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For third straight year,
'M' takes down Illini
Smith takes back seat
as Pool, Gandy step up
By Josh Holman
Daily Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS - The third time
is supposed to be the charm, but Illi-
nois women's basketball coach There-
sa Grentz and the rest of her players
Michigan eliminated Illinois in the
first round of the Big Ten Tournament
for the third straight year last night
with a 62-58 vic-
tory at Conseco MHG
In a game that saw 24 lead changes,
the Wolverines avenged their 94-78
defeat by the Fighting Illini in Cham-
paign on Feb. 2.
"It's funny, because each season we
beat them in the regular season," Illi-
nois forward Cindy Dallas said. "And
then when we come to the tourna-
ment, it doesn't go very well for us,
The final blow came when the
Wolverines were clinging to a 60-58
lead with 35 seconds remaining.
The inbounds pass came to sopho-
more Niki Reams, who dribbled out
of Illinois' full court press. Reams
found junior Tabitha Pool streaking
down the court behind the press,
sealing the victory with an easy
"If we got a wide open look, we
wanted to take it," Michigan coach
Cheryl Burnett said. "We wanted to
stay aggressive offensively. If it was a
layup, we'd take it."
Pool scored a game-high 20 points
on 7-for-15 shooting and pulled in 10
rebounds. She jumped out of the gates
quickly with two early 3-pointers to
start Michigan's scoring.
"(With) her tenaciousness, her bat-
tling for those rebounds and offen-
sive rebounds, she gave us a lot of
confidence with that mentality," Bur-
nett said. "(There was) a tremendous
confidence about her with those
effort things, and I thought that was
Pool's play was much-needed, con-
sidering the defensive job the Fighting
Illini did on Michigan's leading scorer,
senior Jennifer Smith. Smith fought
hard to drop in 17 points, with most of
them coming off of her six offensive
rebounds or her seven conversions at
the free throw line.
"I knew I'd have to work for my
points," Smith said. "Offensive
rebounding is always a way I can do
that, and that's where I put my con-
Michigan never established a post
game down low, forcing Pool and sen-
ior forward Stephanie Gandy to create
their own looks. Gandy contributed
18 points on 7-for-16 shooting. In her
usual streaky fashion, Gandy scored
eight consecutive points for the
Wolverines, drilling two 3-pointers
after sinking a pair of free throws.
The Gandy streak came at a critical
junction midway through the second
half, turning a two-point deficit into a
two-point lead and giving the Wolver-
ines control of the game.
"Once I get an open shot, I'll take
it," Gandy said. "My teammates did
a good job of getting me the ball
when I was wide open, so I had to
take the shot."
The fact that Michigan was able to
convert on so many of those opportu-
nities helped keep it in the game. The
second half opened at breakneck
speed, as the teams matched baskets
for an impressive stretch. In just over
five minutes, Michigan had already
scored 14 points to open the second
half, while the Fighting Illini had
By Eric Ambinder
Daily Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS - For the first
time this season, Michigan center Jen-
nifer Smith wasn't the team's first or
second leading scorer.
Finishing the season as the Big Ten's
leading scorer, Smith's
17 points on 5-for-11
against Illinois was only
the third-highest scoring
total on the team.
But what she lacked
on offense, the senior
made up for in clutch play.
In what could have been her final
game as a Wolverine, Smith hit 6-for-7
from the charity stripe and grabbed five
offensive rebounds in the final four
minutes and 30 seconds. Smith's efforts
accounted for eight of the team's final
Fellow senior Stephanie Gandy added
18 points and the emotional uplift the
Wolverines have lacked during clutch
times in past games. She kept co-cap-
tain Smith focused during a game that
had 24 lead changes.
Screaming at the 6-foot-4 senior dur-
ing late breaks in the action as if she
were 12 feet away instead of just 12
inches, Gandy's leadership helped calm
Smith as the center took a beating from
Illinois' interior defense.
"Two seniors have led us so well,"
Michigan coach Cheryl Burnett said.
"Their leadership in critical aspects of
this game, either by a big play or great
communication and leadership I really
think determined the outcome for us."
Tabitha Pool helped Smith and
Gandy prolong their respective careers
in Michigan uniforms by playing one of
her most complete games of the season.
Pool led the Wolverines with 20 points
on 7-for-15 shooting.
"Tab really was a warrior out there,
and that made a difference," Burnett
said. "I felt like it was going to come
down to a one-possession game, and
it was that one possession that we
had to battle more than they did. The
players really did that, but it started
STEPPING up: Michigan sophomore
Rachel Carney didn't score a single
point yesterday against Illinois.
But the seldom-used point guard has
been scoring points with her team lately.
Carney, who averaged just 12 minutes
during Big Ten play, played 18 minutes
against the Fighting Illini.
Her ability to break traps, establish an
offensive rhythm and hustle during
practice have kept her on the floor dur-
ing crunch time.
"Rachel does a great job of getting us
into an offense and executing," said
Burnett following Sunday's win over
Minnesota. "We still reward people for
their efforts in practice."
Her quiet two assists and two steals
against Illinois kept Carney in the rota-
tion, but zero turnovers kept her on the
floor at the end of the game.
PuR-DUE: Up next for Michigan in
the Big Ten Tournament is No. 2 seed
Purdue. The Wolverines have lost to the
Boilermakers in the Big Ten Tourna-
ment each of the past four seasons and
have lost nine consecutive games to
Earlier this year, the Wolverines lost a
76-64 decision to the Boilermakers in
Ann Arbor. But Michigan's triple threat
of Gandy, Smith and Pool were all able
to score effectively against Purdue,
combining for 47 points.
"Hopefully this time it will turn out
better than it has in the past," Smith said.
Michigan's Tabitha Pool blocks a shot yesterday against Illinois. The Wolverines
knocked the Illini out of the Big Ten Tournament for the third straight year.
This season, the Wolverines have
tended to open up their second halves
sluggish, sometimes receiving a
knockout blow just after halftime.
Last night, the Wolverines traded
punches, keeping themselves in posi-
tion to win.
"We did a great job of coming out
and playing hard (in the second half),"
Burnett said. "So maybe a lesson has
been learned, at least for this game."
Michigan will next take on sec-
ond-seeded Purdue in the quarterfi-
nals tomorrow night. The game will
start around 5:30, depending on the
length of the day's other games, and
will be televised on Fox Sports
Berenson, Comley meet again
By Michael Nisson
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson and Michigan State
hockey coach Rick Comley share a few similarities. Both of
them graduated from universities in the state of
Michigan. Both of them captained their colle-
giate teams as seniors. And both of them have THIS
won NCAA Championships during their
careers as head coaches. No.61M N
While these coaches share many qualities,
their differences are numerous, as well.8
For example, comparing the two coaches sta- 7:pm
tistically shows that Berenson has a better . MuA
career winning percentage (.634) than Comley j wk
(.525), but Comley's 640 total wins top Beren-
son's win tally by more than 100.
Much of this difference in wins can be attributed to the fact
that Comley has been coaching college hockey for a lot
longer. Comley is currently in his 31st season as a head
coach, while Berenson is currently in his 20th.
Their differences are even clearer when you look at the
paths they have taken to get to their respective head coaching
"""" Once his playing career at Michigan ended,
Berenson went on to play 17 seasons in the
NHL. He also held a head coaching job with
the St. Louis Blues for about a season-and-a-
half. He was named NHL Coach of the Year fol-
44 8 lowing the 1980-1981 season.
Comley's story is a little different.
r, "He's done it the hard way," Berenson said.
"He's been a coach, I believe, ever since he got
out of school. So he's been a real career coach."
Comley has been the head coach at Lake
Superior State, Northern Michigan and Michigan State.
While he has seen both players and cities come and go during
his three-decade career, there has been one person who he
has been very close to: current Michigan State Athletic
Director Ron Mason.
Comley has been learning about hockey from Mason for
nearly four decades. After playing under Mason from 1967-
1971 at Lake Superior State, Comley joined the coaching
staff as an assistant. When Mason decided to leave the Lakers
to take over head coaching duties at Bowling Green, he hand-
ed the Lake Superior State reigns to Comley.
"I replaced him, but then we worked together every sum-
mer for the next 25 years (at a summer hockey school),"
Comley said. "We probably talked every two weeks, at a min-
imum, over that 25-year period.
"Our relationship grew from the respect a player had to a
coach to an associate to a very, very close friend."
Then after Ma'son finished off a successful career at
Michigan State, Comley was one of the first coaches inter-
viewed to succeed Mason in East Lansing. When he replaced
Mason at the beginning of the 2002-03 season, Comley
changed the way the Spartans play hockey.
"My (coaching) style today is different than his was during
his last year coaching," Comley said. "In the last 10 to 15
years of (Ron's) career, he evolved into a much more defen-
sive coach who wasn't quite as aggressive offensively. (Now)
we're a little more speed oriented - we're a little more attack
Berenson, who has great respect for what Comley has done
during his career, paid him the ultimate comment when he
called him one of the "so-called 'deans of college hockey."'
The Spartans and Wolverines square off tonight at Munn
Ice Arena in a pivotal game that could help Michigan clinch a
share of the CCHA regular season title.
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