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January 13, 2004 - Image 8

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Tuesday
January 13, 2004
sports.michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily.com

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8

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Ready or not: Cagers
prepare for Spartans
Hunter returns to lineup for the first time
in a month before a near-capacity crowd

Everyone should benefit
from Edwards 'decision

By Chris Burke
Daily Sports Editor
Any chance Michigan basketball
coach Tommy Amaker is glad that,
following Sunday's heartbreaking
59-57 loss to Indiana, the Wolver-
ines will have to quickly refocus for
next Saturday's game
at arch-rival Michi-
gan State?
"No, not at all." O
Well, so much for

?

that.
But in the Michi-

gan lockerroom following the
defeat at the hands of the Hoosiers,
the post-loss philosophy was
mixed.
"Personally, I would like to play
(Michigan State) tomorrow," Michi-
gan point guard Daniel Horton said.
Forward Graham Brown dis-
agreed.
"I think (the week off) is a good
thing for us. We need to get back to
our own plans, get our chemistry
back - we had a couple of guys
separating themselves, and I'm sure
these guys will refocus, and we'll
practice hard this week," Brown said.
In spite of Horton's desire to lace
the sneakers back up and take on
the Spartans immediately, the
Wolverines do have four more days
to prepare for the in-state show-
down.
And after the two-point upset at
the hands of the Hoosiers, there
was no disagreement among the
Wolverines as to how important the
week of preparation will be.
"We have a week off, and we
have to come in and get better
everyday in practice," Horton said.
"(Saturday) is a must-win now. We
can't fall behind in the conference.
"We're .500 right now, and we
have a chance to get right back up
there if we go into East Lansing as
a team, a unit, a group, we can go
in there and win. I feel very confi-
dent."
That confidence, no doubt, stems
partly from last season's dramatic
60-58 victory over the Spartans on
Jan. 26 at Crisler Arena. The game

marked the first time since the
1997-98 campaign that Michigan
had topped its rival.
Last year's benchmark win was
the dramatic conclusion to a 13-
game winning streak by the
Wolverines.
The situation is much different
for Michigan now, as the Wolver-
ines find themselves in desperate
need of a well-played game,
whether it comes in the battle for
state supremacy or not.
"It doesn't matter who it is," Hor-
ton said. "To me everybody is our
rival, no matter if it's Michigan
State or Penn State or Minnesota.
"If we play the type of basketball
we're capable of playing, we can
beat anybody."
BACK IN THE HUNT(ER): Michigan
center Chris Hunter finally returned
to the Wolverines' lineup on Sunday
against the Hoosiers.
The sophomore had been rehab-
bing following arthroscopic surgery
on his knee. Hunter hadn't played
since the Wolverines' game against
Bowling Green on Dec. 13.
Hunter dressed for the Wolver-
ines' victory over Northwestern last
Wednesday, but did not see any
action.
On Sunday, the Indiana native
entered the contest with just under
seven minutes left in the first half.
With Amaker easing the big man
back into action, Hunter made a
decent contribution, notching three
blocks in seven minutes of play,
while finishing 0-for-2 from the
field.
FAN-DEMONIUM: Thanks in part to
a decent-sized contingent from
Indiana, the announced attendance
at Crisler for Sunday's game was
the largest of the year.
The crowd of 13,328 surpassed
the previous mark of 12,937 in
Crisler at Michigan's win over
UCLA on Dec. 27.
Crisler's capacity is 13,751.
While Indiana was able to take
the crowd out of the game by build-
ing a 16-point advantage in the sec-
ond half, the Michigan fans
definitely made an impact as the

NAWEED SIKORA
Blowin' smoke
o Braylon Edwards is coming,
back for one more crack. This
means the Michigan faithful
are doing one of two things right
now: rejoicing that the Wolverines'
top receiver will be back to lead the
corps, or preparing their throats for
another season of yelling at good
old No. 1 after a dropped ball.
In my opinion, it's time to rejoice.
Braylon Edwards' inconsistency
may have been frustrating to deal
with at times, but the bottom line is,
he is a weapon for Michigan's
offense, and if he were to leave, the
Wolverines would not be able to fill
that void this upcoming season.
Don't get me wrong, Steve Breaston
and Jason Avant are both very tal-
ented and should be used more, but
no player on Michigan's roster can
match Edwards' size or after-the-
catch playmaking ability.
Edwards' return will also help an
offense that is losing quarterback
John Navarre and tailback Chris
Perry.
Even though Michigan has young
backs ready to step in, such as
Jerome Jackson and Pierre Rembert,
both of these players saw limited
action this season. It may take a
year for them to establish them-
selves and get experience at the col-
lege level before they can be a force
for the Wolverines. This puts greater
pressure on the passing game to be
able to carry the offense.
Matt Gutierrez is expected to
take over as quarterback, and hav-
ing as many experienced receivers
on the field as possible will help
ease his transition into the starting
role. Also, with Gutierrez being a
much more mobile quarterback
than Navarre, the offense could
have a much different look next
season.
Overall, I believe the Michigan
offense benefited from Edwards'
decision. Of course, there are two

sides to every story, and unfortu-
nately for Edwards, the other side of
this story is looming.
Edwards says one reason he wants
to stay is so that he can leave his
mark on the Michigan football pro-
gram. But what kind of mark he
might leave is still up in the air.
Numbers-wise, there is no question
that this will be a mark of greatness.
The junior caught 85 passes for
1,138 yards and 14 touchdowns and
is expected to have an even better
season nextyear.
If he does better these numbers,
he will leave with almost every
Michigan receiving record in his
pocket.
But if you look at his discipline
problems, his easy drops and what
sometimes seems to be a general
apathy about making mistakes dur-
ing games, this mark could turn out
to be negative.
I've seen Edwards clearly
crushed after Michigan losses, but
I've also seen him drop a pass and
run back to the huddle as if nothing
happened.
Edwards also says he wants to
stay in order to raise his NFL draft
stock, but that he hopes to blend in
with his teammates more and stay
out of the spotlight.
Nobody has to come out a loser in
this situation.
Edwards doesn't have to turn him-
self into a robot either. He can be
himself, he can play well, he can
raise his draft stock, and Michigan
will have a better chance of win-
ning, all at the same time.
He just needs to show people he
cares. He needs to make that catch
against Southern Cal. in the Rose
Bowl. And if he doesn't make that
catch, he needs to get mad at him-
self about it
All fans, deep down, know what a
crucial part of the offense he will be
next year. I'm excited about
Edwards' decision to return because
of how it will help Michigan.
And even though he is making the
best decision for himself, I think the
result will be beneficial for both
Edwards and the Wolverines.
Naweed Sikora can be reached at
nsikora@umich.edu.

RYAN WEINER/Daily
Michigan point guard Daniel Horton drives to the rim against Indiana on Sunday.
Horton had 17 points in Michigan's victory over Michigan State last season.

Wolverines rallied late. The noise
level was most noticeable when
Indiana was called for a five-sec-
ond violation on an inbounds pass
with less than a minute to go, giv-

ing Michigan a chance to tie the
game.
"The crowd was tough," Indiana
forward A.J. Moye said. "I was
happy we got that lead."

Crowley
By Ellen McGarrlty
Daily Sports Writer

waiti

During Saturday's women's basketball game against Indi-
ana, 6-foot-2 freshman Leslie Crowley sat silently on the
Michigan bench. That's where you'll normally find Crowley
- and if it weren't for her youthful
face, most would probably guess that
she was just another assistant.
She watched the sweat and determi-
nation on the faces of senior Stephanie
Gandy and freshman Kelly Helvey as
they were subbed in and out of the
game.
She listened as Michigan coach
Cheryl Burnett yelled plays to the team. F
She was forced to do the same during
Michigan's 20-point loss to Minnesota, Crowley
as well as its 11-point loss to Seton Hall over Christmas
break - no doubt wondering if her presence on the court
could have made a difference.
This is not what Crowley signed up for two years ago.
But it is her reality.
Crowley committed to former Michigan coach Sue Gue-
vara in December of 2001 during her junior year of high
school. Little did she know then that her lifelong dream of
playing as a Wolverine was about to be delayed.
Shortly after signing on with Guevara, Crowley was
walking out of a restaurant when she felt something snap.
Her knee gave, and she fell to the ground.
"I had never had any problems before," Crowley said. "My
knee would always swell, but I would just play through it."
Initially, Crowley recovered from the spill, but a few
days later, it was obvious that the fall was just the
beginning.
"I could see something sticking out the side of my leg and

ng for her turn
was like, 'OK, this is not cool,' " Crowley said.
At the hospital, an MRI revealed the problem to be a
bone chip, which Crowley compared to the size of a 50-cent
piece. The doctors had never seen a bone chip so big and
weren't certain what the best solution would be.
For the next year, Crowley's knee injury forced her to put
basketball playing on hold at Grand Rapids' Lowell High
School, where the forward had recently received a Class A
All-State honorable mention by the Associated Press after
averaging 14 points and six rebounds per game.
In December 2002, a year after Crowley's fateful fall,
she finally got a break - in a good way this time. Her doc-
tor decided to perform an experimental form of surgery on
her knee.
"It was a cartilage transplant," Crowley said. "So they
grew my own cartilage cells in a little petrie dish in a lab."
Then Crowley had skin from her shin removed and trans-
ferred to the hole in her knee, where the bone chip had
popped out. The new cartilage cells were inserted in hopes
that the hole would eventually fill in.
Now many rehab sessions and one year later, Crowley
still has not played. But an X-ray she got a month ago
showed that her knee is getting better, even if the process is
slower than she would like.
In the meantime, Crowley has attended every Michigan
practice this season and has been to every game. She admit-
ted that it's a weird situation, but that it hasn't stopped her
from feeling like part of the team.
"I was afraid at first, but (Burnett and the team) have been
awesome about it and very supportive," Crowley said.
The good news for Crowley is that she should be able to
hit the hardwood by May. Because she redshirted this sea-
son, she'll get to start for Michigan next year with freshman
eligibility.
But for now, Crowley can't wait to get back on the court.
"It's been so long," Crowley said. " I miss it a lot."

FILE PHOTO
Michigan gymnast Elise Ray is ready to begin competing again after sitting out all of last season with an Injury to her
shoulder. The return of the former All-American will make Michigan an immediate national title contender.
Ray a ous to return to the mat

By Jeremy Antar
Daily Sports Writer

I

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Only weeks before the 2003 season was set to begin,
Elise Ray suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. She
knew that the road to recovery would be long and drain-
ing, and it would have been easy for Ray to put all her
time and energy into rehabbing her shoulder.
But even though she was unable to compete, her dedi-
cation to the Michigan women's gymnastics team never
wavered.
"I was really bummed out, and it took me a little while
to get over it," Ray said. "But then I realized that these
things happen, and it comes with the territory of sport. I
knew I had to be there for my team, so my focus com-
nletely shift-d to dAing anvthing I cnuld to heln the

cally competing."
The time off has energized Ray, and she said she is
"fired up to get back and learn." While goals for a nation-
al championship are always in the back of her mind, Ray
said she is trying not to look so far ahead.
"As of now, I just want to get my confidence back and
compete every weekend and feel the team camaraderie."
In a sport like gymnastics, in which individual achieve-
ments are boldly recognized, it is rare to see a team so
dedicated to winning as a unit rather than individuals.
"Michigan gymnastics has always prided itself on the
team unity and team closeness," Ray said.
She noted that if everyone is trying to help the team,
they will be doing their best individually, and in turn,
individual accomplishments will take care of themselves.
Rav greatly values the closeness of the team. and she

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