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March 19, 2003 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-03-19

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

OeRTtcSigan ag

8

Bringing the
M' nine getting a
shot of'C' in the arm

wood

0

By Gennaro Filice
Daily Sports Writer
When asked to sum up his team's
hitting mentality in one word, first-
year Michigan baseball coach Rich
Maloney never hesitated.
"Confidence," Maloney said.
"The hitters are very confident, and
they're playing aggressively."
Although the "C" word has
become synonymous with success
on the sandlot, with Michigan's
offensive numbers through its first
13 games, saying the Wolverines are
just "confident" may be an under-
statement.
As a team, the Michigan offense
is flourishing - the Wolverines (6-
7) currently boast a .327 batting
average, a .521 slugging percentage
and average more than 8.5 runs per
game. Less than a month into the
season, Maloney admits to being
surprised his ballclub has been able
to jump out to such a hot offensive
start.
"In watching our team practice in
the fall, the winter and prior to the
season, I felt like we were going to
be a solid hitting team," Maloney
said. "But, to say that we would hit
the way we have, I couldn't have
told you that - I mean this is pretty
impressive."
One reason for Michigan's offen-
sive outburst is its aggressive
approach.
"We're an offense that likes to do
things," Maloney said. " We hit and
run pretty well, we drag bunt pretty
well, but in general, these guys just
flat out hit."
Individually, senior third baseman
Brock Koman and junior catcher
Jake Fox have paced the Wolverine

attack. Koman, described by Mal-
oney as a "pure hitter," possesses a
lofty .421 batting average. Fox has
been the team's biggest power
source, hitting .377 while leading
the team in homeruns (7), RBIs (21)
and Slugging Percentage (.887).
Senior Jordan Cantalamessa and
junior Brandon Roberts have also
significantly contributed to Michi-
gan's hefty offensive numbers.
"Those four guys in general have
been outstanding," Maloney said.
"Hitting is a contagious thing, and
right from the getgo, these boys
hit."
Unfortunately, hitting is only one
half of baseball. With a pitching
staff that has seen three freshmen
and four sophomores toe the rubber,
the Wolverines have struggled to
slow down opposing offenses. As
good as the Michigan offense has
been, Maloney believes Blue's suc-
cess lies in consistent pitching.
"We definitely have to improve in
the pitching area," Maloney said.
"When you're scoring 8.5 runs, that
gives you some grace because you
know you don't have to be perfect.
But, we know that we have to get
better because we know that on any
given day you're going to face a
good pitcher, and good pitching
shuts out good hitting."
The young staff currently owns
dismal 6.69 team earned run aver-
age - a large portion of which has
come from the high number of
homeruns (19) given up.
"We've got to lower the amount
of runs we've been giving up. If we
can get it down to giving up four or
five runs a game, then we're proba-
bly going to win our fair share of
games with the lineup we have."

.

Ebbett learning from
Shouneyia on faceoffs

DANNY MOLOSHOK/ Daily
Junior Brandon Roberts and the rest of the Wolverines are getting their bats and offense in gear under new head coach Rich Maloney.
Harris comes to Blue
h .as Michigan's best

By Courtney Lewis and Dan Rosen
Daily Sports Writers
Faceoffs are an aspect of hockey
that don't get much attention - the
fans often don't notice them unless
the official takes too long to drop
the puck. But Michigan's players
don't underesti-
mate their impor-
tance, particularly
during the playoffs,
when everything is X0
magnified.
Michigan alter-
nate captain John Shouneyia pointed
out that winning or losing a faceoff
can be the difference between get-
ting a scoring chance or not.
"If you do a good job on the face-
offs, you're going to have a good
night all around the rink," freshman
center Andrew Ebbett said.
Both players said they take time
after practice or before games to
work on faceoffs. Shouneyia, the
Wolverines' top-line center, who
takes many of the team's draws, said
that he hasn't found a single strate-
gy that works. He added that com-
ing away with the puck is about
anticipation and adjusting to the
opposing player. Ebbett said a play-
er's hands, feet and eyes can give

clues about what he is going to do
on the faceoff.
"I almost think it's more of a men-
tal thing, for me anyways," Ebbett
said. It is about "just being ready."
The freshman also said experience
is a factor, and that he has relied on
Shouneyia for tips this season.
"He's helped me out a lot in that
department," Ebbett said. "I sit
beside him in the lockerroom, and I
always talk to him before the games,
or else between the periods, and see
what he thinks which guy is doing
what. He has played against some
guys for four years, so he knows
exactly what they're going to do,
which way their hands are and what
way they're going to bring it back."
The CCHA implemented a new
15-second faceoff rule before this
season in order to speed up games,
but Shouneyia said he doesn't think
the rule is being tightly enforced
during the playoffs - which is fine
with him.
"I'd rather have time to come in
and square up," Shouneyia said.
"The rule, if you're late on a line
change or something, can kind of
throw you off. As a centerman,
you'd rather have time to set up your
guys and get yourself in position."
See MONTOYA, Page 9

By Seth Klempner
Daily Sports Writer
"I love Dion Harris," LeBron James
said after playing Harris's Detroit
Redford High School team in January.
Apparently,
James isn't the only
one who has affec-
tion for Harris any-
more, who was
named Mr. Basket-
ball 2003 by the f
Basketball Coaches 3
Association of >
Michigan in con- Harris
junction with the
Detroit Free Press. The award is annu-
ally given to the state's top senior.
Harris received 555 points, beating
runner up Brandon Cotton by 52
points. Cotton, a point guard who
plays for Detroit St. Martin dePorres
High School will be attending Michi-
gan State next year. North
Muskegon's High School Drew
Naymick finished third with 252
votes and is set to attend Arkansas
next season.
Despite winning the Mr. Basketball
Award, Harris was not named to the
McDonald's All-America team, which
accepted the top 24 high school sen-
iors in the nation. Cotton and
Naymick were named to the team
three weeks ago.
But Michigan freshman Lester
Abram said much of the decision-
making for the All-America team is
political, and not necessarily correlat-
ed to talent level.
The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 24.6
points and 8.7 rebounds this season.
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker
describes Harris as a physically-
defined player with great instincts,
who is still growing into his body.
Abram's Pontiac Northern High
School team beat Detroit Redford in
last year's state championship. But the
former nemeses hold no hard feelings
for each other, and actually look for-
ward to teaming up in the backcourt
for Michigan next year.

"I kicked it with the guys on my
official visit, and when I was up there
for summer ball, and we really got
along," Harris said. "I think it will be
cool for me to go up there and play
with Lester and Daniel (Horton)."
Harris, who was believed to be the
front-runner for the Mr. Basketball
award at the beginning of this season,
said he never felt threatened by the
possibility of more sanctions being
levied on Michigan basketball by the
NCAA for the Ed Martin scandal.
Joining him will be forward Brent
Petway of Georgia, center Courtney
Sims of Massachusetts and power for-
ward J.C. Mathis, who transferred
from Virginia and has been practicing
with the team all year.
According to HoopScoop.com ana-
lyst Clark Francis, Petway is the most
talented senior in the state of Georgia
and has improved his ability a great
deal over this year.
"The future looks bright for us,"
Abram said of the team's prospects
for next year. "We have a lot of guys
coming back, plus we have some real-
ly good freshman that can add some-
thing to the team."
Harris is considered to be Amaker's
first major in-state recruiting victory
over Michigan State. The Detroit
native is just the first of several
Southeastern Michigan natives who
have committed to Michigan, signify-
ing the reconnection between the two.
Both Ronald Coleman of Romulus
High School and Joe Crawford from
Detroit Renaissance High School are
committed to attend Michigan in
2004.
Harris is the first Mr. Basketball
winner headed to Ann Arbor since
Robert Traylor made the trek from
Detroit in 1995. He joins an extensive
list of Wolverines who have received
the illustrious award including Terry
Mills, Glen Rice and Chris Webber.
Harris also ends Michigan State's
run of recruiting four straight Mr.
Basketball winners including Paul
Davis, Kelvin Torbert, Marcus Taylor
and Jason Richardson.

0

NICHOLAS AZZARO/Daily
Senior alternate captain John Shouneyla has been one of the Wolverines' best
faceoff takers this season.

1

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