The Michigan Daily - Thursday, November 20, 2003 - 9A
Icers refuse to take day off during off week
By Michael Nisson
Daily Sports Writer
After two weeks of action in which
the Michigan hockey team played
three of four games on the road, the
Wolverines have no games scheduled
this weekend. And it seems that the
players would be given a day off to
rest up, right?
In fact, instead of being given a day
to heal any lingering injuries or just
simply to relax, the team faced some-
thing entirely different on Monday -
Anyone who watched Monday's
practice at Yost Ice Arena would have
had a puzzled look on their face. In
place of the dry-erase board diagrams
and the 5-on-5 scrimmages that take
place in normal practices were harness-
es, rope and a bunch of guys doing
crunches and pushups.
The format of a conditioning practice
is unique. The players take turns going
between six different stages, with each
player participating in a particular stage
for one minute and then transferring to
the next stage. The actual stages differ
greatly by the type of activity that takes
place, but each one is designed to test
the limits of the players' bodies.
"The hardest part is it's just more
battling type stuff," alternate captain
Eric Nystrom said. "It's not like what
you see in a game - it's more like a
whole shift being in the corner just
Two of the more unique stages
involve the aforementioned rope and
harness. The rope, which stretches
across the width of the ice, is placed
around the waist of one player while
another player grabs the other end
and pulls his partner across the ice.
Then there is the harness, described
by Nystrom to be the hardest stage of
all. The harness fits over the shoul-
ders of one player and around the
waist of his partner. The latter is then
pulled across the ice by his partner
while he edges his skates to provide
"It's all about explosion in the legs,
and that's so much what hockey's
about," Nystrom said of the harness sta-
tion. "I think that's maybe the most
hockey-specific (station) out there."
The other stages involved fighting
for possession of the puck inside a face-
off circle, two players grabbing hold of
one stick and wrestling over it and also
taking 1-on-1 shots on the goalies.
There are also several players who are
left on the ends of the rink to do
pushups and crunches.
Monday was the first conditioning
practice of the year for the team, and
Michigan strength and conditioning
coach Jim Plocki ran it without any of
the other coaches.
"They did great," Plocki said. "There
was a few flaws, but just like anything
else, we'll work them out. We're going
to do it again on Friday, and they'll be
good to go."
In addition to the grueling work that
the conditioning drills demanded, the
players also headed off to lift weights
once practice ended. The physical taxa-
tion of such a day may seem excessive,
but Nystrom was quick to point out that
it's entirely necessary.
"This is what makes you tough,"
Nystrom said. "I don't think any other
team in the country is doing this type of
stuff right now. This is our supposed off
week, and we're out here busting our
butts, and that's what you've got to do if
you want to be one of the best teams in
Stephanie Gandy struggled against Rutgers in Michigan's 65-50 loss. The senior -
who led the Wolverines in scoring entering the game - shot just 3-of-11 from the field.
Rutgers ousts Blue
in WNIT se-mifinals
Late hot streak lands Wolverines in Sweet 16
By Josh Holman
Daily Sports Writer
Any of the momentum that the
Michigan women's basketball team
picked up from two early wins must
have been left in Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines were eliminated
from the Preseason Women's National
Invitational Tournament last night
after a 65-50 loss to No. 15 Rutgers at
the Louis Brown Athletic Center.
Michigan was forced to play
catch-up the entire night, down by as
many as 14 points in the first half.
The exciting, fast-breaking team that
had advanced through the first two
rounds of the WNIT never showed
up, as the Scarlet Knights held the
Wolverines to just 33.3-percent
shooting from the field.
"When we finally did execute and
get a great look, it was rolling in and
out," Michigan coach Cheryl Burnett
said. "I never fault our players when
we're taking good shots."
Burnett called two timeouts early in
the first half as the Scarlet Knights
were running. After two of her players
burned timeouts to prevent a turnover,
Burnett used her final timeout with
eight minutes remaining in the game,
with Rutgers leading 50-35. From that
point on, Michigan couldn't mount
any sort of comeback.
"Our kids really tried to keep in the
game," Burnett said. "We talked about
when you go on the road, you have to
stay very focused and you can't get
down on anything."
Senior center Jennifer Smith,
fresh off of earning Big Ten Player
of the Week honors, was unable to
establish a real post presence until
late in the game. Although she fin-
ished as the team's leading scorer
with 16 points, Smith scored just
two points in the first half and shot
just 5-for-15 for the game.
"I was just missing a lot of shots
that usually go in," Smith said. "I just
have to keep my focus and find other
ways to contribute when my shot's not
Senior Stephanie Gandy, Michi-
gan's leading scorer heading into the
game, was kept in check by a tight
Rutgers defense all night. Gandy -
who had been averaging 23 points per
game - shot just 3-of-11 from the
field, mustering just nine points while
committing seven turnovers.
All five of Michigan's starters
played at least 30 minutes, with Smith
playing 38 minutes, resting only in the
final minutes of the game. It was
Michigan's third game in five days,
with another matchup scheduled
against Western Michigan tomorrow
at 2 p.m. at Crisler Arena.
"The coaches have done a nice job
conditioning us this season," Smith
said. "I think we'll be ready to go on
By Melanie Kebler
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan women's soccer team struggled
through the first half of its season. After losing six sen-
iors, many thought this year would be a rebuilding year
for the Wolverines. Early on it seemed that way, too, as
Michigan went 3-4-3 in its first ten games.
But now, all that is in the past. The Wolverines are
in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, have
knocked off powerhouse Notre Dame twice in the
span of three weeks and feel like they are finally get-
ting a little bit of what they deserve - respect.
"Maybe looking at our earlier record, programs
might have said, 'Well, they're rebuilding,' or 'They
lost too many of their big names,' " Michigan coach
Debbie Rademacher said. "Now we're a team that has
respect, and that's been earned."
Hard work has been the motto for Michigan all
year long, and late in the season it has paid off. After
winning four of their last five regular season games,
the Wolverines marched all the way to the finals of
the Big Ten Tournament before losing to Illinois.
Now Michigan finds itself in the third round of the
NCAA tournament. Rademacher says her players
don't take things any more seriously now than they
did five weeks ago.
"(Soccer) doesn't become any more important in our
lives now because it's pretty important all season long,"
Rademacher said. "The pressure is different and the
focus is different because it's one game and you're out."
Michigan beat the pressure last weekend when it
knocked off No. 2 Notre Dame in South Bend.
Rademacher called it "the biggest win ever in Michigan
history." After an achievement like that, will the Wolver-
ines be able to avoid a letdown in their next game?
"That's not an issue" Rademacher said. "We know
we worked too hard to get to where we are to overlook
This late in the season, wear and tear can begin to
show on hard-working players, and for this reason,
Rademacher said practices might not be as grueling.
"Our practices are intense, but we spend a lot more
tactical time and team preparation," Rademacher said.
"You've worked on your gameplan the whole season
and now with each opponent everything is focused on
that one opponent."
The focus in practice this week will be on No. 18
Connecticut, Michigan's next opponent. The Huskies
are led by Big East Player of the Year Kristen Graczyk.
Although the Wolverines have worked hard all week,
they're also enjoying some down time.
"There's just times when you back off a little bit,"
Rademacher said. "Today we went for a team run
instead of training on the field so it doesn't get stale."
And while the Wolverines may appreciate a chance
to take it easy during the late stretch of the season,
they aren't eager to get off the field just yet.
"Due to our recent success we're just excited, so
people want to be out on the field," Rademacher said.
National champion dominates mat classroom
By Steven Shears
Daily Sports Writer
Ryan Bertin is an easy guy to
You can find him in the wrestling
room during practice time. He'll be
there after practice is over, too.
He'll even be there on his days off.
And when he's not wrestling, he's
at one of two other places - the
library or the Michigan Business
Credit his acceptance into the
business school to his hard work
and discipline, the same values that
helped him garner a national cham-
pionship trophy last year at 157
"Ryan is extremely driven, in
both academics and wrestling,"
coach Joe McFarland said. "His
work ethic is really incredible. He
goes above and beyond expectations
and has found success because of
Bertin was excited about the
national championship, but that was
last year. He refuses to let compla-
cency set in.
"(The national championship) felt
good," Bertin said. "I've tried to put
it behind me now. I've tried to focus
on this season and focus on new
goals. I'm trying not to think about
it a whole lot."
Bertin has similar feelings about
being in the Business School. It has
the junior with a whole new chal-
lenge and created even more work
for the overachiever.
"It's a lot of work," Bertin said.
"I'm either (in the wrestling room)
or studying and doing homework."
It's a good thing Bertin is ready
for this season, because as last
year's champion, he is a marked
man. But like anything else, Bertin
is dealing with the stress and not
letting it get to him.
"The beginning of the season I
put a lot of pressure on myself,"
Bertin said. "I'm trying to take a
more well-rounded approach to it
and not think about it. I'm just like
any other guy trying to do my best.
I have to go around competing the
way I'm supposed to be competing,
and the rest will take care of
This Sunday marks the beginning
of the regular season, and No. 6
Michigan will face two of its most
See BERTIN, Page 10A
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