January 15, 2004
Ryznar offers power,
grin and cereal bowls
Daily columnist returns to
journalism after brief hiatus
By Gennaro Rlice
Daily Sports Writer
It looked as though a highlight-reel
hit was inevitable.
In the third period of Michigan's 7-1
drubbing of Ohio State on Saturday, left
winger Jason Ryznar came to a com-
plete stop at center ice and, with his
head down, tried to collect the puck.
Buckeyes forward Dan Knapp recog-
nized Ryznar's vulnerability from across
the ice and started toward Michigan's 6-
foot-4 left wing with a full head of
steam. Oblivious to the 175-pound scar-
let-and-gray blur headed his way, Ryz-
nar continued to struggle with the puck.
Just as Ryznar looked up, contact
A highlight-reel hit had taken
place ... only Knapp, not Ryznar, lay
on the Yost Ice Arena surface. With a
simple double-wristed thrust, Ryznar
had propelled Knapp, and his forward
momentum, straight backward and
into the ice, igniting a raucous cheer
from the Michigan student section.
The laid back kid from Anchorage,
Ala. had laid out another opponent.
"(Ryznar's) got that physical pres-
ence, and teams are scared, I think,
when he's out there," said junior center
Andrew Ebbett of his linemate.
Ryznar - who missed seven games
earlier this season due to his third
shoulder injury in two years - looks
like he's back at 100 percent. Ohio State
saw first-hand what a healthy Ryznar is
capable of, as the junior hit the game-
winner on Friday night and physically
dominated the Buckeyes all weekend.
"That's Ryz's game," junior Dwight
Helminen said. "He gets out there, and
he's a big, strong kid, and he cycles that
puck. He's probably the best strong
cycler in the country."
But, for every blow that Ryznar deliv-
ers, Michael Woodford - who plays
right wing on Ryznar's line - likes to
point out the ones he has received.
"We like to give him a hard time
because sometimes the smallest guy on
the other team will knock him down,"
"It's kind of an inside joke because
last year, when I separated my shoulder,
this guy was like 5-foot-7, he hit me
and it separated," Ryznar said. "This
year, same thing: littlest guy on the ice
hit me, and it separated my shoulder."
Jason Ryznar's hit turns the tables on Ohio St
Joking aside, Woodford praises Ryz-
"When he's playing his game, he's
deadly coming out of the corners -
there's no one that can match up to
him," Woodford said.
Although Ryznar's aggression is very
apparent on the ice, teammates describe
him as very easygoing off of it.
"He's a pretty quiet guy off the ice -
he's a jokester, a comedian," Ebbett
said. "He's not serious at all, I don't
think -he just smiles 24-7."
Ryznar lives with teammates Eric
Nystrom, Milan Gajic, Andy Burnes,
Brandon Rogers, Jeff Tambellini and
tate's Dan Knapp.
Woodford. Burnes - the house's lone
senior - feels that, at times, Ryznar is
a bit too laid back.
"He's definitely a little toddler, you
know, terrible two's," Burnes said. "He
blows through cereal, and he's not too
good about putting his bowls in the
dishwasher, either. (He) just throws
bowls in the sink, and before you know
it, there's about 20 bowls and about 45
spoons in the sink."
Ryznar acknowledges Burnes' claim.
"It's messy at times, but Burnes
keeps it under control - cracks the
whip sometimes," Ryznar said. "Burnes
is the mom of the house."
Ghost story: Will Penn State's Mazzante haunt Michigan?
Goin' to Work
The time has come. I would like
to officially announce my retire-
ment from journalism.
This is not a decision that came easi-
ly for me. I've consulted family and
friends. Athletes and fellow columnists.
Priests and oracles.
But I feel that I've accomplished as
much as I could have hoped.
Over four years, I have been able to
write article after article, lock down a
weekly column, and cover women's
gymnastics, ice hockey and men's bas-
ketball. Retiring at this time gives me
time to pursue some other things in life.
It will allow me to put a concentrated
effort into hobbies and relaxation.
Heck, maybe I could even land that 4.0
GPA for a semester.
Hopefully, my retirement will lead to
some "going away" presents. Perhaps a
car, some stock or at least a golden pen.
Most importantly, though, my retire-
ment will allow me to do this:
I OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCE MY
TRIUMPHANT RETURN TO
It's a gutsy decision, I know. But
anyone can retire.
It takes a real man to unretire.
I can now consider myself in the
company of such sports legends as
Michael Jordan, Dominik Hasek, Bill
Parcells, Roger Clemens and Mario
Those five are probably the most
high-profile figures over the last few
years that have made unretiring - to
quote Billy Madison - "the coolest".
Clemens is the latest to come back
from retirement. And he played his
cards perfectly. Last year, especially
during the New York Yankees' playoff
run, everything was, "This could be
Clemens' last time on the mound."
After his final start in the World
Series, Clemens left the mound to a
standing ovation in Florida. Even the
Marlins came out of the dugout to
salute the 300-game winner. Clemen1s
walked to the edge of the Yankees'
dugout, tipped his cap, and left the field
for the "last time." Clemens received
"going away" presents from opposing
teams, and a really expensive car from
Yankees' owner George Steinbrenner.
Just three days ago, Clemens
appeared again and signed a contract
with the Houston Astros.
When I saw live shots of his signing,
I kept waiting for him to look at the
camera and yell out, "Made you look!"
It seems as though professional ath-
letes are confusing the idea of retire-
ment with that of taking some time off
If someone retires, they aren't sup-
posed to return. You're supposed to
retire when you don't want to work
anymore - when it's time to settle down
and take vacations and mow the lawn.
So now Roger Clemens is back in
baseball, and those who support hiir
will tell you that there's nothing that
says you have to stay retired. Which is
like saying to your significant other, "I
know you're listening to what I'm say-
ing, but are you really hearing me?"
My unretirement probably won't
land me much fanfare. I probably won't
be offered a huge contract to go and
write for a another college newspaper.
That's fine. Plenty of no-names have
walked the unretirement trail. Guys like
Gary Roberts, Doron Sheffor and Joey
Kocur (hockey, basketball, hockey,
respectively - if you were wondering).
I'm happy to be lumped in with the
lesser-know unretirement stories -1
can be one of those guys that, when:I
finally do retire for good, can say "I
have as many unretirements as Roger
The phrase "retire for good" is kinid
of oxymoronic these days, thanks tp
No matter ... I'm back, baby! And
I'll see you right here next week.
Unless I decide to reretire.
Chris Burke can be reached 4t
By Eric Ambinder
Daily Sports Writer
For four years, Cheryl Burnett coached a basketball
Tonight, she coaches against one.
No. 8 Penn State's (4-0 Big Ten, 11-3 overall) All-
American guard Kelly Mazzante needs just 28 points
to break the Big Ten record of 2,578 career points -
a feat she can accomplish tonight against the Wolver-
ines (2-1, 9-7) at Crisler Arena.
But the mastermind that helped inspire such an
illustrious career may be standing in the way - Bur-
nett, who coached Jackie Stiles at Southwest Missouri
State before leaving for Michigan.
Stiles graduated to the WNBA as the NCAA all-
time leading scorer.
It was the game of Stiles that Mazzante studied
adamantly between her freshman and sophomore
years. The same dribble penetration, three-point range
and poise of Mazzante are all ghostly reminders of
But Mazzante should be the scared one. Thanks to
Stiles, Burnett had four years to prepare for Mazzante.
"I experienced what other teams did to shut (Stiles)
down that I thought was extremely challenging, and I
will draw from that," said Burnett about her strategy in
Burnett uses coaching philosophies that allow her
team to prepare for the opponents' best player, even
when it isn't playing top talent. This groundwork, Bur-
nett believes, has trained the Wolverines to handle
teams like Penn State and players like Mazzante.
"I tell them that if they are playing against the best
defender in the country, and they can screen, and they
can read, then they can beat that player," Burnett said.
"Same defensively. If we're playing against the best
offensive players, and we use those defensive rules, we
can shut those players down."
Penn State coach Rene Portland's offense resembles
the one Burnett used for Stiles.
In its simplicity, the offense is geared around Maz-
zante, and her ability to shoot the ball repeatedly - a
style that Portland partly modeled after Michael Jor-
dan's Chicago Bulls teams of the 1990s.
Mazzante's 259 field goal attempts this season are
83 more than any other teammate.
And, like Jordan, Mazzante plays under a blanket of
pressure every game.
High above Penn State's Bryce Jordan center hangs
the "Mazzante Meter," a countdown of points she
needs to become the Big Ten's all-time leading scorer.
If excelling in front of Stiles's former coach isn't
incentive enough, the "Mazzante Meter" reads just 28.
While Mazzante will try to break an individual
record tonight, the Wolverines will be preoccupied
with a collective goal - beating the team that kept
them locked in the Big Ten basement most of last year.
Michigan lost to Penn State at home last season, 72-
70, in a game it should have won. This crushing loss
triggered an eight-game conference losing steak.
"I feel that we're real confident and ready to play,"
junior Tabitha Pool said. "We wanted that (Penn State)
game a lot (last year). We had it. We stopped their key
players. But, I think that this year we're going to have
a better outcome"
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