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January 27, 2005 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-01-27

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 27, 2005

Helvey's improved offense
increases Blue's chances

Netters dominated
b rival Notre Dame

By Stephanie Wright
Daily Sports Writer
At the end of a practice this week, Michigan coach
Cheryl Burnett instructed her players to take five free
throws - and make at least four of them. Forwards
Tabitha Pool and Kelly Helvey quickly
paired up and began trading shots.
That Pool went 5-for-5 was no sur- TON
prise - she has attempted and made
more free throws than any other Wolver- Michi
ine this season. But Helvey has struggled lo
from the line this year, shooting just .511. 8:00
So when Helvey drained all five shots, Carver-I
she flashed a happy, but slightly shocked Ar
smile and joked that she just has to work
on not missing her layups now.
Helvey's shooting touch is back - and along with it
has come a more positive attitude about her early season
At the beginning of the season, Helvey was in a dis-
tinctive position as the only sophomore or junior on the
team. She didn't have Pool's experience as a go-to player or
the leadership skills that senior BreAnne McPhilamy had
developed in her three years at Michigan. But Helvey had
spent a full season in Burnett's program, which gave her
more experience than her seven freshmen teammates.
"I knew last year that I was definitely not the first option,
with (Jennifer Smith, Stephanie Gandy and Pool)," Helvey
said. "This year, I guess I just didn't really know what I
could or could not do within our offense."
That uncertainty caused Helvey to be more tentative on

the offensive end than she had been in the past. For the first
16 games of the season, Helvey averaged just 5.1 points per
game. She felt lost within the offense.
That is, until Helvey decided to discuss her struggles
with associate head coach Karen Rapier over the past
couple weeks. Rapier told Helvey that the problem wasn't

igan at

that she was taking too many shots but that
she was making poor choices about when
to shoot.
"As long as I play my game within our
offensive game, then I can pretty much take
any shot I want if it's a good shot," Helvey
said. "If my team's going to get me open,
now, I'm going to take the shot."
In the past two games, Helvey has applied
Rapier's advice to put together two of her
best offensive performances of the season.

In Michigan's lopsided loss at No. 10 Minnesota last
Thursday, Helvey scored 11 points, her highest total since
notching 16 points against Washington in November. She
followed that game with an eight-point output in the Wol-
verines' 63-61 win over Indiana on Sunday.
While Helvey's confidence on offense has returned, her
defense has rarely wavered. Against the Golden Gophers,
Helvey held Shannon Schonrock to just six points, more
than four under her average. But Helvey's best defensive
performance may have come against the Hoosiers, when
she limited guard Cyndi Valentin - who had been aver-
aging almost 17 points per game coming in - to seven
points on 3-for-12 shooting.
And more than just stopping the opposing team's top
shooter, Helvey continues to get what Burnett calls "effort

Kelly Helvey's offense has improved recently, but her
defense has always been smothering.
points" by swatting away balls and forcing turnovers. Pool
refers to it as a "fire coming from her."
"Once we see it from her - see her diving and
stuff - it gets the whole team going," Pool said.
"She's our best defender."
Tonight, for the third straight game, Helvey will have to
defend one of the Big Ten's top scoring guards, this time in
Hawkeye junior Crystal Smith. Smith currently ranks fifth
in the conference with 16.9 points per game and shoots
.521 from the field.
For the Wolverines to beat Iowa - a team just outside
the top-25 in the nation - they will probably need Helvey
to shut down Smith in the same way she contained Schon-
rock and Valentin.

By Daniel Levy
Daily Sports Writer
Generally, people are taught to be polite
and courteous hosts. But in the sports
world, the opposite applies. Teams use
home courts to their advantage, leaving
their guests miserable. The No. 21 Notre
Dame women's tennis team followed this
backward rule of etiquette yesterday, domi-
nating No. 20 Michigan, 7-0. The Wol-
verines' record dropped to 1-2 in the early
The one-sided affair started with doubles
play and, specifically Notre Dame's talent-
ed duo of Catrina and Christian Thomp-
son. The sisters - ranked No. 2 nationally
in doubles - took out Michigan's No. 15
pairing of Michelle DaCosta and Kara
Delicata, 8-5.
AtNo. 2 doubles, BrookBuck and Lauren
Connelly overpowered Michigan's Leanne
Rutherford and Debra Streifler, 8-2.
The two doubles victories gave Notre
Dame the team point, but, just for good
measure, its third doubles team of Sarah
Jane Connelly and Kristina Stastny edged
Michigan's Elizabeth Exon and Nina
Yaftali, 8-5, completing the doubles sweep.
Things didn't get any better for the
Wolverines as the match shifted to singles

play. With the exception of Exon - who
was playing No. 2 singles - no Wolverine
stayed close in more than one set. Despite
Exon's gritty effort, Michigan failed to win
a single set yesterday. Exon lost to Buck,
"Notre Dame played a great match,"
coach Bitsy Ritt said. "They are very solid
at every position throughout both the sin-
gles and doubles lineups."
The rest of the singles just continued to
show Notre Dame's depth. Michigan's No.
1 singles player, senior co-captain DaCosta,
fell to Catrina Thompson, 6-2, 6-3. At No.
3 singles, Delicata fought hard in the first
set before bowing out to Thompson's sister,
Christian, 7-5, 6-2. Rutherford fell to Con-
nelly, 6-3, 6-3, at No. 4 singles, and Yaftali
gave Stastny a battle in the first set at the
No. 5 spot before running out of gas in the
second set. She lost, 7-5, 6-0.
Rounding out the singles play was a 6-1,
6-2, loss by Streifler at the hands of Notre
Dame's Liz Donohue.
Despite its lopsided loss, Michigan is
kept in mind the fact that this was its first
road match of the season.
"It's difficult to play on the road," Ritt
said. "But you have to learn how to do it if
you want to be good. The good teams are
able to win on the road."


Continued from page 5A
good people.
Yes, the Horton situation is unfortu-
nate and a black eye for a program just
pulling itself together. But what we've
seen from Amaker and from these play-
ers is that one setback - or one setback
on top of several injuries on top of a
couple of disappointing losses - will
not completely destroy the foundation
that is being laid.
It might not come as expediently or
smoothly as people might hope, but it
will come.
And with Ed Martin and the Fab
Five vanishing into the background,
it's important to not let this latest
incident overshadow all of the good
things that have been happening in
Amaker's four seasons.
For all the work Amaker and the
Wolverines have put in trying to rebuild
Michigan basketball, they deserve from
the public - at the very least - the faith
in knowing that those efforts aren't going
to stop.
Where will those efforts lead from
here? Nobody knows.
But we're about to find out. And I'm
thinking we're going to find out some-
thing good.

Continued from page 5A
normally plays defense, but he might have
to fill in at forward this weekend, Berenson
said. He played on a line with Woodford
and Henderson yesterday at practice.
Berenson said that the defensive-ori-
ented Wildcats put more pressure on the
Wolverines' defense than their offense.
"There's always the pressure on our
offensive output, but I think that, if we're
playing well defensively, then the offense
will take care of itself," Hensick said. "It's
not something that we put too much pres-
sure on. But in a game that is going to be
a defensive style of play all weekend, the
goals are going to be important."
Since last week, the Michigan defense
has practiced blocking shots. This season,
the coaching staff has used pucks instead
of tennis balls to help their players become
less fearful of getting in front of the puck.
At the end of practice yesterday, Berenson
- who used to be an all-star center in the
NHL - took the forwards aside to talk
about the intricacies of faceoffs. Losing
faceoffs in the defensive zone has been a
problem for the Wolverines recently, and
Berenson doesn't want to give Northern
Michigan any easy chances.
"You can't give up much because it's
so hard to get it back," Berenson said. "So
that's the state that you're in. But that's a
little emphasis on things that are important

'M' faces 'greatest team ever'

By James V. Dowd
Daily Sports Writer
No one can accuse the No. 9 Michigan water polo
team of taking it easy at the start of the season. Instead of
adding weak opponents to pad their record, the Wolver-
ines found strong opposition to prepare for the grind of
the upcoming season.
Michigan will open its season against archrival No. 11
Indiana and No. I UCLA, widely considered one of colle-
giate water polo's best teams ever. Michigan will also face
Colorado State and Slippery Rock, all at Canham Natato-
rium this weekend.
"It's one of those where I want my players ready to go out
of the gate" Michigan coach Matt Anderson said. "I don't
want a few warmup races before the Kentucky Derby, I
want to hit it hard right away. That's why we schedule Indi-
ana one of the first two games of the season. In addition,
we have the greatest team ever assembled coming out here
to play, and that's UCLA."
The Wolverines open the weekend against Colorado
State on Saturday morning, but the focus will be on Mich-
igan's game against Indiana at 5 p.m. Since becoming a
varsity program five years ago, Michigan has amassed
a 16-game unbeaten streak against the Hoosiers, but the
rivalry has not cooled.
"We take the challenge," Anderson said. "Where a lot
of teams don't in sports, we open our season with a rivalry
game. In the last 16 meetings as a varsity sport, we have
never lost to (Indiana), but (the games) are still blood
Less than 17 hours later, Michigan will be back in the
water to face UCLA. Anderson hopes that playing the

strongest competition might give the Wolverines an idea
of what they need to do in order to compete for a national
"(UCLA is) the consensus No. 1 pick to go wire-to-
wire," Anderson said. "It's to the point where they are hav-
ing trouble finding teams willing to play them. I want the
challenge of seeing where we are at and where we need to
be at so that, hopefully, our final game of the year will be
against them as well when we host the NCAA Champion-
ships here at Michigan in May."
Anderson can take comfort in the fact that he has senior
All-America goalkeeper Betsey Armstrong anchoring the
defense. Armstrong is a preseason favorite for the Peter J.
Cutino award - collegiate water polo's equivalent of the
Heisman Trophy.
"Armstrong is hands down the best goalie in the nation,"
Anderson said. "When she is on, there is no one you would
rather have in front of your goal."
Beyond Armstrong, the Wolverines have a strong, vet-
eran core returning. Senior Sheetal Narsai holds Michi-
gan records for points and steals, and senior Erin Brown
holds the school record for assists. The duo has three
years of playing experience under its belt, and Anderson
is confident that Narsai and Brown can fine tune their
abilities this season.
"These are players that will continue to improve even
though they are playing at a high level," Anderson said.
"When you have players like (Narsai and Brown), what you
are looking for (is a decline in) the number of times they
don't play as well when they become sophomores, juniors
and seniors. There were only a handful of times last year that
they didn't play to their potential, and I expect - because
they are veterans - that to be even smaller."

FILL rn i./ Daily
According to her coach, Betsey Armstrong is the best
goalie in the nation.
This weekend marks one of only two times that
Michigan will play at home during the regular sea-
son. Anderson hopes that the Wolverines draw a good
crowd, helping to push his team to victory. While it's
likely that many fans will not have seen water polo
before this weekend's games, Anderson believes it's a
game that the public can relate to.
"You will see the physicalness of the game like hockey,
the ball movement of basketball or soccer, and you'll see
the things you can do in a pool without looking down at the
black line," Anderson said. "Everyone has played Marco
Polo or keep away when they were younger, and this is just
an advanced version of those games."

Chris Burke can be reached at

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