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April 06, 2007 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-04-06

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Friday, April 6, 2007 - 9

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

How Blue
brought in
Beilein

By MARK GIANNOTTO
Daily Sports Writer
Former Michigan coach Tommy
Amaker was fired on March 17.
His replacement, John Beilein,
was announced at a press confer-
ence yesterday afternoon.
Butwhathappenedinthetwoand
a half weeks between the dismissal
of one coach and the beginning of a
new era in Wolverine basketball?
Immediately after Amaker was
fired, Michigan Athletic Director
Bill Martin began his search for a
suitable replacement.
He assembled a four-person com-
mittee to aid him in his search. It
consisted of two former Michigan
players - Tim McCormick and
Marty Bodnar - as well as two
members of the administration,
director of undergraduate admis-
sions Ted Spencer and associate
athletic director Greg Harden.
From there, the committee went
to work, assembling a list of SO
coaches who they believed were the
best in college basketball. McCor-
mick admitted that coaches like
ODRIGO GAYA/Daily Duke's Mike Krzyzewski were on
the list even though they weren't

realistic possibilities.
The committee then pared the
list of O down tothe10 coaches who
they believed would be interested in
taking the job at Michigan.
"We took off the coaches that
we thought were just great recruit-
ers because we think we need more
than that," McCormick said. "We
got down to a list of about 10 names,
the guys we really identified as the
best Xs and Os guys, the best prepa-
ration guys, the guys who can really
develop basketball skills. And in my
opinion John Beilein was right at
the top of that list."
It was then up to the committee
to narrow this list even further, so
they could present a group of six
qualified candidates for Martin to
consider. After deliberation among
the committee and Martin, that list
was cut down to the three or four
coaches that would be interviewed
for the position.
Martin said he made it a point to
not allow the committee members
to rank the candidates because he
wanted the flexibility to make the
decision on his own.
"Bill was the CEO of this whole
See BEILEIN, Page 10

After a17-day search, Athletic Director Bill Martin and a four-man search committee selected former West Virginia coach John Beilein.

-Nine s
. bats to be
challengfed_
By ALEX PROSPERI
Daily Sports Writer
After the Michigan baseball team made North-
western look like a Division III team last week-
end following a four-game
sweep, the Wolverines face ,
Minnesota in what should Minnesota at
be their first real challenge Michigan
in Big Ten play.
The Wolverines host the Matchup: Minnesota
Golden Gophers this after- 17-6; Michigan 16-6
noon in the first game of a When: Friday
four-game weekend series. 3:05 p.m.
"Minnesota is a great
team," junior catcher Doug Where: The Fish
Pickens said. "They are one
of our biggest rivals and
always seem to play use extremely tough. They are
extremely well-coached and have been accustomed
to winning in the Big Ten over the past 10 years."
Michigan's next two weekends will be its tough-
est of the season. Ohio State and Minnesota have the
two best overall records in the Big Ten.
"I would say that the next three weeks are very
tough weeks for our baseball team," Pickens said.
"We play Minnesota, Ohio State and Purdue - all of
which are great teams. The next couple of weeks are
very big for our team."
The Golden Gophers' success has been in large
part a result of their pitching. Their combined
earned run average is 3.49, and they have given up
just eight home runs, tied for the fewest in the con-
ference.
But the Wolverine offense has been on fire.
Michigan (4-0 Big Ten, 16-6 overall) hasn'tscored
fewer than four runs in a game since March 17
against East Carolina. The Wolverines also scored
five runs in an inning three separate times at North-
western, and Michigan demolished Central Michi-
gan 13-3 on Tuesday.
To put into perspective just how good Michigan's
hitting is, Minnesota (2-1 Big Ten, 17-6 overall)
has played one more game than Michigan and has
scored 129 runs.
Michigan has crossed the plate 162 times.
"I think we really find away to string hits togeth-
er," Pickens said. "It seems that someone in the line-
up can step up and get that key hit for use just when
we need it. The offense seems to be doing a great job
right know."

SOFTBALL
Weather permitting,
Blue faces tough test

By MICHAEL EISENSTEIN
Daily Sports Writer
Snowflakes, not softballs, might
be the only white objects flying
around Alumni Field this weekend.
With
rumors cir- Penn State at
culating
that the Big Michigan
Ten is can- Matchup: Penn State
celing this 16-t2; Michigan 2-6
weekend's
softball When: Satur-
games, the day 4 p.m.
Michigan Where: Alumni Field
softball
team might
see a repeat
of what happened two years ago.
But not the national champion-
ship - at least not yet.
Just the first game in the Penn
State-OhioState weekend series was
played in 2005, while the next three
were canceled because of "tempera-
tures in the mid-30s, wind chills in
the mid-20s, a mixture of rain and
snow, and strong winds," according
to the athletic department's press
release at the time.
And those conditions are exactly
what weather.com is predicting for
this weekend.
Glancing out the window, it
doesn't look good.
The game can't be canceled until
the day of the contest, with both
coaches and/or the on-site admin-
istrator making the final decision
as to whether play should start,
accordingto the Big Ten.
"We're just preparing for the

game and we can't control any-
thing else," Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins said. "We either play or
we don't, but if we play we're going
to deal with it, and we're just going
to play softball."
Hutchins said the series against
Northwestern last weekend in
Evanston was the coldest they had
played in this year. Almost all of the
pre-conference season is played in
warm-weather areas.
"I don't think it was cold.at North-
western compared to how cold it is
here," Hutchins said. "There's no
comparison in the colds. One was
spring cold and this is winter cold."
If the games at Alumni Field this
weekend - against Penn State Fri-
day and Saturday and a doublehead-
er against Ohio State Sunday - are
played, the weather will be a signifi-
cant factor. Hutchins said the climate
serves as an equalizer between No.
9 Michigan (28-6) and the Nittany
Lions (16-12) and Buckeyes (21-3).
And with the low temperature
and strong winds as an issue, it
makes playing two of the better Big
Ten teams even more difficult.
"I think it's the toughest Big
Ten weekend you can see ... facing
them back-to-back," Hutchins said.
"They're both very offensive ... our
pitchers need to contain (them)."
No. 8 Northwestern (27-7), Mich-
igan's primary contender for the Big
Tentitle, has a relatively easy sched-
ulethis weekend, facingPurdue (19-
24-1) and Indiana (18-17). Canceling
the weekend's games could have a
significant impact on the race for
the Big Ten championship.

Northwestern would miss out on
two of its easier opponents.
Michigan, on the other hand,
could benefit from not having to
play the difficultweekend.
If the games are played this week-
end, Michigan pitchers willface two
of the better Big Ten offenses.
Penn State is third in the Big Ten
in batting average (.308), while Ohio
State boasts play-making speel on
the base paths, ranking third in the
Big Ten in stolen bases (46).
Earlier this season, Michigan fell
5-2 to Penn State, which Hutchins
blamed on poor pitching.
But the Wolverines are pitching
well now, and currently lead the
Big Ten in ERA (1.46), which should
help them to stifle the potent Penn
State and Ohio State offenses.
"We'll need to pitch better than
we pitched in that game," Hutchins
said. "I think that we can and I
think that we will. ... If our pitch-
ing contains them, we'll be in busi-
ness."
Following practice yesterday,
there was a light sprinkling of flur-
ries in the grass just beyond the
tarp-covered infield, and the out-
field hosted swirling winds.
Perfect weather for playing soft-
ball? More like the perfect weather
for canceling softball.
But that doesn't mean Hutchins
will let her team justify a possibly
poor performance - assuming the
games are played - with the tun-
dra-like conditions.
"There's no 'E' (for error) on the
scoreboard that says, 'Oh it was
See SOFTBALL, Page 10

Sophomore Zach Putnam and the Wolverines will try to keep
up their hot hitting against Minnesota's tough pitching at The
Fish this weekend.
Eight Michigan players are batting over .300 and
four players are batting over .350 (minimum 25 at
bats). As a team, Michigan's .326 batting average
puts it third in the conference and its 19 home runs
places the team in first place by five homers.
Since Michigan has arguably the best offense in
the Big Ten, Minnesota's pitching staff better have
its 'A'-game this weekend.
The Wolverines are, as the team expected, crush-
ing the baseball. But it's the pitching staff that could
make the difference this weekend.
The probable Michigan starters this weekend are
sophomores Zach Putnam, Chris Fetter and Mike
Wilson, as well as senior Andrew Hess.
Combined, the foursome is 12-3 with an ERA of
2.62.
In fact, the entire pitching staff has been per-
forming very well thus far. The Wolverines' ERA
is 3.55 and they have nearly a 2:1 strikeout-to-walk
ratio. After receiving four votes in the USA Today/
ESPN Coaches Poll, Michigan can put itself in great
shape to earn more tallies in the poll with a success-
ful weekend.
And if Michigan sweeps Minnesota, it would get
Michigan even closer to its 40-win goal.
"We totally buy into it," Pickens said. "Come
selection time, teams may not win their conference,

Dore gets back on track

By MATT JOHNSON
Daily Sports Writer
Last season, senior Kevin Dore's
golf career was going smoothly
until he hit a bump in the road.
After starting 22 of 23 events his
first two seasons, Dore played in
just three tournaments his junior
year.
In the fall, Dore recorded two
top-20 finishes in the three events
he started, but he couldn't catch
a break during the spring season.
Thanks to some bad luck, Dore rou-
tinely missed qualifying by just one
or two strokes.
Dore became frustrated with
his new and unfamiliar position of
having to watch the team compete.
"In the past I've played quite a
bit," Dore said. "I definitely wanted
to be out there playing."
Over the summer, Dore worked
on getting his putting back to ahigh
level, which helped him become a

lot more consistent day in and day
out.
Putting has always been the
strongest part of Dore's game.
"I've played with people that
hit better or longer, but I've always
been one to putt pretty well," Dore
said. "I feel like I don't have too
much to worry about when I'm
putting."
Michigan coach Andrew Sapp
agreed:
"He gets on hot streaks with
the putter that make it look like he
invented putting," he said.
Dore has a natural feel around
the greens, relying on touch to putt
well. He estimates that he averages
29 putts per round, but his goal is to
stay around 26.
"That's kind of a lofty goal
because on the PGA Tour the aver-
age player has about 28 putts a
round," Dore said. "That's what I
shoot for to play good golf."
After struggles last spring, Sapp

gave the Ontario native some drills
to help him regain his old form.
Dore set up about four feet from
the hole and. alternated between
using a normal putting motion
and a shorter putting motion. The
shorter motion put emphasis on
accelerating through the ball to
ensure solid contact. In another
drill, he had to make 100 three-
foot putts. Dore also set up a nine-
hole putting course on the practice
green.
All the extra practice paid off.
This year Dore is back to normal.
He has started all eight of the
team's tournaments, finishing 13th
at the Wolverine Invitational and
eighth at the Nike Purdue Kiahuna
Invitational in Hawaii.
Dore said his struggles last sea-
son helped him become the player
he is now.
"It wasn't the easiest thing to do
but I think in the long run it prob-
ably made me better," Dore said.

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