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September 10, 2003 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-09-10

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Wednesday
September 10, 2003
www.michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily. com

aJbe flidiitan Dad,,
P ORTS

8

Dudley, Thompson
key'M' ground game

Coach A'on
right track to
turning tide

By Courtney Lewis
Daily Sports Editor
In the first two games this season,
Michigan's running backs went
through run defenses like water
through a sieve, and that success has
sparked cries of Chris Perry for Heis-
man. Backup David Underwood and
Michigan's powerful offensive line
have also been rec-
ognized by the
media as key parts
of the Wolverines'
running game.
But Perry said
credit also goes to
the forgotten backs,
fullbacks Kevin Dudley and Brian
Thompson.
"(Dudley is) going to run through
the hole hard every time and take on
their linebacker," Perry said. "Brian
Thompson will as well. To have those
guys in front of you willing to sacri-
fice their body and any notoriety for
you is a great thing."
Dudley, a 6-foot-1, 235-pound sen-
ior, has spent his career waiting in line
behind former back B.J. Askew. Dud-
ley earned the starting job this year.
"Fullback is one of those positions
where you are some sort of blocker on
every play," coach Lloyd Carr said. "It
takes a durable and tough-minded guy.
What we like about Kevin is his
toughness.
"As a coach, you always love the
guys who are willing to do anything to
play the role that you ask them to

play."
While Michigan's running game
was cruising last Saturday against
Houston, the Wolverines looked shaky
in the air. Quarterback John Navarre,
who threw for just 136 yards, said he
and the receivers are working this
week to get the passing game clicking
again.
"It was just a matter of execution,"
Navarre said. "There was something
there where the receivers and I weren't
on the same page. We're executing
that in practice, and we're going to get
it done, and we'll be on in that area."
He added that a quarterback and his
receivers have an understanding.
"There's no pointing fingers,"
Navarre said. "I've never said a word
to them about dropping passes, and
they haven't said a word to me about
missing passes. We have that common
chemistry, and I think that's the way
it's been here for years."
NOTES: Michigan's already-strong
running game has more help on the
way. Kevin Grady, a top running back
in the 2005 recruiting class and an
East Grand Rapids native, committed
to play for the Wolverines. Grady
chose Michigan over Michigan State.
... Carr and the 2003 captains -
Navarre, Carl Diggs and Grant Bow-
man - will attend a pep rally on the
Diag at 6 p.m. Friday. Students at the
34th annual "Run for the Roses" rally
will be encouraged to donate to the
Coach Carr Cancer Fund. A DVD
player, as well as autographed memo-
rabilia, will be auctioned off.

CHRIS BURKE
Goin' to Work

TONY DING/Daily
Senior quarterback John Navarre and his receiving corps have been working all week to improve their play after a mediocre
performance last week against Houston.

I

O h, that Coach K.
So tricky.
Just days after Michigan basketball
coach Tommy Amaker announced that
students who had season tickets last year
would receive free tickets this year,
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski decided
to tip Amaker's hand ... sort of.
It's been no secret that "Coach K" and
Amaker are close (with Amaker likely in
line to be Krzyzewski's eventual replace-
ment at Duke if he wants to be), so when
the Blue Devils' head man speaks, peo-
ple in Ann Arbor should listen.
And when Coach K spoke at a ban-
quet in Ypsilanti Monday, he addressed
the "anonymous" donor that allowed the
Maize Ragers to sit in Crisler Arena for
free.
"I think if you would search on that, I
think that you would find that the mysti-
cal powers of Tommy Amaker being
involved, looking out for the students,"
Krzyzewski said. "I really believe it's
something that Tommy's been pushing
for, forever"
You get the feeling that Coach K was
about two seconds away from saying
something along the lines of "If you
keep pulling the thread, the whole
sweater will unravel" and then slink off
into the woods.
Anyway, if you read between the
lines, Krzyzewski makes it sound like
the donor whose name is anonymous,
may actually be named something closer
to Tommy Anonymous.
Whatever the situation, Amaker's
decision to use money to get the students
free tickets signals yet another impres-
sive step to get the Ann Arbor communi-
ty excited about the Wolverines.
Last year, despite Michigan's inability
to go to the NCAA Tournament, Crisler
Arena reached excitement levels not
seen in years.
The crowd stormed the court twice,
once after Michigan rallied from 15
points down with 5:30 left for a win
over Wisconsin, and then when the
Wolverines finally knocked off Michi-
gan State.
Expectations are even higher this year,
and there's no doubt that much of that
has to do with Amaker.
"Our students are a critical part of our
program," Amaker said after the free-
ticket announcement.
And nothing he's done since being
named Michigan coach has spoken oth-
erwise.
Let's face it -most people around
here were begging for Rick Pitino to
make Ann Arbor his new home, and
most were disappointed when he chose
Louisville.
But, hindsight being 20-20 and all, it's
apparent that Amaker is the best thing
that has happened to Michigan basket-
ball in a long time.
From his efforts to reach out to the
students, to weeding out bad seeds and
recruiting good athletes and good peo-
ple, to winning some ball games, Amak-
er has the program on the verge of
restoring its greatness.
Unfortunately, the Big Ten schedule
has thrown a bit of a monkey wrench
into Amaker's desires to cram Crisler
Arena every game.
Michigan's most important stretch of
games all year could be from Feb. 22-29
when Wisconsin, Michigan State and
Ohio State travel to Ann Arbor.
The ugly thing is that, at that same
time, many Wolverine fans will be trav-
eling out of town on Spring Break.
Maybe Amaker took this into account
when he decided to give out the free
tickets, feeling that he owed something
to the fans.
Regardless, Amaker has to be hopeful
that he can come up with some magic
again to pack Crisler with Michigan fans
for those dates as well, as the home
court advantage would, no doubt, be crit-
ical during that week.

But in spite of the scheduling conflict
(that also includes five home games over
the Thanksgiving and Holiday breaks in
November and December) this latest
ticket move is clearly another positive
step in bringing Michigan fans back to

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