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January 04, 2007 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-01-04

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0 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, January 4, 2007 - 3B

Tankers train in Mexico

Blue struggles through
Hoosier State over break

By COURTNEYRATKOWIAK
DailySports Writer
Itwasn'texactlyawinterbreak.
Between semesters, the men's
swimming team traveled to the La
LomaAltitude TrainingCenterin San
Luis Potosi, Mexico. In the sunny, 70-
degree weather, the Wolverines par-
ticipated in a rigorous altitude camp
to prepare for the new year.
"We haven'treallyseen much ofthe
town," co-captain Alex Vanderkaay
said. "We've just been swimming and
sleeping."
The La Loma Center is 6,200 feet
above sea level. At higher altitudes,
red blood cells are stimulated and
more oxygen can travelto the athletes'
muscles, helping to increase endur-
ance andspeed.
"It's very hard to adapt to altitude
training," Vanderkaay said. "We
jumped right into the training and we
GLI
From page 1B
Wolverine netminder Billy
Sauer, who helped defeat Michigan
Tech 4-1 by stopping 27 shots the
night before, withstood the flurry
the Spartans fired his way during
the first half of the opening stan-
za.
But the sophomore goaltender
could only stand so long. With No.
10 Michigan (8-5, 13-8) playing a
man down, the Spartans struck
with a well-placed wrister from
Tim Crowder.
The Wolverines tied it up with
a power-play goal of their own
the next period. Sophomore Tra-
vis Turnbull looked to hit Brandon
Naurato waiting in the slot, but
instead the puck bounced off the
inside of a Michigan State defend-
er's knee and right past goalie Jeff
Lerg.
But that would be the only time
the puck found its way behind the
tiny Spartan. The Wolverines tried
to feed off the momentum from
theirluckybounce,butthereferee's
whistle killed their energy fast.
The procession to the penalty
ILLINI
From page 1B
ho-hummed itsawayto an unimpres-
sive 12-3 record - beating just the
opponents it was supposed to in the
nonconference season - turned into
a passionate team thatcplayed with a
- visible desire to win, and something
else not often seen this year: confi-
dence.
There was Courtney Sims fight-
ing through two Illinois defend-
ers to snag an offensive rebound,
gather himself in the post and
score. The senior finished with 10
rebounds.
There was Lester Abram taking
the ball strong to the hole, absorb-
ing the contact, scoring on his way
to finishing with a game-high 25
points.
There was Dion Harris pulling
up off the dribble for jumpers and
catching fire from the outside to
spark a second-half run.
And there was Michigan,
notching an extremely important
71-61 victory to start the new year
off right.
"It's ahome game in conference
play, and I think we knew it was a
big night for both teams," Michi-
gan coach Tommy Amaker said.
"Our kids did a magnificent job
of feeding off our energy and our
crowd."
Michigan's inspired play ener-
gized the crowd, which in turn
gave the players an extra spring
in their step. But despite playing
their best basketball of the season,

the Wolverines could not shake
free of Illinois early in the second
half.
With 13:04 left in the game,
Michigan held a slim 42-41 lead.
From there, the Wolverines (1-0
Big Ten, 13-3 overall) offense hit a
level not yet seen this year.
Harris dribbled to the paint and
pulled up for a mid-range jumper.
Onthe next possession, the Detroit
native stroked a long three, leav-
ing his hand in the air knowing
the shot was good the whole way.
"Once you get into the lane, they
are easy buckets," Harris said. "So
then you step back, and the jump
shots seem easier, too."
Off a media timeout, Illinois
switched to a zone defense in an
attempt to stifle the Michigan run.
The Wolverines swung the ball
until Ron Coleman found Reed
Baker open on a cross-court pass
for a three. On the next posses-
sion, Harris came free off a pick to
knock down another long bomb,
forcing Illinois to switch back to a
man defense. Harris finished with
22 points, second only to Abram
on the night.
"It's obvious that he got it
going," Amaker said. "You could
just see it in his body language and
thewayhewastakingshots.When
he got the ball up at a certain point
in the game, I just felt like it was
going to go in."
Illinois (0-1, 12-4) refused to
go away, and a layup off a Jerrett
Smith turnover brought it within
four in the final two minutes.
Abram responded with a jump-
er, the Wolverines forced a turn-
over on the next possession and
Abram knocked down two free
throws to put Michigan up 65-57

were pretty beat up during the first
week, but we're starting to swim a
little faster."
The Michigan team swam right
through the holidays, including a
scheduled midnight practice on New
Year's Eve.
With multiple practices every day,
the favorable environment of San Luis
Potosi enhanced the intense level of
workouts.
"It'svery warm and they were able
to get out in the sun, which is some-
thing we don't get to do in Michigan
very often," coach Bob Bowman said.
"Swimming outdoors and being outin
the open air is always great."
The Wolverines take ayearlytrain-
ing trip over the holidays and travel
out of the country every four years.
The team used the time to improve
without distractions.
"Christmas break is a good time for
us to get away from Ann Arbor and
box started with the lone Michi-
gan goal scorer, Turnbull, who was
called for hooking. Next was a dou-
ble-minor for junior Chad Kolarik,
followed by penalties to freshman
Chris Summers and senior Jason
Dest.
Again, Sauer did what he could
to protect his goal, but the Spartan
power play crashed his net relent-
lessly until Crowder delivered an
almost exact replica of his first
goal.
"We started to play well," Beren-
son said. "We carried the play in
their zone, and then we took the
penalty. It was four on four, all of
a sudden it was four on three, five
on three, and the game turned the
other way."
Michigan State sucked out any
remaining life from the Wolver-
ines,makingit3-1on ashorthanded
goal fromGLI MostValuable Player
Bryan Lerg. Michigan senior Matt
Hunwick bobbled the puck at the
blue line, waiting to set something
up for the lifeless Wolverine power
play. Lerg saw the vulnerability,
pounced on it and then streaked
down the ice to jam it past Sauer.
"Our power play is struggling to
score, you give up a shorthanded
goal, the timing of it, the big game
with 57 seconds remaining. From
there, Michigan played the free-
throw game to salt away the victory.
Knowing it desperately needed
to start the Big Ten season off with
a win on its home court, Michigan
scratched and clawed for anything
it could get to take a 29-25 lead into
the break. Nine Wolverines saw
action in the opening frame, with
just Harris and Abram logging more
than 13 minutes. The numerous sub-
stitutions allowed Amaker to keep

school, everything that we normally
have," co-captain Grant Burtch said.
"We just focus on getting better as a
team."
Michigan defeated the Mexican
national team yesterday and conclud-
ed its international training. Official
scores and times were not available
before press time.
The meet, originally scheduled
for Jan. 2 but postponed due to travel
issues, provided a solid foundation for
this weekend's competition. The Wol-
verines will be challengedby perenni-
al NCAA contenders No. 3 California,
No.5 Arizona and No.21Arizona State
on Friday and Saturday.
"I think we didn't swim any spec-
tacular times, but getting up and rac-
ing today really prepares us for our
meets in Arizona," Bowman said.
"We're looking forward to swimming
this weekend, and I think we're mov-
ing in the right direction."
- that's a game breaker," Berenson
said.
Michigan's power play was
without two players from its top
line, standout sophomores Andrew
Cogliano and Jack Johnson. Both
were in Sweden representing Can-
ada and the United States, respec-
tively, at the IIHF World Junior
Championship tournament.
But Berenson said missing two
of the team's stars was no excuse
for the disappointing performance,
especially for a squad with seven
seniors getting one last chance at a
GLI Championship.
The night before, Hunwick had
said how much a triumph over an
archrival in the championship
game would mean to him.
"Every game against Michigan
State's huge," the captain said. "
But this one's not just a regular
season game; this one has some-
thing on the line. We have to play
in this arena a few more times this
season - it'd be nice to have our
banner hanging in the rafters."
But that desire didn't translate
onto the ice Saturday night.
Instead, the two banners hover-
inginthe Joe, one fromthe GLI and
one from the 2006 CCHA Tourna-
ment, are green and white.
his players fresh, as the Wolver-
ines tried to get themselves and the
crowd going on each possession.
Sims had six rebounds in just
seven minutes (due to foul trouble)
in the first half, and Abram tallied 12
points on nine shots. It was clear the
Wolverines were determined to
put forth a better effort than they
had previously shown.
Michigan can only hope it con-
tinues to forget the team it had
been as the year continues.

By DAN FELDMAN
Daily Sports Writer
This past calendar year wasn't
very kind to the Michigan wom-
en's basketball team.
The Wol-
verines were INDIANA 71
just 7-24 in I MICHIGAN 58
2006, closing
it out with three straight losses
(St. Bonaventure, Purdue and
Indiana).
But even though the year has
ended, its repercussions haven't.
A 27-game Big Ten losing streak is
still alive and, with the next eight
games against teams favored over
Michigan, the ills of 2006 aren't
likely to go away quickly enough
for the struggling Wolverines.
"Things aren'tgoing to all of the
sudden change overnight," Michi-
gan coach Cheryl Burnett said
through the athletic department.
With just one Wolverine play-
ing well, Michigan (0-2 Big Ten,
7-8 overall) was no match for
Indiana on Sunday, falling 71-58.
"We've got to commit ourselves
to getting better," Burnett said
through the athletic department.
"(Sophomore forward) Carly
Benson really took that to heart
tonight. She's had three fabulous
days in practice and really came
out today with an aggressive spir-
it. That's what we're asking all of
our kids to do."
Indiana (1-1, 12-3) - which
entered the season in a similar
standing as Michigan - has simi-
lar expectations for its players but
got production from all seven in
its rotation.
"We played intense basketball
because the game was a micro-
cosm of what we looked like in
practice the last two days," Indi-
ana coach Felisha Legette-Jack
said through the Hoosier ath-
letic department. "We got more
focused in practice and the out-
come was indicative of the hard
work that we did the last couple
of days. We're really proud of all
of our kids' effort."
Probably none more than Sarah
McKay's. The 6-foot-7 senior
pounded Michigan for 23 points
on 11-of-16 shooting and seven
rebounds.
Not much could be taken from
the 79-35 stomping at Purdue last
Thursday.

RODRIGOGAYA/I
Forward CarlyBenson led Michigan with13 points in a loss at Indiana.

"You're talking about 79-35,"
Burnett said. "Of course I try to
be an optimist, but we've just got
to figure out a way to score."
Said senior forward Kelly
Helvey: "We just need to work
harder. ... This just needs to be
taken and thrown away."
Even though the Wolverines
lost at Indiana, at least now they
see how they can make progress.
"We've been practicing really
hard the last couple of days,"
Helvey said. "A lot of things have
been changing. We're working
harder. We're taking accountabil-
ity for everything that's happen-
ing."
But 2006 wasn't all lows for
Michigan. Perhaps the brightest
moment came Dec. 16 in a home
game against Dartmouth.
Trailing 65-64 with 18 seconds
left, junior forward Ta'Shia Walk-
er intentionally fouled the Big
Green's Michelle Meyer.
She missed both free throws,
and with an Ashley Jones
rebound, the Wolverines were in
business.

But with no timeouts, the pos-
session looked lost. Michigan just
passed the ball around, and it
appeared almost as if it would not
even get a shot up.
"First of all, I wasn't really even
paying attention to the clock,"
Minnfield said. "I was up there
dribbling around and then I heard
the bench say 'Shoot!' So I passed
it to the open person."
And that was sophomore for-
ward Melinda Queen standing
behind the arc in front of the
Michigan bench. Queen had taken
just 10 3-pointers in her career to
that point.
"I just shot the ball and the rest
is history," Queen said.
The shot fell at the buzzer to
give the Wolverines a 67-65 win,
and Queen was mobbed by the
bench.
Michigan will look to have
more moments like that in 2007
and less like the ones at Indiana
and Purdue.
Its first chance will be tonight
when it hosts Illinois at 7 p.m. at
Crisler Arena.

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