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November 21, 2007 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-11-21

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gnort,,41,

8A - Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

0

Blue eager to travel North

By IAN ROBINSON
Daily Sports Writer
Michiganmen'sbasketballcoach
John Beilein talks about his team's
season as if it is a journey.
His goals are long-term rather
than game-specific.
His team's longest journey ofthe
season starts tonight against No.22
Butler in the opening game of the
Great Alaska Shootout in Anchor-
age, Alaska - 3,853 miles from Ann
Arbor in Sullivan Arena.
"Overall,Ijust still want to focus
on the development of this team,"
Beilein said through the athletic
department.
Michigan features just one
returning starter - senior Ron
Coleman. The inexperience means
Beilein looks at every day as an
opportunity to teach his young
team more.
"I don't know what we will
come out of here with," Beilein said
through the athletic department.
Against a Butler (3-0) team that
returns five of its top six scorers,

Beilein understands the contrast
with his young Michigan team.
"I am envious," Beilein said
through the athletic department.
"I'd be lying if I would say I am not
looking forward to the day we have
a veteran team returning, because
it just makes coaching more enjoy-
able."
The Horizon League preseason
player of the year, shooting guard
A.J. Graves (19.6 points per game),
leads Butler. Against a player of
Graves's caliber, Beilein says the
keys are watching film and chang-
ing defensive looks. Butler's back-
court also includes preseason
All-Horizon League team member
Mike Green.
Tonight's game will also testthe
resiliency of Michigan's freshmen
backcourt.
Coming off a 74-52 loss at
Georgetown, Manny Harris and
Kelvin Grady will learn what it
takes to rebound and play against
one of the best backcourt tandem's
in the country, Beilein said.
The Michigan lineup will have

more experience tonight, when
junior Jerret Smith suits up for
the first time this season. Smith
missed the Wolverines' first two
games with an ankle injury and
served a suspension for violating
the team's class-attendance policy
in the third game.
Throughout the season, Beilein
has talked about how this Thanks-
giving weektripto the Great White
North would bring his young squad
together.
"I think that will be a great
bonding experience," Beilein said
at Michigan Media Day. "Win, lose
or draw, we are goingto be a better
team down the road."
Michigan will play three games
in Anchorage. A win against Butler
will pit the Wolverines against the
winner of Virginia Tech-Eastern
Washington. A loss will put them
in the consolation bracket against
the loser of Virginia Tech-Eastern
Washington.
Michigan could also face Bobby
Knight-led Texas Tech and No. 14
Gonzaga.

ZACHARY MEISNER/Daily
Senior Kevin Porter looks to lead the Michigan hockey team to avenge an early-season loss to Minnesota this weekend.
Wolverines ungry
to avenge lone loss

By NATE SANDALS
Daily Sports Editor
Whenthe Michigan hockeyteam
left the ice following a 4-3 loss to
Minnesota in the season's second
game, alot of players were already
lookingsix weeks ahead.
AfterplayingtheGoldenGophers
closer than he had his entire career,
senior captain Kevin Porter was
already planning some revenge.
"Since I've been here, they've
always beat us by a few goals," Por-
ter said after the loss. "It's finally
nice to come within a few. I know
we have them at Thanksgiving, so
hopefully we get them back then."
The second-ranked Wolverines
certainly responded well to the
defeat. They have run off a nation-
best 10-game winning streak and
climbed to No. 2 in national polls.
Much has changed for Michi-
gan between that first weekend
and this weekend's College Hockey
Showcase, where Wisconsin visits
Yost Ice Arena Friday night and
Minnesota arrives Saturday.
"I think, because we've got some
games behind us now, we know
what the expectations are," Michi-
gan coach Red Berenson said.

While Michigan's 12 freshmen
were a question mark during the
season's first weekend, many have
emerged as leaders on both ends of
the ice.
Three of Michigan's top-five
scorers are freshmen. Half of the
team's skaters each night are fresh-
man.
The freshmen have also played a
key role in honing the team's work
ethic, which has intensified since
the loss to Minnesota.
"I think what's changed for our
team is we finally realized that
we really can't win on skill alone,"
freshman forward Matt Rust said.
"We have to work day in and day
out. These games are battles, every
one of them."
While Michigan (8-0-0 CCHA,
11-1-0 overall) has fought its way
through 10 straight wins, it hasn't
necessarily come against the best
competition. Minnesota is the
lone Wolverine opponent with an
above-.500 record. Wisconsin and
Minnesota will provide the best
benchmark to measure early sea-
son progress.
While the 12th-ranked Badgers
and 13th-ranked Golden Gophers
may not have the gleaming records

of seasons past, they are still top
teams from college hockey's tough-
est conference, the Western Col-
lege Hockey Association.
"We've done a good job of win-
ning games we should," Porter
said. "These are two games that are
going to show if we can compete
with the best teams in the nation.
So it's going to be a good weekend
for our team."
Porter has had a tough time in
the Showcase his first three years
at Michigan. In those six games,
the Wolverines are 1-5.
Two years ago, Michigan hosted
the Showcase as the No. 1 team in
the nation. The Wolverines lost to
Minnesota, 6-3, and Wisconsin, 3-
2.
Like 2005, Michigan goes into
the weekend with high hopes, but
Berenson is wary of the same dis-
appointing result.
"When you look at our sched-
ule, who we've played the last
month, we haven't played anyone
like either of these two teams,"
Berenson said. "I'm very optimis-
tic, but I'm realistic, too. I told
our team (Monday), we're going
to have to play a lot better than
we're playing now."

PHOTO COURTESY OF DAILY REVEILLE
Louisiana State coach Les Miles is thought by many to be the favorite for the Michigan job, but he's ignoring the talk for now.
Geauxing forward: Miles
deflecting talk aboutI

Northville natives lead
lamp-lighting campaign

By MICHAEL EISENSTEIN
Daily Sports Writer
SAULT STE. MARIE - The
248 area code is exceptionally
good at churning out Michigan
hockey players.
Most of the Wolverines' goals
last weekend against Lake Supe-
rior State came from the sticks of
the team's two Northville natives,
senior Kevin Porter and freshman
Aaron Palushaj, who've combined
for 30 points this season to lead
the nation's best offense.
Porter is atop the country in
goals scored and captains the sec-
ond-ranked Wolverines. Palushaj
is the top rookie goal scorer in the
CCHA and has scored four tallies
in the last four games.
Not too shabby for the 6,500-
persontown about 20 miles north-
east of Ann Arbor.
Asked what makes Northville
players special, Porter chuck-
led and failed to come up with a
reason. Palushaj also struggled
to explain it, managing just a few
words and a smile claiming they
"just work really hard, I guess."
But whatever it is, the duo's
contributions speaks for them-
selves. Porter scored the eventual
game-winning goal Friday, and

Palushaj did the same the next
night. Each scored a power-play
goal, Michigan's only two on the
weekend.
"I'm glad to see them playing
well," Michigan coach Red Beren-
son said. "They were obviously a
big factor in our weekend."
But despite the success (and
hometown) they share, their sea-
sons have evolved in very differ-
ent ways.
Early in the year, Palushaj
struggled to find the back of the
net and was the second-to-last
freshman forward to score. The
second-round pick's arrival on
campus was preceded by his scor-
er's reputation, which made the
slow start even more surprising.
But since his first tally against
Boston University - after which
he dove belly-first onto the ice in
celebration - Palushaj has cata-
pulted to third on the team's point
list.
"He's finally shooting the
puck," Porter said. "I've been tell-
ing him all along that's how you
score a goal. The first few games, I
caught him a few times he was in
the slot or a couple chances where
he needed to shoot and (instead)
he's trying to make a cute play."
The senior faced a completely

different situation. He's had to
lead Michigan's biggest freshman
class in a quarter century. And
on top of that, prove he could be
one of the country's premier play-
ers without playing alongside the
nation's top scorer from last year,
T.J. Hensick.
Though he claims he's just
"lucky" when he scores, it's tough
to argue he isn't one of the nation's
top two-way players, especially
considering his conversion this
season to a new position - center.
"Porter's been the standout
every game," Berenson said.
The success Northville natives
have seen at Michigan isn't lim-
ited to this year, either.
Last season, forward David
Rohlfs had his best year at Michi-
gan, registering 34 points - 21
more than his previous career-
high total.
Teaming up with Porter for
last year's Northville pair, the duo
totaled 92 points. With Rohlfs
gone, the 248 legacy is in the
hands of Porter and Palushaj, who
are almost a third of the way to
that total.
"It's nice having another North-
ville kid on the team, especially
since Rohlfs left," Porter said.
"We like to stick together."

By SCOTT BELL
and KEVIN WRIGHT
Daily Sports Editors
Once Michigan coach Lloyd
Carr made his retirement official
Monday, everyone's focus quickly
shifted halfway across the nation
to a different presser.
Les Miles, coach of No. 1 Loui-
siana State, gave his weekly media
address.
What was designed as a look
ahead to the Tigers' game against
Arkansas soon shifted to specu-
lation about Michigan's newly
opened job.
Miles, a Michigan alum and for-
mer assistant for the Wolverines,
brought up the subject on every-
one's mind before reporters could
even prod him about it.
"Now, I have to tell you: Iam not
talking jobs, not looking for jobs,"
Miles said. "I have a job. I love this
place. Michigan has not called. It's
unfair to Michigan to say that they
should. It's unfair to me and my
team. What Iam doing is let it rest.
I'm preparing for Arkansas. I love
this team. I would not do anything
to hurt it."
What was probably designed
as a way to deflect the topic didn't
work, though. When the press con-
ference went to a question-and-
answer format, the first query was
Michigan-related.
"I don't want to involve myself
in that topic, so don't ask me that
question," Miles said.
Soon after, Miles faced another
question about Michigan.
"I'm not giving it a look," Miles

said of the open job. "The key here
is I am focused on this team. I
heard from the (Louisiana State)
Chancelloryesterday, andit sounds
like they wantmeto stay, so that's a
good thing.
He later added: "I have great
friends in that (Ann Arbor) area
code and I don't answer that area
code," Miles joked. "I am a blind
eye and a deaf ear, and I am pre-
paring for Arkansas. I want to stay
just where I am at. I don't want to
think about it."
Despite Miles's comments,
there's widespread speculation
he's interested in the job. Athletic
Director Bill Martin said he'd love
for the coaching search to be fin-
ished before the end of the calen-
dar year, but he also said it's worth
waiting a few extra weeks for the
right guy. Martin said he wouldn't
talk to a candidate without that
school's permission.
Louisiana State's season may
not end until the second week of
January.
LET'S ALL GET TOGETHER: Big
Ten Network President Mark Sil-
verman said talks have continued
with Comcast, but a deal is still
unlikely.
In October, Silverman said
negotiations had taken a turn for
the worse, but now, he's trying to
remain optimistic.
"We still have a ways to go," Sil-
verman said in a teleconference
yesterday.
The Big Ten Network and Com-
cast have debated since the net-
work's inception in August about
where it belongs on the cable dis-

tributor.
Silverman has stuck to his posi-
tion that the Big Ten Network
should be included on the extend-
ed basic-cable package. Comcast
has said it would add the network
to its sports tier.
Silverman set mid-December
as a critical window for negotiates
between the two and also said he
would rather not bring the debate
into court.
"We believe we'll be able to get
distribution going forth in just
open, free market negotiations,"
Silverman said.
At the conclusion of the Big
Ten conference season, the Big
Ten Network reached 30 million
subscribers and broadcasted 41
football games. Silverman has also
closed carrier deals with 160 cable
companies and Dish Network,
DirecTV and AT&T.
Silverman said he is "thrilled"
about the upcoming basket-
ball slate on the network, which
includes 140 games around the Big
Ten.
CREAM OF THE CROP: Late
Mondaynight,the BigTenreleased
its All-Conference teams. Wol-
verines on the coaches' first-team
offense included three seniors
- quarterback Chad Henne, center
Adam Kraus and left tackle Jake
Long - and junior wideout Mario
Manningham. Running back Mike
Hart made the second team.
On defense, senior linebacker
Shawn Crable, senior safety Jamar
Adams and junior defensive tackle
Terrance Taylor made the second
team.

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