February 24, 2006
sports. michigandaily. com
Shimek Spartans sweep away Blue
By Ian Robinson
Daily Sports Writer
Young arms wil
shoulder big load
Tag, you're it.
If Big Ten women's basketball was
a version of the popular children's
game, Michigan State would have
put the responsibility of tagging on
After Ohio State held the Spartans
to under 30-per-
on Monday, No. .."....
State (11-5 Big Ten, 21-8 overall)
passed the favor on to Michigan (0-
15, 6-21), who shot just 29.5 percent
in last night's 68-42 loss at Crisler
Arena. The team lost its 25th con-
secutive conference loss.
But it was the number 14 that
defined the first half.
The Spartans held a 14-point lead
at the break, 28-14.
The Wolverines turned the ball
over 14 times.
They grabbed 14 first-half rebounds,
while the Spartans notched 14 offen-
sive rebounds in the first half.
And Liz Shimek, Michigan
State's leading scorer in the first
half, matched Michigan's total with
14 points of her own in just 14 min-
utes of play.
"Their easy baskets early affected
us," Michigan coach Cheryl Burnett
Shimek scored 10 points in the
game's first six minutes to lead her
team to an eight-point lead. She fin-
ished with a game-high 22 points.
Despite Shimek's overall offensive
production, Burnett called freshman
Ashley Jones' aggressive defense on
the 6-foot-1 forward "physical" and
singled her out as one of two players
that came to compete.
At one point, the 6-foot-2 Jones,
who normally plays guard but
switched to forward because of inju-
ries, told Burnett that she wanted to
Burnett also commended sopho-
more Janelle Cooper for her perfor-
mance last night and development
Cooper set a new career high with
18 points, and Jones grabbed seven
Aside from the lone Michigan
bright spots, the Spartans came off
a tough loss to the Buckeyes and
dominated the game.
Michigan State coach Joanne P.
McCallie called her team's perfor-
mance against Ohio State "pathet-
ic," but she noticed a return to some
semblance of order last night.
"We got a heck of a lesson out of
that thumping we took," McCallie
Just like Michigan's 77-44 loss at
Michigan State on Jan. 1, it was the
Spartans' various defensive looks
that presented problems for the Wol-
verines once again. Michigan State
switched between a variety of zone
defenses and presses that stalled
Michigan the offense.
"We were turning the ball over
in interesting places against their
zone," Burnett said. "We were drib-
bling the ball in places that we
At one point, the Spartans found
.success with a one-man press on the
point guard. Michigan State forced
three consecutive turnovers out of
Michigan couldn't cut the deficit
to less than 11, and the Spartans
showed their depth by playing eight
players for more than five minutes.
Michigan State outscored the Wol-
verines by 12 points in the second
half, even though its bench players
played 10 more minutes than in the
Following "tag" logic, the chal-
lenge is on the Wolverines to hold
Illinois to a low-shooting clip.
This final chance for a conference
victory will come Sunday afternoon
at 2 p.m. at Crisler Arena, in their last
Big Ten game of the year.
By Dan Feldman
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan baseball team was
picked to finish fourth in the Big Ten
this spring - behind Ohio State, Pur-
due, and Minnesota - by both Baseball
America and Collegiate Baseball.
But ask any Wolverine if they'd be
satisfied with that result, and you'll get
a wide variety of answers, ranging from
"absolutely not" to "definitely not."
"Projections are projections," fresh-
man utility player Zach Putnam said.
"It's good motivation for us."
Filling the void left by Jim Brauer,
Michael Penn, Derek Feldkamp and
Clayton Richard - who pitched 60
percent of the team's total innings
- is a concern, but not one that team
believes will be too difficult to over-
"We lost a lot of pitchers, but there a
lot of guys waiting in the wings to fill
those spots," senior co-captain pitcher
Paul Hammond said.
Michigan coach Rich Maloney said
Hammond and senior co-captain Drew
Taylor must pitch up to their ability. The
coach plans for Adam Abraham, Put-
nam and Mike Wilson to pitch signifi-
cant innings as well. Redshirt freshman
Chris Fetter, sophomore Dan Lentz,
junior Andrew Hess and seniors Ali
Husain, Craig Murray and Jeff Niemiec
will all be counted on to eat up the
remaining lost innings.
Michigan lost its fair share of offense,
too. Last year's team featured four play-
ers who hit above .350. The Wolverines
no longer have three of them (Chris
Getz, Kyle Bohm and Matt Butler).
Louisville Slugger preseason All-
America second-team catcher Jeff Kun-
kel returns to anchor the offense. The
fifth-year senior co-captain hit .384,
drove in 45 runs and boasted a team-
leading .462 on base percentage. Senior
co-captain A.J Scheidt and his .297
batting average, four home runs and 39
RBI also will return.
In addition, sophomore outfielder
Doug Pickens, junior shortstop Leif
Mahler, junior outfielders Brad Rob-
lin and Eric Rose and senior outfielder
Mike Schmidt will return.
As with the pitching staff, the Wol-
verines will rely on youth to deliver
on offense. In addition to his pitching
duties, Putnam will provide a bat Malo-
ney said should be in the lineup every
day at either first base or designated
hitter. Sophomore Derek VanBuskirk's
should play a larger role.
Maloney knows his young players
will need time to learn, but he is not
worried because it will come at the
beginning of the season. He said he isn't
concerned with how his team starts, but
how it finishes.
Hammond is even less worried about
his team's inexperience.
"Not at all. They're inexperienced,
but not wet under the ears," Hammond
said. "The pressures of college baseball
won't get to them. That's unusual, but
these guys will step up."
Of all of the young Wolverines, Put-
nam arrives as the most highly touted.
Last year - while playing at Ann Arbor
Pioneer High School - he earned
School Sports National High School
Athlete of the Year and Michigan's Mr.
Prior to the Major League Baseball
draft, Putnam was projected to be a
first- or second-round pick. But rumors
that he would demand a high signing
bonus caused his stock to fall, and he
was not drafted until the 38th round
(Detroit Tigers). Instead of signing with
the Tigers, he joined the Wolverines.
"I've lived here my whole life,"
Putnam said. "I believe in what coach
Maloney is trying to do with this team,
and I want to be a part of it:'
Sophomore Janelle Cooper and the Wolverines fell to cross-state rivals
Michigan State last night even though Cooper led Michigan with 18 points.
Tournament success not guaranteed
By David VandeVusse
Daily Sports Writer
On Sunday, the No. 3 Michigan wrestling
team celebrated its third consecutive regu-
lar-season conference title. But on Monday,
it was back to business.
The Wolverines closed out their season
with an unblemished record in league play
and now look forward to the Big Ten tour-
nament which will be held in Bloomington
on March 4 and 5.
"It's important that we stay focused and
put ourselves in position to win," Michi-
gan coach Joe McFarland said. "There are
some outstanding teams and everybody is
trying to win."
Under McFarland, the Wolverines have
claimed numerous regular season titles in
seven years but a Big Ten tournament cham-
pionship has eluded the Maize and Blue for
more than 20 years.
The tournament format differs from
that of dual meets, and competitors must
respond accordingly. Instead of wrestling
team versus wrestling team, the competi-
tion is set up individual versus individual.
There are 10 as mini as tournaments hap-
pening at once, one for each weight class.
Teams receive points based on individual
"With a team setting, you take off every-
one's energy, and momentum can shift
throughout the dual meet," senior co-captain
Ryan Churella said. "In a tournament, you're
kind of on your own."
At last year's conference finale, Michigan
took third place as a team, finishing behind
tournament champion Illinois and runner-up
Three Michigan wrestlers won individual
titles that weekend. Then-redshirt freshmen
Josh Churella and Eric Tannenbaum, and
then-redshirt junior Ryan Churella swept
the 141-, 149- and 165-pound weight classes,
respectively. All three return to defend their
crowns this year.
"(Being a conference champ) gives you
more confidence," Ryan Churella said.
"You've been in that scenario before, and you
know what it takes to win."
Ultimately, conference tournaments serve as
qualifiers for the NCAA Championships. In the
Big Ten, the top seven finishers from each weight
class earn themselves spots at nationals.
But the Wolverines do not see the tourna-
ment as merely a stepping stone. They want to
make a statement.
"I've never won the Big Ten tournament
since I've been here," McFarland said. "Obvi-
ously, that's one of my goals."
In the next two weeks, Michigan will con-
tinue its extensive training program while
also focusing on resting. McFarland hopes
to have everyone fully healthy entering the
"We're training hard, and I think we're
training the right way," seniorco-captain Greg
Wagner said. "I think performance is going to
take care of itself."
Michigan (8-0 Big Ten, 16-2 overall) has
been a force all season. Fourteen of their 16
victories have come against ranked oppo-
nents, 6-of-8 in conference.
But in a powerhouse league like the Big
Ten, it is tough to beat teams twice. A regu-
lar-season victory guarantees nothing in the
"As far as we're concerned, it's a whole
new season," McFarland said. "Every-
thing comes down to one weekend."
After returning from an ankle injury against Ohio State, Dion Harris Is still looking to return to form.
No longer hobbled,
Harris seeks redemption
By Jack Herman
Daily Sports Editor
Dion Harris has some unfinished business.
He had 13 points. The Wolverines had a three-
point lead. And Michigan was just 8:29 from top-
pling its third ranked opponent of the year.
But then Ohio State's Jamar But- _
ler drove the lane for a lay-up and
sent Harris crashing to the floor, ToMoI
where the Wolverine clutched his Michg
own ankle. No. 1301
Harris sat out the remainder of 2:30 A
the game, and the Wolverines fell
94-85 at Crisler Arena on Feb. 9. Value Cit
The Detroit native will have a CB
chance for redemption when the
Wolverines (8-6 Big Ten, 18-7
overall) travel to Columbus to square off with the
Buckeyes (9-4,20-4) tomorrow at 2:30 pm.
"Things were going good for us, and, of course,
then I got injured in that game, which I think we
could have won," Harris said. "I had a chance of
winning, if I would have been still in. I think I can
look at it like that, just picking up where I left off
against Ohio State."
Harris's health has returned to form, but his
play certainly has not.
The junior's production fluctuated at the begin-
ning of the season as he adjusted from his role
as last year's main offensive weapon to part of
this year's three-pronged attack with guard Dan-
iel Horton and wing Lester Abram. But after he
dropped a goose egg against Purdue in Michigan's
Harris's teammates can attest that a little extra
practice might pay off. Their loss to Ohio State
was sandwiched between road losses to Iowa and
Purdue and happened at a time when the Wolver-
ines' defense was nonexistent. The porous defense
allowed an average of more than 90 points per
game against those squads.
- The Buckeyes scorched the nets
in Crisler Arena, dropping 15-of-
ROW 24 from downtown and scoring 94
atate But after Michigan's win over Illi-
nois on Tuesday, the Wolverines are
Aren looking to prove they're better than
Arena when they last faced Ohio State.
Michigan played a strong defensive
game and limited Illinois to just 64
points. Illinois superguard Dee Brown
dropped 20 points on the Wolverines, but he did it
in on an inefficient 8-of-19 shooting performance.
"I thought we stayed disciplined in a lot of situ-
ations throughout the whole shot clock," Amaker
said. "I thought that gave us that the added confi-
dence that we needed."
The win boosted more than the Wolverines'
psyche. After the loss to Michigan State last
Saturday, the Wolverines' tournament hopes
seemed shaky. But the win over the eighth-
ranked Illini solidified Michigan's tournament
Amaker said that if the season ended today, he
thinks his team would be dancing. ESPN's resi-
dent bracketologist Joe Lunardi put Michigan as
an 11 seed before the victory. Sportsline.com's
By H. Jose Bosch
Daily Sports Writer
It may not be a win-or-go-home situation,
but if the Michigan hockey team wants to
make this weekend one to remember for its
seniors, it must stop giving up goals.
"I'm disappointed in the goals against,
(average)," Michigan hockey
coach Red Berenson said. "I'm
an offensive kind of coach, but
I hate to give up goals against.
I hate to give up bad goals
against and unearned goals
against. That's what has killed
us (this season)."
The Wolverines' goals
against average through 34
games this season is 2.93, a sta-
No. 12 Mic
M ICE HOCKEY
Goals against average hurts leers
Senior Noah Ruden has been the starter for
the past two weekends, but two shaky outings
against then-No. 13 Nebraska-Omaha may
put his starting job in danger.
But the goalie is just one part of the three-
piece defensive puzzle, Berenson said. After
the goaltender, the responsibility falls on the
defensemen and their ability to stay in posi-
,,,,,,,, tion and to stick with their man.
If someone gets past the defense-
GHT men, the forwards must be able
higan at to back them up.
tate Michigan has struggled to get
all three aspects of the game
el- offense, defense, and goalten-
Arena ding' - in sync with each other,
but with the season's final series
........ this weekend, the team doesn't
have much of a choice.
"It's just going to take everybody to realize
just how important these games are," alter-
nate captain Brandon Kaleniecki said. "We
need to focus (on defense) first. We've been
talking about it all year. Now every goal is
Michigan currently sits in third place in the
CCHA with 30 points. The Wolverines need
just one more point to guarantee a top-four
finish and a bye in the first round of the con-
They must do this against eighth-place Fer-
ris State, which may prove to be tougher than
its 14-13-7 overall record shows. The Bulldogs
have already notched wins against two-time
defending national champion Denver and No.
5 Michigan State.
"They're a hardworking team,, and we've
seen how tough they are to beat (in Big Rap-
ids)," Kaleniecki said. "We haven't won there
yet, and they haven't won (in Ann Arbor)
since I've been here: They've shown they can
play against the top teams in the country, and
it's going to come down to us playing as well
as we can.
Saturday also marks the final regular
season home game for the seniors. Kalen-
iecki admits that with time running out on a
frustrating season, the seniors' desperation
has been difficult to portray to the younger
"This is something we've been trying to
teach (the younger players) all year, trying to
get through their heads," Kaleniecki said. "I
think maybe they need to realize it on their
own that this is playoff time. And it's some-
thing we've talked about all year - looking
forward to this part of the season. Now's the
time, and hopefully they realize that. We've
been talking, and you can only talk so much.
tistic that is unacceptable when compared to
other top teams in the nation. No. 2 Wiscon-
sin has a goals against average of 1.82 and No.
3 Miami, who holds first place in the CCHA,
has an average of 1.85. Part of the problem
has been the inconsistency of the goaltenders
and the defensemen.
For tonight's game, Berenson would not
announce a starting goalie, but he did say he
would look at the two goaltenders during this