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January 25, 2006 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-01-25

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Wednesday
January 25, 2006
sports. michigandaily. com
sports@michigandaily.com

OTe Sudigan Bailu

8

-- - ------- ---

Cagers gear
up for rival
Spartans
By Jack Herman
Daily Sports Writer
The last time No. 11 Michigan State won an NCAA
Tournament: 2000. The last time Michigan played in an
NCAA Tournament: 1998. And the Spartans have taken
12 of the last 13 games from the Wolverines - the past
two by a combined 26 points.
On paper, not much of
a rivalry.
But with a total of 21
players from the state of TONIGHT
Michigan involved this Michigan State at
year's games, it's in no Michigan
danger of extinction. Time:8p.m.
"Any time you get aT
chance to play against a Crisler Arena
rival like this and partici- ESPN-Plus
pate in the game is a great
feeling," said senior Sher-
rod Harrell, a Kalamazoo native whose Wolverines take
on the Spartans at 8 p.m. tonight in Crisler Arena.
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said he'll approach
this game like any other, although he admits many of his
players probably won't. But, he'll be happy to know that
at least one of his non-Michiganders is taking a similar
mindset into the game.
"I will admit it's big for the people of Ann Arbor,
the people of East Lansing and the people of the state
of Michigan," said Texas native Daniel Horton, who
scored a team-high 17 points in the Wolverines' last vic-
tory over the Spartans, a 60-58 triumph his freshman
year. "I realize that they're one of the better teams in
this conference, and they're a team that we have to go
through to win the Big Ten Championship. But as far
as an intrastate rivalry and all that type of stuff, it's not
really important in my mind."
Teammate Graham Brown isn't buying Horton's line.
"No matter what Daniel says, I think he does have a
hatred for them. Don't let him fool you," Brown said.
"You know he has something inside, he knows how big
of a rivalry it is."
Even without bragging rights on the line, Michi-
gan has plenty to worry about. The result makes the
difference between a 4-2 and a 3-3 Big Ten record,
a distinction that is especially important with a game
against No. 23 Wisconsin looming on Saturday. The
Wolverines - ranked 26th in the coaches' poll and
32nd in the Associated Press poll - lie on the cusp
of making the top 25 for the first time since 1998. But

Fab Five's legacy
still burns bright

6

RYAN WEINER/Daily
Junior guard Dion Harris and his fellow Wolverines hope to upset Michigan State tonight at Crisler Arena.

Before the football team's last
two games (I'm not counting
Indiana as a game), I thought
about which four players in Michigan
history I would want.
Usually, I ended up with
Charles Woodson, Des-
mond Howard, Tom Brady
and some defensive player.
Well, with tonight's
huge Michigan State bas--
ketball game coming up,
this question resurfaces
- but with a twist. Which
five Michigan basketball
players would I want? But M
that was too easy. It has to VEN
be the Fab Five, a group The
of guys whose games and
accomplishments now never offi-
cially "happened." I know the athletic
department doesn't like these guys,
and I'm sure that a lot of students don't
either, but let us not forget what the
Fab Five provided - other than miss-
ing banners. They made Ann Arbor a
place people wanted to come to more
than ever.
C-Webb, Jalen, Juwan, Jimmy and
Ray converted countless Michigan fans,
including me, just by playing basketball.
I can still remember dragging my dad to
Foot Locker to buy me what I thought to
be the most necessary hoops accessory
in the world - black low-cut Nike socks.
What kid didn't have those? You could
look at every basketball team in the early
'90s, and we were all rocking them. I
had two pairs: one with a standard white
swoosh and another with "Nike" out-
lined in blue. Sure, I was a chubby white
kid from suburban Minneapolis, but I
thought I was Chris Webber in those.
But my friend had me beat. He
had the maize Michigan shorts. The
yellowest things I had ever seen, but
at the time I remember thinking,
"Damn, I need a pair of those." And,
at one point, I got them. Sort of. I got
a pair of blue Michigan shorts that I
wore every day.
One day at the mall my confidence
in them almost came crashing down.
My friend - cruising in his shorts
- and I browsed Southdale Mall as
only 9-year-olds could when an old
lady approached us. We were almost
as tall as the woman, but that didn't
stop her from uttering something that
was, at that moment, as blasphemous
as burning an American flag, the Bible
and a Pearl Jam CD.
"Those are the ugliest shorts I have
ever seen in my life."
Each syllable was like a wrecking ball
to the groin - what'd she know? Noth-
ing, 'cause she was old. Our basketball
idols provided us with the stuff to wear,
not a woman who made the Golden Girls

A
eB

look hot.
I know that this makes me look like
I cared more about the fashion trends
that the Fab Five started, but it was the
hoops that got everyone
hooked - me included.
Instead of making basket-
ball look like a job, they
made it seem fun, like it
was on the playground.
Jalen trash-talked; we
trash talked. He may have
been light years ahead of
us, but we tried.
And the dunks, oh, the
TT dunks. Webber made us
GONI want to throw them down
galls like he did. This was how
I used a wrench on my
own: I loosened the bolts on my bas-
ketball hoop and lowered it so even
white boys could get above the rim.
As my friends and I perfected alley-
oops and swinging from the rim,
my dad came outside to yell at us.
Michigan paid for the rims our idols
hung on, and unless it would buy me
a new one, we had to stop.
That's the thing about the Fab
Five - it influenced a nation. The
fact that some of them got paid -
whatever, that's not all that surpris-
ing. I mean, what are the chances
that so many great players would
go to the same school all at once?
Their flair and arrogance car-
ried them when some thought the
worst of them. Being called drug
dealers, thugs and everything else
under the sun didn't matter; they
stuck together and accomplished
almost everything, sans that elusive
national championship.
They had what this current Mich-
igan squad needs - swagger. After
Saturday night's win over Minne-
sota, coach Tommy Amaker noted
that guard Daniel Horton's swagger
was the difference. That's probably
the first time I've ever loved some-
thing Amaker said. The Wolverines
need a swagger, an arrogance that
makes them really believe they can
dominate teams - and not just
doormats like the Gophers. The
Fab Five had it from the day they
stepped on campus. If the current
Wolverines - and most impor-
tantly Horton and softie Courtney
Sims - bring that, maybe they can
reclaim their spot as the state's best
team tonight. If that happens, I'll
slip on the old black socks and pre-
tend I'm Webber again.
- Matt used to ballfor Our Lady of
Grace school, but unfortunately he was
more Tractor Traylor than Webber. He
can be reached at mvgoni@umich.edu.

4

getting over the hump certainly won't be easy.
For starters, it appears very likely that the Wolver-
ines will be without wing Lester Abram, who suffered
a severe ankle sprain during last Saturday's win over
Minnesota. Although Amaker said Abram is listed
as day-to-day, neither his somber tone nor shrug-his-
shoulders response seemed to suggest optimism about
a return tonight.
"Not practicing (Monday) probably leads us to believe
it might be a stretch," Amaker said.
Abram's injury couldn't come at a worse time. The
Spartans sport one of the best backcourts in the nations
with guards Maurice Ager and Shannon Brown averag-
ing a combined 38 points per game. Point guard Drew
Neitzel is no slouch either, adding eight points and five
assists per game.
In addition, there's another little problem that might
plague the Wolverines in the post - the 6-foot-l 1,
270-pound Paul Davis. Given the recent struggles of

the Wolverines' inside players, they're likely to have
some difficulty stopping the center, who puts up more
than 18 points and 10 rebounds per game. During the
last two games, Michigan big men Courtney Sims and
Graham Brown have totaled just 11 points - and both
were held scoreless once.
"(Davis) is a great player, so we're just going to have
to limit his touches and try to do whatever we can to stop
him," Brown said.
Michigan knows it needs a complete game from its
players, inside and out, if it wants to upset its neighbors
tonight.
"I think this season, we've been playing like, ... me
and Daniel play well together, and then Courtney hasn't
played well," guard Dion Harris said. "(When Horton)
and Courtney play well, I haven't played well. So,I think
it will be very important for us to bring it all together on
Wednesday, because I think the Michigan State players
really know how to play as unit."

M CE HOCKEY
lers' Kolarik no longer slumping

By Mark Giannotto
Daily Sports Writer

The sophomore slump is a dreaded
happening in sports, and forward Chad
Kolarik was threatening to become its
latest victim.
Through 17 games this season, the
Abington, Pa., native had just 11 points
(four goals, seven assists). Although the
mark was close to his 16-game total of last
season (12 points), Kolarik was anticipat-
ed to shoulder much more of the scoring
burden this year. As a freshman, Kolarik
joined last year's senior-laden squad with

low expectations.
"Last year, he came in with some-
thing to prove, and he really worked
hard;' Michigan coach Red Berenson
said. "This year he came and played like
a more experienced player and nothing
happened. Was he taking it for granted or
was he just not working hard enough, we
don't know."
Whatever the problem was,it appears
the sophomore has fixed it. In a seven-
game stretch beginning with the Great
Lakes Invitational, Kolarik has been on
a scoring tear, tallying four goals and
dishing out five assists. In a two-game

series against Bowling Green this past
weekend, the forward had one goal and
three assists.
"There was a lot of pressure put on
him coming in as a sophomore after
a good freshman year last season,"
senior captain Andrew Ebbett said.
"He's a guy who puts a lot of pres-
sure on himself. But he's come back
from Christmas, break and he's more
relaxed and just playing. And that's
when he plays his best."
At the beginning of the season, the
chances were there for Kolarik; he just
had some bad luck. He missed point-blank
opportunities that were automatic his
freshman year. Without the puck finding
the net, Kolarik's confidence dipped, and
his game suffered accordingly. But once he
got the proverbial "monkey off his back"
in the GLI, his production soared.
"You can just see the difference when
(Kolarik) has confidence," Berenson said.
"He handles the puck better, and his skat-
ing is better. His whole game has come
up as his confidence has improved. His
confidence has improved because he
started scoring."

It didn't help Kolarik that his line
differed from game to game. In an
effort to jump-start his scoring, the
Michigan coaching staff tried shift-
ing the sophomore from wing to cen-
ter. None of the changes got Kolarik
going offensively.
But recently, the forward has been on a
line alongside Ebbett. The two comprise
a formidable duo that has consistently
created scoring chances.
"When you are playing with (Ebbett),
it's a lot easier to get points," Kolarik
said. "You could be through five guys,
and he'll find you."
The peculiar thing about Kolarik's
resurgence is that it coincides with some
of the team's most inconsistent play.
Since starting 9-1-1, Michigan has gone a
disappointing 5-8. Kolarik has been one
of the few steady performers during the
rough stretch.
"Now Chad is doing his role," Ebbett
said. "The coaches have told him what he
has to do to play well. I think he's being
free out there. He's shooting the puck, and
it's going in for him. He's a streaky player,
and he's on fire right now."

a

M WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
Former Wolverines
return as Wildcats

By Ian Robinson
Daily Sports Writer

The scene has played out thousands of
times before.
Tempie Brown and Catherine DiGia-
cinto run down the Crisler Arena tunnel.
Tomorrow, it will happen once again,
but something will be different.
Instead of wearing jerseys and shorts,
the duo will don slightly more formal
garb when they take the court.
Brown and DiGiacinto used to
compete for the Wolverines but have

I

spent the past two seasons
as assistant coaches at
Northwestern. Last year,
Michigan lost 66-59 in
Evanston, so tonight will
be the duos' first game
back in Ann Arbor with
the Wildcats.
"I always get goose-
bumps walking into Crisler,
like I did when I played
there," DiGiacinto said.

ToMo
Northwe
Mich
Time:
Crisler

sholm's under-18 team one year later,
before returning to the United States to
be an assistant coach at Holy Cross.
In her six years at Holy Cross, the
Crusaders made the NCAA Tournament
four times and won five Patriot League
regular-season titles. While coaching for
Holy Cross, DiGiacinto split two contests
against the Wolverines - one of which
was in Ann Arbor.
Northwestern hired DiGiacinto
before the 2004-05 season. She has
the responsibility of working with the
Wildcats' post players.
Brown will be coaching
- against Michigan in Crisler
RROW Arena for the first time.
She competed for
stem at Michigan from 1987 to
igan 1990 and was the team
7 p.m. captain for her final two
Arena seasons. She is one of 18
players in school history
to score 1,000 career
points in and earned
All-Big Ten Honorable Mention hon-
ors in 1988.
After graduating from Michigan,
Brown returned to her hometown
of Denver to work for Coors Brew-
ing Company and coach a local high
school basketball team.
She entered the collegiate coaching
ranks in 2000 as an assistant coach
for Saginaw Valley State. She moved
on to Eastern Michigan and Lehigh
before accepting the Northwestern
job last year.
Tonight's matchun is a big game for

Said Brown: "It's a mix of emotions -
with all those traditions that are still there,
and at the same time you are trying to get
a victory."
Although DiGiacinto says that she
will approach tonight's game like
any other game on the schedule, Ann
Arbor holds a special place in the Troy
native's heart.
"(My four years at) Michigan were
some of the best years of my life,"
DiGiacinto said. "I am excited go back
and ee evervone."

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