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February 18, 2008 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-02-18

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, February 18, 2008 - 3B

Sugiyama upsets longtime rival

Sophomore Sarah Curtis grabbed first in the all-around to lead Michigan to a blowout over Minnesota.
'M' blows away Gophers

Curtis, Bruck and
Botterman lead
Michigan to easy win
Daily Sports Writer
A four-point victory in gym-
nastics is like lapping the field in a
NASCAR race - it's ablowout.
The Michigan women's gym-
nastics team raced past Minne-
sota, 196.875 to 192.850, Saturday
at Crisler Arena. The fifth-ranked
Wolverines (4-0 Big Ten, 10-0
overall) put up their highest team
score ofthe year to stay perfect for
the season.
At the Coaches Care Challenge
"Pink Meet," with proceeds going
to cancer patients and their fami-
lies, three Michigan gymnasts
earned career-high scores on their
signature events.
Sophomore Sarah Curtis and
fifth-year senior Lindsey Bruck
also finished 1-2 in the all-around
Freshman Kylee Botterman
kicked off the meet with a domi-
nating 9.950 vault score in the
first rotation, winning her fourth
consecutive vault title. Botterman
has earned a vault score of at least
From page 1B
though the Buckeyes shot 68 per-
cent from the floor in the first
Sims, who was one point shy of
a career high, led the team with
four 3-pointers, none bigger than
the one he sunk with a little more
than two minutes remaining in
the game.
Following a big three-point
play by the Buckeyes' Evan
Turner that cut the Wolverines'
lead to three, Sims took a deep 3-
pointerjust in frontof the Michi-
The bucket extended the Wol-
verines' lead to 69-63 and sent
the crowd into a frenzy.
"That kind of typified,'Damn,
this is their day today,' " Matta
But Michigan's offensive fire-
power came mostly from Har-
ris. In the Wolverines' loss in
Columbus Feb. 5, the Detroit
native played tentatively, looking
to pass rather than drive to the
basket. As a result, he notched
just seven points.
But yesterday afternoon, Har-
ris dipped and drove past defend-
ers, creating scoring chances
for himself and his teammates.
He collected three assists and a
career-high 27 points.
Harris's efforts, coupled with
another solid performance from
the bench, led to the highest-pro-
file win of the new John Beilein
It comes at a perfect time for
Michigan, which is going into
the weakest part ofits conference
schedule (Minnesota, Illinois,
Northwestern and Penn State)
before ending the season against
Purdue, the Big Ten's top team.
"I think guys are starting to
realize that we can play anybody
and play at a different level,"
senior Ron Coleman said. "With
that mindset going into the end
of the season, it's great."
The win was the first time

Coleman has beaten the Buck-
eyes in his four years with the
team. While he didn't notch any
points, Coleman did pick up a
rebound and three assists in 15
minutes of play.
"(The game) meant more,"
Coleman said. "It has been a lot
of tough games and a lot of tough
losses to them here and at their
place, and now we finally pulled
it off and it felt great."

9.925 in each of those meets, and
she said she has been doing a lot of
landing drills so she can continue
the sticking streak.
"Kylee is an amazing vaulter,"
freshman Kari Pearce said. "In
practice, she nails her vaults and
just carries that into the meets.
You can always count on her for a
stuck vault if you need one."
Michigan grabbed a .55-point
lead after the first rotation and
kept widening the gap as the meet
"It's always important to get a
good start on a meet and feel like
you really get those positive juic-
es flowing," Michigan coach Bev
Plocki said.
The Wolverines rolled through
their second event, uneven bars,
posting a 49.475 for their highest
team score of the season in the
event. Five of six gymnasts fin-
ished routines with stuck land-
ings, prompting the pink-clad
Crisler crowd to wave colorful
"10.0" signs.
Bars has been Michigan's stron-
gest event all season, but this time,
the lineup was unusual in the sea-
son-high performance. Two All-
Americans - Becky Bernard and
Tatjana Thuener-Rego - were out
of the lineup with minor nagging
injuries. Bernard has missed the

last three meets.
"That event this year has been
very consistent for us," Plocki
said. "We didn't even have Becky
Bernard in the lineup tonight
because her knee is still bothering
her. We've got potential to be even
Another event where there
was potential to improve was the
balance beam, Michigan's most
inconsistent event. On Satur-
day, it was the only event where
Michigan failed to place first, and
bobbles on each gymnast's routine
kept scores out of the 9.900 range.
But Michigan closed out the
meet with its highest floor team
score of the season, capping a
4.025-point landslide victory.
one dollar from every ticket
sold at the Pink Meet was donated
to the Coaches Care Challenge,
which benefits the University of
Michigan comprehensive cancer
center and survivorship program.
Free pink T-shirts were given to
the first 3,000 fans, turning the
crowd into a sea of light pink.
"You just look into the stands
and see all the pink and realize
how grateful you are for what you
can do to help," Pearce said. "It's
just great knowing what we're
doing this for, where the money
from the meet is going."

Junior shines in
Michigan loss to
For the Daily
Chisako Sugiyama wanted revenge.
Even though the 25th-ranked
Wolverines lost to No. 2 Northwest-
ern 5-2 yesterday at the Combe Ten-
nis Center in Evanston, Sugiyama
was able to rattle off impressive vic-
tories over ranked opponents inboth
her doubles and singles matches.
She dominated longtime person-
al rival and No. 9 Georgia Rose in
straight sets, 6-3, 6-1.
Sugiyama and Rose have com-
peted against each other every year
since 2006.
When both were freshmen, Sugi-
yama lost a close match to Rose in
the NCAA Regional Championships
while Rose played with a broken
wrist. Last year, they squared off
in the Big Ten Championships, but
because Northwestern claimed the
Big Ten title during their first set,
their match was abruptly stopped
From page lB
Crisler Arena tunnel.
When asked about the Ohio
State fans at the game, Rodriguez
He was asked to clarify.
"Exactly, that's my reaction,"
From page 1B
But it's still too early to say
whether that will happen.
Michigan fans can celebrate
this victory over the Buckeyes, the
Wolverines' first in five years.
Michigan fans can talk about
this three-game winning streak
and the resiliency their team
showed coming back against Iowa.
After the Ohio State game two
weeks ago where the Wolverines

at 6-6.
After two winless matches
against Rose, yesterday was differ-
ent for Sugiyama.
"I was mentally ready and was
moving well on the court," she said.
"I didn't wait for the ball to come to
me. When I got the chance, I went
for it."
Even though Michigan coach
Ronni Bernstein was very pleased
with Sugiyama's efforts, she empha-
sized the need for all six singles play-
ers to play well and be competitive.
"Chisako really stepped it up
today," Bernstein said. "It was a
good sign she was able to beat a real-
ly good player who she has had some
tough matches with in the past."
Sugiyama said she thinks that
Michigancanbecompetitive against
Northwestern and that they "better
be ready" for a potential rematch at
April's Big Ten Championship.
Despite Sunday's conference loss,
the Wolverines showed on Fri-
day night that they can beat highly
ranked competition, edging No. 21
Tennessee 4-3 in front of a large and
lively crowd at the Varsity Tennis
Michigan was able to take the
doubles point as all three duos
Rodriguez said. "I guess we had to
let 'em in."
Then, a young Michigan fan
who found his way into the group
of reporters around Rodriguez
asked whether Michigan would
beat Ohio State this year.
"I'm not going to make any pre-
dictions because I don't know that
our team-" Rodriguez replied,
stopping suddenly when former
lacked the offensive aggression
down the stretch, they relentlessly
attacked the vulnerable middle of
the Buckeye zone this time around.
This is still an eight-win team in
the bottom half of the Big Ten, but
for an eight-win team, the Wolver-
ines are playing pretty well.
"That was the best seven-win
team I've seen," Ohio State coach
Thad Matta said.
The last four games prove the
program is headed in the right
direction. Fans can feel good about
their team's recent performance,

defeated their Volunteer foes.
The Wolverines carried the
momentum into singles play as they
pulled out three victories, two of
them from freshmen.
Freshman Rika Tatsuno claimed
her first career singles victory, beat-
ing Lady Volunteer Rosalia Alda in
straight sets, 6-2, 7-5.
The most exciting performance
of the night came from freshman
Whitney Taney.
Taney seemed to have control
after winning the first set, 6-0. But
Tennessee's Ghizela Schutte crept
back into the match, winning the
second set tiebreaker and coming
back from a 5-1 deficit in the third
"The pressure was fun, with all
the fans and my teammates watch-
ing," said Taney. "I knew I had to
stay positive; have composure, and
be aggressive whenever I could."
With support from the crowd in
the form of "Let's go Blue" chants,
Taney finally won the match, giving
Michigan the fourth and clinching
team point.
"She really showed some heart,"
Bernstein said. "This match will
help her in the future, knowing she
canget it done."
Michigan quarterback Rick Leach
walked by the impromptu press
conference and interrupted with
his own prediction.
"I will," he said. "We are going
to kick their ass."
As the press conference ended,
the child asked one last question.
"One more question Coach
- can I have your autograph?" the
young reporter asked.
but it's clearly not there yet.
And redshirt junior C.J. Lee
might have said it best: "We defi-
nitely turned the corner."
If Michigan keeps playing like
it did yesterday, every remaining
game on its schedule is winnable.
We could be pointing to the team
meeting as the catalyst for the John
Beilein era turnaround.
Then again, let's not get ahead of
- Robinson can be reached
at irobi@umich.edu.


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