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October 11, 2006 - Image 9

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-10-11

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Wednesday
October 11, 2006
sports.michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily.com

SlR TiSigan ailg

9A

Opportunity to
shine for senior
wide receiver

By Matt Singer
Daily Sports Editor
Afterspendingmuchof this season
in sophomore Mario Manningham's
shadow, Steve Breaston will be thrust
back into the spotlight this Saturday.
Michigan fans will be watching
him, hoping the fifth-year senior can
help fill the void left by Manning-
ham's knee injury.
The Penn State faithful will be
watching him to get a glimpse of the
star recruit who left his home state
behind to come to Ann Arbor.
And friends and family - as
many as Breaston can find tickets for
- will watch their boy return to play
in Pennsylvania for the first time in
four-plus years.
The North Braddock, Pa., native
admits he's had this game circled on
his calendar for a long time.
"It's a game I've been looking for-
ward to," Breaston said. "I'm excited
- I'm not gonna lie."
Penn State's defenders will be
watching Breaston, too, to see if his
role changes at all in Manningham's
absence.
There's no doubt that Breaston
excels in the short passing game.
With his shifty moves and ability to
make the first tackler miss, Breaston
has turned short completions into
solid gains all season long.
Three times during last Satur-
day's game against Michigan State,
Breaston caught the ball on third
down short of the first down marker.
And on each occasion, Breaston
juked and beat his Spartan defenders,
allowing the Wolverines to move the
chains.
"Before the play, you've got to
know where the sticks are,' Breaston
said. "So you've got to make a move
and get the first down. What it comes

down to is thinking about the first
down."
But it remains unclear whether
Breaston will be able - or even
called upon - to help replace Man-
ningham in the vertical passing game.
Last year, Breaston was expected to
into the Braylon Edward's shoes after
the superstar went to the NFL, but
never established himself as a viable
downfield option. And this season,
Manningham's deep-ball prowess
and junior Adrian Arrington's emer-
gence have kept Breaston focusing
mostly on short and intermediate
routes.
Of course, that's not such a bad
thing. Breaston's 23 receptions are
tied for 13th in the Big Ten, and
his 222 receiving yards are exactly
half of his career high. Plus, even
if Breaston doesn't become a major
part of Michigan's deep passing
attack, he still has the ability to open
up a big play in the return game. Up
to this point, Breaston's return num-
bers haven't been shabby - his 11.3
yards per punt return lead the Big
Ten.But Breaston is the conference's
all-time leader in punt return yard-
age, and he holds himself to a higher
standard.
"It's really been kicking me so
far," Breaston said of his returns. "In
the game, I try to get into that rhythm.
(So far) I basically haven't."
Even though he hasn't busted
a monster return yet - his sea-
son-high is 29 yards - Breaston
still loves to field kicks. The
unstructured nature of the
return game provides him the
freedom that fits perfectly with
his improvisational style.
"(Returns are) almost like a free
play to do what you want;' Breaston
said. "That's how I feel. It's like no
structure or anything like that. Just

Steve Breaston is eager to show his hometown what he is capable of Saturday

making people miss and getting
upfield."
Off the field, Breaston likes to
improvise in a completely different
way. Always a fan of poetry, Breaston
now battles walk-on wide receiver
Landon Smith in what he calls a "lit-
erary war."
Through instant messages, the
two wideouts trade poetic verses on
given topics. No winner has yet been
declared, but Breaston still enjoys the
process.
"It helps with writing;' Breaston
said. "Just playing around with words

and having fun. It's like a workshop,
so it's a great thing."
After Saturday's game, Breaston
should have plenty to write about.
What it's like to play in front of more
than 100,000 screaming fans late-
night at Beaver Stadium, for example.
Or how it feels, after four-plus years
in college football, to finally suit up
in your home state.
And of course, if Breaston has his
way, he could spend Sunday penning
a few verses about the Wolverines
unblemished record seven games into
the season.

Forgotten arena
same as the rest
F or much of the school year, the buzzer beaters or the hail
thousands of students walk marys. I enjoy watching teamwork
past it almost every week- and defense, the kind that allows
end. Yet many have no clue where the offense to counter attack, like
it is. in hockey.
The front door is barely notice- Cliff Keen will be the right
able when the building is closed. place for you, because the Wol-
There's no grand entrance way verines can do that, too. Just
and large plaza, like imagine the other
at Hill Auditorium. team spiking the ball
No giant scoreboard from the left side of
emblazoned with the the floor. Before you
block 'M' introduces can even see the ball
you to the city, like reach sophomore
Michigan Stadium. Kerry Hance, she's
And it doesn't look there to send it harm-
like it's an alien lessly back into the
spacecraft that crash air. Then watch out for
landed in a large junior Stesha Sels y,
parking lot, like H. JOSE who'll sit under it like
Crisler Arena. BOSCH an outfielder waits
I'm talking about under a lazy fly ball,
Cliff Keen Arena, The Bosch Wtch and anticipate just
home to the Michigan volleyball what to do when the ball reaches
team. her. But don't concentrate on her
And no matter how unassuming too much, because while this is
it may look from the outside, Cliff happening, someone else (likely
Keen provides one of the most Bruzdzinski) is swooping in from
electric atmospheres for a sporting either the left or right side of the
event on campus. court. Before you can say, Nice
Don't believe me? Think it isn't dig, Selsky has set the ball, Bru-
possible a volleyball game can be zdzinski has spiked it and Miphi-
as much fun to attend as a football, gan is celebrating another point.
basketball or hockey game? Think Your head spinning yet? Don't
again. worry, it's supposed to.
Is watching a powerful Mike Still not buying into vol-
Hart run or a jarring David Har- leyball? At least sit with the
ris tackle your cup of tea? Wait student cheering section, The
until you see a Katie Bruzdzinski Zone. They may not be the
or Lyndsay Miller spike. They most vulgar group, but consid-
gracefully jump into the air, only ering it's standing just 15 feet
to hammer the ball back over the away from the opposing team's
net and toward their opponent. server, it's no surprise it gets
Muhammad Ali may have been into the heads of the enemy
the first to float like a butterfly and Whether it's telling a playe
sting likea bee, but these two are her sister is hotter, chanting
perfecting it. "table dancer" every time a
Still not impressed? Maybe player steps up to the line and
you enjoy the electricity of a serves or yelling, "Sit down,
basketball game and the thrill coach," it's always a good time
of a Brent Petway block. Sorry at The Zone. Heck, you might
Air Georgia, but the energy you even get a high five from a
provide a block is just a candle player.
compared to the spotlight that So, if midterms are stressing
is the duo of sophomore Beth you out, or you hate Michigan
Karpiak and senior Megan Bow- State or you're a displaced Yarse
man. The nerdy kid with severe fan who doesn't have a team t
halitosis who played Warcraft root for in the playoffs, give vol-
wasn't rejected nearly as harshly leyball a chance tonight at7 p.m.
as opposing teams are when one and walk south down State Stret
or both of them make a block. to Cliff Keen Arena. Cheer on the
And the moment after the ball Wolverines as they face the Spar-
has gone back into the face tans in the first of two matches this
of the adversary, you can tell season.
Michigan's opponents die a little And who knows, maybe you'll
bit inside. You can't get that in fall in love with the sport. I sure
basketball, did.
But I'm still not convincing you.
Jose, you say, I don't care about - Bosch can be reached
the big plays like the home runs, at hectobos@umiched.
NOT EVERYONE NEEDS TO
WORRY ABOUT MARIO
MANNINGHAM'S BUM KNEE.
AT LEAST SOME OF YOU SHOULD
GO TO THE VOLLEYBALL GAME.

WE'LL WATCH THE NEWS
TICKER FOR YOU.
DAILY SPORTS.

Big second half
enough for Blue

By Chris Herring
Daily Sports Writer
You could see the displeasure
written on Michigan coach Nancy
Cox's face following her field
hockey team's match with Cen-
tral Michigan
yesterday.
"I told the -
team before-
hand that we would have to come
out with the same type of inten-
sity that we would if this were a
Big Ten team," Cox said. "Quite
frankly, we didn't do that today."
Surprisingly, Cox made her
comments after a 7-2 win for
the Wolverines (2-1 Big Ten,
8-7 overall) over the Chippe-
was yesterday at Phyllis Ocker
Field.
Although the win marked the
16th-straight time the Wolverines
beat the Chippewas (1-3 Mid-
American, 6-7 overall), the blow-
out victory wasn't the prettiest.
The game mirrored Sunday's
match against Miami (Ohio),
which the Wolverines won, but
also started sluggishly. The team
was held to just one goal in the
opening half but rallied to score
four in the second to win 5-3.
Despite the margin of vic-
tory over the Chippewas, Cox
and many players said they were
unsatisfied with their team's play.
Central Michigan hung with No.
20 Michigan for the first half of
the match. The Wolverines out-
shot (18-3) and out-cornered (6-1)
the Chippewas, but led just 2-1 at
halftime.
"We need to get points on the
scoreboard a lot quicker in these
games," said freshman Paige Lay-
tos, who tallied two goals. "Each
game, it seems like we take about
the first 10 minutes of the game to
figure things out, and it is really
starting to hurt us."
But the Wolverines did indeed
figure things out when the second
half rolled around.
The team caught fire, scoring
five goals - four of which came
in a four-minute span.
Sophomore Lucia Belassi
anchored the team with two goals
and four assists. With Michigan
holding a 2-1 lead in the second
half, the Uruguay native received
a pass from junior Ashley Len-
nington in front of the goal. After
making a move to her right, she

had a clear shot at the goal and
extended Michigan's lead to 3-1
just eight minutes into the peri-
od.
Less than two minutes later,
Belassi was atlit again. This time,
she scored off a rebound that
bounced into the middle of the
circle, giving the Wolverines a
three-goal advantage.
Belassi - who had two assists
in the first half - assisted the
next two Michigan goals, scored
by Laytos and freshman Jenner
Johnson, respectively. Laytos
and Johnson's goals came a min-
ute and a half apart, pushing the
advantage to 6-1.
"(Belassi) always has a great
vision of the field," Laytos said.
"She always knows where people
are and where the ball needs to go.
I guess as a team, we were finally
in the right positions, because she
always puts the ball in the right
spot for us."
Central Michigan got off just
one shot in the second half, but
the Chippewas made it count.
Nearly 22 minutes into the half,
Central Michigan put its second
goal of the game through, trim-
ming the Michigan lead to 6-2.
The enjoyment didn't last long
for the Chippewas. Sophomore
Stephanie Hoyer scored a goal
just over a minute later to extend J
the Michigan advantage to 7-2 Ov
and ice the victory in the 57th
minute.
But Belassi couldn't explain
why the Wolverines were so much
more effective in the second half
than in the first.
"We don't really know what it
is," Belassi said. "I just wish it
wouldn't always happen like that.
We can do much better in the first
halves of these games."
Cox said that her team might
have been looking ahead to a
match against conference-lead-
ing Indiana on Sunday, causing
a somewhat flat first half during
the game.
"What this group of young
women needs to recognize is any-
time you cross the sideline with
a maize and blue jersey, your
mandate is to bring the best game
that you can possibly bring," Cox
said. "Right now, they don't con-
sistently do that. It doesn't mat-
ter who the opponent is - that
should be the passion with which
you pursue the pursuit."

EMMA NOLAN-ABRAHAMIAN/ Daly
unior Lucia Belassi's two goals and four assists helped Michigan
vercome its sluggish start and cruise to a 7-2 win over Central Michigan.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12,8 PM
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