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March 02, 2004 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-02

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March 2, 2004

PORTSich 9sn 3tilg


Wolverines hope to
reverse road fortunes

Spring Break allows the
sports mind to wander

By Bob Hunt
Daily Sports Writer
With two games remaining in the
regular season, the Michigan basketball
team knows what it has to do.
And it also knows that, so far, it has-
n't done a very good job at it.
1 The Wolverines will travel to Indiana
and Northwestern this week to play two
must-win games. With a loss, Michigan
will likely have to win four games on
consecutive days in Indianapolis at the
Big Ten Tournament in order to accom-
plish its biggest goal: hearing its name
called on Selection Sunday.
The problem with the Wolverines
accomplishing such a feat is that it
would require them to double their
road win total for the season. Michi-
gan is a dismal 2-6 in road games this
year, and its two victories were not
exactly glowing.
The first came Thanksgiving week-
end against Butler at Conseco Field-
house in Indianapolis. The contest was
designated a road game for Michigan
despite the fact that it was away from
Hinkel Fieldhouse, the Bulldogs' home
arena. The Wolverines escaped that
game with a 61-60 overtime Victory
against a team that is now No. 189 in
Ratings Percentage Index rankings,
according to ESPN.com's InsiderRPI.
Michigan's only conference victory
- it's 1-5 away from Crisler in Big Ten

play - came against a 9-16 Penn State
team at the Bryce Jordan Center, which
is known for its great crowds at
women's games, not men's.
"I think everyone has struggled on the
road - it hasn't been just Michigan,"
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. "I
think sometimes it's the timing of games,
I think it's the placement of games, the
way you catch your opponent"
One major reason the Wolverines
were able to compile a 10-6 conference
record last season was its 4-4 record
outside of Ann Arbor. Michigan started
its conference schedule with wins at
Ohio State and Northwestern as part of
its 13-game winning streak.
"That gave us the momentum and
confidence that we could go on the road
and win, and we haven't been able to
have that this year," Amaker said.
This season's conference road sched-
ule had a much rockier start at Michi-
gan State and Wisconsin, two of the
conference's more difficult places to
play. The Wolverines started well in
both games, but succumbed to vast
offensive droughts and were unable to
The two road losses that really hurt
Michigan's tournament resume were
back-to-back setbacks at Minnesota and
Iowa. Minnesota's win marked its first
Big Ten victory at the time and the
Golden Gophers are now ranked No.
166 by InsiderRPL. The Wolverines held

Sophomore Lester Abram and the Wolverines hope to kick their road woes this week.

leads in both Minneapolis and Iowa
City, but fell apart in the second half.
"When we play at home, we stay
together," sophomore guard Lester
Abram said. "It seems like we under-
stand that we have to finish and we
have support behind (us). On the road,
it's just us.
"We have to pick up on each other,
and we can't rely on the crowd to get us
into it."
Despite the Wolverines' situation, the

coaching staff is not dwelling on the
fact that they must do something they
haven't achieved this season in order to
make the NCAA Tournament. Michi-
gan's just going to take each game the
way it knows how.
"For our players, being one of the
younger teams around, it's important
that we keep things concise and very
limited in terms of getting off-kilter or
getting too far ahead or too far in the
past," Amaker said.

Win over Gophers shows steady progression

By Josh Holman
Daily Sports Writer
No one will tell you that it was the
end to a perfect storybook season, but
it was about as much as the Michigan
women's basketball team could ask
for at Crisler Arena on Sunday.
With their 57-47 victory over No.
12 Minnesota, the Wolverines were
actually able to end the regular season
on the biggest high of the 2003-04

campaign thus far. Granted, the Gold-
en Gophers were without their All-
American guard Lindsay Whalen due
to a hand injury, but Michigan still
took care of business.
At 13-16, a postseason appearance
besides the Big Ten Tournament is
far-fetched, but there was still cause
for celebration on Sunday.
Given the recent history of this
program, things actually went well
for the Wolverines this year. There

was no late-season collapse like there
has been the past two seasons.
Instead, the Wolverines have
improved over the year.
"They've gotten a lot better as the
season's gone on," Minnesota coach
Pam Borton said. "The kids look like
they've bought- into Cheryl's system
defensively. They're playing well
together and seem like they're playing
within their roles. They look like
they're having fun out there."

Against the Big Ten's cream of the
crop, the Wolverines played tough at
home. They took eventual third-place
conference finisher Ohio State to the
final possession, and No. 17 Michi-
gan State needed a 17-point second-
half comeback to escape Ann Arbor
with a 59-54 win.
But it all came together versus
Minnesota. It was something that
meant so much to the class of seniors
that this team has leaned on the
whole year.
Seniors Stephanie Gandy and Jen-
nifer Smith truly got a chance to
shine. Smith - Michigan's second
most prolific scorer in school history
- led the way with 19 points, while
Gandy followed behind with 16.
"I think we're having more fun out
there," Gandy said. "You can see it on
our faces. We're working 10 times
harder than we did at the beginning of
the season."
And after the victory, the only
Wolverines who have been to the
NCAA Tournament got a chance to
address the crowd and say their thank
yous and goodbyes at center court.
Gandy and Smith represent the ups
and downs Michigan women's basket-
ball has taken over the past four sea-
sons. They've tasted sweet success and
bitter defeat. But, if Michigan has a
solid showing in the Big Ten Tourna-
ment, their departure could be just right.
"We've tried to build on momen-
tum during the course of the year and
really haven't done a real good job of
it," Burnett said. "So maybe we'll
learn from that. Maybe we'll go in

The Daily Janitor
ha fascinating Spring
Break week. I've literally
spent hours trying to focus
my thoughts on just one thing, but too
much comes up for me to do that. So,
in fear that I am copying Bill Sim-
mons' Sports Guy ramblings, here are
"The Daily Janitor's Thoughts-Present-
Congratulations to the Michigan
women's swimming and diving team
on another Big Ten title. Not many
coaches deserve more success than Jim
Richardson - if only for developing
winners in and out of the pool.
I went to Vegas this past weekend,
and I must say being able to win
money off of the Pistons blowing out
teams is a good thing. Being in an air-
port bar to watch Michigan lose to
Michigan State was not as much fun.
Poker players are not athletes, but
playing from 11 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. is
stressful and emotionally taxing busi-
ness - especially when you're down
$87. (I ended up plus-$12 in that game
and would not like to discuss how any
other gambling went.)
Las Vegas cab drivers have no
shame, andthat's a good thing. If you
want comedy, their conversations on
hookers and drugs are quite the thing.
Our final cabbie even told us how, if he
was Jamal Lewis, he could have gotten
away with everything that Lewis didn't
get away with, and then-some.
Speaking of Lewis ... what a moron.
Speaking of morons ... those in
charge of the BCS did something right
on Sunday when they announced the
addition of a fifth BCS bowl game. All
they have to do now is pay Miami
(Ohio) and Marshall the $10 million
owed to the MAC schools for being
snubbed in the first place.
The NFL also made some interest-
ing announcements regarding its
future. Unfortunately, none of them
involved using episodes of "Playmak-
ers" to prelude games. Instead, in
order to compete with the reality tele-
vision/sitcom crap that is already on
the air, the NFL would like to forgo
its history and tradition by moving
Monday Night Football to Thursday
night. Apparently with Friends leav-
ing, the heads of the NFL saw this as
a perfect opportunity to tap that 18-
to-50-year-old female demographic
that it had been missing for so long.
Is it just me, or shouldn't a move like
this come with the same conse-
quences as the 1994 baseball strike?
I, for one, will do what I didn't do to
baseball and will abandon a sport that
cannot uphold its own tradition and
cannot laugh at itself. Besides, col-
lege football is on almost everyday,
and, be honest, that's really enough,
isn't it?
This just in ... the stuff that Col-
orado's football team has been busted
for happens elsewhere. It also happens

in places outside of sports, too. So get
off of Gary Barnett for saying some-
thing stupid and not having complete
and absolute control over100-plus
boys. Believe it or not, people say stu-
pid things - like me defending Bar-
nett. Until these young people are
brought up better (by parents, family
and coaches alike), and learn that when
someone says "no" it means "get the
(expletive) away from me," there are
going to be never-ending problems like
I'm sorry, but it amazes me that all
the negative energy of the media is
being focused on Barnett when there is
a perpetrator out there. He is just as
alleged as Kobe Bryant is, but isn't
getting his family name thrown
through the mud like Barnett's is.
Someone brought up that young man
long before he got to Barnett, and they
deserve to be in the burning spotlight
of the media as much as anyone else.
Not since Steve Bartman has there
been so much undeserved blame
focused on one person when there is a
whole bunch of people at fault. (No
offense Chicago, but blowing up a
baseball isn't going to get you any-
where - signing Greg Maddux is.)
Where was I? Oh yeah, I didn't
mean to get off on a tangent like that.
My bad.
Red Wings plus Robert Lang equals
imminent strike ready to destroy the
NHL. Oh yeah, it equals a Stanley
Cup in Detroit too. I'll see y'all on
Also, I'd like to ask Mary Sue Cole-
man a question:nAny chance we could
get school off on April 8 for the Tigers'
home opener? It'd save me from having
to make up some lame excuse to my
three teachers of why I wasn't in class.
I'd even buy you a ticket and a hot dog
in exchange for the kind gesture.
According to CBS, Brent Petway's
nickname in high school was "Throw it
up," because of his ability to leap. Per-
sonally, I think the nickname totally
reeks of awesomeness, but whoever
gave him that wasn't trying to score
originality points. His high school's
point guard and coach were respective-
ly known as "Dribble a lot" and
"Guide us with your wisdom."
Chris Webber's former high school,
Detroit Country Day, is now being
pressured to give up its three state titles
that the Michigan High School Athletic
Association ruled Webber ineligible for.
It was also rumored that Tyra Banks
would be forced to give up her Sports
Illustrated swimsuit cover as well.
Well, besides "Lord of the Rings"
winning all 11 Oscars it was nominat-
ed for, George Steinbrenner now has
Frodo as his second baseman, and
Merry, Pippin and Sam as his middle
relief. That's about it.
I'll be awaiting the e-mails to tell me
how much better Bill Simmons is at
this than I am.
Kyle O'Neill would like to tell the girl at
the MGM Grand front desk that he
thought she was very cute and would
have liked to have gotten to know her
better had he not been leaving the hotel
and eventually catching an airplane.
(Same goes for the blonde girl at the
Cheesecake Factory in Vegas) He can be
reached at kylero@umich.edu.


Recent losses expose problems

By Sharad Mattu
Daily Sports Writer
If there's any good that came from Michigan's two losses
at the hands of Notre Dame this past weekend, it's this: The
CCHA regular-season title will be at stake this weekend
when the Wolverines face their arch rival,
Michigan State.
Had Michigan pulled out just one win'
in South Bend, it would have clinched at
least a share of the CCHA regular-season
crown. That would have made this week-
end more important for the Spartans, who
are on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Miami, two points
behind Michigan and two points ahead of Michigan State,
also aims for the top of the conference standings heading
into the final regular-season weekend.
The Wolverines, noting that they're still in first place,
have not lost any confidence. Although they had won four
straight and 12 of 13 entering their series with the Irish, the
Wolverines' most recent wins had not come in the same con-
vincing fashion that earlier triumphs had.
In its last five games, Michigan has allowed 19 goals.
Michigan associate coach Mel Pearson had a feeling that
some of its offense - which had been the catalyst in its
wins - had come from lucky bounces that were bound to

"Sometimes you need a wakeup call, and we got one this
weekend," Pearson said. "Hopefully there will be a lot more
focus this week."
MONTOYA UPDATE: Sophomore goaltender Al Montoya,
who pulled his left hamstring in Friday's loss to Notre
Dame, was held out of Saturday's game so that he could
have a full week to rest before playing another game.
He was willing to play at less than full strength Saturday, but
opted not to risk further injury. Had Montoya skated in pre-
game warm-ups, he would have not been able to play, accord-
ing to CCHA rules. Michigan would not have had a backup for
Noah Ruden. Only two goalies can dress and be on the ice
before the game, and only those two can play in the contest.


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