February :10, 2005
uR £iditun aitiG
By Jake Rosenwasser
Daily Sports Writer
This Friday, when Michigan's right wing
Mike Brown lines up for a faceoff and looks
to his left, he'll probably smile. To his imme-
diate left, at center, will be T.J. Hensick, who
is tied for eighth in the nation in scoring with
36 points. And if Brown looks a little further
to his left, he'll see Jeff Tambellini lined up
at left wing. Tambellini is tied for 18th in the
nation in scoring with 34 points.
After 1-1 and 2-2 ties over the weekend
against Michigan State, Michigan coach Red
Berenson decided to shuffle his lines. And
for the first time since the first four games of
the season, Michigan's two most lethal scor-
ers - Hensick and Tambellini - will be on
the same line.
"We're going to take a look at them,"
Berenson said. "We're going to let them
play together a little bit. And if they can get
something going, then that's good. If they
catch fire, it would be a great thing for our
One reason that Berenson decided to pair
the two is because of Hensick's recent strug-
gles. In his last four games, Hensick has just
one assist and zero goals.
"I was brought into this environment to
score big goals in big games," Hensick said.
"I did that earlier in the season, but I didn't
do it this past weekend against Michigan
State. I got eight shots Saturday night and
not one of them found the back of the net. So
you know I can't fault my effort or the team
effort, but, when it comes down to it, I have
to bury my chances."
Hensick led Michigan in scoring last sea-
son and has scored 35 points in his first 23
games this season. In response, many CCHA
coaches have started making adjustments to
deal with his scoring capability.
"The other teams have been trying to match
him with their best defensemen or their best
defensive forwards," Berenson said.
But it will be harder to focus solely on
If only Crisler could be
like that every night ...
've heard just about every complaint
one could come up with about Crisler
Arena: The upper bowl is too dark,
the padded seats absorb noise, the highest
seats are too high and the cheering gets
lost in the rafters,
All of these fac-
tors are supposed
to combine to
make Crisler a ter-
- an equation that
makes a legitimate
home court advan-
tage for Michigan
Goin' to Work
Center T.J. Hensick leads Michigan in scoring with 36 points and is tied for eighth in the nation.
Hensick if Tambellini, the conference's lead-
ing shot-taker, is on the ice as well.
"(I put Tambellini with Hensick) to give
Hensick a player who has really good offen-
sive instincts," Berenson said. "But whether
or not they play the whole weekend together
remains to be seen."
If the pair doesn't produce in Friday's
game at Nebraska-Omaha, then Berenson
may separate the talented pair again.
"If they don't score and the other team
puts all their defensive attention on them,
then we'll break them up," Berenson said.
"Instead, we'll have four lines that can
In the first four games of the season, the
two were paired with mixed results. Tam-
bellini tallied a goal and five assists, and
Hensick had a goal and four assists in that
span. But Berenson has changed his lines
frequently, and the two have been separated
The "X factor" on the line may be Brown.
The sophomore will return to play this Fri-
day after missing four games while getting
over a bout with mononucleosis. Brown is
not a big scorer, but Berenson recognizes his
"Brown gives the line some speed, some
power and some toughness," Berenson said.
"He's had a history of playing well with Hen-
sick even though they may not have the puck
between them. It seems like Hensick gets to
see the puck more when Brown is playing
Hensick is looking forward to getting as
many touches as possible in this weekend's
"If Tambellini and I come to play, then we
should be fine," Hensick said. "We should
carry the offense. We should be able to put
the puck in the net."
You want to know something? It's a
The downfalls of Crisler's construc-
tion aside, when people actually show up
and make their voices heard, Michigan
basketball has as much of a home court
advantage as any team in the country.
Yes, you read that right ... but here it
is again, just to be sure: When people
actually show up and make their voices
heard, Michigan basketball has as much
of a home court advantage as any team in
And on Tuesday night, with No. 1 Illi-
nois in town, you saw that effect.
With the Wolverines mired in a six-
game losing streak and Illinois demor-
alizing teams every game, there were
all the makings of a national television
embarrassment for Michigan. That
potential disaster was even more glar-
ing in light of three straight blowout
losses for the Wolverines where they
had played with as much heart as the
Tin Man before his trip down the Yellow
But a sellout crowd showed up at
Crisler on Tuesday and was exuberant
from the get-go - and suddenly Michi-
gan was hanging with the nation's best
team. If you watched any of the contest
on ESPN, you didn't see an arena inca-
pable of generating an advantage for the
Maize and Blue. You saw Crisler nearly
packed with excited basketball fans. You
saw the Maize Rage (as usual) making
its presence felt all game long. And you
heard ESPN commentators Brent Mus-
burger and Steve Lavin having to yell
over the decibel level in the building.
"You can't beat this atmosphere!" Mus-
burger said during one timeout.
Ask anyone who was there on Tues-
day night - it was absolutely electric in
Crisler. It's the same situation that led
Michigan through three NIT wins last
year and to a victory over Michigan State
two years ago.
And when you leave Crisler after one
of those games, when the Maize Rage is
packed and the nonstudents in the crowd
get off their hands and clap as well, there
are just two thoughts lingering in your
mind: That was awesome ... and ... Why
can't it be like that every game?
Therein lies the problem. It's really a
problem that encompasses Michigan Sta-
dium as well.
Every once in a while, the Michigan
crowd is so loud and so enthused that
it's a major factor in the game. But most
times, the exact opposite is true.
Too often, those in attendance simply
act as if they've paid to see a play - they
cheer at the end if Michigan wins, and
maybe at the start, but for the rest of
the time they just sit back and enjoy the
Which is what makes a situation like
Tuesday night's as frustrating as it is
thrilling. Sure, it's nice to generate that
home court advantage when an Illinois
or Michigan State come to town. But
it would also be nice to maintain that
advantage throughout the season.
Thankfully, the Maize Rage has
ensured that - even for an early Decem-
ber nonconference tune-up against
Podunk State - there will be some mea-
sure of excitement within Crisler's walls.
It helps to offset the thousands of empty
seats, if only slightly.
Michigan's opponent next Saturday,
Michigan State, has seen the benefits of
a rambunctious crowd, becoming almost
unbeatable in East Lansing.
Illinois has done the same in Cham-
paign. Wisconsin, Duke, North Carolina
and Kansas have also seen the benefits of
playing in front of packed houses every
See BURKE, page 9A
I. sex ii
Full-speed practices key to
success for Burnett's teams
T T l T T T T T T'ti !1 T l^T1 T T
By Stephanie Wright
Daily Sports Editor
Ayacucho & Lima
With her team in the middle of the
most difficult stretch of an exhausting
schedule, Michigan coach Cheryl Bur-
nett only wishes she could
work her players a little
Sort of. T:;.
According to Burnett, "'"'
the one aspect of her N'. 2 C
program that players say"
separates it from others
they have played in - Va'ue C
whether it be high school
or the WNBA - is prac-
tice. As much as possible,
Burnett likes to create a game-like
environment. She'll put time on the
clock and points on the scoreboard
- anything to push her players just a
little bit farther.
The only problem at Michigan is the
With games on most Thursdays and
Sundays, Burnett said she has just one
day each week - Tuesday - in which
she can run the style of practice that
"If we're traveling on Thursday,
we're coming in and getting home
at two in the morning," Burnett said.
"What are we supposed to do on a Fri-
day that's of high intensity? It's really
In the Missouri Valley Conference,
where Burnett coached at
Southwest Missouri State
for 19 years, teams play on
GU ' Thursday and Saturday.
anat It's a difference of just one
o State day, but that small change
has been a big adjustment
y Are'nS "We would play some-
times on Saturday at 2
p.m.," Burnett said. "Our
kids would be done and
have all of Saturday night and all of
Sunday as a day off."
Burnett laments the fact that her
players never get a day away from both
school and basketball. The team doesn't
practice on Mondays, but the players
have classes. On the weekend, the team
often has to travel and compete.
"They never get one day that they
can just go to the dentist or do anything
else," Burnett said. "It's very grueling."
Michigan's lack of depth compli-
cates the situation further. Burnett
plays just eight players on a regular
basis, two fewer than what she believes
to be an ideal line-up. She likes to have
one player to substitute for each of the
starters. So keeping players fresh, both
in and out of games, has become even
more important than usual.
Burnett may attribute Michigan's
four-game losing streak to its tough
schedule, but her players have a dif-
ferent idea. The Wolverines (1-10 Big
Ten, 5-17 overall) think their struggles
have been more mental than physical.
After Sunday's loss to No. 12 Minne-
sota, guards Kelly Helvey and Becky
Flippin seemed genuinely confused as a
to why the team has fallen apart late in
games. All they knew for sure was that
the team didn't give the same effort at
the end of the game that it gave at the
Freshman Janelle Cooper echoed
their thoughts at practice this week.
"Sometimes we do back off, and
that's what we're trying to work on,"
Cooper said. "We have to come in
and say we're going to play hard for
the whole game - and that's all we're
going to do."
While the players believe their effort
has faltered at times, Burnett sees a
different reason for their late-game
breakdowns. And in a way, it all comes
back to practice. In both the game-like
atmosphere of Tesday practices and
the tough moments of real games, Bur-
nett said her players begin to look at the
scoreboard and then panic when they
see that they're losing.a
It's the one area Burnett wishes she
could work on most.
"(When we get down), our team is
speeding up and then it's changing the
way we play, which it shouldn't," Bur-
nett said. "I'm trying to instill in the
team that the focus is always on the
possession. It's through creating those
great possessions that the end result
gets on the scoreboard."
This is B.U.
This could be you.
Nm mmum m~ m Ewam us ahwrnE
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