March 24, 2005
sports. michigandaily. com
Gajic thriving in
" final days at 'M'
So many reasons
By Jake Rosenwasser
Daily Sports Writer
Members of the Michigan hockey team
marvel at Milan Gajic's one-timer when it
comes from deep inside the left circle.
"I guess that's my spot," Gajic said.
"Guys are saying they should take that
piece of ice out when I leave."
Yost Ice Arena's ice isn't as famous or
valuable as the Boston Garden's old par-
quet floor that Bill Russell and Larry Bird
made immortal, but still, it is doubtful
that Michigan senior Milan Gajic could
take that sheet home with him to Burna-
by, British Columbia when he graduates.
And even if he could get that sheet of ice
in his possession, it would melt if he took
it with him to Atlanta, where the Thrash-
ers drafted him in the fourth round.
Last Saturday in the CCHA Tourna-
ment final, Gajic showed why he is so dan-
gerous from the lower left circle. Just three
minutes into the first period, he received a
pass from defenseman Matt Hunwick and
let it rip. The shot whizzed past Ohio State
goalie David Caruso just inside the left
post. Michigan 1, Ohio State 0.
"That's as good a shot as anybody is
going shoot," Michigan coach Red Beren-
son said. "When we put him in a good
spot, we want to see him do well with it."
He did just fine.
Gajic struck again in the second peri-
od. He was positioned perfectly in front
of the Ohio State net when senior Bran-
don Rogers fired a shot from the point.
Caruso made the initial save, but the
rebound popped out to Gajic. The senior
gathered the puck and put it past Caruso
to give Michigan a 2-1 lead.
"It was nice, especially against those
guys," Gajic said. "It's no secret that us
and them don't like each other too much.
It was a big game, and I was glad I could
put a couple in."
More and more have gone in for Gajic
in his junior and senior years. After scor-
ing just 43 points in his freshman and
sophomore years combined, Gajic has
scored 72 points in his junior and senior
"My first two years, I was trying to do
a little too much, and it showed," Gajic
said. "The last couple years have been
really good for me. I just want to help in
any way, as long as I can play.
"I was putting way too much pressure
on myself. I was trying to score a goal
every friggin' shift. That's how it worked
in juniors, but here, it's a different story."
Gajic has improved other aspects of his
game as well.
According to Berenson, Gajic has
improved with his consistency, intensity
and defensive awareness. "(He's) really
getting involved in the whole game,"
Berenson said. "He's a two-way player
and not just an opportunist."
With his final NCAA Tournament
this weekend, Gajic has peaked at the
"I was always on his case about per-
forming at another level," Berenson said. "I
think he's finally achieved that other level"
WHO'S CUP IS IT?: The Mason Cup
- the trophy awarded to CCHA Tour-
nament Champion - has been won by
the 10 Michigan seniors three times in
their four-year careers. Or maybe it's two
Mason Cups and one "Berenson Cup."
The trophy that Michigan won last Sat-
urday sits in the Michigan hockey office
and has a piece of masking tape over
the name "Mason." Instead, someone
inscribed "Berenson" on it.
Milan Gajic has 20 goals and 19 assists in his senior season.
"One of us did it," Gajic said. "I can't
remember who. It's just for coach. We
don't need a reason to do stuff - we just
do it. I can't remember who did it. It's just
a little fun I guess."
Ron Mason coached collegiate hockey
for 36 years, the last 23 at Michigan State.
He holds the record for wins at the col-
legiate level with 924. In East Lansing,
Mason made 21 NCAA Tournament
appearances, won a national champion-
ship, a National Coach of the Year honor
and guided 44 players to the NHL. He
retired from the bench three years ago
and now is the Michigan State athletic
"The man who it's named after did a lot
for this league and a lot for hockey alto-
gether," Gajic said. "It's not so much of an
MSU thing. He did some wonderful stuff
for this league and for CCHA hockey, so
the cup is in his name. We didn't put it on
there to mock him or anything like that.
We just put it on there for the hell of it."
But Rogers had a different take.
"Just a little Michigan pride," Rog-
ers said. "(We wanted to) get that Spar-
tan name off the trophy, and put coach's
name on it. As soon as I saw (the cup), the
name was on there. The quicker we get
Mason off there, the better."
NOTES: Comcast Local will broadcast
Michigan's game against Wisconsin as
well as the Midwest Regional final at
5 p.m. on Saturday should Michigan
advance. The games will also be avail-
able on ESPNU, which will be broadcast-
ing the game on DirecTV (Ch. 609) and
on Adelphia Cable.
Part Icon, Whole Man
The snow is falling in Ann Arbor
again. The temperature isn't
supposed to eclipse 50 degrees
in the next 10 days. It's still March.
It must be baseball season in
I know, it may not seem like the
most opportune time for America's
favorite pastime. March Madness is
still going strong, and the hockey
team begins its own trek through
the NCAA Tournament in Grand
Rapids this weekend. Baseball is
probably the last thing on your
mind right now.
But let's face it - your bracket
sucks, and the puck won't drop at the
Midwest Regional until 8:30 p.m.
There is no better way to spend tomor-
row afternoon than taking in a game at
the Fish, perhaps the most classic sport-
ing venue on this campus.
If you need any more reason to
attend what could be one of the most
celebrated days on the Michigan
sporting calendar, then I can give you
plenty, no matter what walk of life you
For those of you that can appreci-
ate any form of expertise, coach Rich
Maloney could be the best hire the
athletic department has made in the
modern era (whenever that began).
He is the most knowledgeable, per-
sonable, likable and respected coach
that I have had the opportunity to
cover at the Daily. A question along
the lines of "what did you think about
the play of Kyle Bohm today?" could
just as easily lead into a 10-minute
conversation on the importance of
the sacrifice bunt. He can really talk
about anything baseball for hours.
And while it may seem random, he
knows his stuff. Maloney inherited
a power-hitting team when he took
the helnm for the 2003 season, but
the Fish is not a power-hitting park.
Maloney's skillful recruiting and
restructuring of Michigan baseball
has turned the team into a possible
Big Ten favorite. After a series of
games in warmer climates, Michigan
boasts an 11-3 record so far this sea-
son, its best start since 1987.
The new concentration on small ball
and pitching has led to seven Wolver-
ines batting over .300 so far this season
and no starting pitchers with an ERA
It might be a purer form of baseball,
one might even say boring, but isn't that
refreshing for the times we live in? So
there aren't a lot of home runs flying
out of the park. Big deal. At least you
know these athletes aren't pumped full
of steroids. It's enough to keep all you
baseball purists out there happy.
In fact, the list of Wolverine captains
this season includes senior Matt Butler,
who is listed at 5-foot-6, 165-pounds,
and even that could be an exaggeration.
He is the ultimate poster boy for the
little guy. And aren't we all the little
guy some days?
But it's this unassuming outfield-
er that leads the team with three
home runs on the year. If a team's
leading home run hitter weighs 165-
pounds, its players are probably not
Hot topics like steroids are the kind
of things you can discuss at a day at
the Fish. If catching up with some pals
is your thing, bring some friends, grab
some peanuts (and a blanket) and take
your favorite spot in the bleachers - a
spot that looks like it might inspire ran-
The Fish is the perfect place to break
down all the possible draft picks out
there for anyone that has an impending
fantasy baseball league draft coming
up. Not sure whether Johan Santana is
overrated this year? Maybe watching
a few Michael Penn curveballs while
listening to your buddy jabber on for a
couple innings will help you arrive at
the proper conclusion.
That kind of multi-tasking is what a
day at the park is all about, especially
at the Fish. There are distractions
galore, for both sexes. It all stems
from one logical source - baseball
players are hot.
Before you start passing judgment,
hear me out. If baseball players are hot,
many of the women that come to watch
these baseball players will also be hot.
The fact that they're watching baseball
makes them hot. It's all one big logical
circle that makes perfect sense.
Ergo, it is perfectly acceptable to
admit the fact that baseball players are
hot. It improves the viewing experience
for everyone at the park. You gotta
have something to keep you interested
between innings. Fantasy baseball can't
take up that much time, can it?
So there you have it. Reasons from
across the whole spectrum to get your-
self to the Fish tomorrow at 3 p.m.
Even if the home opener is eventually
cancelled, like it was last year, because
of this winter/spring weather - I like
to call it spwinter - there will still
eventually be a home opener.
And when that time comes, bring
a valid Mcard, probably even a non-
valid Mcard. I mean, c'mon - it's
the Fish, the most welcoming envi-
ronment at Michigan. Just make sure
to bring a blanket. Or keep an eye out
for one of those attractive fans that
might have a blanket. You'll thank
me for it.
Josh Holman will be at the Fish on
Friday, with a blanket, an attractive
person and whatever else he needs
to stay warm. He can be reached at
0 WOMEN'S TENNIS
Women trounce Spartans at home
By Daniel Levy
Daily Sports Writer
Senior co-captain Michelle DaCosta saved her best
for last in last night's women's tennis match against
On match point during the No. 1 singles match,
Michigan State's Keri Thompson stung a forehand
to the corner of the court. DaCosta tracked the shot
down, but her lob attempt was short, and Thompson
took advantage by stepping up and smashing an over-
head to the opposite corner. DaCosta sprinted across
the court and stretched out to return the slam. With
DaCosta's momentum carrying her off the court,
Thompson tried to seal the point with a drop volley.
Again, DaCosta got on her horse and tracked down
the ball. But this time, she did more than merely get to
the ball. She hit a brilliant lob on the run that bounced
just inside the baseline. Thompson was able to run the
shot down, but with all her momentum going back-
wards the best she could do was throw up a weak lob.
DaCosta pounced on the ball and hit a forceful over-
head slam to finish the marathon point, win the match
and seal the victory for Michigan.
"Michelle played very well," Michigan coach
Bitsy Ritt said. "Some of the things she did today
were just awesome."
Along with the dramatic match point, DaCosta dis-
played her entire repertoire throughout the match, as
she used a barrage of monster serves and clever play to
win the first set, 6-4. DaCosta kept unloading bombs
as she racked up ace after ace. Leading 4-3 in the sec-
ond set, DaCosta followed a series of deep ground
strokes with a well-placed drop shot to break Thomp-
son's serve and set up her victory.
DaCosta's play paced Michigan (1-0 Big Ten, 6-
6 overall) to a hard-fought 6-1 victory over in-state
rival Michigan State (0-1, 10-3) in front of the largest
crowd the Varsity Tennis Center has seen this year.
The Spartans came to Ann Arbor riding a 10-match
winning streak, but the Wolverines jumped on them
early, sweeping the doubles matches and winning the
first set in all six singles matches. With the win, the
Wolverines extended their winning streak to three.
"We started off strong," Ritt said. "They put up a
good fight, but we kept our composure and stuck with
The large crowd contributed to the unique atmosphere
of the match. Before the matches started, "The Victors"
and "Let's Go Blue" were played from the speakers on
the viewing level. In between points shouts of "Go Blue"
were heard, and they were often followed by retaliatory
chants of "Go White" or "Go State". The players and
coaches had an extra notch of intensity, trying to spur
their team on. Ritt showed her emotion as she emphati-
cally clapped for her players while she raced from court
to court to see all the action and give words of advice.
"The rivalry is important," Ritt said. "We try to
treat every match the same in terms of importance and
preparation, but, at the end of the day, it is always nice
to be able to say we beat the Spartans."
Junior Debra Streifler was first off the courts in sin-
gles play, as she steamrolled Michigan State's Jessica
Baron, 6-3,6-1, at No. 5 singles. Michigan's other senior
co-captain, Leanne Rutherford; rallied from a 4-0 sec-
ond-set deficit to win the No. 4 singles match, 6-2, 6-4,
to give Michigan its third team point of the day.
With the overall match already decided, junior Nina
Yaftali took the No. 6 singles match in a third set tie-
breaker for Michigan while Wolverine sophomore
Elizabeth Exon used a run of five straight games to
win at No. 2 singles.
Earlier in the day, Exon and Streifler teamed up
to dominate the No. 3 doubles match, winning 8-0.
Rutherford combined with freshman Allie Shafner to
win the No. 2 doubles match 8-1, while DaCosta and
sophomore Kara Delicata ran off the last five games of
the No. 1 doubles match to win 8-3.
Michigan will be on the road this weekend where it
will face No. 2 Northwestern on March 26 and Wis-
consin on March 27.
... while men do the same in Ea.
By Scott Bell
Daily Sports Writer
EAST LANSING - When the word "rival-
ry" is brought up, a few things come to mind.
Most rivalries are constructed by three major
factors - a high level of intensity, a lot of crowd
support, and a close, competitive finish. When
the No. 56-ranked Michigan men's tennis team
(10-5, 3-0 Big Ten) went to East Lansing yester-
day to battle the No. 63 Spartans at the Indoor
Tennis Center, it looked like this model was
going to be followed once again.
Well, two out of three isn't bad.
The Wolverines disposed of the rival Spartans
(10-7, 2-1) in convincing fashion, dropping just
three sets en route to a 6-1 win.
"(My first Michigan vs. Michigan State
game) was about what I expected," Michigan
coach Bruce Berque said. "They had a really
nice crowd and were really enthusiastic.
"This is a tough place to play. Their courts
are fast, and they have a really good home court
advantage. So I'm very pleased with the result
But it wasn't a walk in the park the entire
night. After winning the No. 3 doubles match in
convincing fashion, Michigan found itself in a
hard-fought battle in the remaining two doubles
matches. Both the No. I and 2 doubles teams
needed decisive tiebreakers to settle their respec-
In the No. I match, sophomore Brian
Hung and freshman Matko Maravic found
themselves trailing opponents Andrew
Formanczyk and Mike Brown at 6-7 in the
tiebreaker. Serving down match point, the
Wolverines stayed in the point and were
eventually bailed out by a cross-court win-
ner from Maravic. The momentum carried,
and Michigan picked up its next two points,
giving it a close 9-8(7) victory.
Seconds after the victory at No. 1, the No. 2
doubles team of senior Josef Fischer and sopho-
more Ryan Heller fell to the Spartans. After sav-
ing two match points earlier in the match, the
Wolverine duo was finally defeated by its Spartan
foes - Michael Flowers and Andrew Stefani -
9-8(5). The No. 3 doubles team of seniors Vinny
Gossain and David Anving had easily put away
Bryan Karazia and Joseph McWilliams, though,
winning by a convincing 8-1 margin.
"Our (No. 3 doubles) played great," Berque
said.. "I thought our (No. 2 doubles) came out too
tentative and didn't play aggressive enough, but
we came through in the end to get the point.
"We were a point away from losing the
doubles point, and Brian and Matko came up
big for us."
But Michigan State couldn't match the com-
petitive flair it showed in doubles. Clinging to
their 1-0 lead, the Wolverines came out strong in
the early stages of singles, grabbing early leads
in five of the six matches.
Sophomore Steve Peretz was the first Wolver-
ine to break into the win column for Michigan
in singles action. His dominating 6-2, 6-0 win at
No.6 singles over Karazia set the tone for the rest
of the Wolverines.
Anving continued his dominance, following
Peretz off the court after his own convincing win.
His 6-2, 6-1 victory over Brown at No. 5 singles
put Michigan one point away from winning.
Heller provided the clinching point for Michi-
gan at No. 4 singles. His serve dictated play, and
he took advantage of break point opportunities,
cruising to a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Stefani.
After dropping a big lead to Flowers in the
first set, Hung managed to battle back at No.
3 singles, winning the last two games to take
the first set, 7-5. In a mirror image of the first
set, he once again grabbed a sizeable lead
early, but Flowers battled back again. Hung
came up big when it counted once again,
winning the second set 6-4.
"I was pleased with the result of the match"
Berque said. "Winning by this margin on the
road is always a positive. But they were a little
shorthanded tonight, and I think that some of the
effort could have been better.
"We're going to have to play better this week-
end if we want to beat (No. 20) Notre Dame."
David Anving won his singles and doubles match last night.
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