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November 14, 2007 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-11-14

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4

8A - Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

0

Wright in shape,
ready to shoot

By DAN FELDMAN
Daily Sports Writer
For a player who thrives on
the jumper, Anthony Wright was,
coincidentally, just a drive away
from being ready to contribute
to the Michigan men's basketball
team.
Although the forward wouldn't
have played much last season
because of the seniors in front of
him, Wright doesn't dance around
why he couldn't immediately con-
tribute.
"Iunderstand whateverybody's
perception was," he said. "I was
out of shape."
But getting his drivers' license
in April changed all of that.
Since he could drive, the Ster-
ling, Va., native could play about
three times as many games this
summer than last. He traveled 20
miles from his home in Virginia
each Monday, Tuesday and Thurs-
day and 30 miles Wednesdays
and Fridays to play in Virginia,
Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Wright dropped 30 pounds in the
process.
Many criticized former Michi-
gan coach Tommy Amaker for
offering Wright a scholarship.
Although Wright played for famed
Oak Hill Academy, he didn't start
until late in his senior season. The
doubts seemed justified when
Wright redshirted his freshman
year.
Wright had back spasms his sec-
ond-to-last high school game and
took some time to recover - too
much, he admits, as his compla-
cency led to his weight problem.
Now, Wright can do simple
things like running up and down
the court - something he strug-
gled with all of last season. He
has even carved out his niche on

the team. Michigan coach John
Beilein compared him to a pair
of players he had at West Vir-
ginia, Patrick Beilein (8.0 points
per game as a senior) and Frank
Young (15.3).
"This guy that comes in, and if
he can see the rim, he shoots it,"
Beilein joked.
But the numbers show some
truth. Wright's 12 shots lead all
reserves, and his .3 shots per min-
ute, third on the team, only trails
Michigan's top two scorers, soph-
omore DeShawn Sims and fresh-
man Manny Harris.
Wright has done more than
scoring, though. He has made
hustle plays that energize the
team, too. Midway through the
second half of the Wolverines' win
over Brown Sunday, sophomore
Ekpe Udoh missed a free throw,
and after Ron Coleman tipped the
ball, it appeared to be going out of
bounds. But Wright leaped over
the baseline and flung the ball
over his head to set up another
possession. Michigan didn't score,
but it's doubtful Wright could've
come close to making a play like
that last season.
"He doesn't do anything out of
the ordinary, dumb or anything,"
Harris said. "He's a good player, a
good, solid player."
Redshirt junior C.J. Lee said
Wright likes to mess around and
see what he can get away with
when shooting around in the gym.
So Lee has a response every time
Wright misses in a game.
"When he misses a shot, I
always say 'Quit trying to miss,'"
Lee said.
Having made 4-of-9 3-pointers
this season, Wright is reverting
back to an old, bad habit - not try-
ing hard enough.
This time, though, it's OK.

4

4

FILE PHOTO
Fifth-year senior Brandent Englemon can't wait to get on the field Saturday to try and end Ohio State's winning streak over the Wolverines dating back to 2004.
Streak can't stop seniors

By KEVIN WRIGHT
Daily Sports Editor
Brandent Englemon is sick of it.
The fifth-year senior has been
questioned again and again about
Michigan's three-game losing
streak to rival Ohio State, and he's
had about enough of the talk.
"Any time you have a rivalry
and you haven't won in a couple of
years, you get tired of hearing, 'Oh,
they can't beat O State' or 'They
can't win this game,' " Englemon
said. "It's getting old."
Englemon and several other
fifth-years watched from the side-
line in 2003 - the last time the
Wolverines won - but the true
seniors face the scenario of ending
their careers at Michigan without
a win over their biggest rival.
That possibility is an aberration
for this group of Wolverine seniors.
They came to Michigan expecting
to win Big Ten titles - and beat
Ohio State.
Just go back to the 2003 game.
Englemon and fellow fifth-year
seniors Adam Kraus and Jake Long
remember watching the atmo-

sphere in the Big House after the
win. They just didn't realize at the
time that would be their only mem-
ories of winning The Game.
"I didn't really understand what
it takes to get there being a fresh-
man," Englemon said of about win-
ning a Big Ten Championship. "I
just thought it was kind of given to
you."
And for the 2004 recruiting
class, which featured stars like
running back Mike Hart, quarter-
back Chad Henne and safety Jamar
Adams, it will have to find a way to
stamp a happy ending to what has
already been a topsy-turvy season
for the Wolverines.
Michiganwasprimedtocollapse
after its 0-2 start, but the seniors
wouldn't let the poor beginning
ruin the final chapter to their col-
lege careers.
They held a meeting after the
Oregon loss to refocus the team
around a single goal, a Big Ten
Championship. Michigan coach
Lloyd Carr never gave up on his
team's potential. And now, with
one game left on the regular-sea-
son schedule, the seniors have a

chance to go out with a Big Ten
Championship.
"I think that's part of being
at Michigan," Adams said. "The
seniors have to step up. The seniors
are the guys that have been around
the longest, have the experience.
And it's our time now, you know
what I mean? It's our time."
They claim they're not focused
on past failures against Ohio State,
but the mental block can't be writ-
ten off so easily.
That last Wolverine Big Ten
title, captured in 2004, came on
the heels of a bitter loss in Colum-
bus. The following two seasons,
Ohio State added to a winning
streak against Michigan unheard
of in the mid-1990s, back when
Carr owned a 5-1 record against
then-Ohio State coach John Coo-
per.
Still, the Wolverine seniors
aren't focused on the doubters sur-
rounding their class. They seem
adept at bouncing back.
It started with the 2005 cam-
paign, where the Wolverines
slugged out a 7-5 season. The criti-
cism attacked the team's talent and

effort as if Michigan had lost its
elite status in college football.
But the Wolverines silenced
those naysayers through 10 games
last season, posting an unblem-
ished record. Then Ohio State eked
out a win for the Big Ten Champi-
onship, and Southern Cal rolled in
the Rose Bowl.
The seniors seemed as upbeat as
they could be during the summer,
especially considering their 0-3
record against Ohio State and in
bowl games.
Then Appalachian State rewrote
the history books and Oregon flew
through the Big House.
Still, the seniors didn't waver.
They centered their goals, and
with a win on Saturday, they will
recapture a Big Ten Championship
and break the streak.
"Right now, I don't care what
happened in the past," Long said.
"I don't care what my record is
against them. I just want to go out
and focus on this game and win
this game."
At least then Englemon wouldn't
mind talking about the most recent
edition of the rivalry.

4

4

4

Phillips powers Blue past Bearcats

By CHRIS MESZAROS
Daily Sporto Writer
CINCINNATI, Ohio - After
falling behind Cincinnati, the
Michigan women's basketball team
needed a big solution to its prob-
lems.
It found just that in 6-foot-6 cen-
ter Krista Phillips.
The sophomore simply domi-
nated down low in Michigan's 55-
46 win
over the MICHIGAN 55
Bearcats CINCINNATI 46
last night
at Fifth Third Arena.
Cincinnati took it to the Wol-
verines early in the game, staking
a seven-point lead in the contest's
early stages. Kahla Roudebush
opened the game up with nine
points for the Bearcats in the first
12 minutes. Michigan's sloppy play
didn't help as the Wolverines jacked
up poor 3-point attempts and threw
away several errant passes.
But Phillips provided a double
remedy to Michigan's interior
defense and post scoring. She shot
7-of-9 from the floor to finish with
17 points. Philips also picked up six
rebounds and swiped three steals
in just 20 minutes of play.
"She played a monster game,"
Cincinnati coach Kelley Hall said.
"She gave them a defensive pres-
ence inside and altered some of our
shots - if she didn't block them."
Phillips also starred in a more
unsung role, tipping away inside
passes and shutting down Cincin-
nati's post and transition play.
The Wolverines shot just 4-for-
12 from behind the arc in the first
half. Michigan coach Kevin Bors-
eth was angry with the number of
bad 3-point attempts in the game
but was even more upset with the
lack of rebounding prowess his
team displayed without Phillips on
the court.
"We rebounded poorly," Borseth
said. "They had 17 or 18 offensive
rebounds at one point. We're not a
very good rebounding team at this
point, and she bailed us out."
To make matters worse, the Wol-

ZACHARY MEISNER/Daily
Junior Billy Sauer seta personal-best shutout streak over the weekend.
Sauer steps up, finds
success with 'M' legend

By MICHAEL EISENSTEIN
Daily Sports Writer
As "Billy Sauer" chants rever-
berated in the Yost Ice Arena
rafters during Michigan's Friday
night shutout win over Alaska, the
junior's transformation this year
from a struggling to successful
netminder was obvious to every-
one watching.
But no one gazed up at the press
box, where the man primarily
responsible for the change, Michi-
gan volunteer goalie coach Josh
Blackburn, sat.
Sauer's stats from his first two
seasons barely resemble this
year's. His goals-against average is
down by more than a goal, and his
save percentage is now over the
90 percent hump. On top of that,
Sauer just set a new personal-best
shutout streak of 128:30 - more
than 30 minutes better then his
previous mark.
Put simply, it's the 19-year-old's
best start as a Wolverine, and he's
no longer the brunt of criticism.
So where did Blackburn, Mich-
igan's netminder from 1999-2002,
start with the goaltender?
"The biggest thing that we
worked on was him playing out
of the net more," Blackburn said.
"And him staying out when pres-
sure was coming, staying out, not
ALL10N GHAM Da/Ooily backing in."
Rather than backing up toward
the net after a defensive break-
d to double down on down, Sauer now positions his
ould kick it out to get giant white pads at the edge of the
ts." crease.
erines may have But aside from working on read-
e season with two ing the rush and fine-tuning the
eth doesn't think this fundamentals, Blackburn helped
ty will change for a Sauer in the more intangible
aspects of playing the position.
ing caught so many He's now addressing aspects of
old mode, and they Sauer's game, such as how to pre-
y-ups and wide open pare for and compose himself in
h said. games, something Sauer said he

had never considered.
"This is the most coaching Billy
has probably had on a week-to-
week basis," Michigan coach Red
Berenson said. "Whereas lastyear,
our coach was here for a couple
days, then he wouldn't be here for
three or four weeks.
"I think (Blackburn's) pres-
ence alone has been huge for Billy
Sauer."
Sauer now has someone to help
him through tough stretches. In
the goalie world, which can be
awfully lonely when pucks fre-
quently find the back of the net,
Blackburn is someone he can turn
to.
"(Blackburn) knows what it
takes," Berenson said. "He knows
the ins and outs of beinga Michi-
gan goalie, a starting goalie play-
ingback-to-back. All the issues."
But it'd be shortsighted not to
realize the impact Blackburn, who
holds the all-time best Michigan
goals-against average, has had on
the team as a whole. He has helped
transform Sauer into a more confi-
dent player. And on a particularly
young Michigan team, anchoring
the Wolverines with strong goal-
tending is crucial.
Sauer is boldly challenging
shooters and letting his talent
shine through with his aggressive
play.
"It's definitely a big confidence
booster back there, knowing that
Billy is going to bail us out if we
get beat or if they geta good scor-
ing chance," said Mark Mitera, the
defense's lone upperclassman.
But while the Yost faithful
recognized Sauer's improvement
with cheers, Blackburn hopes
Sauer isn't noticed.
"(The goal is) the team not hav-
ing to worry about him," Black-
burn said. "(That) they just know
if Billy is in, he's going to have a
good game."

a

4

I

Sophomore Krista Phillips scored 17 points to lead Michigan past Cincinnati last night, 55-46.

verines' weak defensive recogni-
tion prevented them from picking
up several loose balls.
Michigan began the second half
in a slump as the Bearcats stormed
out of the gates with a nine-point
run to give them a 31-24 lead.
But Phillips again proved to
be the cure, making two lay-ups
and shutting down the Cincinnati
offense. The Wolverines pulled
away from the Bearcats with a 15-

point run to burst out to a 55-39
lead that essentially iced the game.
When Cincinnati doubled Phil-
lips in the post, the Wolverines
passed the ball outside.
Senior Janelle Cooper was the
biggest beneficiary from the inside-
outside game. Cooper finished sec-
ond in scoring with 12 points, all of
which came from behind the arc.
"We started to get the ball into
the post a lot," Cooper said. "So

when they trie
(Phillips), we c
some open sho
The Wolv
opened up th
wins, but BorsI
team's mentali
long time.
"We're gett
times in the',
were gettingla
shots," Borseth

I

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