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February 17, 2004 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-02-17

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4

Tuesday
February 17 2004
sports.michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily. corn

SPORTS

8

4

Michigan hopes to
turn over new leaf

Columnist.takes off hat
for a big head scratcher

By Daniel Bremne,
Daily Sports Editor
The Michigan basketball team
realizes that its window of opportuni-
ty to earn an NCAA Tournament bid
is rapidly closing.
Currently on a two-game losing
streak, the team has suffered from

inconsistency since
the Big Ten season
began. And that
inconsistency seems
to be at an all-time
high when the
Wolverines hit the

YR
Y O

road, where they have won just one of
their five conference games.
Luckily for Michigan, it returns
home to Crisler Arena for its next
four games, beginning tomorrow
with Penn State.
"We have to take care of our home
court and win these four games if we
want to have a shot at making the
(NCAA) Tournament," freshman guard
Dion Harris said. "And we all want to
have a shot"
The sense of urgency in the upcom-
ing homestand is prevalent among
Wolverines, especially senior Bernard
Robinson. Robinson has been around
long enough to know the difference
between important games and "must-
win" games. And he knows the signifi-
cance of these home games.
"We know that this stretch right here
is the most important stretch of the sea-
son;" the 6-foot-6 wing said. "We can't
win one, (then) lose one. There's no
room for mistakes. We gotta take it like
our life is on the line."
Michigan's NCAA Tournament life
may be on the line. In a year when
many college basketball analysts and
fans view the Big Ten as a weaker con-
ference, many expect just four or five
Big Ten teams to earn bids to the Big
Dance.
Currently, Michigan (4-6 Big Ten,
13-8 overall) sits eighth in the confer-
ence - one spot behind perennial cel-

lar-dweller Northwestern (6-5, 11-11),
and barely above Ohio State (3-7, 11-
12), Penn State (3-7, 9-12) and Min-
nesota (1-10, 9-14).
But the Wolverines are still clinging
to their hopes of earning a tournament
bid. And a path to that bid would have to
include eliminating the inconsistency
that has plagued them throughout the
conference season - something that
has stemmed from turnovers and poor
shot selection.
Every Michigan player has struggled
with turning the ball over, as the team
combined for 21 giveaways against
Iowa on Saturday. Seven different play-
ers turned the ball over two or more
times in the 69-61 loss.
"Everything is contagious in the
game of basketball" Robinson said.
"One person turns it over, and then two
people turn it over. The next thing you
know, the whole team turns it over."
Robinson also said the team needs to
work on stopping opponents' runs
before they get out of hand, which he
believes can be done by communicating
more on defense and staying calm on
offense - especially later in the game.
"When the second half comes, we
seem to do things that we aren't used
to," he said.
LFE'S A BEACH: The Athletic Depart-
ment and the Maize Rage have teamed
up to give students a chance to relax at
the beach during tomorrow's game
against Penn State.
Well, not exactly. But the two
organizations have organized a
"Hawaiian Night" theme for the game,
to give students a leisurely break from
studying for midterms. Students are
encouraged to wear hats, sandals,
shorts or any other beach-related
items to the game.
The Maize Rage organized a similar
event for the Penn State game two years
ago, according to Peter Lund, head of
the organization.
"It was an 11 a.m. game on the
weekend, and (the Athletic Depart-
ment) wanted to do something a little

DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily
Junior Bernard Robinson and the Wolverines are looking to take better care of the
bali throughout the remainder of the season.

NAWEED
SIKORA
Blowin' Smoke
After watching the Michigan basket-
ball team's most recent collapse at Iowa
on Saturday, I forced myself to get my
mind off the program. It wasn't healthy
to yell that much at the TV The best
way for me to get my mind off what's
bugging me is to think about my child-
hood - back when things were much
simpler, more black and white.
So, I started thinking about the first
time my parents took my brother and
me to Universal Studios Hollywood.
This was safe. There is no way thinking
about that day could ever make me
think of Michigan hoops, right?
It turned out to be one of the best
days of my life. We rode the rides all
day, saw the shows and had lunch. At
the end of the day, my dad even bought
me a souvenir hat. It was black, and
said Universal Studios across the front.
I remember wearing it all the time. I
would not take it off, and I protected it
like it was made of gold.
At home it was easy to keep it safe.
Within the Sikora household, everyone
was happy to see me wearing it. Some-
times they would even cheer me on.
Occasionally, people would come
over, and I had to be careful that they
didn't take the hat. I kept it close to me,
never taking it off or taking my eye -off
these intruders. At any moment, they
could try and take it from me.
But since this was my house, it was
easy for me to protect my hat, and these
people were intimidated to take it
because of the support I had at home.
But outside the house, it was a com-
pletely different story. I didn't have the
support of my family. I was no longer
within those protective walls or that

comfort zone that I was used to. I had to
be extra careful when wearing the hat
outside because anything could take it
away from me. A robber, a jealous
friend, or even a strong gust of wind
could whisk it away in the blink of an
eye. Then I would be left with nothing.
Of course, I loved that hat, and know-
ing that wearing it out was so danger-
ous, I was extremely careful with it.
Sometimes I even used two hands to
hold it, just to be safe.
When I went to a friend's house for a
party, everyone eyed my hat like they
needed it. One person even asked if he
could try it on. But it was mine, and I
wasn't going to give it up so foolishly,
especially away from home. If this guy
wanted it, he had to take it away from
me, or foul me - I mean hurt me trying.
That hat was the key to my happiness.
When I was wearing it, I was confident
and under control. I was a winner.
At this point, I realized that I had
failed to get my mind off the basket-
ball team. The reason the story of my
hat popped into my mind at that
moment was because I was frustrated
that Michigan didn't value the basket-
ball on the road like I valued my hat as
a child.
The Wolverines committed 21
turnovers at Iowa and 19 at Minneso-
ta, both games in which these care-
less giveaways were the difference
between winning and losing. Prior to
these games, the Wolverines had
averaged 15 turnovers per game this
season.
Maybe it is youth, maybe it is inexpe-
rience, or maybe it is overconfidence.
But even as children, we all know the
importance of keeping our precious
toys, or hats, safe.
Michigan should think back to how
they protected those childhood hats, and
treat the basketball the same way.
And if you didn't have a hat, sorry.
But you can't have mine.
Naweed Sikora would like to have an
"NCAA Tournament" hat. He can be
reached at nsikora@umich.edu

more exciting," Lund said of the game
two years ago. "A lot of people have
exams this week, so for the people who
come out to the game, there will be a
little more activity and fun for them."
The Maize Rage is also organizing a
trip to Northwestern for Michigan's
game against the Wildcats on March 6
or 7 (the date of the game will be
announced by CBS).
The cost of a ticket is $20, and
round-trip bus transportation is free,
thanks to a donation made by coach
Tommy Amaker. This is the second-
straight year that Amaker has
arranged for buses for the Maize
Rage trip to Northwestern.
Students can sign up for the trip at
Crisler before the game tomorrow or
online at maizerage.org. -

JUST GIVEIT UP
The number of turnovers in Michigan's
last six contests has been a key factor in
the games' outcomes. Lately, being
careless with the ball has caused the
Wolverines to drop critical matchups.
LAST 6 GAMES
Penn State 9 W
Iowa 14 W
Illinois 18 L
Purdue 10 W
Minnesota 19 L
Iowa 21 L
AVERAGE TURNOVERS IN THE 3 WINS: 11
AVERAGE TURNOVERS IN THE 3 LOSSES: 19.33
r-

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Hunwick keeps it clean on ice4

By Michael Nisson
Daily Sports Writer

If you want to know what kind of a hockey player
Matt Hunwick is when he steps on the ice, you don't
need to look any further than how he carries himself in
his dorm room.
David Rohlfs, Hunwick's roommate and teammate,
describes the Roseville native in a way that likens him to
Felix from "The Odd Couple."
"He's definitely neat," Rohlfs said. "(When) you come
in our dorm room, you can definitely tell which side of the
room is his and which side is mine. He keeps it clean."
Hunwick is also a clean player on the ice. The fresh-
man, who was paired with senior captain Andy Burnes
at the beginning of the season, does not make many

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blunders that allow opposing forwards to find the back
of the Michigan net. For this reason, he is also used on
the penalty kill, when defenders pay for their mistakes
dearly.
"Hunwick came (to Michigan) as the top freshman
defenseman (in his recruiting class)," Berenson said. "He's
playing against the top forwards in the league ... and this
kid is a freshman defenseman."
The fact that Berenson decided to throw the freshman
into the fire from day one showed the coach's confidence
in his young defenseman. He has not had the time to
develop physically and also faces players who know the
college game better than he does. In spite of these disad-
vantages, he says that it's something that "fires him up."
"It's something to look forward to, something to take
pride in - shutting the other team's top lines down," Hun-
wick said. "It's a good feeling when you come away with
the weekend and guys are only getting one or two points
when they're used to getting twice that."
So far this season, Hunwick has consistently excelled.
His plus-minus ratio, a solid indicator of how a defense-
man is faring on the ice, is at plus 12, which ties him for
best on the team with junior forward Andrew Ebbett.
The one thing that Hunwick has not done a lot of is
score goals. In fact, he lit the lamp for the first time in his
budding career during Saturday night's 8-5 victory over
then CCHA-leading Miami. With 6:18 remaining in the
second period, Hunwick, got a great feed from freshman
winger T.J. Hensick in front of the net. He then wristed a
shot into the right side of the goal.
Hunwick noted that the elusive first goal was great to
have, noting that it "was a long time coming."
Berenson said that while he was happy for Hunwick, he
also feels that the freshman has a ways to go before he
reaches greatness.
Said Berenson: "Is he a better player now than he was
at the start (of the season)? Absolutely. But is he play-
ing mistake-free hockey? No. Can he improve defen-
sively? Yes."

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FILE PHOTO
Matt Hunwick has held his own, despite being an underclassman.

Golfers take third in the desert

By Stephanie Wright
For the Daily

Following a four-month break from
competition, the Michigan men's golf
team returned to action Saturday to par-
ticipatein a tri-match with Arizona
State and Purdue at Karsten Course in
Tempe, Ariz.
With the team focused on getting
back into competition, Michigan fin-
ished third with a team total of 299,
hhndAirn at NO aond nArianna Mate

was called due to darkness.
Michigan head coach Andrew Sapp
called the team's performance "fairly
solid" for the beginning of the spring
season, but said that the main goal of
the match was to get back into the
flow of competition after the winter
off-season.
"It has been absolutely great to get
back out on a course and to play
some competitive golf," Sapp said.
"We wanted to focus on getting some
nality nmnetition in and shake off a

sistent at 72, rather than at 74 or 75."
The Wolverines addressed some of
these errors Sunday, as the team
remained in Arizona to get in another
practice round in the warm weather
before returning to snowy Ann Arbor.
In addition to working on its short
game, the team was able to improve in
some areas that caused problems on
Saturday.
Both the tri-match and the extra prac-
tice allowed Michigan to prepare for the
first true team comnetition of the snring

thru

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