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March 09, 2005 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-03-09

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March 9, 2005
sports. michigandaily. com

td1jz d igan aUg


'M' looks to
Tourney as
last chance
By Brian Schick
Daily Sports Writer
It seems that the Michigan basketball team couldn't wait
to put the regular season behind it. After finishing the sea-
son with a hard-fought overtime loss to Iowa and losing
11 of its final 12 games, the players and coaches seemed
excited to start a new "season."
The Wolverines are eager to start fresh in the Big Ten
Tournament, which begins with Michigan facing North-
western in the opening round. The team is looking forward
to all teams being on equal footing once again, since all 11
teams are hypothetically capable of making a run for the
conference's NCAA Tournament berth.
Michigan (4-12 Big Ten, 13-17 overall) has had success
catching fire in a postseason tournament, which it exhib-
ited when it won the NIT title last season. Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker believes that his players can use last sea-
son as an example of how gaining momentum at the right
time can make all the difference.
"The last time we played in a (postseason) tourna-
ment, we did fairly well," Amaker said. "We're going to
talk to our kids about (the NIT title), and we'll rekindle
some positive thoughts and some confidence. We were
able to do some really good things with that one-and-
done format."
For the players, the motivation is obvious - you
lose, you go home. The NIT is not a possibility this
season, as Michigan needs four wins to reach a .500
record and be NIT-eligible. Those four wins would
give the Wolverines the Big Ten Tournament title and
secure the NCAA Tournament automatic bid. But the
players seem to use the single-elimination format to
inspire themselves.
"You have to take it one game at a time," sopho-
more forward Brent Petway said. "If you start think-
ing about the next game, you lose focus. You can't
overlook anyone."
Michigan split the season series with Northwestern (6-
10, 13-15) - with the most recent game matchup just two
weeks ago. During that game, the Wildcats surged to a 28-
4 lead and never looked back.
"We need to start out a little bit better," Petway said. "We
started out the game so slow, and they got that big lead, and
it was too big to dig ourselves out of."
Said sophomore guard Dion Harris: "I don't think we
were ready to play. We tried to dig ourselves out but came
up short. We want to have a great start as opposed to the
start we had (in Evanston)."
One of the reasons Northwestern was able to secure
such a commanding lead was the play of forward Vedran

Sophomore Dion Harris was selected as an honorable mention for the All-Big Ten team.

Vukusic. The junior led all scorers with 26 points on
l1-for-13 shooting. His ability to shoot 3-pointers has
made him difficult to guard for Michigan's defenders.
In their first meeting of the season on Jan. 12, Vukusic
scored 22 points in Michigan's 71-61 win. In order to be
successful, Amaker stated the need to deny the 6-foot-8
Vukusic easy baskets.
"He's a tough matchup in terms of his inside-outside
game," Amaker said. "He has great a feel and awareness
of the game. He's very skilled for his size. I'm hoping we'll
make him work for the baskets. He took advantage of our
miscues (last time)."
Michigan can't afford too many lapses in the Big
Ten Tournament if it wants to reach the postseason.
Michigan has performed fairly well in the tourna-
ment since its inception in 1998 - it has not lost a
first-round game since 2001 - and the Wolverines
won a vacated Big Ten Tournament title in 1998.

Cook still looking for hi

Well you're the real tough cookie with the long history,
Of breaking little hearts, like the one in me.
That's OK lets see how you do it.
Put up your dukes, lets get down to it!
Hit me with your best shot!
Why don't you hit me with your best shot!
Hit me with your best shot!
Fire away!
- Pat Benatar (1980)
Reggie Miller, Lee Harvey Oswald, that girl from
Traffic, Elmer Fudd and a golfer with a last name
McGavin have all made shooting - in its various forms
- famous. But the most prolific shooter on the Univer-
sity of Michigan campus, with apologies to basketball's
Dion Harris and the entire club rifle team, has got to be
Michigan hockey forward Jeff Tambellini. The junior
sniper shoots more than Allen Iverson in a pick-up game.
In all seriousness though, Tambellini has "fired away"
on a whopping 174 shots in 36 games for the Wolverines
this season. That's 59 more shots than junior Brandon
Kaleniecki, who is second on the team. Needless to say,
Tambellini's 174 shots led the conference and might
have even led the nation. (Unfortunately, not all confer-
ences keep track of shots.)
And Tambellini's "best shots" - the ones that have hit
the net - have "broken the hearts" of opposing goalies 18
times this season. Those 18 tallies put him second to just
T.J. Hensick's 22 on the Wolverine stat sheet.
At the other end of the spectrum is defenseman
Tim Cook. The sophomore (nickname Cookie, see

Benatar) shot the puck just 14 times in 34 games this
season. That's 36 fewer shots than defensive-minded
forward Mike Brown took. In other words, Cook is
the anti-Tambellini. But that is not to say Cook hasn't
contributed to Michigan's success this year. Michi-
gan coach Red Berenson said that Cook - despite his
microscopic shot total and zero points in the regular
season - was one of the team's most improved play-
ers during the first half of the season.
"He's not an offensive player," Berenson said. "He doesn't
have a history of being an offensive player. Anything he does
offensively is a bonus, but he's got to be rock-solid defen-
sively. He's a physical defensive-defenseman, and that's the
role he has to play."
Cook knows and accepts his role on the team as a "real
tough Cookie" and as a defensive-defenseman. Still, he
knows that offensive production - and more specifically
just taking shots - is something that he's got to work on.
"Dropping a shoulder, getting around somebody and
putting a shot on net is something that the coaches are
definitely stressing," Cook said. "But if I can just keep
working that, hopefully, it will show up."
It seems like Tambellini has worked on it plenty. On
Feb. 4, against Michigan State, Tambellini fired off 11
shots, scoring one of Michigan's two goals. Cook fired 12
shots in Michigan's first 32 games.
"If Tambellini ever gets in the zone that I think he can
potentially be in, as a dominant college hockey player,
he'll be scoring every game," Berenson said.
Cook, on the other hand, just wants to score in a game.
The sophomore still hasn't lit the lamp for Michigan in 58
career games. But give Cook a break, he was born four
years after Benatar came out with her No. 9 hit of 1980.
If and when Cook does get that first collegiate goal, he

According to Harris, tomorrow's game will be an
indication of Michigan's chances to advance deep in
the tournament.
"The first game will tell you a lot in a tournament," Har-
ris said. "If you go out and perform well in the first game,
it gives you confidence. You just need to get a win under
your belt."
BIG TEN HONORS: The Big Ten released its postseason
awards yesterday, and Harris was named to the Hon-
orable Mention All-Big Ten team. Harris is having a
career season, achieving career highs in points, assists,
rebounds and steals this season. In addition, junior co-
captain Graham Brown was named Michigan's sports-
manship award winner.
Illinois's Dee Brown was named Player of the Year and
Defensive Player of the Year, Illinois coach Bruce Weber
was Coach of the Year and Indiana's D.J. White was Fresh-
man of the Year.
s best shot'
says he'll try to play it cool and hide his excitement.
"I'd probably to try to keep (my goal celebration) low
key," Cook said. "I'd try to act like I've been there before,
even though I haven't."
Though he hasn't scored in a game, the Ottawa Senators
fifth-round draft pick does score in practice on occasion.
And if he scores when the players are messing around
after practice, Cook, at times, will celebrate creatively.
After he scored on Michigan goalie Al Montoya in a
breakaway drill a few weeks ago, he enthusiastically slid
forward on his butt while pretending to paddle with his
stick like he was kayaking down the ice..
Last season, Cook played in just 24 games, splitting
time with then-junior Nick Martens as the sixth and
seventh defensemen in the rotation: But this season,
Cook was just one of seven Wolverines to play in each
of Michigan's first 34 games. And while there were
zeros next to his name on the score sheet, he man-
aged solid a plus-seven rating while on the ice. Cook
knows that no matter how much he improves, he'll
never have the same offensive capabilities that Tam-
bellini has been blessed with.
"I don't think I could even be jealous of him," Cook
said. "With his talent and skill level, and with his shot,
there's no way he shouldn't be taking so many shots a
Berenson, like Cook, recognizes Tambellini's offensive
talent and just wants Tambellini to keep "firing away."
"If Tambellini is going down the ice with Cook on
a two-on-one, it wouldn't make sense to give Cook the
puck," Berenson said. "I would tell him to look Cook off
and shoot the puck. Tambellini is the scorer, he should
shoot the puck."
No problem there.

Hockey never
looked as good
as in 'Slap Shot
S porting events are great to watch in person, but there is nothing
quite like the sports movie. Hollywood
loves the way sports create compelling sto-
rylines and captivates audiences of fans and non-
sports fans alike. Sports movies have the chance
to embellish all the factors that make sports
compelling: teams overcoming incredible odds
to succeed ("Hoosiers"), the calm of individuals
in crunch situations ("Rocky"), the humor of BRIAN
crazy teammates ("Major League") and the abil- SCRICK
ity of a game to bring people together ("Field of Schick Happens
I'm a hockey fan by nature, and I still need my
fix from the sport from the Great White North, with the professionals
being on strike. Because I'm currently in mourning for the lost NHL
season, I decided on Monday to wallow in my sorrows with my room-
mate and another friend and watch the greatest hockey movie ever cre-
ated - "Slap Shot."
For those of you poor uncultured souls that haven't seen this gem,
"Slap Shot" stars Paul Newman as Reggie Dunlop, the player/coach of
the Charleston Chiefs, a struggling minor league hockey team in a small
mining town in Pennsylvania. The Chiefs are struggling to draw fans,
so they employ the services of the Hanson brothers (no, not the dorky
group of "Mmm Bop" fame), a trio of misfit brothers who are brought
in to feed the fans' desire for bone-crushing hits and dirty play.
Needless to say, fans love the new Chiefs, as all the players adopt
the new "killer" mentality and start to win. The only person who isn't
happy is Ned Braden, the leading scorer who plays the finesse game
and won't stoop to the level of being a goon. So the ultimate question
becomes: Will the players continue to be goons and play dirty and keep
winning, or play "old-time hockey" to win the championship?
This movie has become a cult classic among all sports movie junk-
ies, especially among die-hard hockey fans. The Hanson brothers are
perhaps the most recognizable characters from a sports movie - their
trademark mullets and black, square-rim glasses have made constant
appearances by hockey fans across the country. I know of people who
have never seen this movie who know who the Hansons are. Typical
response: "Oh, they're from that movie!"
Aside from "Caddyshack," "Slap Shot" has some of the best one-lin-
ers in the sports movie genre. Most of them I wouldn't choose to say in
print (I don't want my mom to get upset). But I'll be happy to tell you
my favorites - if you have the stomach for it. I'll give you a preview:
Talking about the Hanson brothers:
Reggie Dunlop: They brought their f-----' TOYS with 'em.
(Chiefs owner) McGrath: I'd rather have 'em playin' with their toys
than playin' with themselves.
Dunlop: They're too dumb to play with themselves.
What brings it all together is the action sequences. Granted, most of
the scenes involve two guys trying to land haymakers on each other, but
the movie does a good job of showing life in the minors and how the
players rely on each other on and off the ice.
The last piece is the zany cast of characters that is a must for any
sports movie - the French-Canadian goalie struggling with English,
the rookie who changes his name to "Killer," the drunken sports writer
(I personally took offense), the play-by-play announcer with a rug who
isn't surprised by anything he sees.
I'm sure to anyone who hasn't seen the movie, "Slap Shot" sounds
horrible. But after watching both professional and minor-league
hockey and covering the hockey team last year, I've learned that most
hockey players have a little bit of one of the characters in each of them
- whether they'd like to admit it or not. And, fans who follow hockey
tend to be equally as crazy as they are in the movie as well; they moon
away fans as they arrive into town on their bus.
I'm sure by now some people are asking about some of the other
hockey movies out there:
"Wait, I loved the 'Mighty Ducks!' "
" 'Miracle' has the best hockey sequences!"
"'Mystery,' Alaska is a great story of underdogs!"
Well, you're all wrong. OK, not wrong - but misguided. All those
movies make hockey out to be what it's not - serious and heartwarm-
ing. The "Mighty Ducks" is cute, but not every team is going to beat the
Hawks and not every coach is as cool as Gordon Bombay. "Miracle"
does an excellent job of depicting the run of the 1980 U.S. hockey team,
but everyone knew how the movie would end when they walked into the
theater. "Mystery" fails as a comedy. It just isn't funny, and the hockey
jokes don't work for American audiences (Russell Crowe in a hockey
movie? Please).
"Slap Shot" works because it is so over the top, and it would only
work with hockey. There's no way you pull off such a ridiculous story
with football-players (although "Any Given Sunday" comes close) or
some other sport.
It's also timeless, as it would never get remade today. Living in the
Red-nited States of America today, it wouldn't be successful and prob-

ably not even made. But who knows? Hollywood is so desperate for
ideas now, they did make "Slap Shot 2" a few years ago.
Brian Schick really does have good taste in movies - after all, he owns
all 20 James Bond movies. He can be reached at bschick@umich.edu.

Healed pitcher back on the mound

By James V. Dowd
Daily Sports Writer
It's an old cliche, but when a pitcher is
on, he really is "feeling it."
Michigan senior Drew Taylor knows
the sensation - when the ball seemingly
bursts out of his hand and he feels in total
control of his pitch. It's a familiar feeling
- that's why Taylor was quick to pick up
on the fact that the explosion was gone at
the beginning of last year. And he began to
wonder what was wrong.
"When you're pitching and you throw a
ball, you kind of feel it explode out of your
hand," Taylor said. "That feeling where
you feel the ball jumping out of your hand
- it was gone. I kept throwing and trying

Taylor was eventually diagnosed with what
doctors call a Sick Scapula. The injury is a
result of an imbalance between the stresses on
a pitcher's bicep and deltoid relative to those
on his shoulder. Because there is no treatment
or surgery to fix this condition, the only pos-
sible cure was time.
It took Taylor eight months to get back
to the point where he could throw off of a
mound, and, during that time, the notion
that his career might be over crossed his
mind many times.
"It happens to a lot of pitchers - they get
injured and never get back to full form," Tay-
lor said. "Obviously, when it first happened, I
thought a lot about it. It was very frustrating
coming off of a great year, and then I was hop-
ing to follow up with a strong junior year when

last week, pitching six solid innings of
relief on the Wolverines' eight-game road
trip. After pitching two scoreless innings
against No. 8 Georgia, Taylor earned his
first win since the opening round of the
2003 Big Ten Tournament.
Michigan coach Rich Maloney was
happy to have Taylor back and is confident
that Taylor will make a difference in the
Wolverines' run for a Big Ten Title.
"To see (Taylor) smile again and make a
contribution on the spring trip, it was tremen-
dously encouraging from my point of view,"
Maloney said. "I don't know what his exact
role will be, but he just wants this team to win,
and he will do whatever he can to help it."
Taylor will likely see some action in this
weekend's road trip to Beaumont, Texas,

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