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January 13, 2006 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-01-13

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January 13, 2006

PleRTiSiigan ti1


Cagers try to finish
last year's business


By Matt Singer
Daily Sports Editor
It was a brief, shining moment in an
otherwise miserable season.
Midway through the 2004-05 Big
Ten season, an injury-prone Michigan
squad took then-undefeated Illinois to
the brink. With less than 10 minutes to
go, the Wolverines held a
41-37 advantage, bringingr
the Crisler Arena faithful x
to a fever pitch.
The Illini eventuallyN
prevailed 57-51, but the ' ,
Wolverines learned an
important lesson: Even Asembl
at its weakest, Michigan EPN
could hang with Illinois.
"(Last year's game)
helps build your confidence," senior co-
captain Sherrod Harrell said. "We were
down a few guys last year due to injury.
We weren't full force, and to be able to
battle with them at such a close level defi-
nitely builds your confidence."
While the name on the front of the
Illini uniforms is the same, a whole lot
has changed since last year's Michi-
gan-Illinois tilt. The Illini lost three
of their top four scorers from last sea-
son - Luther Head, Roger Powell and
Deron Williams - but retain a powerful
inside-outside combination in seniors
James Augustine and Dee Brown. The
duo is averaging nearly 30 points per
game this season.
Where Illinois has lost, Michigan has
gained. For the first time since last season's
Notre Dame game, the entire Wolverine
roster will be in uniform. During last year's
Illinois matchup, Michigan played without

two key backcourt players - Daniel Hor- \
ton and Lester Abram. This season, junior'
Brent Petway returned from academic inel- t
igibility in time for Jan. 3's game against
Indiana, but Abram sat out the squad's
first two Big Ten games with a foot injury.
Abram hasn't fully recovered - he's par-
ticipated only intermittently in recent prac-
tices - but he is healthy enough to take the
floor in Champaign.4
"Lester's been arguablys
our most consistent player r
since he's been here on cam-
x¢. at x pus, Michigan coach TommyE
l}" Amaker said. "It's obvious
that when we haven't had him,
we haven't been the same
.u team. We've relied on his
toughness, his ability to score.'
And his teammates have great
confidence in him."
Abram isn't the only Wolverine
returning to the Illinois-Michigan rival-
ry. Horton's comeback sets up an entic-
ing showdown between two of the Big;
Ten's premier point guards. Dee Brown,Q
who considered declaring for the NBA
Draft before a foot injury derailed his
plans, entered the season as the most ALEX DZIADOSZ/Daily
hyped player in the conference, earning Michigan senior guard Daniel Horton is averaging 15.8 points per game this season.

preseason Big Ten Player of the Year
honors. But so far this season, Horton,
flying under the radar, has matched the
speedy six-footer step-for-step. Hor-
ton tops Brown in nearly every statis-
tical category - averaging 15.8 points
per game to Brown's 14.9, 5.7 assists
per game to Brown's 5.3 and shooting
47 percent from the field, compared to
Brown's 37 percent.
While acknowledging the importance
of slowing Brown, Horton downplayed his

Icers take on
non-voters in
By James V. Dowd
Daily Sports Writer
Fans often overlook exhibition games
on their favorite teams' schedules, but
Michigan's tilt with the United States. ......G.§T
National Team Development Program U.S.NDTPU-8
Under-18 team provides spectators with N. 9MIchigan
an extra incentive to head to Yost Ice 7$ p tm
Arena tonight. The team features Chris Y At Ae .
Summers, who has committed to suit up
for the Wolverines next fall.
Summers will join Michigan's
already-deep blue-line core, which
loses just Adam Dunlap, and hope to contribute on a nightly basis.
Wolverine associate coach Mel Pearson believes that Summers is cut
from the same mold as current Michigan stars junior Matt Hunwick
and freshman Jack Johnson - both former U.S. NDTP players.
"He's a great skater" Pearson said. "I think he'll follow the foot-
steps of Hunwick and Johnson. He's very strong, also. Those are the
things you really notice."
In tonight's game, fans should immediately realize why Pearson
and assistant coach Billy Powers sought out Summers. His skating
ability and physical presence make him highly visible on the ice,
according to Pearson.
"You see the skill package right away," Pearson said. "I think the
most important thing is getting to know what a special kid he is. He
has a great work ethic and a strong commitment to the game. He has
the chance to be a special player."
This game likely holds special significance for Summers and his
teammates. It will be Summers's only chance to line up across from
the Wolverines.
"I know he's looking forward to it," Pearson said. "He has already
called me a couple of times this week. They all go to the local
schools, so this is a big game for them. They can go back to their
schools and tell everyone that they beat Michigan."
Michigan sophomore Kevin Porter remembers playing against
the Wolverines when he was with the U.S. NTDP and knows the
opponent will be up for the challenge.
"It was my only chance to play against Michigan," Porter said.
"I remember the (Michigan players) not being too excited about the
game, so I wanted to win even more"
The Wolverines have especially deep ties to the U.S. NTDP
because the program is located in Ann Arbor. In all, 17 Wolverines
have skated for the U.S. NTDP over the years. Michigan's current
team features nine former U.S. NTDP prospects - Porter, Hunwick,
Johnson, junior T.J. Hensick, sophomore Chad Kolarik and fresh-
men Jason Bailey, Danny Fardig, Zac MacVoy and Mark Mitera.
Pearson said he likes the Wolverines' chances to win their fifth
game in five tries against the U.S. NTDP. But the Michigan team
will be without senior forward Brandon Kaleniecki, who has been
slowed by injury all year and will miss this weekend's game with a
sports hernia.
Luckily for Michigan, MacVoy and Kolarik will play in the
game despite coach Red Berenson listing them as questionable on
Wednesday. MacVoy suffered a hip pointer in the Jan. 6 game against
Alaska-Fairbanks, and Kolarik was thought to have a hernia. After
Kolarik was re-evaluated on Thursday, he was cleared to play.
Focal points for the Wolverines will undoubtedly include special
teams, which struggled greatly against the Nanooks. The Michigan
power play was ranked as the best in the nation for most of the sea-
son, but after last weekend dropped to fourth.
The Michigan coaching staff also changed up the defensive pairings
this week. Johnson and Hunwick will remain together as Michigan's top
line, but juniors David Rohlfs and Jason Dest are now paired together
and junior Tim Cook will skate with freshman Mark Mitera.

emphasis on the one-on-one matchup.
"I want to win, yeah, but it's noth-
ing special," Horton said. "It's nothing
between me and Dee Brown. I'm not
trying to battle him. It's just Michigan
against Illinois."
Even if Horton brings his "A"-game,
knocking off Illinois in Champaign
will be a tall order. The Illini have won
an NCAA-best 30 consecutive games
at Assembly Hall, home of the feared

Orange Krush student section. Michigan,
in particular, has had trouble defeating
the Illini - the Wolverines have lost nine
in a row at Assembly Hall and 10 straight
overall to Illinois.
"It's loud in there," Horton said. "It's
a very tough place to play. I remember
my freshman year, when (Illinois' Brian
Cook) scored like 22 straight. I think I felt
the floor shaking. It'll be a great environ-
ment for college basketball."

Blue's Minnfield minimizes mistakes

By David Murray
Daily Sports Writer

With 14 seconds left in a hard-fought first half against
Iowa, the Wolverines trailed by 12, their largest deficit of
the game. They needed something positive to take into the
locker room after a disappointing half.
Freshman point guard Jessica Minnfield
gave them exactly the type of momen-
tum-changing shot they were searching SUND
for - hitting a buzzer-beating basket and Michiga
jumpstarting a Michigan run that turned No.8 Oh1
an impending rout into a nail biter. 12:.p
With one possession left in the period
and time about to expire, Minnfield drove'
the lane, double-teamed but not out- _
matched. She mustered up a shot and the
ball fell through the hoop as Crisler Are-
na's halftime buzzer blared. It was just one basket, but with
her newfound confidence, the freshman stole the Hawkeyes'

During the second half, Minnfield picked up right where
she left off, knocking down a 3-pointer on Michigan's first
possession. After sophomore Ta'Shia Walker and freshman
Carly Benson both sunk two-point baskets, Minnfield hit
another trey from the top of the arc, and Michigan was just
three points down - the closest it would come to toppling
a heavily favored Iowa team.
For Minnfield, who was coming Gff a seven-
turnover game against Michigan State, the per-
Y formance against Iowa was the most efficient
of her young career. The Toledo, Ohio native
eate scored 11 points, making four of her five shots
and draining all three attempts from downtown.
"Our team is doing a better of job of making
the correct passes, making what we call the next
pass;' Michigan coach Cheryl Burnett said. "A
lot of times (Minnfield) is the recipient of great
penetration where the other team double-teams
and we make another pass to an open shooter."

"I'm practicing more on my shot," Minnfield said. "It's
all about confidence. If you don't have confidence, then you
can't do anything on the floor."
Her confidence seemed to spill over into the next game as
well. Against Big Ten powerhouse Purdue, Minnfield com-
mitted just one turnover despite being matched up against
senior guard Sharika Webb.
"Better execution creates less turnovers," Burnett said.
And fewer turnovers make for closer games. Behind
Minnfield's more efficient play, Michigan was nearly able
to pull off the upset of Purdue. The Wolverines got as close
as two points with 1:41 remaining before succumbing to
the Boilermakers. The savvy freshman had three steals and
again led her team in three-point baskets.
"You have to (step up) - it's the Big Ten," Minnfield
said. "I'm a freshman, and I'm starting, so I'm going to have
to step my game up."
Although the Wolverines are still searching for their first
conference win, the maturation of their young point guard
has shown them that it could be sooner rather than later.

It isn't just better looks though -
oped her game tremendously sinceI

Minnfield has devel-
the beginning of the

Mexico native feels at home in



By Anne Ulble
Daily Sports Writer
By the age of 16, Michigan swimmer Jorge
Carral had left his home, his family and his
country to attend high school in the United
States. By his 17th birthday, Carral had par-
ticipated on the Mexican Olympic swim
team in Sydney, where he broke the country's
records in the 400- and 1,500-meter freestyle.
So much for homesickness.
"I would say leaving Mexico was mostly a
guided decision," said Carral, now a senior
at the University. "My parents convinced me
that it would provide more opportunities for
me in the long run, and I wanted to swim.
Moving to the United States was an ideal
situation for me."
Carral grew up in Mexico City and began
swimming at age seven. He became more
interested in the sport after his school district
built a pool on the campus grounds. He then

took up with a local club coach who became
a huge influence in Carral's pursuit of swim-
"My coach in Mexico was a great motiva-
tor," Carral said. "He convinced me that I
was never going to make it at soccer and that
I was better at swimming. He was really the
reason I kept with swimming."
In 1997, Mexico City swimming officials
began making changes to the swim programs
in the area, outraging local coaches who then
made a virtual exodus from the city. Carral's
own swim coach left Mexico City to pursue
a coaching job elsewhere, leaving Carral
coachless just prior to high school.
"I knew that if I wanted to continue to swim
I needed to leave Mexico City," said Carral, a
senior. "The Bolles School (in Florida) was a
pretty good swimming school, and I knew I
would be able to go to college from there."
Carral's family supported his decision
to attend an American high school and at

the age of 16, Carral packed up and went to
"Moving to the United States was a big
change," Carral said. "It was difficult to
live away from my family and have to speak
another language."
He concentrated heavily on academics at
the Bolles School and also made huge prog-
ress in his swimming.
"In my second year in Florida, I dropped
a lot of time," Carral said. "It was exciting,
and I knew that I could potentially get to the
(2000) summer games."
In April of 2000, Carral qualified for
the Olympics in Sydney as a participant on
the Mexican team. Carral was one of seven
people on the squad, that featured just two
members who actually lived and trained in
"There are really only two or three teams
in Mexico that have great swimmers," Carral
said. "Most of my teammates were in college

in the United States."
After competing in Sydney, Carral had
two more years of high school and a college
to choose.
Carral was drawn to Michigan for its academ-
ics - he was pursuing the honors engineering
program - and due to his instant connection
with former Wolverine coach Jon Urbanchek.
"I was amazed at Jon's ability to be
involved with every person on the team,"
Carral said. "He was so different from other
coaches I had in the past, and I knew I had to
come to Michigan."
Now in his fourth year with the Wolver-
ines, Carral says it will be tough to end his
swimming career, but he couldn't be happier
with his experience at Michigan.
"It's been a great time, and I'm glad that
I've made it this far," Carral said. "Being able
to get an education and compete here has been
one of the best opportunities I've ever had. It's
something I'll never forget."


Todd uses hands to slap his way to the top

By Kimberly Chou
Daily Sports Writer
Junior wrestler Omar Maktabi - Iowa's 2003 high
school freestyle champion - will be in Cliff Keen's
practice room every day, without fail. But if he were
to miss a practice, one of his reasons would likely
involve Michigan sophomore Tyrel Todd.
"If there's a reason I don't want to come to prac-
tice, it's because I just don't feel like wrestling him,"
Maktabi joked, referring to the starting 184-pound-
er's aggressive style on the mat.
"Tyrel's one of the most intense wrestlers I've ever
wrestled. He uses so much hand-fighting, beating on
the head ... "

out my opponent - tearin' 'em out so they get so
tired they can't do anything," he said.
Michigan coach Joe McFarland also describes
Todd as very physical and hard-nosed.
"He likes to get out and brawl," McFarland said.
"He (applies) a lot of forward pressure, and he can
wear a lot of guys down."
McFarland noted Todd's most recent outings
against Lehigh, Hofstra and Cornell as indicators of
how far Todd has progressed in his antagonistic style
as well as in confidence.
For someone who's known for being tena-
cious on the mats, Todd is surprisingly gracious
and affable in person. He is polite, articulate and
laughs generously.

Redshirting last year, Todd did not actually com-
pete during the regular season, something he said
was frustrating. However, he reasons that the extra
year was necessary for his body to mature, as well
as his technique. The work paid off, even during the
summer - Todd won University Nationals for his
weight class and made it to the Junior World Cham-
pionships team trials.
McFarland places emphasis on such dedication.
"He fits in well in our program," he said. "Tyrel
epitomizes the kind of student-athlete that fits (our)
Todd said he chose Michigan for its combination
of strong academics and celebrated athletics. But it's
athletic competition where he will most likely make

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