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February 08, 2005 - Image 9

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February 8, 205
sports. michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily. com

SPORTS

9

Cagers welcome unbeaten, No. 1lIlini

By Brian Schick
Daily Sports Writer

For the first time in nearly a decade, Crisler

Arena will welcome the top-ranked
country. For the Wolverines, they
are hoping to have the same result
as last time - a win.
Unanimous No. 1 Illinois makes
its only appearance against Michi-
gan in the regular season tonight,
and the Wolverines (3-6 Big Ten,
12-1i overall) are hoping to end
their current six-game losing
streak by handing the Illini their

team in the
TON I
No 11Th
icher
ESP.

first loss of the season. The last team to come to
;: ........Ann Arbor ranked No. 1 was Duke on Dec. 13,
1997, and Michigan pulled off the upset, winning
: . : 81-73.
Illinois (9-0, 23-0) leads the Big Ten in eight
of 19 statistical categories and is in the top three
in 12 of them. Interestingly, Illinois does not lead
the nation in any category. The Illini have been
the dominant team in the Big Ten as of late, win-
ning three of the past four regular-season titles.
If they should manage to win the national cham-
pionship this season, the Illini might make the
jump from Big Ten power to national power.
"I think they've shown they're as good as any-
AP PHOTO body over the last few years," Michigan coach
Deron Williams, left, and James Augustine lead No. 1 Illinois into action against the Wolverines tonight. Tommy Amaker said. "I think they would put

themselves in the rankings of some of the great
teams because of the way that they play - they're
unselfish, they pass extremely well, (and) they're
very efficient when you look at their stats in how
they share the ball and shoot the ball."
Illinois isn't necessarily a deep
" team, but it features a starting line-
G HT up that has a threat at every posi-
_n<<<< tion. All five starters are scoring in
an '" double figures, with senior guard
Luther Head leading all players,
scoring 16.6 points per game. Head
nkfa also leads the Illini with 63 triples,
tops in the Big Ten as well.
"Obviously, their perimeter is
outstanding," Amaker said. "I think their perim-
eter players are the ones that draw a lot of the
attention and the headlines, and deservedly so. I
think their three perimeter (players) are all really
outstanding, ball-handling guards."
The Illini have benefited from consistency this
season, as Illinois coach Bruce Weber has used
the same starting lineup all season long. As a
result, Illinois has developed good team chemis-
try, and it has manifested in the form of an excep-
tional assist-to-turnover ratio - nearly 20 assists
per game to just 11 turnovers.
"I think being unselfish is one of their trade-
marks," Amaker said. "They share well, but,
when you share, someone has to usually finish
it off. Whether that's inside or on the perimeter

for a three-point shot, they get those assists. They
have the ability to finish it in transition."
Michigan, on the other hand, is coming off its
worst ball-handing performance of the season.
It had 29 turnovers at Ohio State last weekend.
The Wolverines will need to take better care of
the ball against Illinois's backcourt or it will be a
long night. Weber is nonetheless concerned about
Michigan's guards and their ability to set up its
frontcourt.
"Their inside people are still pretty good play-
ers," Weber said. "I think what's happened is,
because people can pressure their guards - who
aren't quite as comfortable as the players that are
injured or out - you're able to pressure them,
and they're not able to get it inside. So we hive
to make sure we continue to pressure and make it
difficult on their guards and not let their play go
through their post people."
The Wolverines will need to have all their play-
ers play their best games of the season in order
to remain competitive against Illinois. Amaker
believes that, despite the six-game skid, the sea-
son is not yet lost.
"We're still searching for ways to get better
and to try and give ourselves a chance to win,"
Amaker said. "That's what we're doing with
different game plans and different structures of
how we go into games. I don't want to say it's the
thought of starting over, but I wouldn't say that's
where we are with this team (right now)."

Brown, Rohlfs return to
ice after bouts with mono

It's soccer time,
get hyped for it

By Gabe Edelson
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan hockey team welcomed two famil-
iar faces back to practice yesterday. Sophomores Mike
Brown and David Rohlfs, who have missed the last two
weekend series with mononucleosis, stepped onto the ice
for their first workout since being diagnosed following
a road trip to Columbus on Jan. 21-22. Aside from the
expected fatigue after going weeks without skating, the
two felt strong afterward and expected to play this week-
end at Nebraska-Omaha.
"It felt really good to get a sweat out there," Rohlfs
said. "It's good to get back on the ice. I've been missing
that for a long time. You can't necessarily go full out
the first day you're back. You've gotta sort of ease into
things. But (Brown and I) definitely gave 100 percent
out there."
Brown is confident he will be playing come Friday's
game, but he knows he's not completely up to speed in
his conditioning.
"It's going to take a little while to get to the end of the
week where I want to be," Brown said. "The first day
back, it's a little tiring. But I'll be back, and I'll be ready
to play both games."
Brown believes he was sick as far back as the World
Junior Championships, where he represented the United
States over winter break. After he continued to feel ill
a few weeks later, during the series against Ohio State,
Brown decided to get a blood test. The results revealed
that he had mono. The fact that he didn't know exactly
how long it would take for him to regain his health or
U WOMEN'S BASKETBA L L

return to the team was frustrating for Brown.
"It's kind of tough when you watch the game (from
off the ice)," Brown said. "It's a physical game, and you
want to be out there. You want to be hitting and take
part in it. But in another way, it's pretty good. You get a
chance to see what's going on on the ice, and it opens up
your eyes. You see everything.
"It's never a good thing to be sitting out, but it makes
you want it even more."
Rohlfs was tested for mono around the same time
Brown was. After feeling sick for a couple weeks,
Rohlfs looked up his symptoms on the Internet.
When mono emerged as a possible explanation,
Rohlfs consulted with team trainers before deciding
to go forward with the blood work.
"I didn't feel like getting out of bed at all," Rohlfs said.
"I couldn't eat. I just felt awful all the time. I had head-
aches, stomachaches, just pretty much felt like crap all
the time. Whenever I got back from class, I just slept until
I had to come to the rink. As soon as I got home from the
rink, I just laid back down."
Rohlfs was upset that he couldn't have an impact in
the games he sat out, but he had no problem cheering his
teammates on from the stands.
Michigan coach Red Berenson, for one, is excited at
the possibility of inserting the two sophomores back into
the lineup.
"I think they add a lot to our team," Berenson said.
"(They're) not going to be back to full speed. They're
both big, strong kids, and it's going to take them a few
days. They're going to fumble the puck and miss their
passes and shots a little bit, and they need to get back in

JASON COOPER/Daily
Sophomore David Rohlfs returned to practice yesterday
after sitting out for two weeks with mono.
shape again, too."
Berenson mentioned Brown's speed and power and
Rohlfs's physical strength as skills he will welcome back
onto the ice when the two make their return to game
action.
"(Brown) has no fear," Berenson said. "He can
create a lot of room for other players. In a physical
game, he's at his best.
"Rohlfs controls his part of the ice. When he's in
a corner, he's strong on the puck."
Berenson knows that his team is more complete and
competitive when Brown and Rohlfs are healthy.
"(Without them), we're not as big, we're not as physi-
cal, not as strong," Berenson said. "Certainly, (they) add
a dimension to our team that we need."

BOB HUNT
Unleashed
his Wednesday has been cir-
cled on my calendar for some
time now.
Why you ask? Is it because the whole
campus will be talking about how Mich-
igan was losing so badly to Illinois that
the Wolverines had to forfeit at halftime?
I hope not. Is it because Larry Harrison
and Daniel Horton will get their day in
court? Not exactly.
Feb. 9 has been on my radar because
it's a big day for the U.S. Men's National
Soccer team. Yes, that's right. The Red,
White and Blue will be taking on Trini-
dad and Tobago in the first of 10 games
it will have to play this year as part of
the final round of World Cup qualifying.
This means that I get to parade around
campus wearing my Chicago Fire jersey
with pride while few people notice and
even fewer care.
Ever since I found the 1990 World
Cup on TV at the age of seven, I have
always been enamored with international
soccer. I played a little, but my best soc-
cer memories have come from watching
the U.S. men play.
I remember when the World Cup was
played in the U.S. in 1994 and the Amer-
icans advanced into the Round of 16
because a Colombian defender acciden-
tally deflected the ball into his own net.
I also remember that the same defender
was shot upon his return home.
I remember getting up at five in the
morning two summers ago thinking
that the Americans had no chance
against Portugal and reigning World
Player of the Year Luis Figo. I then
remember never being so stunned
while watching a sporting event, as the
Americans - who would later advance

to the quarterfinals - took a 3-0 lead
and held on for a 3-2 win.
Later, as the Internet made watch-
ing European soccer more accessible, I
started following the English Premier
League and Glasgow Celtic of the Scot-
tish Premierleague.
I have found that European soccer is
exciting because it is the most comparable
to college football, personally my favorite
sport. While most people find this com-
parison to be ludicrous, European soccer
leagues parallel American college sports
more than they do professional ones.
Ail the top European teams are
spread out across different country
leagues, like top college teams are
spread out across different conferences.
Similar to the way fans from different
parts of America bicker about which
conference is better, fans in Europe can
argue about the Italian Serie A or the
Spanish La Liga. European soccer fans
are able to travel to away games, just as
in college sports, because of the close
proximity between rivals.
Despite all this, the vast majority of
my family and friends know absolutely
nothing about soccer. Nor does most
of America. Thus it's very difficult to
be a soccer fan in America. I've tried
to become a fan of Major League Soc-
cer, but the atmosphere surrounding the
games has never really done it forme.
I'm instead left to salivate over the few
opportunities I have to watch first-rate
soccer action. Living in Chicago this
summer, I had a couple of these opportu-
nities when exhibitions came into Soldier
Field. Even then, it could not compare to
soccer in Europe.
I had a chance to see Manchester
United, England's most storied team,
play Bayern Munich, Germany's most
storied team, in a preseason exhibition;
A buddy of mine and I were so excited
that we bought tickets the moment they
went on sale and talked about the game
for months. During this whole time, our
hype superseded the fact that this was
a meaningless preseason game sched-
uled to reap money from soccer-starved
See HUNT, page 10

M'

duo shows aggressiveness in loss

By Matt Singer
Daily Sports Writer
By any measure, driving to the hoop
isn't easy. The ballhandler must run fast
enough to get past a defender, must con-
trol the basketball and must be on the
lookout for shooting opportunities or open
teammates. And with No. 14 Minneso-
ta's 6-foot-2 All-American center Janel
McCarville lurking under the basket on
defense, dribble penetration becomes an
even more intimidating proposition.
But during Sunday's 76-55 loss to Min-'
nesota, sophomore Kelly Helvey and
freshman Becky Flippin showed no fear
driving at the Golden Gophers' mammoth
post players. In a game in which Michigan
(1-10 Big Ten, 5-17 overall) struggled to
find its rhythm, the duo's aggressiveness
allowed it to score 27 of the Wolverines'
55 points.
Helvey established herself as a focal
point of Michigan's offensive game plan
from the get-go. She scored six points in
the game's first 10 minutes, including an
impressive driving layup that cut the early
Minnesota lead to one, 15-14.
"I thought we did a pretty terrible job
defending her," Minnesota coach Pam
e Borton said. "Every time we play against

Kelly, she has a great game. She'll be at
the top of our scouting report next time."
But the Golden Gophers did not have
such trouble against other Michigan play-
ers. Faced with Minnesota's pressuring
defense, the Wolverines consistently found
themselves stalled on the perimeter with
the shot clock winding down. In these situ-
ations, Michigan looked to Helvey, whose
strong drives to the rim often opened up
good scoring opportunities.
"Kelly was getting a lot of great dribble
penetrations at the end of the shot clock
when we have to dribble penetrate and
either kick or finish the layup," Michigan
coach Cheryl Burnett said. "And she was
really aggressive with the basketball."
In the end, Helvey matched a career
high with 16 points on 6-for-13 shoot-
ing. She also went 4-for-5 from the line,
an impressive showing for a player who
entered the game shooting just 47 percent
from the charity stripe.
"I like to go out and have fun," Helvey
said. "I try to be a part of the scoring every
game - I know some games it doesn't
happen. But I know, in games like this,
someone's got to step up. (On Sunday), I
took that upon myself."
Helvey wasn't the only ballhandler
making things happen for the Wolverines.

Flippin scored 11 points in 25 solid min-
utes off the bench. Just after entering the
game for the first time, the 5-foot-6 Flip-
pin proved her willingness to drive into
the lane. She beat Minnesota's Shannon
Shonrock, drew a foul and drilled both
free throws.
In addition, Flippin's court vision
was uncanny, especially in the first half,
when she racked up all five of her assists.
Thanks in part to Flippin's unselfish play,
the Wolverines stayed within striking dis-
tance, going into halftime down 33-27.
"Some days (the passing's) there, some
days it's not," Flippin said. "Just working
on the team chemistry in practice allows it
to carry over into the game."
In the second half, Flippin's main
contribution was her scoring. She led
the Wolverines with nine second-half
points, including both of Michigan's
second-half 3-pointers. But Flippin's
most impressive play of the game
came inside the arc. Four and a half

minutes into the second half, Flip-
pin caught the ball on the left wing
and exploded to her left with three
Minnesota defenders in pursuit. She
shrugged them off, absorbed a foul
and converted the layup. Flippin's
free throw completed the 3-point
play, which put the Wolverines with-
in single digits for the final time.
"Becky does a great job in the
open floor, finding the open player
and seeing where the help comes
from," Burnett said.
After both Helvey and Flippin suffered
through midseason offensive struggles,
the duo is now clicking on all cylinders.
Helvey is averaging 12 points over her last
three games, while Flippin has averaged
11.7 points during the same span. And on
Sunday, they proved that they wouldn't be
intimidated - even by the most fearsome
of defenders. That can only be a good sign
for a team struggling to find its rhythm in
Big Ten play.

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