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October 10, 2007 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2007-10-10

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, October 10, 2007 - 9A

Eyes on the prize: a
title still in reach

Daily Sports Editor
The week after the Michigan
football team's historic loss to
Appalachian State, it hoped to
get back on track against Ore-
gon. But an embarrassing 39-7
loss followed, along with an
injury for senior quarterback
Chad Henne.
Instead of repairing its tar-
nished image after the loss to
the Mountaineers, Michigan
deepened its shame and con-
firmed its status as a national
* "We need a better perfor-
mance from everyone," run-
ning backs coach Fred Jackson
said after the Oregon game. "No
one' can point fingers. Nobody
is going to drop their head and
talk about other players. Every,
guy can play better."
Following the coaching
staff's challenge, nearly every-
one played better - though it
also helped that Michigan's past
four opponents have already
suffered a combined 14 losses
this season.

the season.
But the Wolverines won't
let their recent win streak fool
them into complacency.
"We need to improve every
week, butI think that's the case
with every team," guard Adam
Kraus said. "If we were 6-0
right now and scoring 35 points
a game, I'd still say we need to
improve every week to get bet-
ter and win the Big Ten Cham-
Despite entering the season
as the favorite to win the con-
ference by both the media and
the coaches, Michigan now has
five teams ranked above it in
The Associated Press poll.
Michigan has to face four of
those teams - Purdue, Illinois,
Wisconsin and Ohio State -
before the season is over. Play-
ers and coaches alike know that
improvement is a must if they
want to contend for a trip to the
Rose Bowl.
"We're not where we need to
be," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr
said. "But from the standpoint
of a team that has given the kind
of effort and displayed the kind

verines can fully focus on their
six remaining contests. All but
one ofthe remaining games is
against a team with a winning
record, and three of those come
on the road.
Though the schedule may
look daunting on paper, the
Wolverines are set on forgetting
the start of the season and look-
ing forward.
"It's going to be typical Big
Ten football," Carr said. "The
intensity is just about to pick
up. Every team we'll play is in
the same boat. They are either
in the (Big Ten) lead or close to
the lead, and that brings out the
best in everybody."
With the season already half-
way over, there's no longer room
for excuses. Injuries happen to
every team and young players
have had enough time to gain
The second half of the sea-
son has arrived, and it's time for
separation in the jumbled Big
Ten Title race.
"We know that we need to
play better," cornerback Mor-
gan Trent said. "We know that

Now, Michigan is riding a of things I think you need to be these upcoming six games are
four-game winning streak and able to compete for a champion- against great teams.
is more focused than ever on ship, I think those things are "We know that we can be a
obtaining a championship, even there." great team, we really can. It is
if it's not the title its players With all non-conference something that we keep trying
hoped for at the beginning of games behind them, the Wol- to keep coming together." Michigan cornerback Morgan Trent said the W
'M' relaxed heading into season.

olverines know they can be a great team in the second half of the season.
Patience needed
for power play

Daily Sports Writer
Michigan coach John Beilein
demonstrated technique to a vis-
iting coach while the Wolverines
warmed up before a timed mile
yesterday afternoon. As he posi-
tioned his legs and held out his
arms, it was clear what he's trying
to do this year.
Teach basketball - his basket-
A little more than two hours
before, Beilein addressed the press
during Michigan Media Day. In
stark contrast to the proclamation
former Michigan coach Tommy
Amaker made at the same event
last year - "It's no secret that the
next step for us is to make the
NCAA Tournament" - Beilein
didn't set any specific goals for his
team. Rather, he said he'd just like
to see improvement every day.
"Just focus small and dream
big," Beilein said. "Let's get it done
today and the long run will take
care of itself."
In addition to learning Beilein's
system, the Wolverines - who
haven't made the NCAA Tourna-
ment in nine seasons - have plenty
of obstacles this season.
Michigan lost its top four scor-
ers from a year ago and previously
committed Alex Legion (Rivals.
com's No. 43 recruit in the class of
2007) defected to Kentucky.
verines host Boston College and
UCLA and travel to Georgetown,
Duke and the Great Alaska Shoot-
out, where they'll face Butler in the
first round. They also have to deal
with a longer Big Ten schedule, up

from 16 to 18 games.
Michigan's roster features just
one senior, Ron Coleman. And Jer-
ret Smith is the only junior who
averaged more than two points per
game last year.
With the deck stacked against
them, expectations are lower this
year. A repeat of last season's trip
to the second round of the National
Invitational Tournament wouldn't
be a disappointment.
Just the new atmosphere under
Beilein has brought new energy to
the program, a sharp contrast to
the tense situation coming into last
A defensive Amaker spent much
of his opening press conference last
season explaining his decision to
go from a tri-captaincy to a single
captain. The incident surrounded
a team that had underachieved on
the court with more controversy.
Redshirt sophomore Kendric
Price said the team was too focused
on making the NCAA Tournament
last year and it turned into a dis-
traction. Others agreed.
"We all came here to make the
tournament and hang up banners,"
Smith said. "We haven't hung up
one yet. So it's very frustrating
to know that you haven't made it
nowhere in two years."
This year, the mood is lighter.
There was no hostility during the
coach's press conference. The play-
ers, dressed casually in polo shirts
and jeans -adeparturefromwear-
ing full uniforms - were looser
and more open than last year.
And that mood carried over to
the track following the day's media
event, where the players joked
before and during stretches.

Daily Sports Editor
Michigan coach Red Beren-
his power play in last weekend's
exhibition games.
It's a good thing he didn't
expect perfection, or even
Michigan went 1-for-7 on
the power play Sunday against
Western Ontario, garnering
just five shots.
"We had a few good chances,
but I think we were trying to be
too fancy," senior captain Kevin
Porter said following the game.
"There were a couple times
where there were guys in the
slot and they could've shot, but
we tried to make the backdoor
In Sunday's game, there
was no better example than
when freshman Aaron Palushaj
passed up a shot in the slot and
slid the puck to senior Chad
Kolarik on the back post. The
puck bounced over Kolarik's
stick and was cleared out of the
Palushaj is one of three fresh-
men currently on Michigan's
first power-play unit (Max
Pacioretty and Chad Langlais
are the others). The trio will
have to adjust quickly - prefer-
ably by Friday's game against
Boston College - to the speed
and intensity of Division I col-
lege hockey if the Wolverines
hope to succeed with the man
"Sometimes they're wor-
ried about getting the puck to
the older guys," associate head
coach Mel Fearson said. "As
they go onthey'll understand -
if you have the shot, shoot it."
Having three freshmen on
the first unit won't necessar-
ily spell doom for the Wolver-
ines' power play, just as having
potent offensive players didn't
always equal success for the
man-advantage unit last year.
Even with Porter and now-

departed teammates T.J. Hen-
sick, Andrew Cogliano and Jack
Johnson, the 2006-07 version
of the Michigan power play was
inconsistent at best. It scored
just 17.4 percent of the time
and was second in the nation in
shorthanded goals allowed.
And you can't question the
correlation between a success-
ful power play and winning. In
games Michigan won last sea-
son, its power play succeeded
22.4 percent of the time. In
games the Wolverines lost, the
rate dropped to 9.4 percent.
Michigan wants a number
closer to the former this sea-
son, but the trick to develop-
ing a solid power play, by all
accounts, is time - a commod-
ity Michigan is short on at the
The Wolverines spent much
of yesterday's practice working
on the extra-man attack and
plan to do the same each day
leading up to the weekend.
"There's so many parts of
the power play," Berenson said.
"You're trying to get some per-
sonnel that compliments each
other, and then some leader-
ship, poise and patience."
While building a power
play is a long and complicated
process, Porter gave a simple
critique of himself and his
teammates after the Western
Ontario game.
"We should've just made the
simple play and taken the shot,"
he said.
NOTES: Berenson named
Kolarik an alternate captain
yesterday. Kolarik is the second
Wolverine with an "A" on his
jersey, along with junior Tim
"Chad has done a good job
as a senior," Berenson said.
"He is a responsible, articulate
Andrew Cogliano had been
named as an alternate captain
in April before leaving Michi-
gan to sign with the NHL's
Edmonton oilers.

Forward Ron Coleman is the lone senior on the Michigan basketball roster and will
be expected to lead the team under new coach John Belein.
After the timed mile, in which The Wolverines are making
smaller players had the target progress, but they have too far to
of 5:30 and bigger players had a go to do an all-out sprint. Still, as
slightly longer cushion, Beilein Beilein enthusiastically pointed
encouraged everybody, especially out, a 5:45 mile is a pretty good
those who fell short of their goal.. time.

" Wolverines continue eight-game win streak

For the Daily
The Michigan field hockey
team began its season by losing to
the top three teams in the nation
within one week. But now it's the
Wolverines who are punishing
their opponents.
Michigan (10-4) defeated Kent
State yesterday 3-1 to extend -its
winning streak to eight games.
"That tough start prepared us
for the {matches that we're now
playing," Michigan coach Nancy
Cox said. "Opening the season
with the top three teams in the
country is the best way to start at
Michigan. You learn quickly what
your strengths and weakness-
es are. This is a group of young
women who have embraced that
start and learned from it."
Sophomore Kelly Fitzpatrick
opened the game by scoring on
Michigan's first shot on goal just
32 seconds into the game.
Kent State (9-5) tied the game
19 minutes later, but junior Steph-
anie Hoyer's goal helped Michigan
regain the lead with time winding
down in the first half.
Fitzpatrick added an insurance
goal midway through the second
half for her second career multi-
goal game.
During its eight-game win
streak, Michigan has not allowed
more than two goals in any match.
That continued yesterday with

another stellar performance by
goaltender Paige Pickett and a
stingy Michigan defense. The
Wolverines' backfield allowed just
four shots on goal.
"With every match, Paige Pick-
ett is getting stronger, and she is
reading the play better," Cox said.
"But more importantly, it's the 10
defenders in front of her who have
made a marked improvement.
We're not allowing as many cor-
ners and our defensive footwork
continues to improve."
Midway through the season,
Michigan has discovered its depth
is a key asset. The Wolverines used
16 of its 22 players yesterday.
"(Our depth) is helpful at prac-
tice," Cox said. "We can hold an
11-on-11 scrimmage and know that
it's going to be high-quality field
Those practices have paid
dividends in the weeks following
Michigan's rough start, and the
progress has shown on the field.
"Everyone is contributing," Cox
said. "I think that we've done a
nice job of giving a lot of players a
lot of playingctime. It speaks to the
depth of this program that we're
playing 16 deep."
The Wolverines will attempt to
use that depth to their advantage
and win their ninth straight game
when they face Big Ten foe Indi-
ana (6-6) at home on Friday..
The Hoosiers have lost five of
their last seven games.

Sophomore Kelly Fitzpatrick started Michigan's scoring early in its 3-f win over
Kent State last night.

Senior Chad Kolarik was named alternate captain yesterday, joining junior
Tim Miller and senior Kevin Porter as leaders of the Michigan hockey team.

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