February 20, 2006
The defending national champions
drop two in their opening road trip.
THE SPORTSMONDAY COLUMN:
Sharad Mattu guarantees that
Michigan will make the Big Dance.
Against two other top-10 teams,
the Wolverines come up short.
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No. 16 MICHIGAN STATE 90, Michigan 71
By Amber Colvin
Daily Sports Writer
Scoreboards can't tell stories. And although a third
place finish (43 points behind first-place Penn State)
at the Big Ten Championships may seem ho-hum for
the women's swimming and diving team, it really
is a tale of triumph for a team that has overcome a
myriad of obstacles.
The four-day meet in Columbus was littered with
new records, personal bests and NCAA qualifying
times for the 22nd-ranked Wolverines.
Michigan's brightest star, junior Katilyn Brady,
was named the 2006 Big Ten Conference Swimmer
of the Year after notching three individual and two
relay wins. Brady set conference and school records
in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly and
also claimed first in the 200-yard backstroke, 400-
yard medley and 200-yard freestyle relays.
"I was just happy I was able to lead and help out
the team the best I could," Brady said. "Everyone's
happy with how the team finished."
Going into the final day of competition, the Wol-
verines were just two points behind the first-place
Nittany Lions. By the end of the day, Michigan's
509 points fell short of Minnesota's 536.5 and Penn
"We knew that the first and second days would be
really strong days for us," Michigan coach Jim Rich-
ardson said. "But we only have two distance swim-
mers. Our lack of distance swimmers in the program
has really hurt us. The ones we have did very well, but
there's no doubt that when you looked at the events,
on the last day we were going to be in somewhat of a
disadvantage. We knew that going in."
The absence of distance swimmers stems from
one of the many adversities the team has had to face
this season. In January, junior distance swimmer
Susan Gilliam's father passed away. Gilliam then left
the team to be with her mother.
"Losing one of the top distance swimmers in the
United States was a difficult thing, but in no way did
it compare to the loss of her father" Richardson said.
"That hit all of us hard."
In that same month, former Michigan swimmer
and assistant men's coach Eric Namesnik died from
injuries sustained in a serious car accident - a loss
that struck a chord with every Michigan swimmer
"For about two weeks there, we just kind of put
one foot in front of the other," Richardson said. "A
lot of the excitement and the anticipation and the
focus were lost there. But I think in the long run, it
caused all of us to reevaluate our priorities and to
value the opportunities we do have while we're here.
I think that they've matured in so many ways as a
result of those things this year."
That maturity shone in the success of the Wolver-
ine relay teams at the Big Ten Championships. After
a second-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay
(senior Carolina Sierra, sophomore Valeria Silva,
Brady and senior Abby Seskevics) the first day of
competition, things got even better. On day two of
the meet, the 200-yard freestyle relay team (Brady,
freshman Hannah Smith, junior Lindsey Smith and
Seskevics) set a Big Ten record with its first-place
time of 1:30.02.
Seeded third overall, the 400-yard medley relay
(Brady, sophomore Justine Mueller, freshman Pay-
ton Johnson and Lindsey Smith) team also exceeded
expectations by taking first with a time of 3:38.45.
"Those four got up there and just decided they
were going to win it," Richardson said. "Our little
freshman, Payton Johnson, just swam a lights-out leg
of the race. That was exciting."
See BIG TENS, page 3B
Seniors Daniel Horton (left) and Graham Brown (right) couldn't handle Michigan State's offensive onslaught. The Wolverines have given up 90 or more points in three of their last five games.
fall apart in
E East Lansing
looking up at
By Kevin Wright
Daily Sports Editor
EAST LANSING - Mich-
igan's luck seemed to bounce
along with the ball.
With just over 15 minutes left
in the game, the Wolverines had
a chance to cut Michigan State's
lead under 10.
As senior Graham Brown
drove to the basket, he drib-
bled the ball off his foot, and
it skipped to the top of the key.
Brown dove to corral it, but it
There, senior Daniel Horton had
a chance to save the Michigan
possession. Unfortunately for the
Wolverines, Spartan Paul Davis
reached the ball first. He tossed
it ahead to Maurice Ager, who
slammed home an easy dunk.
Following that sequence,
Michigan never came within
striking distance of Michigan
State and eventually fell to the
Spartans, 90-71, at the Breslin
Center on Saturday afternoon.
"There's not a lot of margin
for error there for us," Michigan
coach Tommy Amaker said. "I
thought some second-chance
points and loose balls they were
able to get. They get one, and it's
a leak out. They get some dunks,
and the crowd gets involved.
Certainly, those kinds of plays
See SPARTANS, page 5B
EAST LANSING -
A fter Michigan beat rival Michigan State last month, Mich-
igan fans knew the Spartans
would be even hungrier when
the Wolverines had to travel to the Bre-
slin Center for the rematch. Michigan
would have to prepare for a team with
Final Four-caliber talent ready to fight
to defend its home court.
And that's exactly what the Wolver-
ines ran into: a team willing to fight.s
For the past decade, the "rivalry"
had looked more like a mismatch. A SCOTT
heavyweight matched up against a mid- BELL
dleweight. A squad of five-star recruits
pitted against walk-ons. A varsity team Too Soon?
playing against its JV counterparts.
But when Michigan toppled the mighty Spartans last month, it
looked like the tide might finally be changing.
See BELL, page 5B
Michigan State wing Shannon Brown caught
fire against Michigan on Saturday. He scored 26
points on 11-of-16 shooting.
By David VandeVusse
Daily Sports Writer
Winless weekend stuns Icers
By Mark Giannotto
Daily Sports Writer
OMAHA - As he waited for the bus heading back to
the team hotel on Saturday night, Michigan senior goalten-
der Noah Ruden gazed up at the Omaha Civic Auditorium
scoreboard and saw the 4-4 tie Michi-
gan and Nebraska-Omaha skated to
an hour earlier.
When he looked at that score he
could only shake his head and wonder.
What happened to the two-goal
What happened to second place in the CCHA?
And what happened to the team that began the season 9-
1-1 and at one point held the No. 1 ranking in the country?
In a scene that has become typical of Michigan's late-sea-
The atmosphere at sold-out
Cliff Keen Arena was electric.
EMMA NuLAN-AMBAMM IAN/ Uaily
Senior Ryan Churella's win over Minnesota's Matt Nagel helped
propel Michigan to an upset victory over the top-ranked Gophers.
- ~L~L ~ U ~NW~f~ ..A~