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October 12, 2006 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-10-12

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Thursday
October 12, 2006
sports.michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily.com

SPORTS

8A

,_

Spartans rout

Blue in
By Dan Feldman
Daily Sports Writer
In an interview with CSTV.
com before the season, Michi-
gan State junior Katie Johnson
was asked what match she was
most excited to play.
"Michigan, of course," John-
son said. "Michigan at Michi-
gan. I don't even care about the
one at home because I know
we're going
to beat
them." Mncs 0
If Johnson
is right about the teams' second
duel, the Spartans are on the way
to winning their first State Pride
Series since 2001 because Michi-
gan State marched into Cliff
Keen Arena last night and swept
Michigan (30-27, 30-28, 30-26).
"Like Rasheed Wallace said,
'You have to have confidence in your
team. If you don't, then you as might
well walk off the court,' " Johnson
said. "And I have all the confidence
in my team and we came out tonight
and did it."
But this match may not have
been as meaningful for Michi-
gan.
"I think this is going to sound
bad ... but that's a typical State
mentality where it means more
to beat Michigan, not (just)
in volleyball, in everything,"
Michigan coach Mark Rosen
said. "So that's fine. That's their
thing. For us, it's a match."
Trailing two games to nil,
the Wolverines came out in
game three and built a 19-13
lead, rejuvenating the quieted
crowd in the process. But with
the Wolverines holding a 20-
15 lead, Spartan junior Ashley

sweep
Schatzle stepped up to serve.
By the time she was done, she
had forced Michigan to burn
both of its timeouts and led
Michigan State to a 23-21 lead.
Michigan never got back into
the game, and the Spartans took
the match.
"I don't think we took care of
the ball," Rosen said. "I don't
think they did anything really
in that run other than let us get
out of system and that's what I
was frustrated with. That run
was more on us than it was on
them. There were certain things
they did tonight where you've
got to give them a hand and say
'Hey, that was a great job.' What
(Schatzle) did attacking-wise,
you have to give her credit for
that. But that run was more on
us not taking care of the ball."
Schatzle was phenomenal last
night putting on what Rosen
described as the best individual
performance his team has had to
deal with all season. She ham-
mered out 24 kills (.476 hitting
percentage) and added six digs
for good measure.
The Spartans jumped out to
a 2-0 lead to start the match
and held the advantage the rest
of game one. After they upped
their lead to a game-high six
(27-21), the Wolverines out-
scored them 6-3 the rest of the
way, but still dropped the game
30-27.
Michigan carried its momen-
tum into game two. After trad-
ing the first four points, the
Wolverines remained in control
until Michigan State knotted
the game back up at,21.
From then on, the game was
back-and-forth, but Schatzle

M' boasts own
Linebacker 'U'

was too much for the Wolver-
ines. Rosen even pulled sel-
dom-used Sarah Draves off the
bench to play middle blocker
than attempt to slow Schatzle,
but it wasn't enough.
Michigan was thin at middle
blocker because senior Megan
Bowman was out with a lower-
body injury that she suffered
in practice during the week.
Junior Lyndsay Miller moved
from outside hitter to the mid-
dle, but since she has not played
that position in nearly a year,
the team took a hit in the block-

ing department.
Freshman Veronica Rood
took Miller's place on the out-
side. She was second on the
team with 13 kills, but only
sported a .161 hitting percent-
age. She started the match
strong but cooled off. Rosen
said that was not due to a Spar-
tan adjustment, but actually her
inexperience.
Because of weekday match,
the Wolverines will only be in
action once this weekend. They
will host Iowa Friday. Bowman
is questionable for the match.

By Stephanie Wright
Daily Sports Editor
The way they're playing
this season, it's hard to imag-
ine anyone saying Michigan's
linebacker corps aren't physi-
cal.
David Harris racing across
the field to execute a punish-
ing hit in open space.
Shawn Crable striking fear
into quarterbacks with his
intimidating pass rush.
Prescott Burgess drilling a
player into the ground on one
play and intercepting a pass on
the next.
But they haven't always
played like this. At the end of
Michigan's disappointing 2005
campaign, the media bom-
barded the Wolverines' 'back-
ers with a slew of insults.
They're too slow.
They miss too many tack-
les.
They aren't tough enough.
Harris admits much of that
criticism was fair. So instead
of tuning the media out, the
Wolverines listened to what
their critics had to say.
Harris said hearing they
weren't physical enough was
the comment that stuck with
him the most. Linebackers
pride themselves on their hard
hitting and sure tackling. Hav-
ing his toughness questioned
was pretty much the harshest
criticism Harris could hear.
"After the Nebraska loss last
year, we knew we had to step
up," Harris said. "A lot of peo-
ple were saying the linebackers
were one of the weakest posi-
tions on defense, and we just
took that to heart. We worked
hard this offseason so people
wouldn't say that again."
Halfway through the season,
it's safe to say their hard work
paid off.
Michigan's stout linebacker
play is a big reason why the
Wolverines continue to boast
the nation's No. 1 rush defense,
allowing just 40.3 yards per
game. The linebackers can
use their speed to get into the
backfield and tackle tailbacks
for a loss. Or, if a running back
makes it past Michigan's front
four, one of the linebackers
will be there to wrap him up
in a hurry.
The unit has also been
an asset for the Wolverines
against the pass. As a group,
the linebackers have notched
three of Michigan's 18 sacks
(two for Burgess and one for
Crable), and they've made a
habit of getting in quarter-
backs' faces. The linebackers
have also accounted for three
of the Wolverines' six inter-
ceptions (two for Burgess and
one for reserve Max Pollock).
A big reason why Michi-
gan's linebackers have excelled

against the pass and the run is
their wildly different styles of
play.
Harris, the middle lineback-
er, is a no-frills, hard-hitting
kind of player. If a running
back finds himself alone
with Harris in the open field,
He's almost guaranteed to be
stopped in his tracks. Michigan
coach Lloyd Carr and former
Ohio State linebacker Chris
Spielman have both referred to
Harris as the best linebacker
they've seen this season.
Crable and Burgess, the
outside linebackers, use their
rare combination of strength
and speed to wreck havoc.
Last season, Crable was used
primarily as a pass rusher, but
this year he has improved in
pass coverage and against the
run. Harris describes Crable
as "a freak - very athletic,
tall and rangy."
Burgess struggled at times
last year, often letting runners
slip through his grasp. The
fifth-year senior has turned
that around this season. Now
he rocks opposing running
backs when they cross his
path.
"Prescott Burgess, at some
point in training camp, began
to play like we expected him
to," Michigan coach Lloyd
Carr said. "He played a year
ago, he started a lot of games,
but I think he's made dramatic
strides (this season). He's hav-
ing an excellent year."
The same can't be said for
Chris Graham, though it's
through no fault of his own.
The fourth man in Michigan's
linebacker rotation, Graham
pulled a muscle against Cen-
tral Michigan, and the nagging
injury forced him to sit out two
games.
Graham isn't as big or strong
as his position mates, but He's
fast. Harris thinks the junior
is the speediest of the Wol-
verines' four main lineback-
ers, saying that he "runs like a
little tailback."
With all that talent, some
pundits have argued that
Michigan boasts the Big Ten's
best linebacker corps this sea-
son. The Wolverines will get a
chance to prove them right this
weekend.
Long hailed as "Linebacker
'U.'," Penn State has cultivated
a reputation for producing top
players at the position, includ-
ing Jack Ham, Greg Buttle,
LaVar Arrington and current
Nittany Lion Paul Posluszny.
For Michigan's linebackers
to solidify their place among
the nation's best, they'll have
to show up big against Penn
State, the cream of the line-
backer crop.
If their offseason progress is
any indication, they won't let
this opportunity pass them by.

io

Henne heads to not-so-Happy Valle y

ewsflash: There's still a
football game this Sat-
urday.
That little fact
might have gotten
lost somewhere dur-
ing Panic 2006: The
Mario Manningham
Saga.
And it's a shame, R
really - Saturday
provides a nice,
warm and fuzzy plot
for fans to follow in a
game that's destined Sc
to be anything but that. B
Native Pennsyl- T
vanians like Steve
Breaston and Ryan Mundy are
returning to their home state
to play in Beaver Stadium for
the first and only time in their
careers.
They're scrounging for
tickets, trying to take care of
friends and family who eagerly
await the their opportunity to
cheer on the hometown boys.
And then there's Chad

3i
i,

Henne.
Sure, he'll have his family
and close friends waiting for
him at State Col-
lege. But lined up
behind them will
be about 100,000
angry Nittany Lion
fans wanting the
homegrown boy's
head.
Not exactly the
open-arm welcom-
ing someone would
OTT expect for his
ELL homecoming.
Soont? Maybe I'm overre-
acting. Maybe Happy
Valley will cheer for its native
son in Saturday's battle between
two of college football's most
successful teams of the past few
decades.
Just look back to just last
week. Henne received an e-mail
from his old high school basket-
ball coach. Seems encouraging,
right?
What did it say?

Watch out for Paul Posluzny.
Ehh . scratch that Whole'
"maybe I'm overreacting"
thing.
Henne is public enemy No. 1.
The Wyomissing, Pa., native
broke the hearts of Penn State
fans everywhere when he chose
maize as his color of choice to
compliment blue over the Nit-
tany Lions' white.
Joe Paterno sent the house to
try and lure the prized in-state
recruit to Happy Valley. But in
the end, the legendary coach's
efforts were all for naught.
When it came down to deci-
sion time, Henne knew he had to
trust his gut and leave Pennsyl-
vania for the Wolverine state.
"I just felt a lot more com-
fortable here with Scot Loef-
fler and him developing me as a
quarterback than Jay Paterno,"
Henne said. "I have nothing
against them, I've always liked
Penn State and enjoyed going
up there. I just felt a lot more
comfortable here."

Penn State's current starter,
Anthony Morelli, jumped on the
opening at Penn State created
by Henne's move to Michigan.
Morelli promptly de-committed
from Pittsburgh, where he had
previously decided to play college
football, and took over Henne's
title as the heir apparent to the
Penn State football throne.
So let's recap.
Angry fans in a hostile envi-
ronment? Check.
Opposing quarterback who
feels disrespected and has
something to prove? Check.
And breaking news: Man-
ningham isn't playing. More
pressure on Henne's shoulders?
Check times 10.
Saturday's game very well
could be the defining game in
Henne's career here at Michigan.
What's one more incident of
angering Pennsylvanians going
to hurt?
- Bell can be reached
at scotteb@umich.edu.

I

DON'T FORGET TO CHECK OUT
WOMEN'S HOOPS AND WOMEN'S NCAA Tourney
GOLF COVERAGE ONLINE AT
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By Mark Giannotto
Daily Sports Writer
Entering the 2006-07 sea-
son, many variables remain for
the Michigan men's basketball
team.
But one thing is for sure.
The Wolverines don't want to
end up in the NIT for the third
time in four years.
"It's no secret that the next
step for us is to make the NCAA
Tournament," Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker said. "We cer-
tainly realize that (making the
tournament) is the ultimate goal
for our team,"
The Maize and Blue are going
to rely on a very experienced
senior class to do so.
Captain Lester Abram and
seniors Dion Harris, Court-
ney Sims and Brent Petway all
return for their final years at
Michigan, and are hungry to
avoid another NIT appearance.
"Making the tournament is
something that's important to
everyone on the team," Abram
said. "That's what you play for.
That's what the college basket-
ball season is for. I just hope

and I pray that we don't have
any setbacks as far as injuries.
It seems like we never can catch
a break, so hopefully we can get
one this year."
Abram, who was granted a
medical redshirt after missing
nearly his entire junior season,
hopes to stay healthy for the
entire year. He has missed good
portions of the past two seasons
due to various injuries.
As the lone captain, Abram
will lead a group of six fresh-
men, some of whom will be
expected to contribute signifi-
cant minutes right away.
Forwards Deshawn Sims and
Ekpe Udoh have been particu-
larly impressive during offsea-
son workouts.
"There role is to learn,
to work hard and compete,"
Amaker said. "If we can get
those three things from our
incoming freshman guys, with
the talent and some of the abili-
ties that they bring to the table,
I think we're going to have the
nucleus of a good class here in
this program."
With the graduation of last
year's star point guard Daniel

I

Horton, someone needs to fill
the void, and Amaker expects
Harris and sophomore Jerret
Smith to share the ballhandling
duties this season.
When it comes down to who
will take the last shot as the
clock winds down, there will be
no set replacement.
"If we can have a team that

essarily have to rely on one
player to carry the burden, then
I think we have the makings of
a good team," Amaker said.
Despite the optimism that
characterized media day, the
message was simple:
Anything less than the Wol-
verines' first NCAA Tour-
nament since 1998 will be a

I

plays unselfishly, and not nec- disappointment.

A

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