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March 12, 2003 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-03-12

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0

Wednesday
March 12, 2003
michigandaily.com
sportsdesk@umich.edu

ate fiitrb-ign oiIy
IPO]RTS

g w

Rewards a

plenty

'M' four prepare to
make goal a reality

Honors given
to Blue in its
final charge
By Chris Burke
Daily Sports Editor
Michigan may not have been able to capture
the Big Ten's regular season crown, but the
league took notice of the Wolverines nonethe-
less.
Senior LaVell Blanchard, freshman Daniel
Horton and junior Bernard Robinson were all
honored yesterday when the All-Big Ten teams
were announced.
Blanchard was named first team All-Big Ten
for the first time in his career by both the media
and coaches. The Ann Arbor native has enjoyed
a stellar final campaign, averaging 16 points and
6.9 rebounds per game - good enough to have
him in position to finish his career as the first
Wolverine to ever lead the team in scoring and
rebounding for four straight years.
"I am very happy and proud to see LaVell
Blanchard, being a senior, was able to make first
team all-conference," Michigan coach Tommy
Amaker said. "I think that is a significant
achievement."
"It's definitely an honor," Blanchard said.
"But I would trade all the individual awards in
for a Big Ten championship."
Horton walked away with impressive acco-
lades as well. Michigan's point guard was named
the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and also
grabbed a spot on the conference's second team.
Horton has been rewriting the Michigan
record books, setting the Michigan freshman
record for most 3-pointers made and attempted
in a season, 73 and 211, respectively. He is also
just 11 assists away from breaking the Michigan
freshman mark for a season.
Starting all of the Wolverines' 29 games this
year, Horton has averaged 15.7 points per game
- highlighted by a 31-point performance in an
upset victory at Purdue - and has also added
4.5 assists and 2.3 rebounds per contest.
"It feels good," Horton said. "There are so
many other freshman players in this league, to
be honored as one of the best is special. It just
shows how hard we worked as a team and how
hard I have worked throughout the year."
Amaker, expectedly, was also thrilled that
Horton was recognized with one of the league's
highest honors.
"I think it is tremendous for one of our players

0

By Benjamin Lawless
For the Daily

"We wanted to qualify for the national
championships."
Michigan men's track coach Ron
Warhurst leaves little to the imagination
on the preseason goal for
the distance medley relay -
team, and his ambition has 1H'..:y
paid off. -
Four Michigan run-
ners - sophomores Seth
Waits, Nate Brannen
and freshmen Nick
Willis and Andrew Eller- RandalT
ton - will be competing
in the NCAA Indoor
Championships in Fayet-
teville, Ark. this coming weekend.
While each of the runners excels in
his individual event, the focus this week-
end will be on the distance medley relay.
The medley relay is composed of four
legs. Brannen will be running the first
leg, a distance of 1,200 meters, followed
by Waits in the 400, Ellerton in the 800
and anchored by Willis in the mile.
The chance to win the medley relay
has meant personal sacrifice for the
miler, as Brannen will not be partici-
pating in the individual mile to con-
centrate on the relay. Brannen will
still run in the 800 meters, and Nick
Willis will be competing in the 3,000
meters, but as coach Warhurst said,
"The focus of the weekend is on the
relay."
Despite having just run this relay
together once before, this inexperience
does not bother Warhurst. In their one
race together, the quartet finished with
a qualifying time of 9:35.80 at the
Boston Games. According to their

coach, though, there is still room for
improvement.
"The school record is 9:32, but I think
that is in danger," Warhurst said.
This optimism is certainly not
unfounded. All four have run individual
times faster than the times they ran dur-

!"Kt:A
elf~shp

ing the one relay.
The olose bond between
Brannen and Willis should
also help the team this
weekend. Since Willis'
arrival in the fall from his
home country of New
Zealand, the two have
become good friends both
on and off the track.
"It's worked out really
well to have another team-

mate (Willis) who knows what you are
going through," Brannen said.
While both are outstanding in their
own right, each has improved as a result
of the other's presence.
"We feed off of each other," Willis
said.
The expectations for this weekend
are high.
"There are four or five teams that
could win (the relay), and we have to be
included among those," Warhurst said.
Besides Michigan, Stanford, Villanova,
Arkansas and Eastern Michigan will be
in the hunt for first place. While current-
ly ranked seventh in a field of 10, the
team's time is just two seconds out of
first place.
Despite the pressure, the runners and
coach are confident that they can come
away with a victory.
"There is a fine line between cocky
and confident, and you have to be con-
fident to do well in this sport," Bran-
nen said.

DAVID KATZ/Daily
Junior Bernard Robinson was selected to the All-Big Ten third team - his first conference honor - after a year
in which he led the team on the defensive end and averaged 11.6 points per game.

to be named Player of the Year in any capacity. I
think with Daniel Horton being Freshman of the
Year, it is obvious that was an honor well
deserved by a youngster who had a tremendous
first year here."
Robinson wrapped up Michigan's honors,
being voted to the All-Big Ten third team, the
first time Robinson has been honored by an All-
Big Ten team.
The junior has posted 11.6 points and a
career-high six rebounds per game while also
fulfilling the role as Michigan's defensive stop-
per all season.
Said Amaker: "(This year) was an opportunity
for (Robinson) to make his mfark with the play
he has displayed, especially on the defensive
end, which is probably one of the main reasons
he was able to become an all-conference player."
Illinois' Brian Cook, Purdue's Willie Deane,
Wisconsin's Kirk Penney and Minnesota's Rick

Rickert rounded out the coaches' selections to
the first team. Jeff Newton of Indiana replaced
Rickert in the media's choices.
Cook, to the surprise of no one, walked away
with the Big Ten Player of the Year.
Coach of the Year, an award that Amaker was
thought to be one of the main contenders for,
was given to Wisconsin head man Bo Ryan, who
led the Badgers to the outright conference cham-
pionship.
MICHIGAN REPRESENTING
First team All-Big Ten Pos. Team
Brian Cook C Illinois
Willie Deane G Purdue
Kirk Penney 0Wisconsin
LaVell Blanchard F Michigan
Rick Rickert F Minnesota

a
I

First-round series makes 28 games feel useless

BOB HUNT
ON THE CMlA
Since October, the Michigan
hockey team has played 28 CCHA
games, compiling the league's sec-
ond-best record and has been ranked
as one of the top 10 teams in the
nation in both the polls and the
computer-generated Pairwise Rank-
ings.
But that means nothing now.
That's because every CCHA team
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www.garylillie.com

- regardless of its record - enters
into the CCHA playoffs with a
chance of accomplishing a goal that
each team sets for itself each sea-
son: A trip to Joe Louis Arena for
the Super Six. It doesn't matter if
you're Lake Superior State, which
has won three games, or Ferris
State, which has won 22.
If you win your best-of-three
series this weekend, you get to
attend the biggest event the league
holds all season and a chance at the
Mason Cup.
For many squads, it's their only
chance of playing at an NHL rink,
and instead of using 28 conference
games to decide who receives this
privilege, the league uses two or
three. This takes away months of
hard work the conference's top
teams have put into the season.
"You wonder what the whole reg-
ular season means," Michigan asso-
ciate head coach Mel Pearson said.
"Obviously, it's for seeding and
what not, but when all 12 teams get
in, it does get a little redundant."
Michigan - in lieu of its second-
place finish - will host 11th-place
Bowling Green in a best-of-three
series starting Friday. While the
Wolverines will be heavily favored,
anything can happen.
This past weekend, when the

Hockey East (all of college hockey's
major conferences have a similar
system) started it's playoffs, Maine,
which started its season 20-2-3, was
swept by Massachusetts and will
now have to watch its league finals
at Boston's FleetCenter on local tel-
evis ion.
The Wolverines almost had the
same thing happen to them last sea-
son when they lost the first game of
their first-round series to Lake
Superior State.
While it can be argued that this
adds excitement, it undermines
everything the Black Bears did this
season. Maine achieved much more
than Massachusetts this season, but
the Minutemen get to compete at
the league finals because they had a
better weekend.
For financial reasons, the CCHA
has expanded its playoffs over the
past few years from eight to 10 to
12 teams, taking away anything
special about making the confer-
ence tournament.
"I liked it when we had eight
teams in the playoffs," Michigan
head coach Red Berenson said. "It
was a great race, and every game
was huge. Making the playoffs was
big. Now, it's just a matter of who
you play and getting home ice."
Much of the reason for this

expansion is the additional revenue
it creates. But after playing as many
as 38 regular season games, how
much difference does adding an
additional two games really create?
Even if the schools insist on playing
an extra two games, schools would
be better off playing two additional
non-conference games.
Although many of the major bas-
ketball conference tournaments
occurring this week have been suc-
cessful including all comers, hockey
conference tournaments are differ-
ent in that only a select amount of
teams get to play at the tourna-
ment's final venue.
Every Big Ten team will have a
chance to play on the court at the
United Center this week in Chicago,
while just six CCHA teams will
skate at The Joe because hockey
teams cannot play four consecutive
days.
While Berenson likes the playoff
atmosphere this weekend will pro-
vide, it is an unnecessary addition
to the five-month college hockey
season. Next weekend will provide
for a fun and exciting atmosphere,
and the league's top teams deserve
to be in attendance.
Who gets to go should be a deci-
sion based upon four months, not
one weekend.

BRETT MOUNTAIN/Daily
Michigan shot put specialist April Phillips will take her skills to Fayetteville, Ark.
for the NCAA Championships this weekend.
Fre enwomen
lead track to NCAAs

By Anne Ulbe
Daily Sports Writer

Six well-prepared athletes, two
intense days of tough rivalry, and a
chance to prove what makes
them better than the compe-
tition. cTrIS
With an Indoor Big Ten
Championship title under
their belt, Michigan's Katie "dor<
Erdman, Lindsay Gallo,
April Phillips, Rachel 2pm
Sturtz, Stephanie Linz and Randal
Vera Simms of the women's Fayeti
track and field team will be
heading off to the NCAA
Championships in Fayetteville, Ark.
"We've had a great season so far, and
we were rewarded with the Big Ten
Championships," associate head coach

an1 1
Mill,

Mike McGuire said. "Ultimately we've
got cream of the crop athletes, and a
well-balanced championship team. You
can't ask for much more."
After a tough winter season and a
grueling practice sched-
-- ule, the athletes are
E N primed for the Champi-
onships. This is the best
at RN chance to prove their
" nh endurance and stamina.
"The first-year fresh-
men have had a huge
on Centers impact on the team this
Ad year. Rebecca Walter's
-- presence has made a
name for the middle-dis-
tance program, and Katie Erdman has
done the same for the long-distance
program," McGuire said. "It will be
See TRACK, Page 9

I
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