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January 19, 2005 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-01-19

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Wednesday
January 19, 2005
sports.michigandaily. com
sports@michigandaily.com

SRe Sldgan aig

12

Cagers look
to extend
road streak
By Brian Schick
Daily Sports Editor
The Michigan men's basketball team hits the road again,
its third of five away games this month.
Much has been made of Michigan's play on the road this
season. The Wolverines (3-0 Big Ten, 12-5 overall) have a
chance to improve their Big Ten road record to 3-0 with a
win over Indiana (2-1, 7-7) tonight in Bloomington. That
could prove to be a tall order, as Michigan has lost eight
straight games in Assembly Hall,
dating back to a 65-52 win on Jan.
24, 1995. ToNiG T
With the huge win at Iowa and Michiga. ad.
a close victory over Penn State, .. .
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker
feels that the time is now to end AMsembly HalJ
the losing streak at Indiana.
"We feel we're playing with a
confidence factor on the road so
far," Amaker said. "We've won our last two road games,
so we're hoping that will allow us to play better in Bloom-
ington."
It's not only at Assembly Hall that has been a challenge
for the Wolverines, although Michigan is 4-28 all time in the
building. Michigan has lost eight straight to Indiana and nine
of the last 10. The two losses to the Hoosiers last year were
especially painful, as Indiana has experienced a steady decline
since losing in the NCAA Championship game in 2002.
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker believes that both teams
are at a crossroads in the Big Ten season, and a win tonight
would go a long way for either.
"When you look at both teams, they're both trying to find
their way in the first half of the conference season," Amaker
said. "We're trying to solidify our place and secure another
road win and they've won four of their last five."
Indiana might boast one of the best freshman classes
in the conference. The Hoosiers feature three freshman
in their starting lineup in Robert Vaden, D.J. White and
A.J. Rattliff.
White leads all Big Ten freshmen in scoring with 12.6
points per game, and the four freshmen combined to score
41 of the team's 75 points during Indiana's wild 75-73 dou-
ble overtime win at Purdue.
"All four freshmen are playing well," Indiana coach Mike
Davis said. "I think (Wright) is playing the way he needs to
play for us to be a good basketball team. He has the ability
to carry us and the young guys for stretches throughout a
game. They tend to look at him to see how he's playing and
(react)."
Before the Purdue game, Indiana faced a daunting non-
conference schedule, including three games against teams
in the AP top 10. The Hoosiers dropped all three as part
of a six-game losing streak, and it's been a tough road to
recovery for Indiana.
"It was really unfair for our young guys to go through
(our schedule) this year," said Davis about his athletic direc-
tor making the schedule this season. "I feel like our team
has improved throughout the year, and when you win some
games, your confidence is definitely at a different level. Our
confidence could have been there earlier if we played some
games we could have won."
The numbers suggest that the Wolverines have a tough
challenge facing them tonight. But they weren't supposed to
win against then top-25 Iowa on the road, and they silenced
the Carver Hawkeye Arena crowd. Amaker believes that the
way his team is playing recently, anything is possible.
"It's a winnable game for both teams, and I hope our guys
are up to the challenge," Amaker said.

Leinart's

decision

makes perfect sense

SHARAD MATTU
Mattu fast, Mattu furious
During last April's NFL Draft,
Cowboy-great-turned-obnox-
ious-NFL-analyst Michael Irvin
said something so stupid that I actually
refused to believe he actually believed
what he was saying.
After the Detroit Lions drafted Roy
Williams with the 7th overall pick,
Irvin questioned Williams's work ethic
because he returned to Texas for his
senior season.
And now that quarterback Matt Lein-
art has decided to return to Southern Cal,
I've been hearing the same rumblings.
Now, there are justifiable reasons to
question Leinart's decision. He could
have been the No. 1 pick in this year's
draft and made as much as $20 mil-
lion dollars before ever playing a game.
Instead, he'll have to avoid injury for
an extra 12 months, and, even then, his
f<stock can't go any higher.
But there really are people who say
that Leinart may have made the decision
he made because he doesn't yet want to
face the challenges of the NFL.
Here's the thing: few people who have
been analyzing his decision - including
the ones who say they understand his
reasoning - really get it.
A lot of the people who say he made
the right decision point to the oppor-
tunity he has next year. Leinart could
become the second player ever to win
two Heisman Trophies and could lead
the Trojans to a third straight national
AP PHOTO title. He could also conceivably leave
Los Angeles as the best college football
~ { player ever. It's all within his reach.
But Leinart didn't mention any of that
when announcing his decision. "I think
college football and this whole atmo-
sphere here and being with my friends
and my teammates ... is, ultimately,
more satisfying and will make me hap-
pier than any amount of money could
make someone happy," Leinart said last
Friday.
Now, Leinart won't be making mil-
lions in the next year, but, as a college
student, I can totally understand the deci-
sion he's making.
The real world is far from easy
- even for a quarterback. I've spent the
last eight months closely following last
year's No. 1 draft pick - quarterback Eli
Manning - as he took the helm of the
New York Giants, so I have a pretty good
sense of what Leinart will be delaying.
Now that he's coming back, Leinart
will be in Los Angeles for the summer.
Sure, he'll be working out and maybe

even taking a class, but it's nothing too
stressful.
What was Manning up to last sum-
mer, you ask? Well, first he had to deal
with the wrath of San Diego after forc-
ing a trade to New York. Then, when he
joined the Giants, his veteran teammates
- fearing a rebuilding year - gave him
a hard time. After just a handful of prac-
tices, some of the same players who had
finished the previous season with a eight-
game losing streak were making fun of
Manning's southern drawl and telling
everyone possible that he wasn't ready.
Think things get better in the fall?
Well, Leinart will get to be the Big Man
on Campus (in Los Angeles no less) for
one final fall. He'll get to keep dating
models and he'll get to befriend more
celebrities. He'll get to play with on a
team filled with so many top players,
he'll have to play horribly bad to even
lose a game. And he'll also get to play
for a coach and offensive coordinator
that actually seem like they would be
fun to play for in Pete Carroll and Norm
Chow, respectively. As great as Michi-
gan may be, it's hard to imagine Lloyd
Carr allowing Snoop Dogg into practice
the way Carroll did in November.
Manning's fall was far different. First
he sat and watched for two months.
Then, when he finally played, he faced
one tough defense after another. All told,
Manning dropped his first seven games,
and, even though he won the season
finale, he still has his share of doubters.
And, as it turned out, Irvin couldn't
have been more wrong about Williams,
who appears to be on track for stardom
and who, this season, made some of the
most unbelievable catches I've ever seen.
Don't be surprised if Leinart does
the same.

0
6
6

Sharad Mattu can be reached at
smattu@umich.edu.

Junior guard Bracey Wright leads the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 19.1 points per game.

AP PHOTO
Matt Leinart, who could have been a top
draft pick, chose to return to Southern Cal.

On court
and stage,
Moore is
at home
By Stephanie Wright
Daily Sports Writer
Sierrah Moore made her Michigan basket-
ball debut in the final minute of the Wolver-
ines' 68-48 win over IUPUI on Dec. 11.
But the freshman's first performance at a
Michigan athletic event came more than two
months earlier.
On Oct. 2, Moore took first place in the
Michigan Idol contest that occurred at half-
time of the volleyball game that night. While
that might have been a strange place for most
athletes to introduce themselves, it was the
perfect stage for Moore.
A singer for most of her life, Moore has
been balancing basketball practice with
songwriting and auditions since she was in
middle school. She hopes to major in per-
forming arts technology so that she can pro-
duce her songs and have a career in the music
industry after college.
Moore says her love of music is rivaled
only by her love of basketball. But for practi-
cal reasons, she has decided to focus on bas-
ketball right now.
"Basketball isn't something that you can
just stop and come back to, especially for
myself as a guard, because they come a dime
n dn " nnA cad "A c lnn as T nractice

* WOMEN'S SWIMMING & DIVING
For tankers, Mueller
sings a complete tune

By Dan Ketchel
Daily Sports Writer

A successful athlete is similar to a
good band - the various instruments
are what make the final product what it
is. Just as every athlete is unique, every
band is as well.
The No. 13 Michigan women's swimming
team has the perfect formula: a guitar solo
of self-motivation, a bass line of leadership
and a drum beat of faith. The guitar riffs
pulsate and scream internal encouragement;
the bass line thumps guidance out of every
string; the drum set echoes confidence with
every crash of the cymbals. What does this
winning combination sound like? Upcom-
ing swimming sensation, freshman Justine
Mueller.
As the Michigan high school MVP in
her senior season at Monroe High School,
Mueller set lofty goals for herself coming
into her first year of NCAA competition
this season with the Wolverines. Michigan
swimming coach Jim Richardson has equal-
ly high expectations for her, both currently
and later down the road.
"I think she's very driven," Richardson
said. "She's a very focused individual. She's
pretty tough on herself, pretty critical of her
races. I think it takes a lot for her to feel
good with what she's done."
Coming out of high school competition
where she was rarely challenged, Mueller
has found that the intensity of competi-
tion has completely changed now that she's

touched her competition in her first three
races and has often placing high in both the
100- and 200-yard backstrokes, too.
Just a freshman, Mueller is still a rookie
swimmer. But she seems to have had a vital
impact on her teammates. She has been a
vocal leader and provides that constant bass
line in the background for women's swim-
ming, pounding her encouragement into
teammates.
"I think I have stepped into a leader
role here," Mueller said. "I'm the one who
always tells the freshman class, 'We're
going to pull through. We're going to win
Big Tens this year because it's our freshman
year, and we're going to do it for the next
four years.' "
Richardson respects her as a leader in the
water as well, watching her motivate the
team by example. He has seen her work tire-
lessly to improve her performance in meets,
which is an easy lead for her teammates to
follow.
"I think she's continued to be competi-
tive," Richardson said. "She's certainly
maturing into a leader. Anything she steps
up to race, she's very achievement-oriented
in it, irrespective of it being one of her best
events or not."
The most important element of this one-
woman band is the consistent drumming
- the belief in herself - that drives her to
success. Mueller is not just devoted to domi-
nating her opponents but also to improving
herself. She thinks it is essential to swim her
own race without paying too much attention

0

TONY DING/Daily

Sierrah Moore has struggled to find playing time so far, playing just two games.

"I came (to Michigan) because I thought
that I could grow up really quickly, as far
as learning the game and just getting experi-
ence," Moore said.
Because she contacted Burnett just after
the national signing period ended, Moore
was given the status of preferred walk-on
and practiced with the team over the sum-
mer, unlike other walk-ons who had to wait
until just before the season to try out. Moore
excelled at the off-season conditioning and at
the time helieved her intense style of defense

system.
But Moore appreciates the opportunities
she has been given, even though they have
been more limited than she had initially
hoped.
"It had been a long time since I'd played in
a real game," Moore said. "Just being on the
floor with the crowd and all the fans cheer-
ing, that's where I feel at home."
That positive attitude has been an asset to
her teammates in practice. Senior captain
Tabitha Pool says Moore continues to work

I

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