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November 22, 2006 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-11-22

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8 - Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

I

'D' takes precedence

By MARK GIANNOTTO
Daily Sports Writer
It didn't seem like a difficult
question, but it took senior Brent
Petway a long time to answer.
What does he like better: a
momentum-swinging dunk or a
game-changing block?
"That's tough right there,"
Petway said. "That's 50-50.
That's a push."
But when pressed further, his
real feelings came out.
"You know what, I'll take
the block on that one," the
McDonough, Ga., native said.
And that's the answer Michi-
gan coach Tommy Amaker
wants from his shot-swatting
power forward.
Through thetfirst five games of
the season, Amaker has empha-
sized defense.
And so far, the Wolverines (5-
0), who play Youngstown State
tonight, have answered the call.
Opposingteams have shot just
34 percent from the field and the
Wolverines have forced an aver-
age of 18 turnovers per game.
Much of it has to do with
Michigan's athleticism around
the rim. The Wolverines big men
- Petway, senior Courtney Sims
and freshman Ekpe Udoh - are
all averaging more than one
block agame.
This has allowed the Wol-

verines' perimeter players
to pressure opponents more
aggressively as the big men pro-
vide a security blanket.
"It makes it easier if aguy hap-
pens to get by us," senior guard
Dion Harris said. "We know we
have the luxury of those three
guys who are proven shot block-
ers at the college level. It's like
sending them down the lane to
Shaq, somebody who is control-
ling the lane and can block any-
thing that other teams put up."
Michigan has dominated the
paint,helpingtoeasebothHarris
and sophomore Jerret Smith into
the prime ballhandler position.
As the point guard, Harris or
Smith are ordinarily called upon
to cover the opposing team's
quickest players. But this could
prove difficult because Harris
is not a natural point guard, and
Smith struggles when matched
up with quick guards.
"It allows you to have more
confidence out front asa defend-
er," said Amaker, a former point
guard himself. "But that may
be one of the problems in us not
guarding the ball as well as we
should, because we know we
probably can get bailed out ... by
those guys on the back line.
"Certainly it's a good feeling
to go out as a guard and defend,
knowing that if you get beat, you
have your buddies as the last line

of defense to be able to make up
for some mistakes."
Good perimeter defense will
be essential tonight against
Youngstown State (2-2). Senior
guard Quin Humphrey leads the
Penguins, averaging 20 points
so far this season. In their Nov.
9 loss to Michigan State, Hum-
phrey torched the Spartans for
22 points.
Simswill also look to continue
his recent streak of impressive
performances. The Bostonnative
was named Big Ten Co-Player
of the Week alongside Spartan
junior Drew Neitzel this week.
Through five games, he has aver-
aged more than 16 points a con=
test, and shot nearly 74 percent
from the floor.
But no offense to the offense,
the defense is what defines this
Michigan team.
"If one of the big men gets a
big block, it boosts us because it's
a great defensive play," Harris
said. "That's where we want to
make our mark this year: on the
defensive end."

4

TREVOR CAMPBELL/Daily
Senior alternate captain T.J. Hensick scored the game-winner in last night's match against Michigan State. It was his fifth goal of the
season, and came with 13:32 to play in the third period.
Streak Sparted?

It's OK to be an Irish fan.
Butjust for this weekend.

uring yesterday's
memorial for Bo Schem-
bechler, Michigan coach
Lloyd Carr
toldanecdotes
aboutthe man
he used to
coach under.
One of them
was a story
about Schem-
bechler's dis-
dain for Notre H.JOSE
Dame.
Carr went BOSCH
in and talked
to Bo about a The Bosch
job offer from Watch
the Fighting
Irish. It paid well and at the time
Notre Dame wasn't a bad foot-
ball team. Sounds like a perfect
opportunity for an up-and-com-
ing coach. But Schembechler
wouldn't have it.
"'No,' " Carr remembers Bo
saying to him. "'You're not going
to Notre Dame. You're Michigan.
So forgetcthat."'
We all know whose opinion
mattered most in that discussion.
But despite Schembechler's dis-
like for the blue and gold, Carr
had this to say to those attending.
"I can promise you this," Carr
said. "The first time that Bo
Schembechler will ever cheer
for Notre Dame will be this Sat-
urday."
Bo was a Michigan Man, and
there are some things in sports
thatMichigan Menjust don't do.
Talk during someone's back
swing.
Steala catcher's signs.
And root for Notre Dame.
Well, for this week and this
week only, I want you to root for
Notre Dame.
That's right. Trade in that
winged helmet for a golden dome,

bust out your St. Patrick's Day
clothing a few months early and
root for the other Brady. And be
prepared to march "Onward to
Victory" when Saturday night
rolls around.
Why?
If you want any chance of
watching the Wolverines play for
a national title, the Trojans have
to lose, and Notre Dame has the
best shot at beatingcthem. I mean,
UCLA has a chance in two weeks,
but let's be honest, do you trust
the Bruins?
Whether or not you believe
that Michigan is the best one-loss
team in the land, a Notre Dame
win works into the Wolverines'
favor.
Sure, other things may have to
go Michigan's way, too.
No. 9 Louisiana State has to
actually win a big game against
No. 5 Arkansas, and Bobby
Bowden has to pray home-field
advantage will help his Seminoles
defeat No. 4 Florida.
Those scenarios, coupled with
a Trojan loss, would leave No.
6 Notre Dame as the only other
one-loss team with a shot to
jump the Wolverines - and we
all know who wins that head-
to-head tiebreaker. (A 26-point
home loss isn't exactly a ringing
endorsement.)
Even if all of that doesn't pan
out, many experts believe Michi-
gan could still make it into the
title game if either the Gators
or Razorbacks come out of the
Southeastern Conference Cham-
pionship unscathed.
Southern Cal walloped Arkan-
sas during its season opener.
Florida lost to an Auburn team
that was utterly embarrassed at
home ... twice.
Both are arguments made to
prove that the Wolverines should

be the No. 2 team in the nation
and that they deserve a rematch
against their archrivals. They're
also evidence of an uneasiness
that hasn't been felt all season.
Until this past weekend, Mich-
igan fans could wake up every
Sunday morning and know their
team was still in the national title
hunt. Thanks to the BCS rank-
ings released this past Sunday
evening, fans can still believe the
Wolverines will play in Glendale,
for now.
But if Michigan is denied a
chance to play for a National
Championship, the only way it
can point fingers is if it's standing
in front of a mirror. This waiting
game is worse than a root canal,
but these are the cards dealt to us,
the fans.
Now, we justsit and wait.
So forget about praying to
Fritz Crisler and Fielding Yost,
and start praying to Touchdown
Jesus. This Saturday, the Loyal
Sons shouldn't just be in South
Bend. They should also be mAnn
Arbor.
But if you can't quite bring
yourself tp sing the Notre Dame
Victory March, I offer you an
alternative. All you have to do is
sing itto the same tune.
Cheer, cheer for that other
team,
If they can win, you know what
that means.
We could win the B-C-S,
Prove to the world we're the
leaders and best.
We lost to Ohio State,
But don't forget that November
date,
If the mighty Trojans fall then
Bookflights for Glendale.
- Bosch can be reached
at hectobos@umich.edu,

By NATE SANDALS
Daily Sports Writer
In the final minute of the game, as
Michigan played two men down, the
noise from the
near-capacity MSU 1
Yost Ice Arena MICHIGAN 2
crowd crescen-
doed to match the intensity of the
closing moments.
With the help of its maize-clad
fans, No. 7 Michigan held onto its
2-1 advantage to beat No. 6 Michi-
gan State last night for its sixth con-
secutive win. It was the Wolverines
second straight victory over their
intrastate rival. Michigan had been
winless in its previous nine matches
with the Spartans.
After surrendering the game's
opening goal, the Wolverines
responded with two power-play tal-
lies to surge ahead for the victory.
Senior T.J. Hensick's goal at the
6:28 mark of the third period proved
to be the game-winner.
Hensick received a Kevin Por-
ter pass in the slot, and the senior
made the spectacular look casual as
he drifted in on Spartan goalie Jeff
Lerg and lifted the puck over Lerg's
glove hand.
"You can't coach that - but you
can recruit it," Michigan coach Red
Berenson said.
Michigan (7-2-0 CCHA, 10-3-
0 overall) clung to the lead under
heavy Spartan pressure in the game's
final five minutes. With less than
two minutes remaining, defenseman
Jason Dest took an interference pen-
alty, and Michigan State (4-4-1, 6-4-
1) pulled its goalie to mount a 6-on-4
advantage for the final 78 seconds.
Concluding a strong all-around
game, Michigan goalie Billy Sauer
stood his ground and sealed the win,
stopping every shot the Spartans
fired at him.
With the puck cleared out of the
zone for the final time, Sauer skated
toward Michigan's bench with his
glove hand held high, meeting his
teammates at the blue line when the
final horn sounded.

I

TREVOR CAMPBELL/Dail
Junior forward Kevin Porter added to his team lead in goals, scoring his 11th of the sea-
son in the second period to tie the game at one.

The moment was a culmination of
the sophomore's impressive month.
"I'm feeling great, and I think the
team in front of me is feeling really
good," Sauer said.
The six-game winning streak is
Sauer's career best and the longest
for the Wolverines since they won 12
straight duringthe 2004-05 season.
Despite dominating play early in
the match, Michigan trailed after
Michigan State forward Tim Ken-
nedy put on a puck-handling clinic
during his end-to-end trip to the
Michigan net early in the second
period.
Kennedy collected the puck in his
own defensive zone, then split Hensick
and defenseman Chris Summers before
crossing the Michigan blue line.
Once in the offensive zone, Ken-

I

0

nedy made a nifty move around Dest
before skating in all aloenSauer
and patiently putting the puck into
the net.
Despite giving up the goal less
than a minute into the second stan-
za, the Wolverines didn't lose any
energy.
Even with far more scoring chanc-
es than Michigan State at that point,
Michigan could not find the back of
the net.
It was Michigan State's continu-
ous march to the penalty box that
helped Michigan come back.
It appeared Michigan would get
on the board when it received a
power play midway through the sec-
ond period.
Multiple times during the man-
advantage situation, the Wolver-
ines were poised to beat Lerg but
couldn't finish the job.
When the power play ended,
Hensick swung his stick at the puck
in frustration as it sailed through
the air. Fittingly, he whiffed.
But Michigan State seemed intent
on giving Michigan chances to tie
the score. Just seconds after his
team killed off one penalty, Spartan
forward Tim Crowder was called
for high sticking.
And the Michigan power play
finally finished the job it started
during its previous opportunity.
Hensick sent a cross-ice pass to Por-
ter who one-timed the puck past the
diminutive Lerg to tie the score atone.
The Wolverines ride their six-
game win streak into this weekend's
College Hockey Showcase when
they will travel to face Wisconsin
and Minnesota.
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