8- The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, December 3, 2003
By Gonnaro Flilce
Daily Sports Writer
It could be the most dreaded word in
sports. Five letters that, when uttered,
instantly create a nauseous feeling in
the stomach of any competitor. For an
athlete, the "s-word" is like an old girl-
friend or boyfriend - something that
you wholeheartedly attempt to steer
clear of, but unfortunately run into
every so often. And right now sopho-
more Jeff Tambellini is looking "the ex"
right in the eyes.
"I'd say he's in a slump," Michigan
coach Red Berenson said. "It's pretty
obvious when your leading scorer has-
n't scored. But that happens to all the
Tambellini has paced Michigan
offensively with a team-leading nine
goals. But the left wing has been sitting
on the cusp of double digits for two
weeks, going scoreless the last four
games - three of which the Wolverines
"It's not there," Tambellini said. "It
hasn't been there for the whole team."
Having proven himself to be a dan-
gerous offensive threat at the start of the
season, Tambellini has garnered
increased defensive interest lately.
"I think he has seen a little bit more
pressure on him from opposing teams
- not pressure from himself or us -
but I think they're paying extra atten-
tion to him especially on the power-
play," associate head coach Mel
Although Tambellini compiled 70
shots in the first 10 games, he's mus-
tered just six attempts in the last four.
"He's a little out of sync right now,"
Pearson said. "Sometimes when he
should be shooting, he's passing and
when he should be passing, he's
"It's funny, when you're a scorer and
you don't score, you're going to start
passing the puck," Berenson said.
"Sometimes you're so unconfident or
unsure that you're going to start over-
passing the puck."
With a big series coming up against
Michigan State, Berenson switched a
few lines to try and spark some much-
needed offense. Center Andrew Ebbett
swapped lines with freshman TJ. Hen-
sick, joining Tambellini and right wing
"Andrew's a very good playmaker,"
Pearson said. "T.J.'s played with Jeff
most of the year, but T.J.'s a young play-
er, and we're trying to take some of the
heat off him a little bit."
Ebbett's 11 points (four goals, seven
assists) are the team's third highest
total. Playing the first 14 games with
Brandon Kaleniecki - Michigan's sec-
ond-leading scorer with six goals -
Ebbett has displayed an innate ability to
set up his left wing with many quality
"I think (Andrew and I are) going to
work really well," Tambellini said.
"He's a good passer, he sees the ice and
hopefully we'll click this weekend."
On Monday, Tambellini was one of
34 players invited to Canada's World
Junior Championship team selection
camp. The Port Moody, British
Columbia, native was the only U.S.
college player selected to try out for
the under-20 team.
"For a Canadian kid, it's something
that everybody dreams of," Tambellini
said. "It's something that the whole
Early Christmas present
for Burnett still a puzzle
By Josh Holman
Daily Sports Writer
The end of Thanksgiving reminds us
that the Christmas season is just around
the corner, and the shopping season has
already arrived. But Cheryl Burnett
received her present early. The coach
was given the puzzle of the Michigan
. , .. . .
women's basketball team in
April, and she's still trying
to fit together the right
pieces of something that
was lying in shambles last
But as early as that first
exhibition game, the pic-
ture was becoming clearer.
And last weekend's SMU
box, and when she's not on her game,
neither is her team. Smith poured in a
game-high 30 points in a losing effort to
No. 5 Texas Tech on Friday. She fol-
lowed that up with 24 points the follow-
ing day in the 68-51 victory over
Not all pieces of the puzzle are that
clear-cut, however. Burnett kept a simi-
lar starting lineup until
she gave sophomore
IGHT guard/forward Niki
otte at Reams the start last week-
higan end over senior Stephanie
7 p.m. Gandy.
SArena "I have never been a
i- coach that really gets the
starting lineup set," Bur-
nett said. "I'm a coach
Jeff Tambellini looks to break out of his
slump against Michigan State.
country takes pride in, so to be on that
roster is pretty special."
Pearson believes this could alleviate
some of Tambellini's stress.
"I know he's got a lot on his mind,"
Pearson said. "The World Junior thing
was weighing on his shoulders a little
bit, and they announced that."
Last season, Tambellini led the
Wolverines with 26 goals, but suffered
from a similar November meltdown,
going six games without a goal.
Hoops for Cure Classic in Dallas
gave fans a glimpse of what this team
could look like.
"Typically, coaches can come up with
a lineup, and then get a substituting pat-
tern off the bench in terms of using this
player or that player," Burnett said. "But
our situation is generally more role ori-
ented: What is happening, and who is
the player that's going to be the best fit
for that situation?"
One thing is for sure. Senior Jennifer
Smith is a corner piece of the Wolver-
ines. She's the first option out of the
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that wants every player to reach their
own potential. If it means changing their
roles, whether they'll start or not, we'll
The move seemed to pay dividends on
Saturday, when Reams played her best
game of the year, recording 15 points,
seven rebounds and two assists in 28
Burnett has already had the chance to
work on her puzzle early and often.
Michigan played its first seven games in
the span of 15 days, thanks in large part
to a semifinals appearance in the Presea-
son Women's National Invitational Tour-
nament. It hasn't been easy either. Two
of their losses came to ranked opponents
(No. 15 Rutgers and No. 5 Texas Tech),
while the third came at home to Alaba-
ma in overtime.
"This schedule has been extremely
challenging due to the window of play-
ing every other day," Burnett said.
Today's game against Charlotte is no
different either. The 49ers won the Con-
ference USA regular-season title last
year and then made it to the NCAA
"Somewhere along the line at the end
of year, we hope because we have played
so many games and gotten so much
experience, it will pay off," Burnett said.
If that's the case, that puzzle might
resemble something like a good team.
'M' takes on
top talent at
By Gabe Edelson
Daily Sports Writer
The Thanksgiving cake may have
arrived late, but Michigan men's swim-
ming coach Jon Urbanchek hopes his
athletes won't do the same this weekend
at the U.S. Open. Events will be held
from tomorrow through Saturday in Fed-
eral Way, Wash.
"This is a cake sent by (sophomore
Davis) Tarwater's mother which didn't
get here before Thanksgiving," said
Urbanchek after Monday's practice, ges-
turing toward the dessert table as his
swimmers indulged themselves. "That
icing is so good; it's so good for you:'
The coach shrugged off the sugges-
tion that eating cake may hinder the
team's preparation going into such a
"A little energy won't hurt,"
While the diving team will make the
short drive to Ypsilanti for the Eastern
Michigan Invitational on Friday and Sat-
urday, most of the swimmers are excited
about the opportunity to showcase their
talents in a national meet.
"A lot of us are going for NCAA cuts,
national cuts or Olympic trial cuts, so
everybody has their own goals," senior
captain Dan Ketchum said. "We haven't
done anything outside of college swim-
ming since I've been here, so it will be a
good chance to see what I can do."
Sophomore Peter Vanderkaay is up to
"I just want to go out there and try
and win something," he said. "There are
going to be a lot of other schools there,
so it's going to be a good, fast meet."
Student-athletes will not be the only
swimmers in attendance, though.
"All the top dogs in the country are
going to be there," Urbanchek said.
"We're also taking some post-grads,
Chris Thompson and Tom Malchow."
Both former Wolverines, Thompson
won bronze in the Sydney Olympics,
while Malchow took home a gold
"It's going to make it tougher since
there will be older and younger guys,"
Vanderkaay said. "That will make for a
better racing meet."
The 2004 Olympics in Athens have
been on Urbanchek's mind for a long
"The U.S. Open this year is special,"
Urbanchek said. "A lot of athletes who
are preparing for the (Olympic) trials are
going to use this meet as a yardstick to
where they are in their preparation and
where they need to improve over the
next 23 0davs (when the trinl will he
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