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March 26, 2004 - Image 10

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-26

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Friday
March 26, 2004
sports.michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaiiy.com

tbefirrigwu tail
SPORTS

10

Frozen Four-for-four?
No. 7 Michigan vs. No. 10 New Hampshire Tomorrow, 3:30 p.m. m Comcast channel 8

Double-teams lead
to Sims's struggles
'Moose' Brown? Maize Rage says so

All season long, the Michigan
hockey team has been on a roller
coaster that has included dominating
wins and disappointing losses. But the
regular season is now history, and a
loss in the NCAA Tournament means
you're sent home.
The Wolverines will play a first-
round game away from home for the
first time in three years, entering the
Northeast Regional after losing to
Ohio State in the CCHA Champi-
onship. If Michigan beats New Hamp-
shire, it will play the winner of the
Boston College vs. Niagara game at 4
p.m. on Sunday.
The Michigan Daily's hockey pro-
fessors (a.k.a. the hockey beat writers)
are here to break down the matchups
in tomorrow'game.
PROF. MICHAEL NISSON ON MICHIGAN'S
OFFENSE VS. NEw HAMPSHIRE'S DEFENSE:
If you simply look at where the
teams rank in their respective confer-
ences, Michigan has a big advantage.
The Wolverines led the CCHA with a
3.61 goals-per-game average. In com-
parison, New Hampshire's defense
gave up an average of 3.17 goals a
game in Hockey East play, which puts
it at eighth in the conference.
Those stats are fine and dandy, but
they fail to take into account a very
important factor that will be present in
Saturday's game - New Hampshire's
advantage of playing near home. Sim-
ply put, the Wildcats play better defense
when they have a home crowd cheering
them on, while the Wolverines' offense
struggles when it plays outside of Yost
Ice Arena. Looking at the entire season
(including non-conference games),
New Hampshire only gave up 2.47
goals in every home game it played,
while Michigan averaged just 2.73
goals per game on the road.
ADVANTAGE: NEW HAMPSHIRE
ULU

PROF. BRIAN SCHICK ON MICHIGAN'S
DEFENSE VS. NEw HAMPSHIRE'S OFFENSE:
The Wildcats have the ninth-highest
scoring offense in the nation, boasting
3.42 goals per game. Michigan hasn't
fared too well this year against oppo-
nents who currently place in
the top 10 in scoring
- going 4-3 and
allowing 3.7 goals
per game in those
contests. The blue-
liners will also
have to
watch out ' H
for senior
forward a}
S t e v e
Saviano; ;
Hockey!
East's Player
of the Year led
the conference
in scoring and
was third in the
nation in goals
with 27. He is
lethal with
his shot
selection,^
connecting'
on 20 per-
TONY DING/Daily
Senior captain
Andy Burnes
cent of all shots on goal. New Hamp-
shire also has three players with 40-plus
points on its roster.
Michigan will need to limit the shot
selection of Saviano by blocking as
many shots as possible. Nebraska-
Omaha was able to frustrate Michi-
gan's forwards two weeks ago by
blocking everything thrown at net, and
it nearly cost them. The same should
work for New Hampshire. The
Wolverines can use their size on New
Hampshire's top players to wear them
down - four of Michigan's defense-
men are bigger than New Hampshire's

top three scorers. would feel as the starting goaltender
ADVANTAGE: PUSH facing the host school, Al Montoya just
shook his head. Having gone through
t the experience of last year's regional at
Yost, he explained that the pressure is
... actually on the netminder playing in
PROF. GENNARO FILICE ON SPECIAL front of his own fans - in this case,
TEAMS: New Hampshire's Mike Ayers.
This matchup should be a dandy, pit- Last weekend, Montoya was solid in
ting two very explosive the CCHA Super 6, but was unable to
p o w e r p 1 a y s carry Michigan through it's rough
a g a i n s t stretch against Ohio State. This week-
e a ch end, he'll receive quite a bit of jeering,
but if anyone can handle it, it's him.
He's confident - perhaps cocky -
other. When and he won the World Junior Champi-
Michigan's on the onship in Finland, when fans for Cana-
man-advantage - da were all over him.
which could happen a lot, Ayers's stats came back to earth after
as the Wolverines are his outstanding junior campaign last
among the tops in the nation year, and they don't match up to Mon-
in powerplay opportunities toya's numbers, but he's got the ability
with 235 - it features a trio of to stop any offense that comes his way.
players with six goals each: T.J. Also, the support he'll receive could
Hensick, Milan Gajic and Eric give him that extra boost.
Nystrom. Also, Jeff Tambellini ADVANTAGE: MICHIGAN
has heated up in the last month,f
and his slapper from the point is
one of the country's most dangerous.
But, the Wolverines better be careful
with the puck while on the powerplay, PROF. MATTU'S PREDIC-
as New Hampshire's Sean Collins has TIONS FOR THE WEEKEND:
notched five shorthanded goals. The last two times the
New Hampshire is equally effective professors made predic-
with the extra man. Accumulating just tions, Prof Mattu hit the
177 powerplays, the Wildcats haven't scores on the head both
had as many chances as the Wolverines, times, but was overruled by
but their percentage (.831) is very simi- his colleagues. After that, the other
lar to Michigan's (.839). Saviano leads three conceded to his superior prog-
the New Hampshire powerplay with nostication abilities. So this time
nine goals. But, the Wildcats have around, he took control.
struggled a bit on the man-advantage in Can the Wolverines pull it out? Of
the last two games, failing to chalk up a course. But expecting them to win is a
score in 10 chances. totally different matter. With the
ADVANTAGE: MICHIGAN inconsistency they've shown, it's hard

By Daniel Bremmer
Daily Sports Editor
Many believe that freshman
Courtney Sims has tremendous
potential and will be a big part of
the future of the Michigan basket-
ball team. But you might not know
that from looking at Michigan's last
two boxscores.
After steadily improving

throughout much of
the season,Sims's
production has
dropped this week.
The 6-foot-11
freshman put
together two of his
most complete

o'er""

games of the season against Illinois
at the Big Ten Tournament and
against Missouri in the first round
of the NIT.
Sims worked hard inside against
the Illini and finished the game
with 12 points and 10 boards -
his second double-double of the
season. Three days later, Sims
made a big impact against the
Tigers, contributing eight points
and 10 rebounds, while battling
with physical Missouri center
Arthur Johnson (6-foot-9, 268
pounds).
But in Michigan's last two
games against Oklahoma and
Hawaii, Sims struggled to get any-
thing going on offense. The
Roslindale, Mass., native com-
bined for just nine points and two
rebounds over the two games. And
his minutes fell from the mid-30s
down to 19 and 20.
Despite his statistical drop off,
Sims isn't worried. His team has
won each of the last two games,
and he believes there's a good rea-
son why his numbers are down:
He's finally getting more respect.
"I think I'm getting more atten-
tion on offense (from opponents),"
Sims said.
And he wasn't kidding. During
the non conference season and
much of the early Big Ten season,

opponents played Sims one-on-one
in the low post. But since the fresh-
man became more comfortable
catching the ball on the blocks a
few weeks ago - and began to rou-
tinely convert touches into baskets
- other teams started running two
and three men down low when
Sims got the ball.
Being double-teamed is some-
thing Sims will have to get used to.
"I think I tried to force it too
much when there was a double- or
triple-team on me," Sims said of
his recent performances. "Now,
I'm just trying to look for my
teammates when they double down
on me.
"I just have to be patient and wait
for the game to come to me."
As for Michigan's road ahead -
the NIT semifinals and possibly the
NIT Championship game next week
- Sims believes he can make a dif-
ference even if he's not scoring in
double figures.
"(I have to) just rebound, and be
a defensive presence," Sims said. "I
can be the same offensive presence
and not score points by kicking it
out to open teammates."
THE MOOSE IS LOOSE: Apparently,
one Wolverine will now go by
another animal nickname. Michi-
gan sophomore Graham Brown was
dubbed "Moose" by the Michigan
faithful in its game against Hawaii.
While the Maize Rage started the
"Moose" call on Wednesday for the
first time, Brown was tipped off
about his new nickname in
advance.
"They asked me if I would mind
if they call me that, and I didn't
really care," Brown said. "I think
its fun for those-guys, getting so
into the game - I think it's a good
thing. Whenever I do something
good, I hear it from the stands, and
that's a good feeling, having every-
one behind you."
Brown gave the Maize Rage plen-
ty to cheer about with his 14 points
- which tied a career high - and
his six boards on Wednesday.

to imagine them putting together four
straight complete games.
PREDICTIONS: Michigan 4, New
Hampshire 2
Boston College 4, Niagra 0
Boston College 3, Michigan 1

PROF. SHARAD MATTU ON GOALTENDING:
When asked how much pressure he

Northeast Regional teams at a glance:

I

Sediuction...Conquest... Betrayaf
A egendary Cover's yursuit of more notches
for his edYost...
DON GIOVANNI
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