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February 11, 2004 - Image 11

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

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 11, 2004 -1"

Ebbett's brain aids
Blue scoring attack
By Michael Nisson
Daily Sports Writer
When you think of the stereotypical chess guru, you probably think of
a scrawny little guy with big-rimmed glasses who can derive the
Pythagorean Theorem in his sleep. When you think of a hockey player,
you probably think of a big, nasty brute that enjoys shoving people in his
spare time.
When you put the two images together, you're describing one of the
Michigan hockey team's most prolific scorers - sophomore center
Andrew Ebbett.
Ebbett, who Michigan coach Red Berenson describes as being "as
smart a player as we have," is the closest thing the Wolverines have to a
master chess player. But Ebbett makes his moves on the ice, not the
The clearest way to see how Ebbett resembles a chess players like
Bobby Fischer or Gary Casparov is simply to look at him. Ebbett is the
smallest player on the team at 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds. At first glance,
you might wonder how he's able to survive checks from players that are
sometimes as much as eight inches taller and 60 pounds heavier than him.
That's where his hockey I.Q. comes into play.
"I think he makes up for (his size disadvantage) because he's smart,"
linemate David Moss said. "He finds a way to keep himself open and
keep his feet open."
Michigan assistant coach Billy Powers said that what makes Ebbett
stand out is the "presence" that he brings to the ice.
"You don't even worry about (Ebbett's) line," Powers said. "He's in
charge - he'll make sure that line plays well. It gives you a luxury as a
coach. He just doesn't need a whole lot."
Ebbett has definitely made his mark on the score sheet. So far this sea-
son, Ebbett is second on the team in total points (27) and assists (21). He
also leads the team in multiple-point games with 11.
After a minute of thought, Powers elevated his characterization .of
Ebbett to a much higher level.
"To be honest, the guy that he reminds me most of, and obviously he's
not as prolific, would be (Brendan) Morrison," Powers said. "Brendan
wasn't a big guy either. He just had that way about him that felt like he
was in charge."
The comparison is a lofty one for the sophomore. Morrision, winner of
the Hobey Baker Award and an alternate captain on the 1996 National
Championship squad, holds many spots in the Michigan record book,
Former Olympian
helps 'M'gymnasts
By Ian Herbert
Daily Sports Writer

Wolverines excited for:
warm Arizona weather

By John Stiglich Ii
For the Daily
The Michigan men's golf team is
looking to defrost its clubs this week-
end when the Wolverines head to
Tempe, Ariz., for their meet against
Purdue and Arizona State. Coach
Andrew Sapp is confident in his
team's ability to play well despite the
climate change.
"We've been practicing at Miles of
Golf, hitting in the heated driving
range, and we've been able to get
some wedge work done despite the
weather," Sapp said.
Six members of the team will play
in the desert this weekend: senior
Dave Nichols, sophomores Brandon
Duff and Christian Vozza, and fresh-
men Matt McLaughlin, Will Kendall
and Kevin Dore. The team hopes to
conquer a tract of land Nichols is very
familiar with, Arizona State's Karsten
"The course we're playing at is the
course I worked at all summer,"
Nichols said. "I've played there like
50 times."
Nichols is a native of Rochester, but
his parents retired to Mesa, Ariz., two
summers ago. Nichols' knowledge of
the course layout could prove vital in
Michigan's performance.
"I know where you can hit it and
where you can't," Nichols said.
"That's definitely something I will
share (with the rest of the team) once
we get there."
Sapp believes Nichols, a four-year
varsity player, will be a strong leader
for the team this year.

"He played in all four tournaments
last fall," Sapp said. "So we're hop-
ing he can step up in the spring and
help shape our younger players as
Nichols said the success of the teamr
will be determined by the develop-
ment of the younger players.
"Giving the younger players some,
of my experience and wisdom is one
of two things I'd like to do before I'm
done playing," Nichols said.
He also expressed his desire to da
anything he possibly can to help the
team win.
Arizona State is the favorite this.
weekend, as it has been playing year:
round golf in warm weather. But,
according to Sapp, Purdue can be
"Obviously when you're playing a.
team like Arizona State this early in,
the season, it's difficult to say we'd be
able to compete with them," Sapp said'
"But we think we can compete well
against Purdue - that's our main-
This weekend's match marks the.
beginning of the golf team's spring
season. In the next four months, the,
Wolverines will travel to many loca-'
tions including Puerto Rico over-
spring break. But the team ultimately.
will return to Ann Arbor for the Big.
Ten Tournament in May.
"This weekend's match is kind of a
preseason warm-up for the rest of the,
season," Sapp said. "We'll learn a lot-
this weekend and are looking forward
to Puerto Rico over the break, where.
we'll be playing some of the top teams
in the nation."a

Andrew Ebbett Is second on the Wolverines this season In both total points and
assists because of his ability to find openings around the ice.
including being the all-time leading scorer in Michigan history.
Ebbett, like the Wolverines in general, has been on fire lately. He cur-
rently has a five-game point streak, including a goal and three assists in
the two games against Alaska-Fairbanks last weekend.
"Coming back from the (winter) break, he has been dynamite," Pow-
ers said. "His stats show it, his plus-minus shows it and our victories
show it. Our win-loss record is indicative of him stepping up, too."

Assistant thrives near home

I f

By Anne Ulble
Daily Sports Writer

Most of the time, the Michigan men's gymnastics team has only
three coaches to observe and give advice to the gymnasts. But
this year it has additional help.
Daisuke Nishikawa, a two-time member of Japan's Olympic
team, has been with the squad since September and plans on stay-
ing until just before the Big Ten Championships in the middle of
The coaches and gymnasts think that he brings something dif-
ferent to the gym that makes them better as a team.
"He is the silent coach who stands over in the corner and ana-
lyzes," Michigan coach Kurt Golder said. "And without knowing
that he is watching, he will call a guy over and give him a little
ancient Japanese secret. And of course he is an Olympic level ath-.
lete so, because of his presence, he brings the dimension of the
guys wanting to perform for him and show him their best. I am
sure that it helps us a bit."
Nishikawa comes to Michigan with an impressive resume.
When he was 18 years old, he competed for Japan in the Seoul
Olympics. While there, he got a perfect 10.0 on the pommel
horse, something that only a handful of gymnasts have done in
the history of the Olympics.
"He's awesome," junior Geoff Corrigan said. "Just being in the
gym with a guy like that is something that most people will never
get to do. So, just from that perspective, it's amazing to have him
in the gym."
Nishikawa has been working as a gymnastics coach and lectur-
er at his alma mater, Nihon University in Tokyo, since 1999. He
explained that gymnastics is the same wherever he is, but some
aspects of coaching are different.
"My team had 35 gymnasts, which is too big," Nishikawa said.
"The gym was very small, the same size as this. There were only
two coaches for all those gymnasts. It was very difficult. At
Michigan, there are three coaches and 16 gymnasts. And the
gymnasts and the coaches talk, which is very good.
"Competition is the same, but just a little different. Some guys
from Michigan do all six events, but some guys do three events or
two events and that's okay - specialists are okay. But in Japan
there are no specialists. All gymnasts do six events. It's different
because doing all six events is very difficult. If you are good on
five events, but on one event you are no good, then you aren't a
good gymnast."
He said that the hardest part is communicating with the gym-
nasts, but the coaches and gymnasts think that he doesn't give
himself enough credit.
"Especially with the sport of gymnastics, so much of the coach-
ing is done by how you shape you body or (use) hand gestures to

Sometimes you don't have to go far away from
home to find what you're looking for. Michigan
women's swimming assistant coach Stefanie Kers-
ka believes in this wholeheartedly.
After attending high school in Ann Arbor and
swimming for Michigan in the late 1980s, she
returned to her roots six years ago to coach the
same team that taught her how to live life to the
Kerska first swam when her mom sent her off
to swim camp at the age of 10. Armed with only a
bikini, Kerska was the sole camper without a
swim cap or goggles.
The camp jump-started Kerska's love for swim-
ming and pushed her to join various club teams.
At 14, her father's job moved the family from New,
York to Michigan, and Kerska was told to find a
local swim club that she liked.
"My father said he'd commute to Troy (to
work) from any local area of my choosing," Ker-
ska said. "It really wasn't difficult for me to pick
a team - Ann Arbor Swim Club was the obvi-
ous choice."
Kerska swam at Pioneer High School from
1983-87, where she was the two-time state cham-
pion in the 100-yard backstroke and the second-
ranked backstroker in the country.
Although she gave a verbal commitment to
Michigan at one point, her decision changed on
signing day. Her call to Michigan's Jim Richard-
son caught the coach offhand.
"She said to me, 'I've decided where I'm
going,' " Richardson said. "Then she gave this
long pause and to my dismay chose Virginia! In
my head I was thinking, 'Wait, no, you meant to
say Michigan!'
While at Virginia, Kerska had difficulties with
the swim coach and was sick for the better part of
her first semester. She decided to transfer to
Michigan after just three months as a Cavalier.
By January of her freshman year, Kerska train-
ing with the Wolverines. Kerska made her debut at
the 1988 Big Ten championships, winning the
500-yard freestyle title as a last-minute fill-in for
the race's defending champion, Gwen De Mott,
who was sick with mono.
"She was going into a race she'd never really
done before,' Richardson said. "But she not only
finished with a personal best time, but she claimed
the title for the race. It was at that moment that she

established herself as a force in the Big Ten."
At the end of Kerska's swimming career in-
1990, she was a seven-time Big Ten Conference
"She was incredibly tough," Richardson said
"Along with half the girls being intimidated by.,
her, I think half the guys on the men's team were
scared of her too."
After graduating, Kerska married former-
Michigan men's swimmer Dave Kerska and
coached various high school and club swim teams.,
in the Ann Arbor area In 1998, Richardson offered;,
her an assistant coaching position with the
"I knew she obviously had the background,"
Richardson said. "She had great organizational-
skills, knew my style and had a good idea of the
ins and outs of the program. I knew she would be,,
perfect for the job"
Senior captain Sara Johnson agrees that Kerska
has been an asset to the program. While she views
Kerska as a friend and fill-in mother many times,
she has really felt the intensity of her compassion-
ate coach. Johnson believes that Kerska's real mis-
sion as assistant coach is to keep Richardson
"He would have a really hard time keeping
things in line without her," Johnson said.
Richardson said the swimmers are more com-
fortable talking to her about certain topics because
she is a woman.
"I try to be as in touch with my feminine side as
I can," Richardson said. "I live with my wife, my
young daughter and a female dog, but it can only
go so far."
Kerska has been able to bond easily with the
swimmers over the course of the six seasons she's
been with Michigan.
While influencing her swimmers' lives, Kerska
has two children of her own to imprint her ideals
upon. She and her husband have a daughter, Kate-
rina, and a son, Karl Niklas.
"It's difficult balancing family and coaching,"
Kerska said. "In both cases, you want to give just a
little bit more, and you have to be able to find just
the right amount. For me, family comes first, but
there are no other girls I'd rather spend my time
with than the team. I feel very privileged to coach
here and be able to affect these girls' lives."
Many people are concerned about finding new
roots, but Kerska has found that she hasn't had to
travel far to find the place where she belongs.

Visiting Michigan assistant Daisuke Nishikawa scored a perfect 10.0 for
the on the pommel horse (shown above) at the Seoul Olympics.
show different techniques," Golder says. "And that is something
that is universal. That is why gymnasts can communicate, coach-
to-athlete, so easily."
Corrigan said that he has no problem understanding what his
Japanese coach is trying to explain when there are problems with
his routine.
"It's not a problem because he can show positions and every-
thing," Corrigan says. "It is if you are trying to get in depth on
something, but most of the time he just shows technique. And he
speaks pretty good English. He is just scared to talk. When he
wants to, he can say anything."
Nishikawa's first large competition was at the Olympics.
Before that, he had only trained in high school and Japan has no
national competition like there is in the United States. The
plethora of large college competitions, like last weekend's Winter
Cup in Las Vegas, is one thing that Nishikawa had to get used to.
He said that he has some trouble dealing with the Michigan
"I have been having fun," Nishikawa said. "I like it. I like
Michigan. The gymnastics is very good and the coaching is very
good. The cold is unbelievable. But inside it's warm. In the gym,
it's very warm."

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