The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - September 27, 2004 - 3B
Gotta love the A2
One of Ann Arbor's great mys-
teries will be solved today.
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr
indicated on WTKA on Friday and
after the postgame press confer-
ence on Saturday that - following
a month of Pentagon-esque secrecy
- he will finally reveal sophomore
quarterback Matt Gutierrez's current
status at noonish during the media
After first catching wind of this
planned announcement, my initial
one of relief.
For the last
23 days, my
es have bom-
JOEL FRIEDMAN/ Daily
Freshman Lucia Belassi came off the bench swinging in the Wolverines' 4-0 win over Ball State, registering three shots.
By James V. Dowd
Daily Sports Writer
MUNCIE, Ind. - If field hockey were televised as widely
as football or basketball, Big Ten field hockey coaches like
Michelle Madison of No. 4 Michigan State or Tracy Gries-
baum of Iowa would have a rough time sleeping tonight. Sun-
day afternoon's game between No. 7 Michigan and Ball State
exposed Michigan's most lethal weapon: depth.
As the Wolverines dominated the Cardinals in the sec-
ond half, Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz went to her
bench, giving every one of her players significant min-
utes without a fall-off in the team's quality of play. It is
a dream come true for a program which prides itself on
developing a complete squad.
"It's something we take a lot of pride in," Michigan senior
captain Kate Dillon said, "Being able to have people coming
off the bench without letting the level of play waver at all."
After a gritty performance in which she stopped every
Ball State challenge, Dillon was relieved by junior defender
Catherine Pickard. Pickard performed admirably, closing out
a Michigan shutout, and making her captain proud.
"I was really impressed," Dillon said. "I love having (Pick-
ard) coming in for me. She's always solid off the bench when
she comes into my spot."
The Wolverines' defense also got a boost from freshman
defender Jillianne Whitfield, who also closed out Friday's
matchup with Indiana. Replacing talented Michigan sophomore
Kara Lentz, one of the Wolverines' most consistent performers,
is no small feat. But Whitfield proved to be up to the challenge.
Whitfield was not the only Wolverine freshman that made
waves on the Ball State Turf Field. Ashley Lennington, Lau-
ren Conforzi and Lucia Belassi contributed in big ways to
Michigan's victory. Belassi came dangerously close to scor-
ing several times this weekend.
Conforzi awed fans with an incredible spin move when
pinned against the end line late in the game. Several Car-
dinals defenders had her trapped in the corner, but with
grace reminiscent of former Wolverine forward and current
assistant coach April Fronzoni (Michigan's all-time leading
scorer), Conforzi spun her way back towards the middle and
created a scoring chance out of nothing. Flashes of brilliance
like this have Pankratz excited about the prospects of her pro-
gram continuing its streak of four consecutive top-10 finishes
in the National Field Hockey Coaches' Association Poll.
"(Michigan's freshman) are getting it," Pankratz said. "The
more those guys get to play, the more comfortable they will
be, and the more confident they will play."
More immediately, the young and deep Michigan
bench will help provide respite for regulars as the
long season grinds on. The ability to replace tired and
injured starters is key to success in the Big Ten and
"We're trying very hard to get everyone some playing
experience," Pankratz said. "As we start getting further
and further into the season, we start getting ticky-tack
injuries, and we need more depth. Certainly going into
the tournament, we want to be able to rely on those girls
to come in and play well."
situation. Just because I'm amem-
ber of the media doesn't mean that
I'm knockin' back Natty Lights
with Lloyd on Saturday nights.
With the program's concerted effort
to contain all (and I mean ALL)
information inside the walls of Fort
Schembechler, media members cov-
ering Michigan football know little
to nothing more than any dedicated
But after this preliminary feeling
of liberation - no more questions
I can't answer! - I realized that a
momentary breach in Fort Schem-
bechler would be detrimental to the
most entertaining aspect of Michi-
gan's fall semester: the Ann Arbor
The Ann Arbor rumor mill is a
product of the football program's
Michigan coaches and players usual-
ly employ one of three responses to
any media question: 1) "He's a real
Michigan man." 2) "That was a real
Michigan effort." 3) "I don't know
about that, you'll have to ask Coach
Carr" (basically, a "real Michigan"
These robotic answers leave writ-
ers in the dark, and the media's
limited knowledge is reflected in the
football coverage. As a result, Maize
and Blue faithful become starved
for inside information. This is what
churns Ann Arbor's rumor mill.
Lockdown in Fort Schembechler
breeds some wild, unfathomable
Last year, the rumor mill was
fueled by Braylon Edwards's lack
of playing time at the beginning of
the season and Alain Kashama's
four-game "vacation." But nothing
in my time at Michigan has stirred
the pot as much as Gutierrez's situ-
ation this fall.
After the season opener, Lloyd
Carr said that Gutierrez didn't play
because he was suffering from "a
sore shoulder." When a media mem-
ber asked Carr to expand on his
vague injury description, Carr gave
the reporter a staredown that'd make
Mike Tyson flinch. So, for the last
month, it has been kept at that: a
Outside of Carr and Gutierrez
himself, nobody (literally) seems to
have a clue what the situation is.
"The funny thing is, the media
thinks that we're keeping secrets -
the media thinks that we're just not
telling you," Michigan wide receiver
Carl Tabb told me on Saturday. "I
don't know. So, I can't tell you any-
thing because I don't know - that's
something you'll have to ask Lloyd.
I really do not know what's going
on with Matt. I do not know who is
going to start week to week. I really
don't care - a quarterback is a
quarterback to me. Anyone that gets
me the ball, gets me the ball."
But the public doesn't share
terback" mentality and refuses to
accept Carr's ambiguity. Here's
where the fun begins.
I've never been a fan of gossip,
but the Ann Arbor rumor mill has
spawned hypotheses so outrageous
and peculiar, that it is very hard to
ignore. Here are a few of the more
fanatical speculations I've heard:
- The Scandalous Theory: Lloyd
Carr named Gutierrez the starter,
but then realized that true freshman
Chad Henne was a better player.
Carr wanted to help Gutierrez save
face oSo ht told hm to pretenid his
shoulder was hurt.
- The Pierre Theory: Michiman
linebacker Pierre Woods violated
the no-tackle policv on GiierreC
in practice, injuring the shoulder.
This hypothesis kills two birds with
one stone, as it also explains Woods'
lack of playing time thus far.
- The Walk-In-A-Stramilht-Line
Theory: Gutierre: received a DLI
and the University is trying to keep
it under wraps.
- The Lloyd-Carr's-A-Bigot
Theory (my personal favorite): Guti-
errez is not playing because he has
No joke - I've heard every one
of these and had each of the sources
swear by their statement. Some folks
claim they have a reliable insider.
I'm not the only person who
catches these outlandish conjec-
tures. Many players overhear the
by-products of the rumor mill and
have a good chuckle.
"That's about all you can do is
laugh," defensive end Pat Massey
When Gutierrez respectfully
declined talking to me about his sta-
tus after Saturday's game, I decided
to tell him some of the Ann Arbor
buzz. He expressed great amuse-
ment, especially with the DUI the-
ory, to which he responded, "I don't
even drink alcohol, so you can throw
that one out the window."
Lloyd's announcement today
- most likely something along the
lines of "Matt needs surgery" - will
put an end to one of the greater whirl-
winds in the Ann Arbor rumor mill
history. Although I'll enjoy a life in
which I don't face the same exact
question 10 times a day, I'm going
to miss students throwing around
answers to that question as carelessly
as they toss a beer-pong ball. At least
until the next thing goes slightly awry
for the program and Fort Schem-
bechler locks up.
By the way ... Markus Curry was
listed as a possible starter on the depth
chart, but didn't play a down on Satur
day. GO RUMOR MILL GO!
Gennaro Filice can be reached at
Continued from page 18
able to mount numerous threats, but the
Wolverines found themselves in posi-
tion for easy goals, a focus point for
them in practice.
"In the circle you want to make
sure everyone is in the right posi-
tions," Michigan coach Marcia Pan-
kratz said. "We frame up the goal,
and cover the rebounds, so it worked
out that they were in the right posi-
tions. Sometimes the ball goes there,
and that is nice to see."
The Wolverines took an early lead
when Fox tipped in an errant shot by
Blake. After a corner taken by Wol-
verines' sophomore Kara Lentz, the
ball came out to Blake, who fired
a shot that was headed wide right
before Fox tapped it past Indiana
goalkeeper Katie Kanara.
Indiana's best chance of the first
half came when sophomore Lydia
Schrott was tripped inside of the cir-
cle. Sophomore Mallory Reabold took
the penalty stroke, but Riley stood tall
and denied Indiana a chance to pull
Michigan's second goal was almost
a carbon copy of its first. Hortillosa
took the ball from sophomore Kara
Lentz's penalty corner, slid the ball
to junior Lori Hillman, who shot it
to Kanara's left. After an Indiana
defender fumbled with the clearing
pass, Civic was there to put it in.
Civic scored her second goal of the
contest after another corner. Hillman
drove deep into the circle, and shot it
across the goalmouth to Civic, who
redirected it into the goal. From there
the Wolverines appeared to be sitting
comfortably, but Indiana pulled within
two when senior Morgan Miller rock-
eted the ball past Riley.
Miller's goal came off of a textbook
penalty corner. Schrott passed to fresh-
man Meredith Brown who set up Mill-
er's fourth goal of the season.
It was only 1:26 before Michigan
answered, reversing the momentum
that Miller's goal had created. Blake
took the ball near the top of the circle
and lifted it into the upper left corner
of -the goal.
Pankratz was pleased with the per-
formance in the Big Ten opener and her
team's ability to maintain a high inten-
sity level for the entire game.
"I'm certainly happy with the results,"
Pankratz said. "Indiana is a very fast team,
and they play at a high-intensity level with
a lot of emotion. I thought our team did a
good job matching their intensity level for
the whole 70 minutes."
Michigan will continue its Big Ten
campaign when it hosts Northwestern
on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Wolverines
will face Harvard on Sunday at 1 p.m.,
also at Ocker Field.
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This is B.U.
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