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March 29, 2005 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-03-29

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Tuesday
March 29, 2005
sports. michigandaily. com
sports@michigandaily.com

OeRTSigni y

8

- --- ------

Phelps
ready to
get back
in action
By Anne Ulble
Daily Sports Writer
Michael Phelps's motto for this week's upcom-
ing USA World Championship Swimming Trials
in Indianapolis is "anything is possible."
Phelps is currently scheduled to swim in seven
events in Indianapolis, and, if he qualifies for
every one, then he will be swimming a total of
10 races in Montreal this summer at the World
Championships on July 24-31.
"We still have four or five days until the meet
starts," Phelps said. "I'm trying to take a step
forward in my training, since I've only had the
chance to swim in a meet or two since Athens.
(Michigan coach) Bob (Bowman) may have me
drop a race, but we'll see. I'll know by the time
I get there."
Phelps has the top time in three of the events
he is scheduled to race - the 400-yard individ-
ual medley, 200-yard freestyle and the 200-yard
individual medley. He holds world records in
two of those events - the 200 IM (1:55.94) and
400 IM (4:08.26). While his program of events
is made up of various races, including sprints
and distance races, Phelps is most excited about
swimming the 400-yard freestyle.
"I've wanted to swim the 400 in a big event
for a while," Phelps said. "I don't know what
kind of shape I'm in for the race, but we'll see
how it goes."
After the Olympics this summer, Phelps
endured a back injury that was a stress reaction
to the aftermath of Athens and the swimming
tour he was on from September to November.
"My back isn't 100 percent right now," Phelps
said. "I've had to change some things in my
training. It's been hard to get back into work-
ing out with my back. I don't want to push that.

Pro of the Sparties
rule the court

-I

TONY DING/Daily

Michael Phelps will compete in seven events at the USA World Swimming Championship Trials.

Once I get this meet under my belt, I think it
will be a good transition for my training."
Over the past four months - since the con-
clusion of the tour - Phelps has adjusted to life
in Ann Arbor. He is taking classes and training
with Club Wolverine. Since he hasn't had many
opportunities to race, he said that being able to
train with Michigan has helped him to develop.
"It's different because I'm not used to having someone
to train with all the time," Phelps said. "It's nice to have
people who brings their 'A' game to practice every day.
I'm the kind of person who likes to have competition in

the pool. Being able to have (juniors) Peter (Vanderkaay),
Chris (Dejong) and Davis (Tarwater) here is really great
for me. It's amazing to be able go in and train and help
each other work towards the next level."
This past weekend, Phelps was in Minneapo-
lis for the NCAA Swimming Championships,
helping out the Wolverines.
"That was the second NCAA Championship
meet that I've been to," Phelps said. "After see-
ing Michigan do so well at the (meet), it made
me excited to head into a meet that I get to be
able to experience myself."

ERIC AMBINDER
My Way
For the fourth time in seven years,
Michigan State is two games
away from winning a college bas-
ketball national championship.
In that same span, Michigan has
been absent from tournament brackets
entirely - unless you count three NIT
appearances.
While exchanging instant messages
with a friend from Michigan State on
Sunday, I was informed that students had
already begun celebrating the Spartans'
most recent Final Four bid.
"Everybody is drunk here," she said,
six days before Michigan State will face
North Carolina in St. Louis.
Police in riot gear have already arrived
on campus. Lucky.
The dichotomous nature of the two
in-state "big time" college basketball
programs - Michigan and Michigan
State - has been quite obvious the past
seven seasons.
Average wins per season for Michigan
State: 25. Average wins per season for
Michigan: 14.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has
recruited five Mr. Basketball award win-
ners from the state of Michigan in the
past seven years. Dion Harris was the first
honoree to attend Michigan since Robert
Traylor in 1995.
While it's no secret that Spartys are
hoop-dreamers, to what extent do Michi-
gan students regard Michigan basketball?
And how do they rate Amaker and Izzo
as coaches (see box below for results)?
I ventured to the Michigan Union last
night to find out.
I conducted a very informal survey
(given time restraints and a budget). My
sample of Michigan students wasn't com-
pletely random or bias-proof. But it was
telling.
Keep in mind, Amaker is big on how
Michigan basketball is perceived by the
"Michigan community." He should care
what the students think, even if it is just
30 of them eating dinner or studying at
the Union.
The sample consisted of 19 males and
11 females. Twenty-two students were
Michigan residents.
Just four of 30 Michigan students said
Amaker should be fired this off-season. I

found this a little surprising.
Sure, Amaker studied from the best
(Coach K), inherited postseason sanc-
tions, fielded a once-hyped, injury-deplet-
ed team the past year and won an NIT
championship. Plus, he's a grade-A face
man for Michigan athletics.
But he's amassed a paltry 64-60 record
in four seasons at Michigan. His most-
prized recruit, Daniel Horton, was sus-
pended for legal trouble this past season.
The Wolverines finished 13-18 this year.
In eight seasons as a Division I coach (he
spent four years at Seton Hall before com-
ing to Michigan), Amaker has led a tean
to the NCAA Tournament just once. (For
the record, it took Coach K nine seasons
as a coach at both Army and Duke to
reach an NCAA Tournament.)
But this is Michigan. Expectations are
high.
If Lloyd Carr led the football team to
just one BCS game the past seven sea-
sons, he'd be gone. I don't buy the "Michi-
gan is a football school" excuse.
Nonetheless, we want to keep Amaker.
I also found that Michigan students
attended an average of about two bas-
ketball games this season. Seventeen of
the 30 students said they didn't go to a
single game.
Just 33 percent of students could name
at least three members of the Michigan
basketball team. Horton was by far the
name mentioned most. One student
thought his first name was Tim, like that
restaurant in the Michigan League. Can't
blame this one on Amaker. However,
45 percent of those polled believed the
Michigan Athletic Department doesn't do
enough to advertise the men's basketball
program (31 percent said it did and 24
percent did not have an opinion).
Go ahead and criticize my survey
method. Disregard Michigan students'
disregard for Michigan basketball. But
the data shows that Michigan students
don't care much for their basketball
team these days. Those younger stu-
dents - who will ride high expecta-
tions into next season (and maybe into
Crisler Arena) - couldn't even watch
the Big Ten home opener on their dorm-
room televisions this season.
Our apathy for Michigan basketball
can't be shouldered solely by Amaker,
the players or the Athletic Department
- there isn't any one entity to blame.
But when riot police are needed in
East Lansing, we want to blame them all.
Eric is going to East Lansing this
weekend to enjoy the Final Four atmo-
sphere he never could in four years
at Michigan. Eric Ambinder can be
reached at eambinde@umich.edu.

0

0 SOFTBALL
Merchant rebounds in secoi

By Jack Herman
Daily Sports Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - In a very
uncharacteristic manner, Michigan
senior Jessica Merchant struck out

in her first two at
bats in the Wol-
verines' first game
against Louisville
on Saturday. But
despite her early
troubles, Merchant
could be contained
for only so long.

°

runs and three. RBI.
"It was my pitch selection," Mer-
chant said. "The first game, I was
swinging at balls outside of the
zone. I had some adjustments to
make, and I made them going into
the second game."
Merchant's fielding seemed to
work in the opposite way, shining
earlier in the day before struggling
a bit in the end. In the sixth inning
of the first game, Louisville soph-
omore Jenn Skaggs hit a grounder
toward the left side of the field
that deflected off Michigan third
baseman Grace Leutele's glove.
Merchant backed up Leutele and
fielded the ball from her knees,
throwing it over to first just in time
to get Skaggs out. In the second
game, Merchant dove to the third
base side to snare a line drive hit
by Cardinal junior Lacy Wood.
But Wood got her revenge in
the second game. In the sixth
inning, she hit a shot that Merchant
couldn't handle and reached base
on what was ruled an error. Then,
Wood advanced safely to second

when Michigan pitcher Jennie Rit-
ter threw a fielded ball just above
Merchant's outstretched glove as
she stood on second waiting for the
force out.
"The one ball, I made an error on -
she hit it hard," Merchant said. "But we're
taught to play defense with our feet, and
I definitely got a little lazy. I just need to
stay down, and everything will be fine."
Do GET MAD, GET EVEN: In the
fourth inning of the first game,
Wolverine freshman Alessandra
Giampaola went to take a slap bunt
and got hit by the pitch from Cardi-
nal pitcher Aja Sherman. 'The ball
hit her square on the hands and
forced her to sit on the ground for
minutes before she got up to run to
first.
"It kind of made me mad because
they came close to hitting me a
couple of times," Giampaolo said.
"It just made me want to hit it a
little harder each time. It kind of
was my motivation."
Giampaolo managed to put the
motivation to good use with a solid
second game. In her second at bat,

ad game
she smashed a line drive to cen-
ter field, driving home sophomore
Rebekah Milian.
Later, Giampaolo started off
a three-run inning for Michigan
in the bottom of the sixth. She
knocked a stand-up double to left
center that hit . the wall on one
bounce and then scored thanks to a
Merchant single.
Michigan coach Carol Hutchins
said she was pleased to see that
Giampaola did not let the shake-up
get to her.
"I think Alessandra's a real-
ly tough kid - she's a player,"
Hutchins said. "I was very con-
cerned, but she came back, and
I'm sure she was sore. She's just
tough, and I love her approach to
the game."
NOTES: Michigan's three hits in
the first game of Saturday is its
lowest total all season ... This is
the second straight victory in the
Louisville Classic for the Wolver-
ines and their third crown in four
years. Michigan is 12-0 all-time at
the tournament.

0

With Michigan up just 1-0 in the
sixth inning, Merchant knocked
in what would be the game-win-
ning run for the Wolverines, scor-
ing senior Michelle Teschler on a
fielder's choice to second.
But Merchant wasn't done. Dur-
ing the Wolverines' 7-0 win in the
championship round against the
Cardinals, Merchant set the tone
early, hitting a two-run homer to
grab a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the
first. She kept the pace all game
and finished with two hits, two

Tommy vs. Tom
Students wer~e asked to rate the'quadity of Tommny Amaker an~d Tam. Izzo hn the
followin~g areas on a scale from 1t to 10, with 1 being lowest quality and 10 being
highest quality. Students whow were unsure did not ans~wer the question. The re~s
ibelo are from 16 studen~ts who answered the question fully.
Category. Tommy AmakerTom 1:7-
Cc~hing ability, n hllj4f ) .
Charism~a; . i
Recruiting ahilitSh
'Appeal to 9uln,
lniage: 4

Solid small-ball propels
'M' Nine's offense to win

"No, it was (supposed to be) a drag bunt. It
wasn't a sac bunt, that's for sure."
- Michigan coach Rich Maloney
By H. Jose Bosch
Daily Sports Writer
In the bottom of the seventh inning, with a
Michigan runner on first base and nobody out,
the Wolverines were trailing Oakland by three
runs. Despite a 10-0 drubbing on opening day,
the Golden Grizzlies were not hibernating on day
two of the three-day series.
Michigan freshman Derek VanBuskirk stepped up
to the plate - with senior Jeff Kunkel on first - and
laid an unconventional bunt toward the pitcher. When
the play ended, VanBuskirk was out, Kunkel was on
second and fans were scratching their heads.
"It was a lousy bunt," Maloney said. "But we
needed to try and get the tying run to the plate.
(The drag bunt) has been a great play in our pro-
gram. We practice it more than anyone in Amer-
ica, and, for those very reasons, it won't be the
last time you see one during that time (down late
in the game) either."
With the brazenness of Ebby Calvin "Nuke"
LaLoosh and the calmness of Crash Davis, the

fifth, sophomore Leif Mahler executed a perfect
square and slash - when the batter fakes a bunt,
then swings - and roped a double down the line
to put runners on second and third. Both would
later score, and the inning proved to jumpstart
Michigan to eight more runs before the game was
done.
"You need all aspects of the game to have a
championship team, and that's what we want to
be," VanBuskirk said. "We have to play small-
ball, and, every once in a while, we have to get
the big hit. It'll all come together, hopefully."
The Wolverines' small-ball also helped set up
the game-tying double in the seventh inning of
the second game. Michigan's numerous stolen
base attempts began to take their toll on Oakland
pitcher Paul Phillips. Phillips balked the runners
on first and second into scoring position, setting
up senior Kyle Bohm for his two-run double.
"We were going to steal that base there, and
it would have been interesting," Maloney said
of the situation in the seventh. "To (sophomore)
Brad Roblin's credit, he was way out there, and
he put pressure on (Phillips). I think the kid was
concerned, and he balked."
The most important thing about Michigan's
style of play is that it forces batters to concen-

' I. 4. - ta ;h iF

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