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September 30, 2004 - Image 10

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-09-30

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Thursday
September 30, 2004
sports.michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily.com

SPORTS

1OA

Punter balances
life as engineer

Basketball is back,
so let's do this BIG

By Bob Hunt
Daily Sports Editor
Adam Finley often finds himself
caught between a rock and a hard
place. He is a football player, but
receives grief from his teammates
because he is the punter. He is a
graduate in biomedical engineering
student, but doesn't like to tell his
classmates that he plays football
because of the negative stigma that
comes with it.
But one thing Finley can talk
about with pride is the consistency
that he has provided for the Wolver-
ines since the 2002 season. While
the placekicking game has yet to
find that groove since the graduation
of Hayden Epstein, Finley has aver-
aged a solid 41.7 yards per kick in his
career.
After last Saturday's game against
Iowa, Michigan coach Lloyd Carr
made a special effort to complement
the fifth-year senior and point out
how far the punting unit has come
along since it was terrorized by
Miami (Ohio) returner Ryne Robin-
son in the season opener.
"If you look at the net punting, it's
not very good because of the block
and returns that we have had," Carr
said. "But if you look at the punt-
ing average, Adam Finley has been
punting the ball as well as any punter
we've ever had here."
Carr also added something else.
"Adam Finley is as smart as any
guy I have ever coached," Carr said.
While Finley doesn't like to make
a big deal about being a football
player and a biomedical engineer-
ing student, it is a rarity for any col-
lege football player to take on both
pursuits.
ICE HOCKEY

Finley says he has a real passion
for the subject, and that he wants to
enter into research and development
if a career in the NFL doesn't work
out for him. To manage school work
along with a 25-hour practice week
and trips around the Midwest, Finley
cuts down on his credits during the
season so that he has one difficult
class and two others that aren't as
challenging. Finley doesn't often tell
his classmates of his other life on the
gridiron, but he said that it's difficult
to keep it secret.
"Eventually people are going to
know if I have to leave at 2 o'clock
for practice every day," Finley said.
As to analyzing situations on the
field, Carr has praised Finley's abil-
ity to explain exactly what happened
after each time he kicks the ball. But
Finley just attributes it to the expe-
rience of punting the ball so many
times.
"It's one of those things that you
do hundreds of thousands of times,
you develop that muscle memory in
the way (the kick) feels," Finley said.
"So of course you're going to know
what you've done wrong."
Finley came to Michigan as both
a punter and kicker, but he said that
the coaching staff told him to focus
on his punting from the beginning of
his career.
While there is so much that can
go wrong with each punt attempt,
Finley has attempted to focus on his
own game and let others worry about
their blocking.
"It's something you learn over
your career," Finley said. "Early in
my career, I tried to pay attention
to it. As I have gotten more com-
fortable, I've gotten to just feel and
sense it even though you are concen-

FILE PHOTO
Michigan senior Adam Finley has been the starting punter since 2002,
and has averaged more than 40 yards a kick throughout his career.

trating on all the normal technique
stuff."
Although the punting unit had its
problems against Miami (Ohio) and
Notre Dame - where it gave up
a blocked punt - there was clear
improvement shown on Saturday
against Iowa. Finley said that there
has been more emphasis put on the
punting game this past off-season
than in years past.
"We've really tried to attack it as a

team," Finley said.
To his teammates, Finley will still
be known as the punter. But he says
it's all fun and games.
"It's always going to be a little bit
tougher because we're not down in
the trenches like those guys," Finley
said. "But at the same time, I hang out
with all of those guys. You're always
going to get the grief for being the
punter or being the kicker, but it's all
in a joking fashion."

SHARAD MATTU
Mattd Brute
n March 14, I knew what
was coming. The Michigan
basketball team wasn't going
getting invited to the NCAA Tourna-
ment, and would have to settle for
the NIT.
I thought the NIT be a waste of all
our time.
Luckily, I've never been so wrong.
Michigan won the whole thing,
and in the process put a positive spin
on the entire season.
Sure, the Wolverines got some
breaks, but give the team credit.
They bounced back from the disap-
pointment, won three home games
and then went to New York City and
won two more games.
And give us, the fans, some credit.
There weren't many of us at that
first-round game, but the Maize Rage
and company were loud. Afterwards,
when it was announced that tickets
for the next game would be on sale
30 minutes later, I raced through the
snow on Elbel Field (thankfully I
lived just five minutes away), went to
mgoblue.com and clicked refresh over
and over until.tickets were available.
I did the same thing after the second
game, too, and I'm pretty sure I wasn't
alone. For those last two games, we
pretty much packed Crisler.
The point is, Michigan basket-
ball is BACK, and this needs to be
celebrated. I'm worried that in the
six-plus months since, we've all
forgotten how caught up we were in
this team (let me say this again: we
were actually running home from
Crisler to buy tickets so we could go
back there two days later).
The bottom line is, last season
ended BIG, and this season needs to
begin BIG. We can't have a letdown.
To accomplish that, I think I've got
the perfect idea.
Midnight Madness.
Sadly, many Wolverine fans don't
even know what this is. There's a
date where college basketball teams
can officially begin practice - this
year it's Oct. 16. At Kansas, Mary-
land and many other schools (includ-
ing Michigan State) the first practice
is held at midnight in an arena
packed with fans. In Kentucky, it's
televised live across the entire state.
During my three years at Michi-
gan, the basketball program has
come a long way. The aftermath of
the Fab Five is long forgotten. And
most importantly, thanks to coach
Tommy Amaker and his Duke ties,
the students matter.
We got courtside bleacher seats,
which are now free (by the way, I
bought season tickets - could you
hook me up with some courtside
seats?).
Heck, Amaker even acknowledges

the student section before every
game, which is something Lloyd
Carr and Red Berenson can't say
they do.
So Midnight Madness is just the
next step.
Another great reason to have this
is to get the women's basketball
team in the spotlight. Last year
coach Cheryl Burnett was looking
for all the fan support she could
get. Well, there wouldn't be a bet-
ter opportunity than this. She's got
a young team that may struggle at
first, but soon it'll be good. They
deserve the exposure, sharing Crisler
Arena would give it to them.
Wouldn't it be fun to see them
have a 3-point contest or mix the
teams up and scrimmage for a little
while?
I believe this can happen, but
everyone tells me that two weeks
and two days is too soon. Well, I
don't have the patience to wait one
year, two weeks and two days, so
let's give it a shot now.
The collaboration that goes into
every basketball game by the Maize
Rage - from the weekly meetings
to the flyers that tell us who's been
arrested and who nearly bombed his
SATs - is amazing. Even against
a horrible team like Penn State, the
fans show up. For that game some-
one made a 10-foot poster of the Nit-
tany Lions' seven-foot, 200-pound
twig, Jan Jagla.
So for the next two weeks, Maize
Ragers, let's direct our time and
energy towards this project.
Trust me, the athletic department
won't make this happen.
I really believe Amaker and Burnett
would want this. But at the same time,
Michigan is always about tradition.
It's why we may never see a Michigan
football night game, and it's why this
hasn't happened already (because it
should have).
So it's on us. The question is, how
bad do we want it?
I still haven't found a reason not
to have it, and trust me, I'm look-
ing. I'm not asking them to dunk off
trampolines, so they aren't any more
likely to get injured. And Coach K
at Duke does something along these
lines every couple years (he appar-
ently doesn't like the term "Mid-
night Madness"), so Coach A doesn't
have that excuse.
I've also been told that Michigan
will hold the Maize and Blue Scrim-
mage on Oct. 30, following the football
team's slaughtering of Michigan State.
But that's exactly my point. It's
time for the basketball team to stop
piggy-backing off the football team.
It deserves its own day.
The hoops squad deserves all the
support the fans are willing to give
it, and the fans deserve this stage to
support the team.
Sharad Mattu plans to be waiting
outside Crisler Arena around 10p.m.
on Oct. 15. He grew up watching Big
East basketball and believes the Wol-
verines' continuity will enable them to
make the Sweet 16. He can be reached at
smattu@umich.edu.

.Rule forces captains to lead workouts

By Ian Herbert
Daily Sports Writer
When the Michigan hockey team
takes the ice this weekend against
Windsor, it will do so without having
had any full practices with its coach-

ing staff.
A new NCAA regulation, passed
in 2001 but implemented this year,
forces coaches to stay off the ice until
Oct. 2. For Michigan, the date coin-
cides with its first of three exhibition
games this year. Michigan head coach

Red Berenson is not pleased with the
new rule, which leaves his team's
captains in charge of practices.
"We were not in favor of it," Beren-
son said. "Most coaches in the west
- in our league and the WCHA
- were not in favor of that. It was

driven mostly by the conferences in
the East. They pushed it through, so
we have to abide by it. Doesn't mat-
ter what I think of it, but I'm not in
favor of it.
"For us, more is better. Our play-
ers come to school and they're anx-
ious to skate, they're anxious to play
and they like to play more hockey, not
less."
In the past, coaches were allowed
to show up as soon as captains' prac-
tices began in the middle of Septem-
ber. But schools in the ECAC, which
generally begin their season almost
a month later than schools in the
CCHA, were upset that CCHA pro-
grams were getting a head start.
Berenson said that some of the
ECAC programs - he wouldn't
specify which ones - worked hard to
make sure that the NCAA regulates
when the coaches are first allowed
to come onto the ice to practice with
their teams.
Michigan's practices, though
missing the leadership of the
coaches, are pretty much business
as usual. They are led by senior
See PRACTICE, Page 13A

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CAREER PRESENTATION & RECEPTION
Date: Monday, October 4th
Time: 5:00pm-7:00pm
Location: Hale Auditorium/Assembly Hall

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