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November 10, 2004 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-11-10

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0

Wednesday
November 10, 2004
sports. michigandaily. com
sports@michigandaily. com

JbRE iihau rngi
SPORTS

10

..........

Cagers
eager to
shape up
By Brian Schick
Daily Sports Editor
Just as quickly as it began, the exhibition sea-
son for the men's basketball team draws to a close
tonight.
With the start of the regular season - in the
form of the preseason NIT - on Monday, there
isn't much time before Binghamton comes to
town. Tonight's game
against Wayne State is the-
last chance to work out. TONIGIT
the offseason kinks. Mehign v.
During the first half of
Michigan's 60-43 exhi- :
bition win over Michigan. C.s AP
Tech on Sunday, the Wol-.
verines came out looking
sharp, shooting a scorching 60 percent. But the
wheels quickly came off the wagon, as Michi-
gan made just 11 of its last 30 attempts from
the floor.
On several occasions, Michigan was able to find
good shots from the floor, but couldn't find the
stroke. Add that to the fact that the Wolverines were
able to pull down just four offensive rebounds and
the conclusion is that the offense looked shaky in its
first time out.
"We've just got to try and finish," junior Daniel
Horton said. "We got the type of shots we want-
ed. We just need to continue playing like we did
today."
Said Michigan coach Tommy Amaker: "We didn't
(execute) as well as we wanted to. But for our first
time out, I thought we did pretty well."
Against Wayne State tonight, execution will
also be important in slowing down the Warriors'
offense, which averaged 70.4 point-per-game last
year. Senior guard Morris Hall is the top returning
scorer, averaging more than 10 points per game
last season. Whereas Michigan Tech had a prolific
forward in Josh Buettner, Wayne State features
a solid backcourt of Hall and Darrell Evans (7.4
point per game).
"We want to see carryover from practices into
the game and see players do the things we've been
coaching," Amaker said. "We need to go from being
in good basketball shape to being in game shape."
Perhaps the person who looked to be in the best
"game shape" on Sunday was sophomore Courtney

0

So, Buckeyes: Was
Clarett worth this?

CHRIS BURKE
Goin' to Work
At some point, everyone associ-
ated with Ohio State's football
program will have to look in
the mirror and figure out if the Buck-
eyes' 2002 national championship was
worth it.
Yes, Maurice Clarett ran for 1,237
that year and scored the game-winning
touchdown in the Orange Bowl against
Miami. But he's been haunting Ohio
State's program ever since.
The worst spook of all came yester-
day, when a story in ESPN The Maga-
zine became public in which Clarett
alleged that he received cars, passing
grades in classes and thousands of dol-
lars while in Columbus. Several other
former Buckeyes backed up his story.
Now, Ohio State - despite the best
efforts of athletic director Andy Geiger
and coach Jim Tressel to dispute the
claims swiftly and definitively yesterday
afternoon - faces a potential investiga-
tion. And Geiger and Tressel are left
standing as a collective Atlas, trying to
keep the Buckeyes' world from crashing
down.
There's no mistaking how serious
this could potentially be for the Ohio
State program. The charges presented
by Clarett are very big ones in the eyes
of the NCAA - just ask the Michigan
basketball teams of the 1990s. Oh, that's
right ... you can't, because most of them
have been erased from the record books
because of improper contact with booster
Ed Martin.
But before everyone throws Ohio
State to the lions, let's take a second to
remember who is making these claims
against the Buckeyes' program. It's Clar-
ett, a guy who was kicked off Ohio State
at the start of the 2003 season for lying
to the police about being robbed. And
the other character central to the ESPN
article is Marco Cooper - who was in
jail until March of 2003 because of drug
charges.

Not exactly the pick of the litter when
it comes to honest human beings. Still,
Tressel's had his issues, too. In a very
"under-the-radar" story, Youngstown
State was twice forced to internally
investigate its football program under
Tressel's reign there because, as it turned
out, the team's quarterback took money
from a booster. Sound familiar?
So the question becomes: Who do
you believe? Clarett, a player with a bone
to pick with Ohio State, who is trying
to re-book his ticket to stardom? Or
Tressel, who had an isolated incident at
Youngstown State and now has players
pointing fingers at him?
Here's the thing - it shouldn't matter.
It shouldn't matter because college
athletics shouldn't be boiling down to
things like lawsuits and boosters and
dirty programs. Somewhere along the
lines, we've forgotten that.
Every year, when recruiting season
rolls around, coaches say things like,
"We've landed a real character guy," or
"He's a (insert school name) man." And
everyone in the public just asks, "Yeah,
but can he play football?"
Then, when a team loses a couple of
games it's not supposed to, the coaches
are lambasted and run out of town. So
why does everyone act so shocked when
allegations like this come out?
College football has turned into a
"win first" sport - to the general public,
all that matters is being victorious. So
Ohio State bought into that. The Buck-
eyes brought in a guy of questionable
character, who wanted to use college
as an NFL springboard in exchange for
a national title. That's fine, but when
everything doesn't work out perfectly,
there's a chance something like this
might happen. When you play with fire,
sometimes, you're going to get burned.
Ohio State - and college athletics as
a whole - has to figure out if it wants
to continue to open its doors to guys like
Clarett, who might be great or might be
your worst nightmare. Or a little bit of
both, Chris Webber-style.
And these players might bring you
your national title. But they also might
turn out to be your program's undoing.
So, is it worth it?
Chris Burke can be reached at
chrisbur@umich.edu

RYANss 1 s -EINEgR/Dg' iy
Sophomore center Courtney Sims scored 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting In Michigan's first exhibition game.

Sims, who bulked up during the offseason. Adding
this muscle allowed Sims to gain confidence in him-
self, as well as his game. With the improved phy-
sique and confidence, Michigan is looking to Sims
to carry more responsibility.
"I need to continue to be a consistent threat
from the floor," Sims said. "I have a lot more con-
fidence this year, and I'll need to be one of the
main scorers."
Amaker believes that exhibitions are invaluable
for his team to bridge the gap from offseason train-

ing and practice to game situations. This season, the
discrepancy between offseason and regular season
is exacerbated, as the team jumps right into the pre-
season NIT, which features national powers Arizona
and Wake Forest. In order to be ready, Amaker wants
to face solid exhibition teams.
"We want to set the tone for where we're going
with our team," Amaker said. "We want to do
some things against quality opponents right now.
We want to have a good feeling when we leave
the floor."

Changes help line turn around

By Sharad Mattu
Daily Sports Editor

After playing nine games in as many weeks,
Michigan finally was rewarded with its bye
week. Tight end Tim Massaquoi "slept all
weekend." On Saturday, linebacker Roy Man-
ning was a "couch potato." And cornerback
Marlin Jackson admitted that "it was crazy
having that much time to ourselves."
But if there was one group that benefited
the most from having Saturday off, it might
have been Michigan's starting offensive line-
men - five guys who weigh a combined 1,600
pounds.
"We are a little heavier, and there is a little
more weight on our knees, so we definitely
appreciate (the bye week)," senior David Baas
said. "But everybody is a little beat up right
now."
Regardless of how sore Baas and his cohorts
have been feeling following games lately, the
defensive linemen they have been squaring
off against lately have likely felt significantly
worse.
That's because Michigan's running game
has made a dramatic turnaround. After run-
ning for just 171 combined yards in their first
two games, the Wolverines have now run for
200 yards or more in four consecutive weeks.

While the insertion of freshman Mike Hart
at running back is considered the main reason
for the marked improvement, changes to the
offensive line have also had a big effect.
Left tackle Adam Stenavich and right guard
Matt Lentz have started every game this sea-
son, but the other three positions have under-
gone changes.
After two games, Michigan replaced Mike
Kolodziej with redshirt freshman Jake Long at
right tackle.
But the more radical changes came the fol-
lowing week, when Michigan began its Big Ten
schedule. During practice this past spring, in an
effort to find a way to put the five best linemen
on the field, coach Lloyd Carr toyed with the
idea of moving Baas from left guard - where
he was a second-team All-American last year
- to center. He came back to the experiment
before the Iowa game, shifting Baas to center,
removing Mark Bihl from center and putting
Leo Henige Jr. in at left guard.
"Taking an All-American at one position
and moving him to another position is some-
thing you would prefer not to do," Carr said.
"But we also knew that David had the ability to
do it, and he never hesitated to do it."
But, just when Carr had the offensive line
he wanted, he had to make another change. In
Hen ige's second game as starter, he suffered

a season-ending knee injury. Not wanting to
move Baas back, Carr opted to go with Rueben
Riley, a former tackle, at left guard.
Lately, Michigan has become known for its
quarterbacks and receivers lately, but it will
always be considered a running team.
"Early on, we hadn't established the running
game, and we really needed to do that," Baas
said. "That's what Michigan football is sup-
posed to be, and, even though we've improved
in that area, we're trying to get better every
week."
This season has also been a struggle for the
offensive linemen simply because dealing with
change is something new for them. Last year,
Michigan started the same five offensive line-
men in all 13 games.
"I think having the ability to adapt to change
is important," Carr said. "It's certainly impor-
tant in football, and their ability to adapt this
fall has had a big impact on our team."
NOTES: Safety Ernest Shazor is one of 12
semifinalists for the Thorpe Award, presented
annually to the nation's top defensive back.
The redshirt junior leads the team in tackles
with 65 and tackles for loss with 10. He also
has two interceptions, two forced fumbles and
two fumble recoveries.
Three finalists will be named on Nov. 22,
and the winner will be announced on Dec. 9.

TONY DING/Daily
David Baas switched from left guard, where he was an All-American candidate, to center this season.

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