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January 05, 2007 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-01-05

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8 - Friday, January 5, 2007

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Senior wing Lester Abram was Michigan's leading scorer in a 71-61 defeat of Ilinois.
Cagers have to
slam 'backdoor
on Wilcats

Crisler
cruel to
defeat
By CHRIS HERRING
Daily Sports Writer
When Michigan women's basketball coach
Cheryl Burnett reviews
film of last night's game ILLINOIS 70
against Illinois, someone MICHIGAN 51
may have to tell her which
part she's watching.
The Wolverines had multiple stretches dur-
ing the game where they couldn't score at one
end or make stops at the other.
Though Michigan put together a few good
spurts in the middle of each half, Illinois proved
too strong, handing the Wolverines a 70-51 loss
at Crisler Arena.
The defeat marked Michigan's fourth
straight, and its 28th consecutive loss in the
Big Ten, a streak dating back to the 2004-2005
season.
After a Wolverine basket knotted the score
at two, Illinois took the lead and never looked
back. The Illini went on a15-4 run to open play
and hit eight of their first 10 shots from the
field.
But Michigan quickly turned the tables.
Following two Wolverine buckets, sophomore
Melinda Queen hit a 3-pointer to bring her
team within six, 21-15.
That was as close as the Wolverines (7-9
overall, 0-3 Big Ten) would get the rest of the
way.
Illinois (12-3, 2-1) came back to life during
the last five-and-a-half minutes of the opening
period, scoring on five consecutive possessions
going into the break. The Illini held Michigan
to one basket during that span, closing the first
half on an 11-2 run totake a 35-21 lead.
According to Burnett, her team had more
to do with the half's poor ending than Illinois
did.
"Our frustration is that when we get back
into a game, our next two or three posses-
sions are possessions where we just put our
head down, which is totally opposite of what
it should be," Burnett said. "We want to stay
very aggressive, but let's make sure that we're
making some good decisions once we get back
in (the game)."
Michigan looked better in the second half of
their Big Ten home-operier, but poor shooting
coupled with the Illini's defensive discipline
doomed the Wolverines. Illinois came in com-
mitting just 14 fouls a game - good for sixth
best in the country.

9

By H. JOSE BOSCH
Daily Sports Editor
Winning the Big Ten opener.
Check.
Winning the Big Ten road open-
er. TBD.
Just three days after its sur-
prisingly easy 71-61 victory over
Illinois, the -
Michigan Michigan at
men's bas- Northwestern
ketball team .
will travel to Matchup:
Evanston to Michigan 13-3-0;
face peren- Northwestern
nial confer- 10-4-0
ence doormat When: Saturday,
Northwest- 2:32 p.m. (EST)
ern tomorrow j Where: Evanston
afternoon. LTV: ESPN-Plus
But just as
players must puta bad loss behind
them, the Wolverines understand
that it's just as important to look
past a big win.
"We just have to move on,"
junior Ron Coleman said Wednes-
day night. "We got a good win
here at home, and now we have to
prepare for (Northwestern)."
Michigan (1-0 Big Ten, 13-3
overall) wants to avoid a repeat
of what happened two years ago
when the team last traveled to
Evanston.
Powered by now-graduated
forward Vedran Vukusic, the
Wildcats jumped out to a 28-4
lead in the opening 10 minutes en
route to a 69-53 win. It was the
first of three consecutive losses
that ended Michigan's dismal 13-
18 season.
"They were hitting everything,
throwing alley-oops and making
threes," senior Courtney Sims
said following the Illinois win.
"So it's going to be real tough.
They are always real tough to play
at home, so we have to set the tone
just like today."
The Wolverines relied heav-
ily on the seniors to jumpstart the
team and take control of the ball-
game in the second half against
the Illini.

Seniors Dion Harris and Les-
ter Abram scored a combined 46
points and contributed a combined
11 boards. Not to be outdone, Sims
grabbed 10 rebounds and added
eight points.
Even with solid offensive pro-
duction, Michigan has to play
better defense to prevent another
mauling by the Wildcats.
"They're going to be in games
all year because they run (their
offense) untilyou make amistake,"
Petway said. "You just have to go
into that game ready to guard (for)
the whole shot clock if you have to.
They're going to run it and turn
the offense over and make you
play defense the whole time."
Coleman added that North-
western uses the backdoor cut to
score many of its baskets. He said
that by stopping that, the Wolver-
ines can slow down the Wildcats'
offense. But Michigan has had
trouble with similar offensive
sets recently.
On Dec.30 against Georgetown,
the Hoyas abused Michigan with
the backdoor cut, almost dou-
bling the Wolverines in points in
the paint. The Michigan defense
never adjusted, and Georgetown
cruised to an easy win.
"We learned that we have to
sit on top of (the cut)," Coleman
said. "We have to have help-
side defense, and that's the most
important thing."
But aside from taking care of
business on the court, the Wol-
verines also have to remain lev-
elheaded for their first road test
of the conference season. While
Northwestern (0-1, 10-4) is far
from a basketball powerhouse,
during the Big Ten season, Welsh-
Ryan Arena can be a tough place
to play. It's smaller than most Big
Ten basketball venues, giving it a
high school feel.
"The Big Ten is a competitive
league and on any given night
someone can lose," Coleman said.
"We have to go out with the mind-
set that we're not going to be one
of those teams."

A&9

Freshman LeQuisha Whitfield and her fellow Wolverines fell to Illinois last night in their

Last night was no different, and the Wolver-
ines failed to attempt a free throw until min-
utes into the second period.
Junior co-captain Janelle Cooper said her
team must penetrate more to get to the charity
stripe.
"I don't think it was (Illinois) not fouling,"
Cooper said of Michigan's lack of free throws.
"I think it was just us not being aggressive. If
we were more aggressive, we'd be at the line a
lot more."
But it wasn't just the free throws. The Illini
held the advantage in nearly every aspect of the
game. They shot 53 percent (26-of-49) from the
floor - nearly 20 percent better than the Wol-
verines.
Illinois also outrebounded Michigan 40-23.

Still, the Wolverines still had a few bright
spots. Freshman point guard Sireece Bass led
the team in scoring for the first time, tallying a
career-high 10 points.
On the defensive end, sophomore Ashley
Jones had a few big blocks, including one that
found the front row in the second half.
"We were working really hard at some
points, and we got a couple blocks and couple
steals," Jones said. "If we could just do that for
40 minutes, we'll definitely win ballgames."
Burnett agreed, but said the Wolverines
can't afford to perform the way they did against
a team like Illinois.
"We saw some good signs, but of course it's
not what we need to beat a team that shoots 53
percent for the game."

Bai~ley bai ls f or junior league

0

By JAMES V. DOWD
Daily Sports Writer
As much time as Michigan's
hockey coaches spend drawing
up the Xs and Os, they spend even
more laying the foundation for
recruiting success.
One of the
reasons for NOTEBOOK
such a deep
investment in the search for new
players is a perpetual battle with
Canadian junior leagues, namely
the Ontario Hockey League, for
the top talents in the Great Lakes
Region and in Ontario.
Over winter break, the Wolver-
ines found this competition con-
tinues even after a player comes
to Michigan when former sopho-
more Jason Bailey left Ann Arbor
to sign with the OHL's Ottawa
67s.
Bailey earned the respect of
his teammates during his time at
Michigan with his powerful skat-
ing and physical presence, but
failed to score a point during the
first half of the season.

Even when he went through
tough times, Bailey kept a positive
attitude and was well liked by his
teammates.
"Off the ice, he was a good kid,"
Michigan captain Matt Hunwick
said. "I liked to have him around
the locker room. He was pretty
loose, and he was pretty fun to be
around.
"On the ice, he struggled a little
bit, so the game wasn't as much
fun as it used to be."
The change seems sensible for
Bailey, as his powerful style is bet-
ter suited for the Canadian junior
leagues. The OHL in particular
has been a haven for power for-
wards, whereas the college game
tends to cater to smaller finesse
players.
Bailey has notched three points
on two goals and an assist in his
first three games with the 67s.
The move also brought Bailey
closer to home, friends and fam-
ily, as he hails from Nepean, Ont.,
which is less than 10 miles from
Ottawa.
Quite a Turn-around: While

Bailey couldn't bounce back from
his early season statistical strug-
gles, sophomore Travis Turnbull
has found his stride after notch-
ing just two points in Michigan's
first 17 games.
Since teaming up with senior
T.J. Hensick and junior Kevin
Porter on Michigan's top line for
the first time against Notre Dame
on Dec. 8, Turnbull has compiled
a four-game point streak, with
three goals and three assists over
that time.
During last week's Great Lakes
Invitational, Turnbull contin-
ued his hot streak, scoring a goal
against both Michigan Tech in
the Wolverines' 4-1 semifinal vic-
tory, and another against Michi-
gan State in Michigan's 4-1 loss in
the title game.
"I think that the chance to play
with (Hensick) and Porter got me
excited," Turnbull said. "I just
worked hard, a couple things went
right and my confidence has built
from there."
With the eventual return of
sophomore Andrew Cogliano,

who will skate for Canada in
today's gold medal game at the
World Junior Championships,
Turnbull is aware his spot in the
lineup may shift once again. But
this time, Turnbull can rely on his
newfound confidence to help him
regardless of his linemates.
Over-engineered: During the
GLI Championship game, both
Michigan and Michigan State
skated in new, lighter jerseys pro-
duced by Nike for holiday tourna-
ments all over the country.
Releases from Nike adver-
tised the jerseys spent 44 hours
in wind-tunnel testing and were
credited with allowing players to
carry at least 200 pounds less dur-
ing the course of a game.
Much to the chagrin of Nike
representatives at the tournament
and Michigan State's athletic
media relations personnel, the
jerseys apparently had little effect
in the Spartans' dominant victory
over the Wolverines.
"I didn't really notice much of
a difference," Michigan State for-
ward Bryan Lerg said.

0

0

Targetless, Blue begins season

By COLT ROSENSWEIG
Daily Sports Writer
The captains are back. The
target meet system has been
scrapped.
After a disappointing season
that found the Wolverines watch-
ing NCAA team finals from the
stands, the Michigan men's gym-
nastics team is getting back to
basics - and hopefully its winning
ways.
This year's squad, led by cap-
tains Justin Laury and Andrew
Elkind, is primed both to avenge
last April's eighth-place finish
and disprove its No. 8 preseason
national ranking.
"If (last year's finish) isn't (good
motivation), there's something
really wrong," Michigan coach
Kurt Golder said. "I would expect
that they would get the same
motivation out of their finish that
football did out of their finish last
year.... I think they're pretty much
where they need to be."
Last season, Michigan used the
"target meet" system, in which

the team used its top lineup only
in certain competitions. Golder
hoped that by using the other
meets to rest key gymnasts, the
whole team would be fresher at
the end of the year.
But the system also seemed to
send the message that Michigan
was not trying to win every meet.
"We were going there to lose,
instead of going there to win,"
assistant coach Scott Vetere said.
"Obviously, if you want to win the
meet, you're going to put your best
lineup out. We weren't doing that,
so the guys thought we were going
there to lose."
Now Michigan plans to field a
consistently tough lineup for every
event, barring injury. Though the
floor exercise team is not as deep
as in the past, it should still be able
to post high scores. Due to rule
changes devaluing all vaults, run-
ning up points on that event will
be difficult, but all collegiate teams
will have to make this adjustment.
The most dramatic turnaround
will be on the pommel horse and
parallel bars. These two events,

both glaring weak points for the
team last season, may become
strengths.
Both event squads will be
bolstered by Laury, junior Paul
Woodward and sophomore Ryan
McCarthy - all returning from
various injuries. In addition, three
strong freshmen, Torrance Laury,
Mel Santander and Joe Levine,
should add solid scores.
The freshman class has gener-
ally been a source of pleasant sur-
prises. Santander, a former junior
national team member, originally
planned to go to community col-
lege near home in Massachusetts
to continue training for the Olym-
pics with his'club coach. But he
changed his mind and committed
to Michigan midsummer. Both he
and Torrance Laury have a wealth
of experience competing in impor-
tant meets as veterans of Junior
Olympic Nationals and the USA
Championships.
Then, about a month into the
semester, a "secret weapon" basi-
cally fell into the team's lap.
Freshman Dave Chan, 21, spent

the pasttwoyears servinghis man-
datory two years in the Singapore
military. He chose Michigan for its
engineering curriculum, not even
aware the University had a men's
gymnastics team.
After learning about the team,
Chan just hoped to work out at the
gym after his two-year gymnas-
tics layoff. Once the coaches saw
him on the equipment, they knew
they had to have him.
"Dave is the man," sophomore
Phil Goldberg said. "This guy
comes in from Singapore one day
asking if he can work out, and he's
really good! ... Some of the stuff
I've seen him do is pretty amazing.
I can definitely see him coming in
this year and helping us."
And while many people may be
counting them out, the Michigan
gymnasts' expectations for them-
selves are as high as ever.
"We have a lot of talent (and)
we've all been putting in a lot of
work," senior Aaron Rakes said.
"I expect a lot of wins, and espe-
cially a very big win at the end of
the season."

0

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