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January 21, 2004 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-01-21

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sports.rmichigandaily. com


Badgers pose tough
test for 'M' on road
r Starting guard will miss game

Without sports, life
would be incomplete

By Chris Burke
Daily Sports Editor
Fresh off two straight difficult
losses at the hands of Michigan
State and Indiana, the Michigan
basketball team won't get a break
from the schedule makers.
The Wolverines (1-2 Big Ten, 10-
4 overall) will be forced to try and
end their two-game los-
ing streak in Madison
against No. 21 Wiscon-
sin (2-1, 11-3), the two- r
time defending Big Ten
But despite the fact Tr
that a 1-3 conference Kohl
start stares the Wolver-.11 ESP
ines in the face, forward
Bernard Robinson
rejected the notion that his team

that trying to come out of Wisconsin
with a victory is a difficult task.
Michigan has lost its last three
games at Wisconsin, including a 73-
42 drubbing last season. The
Wolverines aren't the only ones that
have found it rough going in the
Kohl Center, either. Wisconsin has
won 22 straight home games, thanks

in part to a

9-0 home start this year.
And the Badgers have
never lost a Big Ten
game at home under
Ryan, posting an
impressive 18-0 mark.
Holding serve at
home is something the
Wolverines weren't able
to do against the
Hoosiers two weeks
ago, and because of

needed a confidence boost.
"Confidence is still high, don't
start doubting us," Robinson said.
"We just lost two straight games, so
everybody, don't start doubting us.
Our confidence was there when we
were 0-6 (last season), and we won
13 (straight). Our confidence isn't
going anywhere when we lose two
straight games."
Perhaps the principal reason for
the Wolverines to exude confidence
is the fact that the Big Ten appears
to be as wide open as it has been in
years, with all 11 teams having
already suffered at least one confer-
ence defeat.
It's a fact that Wisconsin coach
Bo Ryan took notice of after Indi-
ana recovered from a blowout loss
to the Badgers and won in Ann
p Arbor just five days later.
"You can be an Indiana and have
a rough game here and go to Michi-
gan and win," Ryan said. "You can
be Michigan and lose at home to
Indiana and go other places and get
it done. That's just the nature of the
league and league play."
While Ryan is well aware of how
dangerous a road team in need of a
victory can be, the numbers show

that, stealing a win away from home
has become an imperative mission.
"It definitely has," Robinson said.
"We've talked about that as a team -
we've got to get out here and get
some victories, one way or another."
In order to put itself in position to
upset the Badgers, Michigan will have
to improve on the offensive end.
The Wolverines did not crack 60
points in either of their losses to
Indiana and Michigan State. Wis-
consin, meanwhile, enters tonight's
game with the Big Ten's best
defense, allowing just 55.4 points
per game.
. Ryan, though, refuses to look too
far into Michigan's recent struggles
to put the ball in the basket.
"They're talented, they're long,
they're quick," Ryan said. "(Daniel)
Horton is still one of the best point
guards around, and (Dion) Harris ...
boy can he shoot it.
"Believe me, every time we play
somebody, our players think this is
the greatest team that has ever
played, based on what we show
them, because we show them their
The two teams split last year's
series, with the Wolverines rallying
from 15 points down in the final

Full Court Press
They make for pretty cool com-
mercials, but if you think
about them for a minute, those
ESPN "Without Sports" ads bring up
a pretty scary thought: What if there
really were no sports? OK, it would-
n't be the worst thing that could hap-
pen (not quite, anyway), but things
would be different. Very different.
Some of us wouldn't even have been
lured to attend Michigan, and even if
we were, college would be an incom-
plete experience.
Without sports, there'd be no foot-
ball Saturdays, no walking to the
stadium with thousands of other stu-
dents, and no rushing the field.
There would be no weekend road
trips, no reason at all to trek to Iowa
City or Big Rapids or Bowling
Green. We would never walk into
Crisler Arena for the first time or
get chills when we watch, for the
last time as students, the Michigan
Marching Band take the field in the
Big House.
Without sports, there'd be no rea-
son to skip class on the third Thurs-
day afternoon in March, and we
would never start writing a term
paper at 1 a.m. because a game went
into double overtime.
Without sports, we wouldn't know
what it was like to never get tired of
"One Shining Moment," or watch
"Hoosiers" for the 100th time and
then not be able to wait for the next
time. We wouldn't watch a tape of
'98 Rose Bowl years later and still
celebrate when the clock runs out.
Without sports, we couldn't
watch Jeff Tambellini utterly con-
fuse a goalie, Steve Breaston turn a
tackler into a fool with one sick
move or Brent Petway sky for an
alley-oop. There Vould be-no_
grinders or sixth men or walk-ons

reminding us what it's all about.
Without sports, we could never get
away with calling a guy Hunnie or
Cookie or Dewie.
Without sports, there would be no
trash talk, no proclaiming our loyal-
ty on a T-shirt, no block "M," no
bragging rights, no rubbing it in, no
sharing the agony. Without sports,
we wouldn't get our best friend to
text message us updates every 10
minutes while we're stuck at a fami-
ly dinner.
Without sports, there would be no
need to guard the "M" on the Diag,
and the color green wouldn't make
us cringe a little bit.
Without sports, we'd never listen
to Frank Beckman and Jim Brand-
statter on the car radio, counting on
them to be our eyes. We'd never hear
Keith Jackson's "Whoa Nellie" or
hear televisions, all turned to the
same channel, echoing down the
dorm hall. We'd never hear the
swish of a perfect shot hitting the
twine or the clang of a puck hitting
the post or the collective groan of a
crowd or 110,000 people singing
"The Victors" in one voice.
Without sports, how would we
pour sweat or push ourselves to the
limit or blow off steam or knock
down a game-winner and feel, just
for a moment, like we're not all that
different from the players in maize
and blue?
Without sports, we'd have a lot
fewer stitches and black eyes, go
through a lot fewer ice packs and
Ace wraps. Without sports, how
would we be tough?
Without sports, we wouldn't pull
the glove out of the closet and play
catch on the first warm day of
spring or play touch football in the
snow and forget it is cold out or
shoot hoops in the park and not even
realize it's raining.
Without sports, our hearts would
pound a little less, and we wouldn't
sit on the edges of our seats quite so
often. We wouldn't be devastated as
often. But, also, we wouldn't have a
reason to wait until next year. We
wouldn't be 1,000 miles from home,
see a maize-and-blue flag, and feel
See LEWIS, Page 13

Michigan freshman Courtney Sims and the rest of the Wolverines are hoping to end
their two-game losing streak tonight in Madison against No. 21 Wisconsin.

five minutes to win 66-65 at home
in early January.
Tonight's game tips off at 9 p.m.,
and will air on ESPN-Plus.
OWENS OUT: Wisconsin senior
guard Freddie Owens will miss
tonight's game against the Wolver-
ines due to a left foot injury.
The senior suffered the injury in
practice on Saturday. His status
beyond tonight is still up in the air.

Owens has started all 14 games
for the Badgers so far this season
and has averaged 8.6 points in 29
minutes per game.
Wisconsin junior Zach Morley
will start in the backcourt in Owens'
place. It will be his first start of the
season. He has scored nine points
per game off the bench for the Bad-
gers on 49-percent shooting from
the floor so far this year.

Recruits Lerg, Johnson enjoy Yost preview

By Sharad Mattu
Daily Sports Writer
When 11 of the 26 players on a team are in the
same class, as is the case with the juniors on the
Michigan ice hockey team, there are clear benefits
and drawbacks.
They can either become a close-knit group, or
competition for playing time can make them a ten-
sion-ridden bunch.
They can all step right in and contribute, or the
transition to college hockey can be too tough and they
can fail to maximize their collective potential.
Fortunately for the Wolverines, things worked bet-
ter than even the coaching staff could have hoped.
The juniors - nine of whom play regularly - have
been instrumental in the team's Frozen Four runs the
past two years, and they give reason to believe that
this year and next can be even better.
That leaves one question, though: What happens
when they're all gone?
While a time without the class of 2005 is still in the
distant future, the Michigan coaches are busy deter-
mining exactly who will step up in its place.
Saturday, two future Wolverines - forward Bryan
Lerg and defenseman Jack Johnson - played at Yost
Ice Arena as members of the U.S. Under-18 National
Team Development Program.
Both went pointless in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the
Wolverines, but their abilities were obvious when they

were on the ice, and their coach believes Michigan is
getting a pair of "big-time players."
"Bryan Lerg is a complete player," U.S. Under-18
coach John Hynes said. "He plays both ends of the
ice. He takes a lot of our important faceoffs.
"He's at a level where he can compete against older
guys because of his work ethic in the weight room
and skill set."
For Lerg, choosing Michigan was tough because he
will graduate from high school this year, but he won't
have a spot on the roster unless an underclassman
leaves. Most likely, he will spend next year playing
major junior hockey and wait for a spot to open up.
"It's not the greatest situation," the Livonia native
said. "I get really antsy. But there's nothing I can do
about it. I want to go to Michigan, so I've just got to
wait around and be patient."
Hynes thinks just as highly of Johnson, who was
moved up from the Under-17 team just last week.
"Jack Johnson is a kid who's a phenomenal talent,"
Hynes said. "He's got things that you can't teach, and
he's got a high competitive level."
Johnson, who hails from Faribault, Minn., knows
just one player currently on the Wolverines. Senior
captain Andy Burnes was a counselor when he went
to Michigan hockey camp four years ago.
"I talked to him last week at the Ohio State game,"
Johnson said. "I told him to take it easy with us. He
just laughed at me."
Though it was hardly their best effort, the Wolver-

ines played hard, and the Under-18 squad hung around
and even tied the score early in the third period.
Playing at Yost and in Ann Arbor, where the
US-NTDP is based, was a thrill for both Lerg and
"I enjoyed it a lot, especially the crowd," Lerg said.
"I was kind of trying to block it out and listen to it at
the same time. I'd been waiting for this game for a
long time."
Johnson agreed, saying: "It was an honor and a
blast. I tried to soak up every minute of it. It was the
most fun I've ever had playing hockey."
The U.S. National Team Development Pogram is a
popular breeding ground for ftu Mhigan y
players. Here are the seven current Wolvernes wh.
honed their skills at the Ie Cube (the progrm's
home arena, located in Ann Arbor).
Dwight Helminen Under-1$ Team in 2.-200..
Eric Nystrom Under-18Team in 2000-2001
Jason Ryznar UnderA8 Team in 2000-2001
Al Montoya Under-7Tleamn2l1-290.
Mike Brown Under-1 Team fn 20Z2-20.3
T.J. Hensick Under-S Team in 2002-2003
Matt Hunwick Under-18 Team in 2O02-2003

Michigan junior center Dwight Heiminen ducks to avoid the hit of an oncoming
Northern Michigan defender.

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