
tournament today, though, they
wouldn't be close to prepared. Michi-
gan is last among all Big Ten teams in
field goal percentage defense during
conference games, allowing oppo-
nents to shoot a staggering 49.9 per-
cent against them.
In contrast, Michigan needs to pick
up its own shooting as well. The
Wolverines are shooting just 39.3 per-
cent in Big Ten games, the 10th worst
in the conference. Michigan hasn't shot
above 40 percent for five games now.
"Before we can start focusing on the
Big Ten Tournament, we have to stay
focused game to game," coach Sue
Guevara said. "These next four games,
we have to be very specific in what we
want to accomplish."
There is certainly something left for
the Wolverines to play for, and when
they decide what that something is, the
best part of the season might not be
when it ends.

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