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November 11, 2003 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-11-11

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12 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Michigan defense struggles away from Yost t

By Brian Schick
Daily Sports Writer
There's something to be said for
home cooking.
Early in this hockey season, Michi-
gan has struggled on the road, dropping
two of its three CCHA away games.
Compared to how they have played at
home, the Wolverines have experienced
defensive breakdowns, allowing five-
goal periods in both their losses - a
dubious accomplishment never

achieved once last season.
In the three road games this season,
Michigan's defense has not been able to
slow down opponents' odd-man rushes.
A team is flirting with disaster if it
makes a policy of allowing quality
scoring chances, and a goaltender can
only weather so many offensive storms.
"(On Friday in Michigan's 6-5 loss to
Ferris State) we gave up a lot of odd-
man rushes," junior defenseman Bran-
don Rogers said. "We were trying to
play 'run-and-gun' hockey, which really

isn't our style of play. We were kind of
letting them take advantage of us."
Odd-man rushes have given oppo-
nents ample scoring opportunities in
Michigan's road games, allowing 15
goals. Comparing these away numbers
to those posted at home - just four
goals surrendered in CCHA play -
Michigan's road meltdown becomes
apparent. This trend seems eerily simi-
lar to last season, when the Wolverines
gave up an average 3.33 goals on the
road, compared to 2.07 goals at home.
As a result, last year's Wolverines went
4-5-3 on the road in the CCHA.
With a defense that features three
freshmen, Michigan has struggled to
stay consistent all season. In addition,
the defensive pairings haven't remained
consistent so far this season. Both these
factors have allowed numerous scoring
chances on goaltender Al Montoya and
puts extra pressure on him to control
the game.
"We come out flying and then we
have to remember we're on the road,"
Montoya said. "They're going to keep
battling because it's their home rink. It
comes with experience, and we're start-
ing to realize that.
"It's going out there and knowing (I)
have to be the difference in the game."
Perhaps it has been playing smarter
hockey at home than on the road. Spe-
cial teams are often the difference in

road games; the penalty kill has been a
large part of the defensive miscues. In
its three home games, Michigan has
killed 91.7 percent of opponents' pow-
erplays; on the road, the Wolverines
have killed a paltry 68.1 percent.
"If we can't kill penalties, particular-
ly in a crucial time of the game, then
that can be the turning point," coach
Red Berenson said. "When you look at
(our two losses), we gave up four in one
game and three in the other, including
the game-winner."
Coaches and players can't put their
finger on what has been the cause of
the defensive breakdowns, but admit
that the team needs to prepare better for
its road contests.
"Whether it's at home or on the road,
I can't tell you that I've seen a big dif-
ference in our play," Berenson said.
"But we haven't established ourselves
as the kind of team we want to be (on
the road), and that's a process."
Whatever the reason, the Wolverines
need to find the cause and find a remedy
quickly. Michigan heads down to
Columbus Friday for a weekend series
with the CCHA-leading Buckeyes, per-
haps the toughest road trip of the season.
"In the CCHA, it's always tough to
go on the road, but you have to play
half your games there, so we're going
to have to figure it out in a hurry,"
Rogers said.

FILE PHOTO
Michigan basketball coach Tommy Amaker has always been known for his ability to
relate to players.
mer knows when
squad needs a break

By Daniel Bremmer
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan basketball coach Tommy
Amaker has been in his players' shoes
before.
Amaker was a four-year starter at
point guard at Duke from 1984-87.

JASON COOPER/Daily
Michigan beat Ferris State at home, but couldn't handle the Bulldogs in Big Rapids.

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towledge is power.

ass it on.

There, he led the Blue Devils to the
national title game in 1986 and was
an All-American in 1987.
As someone who went through the
rigors of a 30-plus-game season com-
bined with a 12-plus-credit schedule,
Amaker knows when his players are
physically and mentally tired and
need some time to recuperate.
Over the course of his coaching
career, Amaker has successfully pro-
vided a suitable way of giving his
players some time off. Occasionally
- but not often - Amaker has given
his squad a way to earn its way out of
a day's practice.
In his last year at Seton Hall,
Amaker sensed one day that his team
would need one of those days off. But
like any good coach, he couldn't just
let his team go a day without any
practice.
Luckily for Amaker, it was 6-foot-
10 forward Charles Manga's birthday.
When his players arrived at prac-
tice, they went through their stretches
as usual. Then, Amaker told them that,
because it was Manga's birthday, if the
then-junior could hit both shots of a
one-and-one from the free throw line,
they could all have the afternoon off.
"That was unexpected," said then-
Seton Hall junior Ty Shine, who spent
last year in the NBDL. "Nobody
expected him to come in and say
that."
With the pressure on, Manga
stepped up and drained his first free
throw, but he couldn't get the second
one to fall.
Knowing that his team could prob-
ably use the day's rest, Amaker decid-
ed to give Manga another chance.
After a few trips up and down the
court running a three-man weave
drill, Manga again toed the foul line.
With players hooting and hollering in
excitement, Manga connected on the
front-end like he had done before.
But this time, he nailed the second
shot as well, and the players were free
to take the day off or shoot around -
whatever they chose.
"Any time you get an unscheduled
day off, it's kind of like getting a pres-
ent at Christmas time," said former
Seton Hall assistant Fred Hill Jr., who
now coaches at Villanova. "You get
all excited about it.
"What Ty didn't know was the
coaching staff was rooting for Char-
lie, too"
Since taking over at Michigan,
Amaker has implemented this incen-
tive for his players in moderation.
But, Amaker didn't pick on a player
on his birthday. In fact, he didn't pick
on a player at all, instead opting for
one of the team's student managers.
On a day last year when Amaker
again sensed that his players could
use a break, he had Michael Oh, one
of the managers, step up to the line
and take a one-and-one - his first
time shooting a basketball all day -
to get the team out of practice. Lucki-
ly for the squad, the manager came
through, knocking down both shots.
"I think guys were tired and sore,
and coach definitely had his eye on
that," Michigan senior co-captain
Colin Dill said. "It showed us that
coach has a good feel for what we're
going through."
"I think they enjoy it, and I think
we get something out of it by putting
them in pressure situations," Amaker
said. "(The coaches) like to have fun,
too, and we never want to lose sight
of the fact that we have kids (as play-
ers), and they want to have fun. I
think that they enjoy that we can be
light at moments."
Coming off a 17-for-28 (61 per-
cent) free-throw shooting perform-
ance in its first exhibition against
Michigan Tech on Saturday, Michigan

could benefit from some extra prac-
tice at the line this week as it prepares
to take on the NBDL's Fayetteville
Patriots on Friday.
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