10A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, November 18, 2004
ICers ready for
Hart deserves Doak
By Jake Rosenwasser
Daily Sports Writer
Two weeks ago, it looked like the
highly charged games between CCHA
powerhouses Michigan and Michigan
State might lack their usual spark in the
preseason, once No. 9 Michigan State
limped out to a 2-4 start and looked like it
would not live up to the high expectations
heaped on it at the outset of
But the Spartans (3-
3 CCHA, 5-4-1 overall)
have started to play better
hockey. After an inauspi-
cious start, Michigan State
swept Ferris State and beat
and tied No. 9 Cornell in a
series in East Lansing last
weekend. This play did not
go unnoticed - the Spar-
the CCHA with a plus/minus rating of
plus-27. But this year, Slater has fallen
on hard times.
Not only has his plus/minus rating
plummeted to minus-six, but that number
is the lowest on the Michigan State team.
Coach Berenson has seen enough of Slater
to know that the Spartan star could break
out at any moment.
"He can do everything well," Beren-
son said. "And that's what
makes him so good. He's a
very hard working player,
[GB T he's a scorer and he's a
zn a leader."
Stats When pitted against pro-
lific point-scorers during
'jPat this season, Berenson has
e Arena deployed his most experi-
enced line, which includes
seniors Eric Nystrom and
Jason Ryznar. But Beren-
son is not committed to solely using his
big seniors against Slater.
"I think we have four lines that can
play against anyone," Berenson said. "I
think as far as we're concerned, we just
have to respect the fact that he's a good
player and we have to be aware of where
he is on the ice."
Ryznar hopes he will get the opportu-
nity to skate against Michigan State's best
when the teams lock up tonight in East
Lansing and again on Saturday in Ann
"I always love playing against a great
opponent," Ryznar said. 'And he's a great
tans are back in the polls with a new No.
14 ranking this week.
"I don't think it matters if we're in first
and they're in last," sophomore defense-
man Matt Hunwick said. "It's still a rivalry
game and I think that both teams are going
to come out and play strong. It doesn't mat-
ter who's playing well and who's not - it's
still an intense game."
Part of the reason for Michigan
State's high preseason ranking was the
presence of senior forward Jim Slater.
The 2002 NHL first-round draft pick
tallied 124 points in his first three sea-
sons in East Lansing and last year he led
Former Michigan captain Andy Bumes checks a Michigan State player last season.
player, and he's respected, but we won't
give him too much."
The No. 2 Wolverines (5-1, 7-2-1) are
entering the toughest part of their sched-
ule. After two games against Michigan
State, the Wolverines will travel to No. 4
Wisconsin and No. 3 Minnesota.
"The next two weeks are going to be
a big challenge," Hunwick said. "We'll
be playing on the road three out of four
games, and this will show what kind of
character we have and what type of team
No matter how many tough oppo-
nents the Wolverines face, they always
save a little something extra for the
"There's a buzz going around the locker-
room," Ryznar said. "These are the games
that we get hyped up for every year. We're
excited and ready to go - it's always fun
when you play the guys in green."
Goin' to Work
raylon Edwards has been amaz-
ing this year. Chad Henne has
been solid. But Mike Hart has
been Michigan's MVP.
Hart had eight carries combined in
the Wolverines' first two games - and
Michigan went 1-1. Since then, the
diminutive freshman has rolled his
season total up over 1,300 yards on the
ground and Michigan is - somewhat
remarkably - 7-0 in the Big Ten and
one win away from a second straight
trip to the Rose Bowl.
And yet, Hart continues to get about
as much national attention as my intra-
The biggest slap in the face came
on Tesday when the semifinalists for
the Doak Walker Award - annually
awarded to the "nation's best running
back" - were announced, and Hart's
name Was nowhere to be found.
Ronnie Brown of Auburn made it
with 704 yards rushing and 264 yards
receiving and nine touchdowns on the
year. So did his teammate Carnell Wil-
liams, who has compiled 963 yards
rushing. So did Reggie Bush - who
is without question one of the nation's
best athletes - but he has had just one
game with more than 15 carries and
has eclipsed 100 yards on the ground
just once in his career.
Meanwhile Hart, who has 1,333
yards rushing and 1,527 total yards
along with nine touchdowns - both
tops in the Big Ten - is nowhere to be
found on the semifinalist list.
But as the rest of the nation contin-
ues to ignore the youngster starring in
Michigan's backfield, Hart's teammates
and coaches are well aware where this
team would be without him - and it's
not one win away from Pasadena.
"I can't say to you that I thought he
would be leading the Big Ten in rush-
ing this late in the season because I
didn't," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr
said. "But I didn't have any question
that he was the kind of kid that was
going to be successful.
"This guy, to walk in here, into this
conference and carry the football as
many times as he has and still be strong
at the end of the season, I think that's
the test of a great back."
Now, as of last week, we couldn't
even have had this conversation. But
on Monday, according to CBS Sport-
sline, the Doak Walker Award board
of directors voted to amend their long-
standing rules and let true freshmen
It's a rule that came just in time to
allow Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson as
one of the semifinalists. But not Hart.
Which is a pretty big disappointment.
In addition to his stats - which are bet-
ter than just about any running back in
the country - Hart has probably done
as much for his team as any player in
the country. Without Hart shakin' and
bakin' Michigan's opponents for the
last two months, the Wolverines could
be in a situation similar to Ohio State's
- struggling for six to eight wins and
heading to a mediocre bowl game.
"It's unbelievable the way he's come
out and played the way he has," full-
back Kevin Dudley said. "As young as
he is, he just keeps getting better and
better every week and is really proving
that he is a good back."
It's really unfathomable that Hart
hasn't received more attention. The
combination of Hart barely playing in
Michigan's first two games and Peterson
exploding onto the national scene early
has made Hart's Big Ten domination
a non-story. While Peterson has spent
the year trying to accumulate Heisman
votes, Hart has spent the year fighting to
simply be mentioned when people talk
about the nation's best backs.
Maybe on Saturday, when he plays
in the best rivalry in college football,
Hart will finally receive some national
Or maybe it doesn't matter - to
Hart or to the rest of the Wolverines -
as long as the freshman's efforts on the
field helps Michigan to one more win.
"His constant maturity throughout
the season (has impressed me)," team
captain David Baas said. "Going in there
as a freshman, you can see it in his eyes.
When he is out there running, he wants
to win it just as bad as everybody else.
Now, if only the Doak Walker com-
mittee had recognized all the spectacu-
lar things Hart's done this year and
given him a chance to win the award he
Chris Burke also thinks Marlin
Jackson should have made the Thorpe
Award finalist list. He can be reached at
E MEN'S SWIMMING
chinerer realizes dream at Michigan
By Anne Uible
Daily Sports Writer
Dan Schinnerer saw one of his dreams become
a reality last year when he became a part of the
Michigan men's swimming program as the vol-
unteer coach. While the position wasn't paid,
Schinnererwas happy enough just being a part
of the team.
"Growing up in Michigan, you definitely asso-
ciate world class swimming with this university,"
Schinnerer said. "It became my dream to end up
This year, with the induction of new head
coach Bob Bowman, Schinnerer was named as
the assistant coach - a paid position.
Schinnerer grew up in Grand Rapids and began
swimming competitively at an early age. Because
Canham Natatorium is one of the largest and most
prestigious pools in the state of Michigan, Schin-
nerer regularly competed there. He became well-
acquainted with the Michigan staff, and began a
friendly relationship with previous head coach
Schinnerer graduated from East Kentwood
High School in 1996 and attended Yale University
where he was a member of the Bulldogs' swim
team. As a long distance swimmer, Schinnerer
competed in the 1,000- and 1,650-meter freestyle
events and swam in four Eastern Conference
"Swimming at the college level was a great
experience," Schinnerer said. "It has provided
a good point of reference as a coach. I've been
through a similar experience. I understand the
juggling act that these athletes are enduring. The
balance of a higher level of academia and the
quality of a Division I team is tough to handle."
Upon graduation in 2001, Schinnerer began
teaching and coaching at The Peddie High
School in Hightstown, N.J. After two success-
ful seasons coaching at the high school level,
Schinnerer was ready to move onto the college
scene. Having stayed in contact with Urbanchek
over the years, Schinnerer told the coach that
he was going to begin graduate school at East-
ern Michigan and would be available to help out
"When Urbanchek offered me the volunteer
position, I was pretty happy," Schinnerer said. "I
had always wanted to be a part of an elite pro-
gram like this."
In his first year, Schinnerer helped the team
place fifth at the NCAA Championships - its
best finish since 1996.
"It is a privilege to work with a team like this,"
Schinnerer said. "It's amazing to help and facili-
tate great athletes."
Schinnerer and the Wolverines will compete
in East Lansing at 6 p.m. tomorrow in their sec-
ond Big Ten meet of the season. Michigan is 70-
5 in program history against Michigan State and
hasn't lost a meet since the 1976-77 season.
Injury gives Willis
By Pete Sneider
For the Daily
The injury that sidelined junior
Nick Willis did more than just keep
him off the trails - it put things into
The No. 23 Michigan men's cross
country team was slated for a top-five
finish at the NCAA Championship this
year, with returning All-Americans
Nick Willis and Nate Brannen. But the
hype began to fade away as Victor Gras,
Andrew Ellerton and Willis suffered
The absence of Willis has hurt the most,
as the Wolverines have seen their ranking
drop from No. 6 to No. 23. Willis quali-
fied for the semifinals in the 2004 Summer
Olympics in the 1,500-meter run, and he
missed out on automatic qualification for
the finals by just one place.
The New Zealand native returned to
Michigan midway through this season,
following a rigorous training schedule
that had him running 100 miles a week.
A week after competing in pre-nationals
in Terre Haute, Ind., on Oct. 16, Willis
was informed that he would miss the
rest of the season with a stress fracture
in his femur. Willis will be the first to
admit that he went a little overboard in
his training following the Games.
"Missing out on that final got me real-
ly motivated and energetic," Willis said.
"I got in over my head from the Olympics
and my training went overboard. I was
feeling really good, I felt indestructible. I
thought (the pain) was just a nerve."
A long-term injury is usually a source
of confusion and frustration for an ath-
lete because his identity is so closely tied
to his sport. But Willis has turned confu-
sion into introspection.
"I've enjoyed my time off," Willis
said. "It's put things into perspective.
(The injury) has showed me that it's just a
sport, putting one foot in front of another.
I can really enjoy it now instead of think-
ing of it as a job."
Willis has taken advantage of his time
off, becoming involved with Campus
Crusade for Christ. His participation
in the Christian group has given him a
chance to look at the sport and see where
he fits in.
"I had everything going totally right
for me the past two years," Willis said.
"But the injury has opened a couple
more windows. I went on the fall retreat
with Campus Crusade and it solidified
the fact that God works in mysterious
ways and what happens is probably for
What is best for him may not exactly
be the best for the team. The Wolverines
will run at the NCAA Championships
this Monday in Terre Haute without one
of their top runners.
"It's sad that I can't be able to help the
team," Willis said. "It's part of the rea-
son I worked so hard to get back in shape
after the Olympics."
Willis will be out for two to three more
months. Then he will decide whether or
not he will return for the spring season.
.. . _ . ... ___ A...: