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January 03, 2008 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-01-03

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8A - Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Sauer's shutouts
prove consistent
play is no fluke

A BIG START IN BIG TEN
Michigan wins its first conference opener in six years, defeats Iowa with late push

-

By COURTNEY RATKOWIAK
Daily Sports Writer
DETROIT - The story used to
be how, this year, Michigan goalie
Billy Sauer has
begun to move
away from the
unpredictabil-
ity that dictated
his first two
years in net.
But halfway
through the
season, Sauer's SAUER
consistency is
no longer a surprise.
He's just that good.
It didn't matter that Sauer's 87
saves and two shutouts in the Great
Lakes Invitational last weekend
were against two teams without
winning records.
At the end of it all, it was Sauer's
name the Joe Louis Arena crowd of
more than 17,000 chanted.
It was Sauer who was named
tournament MVP following a
game in which he gave Michigan
a chance to win after 80 scoreless
minutes.
As a freshman, Sauer surren-
dered seven goals in two GLI
games. The following year, he gave
up five.
But this season, Sauer's career-
best shutout streak is still running
at 166 minutes and 7 seconds fol-
lowing Saturday's 1-0 double-over-
time win against Michigan Tech.
He hasn't allowed a goal since the
second period against Bowling
Green on Dec. 7, and Sauer's streak
surpasses his previous best of 128
minutes and 30 seconds, set in
early November.
In his first shutout of the week-
end, when Michigan beat Provi-
dence 6-0 and Sauer stopped a
career-high So shots, he made it
sound like the game was more of a
statistics-padder.
"It was one of the easier nights
that I've had to play," Sauer said
after Friday's win. "I definitely
thought I played solid, but I didn't
get tested a whole lot."
But Saturday, with Michigan

surrounded by the stigma of losing
six straight GLI title games, Sauer
pulled out another shutout.
"It may not be the toughest game
I have ever played in, but it was
probably one of the most impor-
tant," Sauer said after Saturday's
game. "When you get into the fifth
period and it's a 0-0 game, every
save is that much more crucial. You
make one mistake, and your team
is going home."
Josh Blackburn was the last
Wolverine netminder to notch
back-to-back shutouts, against
Lake Superior State in 2002. This
year, his first as Michigan's goalie
coach, Blackburn has helped Sauer
play more aggressively and men-
tally prepare for games.
And Sauer had some serious
mental tests in the first half of the
season - notably against Minneso-
ta, a team thatcaused Sauer consid-
erable trouble in the past and held
a six-game winning streak against
the Wolverines. Sauer allowed just
one goal in a 5-1 thrashing of the
Gophers in the second game of the
College Hockey Showcase, which
Michigan hadn't swept since 2002.
Coupled with his double blanks
in the GLI that propelled the Wol-
verines to their first win in the
tournament since 1996, Sauer was
arguably the team's biggest fac-
tor in snapping all three losing
streaks.
"When we beat Minnesota, I
think it was a little more personal
for me, since it's a team I haven't
liked too much in the past," Sauer
said. "I think (in Saturday's GLI
title game win), it was more of
an emotional kind of thing, just
because it was such a long game
and I really didn't think it was ever
going to end."
It doesn't look like his consisten-
cy is going to stop any time soon,
either.
"When you get the goalkeeping
like Billy gave us, it just makes our
team that much better," Michigan
coach Red Berenson said. "To come
out of (the GLI) with two shutouts
- what can you say? That's a ter-
rific effort on Billy's part."

By CHRIS MESZAROS
Daily Spurts Writes
Four.
That's the number of Big Ten
wins the Michigan women's bas-
ketball team has had over the past
three
seasons IOWA 46
cam- MICHIGAN 63
bined.
But this year, under new coach
Kevin Borseth, things seem to be
changing.
The Wolverines opened their
Big Ten campaign with a dominant
63-46 thumping of Iowa at Crisler
Arena Sunday.
Michigan (1-0 Big Ten, 8-3 over-
all) pounded a Hawkeye team that
Wolverine center Krista Phillips
bludgeoned in the post.
Phillips finished the game with
12 points and three blocks, and the
Wolverines shut down Iowa when
it mattered most - at the end of
the game.
"Krista is getting better," Bors-
eth said. "I don't think you've seen
anywhere near what her full capa-
bility is. If we can get her to move
her feet defensively a little bit, it
will really help her."
Phillips played well throughout
the entire game but was a crucial
factorinthe first30minutes,which
were a tough, drawn-out affair.
Her blocks and interior defense,
along with her 13 rebounds, keyed
the Wolverines when it looked like
Iowa might break the game open
early in the second half.
The Hawkeyes garnered a bar-
rage of second looks, and with 18
offensive rebounds, Iowa exploited
one of Michigan's weaknesses. But
Phillips and the Wolverines' inte-
rior defense prevented Iowa from
leading by more than two.
With 10 minutes to play, Michi-
gan held a slim 44-40 lead when
Janelle Cooper nailed a three-
pointer toextend that lead to seven.
After a pair of buckets by senior
guard Krista Clement and junior
forward Stephany Skrba, Cooper
added her third three of the night
to extend the Michigan advantage
to 14. The Hawkeyes called a time-
out as Michigan's bench exploded
with excitement.
"I thinkeveryone isvery focused

q
4
I

ROB MIGRIN/Daly
Sophomore center Krista Phillips had 12 points, 13 rebounds and led the Wolverines interior defense with three blocks.

right now," Cooper said. We're
really buying into the new system.
If things aren't going the way we
like it out there, we make sure we
keep each other confident."
With just four Big Ten wins in
the past three seasons, opening
the season with a victory proves
Michigan may finally be heading
in the right direction. It was also
Michigan's first win in its Big Ten
Big Ten opener in six years.

"Since I've been here, I never
had a chance to win a Big Ten
opener," Cooper said. "It feels
really good and gives me a lot of
excitement heading forward into
the season. We all know that we
can do something in the confer-
ence this year."
Despite Michigan's late-game
run, the early part of the contest
was evenly played.
Both teams delivered blows in a

game resembling a boxing match.
That grind-it-out style of play has
been a characteristic of the Wol-
verines this year.
Borseth's motto this season has
been to play one game at a time,
play one play at a time and move
forward from there.
So far Michigan has played one
Big Ten game and has one confer-
ence win. Perhaps his motto is
working.

Wolverine defense goes inside-out

Intr 9M AAAk M amur aMLOfficeials
Clinics Start TONIGHT @ 7PM
" "Intramural Sports Building
L.-------------------------------

By CHRIS MESZAROS
Daily Sports Writer
Some may call it sloppy.
But really, it was just gritty.
Michigan put forth its best
defensive effort of the season in a
63-46 win over Iowa on Sunday.
It was the Wol-
verines' inte- NOTEBOOK
rior defense that
allowed Michigan to pull out the
game.
By limiting the Iowa offense
down low, the rest of the Michigan
defense could focus on the perim-
eter, making the Hawkeyes a one-
dimensional team.
Both teams played a tight game
for the first 30 minutes. Although
Michigan (1-0 Big Ten, 8-3 over-
all) ran away with the game in the
final 10 minutes, solid Wolverine
defense kept the score close early.
Iowa (1-1, 8-5) came into the
game known for its perimeter
shooting, led by forward Wendy
Ausdemore and guard Kristi
Smith. But the duo was shut down
by Michigan Sunday, scoring 15

points and shooting a combined 6-
for-25.
"We were locking down on
defense," Michigan sophomore
center Krista Phillips said. "When
we play better defense, it helps cre-
ate our offense. We're getting shots
in rhythm and scoring under the
basket."
The awful shooting was not just
bad luck.,Phillips plugged up Iowa's
post play with three blocks and 13
rebounds and was complimented
nicely by the swarming defense of
junior StephanySkrba, who had six
rebounds herself
TURNOVER TURNAROUND:
Michigan has shot itself in the
foot several times by commit-
ting too many turnovers. But the
Wolverines are starting to resolve
those problems. Through its first 11
games, the Wolverines have regu-
larly been careless with the bas-
ketball, committing 33 turnovers
against then-No. 13 Texas A&M
and 22 against No. 22 Notre Dame.
"You have to take care of the
ball," Michigan coach Kevin Bors-

eth said. "That's really the bottom
line. If you don't take care of it, the
other team is going to get lay-ups.
It's always a point of emphasis."
Michigan committed 14 turn-
overs Sunday, one fewer than Iowa
but still more than the coaching
staff would like. In the Wolverines'
three losses, they have averaged 23
turnovers. In its wins, Michigan
has had just 17 per game.
COACHING WITH PASSION:
Coach Borseth's tirades 'are a
spectacle from the sidelines but
they also bolster Michigan's per-
formance on the court. The Wol-
verines have won their past four
games, including the Big Ten sea-
son opener.
Senior guard Krista Clement
credited Borseth's enthusiasm for
much of Michigan's early season
success.
"We get mostofour energyfrom
him," Clement said. "The entire
coaching staff is very competi-
tive and very passionate about the
game, and that carries over to the
players on the team."

3s
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-FUN
I -Flexible I
- On Campus I

Water Polo

REC For more information contact Nicole
SPORTS at 764-0515 or nmgreenaumich.edu
INTRAMIJRAL.

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