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February 05, 2004 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-02-05

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10A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, February 5, 2004

40

Cagers still believe they are
in race for conference title

By Chris Burke
Daily Sports Editor
So which do you want to hear first: The good
news or the bad news?
For the Michigan basketball team, the bad news
is that it sits in seventh place in the conference and
has already suffered four defeats in a conference
where the champion rarely exceeds five.
But the good news for the Wolverines is that the
most difficult portion of their conference schedule
appears to be behind them. Michi-
gan (3-4 Big Ten, 12-6 overall) has
already had to endure road trips tor
Wisconsin, Michigan State and 1
Illinois - the first, second and
third-place teams in the confer-
ence, respectively.
Counter that with the last nine games of Michi-
gan's conference slate. Beginning with Purdue on
Saturday, the Wolverines will host five of those nine
contests in Crisler Arena. And, out of their four road
opponents, only Indiana currently sits above sixth
place in the Big Ten standings.
That potentially advantageous schedule, com-
bined with the fact that no Big Ten team aside from
Wisconsin has been consistently ranked, has the
Wolverines convinced that a move up the standings
may not be far away.
"(The way the conference standings are), it's
easy to come from seventh place and be in third or
second, so we're still in the race," Michigan fresh-
man Courtney Sims said. "I think we have a good
chance to get back in the race - we have to handle
our business at home and win a couple games on
the road."

Before Michigan can make a run at the confer-
ence lead, though, the Wolverines know that they
must get past the Boilermakers.
"I think the significance of this game is everyone
is one or two games out of being in the hunt,"
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. "Everything
is going to change again, and it's going to look a lot
different if we can somehow get to .500 in the
league."
BAD NEws BOILERS: While Michigan is pointing
toward Saturday as a potential turning point in its
conference season, Purdue is just trying to keep its
team together.
On Tuesday, the Boilermakers learned that they
would be without senior forward Chris Booker for
the remainder of the season after he was declared
academically ineligible.
"It's unfortunate for Chris and his teammates, but
we've got to move on as a team," Purdue coach
Gene Keady said in a statement. "Chris will always
be a part of this basketball family, and we will con-
tinue to do whatever we can to help him in his
future endeavors."
In addition to that, Purdue may be without start-
ing guard and leading scorer (14.1 points per
game) Kenneth Lowe. Purdue's most consistent
defender, sprained his elbow on Jan. 27 in the Boil-
ermakers' 63-58 loss at Indiana. Since then, Lowe
has sat out the Boilermakers' games against Ohio
State and Penn State on Saturday and Wednesday,
respectively.
Keady said on Monday that Lowe is day-to-day.
UNLEASH THE RAGE: If Michigan basketball
recruit Malik Hairston, a senior at Renaissance
High School in Detroit, decides to play his college
ball somewhere other than Ann Arbor, don't blame

0

RYAN WEINER/Daily
Michigan head coach Matt Anderson hopes to be all smiles this weekend as his
Wolverines travel to Palo Alto to take on Southern Cal. and Stanford.
Amenca s top powel's
await M in Palo Alto

TONY DING/Daily
Freshman center Courtney Sims thinks that Michigan can
contend for the Big Ten title with its remaining schedule.
it on the Maize Rage.
A group of around a dozen Maize Ragers trav-
eled to Hairston's final high school home game,
an 88-59 win over Detroit Communication and
Media Arts.
One of Hairston's teammates is Joe Crawford,
who originally announced his intentions to play for
Michigan. But he withdrew that commitment in
July, and eventually signed with Kentucky.
Hairston was his usual brilliant self in the Renais-
sance victory, finishing with 29 points and 10
rebounds. Crawford had 24 points and seven
boards.

By Katie Niemeyer
For the Daily
The Michigan women's water
Polo will head out to sunny and
warm Palo Alto, Calif., this week-
end to play in the Stanford Invite.
-Don't get too jealous, though,
because this trip will be all busi-
ness. The Wolverines will be facing
,Stanford and Southern California,
which, according to Michigan coach
Matt Anderson are "the two best
teams in the country, even though
they are rated two and three." The
No. 1 ranked team is UCLA.
Michigan has yet to beat either of
these teams in its short history, but
the Wolverines remain confident.
"This is probably the first time
Michigan can say that they belong
in the same pool against these
teams," Anderson said. "Now we've
just got to go out and prove it."
In Stanford and Southern Cal.,
Michigan will be facing its toughest
competition yet this season.
"We're hoping to step up our
game," Anderson said. "Our plan is
to try and not give them extra pos-
essions and to try and control the
ball a little bit more than we would
against most teams. We have an
opportunity to compete against the
two best teams in the nation, and I
think we can be competitive."
In order to control the ball and
capitalize on other team's mistakes,
Anderson believes that the team
needs to be able to go to the key

players they rely on for most games.
Those players include veteran Julie
Nisbet, freshman Shana Welch and
All-American Sheetal Narsai.
Though the talent of those three is
important to the team, Anderson
knows he needs more this weekend.
"I need number one to number
twelve to step up," he said.
Anderson knows his team is going
to have to work hard this weekend.
He's looking at this tournament as a
good chance to judge his team's
standing compared to these top
teams. These teams' status as the
best teams in the nation motivates
the girls, but Anderson believes the
fact that Michigan has never beaten
these teams does not increase its
desire to win.
"We want to win every game,
whether it's against a team we've
beaten before or a team we haven't
beaten before," Anderson said.
These teams are tough, but Michi-
gan has one secret weapon against
Southern Cal. - assistant coach1
Jennifer Durley, who played and
coached for the Trojans.1
"She's helpful in telling us about
individually what various players
might do," Anderson said.
This won't have a big effect on
the upcoming game because "she
doesn't necessarily know what the
coach's game plan might be,"
according to Anderson. But the
Wolverines will be happy to have
her on their side when they get in1
the pool this Saturday.

Parents crucial element in Wolverines' success

By Anne Uible
Daily Sports Writer
When senior breaststroker Kelli
Stein transferred to Michigan after
two years at Kentucky, her father,
Ron Stein, was taken aback by the
extreme enthusiasm of the swim
team's parent-support group. Orga-
nized cheers and coordinated dances
were far from the quiet encourage-
ment he had experienced at Wildcats
swim meets.
At his first Michigan meet Stein
admitted to being "swallowed up"
by the parents' excitement and feel-
ing like a "weirdo" if he didn't par-
ticipate in the cheers. After being
self-conscious at first, Stein has
now become a fixture in the top row
of Canham Natatorium, making the
most noise out of the entire crowd.
And since his daughter's transfer,
Stein has not missed a single meet.
"If they swim in Hawaii, I'm in
Hawaii. If they're in Texas, then I'm in
Texas," Stein said. "I go everywhere
they go, and I don't miss a cheer."
It's not often that you find an organ-

ized cheering section at a swim meet.
It's even more rare to find 20 parents
participating in a cheer that was obvi-
ously practiced beforehand. But for
the Michigan women's swimming and
diving team, the parent .cheering sec-
tion is a staple of the program.
Since the early 1990s the Wolver-
ines have had a strong parent fol-
lowing. They have organized
musical skits, made surprise goodie
bags and played surrogate parents
for the girls whose families could
not attend a meet.
Diane Johnson, mother of senior
captain Sara and freshman Amanda,
has organized the parents' support
group. Throughout the season, she is
in contact with all of the families via
e-mail. The parents send cheer ideas,
jokes and traveling information.
"We all try to put anything we can
aside to take care of our girls," Diane
said. "We'll travel all over the country
for them."
It is obvious from the swimmers'
faces when they step out of the pool
that they are appreciative of theirpar-
ents' support.

"It's great having the parents up in
the stands, because the girls always
know that people are out there for
them," Michigan coach Jim Richard-
son said. "It definitely gets them more
comfortable in their surroundings.
Some will cringe, and you can kind of
tell they don't want to associate with
their parents up in the stands. But you
know they really like it."
While the majority of the crowd is
comprised of parents of current swim-
mers, there are a few people who are
parents of swimmers who swam
between five and ten years ago.
"I don't even know if they're at the
meets to watch the girls swim,"
Richardson said. "I think they come
just to be around the parents."
While entertaining, the cheering
group has led to new friendships
between the parents. For example,
Larry Johnson (Diane's husband) and
Ron Stein would probably not be able
to talk with one another without their
mutual pride in the swim team. John-
son is an avid Michigan football fan,
having played for the legendary Bo
Schembechler from 1970-74. On the

other hand, Stein hails from Columbus
and admits to being a huge Buckeye
supporter.
"I don't think Don and I could have
become friends without the swim
team," Larry Johnson said. "But with
our girls on the team, we have some-
thing in common, something to pro-
mote together."
Johnson and Stein may not agree on
football, but they both believe that
they are the craziest parent cheering
section ever found at a swim meet
Richardson agrees.
"They are absolutely the most
amazing group of parents in competi-
tive swimming," Richardson said.
"Whether we are in Florida or Califor-
nia or Texas, we never go to a single
meet without seeing probably five sets
of parents in the stands."
With the Big Ten Championships
taking place in two weeks, Tom Weil-
bacher, father of senior captain Anne
Weilbacher, estimates that 70 percent
of all the parents will attend the meet
in Minneapolis. And you can bet they
will be the loudest parent cheering
section in the conference.

0
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