The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - October 10, 2005 - 3B
Accordeng to the math, Varsity may be in a bit of trouble
*Tlonestly believe that I can't say it any better
than the rush end LaMarr Woodley.
"This wasn't just for the Jug, it was for the
Big Ten Championship," Woodley said. "They
came across and took all of that
With this most recent loss to
Minnesota - the first one in 19
years - Michigan essentially
eliminated itself from the Big Ten
race. Purdue and perennial bottom-
dweller Illinois are now the only
teams in the conference worse than
And it's possible that it won't get
any better. Michigan is one of the
most talented teams in the country, HE
but something is different this year. The Spo
And the Wolverines don't have any Co
easy games left on the schedule. -
There are no more Eastern Michigans to beat up
on in bounce-back games. In fact, it's possible that
Michigan will lose all of the rest of its games.
It's a little something I like to call the transi-
tive property of football - basically, since team
A beat team B and team B beat team C, it fol-
lows that team A should beat team C. There's
also a corollary of the transitive property, which
says that if team A beats team B by one point
and team C beat team B by two points, team C
is clearly better than team A. It's not perfect, but
I figure that, if it's good enough for mathemati-
cians, it's good enough for me.
Still writhing from the agony of
a 3-3 record, I spent Saturday night
studying these properties. Since I'd
like to start making New Year's
plans - and in order to do that I
would have to know what, if any,
bowl game I will be traveling to
over winter break - I decided to
use the transitive property of foot-
ball to figure out where Michigan
will end up this year. Here it goes:
IAN Oct. 15 vs. Penn State - This
RBERT one is easy. Penn State crushed
ortsMonday Minnesota two weeks ago, 44-14.
olumn Minnesota just walked into the Big
House and beat Michigan 23-20,
so it looks like Penn State will be a loss. Plus,
Penn State beat Northwestern and the Wildcats
just edged Wisconsin in a shootout, 51-48. If you
didn't remember, Wisconsin was the first Big Ten
team to beat Michigan.
I remember, Ian. IfI recall correctly, the
offense couldn't get anything started against
Wisconsin and wide receiver Steve Breaston
made just one catch for negative one yard. At
least it looks as ifBreaston has returned from
his sabbatical even if quarterback Chad Henne
couldn't hit an elephant.
Oct. 22 at Iowa - The Hawkeyes beat Pur-
due this weekend, reclaiming their manhood and
sending Purdue and its 0-2 conference record
to the bottom of the Big Ten. But Purdue took
Minnesota to overtime in Minneapolis a couple
of weeks ago, which is better than Michigan
did. Note: Michigan probably could have gone
to overtime if it hadn't called three timeouts in
the last two minutes before letting Minnesota's
Gary Russell run 60 yards. Still, the Boilermak-
ers' effort stands, putting up another notch in the
loss column for the Wolverines, according to the
To be fair, Minnesota ended up beating
Purdue by seven, which might mean that the
Boilermakers are actually worse than Michigan.
But you know what they say about statistics
- they'll testify for either side.
Oct. 29 at Northwestern - Like I said
before, the Wildcats' victory over Wisconsin
basically assures them of toppling Michigan on
Halloween weekend. Northwestern only beat
Northern Illinois by one point, and Michigan
topped the Huskies by 16 in the first game of
the year. So this game presents a little bit of a
dilemma for the transitive property. Because the
ghosts will be out that weekend - and it's at
night in Evanston - I'm giving the edge to the
team wearing purple.
It wouldn't be the first time the Wildcats
toppled a Big Ten powerhouse. Last year, Ohio
State walked into Evanston at night and lost an
overtime game. This year's Halloween game is
in Evanston at night. Scared?
Nov. 5, bye week - Michigan is pretty safe
this week. According to the mathematicians,
the Wolverines have lost four straight heading
into the bye week. They have two more games
to go - although, at this point, they've already
assured themselves of not playing in a bowl
game. My New Year's Day plans are set for back
home in D.C.
You can't lose what you don't put in the middle.
Damn next year's addition of the twelfth game.
Nov. 12 vs. Indiana - The Indiana game
may not look like the toughest game on the
schedule, but it's the toughest test for the transi-
tive property. Bear with me. Indiana beat Central
Michigan in the Hoosiers' first game of the year.
Central Michigan then turned around and beat
Miami (Ohio) the very next weekend, meaning
that Indiana is better than Miami (Ohio). The
Redhawks lost to Ohio State, but only by 20
points (34-14). Ohio State beat Iowa 31-6, which
is more than 20 points. Because they did better
against the Buckeyes, Miami (Ohio) is clearly
a better team than Iowa. And since I already
showed that Michigan is going to lose to Iowa
in Iowa City, it's painfully obvious that Miami
(Ohio) is better than the Wolverines. Therefore,
if the transitive property of football does in fact
hold up, Michigan will almost certainly lose to
Indiana on Nov. 5. The team's record heading
into the Ohio State game should be 3-7.
It is often said that a win against Ohio State
can save any Michigan season. If it gets to this
point, I'm not sure that's true.
Nov. 19 vs. Ohio State - This is an obvious
loss. Ohio State beat Iowa by 25 points, and I have
already used the transitive property of football
to clearly show that Iowa was a better team than
Michigan - remember, the Hawkeyes are going
to win in Iowa City on Oct. 29. By that logic,
Michigan should get creamed by the Bucks.
Michigan has made it to a bowl game every
year since 1975. That's an awfully long time.
With a record of 3-8, it's obvious that I will
be spending my winter break almost entirely
at home in Washington D.C. Without a bowl
game to go to, I won't really have anything to do.
Maybe I could study math.
- Herbert can be reached at
History cannot save spikers
in defeat to the Boilermakers
By Ian Robinson
Daily Sports Writer
At halftime of Saturday night's volley-
ball game, the Cliff Keen Arena score-
board looked eerily familiar.
The Wolverines trailed No. 22 Purdue
30-20, 30-20 at the
half, but they knew E
they could draw upon
their experience from
last November for MHIN 3
On November 6,
2004, the Intercollegiate Athletic Facil-
ity scoreboard showed that Purdue held a
2-0 advantage over Michigan.
The Wolverines clawed their way back
from a 30-22, 30-21 deficit to win the
match in five games.
This time Michigan (3-3 Big Ten, 9-6
overall) failed to win the third game, despite
facing three game points, and dropped the
match 30-20, 30-20, 36-34 en route to a
weekend split at Cliff Keen Arena.
After two games in which the Wol-
verines failed to show that they
could compete with the top teams
in the Big Ten, they came out with
a new intensity in the third game.
They jumped out to a 15-11 lead before
Purdue (3-3, 14-3) tied the score at 16.
The game went back and forth until
Michigan pulled ahead by three points,
The Wolverines dropped two of the
next three points, but they had a chance
to close the game with the score 29-28.
Michigan coach Mark Rosen called a
timeout at this critical juncture to talk
about his team's strategy.
On the ensuing point, freshman Mara
Martin set the ball up for sophomore
Katie Bruzdzinski on the left side of the
net. Bruzdzinski attempted a kill to the
left side of the Purdue defense but Pur-
due senior Renata Dergan met the ball on
the other side of the net and delivered the
ball back over the Michigan blockers to
tie the game.
Following a Purdue service error,
Michigan had another opportunity to
close out the game but junior Danielle
Pflum could not control a Purdue kill
The Boilermakers closed the game
with a kill to the back right corner of
Michigan zone, followed by a Michigan
"It was encouraging to see our team
change the flow of the match, but to not
be able to close it out is frustrating,"
This weekend's homestand was the
second straight week that the Wolverines
won on Friday night but failed to com-
plete the sweep by losing on Saturday.
"In this conference, you have to be
able to go back-to-back on Friday and
Saturday night and take care of match-
es like we didn't take care of tonight,"
As poorly as the team executed on
Saturday night, the team could do little
wrong in a 30-20, 30-25, 30-19 sweep of
Illinois (2-4, 10-6) on Friday night.
The Wolverines total of 12 aces was
their highest single-game mark since the
13 they notched in a five-game match
against South Carolina in 1999.
The team also played efficiently, main-
taining a hitting percentage of .400 and
committing just 11 errors.
"This was one of our best offensive
performances of the season," Bruzdzins-
ki said. "There was not one person taking
control because it was very balanced."
Sophomore Katie Bruzdznski had eight kills In the Wolverines' losing effort against Purdue on Saturday.
Blue shows up-tempo defense
in preseason intrasquad game
By Daniel Bromwich
Daily Sports Writer
Practice is still five days away.
. But the atmosphere in Crisler Arena
on Saturday morning did not befit a
scrimmage held mainly for the enjoy-
ment of friends, family and fans.
The Michigan women's basket-
ball team is very young, featuring
five freshmen and five sophomores.
And the team showed off its young
legs on defense. Throughout the
scrimmage the Wolverines applied
defensive pressure for all 94 feet.
"I'm a coach that wants to play a
lot of full-court defense once we get
the players to do so, which we are
pretty close to now," coach Cheryl
Burnett said. "We have a lot of dif-
Burnett has told the players that
the best defensive group of players
and the players that work the hard-
est will start the first exhibition
game against Athletes in Action on
The team has had more opportu-
nities to prove itself on defense and
also to just practice as a full team
this year. Last year, rules held that
the team had eight hours a week
during the preseason for any bas-
ketball-related activity, condition-
ing included. But the coaches could
only do skill work with four play-
ers or less. This year, due to a rule
change, the coaches can have the
entire team on the basketball court
for four hours per week during the
On Saturday, Burnett used two of
those hours to hold a scrimmage and
create more of a game-like situation.
"A big difference between this
year and last year is that the play-
ers are a lot more familiar with our
offense," Burnett said. "With scrim-
mages like this, we can work on the
big picture, and then in practice we
can break down and work more on
The scrimmage was organized
into four different 20-minute ses-
sions. For the first session, Burnett
grouped together the players that
performed the best in the team's
conditioning training. In the next
part, she chose a team comprised of
her best defenders.
The second group instantly elevat-
ed the intensity of the scrimmage.
The game quickly developed a fast-
paced style, with multiple steals
turned into lay-ups. The defensive
team was led by junior Kelly Helvey,
who converted several of her steals
into and-one's on the other end.
For the third and fourth portions
of the scrimmage, Burnett separated
the four male students who practice
with the team. She wanted to have
all the girls play together and work
against physical players who are
bigger and stronger.
The women initially struggled to
match the size and physicality of
the men and fell behind 20-6. But
the Wolverines quickly settled down
and cut the deficit to five points
before the end of the quarter.
The women led the men for the
first half of the final quarter, rely-
ing on pressure defense and timely
three-pointers from freshman Jes-
sica Minnfield. But as the quarter
progressed, the men began to use
their advantages in size and strength
to take the lead. Fatigue played a
part, as the women began to settle
for jumpers instead of attacking the
But largely, Burnett was pleased
with what she saw.
"We know we are going to pres-
sure the ball and deny passes
because those are the easiest things
to learn," Burnett said. The two
hardest things to learn are help-
side defense and blocking out. I was
very impressed with how our play-
ers were able to execute because
we haven't had too much time with
our workouts, and this is a bunch of
The young kids have young legs
though, and those young legs should
contribute to a hard-charging, defen-
sive-minded team this year.
"We want to be in the best shape
of any team in the country," Burnett
said. "We are a defensively driven
team, and our entire program is
built upon that philosophy."
Junior Kelly Helvey was 14th in the Big Ten in steals last season.
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