The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - December 12, 2005 - 3B
s 'M' youth leads in intrasquad opener
By Eileen Hengel
Daily Sports Writer
Surrounded by flashing lights, fog and the
chorus of Kanye West's "Gold Digger," the
women's gymnastics team lined up to inaugu-
rate the 2006 season in style.
The intrasquad meet pitted the Maize
against the Blue in each of the respective appa-
ratuses: balance beam, floor, vault and uneven
bars. After four rounds the Blue outscored the
Led by freshmen Becky Bernard, the Blue
took the lead and never relinquished it. Ber-
nard finished third on bars (9.825) and took
home first place on beam with a score of
9.825. The Blue team also had the help of
sophomore Katie Lieberman with her first-
place finish on vault (9.875) and was aided by
freshman Huneth Lor's third-place finish on
"The freshmen I thought did a really good
job tonight, especially (Lor) and (Bernard),"
Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. "Still, all the
freshmen learned a lot in terms of how differ-
ent college competition is compared to (indi-
The style of the meet focused on easing the
newer team members into competition. With
background music on beam that ranged from
Mariah Carey to Rascal Flatts, the women
were told to relax and have fun.
"(The freshmen) aren't really used to hav-
ing people rooting for them," Plocki said.
"Before we went out there tonight, I told them
that everyone here is here to support them and
they all want you to do well. So there was no
reason to be nervous."
Similar to the freshmen, the returning play-
ers were not plagued by nerves. Behind a pair
of third-place finishes on uneven bars and bal-
ance beam (9.825, 9.675) and a first-place fin-
ish on the floor exercise (9.800), sophomore
Nellie Kippley led the charge for the Maize.
Fifth-year senior Lauren Mirkovich took the
bars title for the Maize with a score of 9.875.
But according to senior Jenny Deily, the
meet, was less about competition and more
Churella's big win
spurs Blue victory
By Katie Field
Daily Sports Writer
MOUNT PLEASANT - With 10-10 posted on the scoreboard, Michigan senior
co-captain Ryan Churella stepped onto the mat solely focused on defeating Chippewa
sophomore Justin Petrone.
He did just that.
Pinning Petrone after a minute and a half to earn his team six points, Churella earned
his team a comfortable cushion over the Chippewas yesterday.
The eager wrestling fans at Rose Arena erupted at Churella's victory. The close
matches kept fans rapt until the very end - when No. 2 Michigan pulled ahead to notch
a 22-14 win over No. 19 Central Michigan - the Wolverines' third dual victory of the
"You don't really think about the team score as much," Churella said. "You just go
out there and think about getting the pin because you know it's going to help the team
overall. I just kind of knew what I had to do - go out there and score as many points as
I did. And, luckily, that's what happened."
Blocking out the Chippewa fans' taunts and feeding off the energetic crowd, Michi-
gan senior co-captain Greg Wagner set the tone for the rest of the meet in the opening
match by claiming a smashing victory over Central Michigan junior Bubba Gritter in the
heavyweight match. For Wagner, wrestling first was a challenge he gladly accepted.
"I don't get to go first all the time," Wagner said. "I guess I enjoy the opportunity when
I get it. It is important to get off on the right foot and try to get some momentum going
in some of the other weight classes where we maybe aren't favored to win the match. I
just expect myself to go out and do what I need to do to win a match, and I try to win it
convincingly to get everybody else going."
Michigan coach Joe McFarland noted the importance of Wagner's performance.
"I thought our heavyweight did a nice job of getting things started for us," McFarland
said. "We got things on our side right away."
It wasn't long before some of the Wolverines' momentum slowed down. In the four
following matches, Michigan (2-1) snagged just one more win - Michigan junior Eric
Tannenbaum over Central Michigan senior Mark DiSalvo. The Wolverines lost one
match and tied three others.
Following Churella's lead, three more Wolverines won their matches. Senior Nick
Roy and sophomores Tyrel Todd and Casey White propelled Michigan to its 22-14 vic-
Coming off a loss to No. 14 Nebraska, Michigan's determination to regain confidence
enabled it to persevere against Central Michigan (4-2). McFarland was pleased to leave
Rose Arena with a win.
"We needed this," McFarland said. "We lost a tough one on Friday night at our place.
We knew we were going to need to rebound emotionally and get back and get a win. I
knew it was going to be a tough dual, and I knew we had to rustle some tough matches
to win. I thought, overall, our guys performed well."
Sophomore Katie Lieberman took first place on vault for the Wolverines at the intrasquad meet.
about making the routine.
"When you get out here and you do your
routine in front of judges, you figure out what
skills you get nervous on and what you change
technically in front of a crowd," Deily said.
Plocki stressed that the team was not shoot-
ing for perfection.
"If we were any better than we were
tonight, then I would be nervous," Plocki said.
"Because we don't want to be that good that
soon. We have to keep building, and we have
to keep working on our routines. It's important
to keep that hunger of 'Well, I did OK, but I
have a lot of things I still need to fix."'
Ohio State quarterbadk Troy Smith will face off against Brady Quinn and the Irish in the Fiesta Bowl Jan. 2.
Nothing poetic about a
By Sara Livingston
Daily Sports Writer
With both the shot clock and the game clock running down
at the end of the first half, Washington guard Kristen O'Neill
drove the lane, split the Michigan defense wide open and
launched a running lay-up from just inside the free throw line.
As O'Neill's shot bounced off the glass and circled around
the rim, the shot clock sounded. Assuming the half was over,
all five Wolverines stood back and watched as the ball eventu-
ally rimmed out. But O'Neill and teammate Maggie O'Hara
knew there were still a few seconds left on the game clock, and
O'Hara tipped the rebound back to a wide-open O'Neill. She
went right back up with the rock, laying it in from the left side
of the paint to put Washington up 37-23.
And there it was - the dagger. O'Neill had just sealed the
game, and there were still 20 minutes of basketball left to
"There is nothing that upsets (me) more than anything than
when they get a shot and we just stop," coach Cheryl Burnett
said. "Up to that point, we felt like we were fighting to stay in
it but we were close enough. But that particular basket made us
go into halftime on a bit of a downer."
Michigan was unable to contain the Huskies' offense, giving
up 45 points in the second half. The Wolverines were constant-
ly switching their zone setup to try to contain Washington's
lethal combination of inside and outside scorers. Nothing the
Wolverines did seemed to work, and they gave up 82 points on
90 shot attempts. The Huskies' ability to rotate the ball around
the perimeter and find one open player after another left the
Michigan was unable to make defensive changes fast enough
to adjust to Washington's various offensive setups. In shifting
among its assortment of zones, Michigan frequently got caught
in Husky screens, and as a result its on-ball defense greatly
"We changed up into some of our zone looks and some of
our three-quarter zone looks," Burnett said. "But what Wash-
ington does such a great job of is what we call making the next
pass. They dribble penetrate and then make the next pass off
another open player. They are such a great shooting team and
such a great dribble-penetrating team. They just find the open
player really, really well."
Washington's most deadly combination was its ability to
draw Michigan's defense into the post only to kick the ball
out to the wing. On many occasions, the Wolverines' defense
immediately collapsed on the post, but it was unable to rotate
over to the outside shooter soon enough. The Huskies shot 41
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man-to-man coverage, holding the Wolverines to just six treys.
With the perimeter completely covered, the post players did
whatever they could to score, but the ball just didn't get to them
often enough. Despite tying for a game-high 17 points, there
were several possessions when Walker was open down low and
never received the ball, which found its way into a Washington
player's hands first.
"A lot of our scoring problems are due to turnovers," Walker
said. "We can't get the ball in a position to execute because
turnovers are killing our offense."
With Walker on the bench taking a breather, freshman
'Twas the night before finals,
and all I could think,
was about the BCS system,
and its horrible jinx.
Every year it does something
And without fail,
I find myself saying,
"I hate this tale."
This year they got
the title match right.
But it's not this game,
that fills me with fright.
It's the game sponsored by Tostitos
that makes me most scared.
For I hate both the teams
that will play there.
won't be any fun
And I won't even watch
for fear of the runs.
The Irish have
a coach who's "the best,"
and he's transformed the offense
into the best of the rest.
Notre Dame is too lucky,
which accounts for the hate.
They get all the bounces.
It makes me irate.
And the Irish only won three
against winning teams.
But somehow they made
a BCS game.
It's because they are popular
and bring in the dough
that they get a place
in the big show.
The antipodal of great.
The Buckeyes are sleazy
with their $100 shakes.
And when they play Michigan,
it only raises the stakes.
There is no mutual respect
when it comes to these teams.
They despise each other,
or at least that's how it seems.
The Buckeyes also beat
Michigan at home.
And their reward is a mention
in this rambling poem.
It pains me to think,
as these two horrid teams vie.
that one must win.
Why can't they just tie?
The other games are great:
Joe Pa v. Bob
in a game between grandpas
with 80 years on the job.
Then No. 1 and No. 2
will fight it out
in the Rose Bowl game -
Sophomore Ta'Shia Walker led the Wolverines with 17 points and
eight rebounds, but it wasn't enough to beat the Huskies.
percent from 3-point range while only turning the ball over 12
"They are a very diverse team," sophomore Ta'Shia Walker
said. "They have a lot of flashers through the lane, and then (the
flashers) kick it out for a three. We did a great job on the help side,
but our recovery was a bit slow, and they hit the open shot."
The Wolverines struggled to plug the numerous holes
Washington was able to find in their defense as the game
progressed. The Huskies slash penetration exposed the
weaknesses in Michigan's zone, and the Wolverines strug-
gled to close the lanes and stop both Hicks and O'Neill from
driving through the zone.
"We got beat on a lot of drives," Clement said. "When that was
happening, they were able to get either lay-ups or to level- two jump
shots, and that is just something we are going to work on in the next
couple of days - just really being in the right defense to make sure
they don't go by us."
the game at that time and that was big for us."
But Skrba's offensive spark was quickly counteracted by
freshman Jessica Minnfield's back-to-back turnovers. Min-
nfield went on to turn the ball over six times before Burnett
pulled her. Michigan's turnovers resulted in 22 Huskies' points,
and the team's dismal 46 attempted shots were the main reason
they were able to have a second-half field goal percentage at 55
percent - a season high.
"We were shooting 55 percent in the second half and that's
a really good stat," Burnett said. "But what is deceiving about
that is the fact that, on many possessions, we aren't even get-
ting a shot because we are turning it over. We cannot turn the
ball over that many times and we certainly can't have our point
guards turning it over a combined 10 times."
After the teams shook hands, the Wolverines again gathered