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February 11, 2004 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-02-11

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February 11, 20 4



struggles to
stay positive
By Dan Rosen
y Sports Editor
With the possible exception of Bill Murray's
"Caddyshack" days, these past few weeks have
been some of the worst times for Gophers in
recorded history.
The Michigan basket- _
ball team treks into Min-. TGNIGUT
neapolis tonight to face a
Minnesota team that has
gone winless in its first
nine Big Ten games. 'lue: :00 p.m.
"There's (two things)
that you can do," said UPN tape-delyd,
Golden Gophers coach
Dan Monson of the strug-
gles. "You can cash it in,
or you can keep working at it. I think that this
group is still working at it."
It's not like Minnesota hasn't been close. On Jan.
28, the Golden Gophers led Michigan State by 23
points in the first half at home. But the Gophers
gave up a whopping 39-16 run, spanning both
halves, to lose 79-78 in overtime.
That was just a few days after frustrated junior
Maurice Hargrow, the team's leading scorer return-
ing from last season, decided to transfer to another
Division I school. Hargrow's minutes had steadily
decreased as he struggled with his shooting touch.
He was even removed from the starting lineup.
Monson has tried to keep the remaining bunch
working to move forward. But that's not always
easy when your team is losing.
"There's a lot of frustration," Monson said.
"We've had players say, 'Hey, we didn't play hard
enough,' or 'My teammates didn't.' That's part of
being frustrated."
Monson and his wife even brought the players
cookies last Saturday night to try and keep their
spirits up.
"You're trying little things to let them know that
we all care, and we know that guys are trying and
those kinds of things," Monson said.
A few years ago, Monson set it up so that his
players could live together. The coach thinks things
would be worse among the team was it not such a
tight-knit group.
Freshman Kris Humphries has been Minnesota's
lone bright spot. The 6-foot-9 forward originally
signed to play with Duke before deciding to play in
his home state.

If only more athletes had
the same attitude as Ricky


Michigan senior Bernard Robinson puts up a shot against Minnesota last year. Robinson had a double-double
(13 points, 11 rebounds) in Michigan's 75-63 win at Crisler Arena.

The Realest
CLEVELAND - In a time
when camaraderie and good
sportsmanship pervade sports
- a la LeBron James - there is one
athlete who gives fans hope for the
His name is Ricky Davis.
First, you have to know about
Ricky. You can tell a lot about him by
his appearance. Ricky's loud-
mouthed, his shorts are baggy and
the chip on his shoulder is enormous.
Ricky once shot at his own hoop
in an attempt to collect his first
career triple-double (unfortunately,
the rebound he obtained in this stunt
didn't count). Ricky is extremely
selfish with the basketball, and
when a coach asks him to shoot less,
he stops shooting completely. He
also doesn't play defense - ever.
Legend (gossip) has it that when a
young ball boy relayed a request for
Ricky to move his car, Davis
responded: "F**k that s**t b***h!"
In short: Ricky is selfish and
Ricky is disruptive.
As a result, Ricky was traded a
couple months ago from my favorite
team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, to the
Boston Celtics. After the first meet-
ing against his old team in.Boston,
Ricky walked off the court without
shaking hands and ripped his former
organization and former city.
After that, I had Feb. 9 circled on
my calendar: Ricky's Return.
With tickets behind the Cavaliers'
bench, my friend, Varun, and I asked
ourselves: "What would Ricky want
us to do?" The answer was obvious:
be selfish and disruptive.
We originally planned for me to
walk down the aisle in my Davis jer-
sey while grabbing people's conces-
sions and stuffing them into my
mouth. But we realized that would
lead to immediate ejection, forcing
us to pick between selfishness and
We opted for disruption.
There were popsicle-stick faces
like those on Pardon the Interruption
(actually, they were fork faces).
These were multi-dimensional. We
covered our faces with them when-
ever Ricky looked in our direction.
We also held them up to our faces to
serve as deflectors when people
heckled us. My personal favorite use
was for "Dancing Ricky:" bouncing
the fork around when music played
over the loud speaker.
I think it could be as big as Lil'
Penny. Based on his unenthusiastic
reaction to one of Dancing Ricky's
performances in the third quarter,
LeBron might disagree.
Varun and I also brought signs.

One was supposed to read: "In
Ricky We Trust." But we misjudged
the poster's spacing and had to settle
for: "In R We Trust." The other read:
"Ricky is the Realest" (I know what
you're thinking. I guess that makes
me the second-realest, but I can pre-
tend). In fact, these signs and our
faces (our actual faces, not the
aforementioned popsicle-stick faces)
were shown on TNT when Ricky
entered the game.
Most importantly, we brought our
loud, obnoxious voices. As soon as
Ricky walked onto the floor for
warm-ups, we screamed words of
encouragement to the other end of
the floor. Ricky paused to give us
the No. 1 sign.
Unfortunately, we didn't get to see
much Ricky in the first quarter,
since he didn't enter the game for
almost nine minutes. So we settled
for making his former teammates
For those who haven't heckled
before, the key is picking one or two
guys to ride instead of working the
entire team. Our whipping boy was
former UCLA standout and current
bench warmer Jason Kapono.
The highlight was a question for
his teammate: "Dajuan (Wagner)!
Who do you think will get in first:
Kapono or Tony Battie?" (Note: Bat-
tie is currently on the injured list and
was dressed in a suit for the game)
We turned our attention to Cleve-
land's mascot, Moondog, after he
made the crowd roar by mopping the
floor with an old Davis jersey. We
spent the rest of the game demand-
ing someone from the organization
to explain the connection between
Moondogs and Cavaliers.
Ricky had an uncharacteristically
quiet night. He scored just 10 points
and avoided doing anything stupid
aside from turnovers and blown
assignments on defense.
What was going on? My friend
and I were left to wonder if Ricky
had reformed his game.
Then we read what he told
reporters after the game: "I didn't
get enough shots tonight to get
Or, as Ricky would have answered
our question: "F*** that s***


Humphries leads the Big Ten in scoring. His 22
points per game are two points more than Indiana's
Bracey Wright, who is currently in second. And
Humphries also leads the league with 10 rebounds
per game.
"I think he's a great player," Michigan's defen-
sive leader Bernard Robinson said. "It's definitely
going to be a team effort on him (defensively)."
Michigan's leading freshman big man, Courtney
Sims, faced Humphries at a Nike basketball camp
before college. Sims's team knocked off

Humphries's at the camp, and he takes the confi-
dence from having won that game into tomorrow
"I'm not intimidated by anybody," Sims said.
"He's a good player and everything. But I don't
care who I play, I'm not going to be intimidated by
Minnesota would like nothing more than to get
its first notch in the win column tonight. Cookies
can only do so much to lift the team's spirits.
"Winning solves a lot of things," Monson said.

Conference Overall

Michigan State
Penn State
Ohio State





Jim Weber can be reached at

Yesterday's results:
ILLINOIS 75, Michigan State 51
Tonight's games:
Indiana at Penn State
Wisconsin at Iowa
Michigan at Minnesota
Northwestern at Purdue


Photo courtesy of TNT
Daily columnist Jim Weber (right) and
his friend cheer for Ricky Davis on TNT.

Burnett literally calls on locals

By Megan Kolodgy
Daily Sports Writer
This week, the distinctive voice of Michigan women's
basketball coach Cheryl Burnett will be on the answer-
ing machines of thousands of Ann Arborites. This is not
some sort of extreme recruiting tactic, or a masochistic
effort to quiet her already hoarse voice. It's just another
way Burnett and Michigan's promotions department are
trying to get a few more people in the generally empty
seats at her games.
Step into Crisler Arena for a Thursday night home
game, and it's easy to see why this group has gone to
such great lengths to fill up the stands.
The arena is sparsely populated, primarily with fami-
ly and friends of the athletes, a few regulars and a
slowly growing pack of Bluenatics - the team's offi-
cial student fan club.
The fan base at Crisler is a dedicated and enthusiastic
group, but it's not what Burnett was used to at Southwest
Missouri State, where she coached for several years.
"I'm from a program that averaged 8,000 over the last
decade for women's basketball," Burnett said. "That's
what I'm used to. That's what we're wanting to develop
here. We want it to be electric and exciting - to have
8,000 fans consistently. It's a wonderful environment for
the fans and the players who play there."
The average game attendance currently hovers around
2,100, according to Mark Riordan, Director of Promo-
tions. While this is a fairly significant lean from last

For the final game of the season, Riordan has scheduled
a squad of frisbee dogs.
Will a man who gets people to cluck like chickens and
a couple of energetic pups really draw people in? Rior-
dan hopes that they will help, but he has committed
more of the promotions budget to advertising, in particu-
lar to families with young children.
"We made a huge push this year into radio in Ann
Arbor, with the Cheryl Burnett Show and with getting
our games on the radio," Riordan said. "And then an
advertising push on two local radio stations, W4 Country
and Cool-107. They really hit our demographic. Every
time I've done a push in the advertising, I've seen a
spike in attendance."
Whether or not these ads will make the permanent dif-
ference in attendance that Riordan and Burnett hope for
remains to be seen. But Riordan has observed what he
believes to be a critical change in people's attitudes when
they are asked about Michigan women's basketball.
"I've noticed, in general, that when we get tickets out
to the public, last year it was 'Women's basketball -
why would I want to go to that?' and this year it's been
more, 'Women's basketball - yeah, I've been meaning
to go to that,' " Riordan said. "I think we've turned a
corner in terms of that."
To some degree, the attendance at women's games is
out of Riordan and Burnett's control.
"What helps a women's program blow up is a men's
program that sells out," Riordan said. "People want bas-
ketball during the winter - they want some form of





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