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January 26, 2005 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-01-26

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Wednesday
January 26, 2005
sports. michigandaily. com
sports@michigandaily.com

SPORTS

8

Dest excels
by doing
dirty work
By Gabe Edelson
Daily Sports Writer
During practice yesterday, defenseman Jason Dest
skated toward goalie Al Montoya with the puck. After
making a couple moves, Dest fired a shot that sailed left
of the net.
Dest isn't used to scoring many points - the sopho-
more has totaled just one goal and two assists through
26 games this season after racking up just seven points
during his entire freshman year. But his contributions to
the No. 4 Wolverines' success are enormous.
"(Michigan coach Red Berenson) knows that I'm not
going to be scoring goals," Dest said. "For me to stand
out at all, I have to do other stuff besides scoring goals,
like playing tough and maybe getting some momentum
with a big hit. You might not get all the fan notice for
doing stuff like that, but everybody on the team knows
their role and appreciates what they have to do."
Though he grew up in Fraser, Dest spent his final two
years of high school in Omaha, Neb. He lived with a
host family while finishing his high school degree and
playing with current Michigan teammate Tim Cook for
the River City Lancers - a junior 'A' team in the Unit-
ed States Hockey League. Dest feels the experience was
a positive step in his development. His host family was
supportive, he gained an appreciation for the sacrifices
his parents had made for him and his coach, Mike Hast-
ings, instilled the work ethic Dest is known for today.
"It was unbelievable," Dest said of his time in Nebras-
ka. "I was a little nervous at first, but (my host family)
took care of me."
Dest credits much of his effort on defense to Hast-
ings, who placed a strong emphasis on doing the little
things, like blocking shots. Dest currently ranks fourth
on the team with 15 blocks.
"Hastings is the kind of coach who's really (an) in-
your-face kind of yeller," Dest said.
Now in his second year in Ann Arbor, Dest's will-
ingness to do the dirty work has paid off handsomely
for the Wolverines. The sophomore is making a name
for himself as the team's biggest hitter - both in the
open ice and along the boards - while acting as a safe-
ty valve for senior defensive partner Eric Werner, who

Horton's heyday
coming to an end

JEFF LEHNERT/ Daily
Sophomore defenseman Jason Dest ranks fourth in blocked shots for the Wolverines with 15 this season.

thrives on skating into the action on the offensive end.
"I love having a partner who competes hard," Wer-
ner said. "(Dest) has a good eye for (hitting). He knows
when to step up. He's a stay-at-home defenseman, and,
if I jump into a play, I know he's back there. He doesn't
put points on the board, but he can be one of the main
guys out there throwing that game-changing hit or sav-
ing that last goal. I'm grateful to have him as a (defen-
sive) partner."
Dest prefers to joke about his lack of offensive skills
relative to Werner, but the sophomore does have an
impressive plus-14 plus-minus rating, the fourth-best
mark on Michigan's roster.
"When I get the puck, I just find Werner and give it
to him," Dest said with a laugh. "He always figures out
what to do with it. The more he has the puck and the less
I have it, maybe, the better."

Berenson has already expanded Dest's role on the
team from last year by giving the defensive stopper
increased ice time and a larger role on the penalty
kill. But the coach realizes that it's difficult for a
player who doesn't score often to be recognized for
his contributions.
"A defenseman doesn't get any praise for good
things," Berenson said. "He just gets criticism for bad
things. That's the world a defenseman lives in. (It's all
about) minimizing your mistakes."
Berenson's confidence in his sophomore blue-liner is
growing. Though there are areas of Dest's game that
need work, his coach knows how important he is to
Michigan's fate this season and in future years.
"I look to Dest as a bread-and-butter defenseman,"
Berenson said. "If he can't give us solid minutes, then it
really hurts our team."

JOSH HOLMAN
Part Icon, Whole Man
Say it ain't so, Daniel.
Daniel Horton's arraignment on
Monday for domestic violence
charges led to his indefinite suspension
from the men's basketball team yesterday.
After these developments, I doubt I
am the only one on campus shaking my
head and wondering what had happened,
not just on Dec. 10, when Horton alleg-
edly grabbed and choked his girlfriend,
but throughout his puzzling three-year
Michigan career.
Ever since Jan. 8, 2003, Horton has
embodied the new spirit injected into
Michigan basketball. On that night, Hor-
ton commandeered a 15-point comeback
in the final 5:36 to boost Michigan over
Wisconsin, 66-65.
And he did it in star fashion. He fin-
ished with 25 points and scored with 7.1
seconds left to push Michigan ahead by
one. Then he blocked Devin Harris's shot
on the other end to secure the victory. The
students rushed the court, and, suddenly,
Horton looked to be the face of a Michi-
gan basketball revolution.
He was voted 2003 Big Ten Freshman
of the Year over Illinois's Dee. Brown and
Deron Williams and Indiana's Bracey
Wright. But which players are getting all
the positive attention now?
Here in 2005, we're still waiting for the
revolution to come to fruition. Michigan
fans have begged Horton to become that
bright, shining star that can put a team on
his back and carry it to victory. He's had
flashes of glory, but they never seem to
come when his team really needs it.
Take Horton's performance in the last
five postseason games of 2004. He aver-
aged 14.8 points and 5.0 assists per game,
well above his regular season averages of
11.8 points and 3.3 assists per game. The
only problem was that they came during
the NIT, not the NCAA Tournament.
In Michigan's biggest games, Horton
typically scores somewhere around his
average. Horton scored 15 and 12 points
at Minnesota and Indiana last year,
respectively - two losses that effectively
popped Michigan's Tournament bubble.

This year, it's been more of the same
- like his 13 points in a 61-60 overtime
loss to then-No. 18 Arizona in the Pre-
season NIT that could have changed the
face of Michigan's entire season.
There's no doubt that Horton has been
Michigan's most valuable player since
he arrived here in 2002. The Wolverines
would not have come this far without him.
But in order to be the leader, the man, the
guy people look to for inspiration, Horton
has to do more than an average night's
work when his teammates need him most.
Which brings us to the matter at hand.
No one is any position to cast guilt yet,
not even Amaker who suspended Horton
"pending further review," according to a
statement released yesterday.
But no one denied yesterday that
something happened on Dec. 10, and it
has created a huge distraction before the
Wolverines head to Michigan State. Even
Horton acknowledged that.
"I understand the severity of the situ-
ation I'm in," Horton said in a statement.
"I feel embarrassed about it, and I'm very
sorry that my family, team and school
have to deal with it too."
The terms of his suspension prevent
him from traveling with the team. An
injury to his right knee that he sustained
Saturday against Wisconsin might have
kept him from playing anyway, but that
seems to be a moot point if he can't even
be with the team.
This will be the second period of
time this season that Horton has been
out of Michigan's lineup. He missed six
games after injuring his left knee earlier
.in the season. The injuries are in no way
Horton's fault, but they represent the up-
and-down season that he has already gone
through. It's getting to the point where the
Michigan family can't even rely on Hor-
ton in those big moments, despite the fact
that everyone wants to.
"He's a great guy, from what I know,
and a great teammate," sophomore Dion
Harris said. "It was kind of a surprise
when I heard (about the arraignment):'
People want to root for Horton, but
it's getting increasingly harder. Even if
these charges blow over, will Horton ever
become that leader who can put the team
on his back again? Or have his teammates
and coaches lost faith in him?
One thing is for certain. It's not 2003
anymore, when students were storming
the court around Horton - even though
we all wish things were still that simple.
Josh Holman can be reached at
holmanj@umich.edu i

Blue endures losing streak with heart

MATT SINGER
ON WOMEN'S HooPs
Sophomore Kelly Helvey raised
her arms in celebration, index fingers
pointed toward the Crisler Arena ceil-
ing. Freshman Ta'Shia Walker let loose
a 1000-watt smile as she looked up at
the cheering crowd. Then, freshman
co-captain Krista Clement strutted into
the post-game press conference, beam-
ing as she flashed a "W" sign.
As if by magic, the cloud of frustration

haunting the Michigan women's basket-
ball team since mid-December had van-
ished. The Wolverines finally returned to
the win column on Sunday, outlasting a
spirited Indiana team and coming away
with a 63-61 victory.
"We wanted the 'W,' " freshman Jes-
sica Starling said. "It was too close, and
we were right there."
The raucous postgame celebration
stood in stark contrast to the matter-of-
fact way the Wolverines handled their
previous victory. On Dec. 11, Michigan
took care of business easily, dismiss-
ing IUPUI 68-48. With the Wolverines'
record standing at 4-4, no one dreamed
they would have to wait over a month
before their next win.
But the bottom fell out on Michigan's
season, starting on Dec. 14 in Kalamazoo.
The Wolverines then dropped a frustrat-
ing 79-62 decision to Western Michigan
and lost freshman forward Katie Dier-
dorf indefinitely to a hip injury. Soon
enough, they were freefalling, blowing a
few close games and getting steamrolled
from the get-go in others. Last Thursday,
the Wolverines dropped their ninth in a
row, falling to No. 10 Minnesota 73-49.
Following a skid of that magnitude,
most experienced teams - let alone
squads featuring seven freshmen -
would be at their breaking point. But not
the Wolverines.
"That's one of the most impressive
things about this team," Clement said.
"Other teams would have lost a game and

.

not come ready to practice the next day.
But we continued to stay positive with
each other, and we knew that, through
our hard work, it would pay off. That had
a lot to do with (senior captain Tabitha
Pool) and the coaches being so positive."
Despite the many difficult moments
during their nine-game losing streak,
the tight-knit Wolverines never criti-
cized each other. As the losses piled
up, Michigan stayed true to its team-
first philosophy.
"If someone messes up, we just
pick them up and be like, 'It's ok,' "
Pool said. "We just try to stay posi-
tive the whole time. If someone's
down, we pick them up."
But a positive attitude alone couldn't
guarantee an end to the losing streak.
The Wolverines needed to keep working
hard - and they did. With lively prac-
tices in Crisler Arena, Michigan contin-
ued to grow accustomed to coach Cheryl
Burnett's system.
"I can't get this team out of the gym,"
Burnett said. "They get here early. They
stay late. They enjoy each other. They
enjoy our staff. We enjoy them. They're
trying to do all the right things. In that
way, it's actually been a very rewarding
year, which has not been indicated by our
record."
On Sunday, the Wolverines came out
with an obvious sense of determination
from the opening tip. Michigan bodies
were flying everywhere - the Wolver-
ines were diving for loose balls, fighting

through screens and contesting jump
shots. But with 1:11 to go, the Hoosiers
held a 61-60 lead. It was gut-check time.
And for the first time in 43 days, the Wol-
verines passed the test.
"We had a little thing going," Helvey
said. "We would look at each other and
pound our chests because we have heart.
We went out there and just played with
heart (Sunday)."

I

Freshman captain Krista Clement kept
Michigan positive despite the losses.

Drop out and become a ski hum.
Well, at least for a week.

1. ________6_____-n- M W m

ATTENTION ALL
STUDENTS WITH
CROHN'S DISEASE
OR ULCERATIVE
COLITIS
Please join
Dr. Ellen Zimmermann
Associate Professor of
Gastroenterology, U of M
for the frst IBD student
group meeting of 2005
Thursday, January 27th at
7pm in Mason Hall 3314
Our informal discussion will
include:

01

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