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April 04, 2005 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - April 4, 2005 - 3B
Instances when you root or MSU are rare

Partway through last week's college hockey
NCAA Tournament first-round game between
Michigan and Wisconsin, I witnessed one of
the most disturbing sights in all of college sports.
The P.A. announcer told the crowd that the Michigan
State basketball team had beaten Duke by 10, 78-68. That

wasn't so disturbing, but I sat in
the press box and watched as
6,000 Michigan and Wisconsin
fans cheered at the top of their
lungs. I never in my entire life
thought that I would witness
such a large group of mostly
Michigan supporters cheer for
the Spartans. But this weekend,
while watching the Final Four,
it happened again. My friends

.4.
IAN HERBERT
The SportsMonday
Column

MIKE HULSEBUS/Daily
Freshman Alle Shafner teamed with Leanne Rutherford at No. 2 doubles.
Hom-We courthelps
Wolverines in win

By Daniel Levy
Daily Sports Writer
After losing two tough matches on the
road last weekend, Michigan women's ten-
nis coach Bitsy Ritt thought that her team
was playing well but just needed to "put it
all together." The Wolverines (3-2 Big Ten,
8-8 overall) responded this weekend with
contributions from everyone and cruised
to easy victories over Minnesota (0-4,5-9)
and Iowa (2-1, 8-6).
Michigan used a dominant doubles
lineup to jump on Minnesota quickly
in yesterday's 5-2 win. The Wolverines'
13th-ranked duo of senior co-captain
Michelle DaCosta and sophomore Kara
Delicata was nearly perfect in its 8-1 vic-
tory at No. I doubles. Following in the
pair's footsteps, senior co-captain Leanne
Rutherford and freshman Allie Shafner
overpowered Minnesota's Ida Malm-
berg and Lindsay Risebrough, 8-4, at
No. 2 doubles. Junior Debra Streifler and
sophomore Elizabeth Exon completed
the doubles sweep with an 8-4 win at No.
3 doubles.
In the singles action, the Wolverines
followed the same script as the doubles.
Michigan got out to fast starts and put
the match away before the Gophers had a
chance to fight back. Junior Nina Yaftali
led the quick strike with a 6-2, 6-1 win
over Marina Bugaenco at No. 6 singles.
Delicata was next in line, taking the No. 3
singles match, 6-4, 6-3. Exon then sealed
the overall match in impressive fashion
by beating Ida Malmberg, 6-1, 6-0, at the
No. 2 singles to give the Wolverines their
fourth team point. With the match already
decided, the Gophers kept fighting and
won the No. 1 and No. 5 singles matches,
while Rutherford notched a win at No. 4
singles for Michigan.
"A win like this really is the result of a
good team effort," Ritt said. "I am happy

with how we played and with the fact that
we were able to win."
Michigan utilized that same team effort
to blow past Iowa on Saturday. The dou-
bles teams experienced a reversal in order
but not in results. Exon and Streifler led the
way with a quick 8-0 win at No. 3 doubles.
Rutherford and Shafner followed with an
8-4 victory at No. 2 doubles while DaCos-
ta and Delicata tacked on an 8-3 win at No.
1 doubles for the Michigan sweep.
Streifler came out strong at No.5 singles
to give Michigan a quick 2-0 lead, but Iowa
fought back and won the No. 4 singles
match to keep the score interesting at 2-1.
The win would be the only point Iowa got
all day. Delicata earned a hard-fought 6-4,
7-6 (5) victory at No. 3 singles. After drop-
ping the first set of the No. 2 singles match,
Exon answered back with two 6-0 sets of
her own to clinch the win for Michigan.
DaCosta and Yaftali added wins at No. 1
and No. 6 singles, respectively, to give the
Wolverines a 6-1 victory.
"I was especially pleased with how we
played against Iowa," Ritt said. "There
were a lot of close matches, but we did a
good job of using our weapons when we
needed to."
With just one of its remaining five
matches at home, Michigan was aware of
the importance of taking advantage of its
home court this past weekend.
"We have a tough Big Ten schedule
remaining, and it is even tougher because
it's on the road," Ritt said. "That made it
even more critical that we performed well
this weekend."
Streifler's loss yesterday at No. 5 singles
snapped an eight-match winning streak
and leaves Yaftali as the only undefeated
Wolverine in Big Ten singles play with a
record of 5-0.
Michigan heads back on the road next
week to face Purdue on Saturday and I
nois on Sunday.

sat around and rooted for an all-Big Ten final.
Now, maybe there's something that I don't get. I'm
not from Michigan, and I don't have any friends who
go to Michigan State. But when I came to Michigan
and started rooting for the Wolverines, I bought into
a system. I root for Michigan and whichever team is
playing against Michigan State. I mean, this is the
school that painted the 'M' green last week and, every
year, sends students down to Ann Arbor to paint the
rock white and green. This is the school that added an
extra second to the football game my freshman year
and the school that we ... well, schooled in the over-
time football game this season. This is a rivalry. And
in my mind, there are really just a few reasons why
we root for the Spartans - some of them are decently
logical and some are pretty ridiculous.
1. If they are playing Ohio State. In my mind, the
Buckeyes are even worse than the Spartans. There
are a thousand reasons why this is true, including Jim
Tressel's sweater vest and the Buckeyes' recruiting
tactics. But that's a topic for a whole different column.
The fact is that Ohio State is really the evil empire,
and, if the Green and White goes up against the Scarlet

and Grey, my money's not going to be on Red. I just
can't bring myself to do it. Note: this rule also applies
to other inherently evil teams such as Duke and, in
some cases, Notre Dame.
2. If your family - brothers, sisters, parents,
friends, whoever - is from Lansing. To me, this is
something I will never understand. My brother goes
to Washington Jefferson College, a small school in
western Pennsylvania. His school is Division III, but,
earlier in the year, we played it in water polo. I don't
care very much about water polo, but the first thing I
did when I saw that we won was call my brother and
brag to him. And I'm sure that he would have done the
same to me if the situation was reversed. But maybe
things are different up here in Michigan. Like I said,
I'm not from this state, and I'm not sure exactly how
the thinking goes for the in-state rivalry. To me, having
friends at State would make my hatred stronger. But
not everyone appears to think like me.
3. If you are just a Spartans fan in a Maize and
Blue uniform. Believe it or not, I do have friends
like this, and it's ridiculous. Maybe it's because
Michigan is a better school than State. Maybe you
went to State for undergrad and now you're here
for some graduate work. Maybe you just thought
Ann Arbor was a better town than Lansing - that's
understandable. But whatever the reason, God help
you if you fall into this category.
4. To make the Big Ten look like a stronger conference.
This is the logic that most people are floating around now,
and, you know what, it's illogical - at least this year.
Since the beginning of the year, Illinois, Michigan State
and Wisconsin have been ranked near the top of the polls,
and all three of them were in the top-25. The problem
with the Big Ten was never that the top three teams were
bad; it's that the rest of the teams are horrible. If you were
rooting for the Big Ten to prove itself, then you should
have been rooting for Minnesota to beat Iowa State and
Iowa to take down Cincinnati. Both of those teams were
crushed, and the Big Ten lost its credibility on the first

weekend of the Tournament - not in the Final Four.
5. You're rooting for a good game. It is acceptable
to root for Michigan State when they are behind if, and
only if, you then root for them to lose. I understand as
well as anyone the desire to see a good game, be wit-
ness to a double overtime game or watch teams run up
and down the floor like North Carolina and Michigan
State did on Saturday. But let's be clear here - this is
only acceptable if your desire for them to lose super-
cedes your desire to see a good game. You must make
a promise with whatever god you may believe in to
only root for a good game if the Spartans are guaran-
teed to lose when it's all said and done.
6. You picked them in your bracket. I shouldn't even
address this issue because, as a true Michigan fan,
you really shouldn't pick the Spartans to go far in any
tournament pool. And if you do, it should be clear that
your priorities always lie with Michigan before bracket
supremacy. I will make one exception in this scenario.
If by some stroke of luck, Michigan State winning will
give you the only perfect bracket ever in the history
of NCAA Tournament pools, you are excused. Other-
wise, throw out your hopes for winning your pool and
make sure you root against the Sparties.
7 It helps Michigan. It is true that there is the occa-
sional situation when Michigan State helps the Wol-
verines - last year's football game against Wisconsin
comes to mind. The Spartans' victory in November
propelled us into the Rose Bowl, and for that I was
undeniably grateful.
But that's it. As far as I can tell, there is no other rea-
son to even think about rooting for the Spartans. But
feel free to root for whichever team you want tonight.
Illinois doesn't fall into the same rivalry category, and,
thankfully, the Spartans are now out of it.
I hope that Michigan fans everywhere are cheering
because of that.

Ian Herbert can be reached at
iherbert@umich.edu.

E U

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