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February 15, 2006 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-02-15

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Skiba making best of bad situation

By David Murray
Daily Sports Writer
Canada should be proud.
Over the past six games, Stephany
Skrba, the Richmond Hill, Ontario
native and Canadian Junior Nation-
al Team member, has shown Michi-
gan fans why she was crowned Miss
Canada Basketball in 2005.
Skrba scored 19 points and
pulled down eight rebounds in an
early-season game against Saint
Francis (Penn.), garnering her Big
Ten Player of the Week honors. But
after that performance, the fresh-
man sputtered, averaging just 4.3
points and 3.3 rebounds during the
next 16 contests. Lately, the lengthy
Canadian has buried any doubt of
her offensive potency, pouring
in 71 points in her last six games
- two more points than her total
scoring output in the previous 16

- reminding everyone of her early-
season form.
"There is no question that we've
known that Stephany can be volatile
offensively if she's getting the right
shots and taking all of the shots that
she's very comfortable with," Mich-
igan coach Cheryl Burnett said.
Skrba's increase in productivity
hasn't been limited to just scoring.
She has led the team in rebound-
ing in four of the last six games,
averaging 7.8 boards per game in
that span.
"She's a great offensive rebound-
er," Burnett said. "And defensively,
we almost have to have her in the
game because of her defensive
rebounding."
If poise is what Skrba lacked
early in the season, then she has
a surplus of it now. Coaches and
teammates alike have both pointed
to confidence as the reason for her

recent success.
"I definitely think she's realized
that she's going to be a big scorer and
a big rebounder for us," freshman
forward Carly Benson said. "So, just
her having the confidence to go out
and do those things, without wor-
rying about making mistakes, has
really helped us out a lot."
Most recently, Skrba's solid play
boiled over into a career day when
the Wolverines faced Ohio State on
Friday night. Skrba filled the void
left by injuries to Ta'Shia Walker
and Katie Dierdorf. She recorded
the first double-double of her young
career, notching 17 points and grab-
bing 13 rebounds, which tied for the
team's season-high.
"My teammates did a great job
of getting me the ball (against Ohio
State)," Skrba said. "Our (guards)
always tells us, 'If you demand the
ball, we'll get it to you,' so that's

exactly what they did."
Despite her sensational night, she
said she realizes that even if she
does her part, she can't replace her
injured teammates by herself.
"I'm going to continue to try to
be aggressive and bang in there with
the big girls," Skrba said. "Hope-
fully, the posts that are remaining
can fill that void (left by Walker and
Dierdorf)."
The freshman has remained
unfazed by her increased scoring
and rebounding burden, playing
with the savvy of a seasoned veteran.
Michigan is realizing the talent that
earned her Miss Canada with her
performance in the last six games.
Now the Big Ten has a glimpse of
what it will have to contain for the
seasons to follow.
"If I continue to work hard
there is no telling what I can do,"
Skrba said.

JEREMY CHO/Daily
Freshman Stephany Skrba scored 17 points and grabbed 13 boards against Ohio State.

GOPHERS
Continued from page 9
the season. So, we're going to have
to step it up and play well these last
five games, there's no doubt about
that."
Michigan also needs a lift from its
frontcourt, especially junior Court-
ney Sims and senior Chris Hunter.
Against Purdue, Sims struggled to
find any open space in the paint.
Because the Wolverines didn't boast
much of an outside threat, the Boil-
ermakers packed the lane to contain
the 6-foot-ll center.
"With big guys, it's important that
the other pieces around them are
intact," Amaker said. "I think that
big guys are dependent on so many
other players around them for suc-
cess. ... Now, (we're) missing some
of the perimeter pieces that we nor-
mally have (and that) has affected
our post play."
It's highly unlikely that Horton,
Harris and Abram will run onto the
court together at the start of tonight's
game. As a matter of fact, there's a
very strong possibility that none of
the three injured Wolverines will
see court time. All three are consid-
ered questionable, at best.
But the veteran Michigan squad
isn't going to let the injuries keep it
down. It knows it has to play with
who it has.
"We got to continue to try to get
better," senior co-captain Graham
Brown said. "We got to try to get a
win against Minnesota. Our backs
are against the wall. We have to get
a victory."

Erdman hopes to avoid

plateau, remain

By Chris Herring
Daily Sports Writer
It's common to hear athletes set-
ting higher goals for themselves
from year to year.
So why would an athlete ever be
content with achieving the same
things each season?
Women's track and field cap-
tain Katie Erdman can provide the
answer.
Erdman believes that the goal
of repeating as an All-American is
very ambitious - even though she
has earned the award three times
before.
"Every year that I've been here,
the national field has gotten so much
better," the Cadillac native said. "If
you can keep up with that (pace),
you're going to be faster too. As far
as goals go, I guess I just don't want
to find myself at a plateau."
If she can avoid leveling out, Erd-
man will continue to set records at
the expense of the ones she currently
holds. The junior owns Michigan's
school record in the 600-meter
(1:29.57,) and she recently broke her
own indoor 800-meter record with
a time of 2:04.21 at Notre Dame's
Meyo Invitational.
Maintaining her work ethic will
give Erdman the chance to surpass

her own records, according to dis-
tance coach Mike McGuire.
"She is as serious in her approach
and her focus as anyone I've ever
had," McGuire said. "Her approach
is better than her results are, and her
results are pretty darn good."
Erdman's other goal is staying
healthy, and for good reason. This
indoor season is even more reward-
ing for her, because she had to sit
out last season with a hamstring
injury.
"She has had some interruptions
along the way," McGuire said. "I
think she's in a situation where if
she stays healthy, she has got an
opportunity to run down close to
two minutes flat (in the 800-meter)
this year."
Her 800-meter time of 2:08.31 at
the Kentucky Invitational met an
NCAA provisional mark. Just three
weeks later at Notre Dame, she not
only ran fast enough to automatical-
ly qualify for the NCAA Champion-
ships, but she also ran the nation's
fastest 800-meter time so far this
year. The three-time All-American
also set a fieldhouse record for the
600-meter run with a time of 1:29.99
at the Red Simmons Invite.
"The last time I ran (the 600-
meter run) in 1:29 was at the Big
Ten final, so I feel like I'm ahead

iealthy
of schedule," said Erdman after the
fieldhouse record-breaking run in
January.
When asked whether she was more
proud of holding school records in
the 600- and 800-meter runs or her
three All-American recognitions,
Erdman chose the latter.
"Every round (at nationals), there
is a full heat of girls who want it just
as much as you do," Erdman said.
"You get no garbage at the national
meet. There's no one there who is a
Cinderella story. The All-American
(honor) comes harder, because all it
takes is one mediocre performance
and you're out, and that happens to
a lot of good athletes."
In January, Erdman was selected
as one of the team's four co-cap-
tains. She said she is honored by
the selection, but she doesn't seem
excited about all the aspects of the
position.
"It's not something you look for,"
Erdman said of being named captain.
"The effort comes from a group. It
should never come from just one
person. It's never effective. Not that
(their effort) can't have an effect, but
it's a million times more effective if
it comes from the group itself."
And with Erdman finally healthy,
it appears the sky, not a plateau, is
the limit for both her and the team.

a1

FILE PHOTO
Junior Katie Erdman holds the nation's fastest 800-meter time so far this year.

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