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February 23, 2005 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-02-23

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Wednesday
February 23, 2005
sports. michigandaily. com
sports@michigandaily. com

UJe £idiijmi ktlg
PORTS

9

- - ------- - -- -

Ryznar returns to
Michigan in 'stang

By Ian Herbert
Daily Sports Editor
Two summers ago, Jason Ryznar departed
on a long, arduous journey to Michigan. It was
the summer before his junior year, and Ryznar
was getting ready to head back to Ann Arbor
from his hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. He
had just bought a new car - a black Ford Mus-
tang - and he had to figure out how to bring it
to the Midwest.
Ryznar and his brother decided to drive the
Mustang all the way to Michigan - a trip ,of
over 65 hours. The two of them, who are both
over 6-feet tall, squeezed into the compact car
to make the trip over a period of six and a half
days. They even had some friends follow them
in another car.
"I've always wanted to do the drive," Ryznar
said. "And I was fortunate enough to get a car,
so, instead of shipping it to Seattle, I thought
it would be a beautiful drive. I just wanted to
give it a try."
But traveling 4,000 miles in less than a week
is not all fun and games. In that short period of
time, in a cramped car, Ryznar and his brother
were very tired. They went north toward Fair-
banks, Alaska, through Alberta and down
into Montana. Around Calgary, Alberta, they
decided to drive without stopping for sleep for
the next 30 hours. And in North Dakota, they

ran into a little bit of trouble.
"I'm driving on the main highway, and I start
slowing down."Ryznar said. "And my brother's
like, 'What are you doing?' And I was like,
'The train's coming.' He looks at me like I'm
on just on drugs or something."
What Ryznar thought was a train bearing
down on him was, in fact, just a barn on a
local farm.
Said Ryznar with a smirk: "After that,
(my brother) was like, 'Give me the keys. I'm
driving.' "
The brothers completed the trip without
any problems. They made it through North
Dakota and Minnesota, and they took a ferry
from Wisconsin into Michigan. Ryznar then
proceeded to put up 17 points for the Wolver-
ines that season - and all but five came in
the second half of the season.
This year, he picked up right where he left
off, totaling a career-high 20 points in 28
games. And then he went down.
On a power play against Northern Michi-
gan, Ryznar crouched on one knee to block a
shot and was hit in the hand with the puck. The
senior finished the game but was taken to the
hospital immediately afterwards. His finger
was broken, and he needed surgery.
Since then, he has been working hard to
get back on the ice. Berenson praised Ryznar
for his intensity against the Wildcats.

JASON COOPER/Daily
After breaking his finger three weeks ago, Jason Ryznar hopes to return against Bowling Green.

"If you watched the game on Saturday, he
might have been our best forward," Berenson
said the week after the injury. "He was really
playing strong like the power forward.."
But Ryznar is back on the ice now. He skated
with the team for the first time last week and
spent most of his time sprinting without the
puck. His stitches were taken out last Thursday,
and, this week in practice, he has been passing
lightly and taking some wrist shots. Nothing

hard though - Ryznar has been shying away
from strong slap shots and one-timers. He's
been working hard, and he hopes to be back
on the ice for the regular season finale against
Bowling Green in two weeks.
"He's working his tail off," Berenson said
last week. "He's a great kid, and he senses the
urgency. This is the stretch run of his career
at Michigan, and he can't wait to get back
into that."

MEN'S BASKETBAhLiLt
Bue shifts focus to three must-win games

By Brian Schick
Daily Sports Writer
When asked on Monday before practice who was the last team
Michigan beat, guard Dion Harris was at a loss. The sophomore
put his hands behind his head and couldn't recall the team. After
several moments, one of the reporters gave him a hint - the
same team he will face tonight.
"Is it Penn State?" Harris asked.
It's not surprising that Harris wasn't sure. It's been 40 days
and 10 losses since the Wolverines won a game. The win came
in State College against the Nittany Lions on Jan. 15. Since that
time, Michigan (3-10 Big Ten, 12-15 overall) has seen its post-
season chances go from being on the NCAA Tournament bub-
ble to currently being on the NIT bubble. As it stands right now,
the Wolverines will either need to win the rest of their regular
season games or make a run in the Big Ten Tournament in two
weeks to meet the NIT's requirement of a .500 record or better.
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker indicated that he has not.

been emphasizing just Penn State this week in practice, but all
three remaining Big Ten games. This is a new approach from
the coaching staff, which has not looked past the upcoming
game in the past.
"We're trying to give them an outlook that's postseason pos-
sible," Amaker said. "There's still opportunities along the way,
and, hopefully, the first one is (tonight). If we're fortunate to get
things rolling, we'll put ourselves in a position to be postseason
eligible."
Amaker hopes that by focusing on the bigger picture rather
than just on Penn State (1-11, 7-18), it might provide a spark that
can put Michigan back in the win column. He admitted that
he has tried various approaches to end the losing streak and
was willing to look at the next three games to help motivate
his players.
Sophomore Brent Petway feels that, once a team gets on a los-
ing streak, it is easy to believe that nothing can pull it out, and the
players need to recognize the danger of the situation.
"We can't get comfortable losing," Petway said. "People can't

make an outside assessment of this team as we're not a full-
strength,"
Playing the remaining three games against the three teams
Michigan has already defeated in Big Ten play might help pre-
vent a losing mindset. Thanks to an interesting schedule quirk,
the Wolverines face Penn State, Northwestern and Iowa to close
the regular season - the reverse order they faced the same
teams to open conference play. Harris hopes that those previous
victories will carry over into success in the rematches.
"We're more confident when we've had success against teams
earlier in the year," Harris said. "That's how we feel with these
three games coming up. We know it's not going to be easy, but
(previous wins against these teams) allow us to have confidence
in ourselves.:
For all the hardships and injuries this season, it appears that
Harris and his teammates haven't written off this season yet, and
they remain certain that there is still fight left in this team.
"We still believe we can get wins this year," Harris said. "The
season isn't over."

What NHL
fans want:
more violence
T he NHL is finally gone for the year (I think). One last round
of talks with Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky trying to
play Super Negotiators ended with the season being washed
out completely.
I'll be honest - I don't know how to fix the NHL. It's a disaster
right now. There are too many teams,
not enough fans and a bunch of
people in charge who claim that the
season wasn't canceled over money
issues but admit the biggest sticking
point was a salary cap.
But I do know one thing - the sport
of hockey did not need this story to
trickle across the Associated Press wire CHRIS BURKE
yesterday: "Hockey coach suspended Goin' to work
for offering bounty on rival player."
Seriously. And what makes the
situation even better is that it happened in the great state of Michi-
gan. Turns out Steve Shannon, the coach of the UHUs Motor City
Mechanics (now home to several out-of-work Red Wings) offered
$200 to the first player on his team to "take out" a member of the
Flint Generals.
Not since Coach Jack Riley told his players to "finish" Adam
Banks in "The Mighty Ducks" has the sport of hockey seen such an
over-the-top tactic.
Hmmmm ... on second thought, maybe this is exactly the type of
crazy maniac stunt that this sport needs to save it.
People watch NASCAR waiting for a crash. They watch football
hoping to see a huge hit. Same for boxing or wrestling.
More people than you'd think like to see other people get hurt.
And so let me offer up my one and only suggestion to the NHL
owners and players as they try to win the fans back for next season:
No penalties.
Let's take a page out of Shannon's book and really give the public
what they want to see: blood and violence.
The NHL has taken so many steps to ensure that its game is safe
and as non violent as possible that it's become boring. Games that end
1-0 with no fights are not going to attract major television audiences.
Let's stroll just a little ways from the Mechanics' home in Fraser
to Detroit and look at the Red Wings.
Sure it's been great to see Detroit take home three Stanley Cups
in the last decade. But, how excited were people to watch a Detroit-
Carolina final round? They weren't. And you know why? Because
there was absolutely no chance that these two teams were going to
drop the gloves and start hating each other.
But when Detroit and Colorado get together, it's a whole differ-
ent atmosphere. It all started when Claude Lemieux smashed Kris
Draper's face into the boards during the 1996 playoffs. After that,
the Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry took off - solid TV ratings, sold
out crowds, lead stories on "SportsCenter." And the players respond-
ed by engaging in two Royal Rumble-style brawls on the ice.
There was nothing better than watching a Detroit-Cglorado game
because you would see some great hockey but, more importantly,
you'd see two teams that just wanted to wail the crap out of each other.
Which brings me back to Shannon and his stunt with the
Mechanics.
OK, putting out hits on opposing players is crossing the line.
Obviously, I have about as much of a chance of making an NHL
roster as I do getting a "No Penalties" clause inserted into the next
bargaining agreement.
In all honesty, I'm a hockey fan. I like the game. I love the play-
offs. I watch the Red Wings on a regular basis.
But when people say that the game has gotten too boring, too
defensive-minded and too - well - safe, I can see where they're
coming from.
The NHL would be well suited to recognize those complaints,
too. The NHL used to be exciting because games were regularly fin-
ishing 6-5, and fighting and big hits were condoned. College hockey
is exciting because it's up-tempo and high-scoring. And the UHL is
exciting because, apparently, offering money to take out players is
happening.
Granted, that last one is pretty far out there. Too far out there.
But when I tell you that the Mechanics play Flint again on Friday,
you'd be lying if you weren't a little interested to hear what happens to
Kevin Kerr, the Flint General who Shannon offered the bounty on.
And no matter how ridiculous that is, it'd be ignorant for the
NTHL to come back in late 2005 without addressing the things that
fans want to see.
Chris Burke does not endorse bounties on anyone, unless it involves
Boba Fett from Star Wars. He also misses Detroit thugs Bob Probert
and Stu Grimson and wishes they'd come back and kick the crap out of
someone. He can be reached at chrisbur@umich.edu.

Walker excited for hometown fans

By Stephanie Wright
Daily Sports Editor

When it comes to college sports, Michi-
gan is undeniably a state divided.
So you would think that Ta'Shia Walker,
an East Lansing native, might be a little
uncomfortable about sporting a Maize and
Blue jersey in her hometown tonight, right?
Not exactly.
"I was always that kid in the class who
had black on when everybody had on green
or maize," Walker said.
Despite living in Spartan territory for her
entire life, Walker never took sides - not
even when playing a game designed to make
her do just that. When she was a child, Walk-
er's friends would chant 'Michigan. State.'
and then point their thumbs up when saying
the name of the school they loved and down
when saying the name of the school they
hated.
Walker didn't understand this game,
either.
"I was just like, 'Who cares?' " Walker
said.

While Walker doesn't fully appreciate the
intensity of the intrastate rivalry, tonight's
game does hold special significance for her.
Walker expects "a couple hundred" of her
family members, friends and former school-
mates to be at the Breslin Center for the
game. She says she knows almost all of the
Spartan players, having competed with most
of them on her AAU team in high school.
Walker is excited to face so many of her
former teammates.
"It adds a little fuel to the fire," Walker
said. "I want to go out and play well."
That's just what she did the last time
Michigan (1-13 Big Ten, 5-20 overall)
took on the sixth-ranked Spartans. Walker
notched 15 points and grabbed six rebounds
in the Wolverines' 10-point loss to Michigan
State on Jan. 2. That performance came in
the middle of an eight-game stretch in which
Walker scored in double figures every night.
Since then, she has recorded more than 10
points just twice. In order to compete with
Michigan State - which has four players
averaging in double figures - Michigan
will need a strong offensive performance

from Walker.
That game also came before the Spartans
upset then-No. 3 Ohio State last week. In
two games this season, the Buckeyes proved
to be tough opponents for Michigan, beat-
ing it by an average of 31 points. Under the
circumstances, it would be logical to assume
that the Wolverines would be intimidated to
face Michigan State.
But that's the last thing Michigan coach
Cheryl Burnett expects to see from her team.
Burnett understands that playing against a
rival can change the way a team approaches
a game - especially in this case, when five
of the eight players in her regular rotation are
from the state of Michigan. But Burnett is
confident that her team will be able to put
those concerns out of its collective mind and
focus on the game.
Despite her excitement about playing in
front of her friends, Walker echoes the team-
first sentiment of her coach.
"I'm not out for my own accolades of
course," Walker said. "No matter what I do,
if my team doesn't come out with a 'W,' it's
pointless."

FOREST CAEY/LDly
Forward Ta'Shla Walker scored 15 points
in the Wolverines' first game against
Michigan State this season.

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