January 11, 2006
RTeSt igan Baild
. ....... .. - . .. .... ........
By Scott Bell
Daily Sports Writer
Every player on the Michigan men's basket-
ball team experienced his fair share of losses
last season. But what Daniel Horton went
through transcended the game of basketball
and changed his life forever.
Yes, he faced the 18 losses that the rest of the
team experienced. Horton also felt the loss of
a teammate when his friend Lester Abram suf-
fered a season-ending shoulder injury early in
the season. And the loss of his own season after
pleading guilty to a domestic violence charge
seemed to top it all off.
But the loss that trumped all others had
nothing to do with basketball. It had to do
with life, and it has given him a new perspec-
tive for his final year at Michigan.
"For me, personally, I don't feel like any-
thing that goes on as far as basketball really
bothers me," Horton said. "Things did at first,
but I think going through what I went through
makes me look at things differently."
Horton's low point came in March, just
a day after it looked like things would turn
around for the Texas native. On March 10,
the day of his teammates' final game of
the season - a defeat at the hands of lowly
Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten
Tournament - Horton became a father: But
just a night later, the joy became pain once
again, and Horton experienced the biggest
loss he could imagine. Cameron Jeremiah
Horton was taken away from him, dying
from complications after birth.
Missing basketball games didn't matter
anymore. Neither did the team's 13-18 record.
Horton ~went weeks without touching a
basketball. He had to decide if he should even
return to Michigan for his final season. When
Horton did return, he did so as a new man.
He knew he'd have to face questions about
last year. Even though he doesn't like doing
it, Horton also doesn't want to let go of what
"I want to put it behind me, but at the same
Why not women on TV?
Senior Daniel Horton has led the Wolverines this season, averaging 16 points per game.
have a confession to make: I'm a tad obsessed with
the polls on ESPN.com.
To be more specific, I love the still relatively new
feature that allows users to scroll over an interactive
map and see where people from each state - and, as an
aggregate, the rest of the world - stand on issues like
"Who is the best closer in baseball history?" or "Which
team will win when New England visits Denver?"
Even though SI.com displays its poll results in a more
traditional - and less exciting - format, I still enjoy
checking out what question the good folks at Sports
Illustrated have posed. And for the first time since
ESPN's multicolored maps appeared on
the scene, one of SI.com's queries really
captured my attention yesterday.
The question: "Would you watch 'The
Sports Reporters' if the panel only con-
sisted of female journalists?"
Maybe it shows a lack of faith on~
my part in the open-mindedness of
most sports fans, but I was pretty sure
right away what the answer would be. I
assumed that more than half of the visitors
to this site would be men, as would a siz-
able majority of those who had responded STEP
to the poll. And I just didn't think that men WR
would want to watch women give their Wiht
opinions about sports.
The results confirmed my prejudice.
Sixty percent of the 14,500-some people who had
responded at that point said "No."
For anyone who isn't familiar with ESPN's program-
ming, "The Sports Reporters" airs on Sunday mornings
and consists of four prominent sports journalists -
most often those working in print journalism - sitting
together and discussing the week's biggest sports stories.
I think it's one of the most intelligent sports programs
on television - a stark contrast to the contentious yap-
ping on shows like "Around the Horn:"
But why was Sports Illustrated asking America about
the program now?
A little Internet exploring provided me with an
answer. Early yesterday morning, SI.com posted a story
from writer Richard Deitsch about the 10 changes he
wants to see made to sports television this year.
Number three on his list was an all-female version of
"The Sports Reporters."
Deitsch wrote: "Perhaps you've noticed the grow-
ing number of sports writers-turned-talking-heads
that fill ESPN's various networks. Here's what I
don't see on the shows featuring competitive banter:
Women. With a dreamy dual revenue stream (adver-
tising and monthly subscription fees) and more money
than the principality of Monaco, ESPN can afford to
take a flyer on shows that may need some time to find
an audience. Thus, why not develop a half-hour show
featuring both ESPN and female sports journalists
from around the country debating the sports issues of
the week? Talent isn't an issue. There are hundreds of
broadcast sports, women are relegated to
reporting on fluffy human interest stories.
Some often come across as if they know
little about sports (not that male sideline
reporters always appear much wiser; that
cluelessness comes with the job).
There are certainly exceptions. Lesley
Visser covers the NFL and the NCAA
men's basketball tournament for CBS
Sports, working mostly as a sideline report-
er. But she accelerated her career at the
Boston Globe as the New England Patriots
beat reporter in the 1970s.
Visser earned her job based on her tal-
ent, not her looks. And there are hundreds
women in various mediums who provide sports con-
tent on a daily basis. Allow me to channel my inner-
Joe Namath here: I guarantee such a show will get
better ratings than ESPN Hollywood. Why? Because
men will actually tune in, for starters."
Basically, Deitsch disagrees with the poll results; he
thinks men would want to watch "The Sports Report-
ers" with an all-female cast.
I beg to differ. I think the current landscape of
women in sports journalism indicates that men
would have little interest in watching serious female
On most of the major networks that
time, I want to remember" Horton said. "I
want to look back on it and be able to learn
from it and take things from it to help (me)
and this team be successful now.
This mindset has helped propel Michigan
to its best start in nearly a decade.
There is no 0-6 start like his freshman year,
no sophomore slump like he had two years ago
and no dismal 13-18 season on the horizon. This
year's team is 11-2 and is making strides toward
earning its first NCAA tournament berth since
the 1997-98 season.
Although there's no C next to Horton's
name in the media guide, there's no doubt
who the leader of this team is.
"He's been a player that's always had
the courage," said Michigan coach Tommy
Amaker. "He's had the courage to step for-
ward, to make a play, to try and pull things
in our direction. He's always willing to step
forward. We want it in his hands."
The team wants it in his hands, and he has
no problem making those plays.
On the team's first road trip - against Bos-
ton University - Horton's scoring surge late
in the game secured the win over the Terriers,
who had beaten the Wolverines the previous
It was Horton who stood toe-to-toe with
Irish guard Chris Quinn on the road against
Notre Dame, hitting a barrage of threes late
and making the game-winning dish to Dion
Harris to secure another road victory.
And it's been Horton who has stepped
up and emerged as Michigan's workhorse
down the stretch to fight off potential upset-
hungry teams. He's done it against Butler,
he did it on Saturday against Purdue and
he's bound to do it again when his team-
mates need him the most.
Why feel pressure? It's just basketball.
"I just have fun," Horton said. "I try to go
out there and play as hard as I can, but I just
try to have fun."
After everything Horton went through last
year, it would be foolish to expect his life to
hinge on a successful final season at Michi-
gan. But the events from a year ago have
allowed him to emerge as a better leader, and
the Wolverines' winning ways have brought
back to his face the smile that was absent a
of similarly qualified female sports journal-
ists working at newspapers, magazines and TV stations
around the country. I'm sure that some of the sideline
reporters that I dismiss as nothing more than pretty
faces actually do know what they're talking about.
The problem is how little they're able to show it. On
almost all major broadcasts, female sports reporters
stand on the sidelines, asking coaches pointless ques-
tions as they head to the locker room at halftime and
waiting for the men in the booth to allow them to speak.
In truth, it's hard to know how qualified any sideline
reporter is - regardless of gender - because they're
rarely given meaty assignments.
Women have a presence in sports media, but on
television, they're hardly ever present in those roles that
demand intelligent commentary.
Times are changing though. Suzy Kolber is among
the women who have anchored "SportsCenter" and
hosts "NFL Matchup," a technical football show that
breaks down plays from the week's NFL action. Pam
Ward calls college football games for ESPN.
It isn't perfect equality; it probably never will be. But
Visser, Kolber and Ward prove that women can more
than hold their own as sports reporters.
Why wouldn't you want to watch four knowledge-
able, experienced female sports reporters debate the big-
gest stories of the week?
Now that's a question I'd like to know the answer to.
- Stephanie Wright can be reached
Icers' walk-on Fardig
shines with tenacity
0 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
Jones making the most
of limited playing time
By Mawk Giannotto
Daily Sports Writer
Whether it is junior T.J. Hensick, senior captain
Andrew Ebbett or freshmen Jack Johnson and
Andrew Cogliano, the Michigan hockey team has
plenty of stars to rely on to get points every game.
But it is the role players who will ultimately
make the difference between a good season and
a great season.,
And in recent weeks, the Wolverines have found
one of their role players. Freshman forward Danny
Fardig has quietly turned from ignored walk-on
into the hustle, do-anything type of player that
every great team needs.
In the beginning of the season, Fardig served as
a fourth-line center and wing. With all the penal-
ties that Michigan took the first few weeks of the
season, he saw little ice time.
Recently, the Michigan coaching staff has been
using Fardig as one of the team's primary penalty
killers. Nowadays, the freshman is called upon to
block shots on goal and frustrate the opposition.
Settling into a set role has resulted in Fardig hav-
ing a bigger impact every week. On Friday night, he
even chipped in some offense.
With the game scoreless four minutes into the
first period, Fardig handled the puck on the right
wing. He dumped it into the Michigan offen-
sive zone, and continuedt to skate near the play.
By following the puck along the boards, Fardig
put himself into position to collect a stray pass
from an Alaska-Fairbanks defenseman. He then
flicked the puck toward the goal, where it hit off
Nanooks forward Kyle Greentree's skate and into
the back of the net.
The goal exemplifies the type of all-out
effort that Fardig puts into every second he
skates on the ice.
"He goes out there every shift, and he works
hard;' Ebbett said. "He gets the job done and is kind
of an unsung hero for us."
The large freshman class has also played a
role in Fardig's lack of notoriety. Last season, the
Ann Arbor native was a part of the United States
National Team Development Program along with
classmates Johnson, Mark Mitera and Zac Mac-
Voy. Fardig played a key role on the penalty kill, but
again was overshadowed by star players like John-
son and Minnesota freshman Phil Kessel.
Because he was not as well known coming out
of the development program as many of his team-
mates, he needed to walk-on to the hockey team.
But his non-scholarship status has not affected his
ability to increase his playing time.
"He has impressed everybody on the coaching
staff with his work ethic and his defensive aware-
ness," said Michigan coach Red Berenson. "He's a
coachable kid that is willing (to do anything)."
Playing with elite players before college hockey
has allowed Fardig to maintain a good level of con-
fidence throughout the season.
"I knew I could compete with guys like (Jack
Johnson) coming in," Fardig said. "He can beat me
one-on-one any day, but I knew if I just went out and
battled every day that I could play for this team."
His defensive presence and willingness to bat-
tle came to the forefront during the Wolverines'
game against Colorado College in the Great Lakes
Invitational. With Johnson and Mitera participat-
By Daniel Bromwich
Daily Sports Writer
Nearly 1,800 people were jumping in their seats
as the Michigan women's basketball team came
within two points of upsetting No. 14 Purdue late in
the game on Sunday afternoon. But coach Cheryl
Burnett did not stick with her veterans or shorten her
bench. Instead, she turned to an unfamiliar face to
give the team some crucial crunch-time minutes.
The face belonged to freshman forward Ashley
Jones, and she displayed it in her usual manner. Jones
wears a competitive and confident scowl that dares
her opponents to bring the ball to her basket, warns
away potential attackers and expresses the focus and
desire to win that Burnett looks for in each one of
"We felt that Ashley had competed really well;'
Burnett said. "She gives us a great rebounding pres-
ence, she takes it to the hole very hard, and when we
get to expand on her playing time, she's really going
to be an asset for us. She definitely got above the rim
for rebounds a couple times."
Jones's stat line wasn't too impressive. She
failed to record a point on three field goal
attempts and finished with just two defensive
rebounds and one blocked shot. But her timing
couldn't have been better. With their offense
struggling to produce down the stretch, the Wol-
verines were forced to rely on their defense to
keep the score close. Jones was right in the mid-
dle of the action, soaring high in the air to block
one shot and grabbing an important defensive
rebound on the next possession.
"When she gets her confidence up, she really gets
into it," said fellow freshman Carly Benson. "She's up
blocking shots, grabbing rebounds, jumping all over
the place. Her athletic ability just helps us so much."
Jones played a total of 20 minutes in Sunday's
game, tops on the season excluding the 20 min-
utes she played in the team's 43-point blowout
win over Fordham. And it wasn't just a one-
game thing. Jones - currently last on the team
in minutes per game with 11.5 - has seen her
playing time increase recently. After recording
double-digit minutes in just three of the team's
first nine games, she has played more than 10
minutes in five of the team's past six games,
earning three starts along the way.
With the team's bench shortened due to the losses
of junior Kelly Helvey, who suffered a season-end-
ing knee injury and sophomore Jessica Starling, who
left the team for personal reasons, Burnett has been
searching for another player who can bring focused,
competitive play on a consistent basis.
And Jones might have the fire that Burnett and the
team need to improve their win total. She was one
of just two players on the team to successfully com-
plete every area of the conditioning test that Burnett
puts the team through at the beginning of the season,
showing her willingness to put in hard work. That
comes in handy when playing for a coach like Bur-
nett, who wants the absolute most from her players.
"She demands everything," Jones said. "She wants
you to work as hard as you can, and when you reach
that point, she wants you to work harder than that.
I appreciate that, because it will make me the best
player I can be."
Danny Fardig came to Michigan with little fanfare
but has contributed despite being a walk-on.
ing in the World Junior Hockey Championships,
and junior defenseman David Rohlfs serving a
one-game suspension for a fighting penalty in
the previous game, it left Michigan with a serious
depletion of defensemen. To compensate, Far-
dig moved from his natural forward position to
defense for the game.
"He'll make the right play defensively" Beren-
son said. "He doesn't make a lot of high-risk type
of plays. I felt we could rely on him doing the right
thing defensively, and he sees himself as a good