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January 14, 2005 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-01-14

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Friday
January 14, 2005
sports.michigandaily. com
sports@michigandaily.com

SPORTS

8

T

Penn State next
road test for 'M'

Teammates must
share Pool's drive

0

By Brian Schick
Daily Sports Editor
Over the next 15 days, the Michigan
men's basketball team might be embark-
ing on its toughest stretch of the season.
The Wolverines won't be playing the
toughest opponents of their Big Ten slate,
but they will face one of their tough-
est challenges from last
season: playing on the road.
Michigan (2-0 Big Ten, TOM(
11-5 overall) plays four of its
next five Big Ten games on Pens
the road, starting with a trip
to State College for a game1
against Penn State (0-3, 6- Brvclr
10) tomorrow. The Wolver- ESP
ines have two road games
in the next two weeks with
a home game against Wisconsin sand-
wiched between them.
Last season, Michigan went 2-6 on the
road, with its two wins coming against
Big Ten cellar-dwellers Northwestern and
Penn State. Perhaps the most disappoint-
ing loss of the year came at Minnesota,
where Michigan gave up 47 points in the
second half en route to an 81-78 loss.
With a big road win over Iowa on Jan.
5, Michigan might have figured out the
road puzzle from last year. Junior Daniel
Horton feels that he and his teammates

IN-

have overcome the problems that plagued
them on the road last season.
"Last year was last year," Horton said.
"We're a more mature team. We've grown
a lot since last year."
Even this year, Michigan has developed
since its road loss to UCLA on Dec. 18.
The players have made it apparent that no
game on the road in the Big Ten is a given.
Penn State is no exception,
despite their 5-10 record.
R )ROW "This is probably the
toughest conference to win
on the road," Horton said.
"We're going to have to
p*ta be focused before going to
m Center Penn State to make some-
-Plus thing happen.".
The Nittany Lions have
struggled out of the gate

in the conference season, dropping games
to Big Ten powers Illinois and Michigan
State. With four freshmen on his roster,
Penn State coach Ed DeChellis believes
that his team is still developing and thinks
it will take some time to adjust to the Big
Ten's aggressive style.
"Guys are understanding what it takes
to play at (the Big Ten) level in terms of
energy and how hard you have to play,"
DeChellis said. "Every night is going to
be a war with tough, physical play."
Penn State features four players aver-

DAVID TUMAN/Daily
Dion Harris and the Wolverines play four of their next five games on the road.

aging double-digits in scoring. Freshman
Geary Claxton has emerged as one of
the leading offensive threats for the Nit-
tany Lions, and he led the team in scoring
against Illinois on Wednesday. He should
provide an interesting matchup against
Michigan freshman Ron Coleman.
"He's very athletic and can score over
guys," DeChellis said. "His maturation
has been very fun to watch."

Michigan has the chance to prove the
win over Iowa wasn't a fluke. Tomorrow's
game will be the first test to see if Michi-
gan will be ready for the rest of the Big
Ten road schedule.
"If we were able to win another game
on the road, it would give us another
boost," Michigan coach Tommy Amaker
said. "They'll be coming home for us, and
I'm sure they'll be ready."

STEPHANIE WRIGHT
ON WOMEN'S HOOPS
To call it an emotional loss would be
an understatement.
On Tuesday night, the Michigan
women's basketball team suffered its
eighth-straight loss of the season to No.
5 Ohio State. After the game, the Wol-
verines looked deflated. Sophomore
Kelly Helvey was crying. Coach Cheryl
Burnett didn't seem to know what to
do next.
And forward Tabitha Pool was sim-
ply disappointed.
"It'd be OK if we get a loss if we went
... hard, but I don't see that," Pool said
after the game. "If you don't have pas-
sion, then you aren't going to win ball
games. We've got to keep going. Even
when we're down 30 points, we can still
come back. We're not going to give up."
It is Pool, the senior captain, who is
the undisputed leader of the team.
Pool clearly believes Michigan can
win. That conviction was evident by
the determination in her eyes and the
resolve in her voice as she talked about
her team's struggles on Tuesday night.
It's less clear whether or not her team-
mates share her conviction. Pool said
that some of her teammates panicked
against the Buckeyes, marveling at
Ohio State's scoring prowess rather
than putting points on the board them-
selves. For Michigan to have even a
chance of turning its season around,
that cannot happen.
Before the season even started,
Pool's young teammates spoke of how
much she had taught them about play-
ing college basketball, mostly through
her work ethic. After practice, Pool
often stays late to shoot around with
the other players, maintaining a posi-
tive attitude and encouraging her team-
mates to be positive, too.
Pool has also been Michigan's best
overall player. She leads the team
in scoring (16.9 points per game),
rebounding (9 boards per game), steals
(31) and blocks (11). Pool is also among
the Big Ten leaders in both scoring and
rebounding, ranking sixth and third,
respectively. She is 12th in the confer-
ence in steals.
Despite her impressive numbers,
Pool has not played consistently in
every game.
During the Wolverines' 61-60 loss to

Drake on Nov. 30, Pool had 13 points
in the first half. While she finished
the game with a solid 21-point perfor-
mance, she also missed two shots in
the final minute that could have given
Michigan the win.
Against Ohio State, Pool committed
four turnovers and scored just seven
points on 1-for-8 shooting in the first
half. But after halftime, she heated up
and notched 16 points while turning
the ball over just once. Pool regularly
puts up big numbers and provides
glimpses of the dominant player she
can be. But it is less common for her to
take over a game.
At the same time, Pool does not
deserve all of the blame for the losses,
nor can she be expected to turn Michi-
gan around by herself. No matter how
great a player or dynamic a leader Pool
can be, she cannot win a game alone.
Without Pool, Michigan would
not be nearly as competitive as it has
been this season. The Wolverines have
shown that they can play with any team
for at least a while. Thirteen minutes
into the first half against Ohio State,
the score was 19-19. But the 28-point
loss showed Michigan is not ready to
stay with the elite teams in its confer-
ence for a full 40 minutes. It is hard to
blame Pool - one of the better players
in the Big Ten - for that.
Michigan is most effective when
all of its players are doing what they
do best - freshman Becky Flip-
pin is draining 3-pointers, forward
Ta'Shia Walker is controlling the post
and Helvey is hustling after the ball.
And freshman Krista Clement must
continue to develop in her role as cap-
tain. The Wolverines will continue to
struggle to win games unless everyone
begins to play with more intensity and
more consistency.
Pool has done almost all she can do
to help Michigan win. Her defense and
effort have rarely wavered. While not
always consistent, her offense has at
least been present. But Pool has not yet
been able to motivate her teammates to
perform in the same way. Her encour-
agement has enabled the team to endure
an eight-game losing streak while main-
taining its optimism. Now Pool needs to
raise her intensity and play with the kind
of emotion and drive that she showed
after the game onTuesday night. .
Only then can her "passion" begin to
inspire her teammates to do the same.

N ICE HOCKEY
Nanooks unfazed by week in town

By Ryan Sosin
Daily Sports Writer

For the Wolverines, class will be followed by a pre-
game meal to help get focused for the night's contest.
"I've seen our team with the same circumstances come
out and put another team right on their heels," Michigan
coach Red Berenson said. "So you never know."

when the lights go on.
"I think the real test for them will be when this place
has 6,700 fans in here," MacMillan said. "That will
be the real test - to see how they can handle that. In
an empty building, it's very easy to practice and play

Following a weekend in Bowling Green, the Alaska-
Fairbanks hockey team has been enjoying life in Ann
Arbor. With back-to-back losses to the Falcons, the
Nanooks now have a chance to clear their heads as they
attempt to right the ship.
Without classes to worry about as their winter break drags
on, the Nanooks had 24 hours a day to eat, sleep and breathe
Michigan. The team made a trip down to Cabela's on Mon-
day, took in Wednesday's hoops contest at Crisler and saw a
movie, all the while preparing for the Wolverines.
"The guys have had some time to do different things,"
Alaska-Fairbanks coach Tavis MacMillan said. "The
guys, I'm sure, have shopped the mall pretty hard."
While the vast number of tourist opportunities can
keep a visitor's mind busy, the Nanooks' ability to focus
most of their attention on hockey while their Michigan
counterparts sit in class can provide a distinct advantage.
MacMillan's squad will spend some time on the ice today
as part of the preparation.

The lack of travel forthe Nanooks shouldn't in. When you get all those fans in
be much of a boost. For a team that routinely THIS WEEKEND - especially students - I think th
logs extensive air miles, traveling - or this different story."
week not traveling - is not a factor. Michiganvsk Berenson insists that his team willf
"Once you've done it, once you're on the A F on its own play rather than worrya
road, it doesn't matter if you're traveling an 1,35 p tonght, this week's opponent. After a slu
hour down the road or ten hours on a plane," 7:35 PM tomorrow start to the week, Berenson was h
MacMillan said. "Our guys are pretty resil- Yost Ice Arena with his club's energy level leadingi
ient to it. A lot of them have done it for so the faceoff of tonight's 7:35 p.m. ma
long, it's not that big of a deal to them." with Alaska-Fairbanks.
With a roster featuring 17 underclassmen making their "It was slow getting going," Berenson said.
first appearances at Yost Ice Arena, the Nanooks should looked better yesterday, and they looked like a Thu
be in for a unique experience. MacMillan - the rookie team today."
coach and former Alaska-Fairbanks standout who said Michigan will be without junior forward Andrew I
that Yost was one of his favorite rinks to play in - knowsr for at least the first of the two weekend games. Ber
that, despite having a week to familiarize his team with cited some mistakes in the last few games, most not
the storied arena, it all comes down to how the team plays penalty that led to a goal against Western Michigan.

here
at's a
focus
about
ggish
happy
up to
tchup
"They
.rsday
Ebbett
enson,
ably a

Churella follows family to mat*

By Seth Gordon
Daily Sports Writer

Sophomore Josh Churella has been
poised to wrestle for Michigan all his life.
His father and two older brothers, includ-
ing current co-captain Ryan, excelled on
the mat for the Wolverines.
But because of NCAA rules
and an ankle injury at the ToN
start of this season, ChurellaMichi
hasn't been able to wrestle Pen
for No. 4 Michigan (5-1)
until recently. He could not 7.30 pmn
wrestle for Michigan as a. Crisle
redshirt freshman but made
his debut this year against
Cleveland State on Dec. 10. Churella has
taken full advantage of his opportunity,
going 5-0 this season at the 141-pound
weight class. Churella will get his first
taste of Big Ten competition at 7:30 p.m.
today when the Wolverines take on No.
16 Penn State at Crisler Arena.
Churella and his brothers were
groomed to be top collegiate wrestlers
by their father, Mark, who was a three-
time NCAA Champion for Michigan.
Mark Jr. was a letterwinner for the Wol-
verines in 2001, and Ryan finished third
at the NCAA Championships as a junior
last year.
Churella was redshirted for his fresh-
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man year, which is a common practice in
collegiate wrestling.
According to NCAA rules, wrestlers
in their redshirt season can only wrestle
in open tournaments and must pay their
own way. Redshirt freshmen can train
with their team, but they cannot repre-
sent their university. This
meant that Churella could
GET not compete for the Wolver-
ines last season in any dual
State'meets, in any Big Ten meets
or in the NCAA Champion-
tonight ships.
Arena Despite the limited mat
time during his redshirt
campaign, Churella was
immensely successful. He recorded a
14-0 record in open tournaments, includ-
ing the 133-pound championship at the
Michigan State Open, where he was
named Most Outstanding Wrestler of the
tournament.
"What the redshirt season did for me
was it prepared me - got me a lot better
over the year - to compete at the next
level, which is the top guys in the nation
this year," Churella said.
When this season rolled around,
Churella was again prevented from don-
ning the Maize and Blue. During a prac-
tice session, Churella suffered a high
ankle sprain that, ultimately, kept him
off the mat until December.
Churella debuted this season by win-
ning his first two matches in Michigan
team victories over Cleveland State and
Central Michigan.
But his breakout performance came
last weekend at the Lone Star Duals,
where he upset then-No. 6 Matt Murray
of Nebraska, 4-3, and finished with a 3-0
record at the meet.
The upset win helped Michigan upend
then-No. 4 Nebraska, which in turn

propelled the Wolverines to a 3-0 team
record at the 22-team tournament.
"It's always a big confidence booster
to beat someone that highly ranked,"
Churella said. "It's just another week. It's
over. I beat him, but it doesn't mean any-
thing now. I've got to go on to the next
week: There are tough kids week in and
week out."
Churella's impressive weekend resulted
in a surge in his individual rankings. He is
now ranked No. 13 according to InterMat
and No. 8 in Amateur Wrestling News.
Churella's emergence has given Michi-
gan coach Joe McFarland confidence that
his team can build momentum early in
matches with the lower weight classes.
"You win, and it helps the team out
big," Churella said. "If I can get the team
going after (the 125- and 133-pound
guys), and we're having success, I can
keep that success high and get my hand
raised. It can gain momentum for the rest
of the team."
For Churella, getting his hand raised
- after each match the referee raises the
hand of the victorious wrestler - is what
drives his training regimen.
"He's willing to do whatever it takes
to get his hand raised, as far training and
preparation goes," McFarland said. "It's
a great thing for a student athlete to pos-
sess that kind of attitude."
Churella's work ethic and recent suc-
cesses have given more confidence to an
already confident wrestler.
"It doesn't matter what age you are,"
Churella said. "If you want to compete
at the highest level, you've got to believe
you can beat anyone in the nation. That's
just what my mindset is right now."
Churella's sights are now set on his
first Big Ten Dual season, which kicks
off tonight. But even that is just a prelude
to Churella's and Michigan's main goals,

0

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