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September 07, 2004 - Image 61

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-09-07

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SPORTS

The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Fall 2004 - 5E

LEWIS
Continued from Page 2E
Mignery said. "Words can't express how I feel
right now ... To be out there in our victory for-
mation, when the last minute was winding
down, and to see all the people react. Just the
emotion the crowd was giving. It was what
Michigan-Ohio State is all about - the greatest
rivalry in football."
It was a feeling that we almost didn't even get
a chance to have in Ann Arbor.
Remember, these Michigan players, whose
smiles and boyish excitement lit up the evening

Saturday, were left shaking their heads, eyes to
the ground, just seven weeks before. It seems
so far away now, but after the Iowa loss, when
John Navarre was near tears and Chris Perry
had no answers, this team was trying to com-
prehend how it had two losses six games into
the season.
At that midway point, the season looked like
it would be forgotten in its mediocrity - or
worse, remembered for its demise. The team
that had so soundly beaten Notre Dame and
announced itself as a real national-title con-
tender had quickly unraveled and could not
lose another game if it were to even have a

chance at a conference title.
At that point, the Wolverines had to win out
- a daunting task.
Then, something happened. Staring down its
knockout punch in the Minnesota game, Michi-
gan turned it around right there in the
Metrodome. Since that 31-point fourth quarter,
the Wolverines have been a different team -
focused and determined.
"We, as a team, have so much character,
offensive lineman Tony Pape said. "I think this
team has really shown all its heart to go and take
those two losses and use them in a positive way.
Those losses made us stronger as a team, and we

built on that. We built on teamwork and cama-
raderie. We stayed together all season and
pushed each other."
On Saturday, Michigan was the team we
expected this season. The Wolverines won with
big plays from their big stars and with contri-
butions from everybody else. They won as a
team. When receiver Jason Avant went down,
four guys stepped in to help fill the gap. And
when the Buckeyes were threatening and
Michigan desperately needed to answer back,
little-known tight end Tyler Ecker came up with
a 30-yard catch.
During that electric post-game bedlam, I

eventually ended up in the midst of a throng of
fans that had surrounded defensive end Larry
Stevens, chanting, "Larry! Larry!" Stevens held
up a delicate rose in his giant hand and said,
"This is all that matters. This is all that matters."
The missed chances, the losses, the criticism
were all forgotten in one sweet moment.
I looked down and saw a single red petal lying
on the turf, and I picked it up and put it in my
pocket.
- Courtnev Lewis can be reached at
cmlewis@umich.edu.

NIT
Continued from Page 1E
minutes, including an authoritative swat of a
Bernard Robinson dunk attempt.
In total, Lamizana finished just two blocks
shy of a triple-double - he had 19 points, 10
rebounds and eight rejections. On the offen-
sive end, the Ivory Coast native repeatedly
faked jump shots along the perimeter to gain a
step on Michigan's defenders and get into the
paint for a shot.
Michigan did manage to shut down Quincy
Douby, the Scarlet Knights' leading scorer.
The 6-foot-3 guard had 35 against Iowa State
in the semifinals but found few good looks all

night against the Wolverines, shooting a dis-
mal 1-for-13 on the night. He finally located
the bottom of the net four minutes into the sec-
ond half on a runner from the baseline to cut
Michigan's lead to 41-31. The freshman fin-
ished with just two points.
"I knew they were going to focus on me,
Douby said. "I know they watched film and
they've seen some of my weaknesses, and they
(exploited) my weaknesses."
The New York crowd was largely behind
Rutgers, which is located in New Jersey, creat-
ing a hostile road environment for the Wolver-
ines. At times, it seemed to rattle Michigan,
but the team remained level-headed.
"We were talking at halftime and through-

out the second half about poise," Michigan
coach Tommy Amaker said. "I think the crowd
made it a very electric atmosphere. That
makes you play faster than you want to."
It's been almost seven months since Michi-
gan won its appeal to the NCAA, negating its
second year of postseason probation. After
failing to make the NCAA Tournament, it
looked like the Wolverines would fail to capi-
talize on the decision. But Amaker wasn't
about to let that happen.
"To learn that we became postseason eligi-
ble at the beginning of the year, we tried to
make a move this season," Amaker said. "And
I think our players have done that in a fine
fashion to make our University proud."

BAN
Continued from Page 1E
The NCAA states in its bylaws that preclud-
ing programs from postseason competition was
for cases in which "involved individuals
remain active in the program, a significant
competitive advantage results from the viola-
tions or the violations reflect a lack of institu-
tional control." In its report, the Infractions
Appeals Committee ruled that none of the
three factors that are grounds for a postseason
ban were present in Michigan's case.
The committee that originally gave Michigan
its postseason ban said that the money Ed Mar-
tin gave provided Michigan with "a staggering

competitive advantage." But the appeals com-
mittee disagreed, saying that the four players
would have played at Michigan regardless of the
scandal.
The other penalties imposed by the NCAA are
still intact.
Don Canham, University Athletic Director
from 1968-88, believed that the Appeals Com-
mittee made their decision because the viola-
tions were dealt with so well by Michigan head
coach Tommy Amaker and the rest of the Uni-
versity. "(The Committee has) always been
extremely fair in my opinion," Canham said.
The Wolverines finished with a 17-13 (10-6
Big 10) record last season and look to contend
for an NCAA tournament bid this season.

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