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February 10, 2004 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-02-10

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Tuesday
February 10, 2004
sports.michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily.com

Ate f[irbtgan &u
SPORTS

10

TOP OF THE WO L D
Hockey writer Brian Schick followed
the Wolverines to Alaska for their
weekend series. The following is his
experience:

Valentine's 1
your loving

BR1AN SCHICK/For the Daily
A musier readies her teams of dogs before the Junior
-Ykon Quest, a 120-mile race for kids ages 14 to 17.
About 100 people were out to see the mushers off early
Saturday morning.

FAIRBANKS - I don't want to hear it. If I have
to listen to another person on campus complain about
the cold weather again this
year, I'll just go nuts.
Students in Ann Arbor
were complaining last
month about the highs being
in the single digits. I'll admit
it. I was one of those people
... until I stepped outside of BRIAN
Fairbanks International Air-
port late Thursday night. It SCHICK
was a balmy 22 degrees below zero.
Don't get me wrong - I had a great time covering
the Michigan hockey team up in the "Golden Heart
City" - but the weather is what defined this trip, as
well as this community. With only about 40,000 peo-
ple, there's not much to do on weekends besides play
and watch hockey.
The Carlson Center, home of the Alaska-Fairbanks
Nanooks, isn't on campus and doesn't provide a col-
lege rink atmosphere like Yost. It's actually more than
that - it had the atmosphere of a community sup-
porting its team, with everyone in town coming out to
cheer on the Nanooks.
I was disappointed, though, that the game didn't
have a college feel to it. Alaska-Fairbanks did have a
band, but it only played the school's fight song after
goals and the end of the period, which made it feel
like a game at Joe Louis Arena. The band even played
"Hit the Road, Jack" for Michigan penalties. Between
faceoffs, the band was silent, and the crowd was
forced to listen to now-dull arena songs like "Cotton

Eye Joe" and "Hip Hop Hooray." Player introductions
came right from the NHL All-Star Game, with strobe
lights and spotlights on the players being introduced.
The breakdown on the crowd goes like this: The
students and the band occupy about one half of the
lower-level seating, and all the other seats were occu-
pied by die-hard townspeople.
Don't think for a minute that this makes it an easier
venue to play in - I think it actually made it tougher.
Imagine if all the alumni and casual fans at the Big
House - heck, even Yost - cheered with the same
enthusiasm as the students. It would be the toughest
venue in the country. Every person in the arena gets
behind the cheering, whether it be doing the wave or
screaming "U-A-F! Nanooks!" from opposite sides
of the rink. The sound was so deafening, earplugs
were available for $1 at concession stands.
Even off the ice, Michigan wasn't safe from the
crowd - a fan poured a Coke on goalie Al Mon-
toya as he entered the dressing room Friday night.
But the most impressive aspect of the Alaska-Fair-
banks hockey program was its openness with the com-
munity. Most arenas in the CCHA don't have formal
press conferences - typically reporters talk to players
and coaches on a one-on-one basis. The Carlson Cen-
ter not only had a press conference, but it was open to
anyone in attendance at that night's game - anyone
could ask Guy Gadowsky and several players ques-
tions. Immediately after the game, there had to be at
least 750 people crammed into the room, and even
after 20 minutes of (mostly) intelligent questions, there
still remained about 150 committed fans.
But would you believe the coolest part of my week-

end wasn't the hockey games? I wouldn't have
believed it either before I started the trip. But I attend-
ed a classic Alaskan sporting event - dog mushing.
Earlier in the trip I made the mistake of calling it "dog
sledding," which is a no-no in Fairbanks. Good thing I
went to the dog mushing museum in town the day
before I saw the race. I watched the start of the Junior
Yukon Quest, which features maybe the most dedicat-
ed 14- to 17-year olds in the world competing in a 120-
mile trip with their teams of dogs.
I asked a woman standing next to me if the weather
stop the race. It was 17 degrees bellow zero at 10 a.m.
"You're not from around here, are you?" was her reply.
Gee, what gave it away - me being the only person
with a scarf over my face, my "M" ski cap or my lack
of heavy-duty snow boots? She explained to this out-
sider that the weather was "ideal for the dogs," but not
for the people. No argument here. For having just 14
mushers compete, there was a large crowd of about
250 people to see the kids off.
The people of Fairbanks realize their situation, liv-
ing in a small town just south of the Arctic Circle,
brings the community closer together. Where else
could you haeetotal strangers cheering on kids com-
peting in a dog mushing event on a frozen riverbed at
10 in the morning? I've never been anywhere where
more people said "Hello" to me on the street than
there. It seems impossible that such a friendly com-
munity would turn so vicious at a hockey game. I
guess that's what makes average Michigan students
into profanity-spewing maniacs on weekends as well.
If you want to see me become a maniac, just men-
tion how cold you are today.

KYLE O'NEILL
The Daily Janitor
Valentine's Day week is the most won-
derful time of the year ... right behind
March Madness, Jan. 1 bowl games, the
Super Bowl, the World Series, the World
Series of Poker, the NBA playoffs, Wim-
bledon (and all tennis slams), the Mas-
ters (and all golf slams), the College
World Series (baseball and softball), the
Road to the Stanley Cup, Wrestlemania,
dentist appointments, final exam week,
the Pro Bowl, anytime Elimi-date is on
and walking through the February slush
of Michigan - in that order.
Am I a bitter and, oh, so single college
student? In a word, yes.
In four words: I hate Valentine's Day.
I hate it not because I'm single, but
because there is nothing to distract me
from the fact I am single. With every
major sport in hibernation or in the mid-
dle of an almost-meaningless regular
season, I am forced to spend this week
with no entertainment, except for my job
and studying.
It makes me miss the XFL. (Couldn't
they throw together an old-timers game?
I know if anyone would ruin Valentine's
Day for the pure fun of it, it would be
Vince McMahon.)
Now, while my sullenness will
increase ten-fold over the next week, a
great deal of my male counterparts will
be throwing together some
dinner/movie/jewelry-giving/flower-giv-
ing/teddy-bear-giving package to show
their significant other they love them.
What this leaves is a girlfriend who does-
n't really know what to get their guy.
So ladies, fear not, I've got your entire
last-week Valentine's Day shopping list
for you right here.
FOR THE NFL FAN IN YOUR UFE: Pre-
order the first, and unfortunately last,
season of "Playmakers" on DVD. It's bad
television, but the good kind of bad tele-
vision. It will also give your guy some-
thing to watch between seasons of "Sex
in the City" on DVD.
I hear the fine people at ESPN have
put together a clip show featuring NFL
players' arrests, endzone celebrations,
tirades addressed at the media and any-
thing else the NFL does to show why the
league is a hypocrite for canceling the
show. (The Janet Jackson/Justin Timber-
lake fiasco will have commentary from
Omar Gooding, who played the remark-
able role of D.H.)
FOR THE NHL FAN IN YOUR uFE: Give
them some lovin' and a lot of tissues. The
NHL is about ready to go on strike,
which will most likely lead to the reduc-
tion of teams. Your die-hard hockey fan
may not cry now, but if one of the Origi-

Day gifts for
sportsfan
nal Six is among the casualties (it hap-
pens, look at the Cleveland Browns in
the NFL), expect a plethora of tears to
follow.
FOR THE MLB FAN IN YOUR UFE: An
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez jersey. The
most beautiful No. 7 jersey since Drew
Henson's, this gift will never be cher-
ished for generations to come. And if
your boyfriend doesn't like it or is a fan
of one of those unimportant teams, send
it to Kyle O'Neill, Student Publications
Building, 420 Maynard, Ann Arbor, MI.
FOR THE NBA FAN IN YOUR UFE: Show
your knowledge of the league, avoid
LeBron- and Melo-mania, and get them
paraphernalia featuring Jermaine
O'Neal, Peja Stojakovic or Kevin Gar-
nett. They're star players on teams that
- gasp! - win games.
FOR THE MICHIGAN FAN IN YOUR UFE:
Try to get in contact with a University
official, and set up a picnic in the middle
of freezing-cold Michigan Stadium. You
can make it as romantic as you wish
(music and a movie over the big screen),
and he'll will owe you one for getting
him down on the turf of the Big House.
Note: You have no chance of pulling
this off.
FOR THE GYMNASTICS FAN IN YOUR UFE:
Michigan vs. No. 2 Utah at Crisler Arena
this Saturday. Trust me, he'll love you for
the opportunity to watch the women's
gymnastics team, and he'll be rooting on
his school.
FOR THE FAN OF OTHER SPORTS THAT I
NEGLECT: If your boyfriend watches a
sport that you couldn't name if you tried,
try one of many things: Ryder Cup tick-
ets (it's in Michigan this year), an auto-
graphed Andy Roddick picture, a piece
of a wreck from a NASCAR event, a
deck of cards autographed by Chris
Moneymaker and Sammy Farha or tick-
ets to a WWE event with the promise
you will be excited when each wrestler
makes their appearance down the ramp.
FOR THE MALE WHO NEEDS TO SHOP FOR
THE FEMALE IN HIS UFE WHO IS A BIGGER
SPORTS NUT THAN HE IS: Yes, these ladies
are out there, and they are growing in
numbers, which is a good thing. Most
likely, these women aren't going to want
the traditional red, purple and pink
Valentine's Day. Instead, take them to the
3 p.m. showing of Colorado at Detroit
this Saturday at Joe Louis Arena (you'll
have to scalp tickets). The very likely
possibility of a brawl will undoubtedly
fire up your girlfriend for the rest of the
night.
FINALLY, FOR THE MICHIGAN STATE FAN IN
YOUR UFE: Dump them. Most likely, they
worship players like Jason Andreas or
some football player that will end up like
Sedrick Irvin (who?).
-Kyle O'Neill will most likely be reading
and catching up for his English 349 class
this Saturday night, but ifyou happen to be
an attractive female with any toleration for
his columns, contact him at
kylem@umich.edu.

0

Keep spark off bench,* continue starting Helvey

ElN MCGARRIHY
ON WOMEN'S HOOPS
Any opposing coach about to take on
the Michigan women's basketball team
would probably talk to you about his or
her plans to double team senior Jennifer
Smith underneath or defend junior
Tabitha Pool. Smith, with her 21.3
points per game in the post, and Pool,
with her uncanny shooting ability, have
posed the biggest threats to Wolverine
opponents for much of the season.
But opposing coaches should begin
keeping their eye on another emerging
threat.
This threat comes in the form of
lanky, 5-foot-11 Kelly Helvey. As a
freshman, Helvey has demonstrated
more confidence and spunk than any
other player on the team.
Helvey has been getting more playing
time - lately, in part, because she's been
filling in for sophomore forward Niki
Reams, who is out with a foot injury.
But even after Reams returns -
which could be as soon as Michigan's
game against No. 18 Michigan State
on Thursday - Michigan coach
Cheryl Burnett and the team would
benefit from keeping Helvey in its

starting line-up.
Her self-assurance on the court and
ability to get the ball to the right team-
mate at the right time have often pro-
vided Michigan with the fuel needed to
keep going, even when fans and her
teammates have given up.
Perhaps hailing from south of the
(Michigan) border - Helvey is a native
of Toledo, Ohio - makes her perform-
ance on the court extra spicy.
Anyone who witnesses Helvey in
action can immediately tell that this
freshman has a fiery air about her.
As her name was called for the start-
ing lineup before Sunday's victory over
Wisconsin, Helvey raced onto the court
smiling. Instead of just giving Pool the
traditional high five, Helvey jumped into
the air, chest-bumping her teammate.
In the first seconds of the game,
Helvey had the chance to take a shot
from just outside the key. But, after a
quick study of her teammates' posi-
tions, she recognized that Pool was
open under the basket. Helvey passed
the ball to the guard and Michigan had
its first two points of the game.
Again and again, Helvey makes
smart passes, but has also shown she is
not afraid to put the ball up herself
when she thinks the shot is there.
"You've got to give (the ball) to

whose going to make the plays,' Helvey
said.
Helvey did not bring much to Michi-
gan's offense in the first half of the sea-
son, but has recently improved from the
field. The freshman contributed nine and
11 points in last week's games against
Purdue and Wisconsin, respectively.
And while Helvey's offensive pro-
duction has steadily improved, Reams
has been much more hesitant to take the
shot, limiting her effectiveness on the
offensive end.
Or maybe Helvey's zesty perform-
ance comes from not being plagued by
something every other Michigan player
must endure - a past.
It's no secret that the Michigan pro-
gram has been struggling for a couple
years now. After some initial success,
former coach Sue Guevara ultimately
led her team into a downward spiral,
going from a winning 2001 season (10-
6 Big Ten, 19-12 overall) to a break-
even '02 season (6-10, 17-13) to a
depressing '03 season (3-13, 13-16).
The seniors and juniors on this year's
team have been around through thick
and - in their case - mostly thin.
Reams and the other sophomores just
have the memory of last year's disap-
pointing record. When Michigan gets
down in a game, these weathered players

may be quick to remember all the con-
tests they let slip away in past seasons.
But Helvey comes to Ann Arbor fresh
off a successful basketball career at
Central Catholic High School in Toledo,
where she averaged 13 points and five
rebounds per game in her senior season.
So it's no wonder that, when Michi-
gan was down by 17 points at the half
against Michigan State on Jan. 18,
Helvey was still ready to go, taking
shots when the rest of her teammates
had lost all hope.
Helvey's coach and teammates have
also begun to notice that the freshman's
court presence is essential.
"Kelly's great," junior point guard
Sierra Hauser-Price said. "She's very
aggressive and we need that - she's all
over the place."
First-year coach Cheryl Burnett
agreed, commenting after the Purdue
game that "Kelly just did a great job of
energizing us ... as well as adding some
offense. Her confidence does a lot for us
and that's special for a freshman."
When Smith and senior Stephanie
Gandy are gone next year, Michigan will
have to look to Helvey to keep this team
afloat. But if Burnett wants to keep this
team from falling for the remainder of
this season, she'd be wise to make
Helvey a permanent starter now.

Win over Purdue puts
Cagers back into race

By Daniel Bremmer
Daily Sports Editor
The Big Ten basketball race is wide
open.
With its win over Purdue on Satur-
day, Michigan sits in seventh place in
the conference with a 4-4 record (13-6
overall). Seven Big Ten teams have a
conference record equal to or better
than .500.
But in a year when many analysts
view the Big Ten as a weaker confer-
ence, only four or five of those seven
teams are expected to earn a berth into
the NCAA Tournament.
As a result, Michigan views an
NCAA bid - something which it has-
n't earned since 1998 - as a motivat-
ing factor in preparing for road games
at Minnesota tomorrow and at Iowa on

Saturday.
"We all think about it," Michigan
senior Bernard Robinson said. "We
want to get to the Tournament, and we
know every game counts. A game like
(Minnesota) is a must win for us, to get
to the place we want to go."
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker has
heard what Big Ten critics are saying
about the number of bids the confer-
ence will earn. But he doesn't let it
bother him one bit.
"For me personally, I think it's mean-
ingless; because I think that all these
things will take care of themselves at
the end of the year," Amaker said.
One reason that analysts have criti-
cized the Big Ten is because of the par-
ity among its teams. No team has
established itself as the squad to beat in
a still wide-open conference.
Wisconsin appeared to be the top
Big Ten team, jumping out to a solid
6-1 conference record (15-3 overall)
through the end of last week. But the
Badgers were routed 69-51 by North-
western (4-5, 9-11) in Evanston on
Saturday - a game no one expected
Wisconsin to lose. Now, Michigan
State sits atop the Big Ten with a 7-2
conference record.
Robinson believes that regardless of
a team's record, it is always harder to
beat a team on the road - especially in
the Bit Ten.

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