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March 08, 2005 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-03-08

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March 8, 2005
sports.michigandaily. com



1 8

Mathis shines in
last Crisler game

Cagers could benefit
from lessons in Vegas

By Megan Kolodgy
Daily Sports Editor

Three blocks, six rebounds and an elec-
trifying second-half putback dunk are not
stats that a Michigan basketball fan would
expect from senior transfer J.C. Mathis.
"I was (fired up)," Mathis said of his
dunk. "(Sophomore) Dion (Harris) drove,
and I just wanted to follow, just in case he
missed. I knew it was a tough shot, and
I always try to crash the offensive glass.
Obviously, it just came off at the right
place. I was lucky."
In just his second year after transfer-
ring from Virginia, Mathis's time on the
court fluctuated, but, in 15 minutes on Sat-
urday afternoon, the senior had what was
arguably the performance of his Michigan
"I didn't think it was going to be as
emotional," Mathis said. "But I couldn't
help it, being my last game. I just wanted
to contribute in some way."
Mathis has prolonged his collegiate
basketball career for as long as he could.
After losing a year due to the NCAA's
transfer rules, he stuck around for a fifth
year to get his master's degree as a Sports
Management and Communication Studies
student in the Rackham Graduate School.
Coach Tommy Amaker recruited

Mathis out of high school when he still
coached at Seton Hall. Although Mathis
was tempted by the offer, he decided to
try Virginia on for size. He averaged 4.9
points and four boards per game for the
Cavaliers. But "because of basketball
reasons," Mathis decided it was time for
a change. Amaker was more success-
ful in recruiting Mathis the second time
"I thought that Michigan might be
a better fit than Seton Hall would have
been," Mathis said.
Even though the forward averages
just 1.8 points and as many rebounds per
game, Mathis is quite happy with his deci-
sion to move to Ann Arbor.
He hopes that this season is not his last
on the court.
"To be honest, next year I'm looking
to play basketball," Mathis said. "I was
talking to Coach Amaker about it, and he
thinks I have a chance to play after col-
lege. He thinks I'll have some options."
Right now, Mathis is not entirely certain
what his options are, but he has his eye on
the minor leagues or on playing across the
Atlantic. If, for some reason, that does not
pan out, he might take a stab at coaching a
high school team.
Mathis would not be the first in his fam-
ily to devote his life to the sport he loves.

Senior transfer J.C. Mathis played his final and perhaps best game, at Crisler Arena
on Sunday with three blocks, six rebounds and an emphatic two points.

His father, Johnny Mathis, is a legendary
coach in the world of high school basket-
ball. The elder Mathis coached his son
throughout J.C.'s high school years at John
F. Kennedy High School in Brooklyn.
He blossomed under his dad's instruc-
tion. As a senior at John F Kennedy,
Mathis averaged a double-double a game
- 17.2 points and 10.5 rebounds per
game - plus 3.5 assists. He also helped
lead the squad to a city championship.

"It was a lot of pressure, but it was good
pressure," Mathis said. "He introduced
me to the game, taught me the game, and
he held me to a very high standard. When
I was a freshman, I had some tough days,
but, ever since then, I played well after
It is uncertain what the future holds for
Mathis, but it seems inevitable that, wher-
ever he ends up, he'll be pursuing the love
for basketball that runs in his blood.

Ryznar shows no fear in return to ice

Mattu fast, Mattu furious
ith the Michigan bas-
ketball team's next loss
- which could come as
soon as Thursday - its season will
come to an end well before anyone
And when the misery is finally
over, the discussion of what next
season will bring can begin (though
on second thought, most people
probably moved on to next season
midway through that 10-game losing
As those optimists in the Maize
Rage will tell you, next season's ros-
ter with will be dramatically better
than the roster the Wolverines will
end this season with. Lester Abram
and Daniel Horton should be back
in the mix, while three freshmen
should provide coach Tommy Amak-
er with plenty of depth and should
more than make up for the losses of
Dani Wohl and J.C. Mathis.
But the lack of depth or talent
hardly explains Michigan's record
(4-12 Big Ten, 13-17 overall) this
year. Those shortcomings don't
justify a blowout loss to Purdue and
heartbreaker after heartbreaker to
Then on Saturday, as the Wolver-
ines put together an inspired effort
and lost in overtime to Iowa, I real-
ized that watching the team was a lot
like my trip to Las Vegas over spring
break. Go in expecting to lose, but
make sure you learn from it so you'll
be better off the next time.
Before the trip, I knew I was far
from an experienced gambler. Sure,
I took home the staff picks title dur-
ing the football season, but that was
hardly reason for me to be confident.
After all, I beat the celebrities by a
single game, and that group included
a quarter, a frozen turkey we rolled
down the floor and a woman named
Rose Bohl who picked games based
on where her grandchildren were
So going into the weekend, I'd
decided that I was willing to lose

a certain amount - and even if I
lost it all, I wouldn't let it ruin my
Easier said than done.
That first night, I got in at around
10 p.m., and, after walking around
for a while, I sat down and imme-
diately lost half my money playing
But the thing is - at least I'd like
to think the thing is - I figured out
a thing or two along the way.
I was familiar with the basic strat-
egy that is supposed tominimize
the likelihood of losing, but some
people told me to increase my bets
when I win hands (you're eventually
going to go on a run, and you need
to capitalize, I was told), and others
told me to increase my bets when
I lose hands (if you're losing hand
after hand you're bound to hit cards
soon, the others told me). I tried
both strategies, but neither worked.
The next two days I gave other
games a shot, but, on the last day,
I made my return to the blackjack
table determined to reverse my
fortunes. Before I knew it, I was
down big again. Fortunately, things
dramatically turned around, and I
made up for my previous losses. But
I know I got pretty lucky.
In the end, I learned-lessons I
already knew: Much of the time,
I'll probably lose more than I win,
and I should never, ever bet more
than I'm willing to lose. I know, I
know, that's not too exciting. But the
reminder didn't hurt.
So I learned my lesson, but what
about the basketball team?
Well, it'll be interesting to see
what happens over the summer,
when the players have the opportu-
nity to work on whatever it is they
need to work on.
When I think about Michigan's
postseason NIT run last year, I won-
der if it gave the players the belief
that success would simply come to
them this year without having to
work hard for it. I'm guessing (or
hoping) that their workouts and
scrimmages this summer will be a
little more intense than last season's.
If that's true, and they took a tour-
nament bid this season for granted,
they certainly learned that lesson.
Hopefully, it's one of many they'll
take away from this season.
Sharad Mattu can be reached at


By Ian Herbert
Daily Sports Editor

In an important series against Northern Michigan
at the end of January, Michigan senior Jason Ryznar
crouched to block a shot from the
point. He was successful. The
shot ricocheted off Ryznar's right
hand and didn't make it to the net.
Ryznar played the final few minutes B()
of that game, a Michigan victory,
but found out afterwards that his
finger was broken. He would have
to sit out for at least a month.
So Ryznar sat in the stands for the next four weeks
while his team went 4-0-2 in that period. Ryznar prac-
ticed with the team but couldn't shoot or pass at full
strength. Until this weekend.
He returned on Friday at Bowling Green - a game
that ended up clinching the CCHA title for the Wolver-
ines. Michigan coach Red Berenson and senior captain
Eric Nystrom both had nothing but praise for Ryznar's
play following Friday's win.
"He just a great physical presence for our team,"
Nystrom said. "He has a lot of energy out there, and
he really helps us."

The most impressive part of Ryznar's game
wasn't his play in the corners, which is usually his
forte. And it certainly wasn't the penalty that he was
called for in his first shift. Ryznar said the call was
"a joke" and also thought he could have played bet-
ter in the corners.
The most impressive play of the night happened
nowhere near the corners, and it had nothing to do
with Ryznar's physical play. Six minutes into the sec-
ond period, the Falcons were on a power play in the
Michigan zone. When Falcons' defenseman Jonathan
Sigalet fired a shot from the high slot, Ryznar didn't
hesitate to block it. Down on one knee with his hands
out, Ryznar blocked the shot the same way he did one
month ago.
"I didn't even think about it; I just did it," Ryznar
said. "It was just instinct. You just react. You block
shots for so long."
The shot bounced uneventfully off Ryznar's thigh,
and Berenson said that he was impressed with Ryznar's
play on that penalty kill.
"He knows that he's got to block shots to be an effec-
tive player, and he knows that he has to play physical
to be an effective player," Berenson said. "He couldn't
wait to do that and prove it to himself and everyone
else that he's back."

THE LAST DEFENSEMAN: In preparation for the play-
offs, when anything is possible, Berenson moved
sophomore David Rohlfs to defense for Friday's game
against Bowling Green. Rohlfs played on defense ear-
lier this season, and Berenson was pleased with the
sophomore's play. He mentioned Rohlfs's strength,
patience, positioning and decision-making as areas
where Rohlfs impressed against Bowling Green.
But playing defense well is something that Rohlfs
has had to work at. Last week, Rohlfs spent a great deal
of time with defenseman Nick Martens after practice,
working on defensive skills such as communication.
"I feel pretty comfortable after last week, working
with Nick," Rohlfs said. "He was helping me out dur-
ing the week, and, as the week progressed, I got more
and more comfortable. And as the game progressed, I
got more and more comfortable."
NOTES: Senior Eric Werner took home CCHA
Defensive Player of the Week honors. The defense-
man had five assists over the weekend and recorded
a plus-minus rating of plus-three. His three assists on
Saturday matched a career-high ... Freshman Chad
Kolarik matched his career-high on Saturday with his
two goals. It was his 10th multi-point game of the year
... Junior Andrew Ebbett's shorthanded goal on Fri-
day night was the first of his career.

By Jamie Josephson
Daily Sports Writer
The flu was not the only thing t
Michigan men's tennis team during
Diego. The Wolverines suffered fror
vu as well.
Yesterday, No. 41 Michigan (2-
overall) fell to No. 34 Rice (8-2), 5
score as the Wolverines' loss to Sai
"Competitively, we were very str
coach Bruce Berque said. "It was a g
everybody. Execution-wise, we cam
is another team that's at about th
other teams we've played. We're jus
Out of a total of eight Michigan p1
the trip to California, five had the flu
terday was the first day that all eigh

wrap up wester
to play. Berque thought this may have been one of
the factors in the team's loss.
Playing at a neutral site in San Diego, Michigan
hat plagued the got off to a slow start, dropping the doubles point to
g its trip to San the Owls. Though Rice defeated Michigan at the No.
m a case of ddja 1 and No. 2 doubles positions, the Michigan tandem
of senior captain Vinny Gossain and sophomore
0 Big Ten, 7-4 Steve Peretz appeared to be on their way to victory
-2 - the same in the third doubles match. In the most competitive
n Diego the day doubles match of the day, Michigan was serving for
the match at 7-5 but was unable to hold off Rice's
ong," Michigan Rodger Gabriel and Jason Muk. The Rice duo broke
great effort from Michigan and eventually secured the come-from-
e up' short. Rice behind victory in a tiebreaker, winning 9-8(2).
e same level as "(Losing the doubles point) was very disappoint-
t not quite good ing because I felt we were very capable of winning
it," Berque said. "We had a couple opportunities to
ayers who made serve for the set. When we get in the lead, we don't
last week. Yes- apply the pressure and aren't aggressive enough with
t were available our shots. We need to do (that) a little better."

"n trip with loss to Rice

In the singles competition, it appeared that the
momentum was returning to Michigan's favor after
freshman phenom Matko Maravic blew out Rice's
Tony Haerle in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1 at the No. 2
position. But sophomore Brian Hung was the only
other Wolverine who came away with a singles win.
After dropping the first set, Hung came back with a
vengeance at the No. 3 slot. He stole the second set
from his opponent, Ben Harknett, in a tiebreaker and
then finished off Harknett in another tiebreaker to
round off the comeback, 4-6, 7-6(5), 1-0(5).
At No. 4 singles, sophomore Ryan Heller wouldn't
go down to Rice's Ralph Knupfen without a fight.
After losing the first set, Heller battled his way to
a second set tiebreaker after saving several match
points. Unfortunately, Heller came up short, losing
6-3, 7-6(4).
Despite the loss, Berque explained that the team
did accomplish several of its goals.
"We wanted to make sure we outcompeted them,

and (yesterday), we were very competitive and ener-
getic," Berque said. "We just didn't play well enough
on the big points."
Yesterday's loss was Michigan's second defeat in
a row after a four-game win streak that included two
Big Ten victories over Northwestern and Wisconsin.
With the losses in California behind them, the Wol-
verines are hoping to rebound this week..
"I feel pretty confident that we're on the right
track," Berque said. "Things don't happen overnight,
so we are just going to keep working on things at
Despite the results, Michigan's spring break excur-
sion appears to have been worthwhile.
"I do feel like we got as much as out of the trip as
we could," Berque said. "We worked hard and com-
peted hard. We were capable of beating both teams,
but we came up short. We will learn from that and
hope that we can get back on a roll (after) applying
some of these lessons."

Senior captain David Anving fell 7-5, 6-4
in Michigan's loss to Rice.
Please join
Dr. Ellen Zimmermann
Associate Professor of
Gastroenterology, U of M
for the first IBD student
group meeting of 2005
Thursday, March 10th at
7pm in Mason Hall 3314
Our informal discussion will


Gatti's inspirational techniques don't stop after practice

By Sara Uvilngston
Daily Sports Writer
"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail"
was the caption under fifth-year senior
captain Chris Gatti's high school yearbook
picture, and nothing could describe Gatti's
dedication and intense work ethic better.
Without uttering more than a word,
Universty of Michigan
May 9-14 or August 22-27
At LeaderShape you will.

Gatti affects his teammates and coaches
every day, whether it be through his gru-
eling workout routine and tenacity in the
gym or his ability to put the team first and
help his teammates whenever necessary.
"Gatti is the first person to walk into
the gym every day, and he is always the
last one to leave," junior Justin Laury said.
"Seeing him working out all of the time
inspires and motivates me, and it makes
me want to work harder."
"Fitting" is the word senior co-captain
Geoff Corrigan used to describe Gatti's
three consecutive years as team captain.
At the start of every season, the team
votes on who the captains will be, making
it something of a popularity contest. It is
also an honor that Chris has received every
year since he was a redshirt junior.
"It shows how he carries himself in
a way that everyone respects," junior
Andrew DiGiore said. "It shows how his
personality affected even the upperclass-


Senior captain Chris Gatti has led the Michigan men's gymnastics team for three consecutive years.

who is real tough, and he never whines
about everything, and he just keeps you
working hard."
No matter what Gatti is doing, be it
his mechanical engineering homework
or high bar routine, he sticks with it until

"(Gymnastics is) the highlight of my day
and it's been that way for about 20 years
now," Gatti said, cracking a rare smile.
Gatti's motivating e-mails, known for
being at least three pages long, always
seem to come at the right time and give the

40,000 students.
"He has his ways," she said. "He never
tells me about what he does though, never
wanting to take credit. It's always for the
team, whatever he does is always to help
the team."


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