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January 04, 2008 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-01-04

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, January 4, 2008 - 9

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Friday, January 4, 2008 - 9

Udoh plays tough
D' in losing skid


Daily Sports Writer
Michigan coach John Beilein warned
everyone this season would feature plenty
of growing pains as he
attempted to mold the
Wolverine program to his Michigan
coaching style. at Purdu
But over the past few
weeks, the reality of what Matchup:
has become a forgettable Purdue 9-4;
season has finally hit the Michigan 4-9
Wolverines square in the When: Tomor-
jaw. The Maize and Blue w : TPMr
has dropped nine of its row, 2 P.M.
past 11 games after start- Where:
ing the season 2-0. Mackey Arena
It's become clear that TV:
players are growing frus- BTN
trated with the notion of
taking their lumps this
season in hopes of a better future. One
player who seems most distraught over
the mounting defeats is sophomore Ekpe
"You really can't take any more moral
victories," Udoh said after a 70-54 loss to
Wisconsin Wednesday. "You have to stop
that. This is a new year and you can't bring
that into the new year. We just have to ante
up and become men."
Udoh and the Wolverines (0-1 Big Ten,
4-9 overall) will get another chance to start
fresh tomorrow when they travel to West
Lafayette to face Purdue (9-4).
But the Edmond, Okla., native hasn't
allowed his disappointment to effect his
play, especially defensively. Udoh leads the
Big Ten in blocks with 38 through 13 games.
And after averaging four blocks per 40
minutes a season ago, Udoh already ranks
ninth all-time in blocked shots at Michigan
Those stats are even more impressive
considering Udoh was not a regular starter
until the Dec. 8 game at Duke. As a result,
opponents and coaches are starting to take
"The one thing we'd like to do is estab-

lish a low-post presence regardless of who
we're playing," said Purdue coach Matt
Painter during his weekly teleconference.
"That being said, Udoh is one of the lead-
ing shot blockers in the country. He does
a very good job of patrolling their defense
and helping them out."
Unlike other prolific shot blockers,
who rely largely on athleticism and jump-
ing ability, Udoh's talent stems from his
impeccable timing and 7-foot-3 wing span.
His propensity for blocking shots has not
affected his playing time, either. Udoh has
stayed out of foul trouble, while contesting
most shots at the rim.
Despite his length, the sophomore isnstill
underweight in the paint. Listed generously
at just 230 pounds, Udoh is usually 30-to-
40 pounds lighter than opposing centers.
UCLA took advantage of this in a big
way during its Dec. 22 win over Michigan,
having a field day in the interior. Bruin
freshman Kevin Love tallied 17 points
and 16 rebounds, while power forward
Luc Ri Mbah a Moute had 12 points and 13
On Wednesday, Wisconsin followed the
same script, outreboundingthe Wolverines
by 10 and getting several easy putback bas-
kets from freshman Jon Leuer and junior
Marcus Landry.
Udoh's size has given him trouble estab-
lishing offensive position in the post,
too. Part of the problem is the team's
slow adjustment to Beilein's complicated
offense. Players are still uncertain when to
pass and when to shoot, leading to missed
Against the Badgers, Udoh was able to
establish position in the paint, but the Wol-
verines' guards couldn't or wouldn't pass
him the ball. As a result, Udoh attempted
just two shots.
"I think too many times guys just don't
know if they should score or not or if they
should run the offense," senior Ron Cole-
man said.
Blocked shot after blocked shot without
any sort of reward on the offensive end?
You'd be frustrated too.

Frosh rewarded with
ugly goal in return to ice
By H. JOSE BOSCH break. The work paid off, and the freshman
Daily Sports Editor is ready to contribute in a big way during the
second half of the season.
DETROIT - Even after six weeks off "The first couple of practices were tough
the ice, Michigan freshman forward Louie for me," Caporusso said
Caporusso is still the luck- last week. "Getting back
iest player on the team. NOTEBOOK into shape was definitely
During his first shift tough, but I feel like I'm
back from a knee injury last Friday against just getting my legs back
Providence, Caporusso notched his second right now."
career goal with alittle help from the Friars' THE UNKNOWN MILE-
defense. STONE: Senior captain
Standing to the left of the goaltender and Kevin Porter has 31
with his back to the net, the Toronto-area points this season - an CAPORUSSO
native spun around and sent the puck across indication he knows
the top of the goal crease - hardly a threat- a scoring opportunity
ening shot. when he sees one.
But the puck ricocheted off the skate of But Porter was unaware of the milestone
a Providence defenseman and slowly slid he reached during Friday's game against
across the goal line for Michigan's first Providence. So was his coach.
goal. When asked about his captain surpassing
"It was awesome," Caporusso said. "It the 150-career point mark, Berenson paused
wasn't the greatest goal, but to know you a moment.
can get right back into the game and feel like "No, I didn't know it," Berenson said. "But
you really belong out there right away was I think he's having a career season."
definitely something special." Going into the season, the Michigan
Caporusso is no stranger to serendipitous coaching staff predicted Porter would build
goals. At the Ice Breaker Invitational in St. on an already impressive career, Berenson
Paul, Minn., he notched an overtime game- said.
winning goal when the puck ricocheted off Despite appreciating the accomplish-
the skate ofBoston College forward Andrew ment, Porter, as he's apt to do, shifted the
Orpik. attention from himself.
Eagles coach Jerry York said he wasn't "I guess there's not much to think about,
sure that Caporusso even touched the puck. " Porter said. "But it's a team game, so as
But the freshman forward will take a goal long as we keep winning, that's the most
whether it's from a well-placed shot or an important thing."
awkward bounce. NOTES: Junior defenseman Mark Mitera
"They don't draw pictures on the game was named an alternate captain prior to the
sheet," Caporusso said. "You have to think GLI, replacing junior forward Tim Miller.
a goal is a goal." Berenson called the switch a reward for
While Friday night's goal might have Mitera rather than a punishment for Miller.
come by luck, Caporusso's ability to play in ... Junior goalie Billy Sauer was named the
the Great Lakes Invitational was the culmi- RBC Financial Group CCHA Player of the
nation of weeks of hard off-ice work. With- Month for December. Sauer went 3-0-0 to
out teammates to practice with or coaches close out 2007. ... The Wolverines extended
to provide structure, Caporusso relied on their winning streak over Michigan Tech
himself to get back into shape. to seven games.... Sauer, Mitera, Porter and
He found his own practice rink near his junior Travis Turnbull were named to the
home during Michigan's brief Christmas GLI's All-Tournament team.

Junior Jessica Minnfield was the only Wolverine to pose an offensive threat to Ohio State, scoring 18 points in Columbus yesterday.
ne player alone can't stop Buckeyes

Daily Sports Writer
COLUMBUS - It was a one-woman
show for Michigan last night.
But when the other four players on the
court hardly contribute, it doesn't mean
Junior Jessica Minnfield was the lone
bright spot in the middle of a bleak eve-
ning for the Wolverines. She scored 18
points and sparked an early 8-0 run for
Michigan in a 66-42 loss to No. 21 Ohio
Michigan (1-1 Big Ten, 8-4 overall)
opened the game poorly and quickly
found itself down 9-0.
Minnfield chipped in the next eight
points for the Wolverines, bringing them
within one, the closest they would get to
Ohio State (10-3, 1-1). She stole the ball
three times, scored three baskets and had
an assist on a layup by junior Carly Ben-
But her spark was fruitless in what was
otherwise a team-wide breakdown.
"We were terrible," Michigan coach
Kevin Borseth said. "She was the only kid
to show up to play. We played one player
on the floor, one. We got beat in every
aspect of the game."

Minnfield shot 50 percent from the
field and went 7-for-9 from the charity
stripe, while the team shot an abysmal
26.4 percent and made just over 57 per-
cent of its free throws.
"It's always going to be very frustrat-
ing if we don't get good shots," Minnfield
The Buckeyes' domination extended to
the glass, where they held a 17-rebound
advantage over Michigan.
The Wolverines never really had a
chance to rebound from their poor play
in the first half. The relentless Buckeye
defense forced Michigan to take abys-
mal shots. The Wolverine offense was
nowhere to be found, scoring just seven
points off set plays.
The highlights were few and far
between. Minnfield made a nice 3-point
shot despite tough defense, and junior
Stephany Skrba was able to get a solid
shot down low that gave her an easy
Center Krista Phillips was ineffective
after two early fouls. Even when she was
on the court, Phillips couldn't back down
into the post against Buckeye center Jan-
tel Lavender. Borseth looked to the bench
in desperation and came up empty with
equally poor performances by senior

Ta'Shia Walker, who missed three inside
shots, and junior Melinda Queen, who
was 0-for-4 in the first half.
"We like to move the ball cutting,
setting picks," Minnfield said. "But we
weren't doing any of that today. We were
just standing on the 3-point line, not mov-
ing, not communicating."
The second half wasn't any better. The
Buckeyes extended their lead to as many
as 29. Lavender continued her dominance,
finishing with a double-double (14 points
and 14 rebounds).
The Wolverines scored the bulk of their
points during two runs, one generated
by Minnfield early in the first half and
another fueled by free throws. With the
Buckeyes up 51-22, Michigan was able to
draw to within 19. By that point, though,
the game was already over.
The loss was even more devastating
considering the Wolverines' impressive
win over Iowa on Dec. 30 to begin the Big
Ten season - their first victory in a con-
ference opener in six years.
For everyone other than Minnfield,
this loss is one Michigan would prefer to
"It was a bad game, we've got to recov-
er from this," Minnfield said. "We can't
dwell on the loss."

New faces and enthusiasm lead to surprise intrasquad competition win

Daily Sports Writer
On Dec. 15, the Michigan men's
gymnastics team got a head start
on exceeding expectations in the
gymnastics community. Ranked
sixth in the preseason poll after
finishing fourth at the 2007 NCAA
Championships, the Wolverines
showed in their annual Maize and
Blue intrasquadthattheywill, once
again, be full of surprises.
The undermanned Maize team,
with its lineups depleted by inju-
ries, shocked the "stacked" Blue
team, dominating the competition
from start to finish.
"Maize won, and Blue didn't
think it was possible," Maize fresh-

man Chris Cameron said.
The Maize team was without the
services of senior co-captain Paul
who sprained
his ankle two
weeks ear-
lier. Cameron,
normally an
er, competed
in just fourj
events. Another SANTANDER
freshman Ben
Baldus-Strauss, was only able to
compete on floor due to a wrist inju-
ry. The one-handed performance -
his cast came off the previous day
- drew cheers of amazement.

The intrasquad not only intro-
duced the eight-man freshman
class to Michigan gymnastics
fans, but introduced many fans to
a new scoring code, with the best
scores stretching into the 15s. To
further complicate matters, team
scoring was modified, too. Instead
of counting the top four marks in
each event, all routine scores were
added together and divided by the
number of healthy competitors in
the event. The average was then
multiplied by four for the event
total. Though the Blue team won
four of the six event titles, the
Maize team won the meet by a
score of 329.07-326.266.
But the team rivalry was short-
lived. As the meet wound down, all

the gymnasts gathered in a corner
of the floor to watch the final few
competitors perform on the par-
allel bars. With everyone in their
warm-ups, it was impossible to
distinguish the teams.
The Wolverines kept up the
intensity in Cliff Keen Arena all
night, celebrating hit routines with
uninhibited delight. Following his
breathtaking pommel horse set,
which drew excited cheers from
the crowd, Cameron screamed,
pumped his arms and ended up
bouncing through a crowd of his
teammates and off a padded wall.
Even normally reserved sopho-
more Mel Santander, who took
the all-around title with an 85.75,
joined in fun after his 14.0 routine

on high bar.
Assistant coach Scott Vetere was
excited by the freshmen's competi-
tive spirit.
"Chris Cameron, he knocked it
out on his events," Vetere said. "He
knew he was going to hit. That's a
great thing to have and I think our
team needs somebody like that."
Appropriately for the youthful
team, its younger members took
all the event titles. Juniors Jamie
Thompson, Ralph Rosso and Joe
Catrambone respectively won
floor, pommel horse and rings,
respectively. Sophomore Torrance
Laury tied Rosso for vault honors
with a 15.55, and Santander bested
all comers on parallel bars. Fresh-
man Thomas Kelley's near-flawless

routine was tops on high bar.
But the Wolverines still have
plenty of room to improve, espe-
cially with consistency and endur-
ance. If the intrasquad had been
scored like a regular competition,
counting the top four scores, the
team would have finished with a
351.0. On several events, Michi-
gan counted sub-14.5s, something
coaches hope they won't do by the
end of the season.
"We did really well tonight but
it's not good enough," Thompson
said. "It's a great start, and we have
a month or so before we have to
compete again. Plenty of time to go
work in the gym, relax a little bit,
focus on basics, details, and we'll
have a great season."

t I


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