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October 27, 2003 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-10-27

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MVC feeding coaches to Big Ten

By MegaWKolodgy
Daily Sports Writer
CHICAGO - It's an invasion!
No, this isn't a repeat of Beatle
mania, nor is it coming from any of the
numerous nations that are currently
angry with the United States. Rather it
is an exodus of women's basketball
head coaches from the Missouri Valley
Conference to the Big Ten.
With the addition of Michigan coach
Cheryl Burnett, formerly of Southwest
Missouri State, and Wisconsin's Lisa
Stone, who left Drake for Madison last
year, the Big Ten currently boasts four
coaches who have made the move from
the MVC. Rounding out the quartet are
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder and Indiana's
Kathi Bennett, who are both in their
fourth seasons.
So how did the Big Ten become so
concentrated with coaching staffs from
this particular area of the country?
"I think some of it is coincidence,
and some of it is logic," Bluder said.
"You have a mid-major conference in
the Missouri Valley, and you've got
two top conferences in the Midwest,
so I think that if you're a coach in that
smaller conference, and you aspire to
be in one of those more prominent
Although one might guess that hav-
ing so many familiar faces would pro-
vide a sense of comfort in that they are
more accustomed to one another's play-
ing style, most of these women agree
that this knowledge incites intimidation
more than reassurance.
"Actually, having Cheryl Burnett in

the league scares me," Bluder said. "I
have so much respect for her and what
she's done, and belief in her system, and
just how she does things."
Bennett concurs.
"I don't know how comfortable
knowing the other coaches makes me,
because I know how good they are.
Coach Burnett and Coach Stone are
Although Stone is prepared to take
her coaching up a notch in order to help
out the Badgers, who went 7-21 last
year, she realizes the expectations
placed on her as a coach of a higher-
level program.
"The game's still the same," Stone
said. "I think there's more pressure to
win in the Big Ten because it's a major
As a league veteran, Bluder imparts
this bit of wisdom on the league
"The talent, the competition that you
play in the Big Ten every night is so dif-
ferent," Bluder said. "You never get a
break in the Big Ten. But it's also nice
that, if you lose in the Missouri Valley,
it can take you out of the NCAA pic-
ture, whereas a couple of losses in the
Big Ten aren't as big a deal."
After Michigan renovated its coach-
ing staff following its 13-16 finish last
year, most Big Ten coaches are unsure
of what sort of competition the Wolver-
ines will provide.
"The coaches in this conference are
very intelligent, and they're not going to
overlook anybody," Stone said.
"I certainly don't think the cupboard
is bare," Bluder said, in reference to the

Junior Tabitha Pool will help lead
Michigan against a talented Big Ten.
Wolverines' talent.
Burnett believes that other teams are
no more interested in Michigan than
they are in any other team in the league.
While Penn State, headed by captain
and pre-season Big Ten Player of the
Year Kelly Mazzante, and Purdue are
the conference favorites heading into
regular season play, the race for the
league championship is likely to be a
tight one.
"The Big Ten for women's basketball
is going to be incredible," Bennett said.
"The senior class this year is one of the
best that I've ever witnessed. There's
almost an All-American on every team,
and some teams have two."

'M' freshmen get their feet wet

By Chris Burke
Daily Sports Editor
Michigan sophomore Graham Brown
had a chance to get his second season as
a Wolverine off to a dramatic start.
With his team trailing 36-35 in the
Michigan basketball team's Maize and
Blue scrimmage on Saturday, Brown
had an open look from the free-throw
line to win the game.
But the big man showed why his spe-
cialty is the inside game, as he bricked
the potential game-winner, and the
Maize pulled out a one-point win.
"As soon as I let go of it, I knew it
wasn't going to happen," Brown said of
his shot. "I just tried to grab a little last-
minute heroics. I thought it might go in
at first, but then reality set in and I saw
where it was going."
More important than the actual out-
come, though, was the chance for the
Wolverines to play in front of the
Crisler Arena crowd before the exhibi-
tion schedule begins next Nov. 8 against
Michigan Tech.

The game marked the first appear-
ances for the Wolverines' four-man
freshman class of John Andrews, Dion
Harris, Brent Petway and Courtney
"When you first get out here, it's real
exciting," Sims said. "It's totally differ-
ent from practice - you see a whole
bunch of people out here cheering, it's a
lot different. I think it'll help us (once
the season starts)."
Center Chris Hunter thought the
game showed how well the freshmen
have been progressing.
"I think they looked great out there,"
Hunter said. "Courtney's definitely
playing well in the post; Dion is knock-
ing down shots and playing good
defense; Brent is everywhere. They're
playing great."
Harris led the freshmen with eight
points and three assists for the Maize
team, which was paced by wingman
Lester Abram's 10 points. Senior tri-
captain Bernard Robinson showed
flashes of why he is one of the favorites
for Big Ten Player of the Year, posting a

game-high 14 points for the Blue squad.
Brown, despite the final miss,
chipped in six points and six rebounds,
while point guard Daniel Horton added
seven points and three assists.
The scrimmage took place shortly
after Michigan's football victory over
Purdue, meaning the atmosphere
amongst the announced 5,189 fans was
more jovial than last year, when the
game succeeded Iowa's rout of the
Wolverines in the Big House.
While the 20-minute game was the
first time the Michigan fans were
able to take in the Wolverines,
Michigan has been practicing since
early October. That benefit came
thanks to coach Tommy Amaker's
scheduling of three games in Canada
over the University's fall break. The
result on Saturday was a smoother,
cleaner game than last year's Maize
and Blue scrimmage.
"I think I'm in great shape since
we've practiced about 16 times already,'
Hunter said. "I think we're getting in a
good rhythm."

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