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March 10, 2006 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-03-10

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Friday
March 10, 2006
sports. michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily.com

RETSitig Bailv

8

. .. ......... - --- ----- - --------------- -

Withloss,
Cagers now
sit and wait
On bubble
By Kevin Wright
Daily Sports Editor
INDIANAPOLIS - Trailing 27-23 at halftime,
Minnesota coach Dan Monson made his team a
promise.
If the Gophers held Michigan to another 27 points
in the second half, he guaranteed his players that they
could score more than 54 total points and win.
They didn't deliver - allow-
ing the Wolverines to score 28
points in the second frame - but
they came close enough.
Minnesota scored 36 points in the final period yes-
terday to defeat Michigan 59-55 in the first round of
the Big Ten Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse.
"We barely made it," Monson said. "But we made it.
... I'm just proud of the effort. It was a good team win."
The Wolverines (8-9 Big Ten, 18-10 overall) came
into yesterday's contest desperately needing an
impressive showing after dropping six of their last
eight games. But just like so many times before, the
Wolverines came up short.
With a four-point lead at the break, Michigan looked
to maintain its defensive intensity and execute better
on the offensive end. In the first half, the Wolverines
limited Minnesota (6-11, 15-13) to just eight field goals
and 34-percent shooting from the floor.
"(We wanted to) keep defending like we had been
defending and play better on offense," senior Daniel
Horton said. "And it didn't work out. We didn't do
that."
Minnesota had the same idea. But it executed its
gameplan. The Gophers' halfcourt pressure flustered
the Michigan backcourt. Late in the second half, in
a span of two-and-half minutes, the Wolverines com-
mitting three turnovers, all of which led to Minnesota
breakaway lay-ups.
"We knew that we could come and play with them
and play better than them," said the Gophers' Zach
Puchtel, who grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds. "We
fought really hard and just wanted it more than they
did."
Said Horton: "I don't think that we were strong
enough with the ball. They made some savvy plays
in possessions where you're looking.to make a pass or
feed the post, and they were able to get a hand on it.
That comes back to us being tougher and stronger with
the ball and taking more pride in having the ball."
The Gophers' confidence grew with each steal and
easy bucket, and each time Minnesota stopped Michi-

M wis HOCKEY
M'wisely turns

to

vet for playoffs

H. JOSE BOSCH
ON HOCKEY
Someone tell the fat lady to shut her
mouth. And leave the forks at the table.
The Michigan hockey team is far from
done this season, and that's because Red
Berenson made the right decision by nam-
ing Noah Ruden the starting goalie for
tonight's game against Ferris State.
Freshman Billy Sauer is not a bad goal-
ie. His 11-6-4 record is nothing to scoff
at, especially considering he's only 18
years old and playing his first full season
of Division I college hockey. He shut out
a solid Alaska-Fairbanks team, made 42
and 35 saves in games against Miami and
Michigan State and had two three-game
winning streaks - a feat Ruden cannot
lay claim to.
And many forget that by Nov. 22 of
last year, Sauer had played well enough
to be rated the No. I goaltending prospect
for the NHL Entry Draft by the Central
Scouting Service.
So, then why is Ruden the better
choice?
Outside of his record, Ruden has better
statistics. For the season, Ruden has a goals
against average of 2.83 to Sauer's 3.04 and
a save percentage of 911 to Sauer's .898.
Still, hockey is played on ice, not on
paper. And with playoff hockey, every-
thing is thrown out the door.
But this is Ruden's last season donning
the maize and blue, and it may be the last
time in his career he will stand between
the pipes (Ruden has never been drafted
by an NHL team). One should never
underestimate a goaltender who a.) Has
something to prove after watching Ferris
State embarrass his team on Senior Night
and b.) Is on his last hurrah.
As Ruden himself said there is no "we'll
get them next week" if the team loses this
weekend. And there may not be anyone
on the team that understands this more
than Ruden himself. For an entire season,
he and Sauer had to deal with Berenson's
goaltending carousel, where a shaky per-

formance one night - let alone an entire
weekend - could mean riding the pine.
So Ruden is used to playing in a game
where he needs to perform well. Ruden is
also familiar with the atmosphere of play-
off college hockey.
Sure, he hasn't played a single playoff
game in his career at Michigan. But Ruden
wasn't sitting around playing jacks dur-
ing the Wolverines' playoff runs in the
past three seasons. There have been times
throughout this season that both Berenson
and Ruden talked about the experience
Ruden received while sitting on the bench
during the playoffs. He understands the
atmosphere. He's experienced the butter-
flies that every player feels before a playoff
game, whether or not they end up playing.
And he has seen exactly what it takes to
ignore it all and focus on stopping every
shot.
His performance at the Great Lakes
Invitational last season is the most telling
evidence. The tournament is the closest
Ruden has come to playing playoff hock-
ey, and he gave up just three goals in two
games and almost led Michigan to the GLI
championship. His performance earned
him a spot on the GLI All-Tournament
team.
Said Berenson of Ruden last season
after the GLI: " He did a good job for us. I
thought he really was the backbone of our
team back there when he had to be."
Tonight, Ruden will attempt to do the
same. The best way to find out if he is
ready to help carry the team is to talk to
Ruden himself.
"Any goalie that can't handle the pres-
sure probably shouldn't be a goalie,"
Ruden said. "If you ask any goalie, espe-
cially me, that's why a lot of people like
(playing goalie). You're in the limelight
most of the time for the good and for the
bad. (The pressure) just adds to the excite-
ment and adds to the fun. It makes it more
fun, and that's the bottom line."
So let the fat lady know - Noah Ruden
is ready to have some fun and ready to help
the Wolverines defend their Mason Cup
Championship.
6-2, 7-6, while Bruckman needed the
full three sets to overcome freshman
Michael Venus, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4. But No.
I sophomore Matko Maravic did not
find success as he fell in two sets, 4-
6, 3-6.
All three of the Michigan doubles
teams succumbed to defeat last night.
The No. 1 team of Hung and Maravic
offered the biggest challenge, fall-
ing 8-9 and watching their record as
a tandem sink to 14-7 overall. The
No. 2 team of Heller and Mazlin lost
7-9, .and Peretz and Bruckman were
defeated 4-8.

FOREST CASEY/Daily
Junior Courtney Sims watches the ball, and possibly the Wolverines' NCAA Tournament hopes, slip away.

gan, the Wolverines' fight disappeared a little more.
In the second half, the Gophers outhustled Michigan
to loose balls, crashed the offensive glass and buckled
down defensively.
Coming into the contest, it looked as though the
Wolverines were poised to make a run. Both junior
Lester Abram and senior Chris Hunter returned to the
lineup. They each played for 13 minutes but scored
just eight total points.
Dion Harris shook off his recent shooting struggles
and nailed his first two 3-pointers. The junior finished
with a game-high 16 points and was the lone Michigan
player to hit a 3-pointer.
Even though Minnesota stormed back to take the
lead late in the second half, the Gophers continued to
give Michigan a chance to come back.
In the last minute of the game, Minnesota shot 6-
for-16 from the free throw line. But the Wolverines
couldn't cash in on the chance. They missed several

open 3-pointers with the game on the line and shot just
4-for-22 from beyond the arc on the day.
Michigan also sealed its fate with 21 turnovers.
Whenever the Wolverines seemed poised to storm
back into the game, an errant pass or miscommunica-
tion would give the ball back to the surging Gophers.
"This afternoon was a winnable game for both
teams," Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. "The
difference was our inability to take care of the basket-
ball. I thought they were able to get some easy baskets
in transition."
Ending the regular season in a downward spiral,
Michigan let yet another opportunity to effectively
regain some confidence and secure an NCAA Tourna-
ment bid slip away.
"We're preparing for the best," senior Graham
Brown said. "If we get the opportunity to (play in the
NCAA Tournament), we're going to have to regroup
and get ready to go. We have a chance."
DAILY SPORTS:
WE COME
THROUGH IN
THE CLUTCH

fn l
_, _ ,

NOTES

No. 10 Longhorns easily
defeat Wolverines
The Wolverines fell last night 5-2 to
No. 10 Texas at Pennick-Allison Tennis
Center in Austin, Texas. The only sin-
gles players to record wins for Michigan
were No. 2 Brian Hung and No. 5 Scott
Bruckman. The loss sank the Wolver-
ines' record to 6-5 overall.
Junior Hung vanquished his oppo-
nent, senior Callum Beale, in two sets,

9

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