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March 07, 2006 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-03-07

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Tuesday
March 7, 2006
sports.michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily.com

Zbe £ridbin diuv
PORTS

a

8

Shots not
falling for
By Matt Singer
Daily Sports Editor
Dion Harris was hot. Really hot.
In a four-game stretch midway through the Big Ten
regular season, the junior was simply stroking it from
long range. Against Wisconsin, Penn State, Iowa and
Ohio State, Harris went 19-for-36 from downtown
and averaged more than 18 points per game.
Harris's torrid run culminated on Feb. 9 against
the Buckeyes. Prior to the first media timeout, Harris
hoisted up three treys - and drilled them all.
"During the Ohio State game, the first 20 min-
utes, I was feeling confident, and just letting it flow,"
Harris said.
But with 8:29 to go in the second half, a sprained
ankle brought Harris's streak to a screeching halt.
Without their sharpshooter, the Wolverines fell apart,
Losing to the Buckeyes and falling to a lowly Purdue
squad two days later.
After a two-game absence, Harris returned to the
lineup against Michigan State on Feb. 18. The expec-
tations were high. But in the four games since his
comeback, the once-deadly scorer has been AWOL.
During that span, Harris has averaged less than four
points per game and has gone just 3-for-19 from
beyond the arc.
"I was out for a couple of games, and I haven't
been able to regain it back where I'm a part of things
the whole time on offense," Harris said. "I've just got
to do the things I was doing before I got injured"
Harris's jumper, once so pure, has been noticeably
flat.
His aggressive pull-ups have come up empty.
Even his lay-ups haven't found the bottom of the net.
"He's a rhythm guy," Michigan coach Tommy
Amaker said. "I think he's out of rhythm. We're try-
ing to get things back in sync. It's been tough for him
to get that back, but we're hopeful that it'll happen for
us on Thursday (against Minnesota)."
Harris doesn't blame the injury for his recent
struggles - he said his ankle felt fine the last couple
of games. And even after he missed the potential
game-winning shot against Indiana, Harris indicated
that a dearth of confidence has played no part in his
shooting woes.
"I don't think my confidence is lacking," Harris
said. "Because going into every game I feel confident
knowing that I'm going to go out there and play a

ICE HOCKEY
Goalie situation
uncertain for Icers
By Mark Giannotto
Daily Sports Writer
On Oct. 7, freshman Billy Sauer started in net for Michigan's 3-1 season-opening
win over Quinnipiac.
Sauer also stood between the pipes'when the Wolverines closed the season with a
4-3 overtime loss to Ferris State on Feb. 25.
But despite opening and closing the regular season as the starting goalie, Sauer's
hold on the job has been anything but certain.
The Ferris State finale became just another chapter in the ongoing saga that is
Michigan goaltending.
Through two periods, Sauer shut out the Bulldogs, and the Wolverines looked to
be cruising to an easy Senior Night victory.
But the third period arrived, and a completely different Michigan team hit the ice.
It didn't produce much offense, the defense faltered and the goaltending vanished.
The Wolverines gave up four goals in the third period and overtime.
Senior goalie Noah Ruden's story is similar. When he started three weeks ago
against Nebraska-Omaha, he played spectacular at times, leading Michigan to a
two-goal lead, but he also gave up soft goals en route to a 4-4 tie.
"I don't think there's a big difference between either of the goalies," Michigan
coach Red Berenson said. "Noah came off a sub-par weekend in Omaha ... Billy
was having a good weekend (against Ferris State) and dropped the ball in the third
period."
Throughout the season, Sauer and.Ruden have been interchangeable parts in net.
Neither has played well enough to compel Berenson to name a permanent starter.
Sauer has started 21 games, and Ruden has started 15.
Sauer has a 3.04 goals-against average. Ruden was not much better (2.83 GAA).
Sauer had the more impressive record, going 11-6-4. But these numbers are tainted
- a majority of those wins came in the beginning of the season when Michigan
faced weaker competition and had nine home games.
Berenson was been adamant in insisting throughout the season that he has two
No. I goalies on his roster. So whom will the Wolverines start next Friday when they
face off against Ferris State in the CCHA quarterfinals?
"One of them will play, and, hopefully, the one who plays will give us a chance,"
Berenson said.
This is the first time in recent memory where the team has not had a clear No. 1
starter heading into the postseason. The past three seasons, Al Montoya was firmly
entrenched in net. Before that, Dan Blackburn was the undisputed starter.
Coming into the season, the coaching staff knew Sauer was an unfinished prod-
uct. They brought the freshman in early because Montoya turned pro prior to this
season. Sauer was not even 18 years old for the first half of the 2005-06 campaign.
The coaches also had no idea what to expect from the returning Ruden. Having
been a backup to Montoya his entire Michigan career, his only significant action
came in the Great Lakes Invitational, when Montoya was playing in the World
Junior Championships.
"I didn't have a roadmap for our goalies this season," Berenson said. "I wanted
Sauer to have an opportunity to get experience. I figured by the halfway point that
we'd have an idea if he could play every night or he couldn't. We'd also have an idea
of how competitive Noah would be in terms of a starting goalie. ....We've seen'
goods and bads from both of them."
Making a decision in goal is crucial for Michigan because a loss in its best-of-
three series against Ferris State this weekend will likely signal the final chapter of
the Wolverines' season.

0

I

EUGENE ROBERTSON/Daily

Junior Dion Harris has scored Just 15 points in Michigan's last four games.

good game. But obviously that hasn't happened in the
last four games."
Despite Harris's struggles, his teammates and
coaches remain supportive. They know what Harris
is capable of. And even when his shot isn't falling,
they are aware of the less-visible contributions Har-
ris makes.
"If he continues to play hard and play defense like
he's been playing - he's been doing a great job of
guarding the ball - his offense is going to come,"
guard Daniel Horton said.
Still, Harris needs to sink shots if Michigan wants to
bring its 'A' game to the Big Ten Tournament. Resting

squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble, the Wolver-
ines are desperate to come away from Conseco Field-
house with at least one victory. And while Horton has
shown the potential to carry the team when Harris strug-
gles, there's no doubt the Wolverines' chances improve
exponentially when Harris's silky-sweet jumper finds the
bottom of the net.
"We believe in him - he's our guy, he's my guy,"
Amaker said. "I think that he's capable of taking us
to a different level. If he's playing potentially as good
as he could be, if Horton's playing at a certain level,
then I think our ability is pretty strong to be a good
basketball team. '

6

Walker
returns

0 MEN'S TENNIS
Blue's solid start helped
by Peretz's improved play

for

M'

By Jamie Josephson
Daily Sports Writer

By Ian Robinson
Daily Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS - Michi-
gan's vocal leader spoke up for the
first time this year.
Sophomore Ta'Shia Walker
returned to action for the first time
in a month after surgery to correct
a throat problem that restricted
her voice since the beginning of
the year.
She finished the year as the team
leader in points and rebounds, but
the operation limited her ability to
communicate.
At one point during this season,
the Lansing native was reduced
to a whisper. In post-game press
conferences, the microphone
barely amplified her words.
After a loss in early February
to Minnesota she had surgery to
correct the problem. Her voice
was back to normal Thursday
night.
An enhanced ability to com-
municate with her teammates was
just as important as her numbers
in the box score.
"When she is out there, she
leads us and tells people where
to go and tries to talk us through
everything," sophomore Janelle
Cooper said.
Walker could be heard relaying

UAVID IUMAN/Daily
Sophomore Ta'Shla Walker's return from surgery wasn't enough to help Michigan win In the Big Ten Tournament

It's been said that wisdom comes with age.
Junior Steve Peretz of the Michigan men's tennis
team has let his on-court play speak for him on
that subject.
The third-year veteran has amassed a team-
leading individual singles record of 7-3 at the No.
5 position, contributing to Michigan's impressive
6-4 start in the dual-match season.
"Steve has been real solid and consistent this
year," Michigan coach Bruce Berque said. "He's
playing well. He's always competed at a high
level. This year the difference is that he is more
aggressive and playing a bigger game."
With his losses coming against an extremely
competitive No. 7 Virginia team, rival Notre
Dame in three sets and No. 2 Pepperdine, Peretz
has certainly relied on an attacking style of play
to propel himself into his position as one of Mich-
igan's top singles players.
"I've been trying to be really aggressive
under tight situations, -keeping the ball deep
off the baseline and looking to attack," Peretz
said. "I've been doing a good job in practice
doing that, and I think that's why I was able to
have the confidence to do it in matches. I have
worked a lot on closing in, and now I have the
confidence to do it. It makes it so much easier
than just grinding."
Berque also mentioned that the junior's stron-
ger serve provides him with another weapon in
his offensive arsenal.
With this improved attack game, the third-year
Wolverine has consistently used his net game
to beat up on opponents of competitive levels.
Though Michigan lost to No. 11 Louisiana State
on Feb. 10, Peretz was one of just two Wolverines

who provided a glimmer of light on the singles
end. The Brooklyn native decidedly defeated the
Tigers' Paul White, 7-5, 6-3.
Peretz tallied a near-perfect record that week-
end, contributing a doubles victory with fresh-
man Scott Bruckmann over Louisiana State and
a dominating straight-set singles win against Ala-
bama's Andrew Felsenthal (6-1, 6-3).
The sole blemish on Peretz's weekend record
was a nail-biting doubles contest against Ala-
bama's No. 3 duo, where the junior and his part-
ner, Bruckmann, came up just short against the
Crimson Tide in the match-deciding tiebreaker,
9-8 (1).
But even amidst the loss, Berque pointed to
Peretz's play on the doubles end.
"Steve and Scott were ahead most of the match;'
Berque said. "Even though they didn't win, their
competitiveness still rubbed off on the rest of the
team."
Throughout his Michigan career, Peretz has
recorded an individual dual-match singles led-
ger of 33-19. He has been especially comfortable
playing at the No. 5 slot, totaling a dual-match
record of 22-13 at that spot thus far. With his
current team-best .700 winning percentage, Per-
etz is on his way to having the most successful
individual singles seasons in his three years at
Michigan.
"In terms of singles play, I (have been) very
pleased," Peretz said. "I think I'm doing a lot
of the things (Coaches Berque and Michael
Kosta) have been trying to work on with me
for the last year and a half. Hopefully, that's
really clicking. And hopefully, I can continue
to do that."
Peretz will look to keep on rolling when Michi-
gan does a Texas two-step with visits to Texas and
Texas A&M this weekend.

a

strategy on free throws, congratu-
lating her teammates on their play
and joking with them after half-
time.
Freshman Ashley Jones, who
moved from guard to forward due
to the depleted roster, credits her
successful position adjustment to
Walker's regained speech ability
Walker's ability to score was
present before the operation.
Entering the game, she was aver-
aging 11 points and 5.5 rebounds
per game. Thursday, her eight
points and three boards were both
below her season averages, but
that did not matter as much as her
presence on the court.

For a team marred by injuries
all season, Walker's return to the
lineup in the final game was a
positive sign.
"It was great to have (Walker).
back," Michigan coach Cheryl
Burnett said. "I thought she gave
us a little boost."
Within minutes of entering the
game, Walker made her presence
known.
One minute after checking in,
Walker caught the ball at the top
of the key, drove to her left, beat
her defender and banked in a lay-
up to cut the Indiana lead to five
- the closest Michigan would be
for the rest of the game.

The forward then showed some
of the rebounding skills that made
her the team leader.
After missing a jump-shot with
seven minutes left in the first half,
she hustled to collect her own
rebound and hit a nine-foot fol-
low- up.
Although Walker didn't impact
the box score like she normally
does, there was a different vibe in
the locker room.
With the entire roster return-
ing next year, Jones feels the team
could ride the positive momentum
of Walker's return into its offsea-
son and a much-improved record
next year.

0

Headaches?
s, 5Michigan HeadePain & Neurological Institute is
conducting an in-clinic research study evaluating an
investigational medication for migraine.
Participants must be 18 to 65 years old and suffer 2 to
: 6 headaches per month. A total of three clinic visits

Think you know it all?
The Campus Information Centers are hiringl
Applications are available online or at one of our
two locations-in the Michigan Union or Pierpont
Commons. Applications are due by
Friday, March 17'

I

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