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October 24, 2006 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-10-24

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8 - Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Lions, Millen
still embarrassing

Running back Mike Hart is the key to a Michigan offense that rarely puts its defense in compromising positions off of turnovers, makingthe Wolverines even tougher to beat.
Varsity t beatingi itelf

feel sick to my stomach.
Every Sunday at either 1 or
4 p.m., I painfully watch the
"show" _
that is the
Detroit Lions.
I refer to
Lions games
as shows pur-
posely, because
with the team
and effort they
put out on KEVIN
the field each WRIGHT
week, it has
to be a well- The Sixth Man
worthy of a laugh track.
But, unfortunately, no one
Last season, you couldn't go to
a sporting event in Detroit or Ann
Arbor without the Lions taking
center stage. You could see the
frustration boiling over at Pistons
games. Fans would talk about
the pathetic nature of the Lions
at Tigers games (during the brief
period in September when both
teams were in action). Even at
Michigan basketball games, "Fire
Millen" signs rose above heads in
the student section.
True, the Lions haven't fielded
an above-.S00 team in recent years,
but at least the fans called out the
People cared about their team,
and they tried their best to tell
Lions president William Clay Ford
that Matt Millen couldn't put
together a successful Pop Warner
football team.
It felt like we (by that I mean
everyone who's suffered asa Lions
fan) were making a difference. But
like the Coke Coalition or the Save
the Big House groups, our effort
went for naught.
Millen stayed, Ford still didn't
realize that, as the owner, he had
a say and Steve Mariucci, the only
person in the organization not
deemed a failure in life, got fired.
But the truly sickening part of
the whole scenario is that no one
cares about the Lions. The team
could be winless (they're still pret-
ty close to that), forfeit the season
(something that should be consid-
ered), or even move out of the city.
And people still wouldn't care.
The reason why?
The Tigers and Michigan

football have kept the spotlight
squarely off Ford Field. The Tigers,
longstanding losers, not only made
the playoffs, but also are tied at a
game apiece in the World Series.
And the Wolverines have bounced
back quite nicely from their five-
loss season last year and stand as
the second-ranked team in the
nation and in the BCS rankings.
But while those teams' success
should be applauded, the joythey
bring into Michiganders' lives
shouldn't stop the "Fire Millen"
The Lions drove the greatest
running back of all time to retire-
ment just one season short of the
career rushing record. They've
gone through more quarterbacks
than Rush Limbaugh goes through
pain pills. They boast a handful of
first-round draft picks that could
star on a reality-TV show. And,
they hired a coach that elected to
take the wind in an overtime ses-
sion where the first team to score
If bythe seventh week of the
seasonyou're overjoyed that the
Oakland Raiders finally won, you
know you're a Lions fan. The Raid-
ers' upset of the Arizona Cardinals
last weekend put the Lions back in
the hunt for the No.1 draft pick.
Every year, the Lions have a
funny way of pulling the wool
over their fans eyes. During the
preseason, Millen parades around,
talking up his boys. He let piano
man Joey Harrington go and
brought ina handful of quarter-
backs that would have trouble
challenging Keanu Reeves for a
starting role. He told us Rod Mari-
nelli was the real deal, the hard-ass
that was goingto inspire confi-
dence and instill work ethic in his
players. Millen's move definitely
panned out when two anonymous
players filed a grievance against
Marinelli in training camp.
Here's a synopsis of the season
to this point for those of you still
focused on the Tigers and the
Wolverines. Pothead and former
No. 2 draft pick Charles Rogers got
cut, Jon Kitna has done his best to
make each game seem respectable,
and Marinelli hasn't been replaced
by power-hungry offensive coordi-
nator Mike Martz ... yet.
I'm willing to bet that Millen is
See WRIGHT, Page 9

Daily Sports Editor
When referees initially ruled
that tailback Mike Hart had fum-
bled late in
the fourth NOTEBOOK
against Iowa, the call surprised
almost everyone in the Big House.
Hart protects the ball better
than almost any running back in
the nation. The junior hasn't lost a
fumble in 639 touches.
But what made his almost-fum-
ble even more surprising is how
rarely No. 2 Michigan has turned
the ball over this season.
Through eight games, the Wol-
verines have committed just six
turnovers (five interceptions and
one fumble), tied with No. 1 Ohio
State for the fewest of any Division
I-A team this season.
Hart's reliable hands aside,
coach Lloyd Carr attributed at least
some of Michigan's turnover pau-
city to smooth exchanges between
center Mark Bihl and quarterback
Chad Henne.

"A year ago we had a couple
(problems with the exchange), and
one of them cost us a game," Carr
said. "It's one of those things you
take for granted ... and yet it's the
most important part of any play."
Henne has also helped keep the
Wolverines' turnover total low by
limiting costly interceptions. Even
though the junior signal caller has
thrown one more pick than he had
at this point last season, most of
his five interceptions haven't hurt
Of the three picks Henne threw
against Wisconsin, the Badgers
converted justone into points.
Although Henne's lone inter-
ception against Iowa resulted in
a Hawkeye field goal, it came on a
third-and-22 play, and Carr likened
the pick to a punt in that situation.
"A couple of his interceptions
have (come) as a result of throw-
aways late in the game," Carr said.
"Thus far, we've done a great job
with the football, as good as any
team I've been around."
was optimistic but vague when

asked to describe Mario Manning-
ham's improvement at his weekly
press conference yesterday. The
coach said his injured wide receiv-
er is "making very rapid progress"
and is "ahead of schedule" in terms
of his rehab.
Perhaps the most encouraging
news of the day came when Carr
emphasized that Manningham will
"absolutely" return to the field this
The sophomore injured his
knee in the Wolverines' win over
Michigan State and underwent
arthroscopic knee surgery the fol-
lowing week.
During Michigan's victory over
Iowa last weekend, Manningham
was spotted on the sideline sport-
ing street clothes and using crutch-
With the Wolverines' star play-
maker out of the lineup, other
receivers, especially junior Adrian
Arrington and freshman Greg
Mathews, have seen their role in
Michigan's offense increase dra-
Carr wouldn't call it a blessing

in disguise, but he did say the
Wolverines' depth at receiver
had improved in Manningham's
"I don't think there's any ques-
tion that overall, as ateam, we've
been able to gain some confidence
... because of the increased playing
time in big games," Carr said.
GET WELL SOON: The Associ-
ated Press reported that former
Michigan coach Bo Schembechler
had a small device inserted in his
chest to help regulate his heart
beat yesterday.
Carr said he would be heading
over to the hospital to visit Schem-
bechler soon after his weekly
press conference ended.
"He had a procedure this
morning, and the reports are that
it went very well," Carr said. "I'm
sure he's going to be going home
here in the next day or two."
Schembechler was admitted to
the hospital's cardiac-care unit last
Friday after he felt dizzy while tap-
ing a radio show.
INJURY UPDATE: After providing
See VARSITY, Page 9


Real Tigers fan's
dreams come true

Daily Sports Writer
Chad Kolarik is an opportunist.
So when he had the chance to record
a second consecutive hat trick against
Miami (Ohio) last Thursday, he took it.
With 1:15 to go in the game and the
Wolverines holding a 5-3 lead, Miami
pulled its goalie in favor of an extra
attacker. Seconds later, Kolarik gathered
the puck off a deflection and headed up
ice. Though his teammate T.J. Hensick
was further up the ice, Kolarik fired at
the empty cage from just outside his own
blue line for his third goal of the game.
"T.J. was ahead of me there, I should
have passed it up," Kolarik said after the
game. "I said I'm sorry, I think he's a
little upset at me."
Apologies aside, Kolarik had a spec-
tacular third period, recording three
goals as his parents looked on from the
Yost Ice Arena stands.
After struggling for two periods, it looked
as if the third period wouldn't go Kolarik's
way either. Early in the frame he and Andrew
Cogliano skated towards the Miami goalie on
a 2-on-1. The Miami defenseman seemed to
be playing the shot, but Kolarik fired the puck
anyway, which flew well abovethe net and off
the glass.
But when a second chance came just
minutes later, Kolarik didn't let it pass.
Near the halfway point of the period,
Kolarik and Cogliano had another odd-
man rush. Kolarik shot again, this time
putting it past Miami goalie Charlie
Effinger to give Michigan a 4-2 lead.
"We talked about the first (2-on-1
opportunity), and he knows he should
have passed it," Cogliano said. "But he's
got the hot hand right now. He's looking
to shoot, and you have to respect that."
There's no doubt Kolarik has been on
fire thus far in the season. In just four
games, the Abington, Pa., native has
seven goals and 10 points total.
Now the question is: Will the junior for-
ward be able to keep up the torrid pace?
Coach Red Berenson doesn't expect
Kolarik to get a hat trick every contest,
but he would like the junior to continue
working on his entire game, not just goal
"If a skill player competes hard in all
the parts of the game then his skill will
show up," said Berenson, who once tal-
lied six goals in a single game as a mem-

At 5 p.m. last Friday, I got a mes-
sage from my dad:
"Nothing is official, but you can
get your hopes up!"
Ten minutes later, I learned I
would be going to Game 1 of the first
World Series that my beloved Tigers
have played in my lifetime. And, oh
yes, he added - Games Two, Six and
He visited his co-worker, a Detroit
native, and proudly proclaimed, "I'm
the best dad in the whole world."
My dad has been enabling my
Tigers obsession since he introduced
me to the team when I was six, just
after I became
enamored with a
stuffed tiger my
mom had given
me. He'd been try-
ing to get me inter-
ested in baseball
with little success;
when I began car-
rying the tiger
everywhere, he
saw his chance.
"You know," WITH COLTF
he said, "there's
a baseball team
called the Tigers."
From then on, I was hooked.
He started me off slowly. First,
there was one game each season in
Oakland (which the Tigers inevita-
bly lost to the A's). As I got older, we
started going to all three games.
Finally, when I was 14 and had
been complaining of my lonely status
zAcK MEISNER/Daily as "Only Tigers Fan in Oakland" for
already posted back-to-back hat three years, Dad took me to Detroit.
playing with new linemates. That was the final straw.
Before, I had been a fan. Now, I
was in love.
I stayed in love through all the
THE OFFENSIVE bad times, living and dying each day
with the scores, reading every Tigers
larik's hat trick against Miami (or just baseball) book I could get my
Friday made him the ftist Wol- hands on and recruiting my friends
ost back-to-back hat tricks since to root for the Tigers every time they
came to Oakland.
e beat up on the Buckeyes in By the time the Tigers got great
e CCHA playoff games following this year, all my friends had become
5season. either outright or closet Tigers fans
- along with several ushers at the
trisingly, Kolarik's offensive output Oakland Coliseum.
im Michigan's leading scorer at When the Tigers won the pennant
(The pennant! I still can't believe it),
the youngseason.Theunior I started hunting for World Series
ts (sevengoals and three assists), tickets.
Hensick, who led the Wolverines "You have to go," my friend Danny
st season (52) and finished two told me, and his tone brooked no
he lead in 2004, currently sit argument.
I couldn't get tickets through the
s behind Kolarik in second place. Tigers, or my friend with "connec-
tions" - only on the auction sites, for


ridiculous amounts of money.
As a last resort, Dad called our
hometown Giants, thinking that,
because we were partial season-
ticketholders, that they might be
able to do something for us. Let's
just say the Giants got themselves an
infinite number of brownie points
last Friday.
Being at the World Series felt like
living in one of my own fantasies
- well, except for losing 7-2 on the
first night. But the atmosphere was
like nothing I'd ever seen, especially
in Detroit.
No one could stop smiling.
Old friends
would meet up
in the concours-
es, hugging and
yelling, "WE'RE
HERE!" as if try-
ing to convince
themselves that it
was really happen-
ing. Instant friend-
ships sprang up
in the stands. By
ROSENSWEIG the fourth inning
of Game 1, I was
being quizzed on
baseball trivia by Jim "The Pin Man"
Maser, who drove 20 hours from
Colorado with his sister, Elaine, to
see their beloved Tigers in the World
Series. By the sixth, we had our own
little community in section 217. And
we were all back for Game 2.
The night was perfect, despite the
freezing drizzle. We knew as soon as
Kenny Rogers went out to the mound
that it was going to be special, and he
proceeded to throw eight more innings
of exquisite shutout baseball.
The Tigers played like we all knew
they could, like I'd been dreaming
about for 14 years. And by the end
of the night, all of us could say that
we'd seen our team win a game in the
World Series.
My buddy and I walked out of
the stadium slowly, stretching the
moment out as long as possible.
We watched other fans string up a
big floppy cardinal from the mouth
of the gigantic tiger statue, chanting,
"Eat 'em up, Tigers, eat 'em up!" We
got more pins from the Pin Man and
made plans for that beautiful contin-
gency - if the Tigers win.
Finally, it was time to drive back
to Ann Arbor. Maybe it was just
because they were numb with cold,
but I don't remember my feet touch-
ing the ground.
I really do have the best dad in the
whole world.



Chad Kolarik has been lights out for No. 5 Michigan. The junior has
tricks on the year to lead the team in scoring while still adjusting to

ber of the St. Louis Blues.
For Kolarik to maintain his current
level of play he needs to remain focused
on preparation and work ethic, Beren-
son said.
Kolarik has also been working on
gelling with his linemates, Cogliano and
freshman Brian Lebler.
All three members of Michigan's sec-
ond line took extra time at yesterday's
practice to work on their communica-
tion and offensive strategy.
Playing alongside departed seniors
Brandon Kaleniecki and Andrew Ebbett
last season, Kolarik scored 12 goals and
added 26 assists.
With such good hands and offensive
skill, Kolarik can only improve as the
chemistry with his linemates increases.
Cogliano, for one, is counting on it.
"He's won a couple games for us so far,
and we need that from guys like him."

* Chad Ko
(Ohio) lastI
verine to pi
Mike Knubl
the 1994-9
* Not surp
has made h
this point in
has 10 poin
Senior T. J.
in points la
points off t
three point:


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