March 12, 2004
To dance, Cagers
need strong finish
Icers hope new lines
can reignite offense
By Chis Burke
Daily Sports Editor
On Jan. 28, the Michigan basketball
team came up with one of its better per-
formances of the season. The Wolver-
ines were lights out from
the field, and exploded for.
a 90-84 win over Iowa.
Three weeks later, onh
Feb. 14, the Wolverines
went into Iowa City and ;
collapsed in a 69-61 loss to
The two-game set
summed up Michigan's 2003-04 cam-
paign - one day the Wolverines would
look like world-beaters; the next, they
couldn't do anything right.
Michigan (8-8 Big Ten, 17-10 over-
all) will open its Big Ten Tournament
play today at 2:30 p.m. when it takes on
Iowa (9-7, 16-11).
And if the Wolverines are still cling-
ing to NCAA Tournament aspirations,
then they had better hope that the right
Michigan team shows up.
"I think when you are young, you are
always looking for opportunities to
grow and develop," Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker said. "I think we have
seen that it in different pockets through-
out the season."
While the young Wolverines have hit
some trouble spots on the road to suc-
cess this year, all of the negative
moments could be erased should
Michigan put together a good showing
Most college basketball analysts
believe that the Wolverines will need at
least two wins to have a
shot at the NCAA Tour-
Y .nament. But Michigan
a vsda would rather not leave it
wt k. up to chance.
"I think most of us
feel that our conference
tournament is wide
open," Amaker said. "If
the kids can start to believe and start
playing to win (instead of) not to lose,
they will have a good chance."
"I'm packing for the whole week-
end," said sophomore Lester Abram.
Last year's trip to the Big Ten Tour-
nament ended well before the weekend
was over. On the eve of the Wolverines'
quarterfinal contest against Indiana,
guard Daniel Horton suffered an ankle
injury in practice.
With Horton far from full strength,
Michigan's season ended in a loss to the
That experience alone has Horton,
who had one of his best performances
of the season in Michigan's win over
Northwestern last Saturday, itching to
get another crack at the tournament title.
"I look at it as I didn't really get a
By Sharad Mattu
Daily Sports Writer
Graham Brown and the rest of the Wolverines have one last shot at the NCAAs.
chance to experience playing in a big
game like that - I played, but I wasn't
100 percent," said Horton. "My focus
now is to get prepared to play at a high
level (against Iowa)."
The Hawkeyes enter today's game in
the same position as Michigan - likely
needing two wins to garner NCAA
Truthfully, the fact that the Hawkeyes
are even being considered for the Tour-
nament is a tribute to the job they've
done this season. During the course of
the year, Iowa lost its top two centers,
Jared Reiner and Sean Sonderleiter, to
injury and personal reasons, respectively.
In spite of that, the Hawkeyes have
managed to secure a first-round bye
and will be tough opponents for the
"(Iowa coach) Steve (Alford) has his
team playing very well, and they are
coming off a big win at Purdue," Amak-
er said. "They will be a very competi-
tive and spirited team."
Regardless of the opponent, Amaker
and the Wolverines are aware that noth-
ing less than a great showing in Indi-
anapolis will keep their NCAA
Tournament bubble from bursting.
"Getting into the NCAA Tournament
would be a monumental step for our
program," Amaker said. "For our play-
ers, this is what you play for. When you
start the year, your dream is to play in
Though they won't be waking up
from a nightmare muttering, "there's no
place like home" to themselves, the
Wolverines just might share Dorothy's
That's because - as has been the case
for Michigan's football and
basketball teams - the -
hockey team plays at a TRIS V
much higher level when in
Ann Arbor. Though the
Wolverines won all 13 con- M
ference home games, they v
were just 5-8-2 away from S
Yost Ice Arena.}
This weekend's CCHA
series with Nebraska-Omaha will mark
Yost's last stand, as the Wolverines will
be on the road for the remainder of the
season. But Michigan coach Red
Berenson has made some changes for
the last few home games.
After 16 straight games with the
same four lines, Berenson has given the
lineup a makeover, hoping to reignite a
scoring attack that has come back to
earth after its best stretch of the season.
In its last four games, Michigan has
scored just eight goals and gone 0-3-1.
"Our offense has struggled a bit the
last two weeks," said Milan Gajic, who
will be alongside Jason Ryznar and
Andrew Ebbett on his line this weekend.
"It's not that we're not getting chances,
things just aren't quite clicking. And it's
a bad time to not be clicking. We went a
long time without changing lines, so
hopefully this can get us going."
The fact that the first line changes
in 10 weeks have come just before
the postseason doesn't have the
Wolverines worried. Over the course-
of the season, the coaching staff
changes the lines often enough to
eliminate any chemistry issues.
"What would be tough is if we were a
pro team and we brought in a bunch of
players at the trade deadline and tried to
fit them in," Berenson said. "These are
players that have been playing together
all year, and in some cases three years."
Gajic agreed: "We've all
played with each other.
EEKEND There's only three fresh-
men up front, it's not like
gpn < the lines are totally new"
g>: Gajic was referring to
the fact that Berenson
kept two players from
..cessar old lines together, hop-
Ae ing a different third
player will make the dif-
ference. For example, Gajic and Ryz-
nar played together during
Michigan's tournament run last year,
and Ebbett and Ryznar have been
playing together lately.
"I'm trying to find lines that are
going to compete and play well at both
ends of the ice," Berenson said. "It's not
just about scoring. It's about playing
good defense and playing responsibly
so that in any situation we can send out
a line we can be comfortable with."
But the last two weeks haven't been
all that bad for some members of the
hockey team. Freshman center T.J. Hen-
sick, who led the Wolverines with 41
points, was named to the All-CCHA
first team by the league's coaches.
Hensick is the first freshman Wolver-
ine ever to be named to the first team.
His 30 assists are tied for second in the
NCAA. He was also named to the
CCHA all-rookie team earlier this week.
Junior defenseman Brandon Rogers
and sophomore goaltender Al Montoya
were named to the CCHA's second team.
MENS SWIMMING AND DIVING
Coben ready to take step one in title defense
By Gabe Edelson
Daily Sports Writer
"Hey! You're leaning the shoulders back a little bit
in the start."
Jason Coben nods.
"Narrow press right there, and try to keep the
shoulders over so the feet get thrown up over your
Another nod, followed by another attempt from the
Michigan diving coach Chris Bergere is help-
ing Coben in his preparation for this weekend's
NCAA Diving Zones in Bloomington. While the
rest of the swimming and diving team will
remain in Ann Arbor to practice another two
weeks for the NCAA Championships, Coben, a
senior, will hit the road with three divers from
the women's team.
Unlike the swimmers, who have had opportunities
to qualify for the championships with automatic or
consideration times in dual and conference meets
throughout the season, Coben has one shot. A two-
day stretch of regional competition at Indiana will
determine whether or not he will be able to defend
his 2003 NCAA Co-Championship on the 10-meter
platform at the end of the month.
"This is a big meet for me," Coben said after prac-
tice Tuesday. "Not so much to prove myself, but just
to stay consistent and get to the meet that really mat-
ters. I just have to stay calm. As long as I make the
NCAAs, I'll be a happy camper."
Coben is often anything but cheerful during prac-
tice, where it is not unusual for him to become angry
with himself when things do not go smoothly. On
See COBEN, Page 9
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