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November 29, 2005 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-11-29

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

abe Ichrigan Bu&iU
PORTCS

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8

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Cagers
ready for
'Canes
By Kevin Wright
Daily Sports Writer
The past hasn't been kind to the Big Ten
during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Since the competition's conception six
years ago, the ACC has never lost an ACC/
Big Ten Challenge - defeating the Big Ten
in 14 of the last 18 games.
And the Michigan men's basketball team
has mirrored the recent struggles of the Big
Ten, falling to Wake Forest 71-60 in 2003
before getting run out of the gym in a 99-68
defeat to Georgia Tech last season.
But this year, the Big Ten enters the ring
with a fighting chance against the peren-
nial powerhouse basketball conference, and
the Wolverines wait in anticipation for their
game against Miami tonight. A Michigan
win would inch the Big Ten one victory clos-
er to capturing the Commissioner's Cup.
"It's good for (the Big Ten) to win," senior
Daniel Horton said. "We have an opportuni-
ty to represent the conference, but at the same
time, our main priority is us. If we win and
the other teams don't, then that's
too bad. But it would be nice for
the (Big Ten) to win one."
Michigan (3-0) will carry'
momentum built from wins at Bos-
ton and against Butler into tonight'sr
game against Miami (4-2) - a;
team fairly accustomed to playing
on a national stage.
In their first season in the ACC C
last year, the Hurricanes exceeded>
expectations. Miami posted a 16-
13 overall record and participated
in the NIT - where they lost in the first
round to eventually-champion South Caro-
lina. Coming into this season, the Hurricanes
heralded a strong backcourt anchored by
junior Guillermo Diaz who was named sec-
ond-team All-ACC last season. Even though
Miami struggled in their last game, a loss at
Temple, Diaz and Miami pose a formidable
threat to Michigan.

The Wolverines will look to senior Daniel Horton to lead the team tonight against Miami.

Michigan hockey yet to
live up to No. 1 ranking
ankings don't mean anything. Michigan was ranked higher than both teams heading
It's a cliche that's used often in sports. But it fits into the Showcase each of the past three years. The Wol-
e a glove with the Michigan hockey team. verines' last win in the tournament came way back on
Coach Red Berenson and the Wolverines entered last Dec. 1, 2002, in Minneapolis. That should be unaccept-
weekend ranked first in the nation. Unfortunately, the able for this team.
team held to its recent form when it owns the top rank- Sure, there are 11 freshmen on this year's squad. The
ing. It dropped both games in the College departure of 10 seniors after last season and
Hockey Showcase in disappointing fashion the sudden losses of star goalie Al Montoya
to then-No. 7 Minnesota and then-No. 2 and leading scorer Jeff Tambellini, both of
Wisconsin at Yost Ice Arena. whom bolted school early for the NHL over
When atop the national polls, Michigan the summer, were crushing blows. But this
has posted an abysmal 2-6-1 record over the year is simply a continuation of a growing
past two seasons. Though the Wolverines pattern. The same thing happened last year,
have been considered the best team in the with the most experienced team the Wolver-
country on several occasions, they've never ines have fielded in a long time - maybe
played like it when they've been expected to. ever, for that matter. And the year before
Michigan's failure to live up to its hype that.
might very well be a reflection of the com- GABE If weaker competition in the CCHA is to
petition it faces throughout the season. Play- EDELSON blame - a quick look at the rankings shows
ers and coaches will argue the merits and Honest Cabe only two conference teams in the top-15,
strength of the CCHA until they're blue in while the 13 remaining teams all belong to
the face, but the fact of the matter is that it can't be con- the WCHA, Hockey East, or the ECACHL - there's not
sidered an elite college hockey conference anymore. much Michigan can do about it. But if a look in the mir-
Take a look at last year's NCAA Tournament: ror reveals additional problems, then Berenson and his
Just two CCHA teams, Michigan and Ohio State, players need to do something to fix them.
made the 16-team bracket. But that's not all. The This is an unbelievably young team. And I'm
Buckeyes failed to win a game, and the Wol- definitely not writing this year's Wolverines off, by any
verines lost to Colorado College in their second means. Down the road, and even as soon as this season,
game of the postseason. Meanwhile, the WCHA this group is capable of great things. The talent level is
monopolized the Frozen Four, with Minnesota, extremely high, and, at times, Michigan has played at
North Dakota, Colorado College and Denver a caliber that has exceeded its fans' most exaggerated
composing the sport's premier field. So was it hopes.
really such a big surprise that the Gophers and But right now, the Wolverines' play leaves a lot to be
Badgers - who also belong to the WCHA - desired. Allowing Minnesota and Wisconsin to hold the
beat up on the Maize and Blue over Thanksgiving puck in the offensive zone for seemingly minutes at a
weekend? time, committing costly turnovers deep in their own ter-
Maybe it wasn't. But it should've been. ritory, failing to execute on the penalty kill and letting in
After all, Michigan should face high expectations each weak goals are just a few examples.
and every year. This is a program that won two national Keep in mind, this is a team that has won all but
championships in three years in the 1990s. The squad eight of its home games over the past three years
consistently wins the CCHA crown, sends more players combined. This season, after just 13 contests, the Wol-
to the NHL than just about any other school and revels in verines have two losses and a tie at Yost. The team is
a long and storied tradition of greatness (the Wolverines currently ranked No. 3, but it's pretty hard to justify
have captured an NCAA-record nine national titles). even that lesser spot.
So Michigan's performance in the Showcase over the It's an exciting time for Michigan hockey. The team
past three years should be cause for concern. Dating back has the potential to be the best it's ever been.
to the 2003-04 season, Berenson's teams have been rou- I can't wait to see when the limitless promise translates
tinely trounced en route to a horrifying 0-6 record against into results.
Minnesota and Wisconsin, Michigan's traditional tour-
nament foes. The Gophers and Badgers have outscored -Gabe Edelson can be reached
the Wolverines by a combined score of 24-10. Ironically, at gedelson@umich.edu.

0
0

r

"(Diaz's) very explosive, very talented,"
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said.
"We're hopeful that we can stop him. He
didn't shoot as well in his last game, but he is
a player that has a great reputation for being
able to get his own shot."
Countering the strong guard play of the
Hurricanes, and especially
Diaz, Michigan will turn
to its court leader, Horton,
to steady the team.
INIG H T Horton carried the
Miami at team to victory in each
M1chign of the Wolverines previ-
ous two contests, scoring
93 ParL a combined 49 points. It's
isler Aena not just the senior's abil-
ESPn_=___<___ ity to score that makes
him indispensable to
Michigan, but also his
court savvy and ability to lead his fellow
teammates.
"Daniel is very important to this team,"
freshman Jerret Smith said. "He's the point
guard and might be one of the nation's best
point guards. He's proving to everyone that
doubted him last year that he is the best."
Though Horton paces the Wolverines, cen-
ter Courtney Sims has guided Michigan to its

current unblemished record. Sims's ability to
draw multiple defenders in the post opened
up the perimeter shots for sharpshooters
Horton and junior Dion Harris. The Boston
native is currently shooting 77 percent from
the floor and is averaging 15 points per game
while leading the team in rebounds.
"I'm pleased with his production," Amak-
er said. "I'm hoping that we can continue to
see him be a post presence but not just on the
offensive end."
With his team playing on a national stage
for the first time in the young season, Amaker
said he believes that his team will come out
fired up and ready to play. He realizes that
the Wolverines need to show up for the entire
40 minutes of the game, and said he hopes
his players will avoid unforced turnovers
from overaggressive play.
Although Michigan has mostly veered
clear of the plague of injuries that it encoun-
tered last season, Harris suffers from a lin-
gering foot injury that has hampered his
contributions to the Wolverines. After rest-
ing the foot for much of the summer, Harris
felt better heading into the start of the season.
Unfortunately, the foot flared up during the
first few games, and Harris has had to play
through the pain.

0

*IKE HOCKEY
Costly mistakes
hurting ICers' 'D'

Blue's Clement aided by switch-a-roo

By Sara Livingston
Daily Sports Writer

By Mark Giannotto
Daily Sports Writer
An author could not have written a bet-
ter ending. With just under two minutes
to play in the third period in Saturday's
game against Wisconsin, Michigan looked
poised to score a game-winning goal and
earn an important come-from-behind
victory over the second-ranked Badgers.
Leading scorer and alternate captain T.J.
Hensick controlled the puck in the offen-
sive zone, when the puck hit off Hensick's
own skate.
And then something all too familiar hap-
pened. Wisconsin forward Robbie Earl col-
lected the puck and sent itup ice to streaking
forward Adam Burish who split Wolverine
defensemen Matt Hunwick and Jack John-
son and fired the game-winning goal past
helpless Michigan goalie Noah Ruden.
Mistakes by the defense proved to be a
big reason why the Wolverines came out of
the weekend winless at the College Hockey
Showcase in Ann Arbor this past weekend.
"We gave up more outnumbered rushes
from our own doing, rather than the other
team making a good play," Michigan
coach Red Berenson said.
On numerous occasions, Michigan
goalies - freshman Billy Sauer on Friday
and Ruden on Saturday - were left hung
out to dry by their teammates. Both Min-
nesota and Wisconsin were able to capital-
ize on Michigan defensemen moving too
far up when the puck was in the Wolver-
ines' possession.
Against the Gophers, with Michigan
trailing 3-1, Wolverine defenseman Mark
Mitera got caught all alone on a 2-on-1
break. With Michigan forward Andrew

Ebbett trailing the play, Minnesota fresh-
man Phil Kessel wound up for a ferocious
slap shot that flew by the outstretched
glove of Sauer.
Against Wisconsin, Johnson and Hun-
wick were not the only culprits of making
mental errors. With Michigan behind 1-0
in the second period, junior defenseman
David Rohlfs tried to make a cross-ice,
backhanded pass to Mitera. But Rohlfs did
not notice Robbie Earl eyeing the play the
entire way. Earl intercepted the pass and
skated in freely on Ruden, who was unable
to stop the breakaway.
"When you get in a close game, and you
take a chance and end up on the wrong side
of the puck, and they get an outnumbered
rush and score a goal to win the game -
that's what we're dealing with right now,"
Berenson said.
This weekend was not the first time
Michigan defenders had trouble getting
back after a change in possession. In the
Wolverines' first game against Notre
Dame, Ruden was once again victimized
by poor play from his defensemen. He
gave up five goals to a Fighting Irish team
not known for its offensive prowess.
Oftentimes this season when the
defense has been caught out of position
allowing an odd man rush, they took a
penalty to negate a possible shot. With
Michigan allowing just seven goals in its
first 11 games, the defensemen's mistakes
were not so glaring.
But when Minnesota victimized Michi-
gan for five power play goals, the issue
came to the forefront.
Johnson and junior defenseman Jason
Dest lead the team in penalty minutes with
40 and 29 respectively.

What a difference a year can
make.
This time last year, current soph-
omore Krista Clement was run-
ning the offense as the Wolverines'
freshman point guard. Now, with
the addition of freshman Jessica
Minnfield, Clement has the oppor-
tunity she has long desired - play-
ing out on the wing and showcasing
her scoring ability.
Throughout the 2004-05 season,
Clement's offensive productivity
was stifled because she spent the
majority of her time finding shots
for others and dishing out the rock,
earning a team-high 84 assists in
the process. Clement's court vision
allowed her to not just visualize
plays but to also communicate them
to her teammates. Despite having a
1.38 assist-to-turnover ratio, Clem-
ent would much rather leave playing
the point to someone else.
"I love the change from this year
to last year, and I think it is not
only the change of position but also
the girls who I am playing with,"
Clement said. "It's like we have
all changed and just improved our
teamwork."
Minnfield's introduction into the
starting lineup at the beginning
of this season has given Clement
the chance to show off her 3-point
shooting ability and improve on the
dismal 81 shots she attempted from
beyond the arc last season. Clem-
ent still finds herself running the
offense late in the first half, but,
with the addition of sophomore
Jessica Starling to the team's point
guard rotation, Clement should see

her shot whenever the ball comes
her way.
Clement's presence as a two-
guard takes the pressure off other
players who are often looked to for
offensive productivity. Most teams
are afraid of leaving Clement, a self-
pronounced "zone-buster," unguard-
ed along the perimeter and are less
likely to run a zone defense.
"When I am in the post, I always
look for Krista when I get double-
teamed because she spends a lot
of time in the gym," sophomore
Ta'Shia Walker said. "She is a phe-
nomenal shooter, and she is just
the type of person in a game that I
would trust to take the last shot."
In Burnett's words, Clement has
the "green-light" regarding shot
selection. Five games into the sea-
son, Clement has already attempted
a team-high 23 3-pointers, convert-
ing on just five of those shots. The
number doesn't concern Burnett,
who feels that as long as Clement
continues to take smart shots, there
is no reason to switch the light to
red anytime soon.
Clement also continues to is still
able to vocally lead the team. While
she may not always be at point
guard, she still communicates with
the team, making sure they know
what plays to run and what to look
for on both ends of the court.
"Krista is an absolutely phenom-
enal vocal leader, and for me that
carries over into everything," Bur-
nett said.
"Offensively, we do a lot of really
important communicating of what
we want to run, how we want to run
it, so there is a very important part
of the offense that has to do with
that communication."

DAVID TUMAN /Daily
Freshman Krista Clement has seen increased time at the twoguard position this year.

0

her minutes in the two-spot increase
even more.
With both Minnfield and Clement
on the hardwood, new opportunities

constantly arise for the Wolverines.
While Minnfield calls plays and set
up the offense, Clement has time to
set up against her defender and find

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