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March 25, 2008 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-03-25

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The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 -9

MICHIGAN 75, VCU 57
Long time coming

Rust heals fast
with CCHA
title on the line

Despite fractured
fibula, freshman sets
up key goal against
RedHawks
By COURTNEY RATKOWIAK
Daily Sports Editor
After Michigan's title-clinch-
ing win over Miami (Ohio) Satur-
day, freshman Matt Rust stood by
the team bus with a black and blue
CCHA Champions hat on his head.
It had been a
bruising week-
end for the RUST
injured fresh-
man, and he
admitted that
if it had been
a regular-sea-
son series, he
might have YEAR:
been watching Freshman
the games in P
street clothes. POSITION:
After frac- Center
turing - his HOMETOWN:
fibula, a non- Bloomfield Hills
weight-bear-
ing bone in his
leg, at prac-
tice March 12,
Rust missed the Wolverines' CCHA
quarterfinal series against Nebras-
ka-Omaha. He resumed skating at
practice last Wednesday, just seven
days after suffering the injury.
"There is a lot of pain there," Rust
said. "But (Detroit Red Wing) Chris
Chelios had the same type of injury
and he was able to play after a week,
too."
The freshman center had just two
days to get into game shape before
the Wolverines' CCHA semifinal-
game against Northern Michigan.
Michigan coach Red Berenson said
Rust limped through the week and
wasn't very good when he got back
onto his skates. But after Friday's
morningskate, Rust told the coaches
he was ready to play.
Iterenson had kept Rust in a
maroon jersey during practice - the
color reserved for scratches. Though
Rust told Berenson Wednesday that
he felt ready to play Friday, Beren-
son cautioned the forward to keep
his injury status day-to-day.
"'I don'twant you to play because

your girlfriend is coming to the
game,' " Berenson said, recalling his
conversation with Rust. "'You have
to play because you think you can
help your team win. Otherwise, tell
me you're not playing, and I'm okay
with that."'
In his first game back, Rust was
matched up against Northern Mich-
igan freshman Mark Olver, a center
who has as many goals (21) as Rust
has points this season.
But against the Wildcats, Rust
showed few outward signs of the
fracture that led Michigan trainer
Rick Bancroft to make a custom
brace just so the freshman could
skate. Rust won 11 of 20 draws and
Berenson praised his comeback
after Friday's 6-4 win.
Rust said his leg was sore, espe-
cially after falling down during his
first shift, but the pain lessened as
the game continued.
On Saturday, he faced Miami
freshman standout Carter Camper,
whose 38 points this season trail
only the point totals of star duo
Ryan Jones and Justin Mercier. But
before Camper and the RedHawks
could make a mark on the score-
board, Rust set up the Wolverines'
first goal. Midway through the
second period, Rust had the puck
above the right circle and passed it
to freshman Aaron Palushaj, who
charged the crease and tapped a
one-timer past Miami goalie Jeff
Zatkoff.
"To be honest with you, I was
going to try and beat him wide," Rust
said. "But my leg's a little banged up,
so the (Miami) guy pulled up and I
saw Palushaj driving the net and I
just tried to find him."
Rust's return to the lineup also
boosted the Michigan penalty-kill-
ing unit.
-Though the Wolverines took
fewer penalties than in past week-
ends, Rust and the shorthanded
Wolverines held off a brutal offen-
sive assault from the RedHawks in
the second period and allowed just
one power-play goal all weekend -
Miami's only tally with 39 seconds
left in the game.
"He could hardly walk this morn-
ing, but he came up to me and said,
'I want to play again. I can get the
job done,' " Berenson said Saturday.
"And that's why we're sitting here,
just because of the character of
these (guys)."

LZ
JEREMY CHO/Dai
Senior Janelle Cooper brushes past a VCU defender on her way to scoring 22 points in the Wolverines' 75-57 win Monday night.
Quick start helps Layoff allows
Blue cruise to win team to fix flaws

With victory in
postseason game,
Wolverines regain
relevance
By ALEX PROSPERI
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan women's bas-
ketball team continues to push
the past further and further
away.
It wasn't enough for the Wol-
verines to play in the Women's
National Invitational Tourna-
ment for the first time since
2002.
Last night, they became the
first team in the program's 35-
year history to reach the third
round of a postseason tourna-
ment other than the Big Ten
Tournament. .
Thanks to senior Janelle
Cooper's 22 points and a 14-0
run to start the game, Michigan
easily took down Virginia Com-
monwealth, 75-57, at Crisler
Arena last night.
"My teammates did a very
good job of rotating the ball and
getting it to me," Cooper said.
"I was just happy that I made
some shots today. Hopefully,
that continues for the rest of
this NIT."
The co-captain had a near-
perfect performance, shooting
7-for-8 from the field and 5-for-
6 from three-point range. She
also knocked down all three of
her free throws.
Despite not playing a game
for three weeks, Michigan (9-
9 Big Ten, 18-13 overall) com-
bined to shoot 13-for-22 from
behind the arc.
"We were still in the gym
even though we weren't play-
ing games," Cooper said. "I'm
not really surprised. We have
pretty good shooters on our
team."
Cooper ignited the first-half
run that put the Rams (13-5
Colonial Athletic Association,
26-8) behind by double-dig-
its just three minutes into the

game.
Cooper connected on her
first three-pointer and one
minute later, junior Carly Ben-
son did the same. Benson hit
another from behind the arc
and Cooper responded with a
traditional three-point play just
seconds later.
After a field goal by junior
Jessica Minnfield, the Wolver-
ines led 14-0 a little more than
four minutes into the game.
"I think a lot of us were
pumped and geeked and were
ready to go," junior Ashley
Jones said. "That 14-0 run at
the beginning was just us being
ready.",
Despite the team's best
shooting performance of the
season, Michigan's usual weak-
nesses were still on display.
The Wolverines were out-
shot, outrebounded on the
offensive glass and committed
twice as many turnovers as the
Rams. Earlier in the season,
that would have spelled disas-
ter for the team.
And even though Michigan
started the second half with
four straight turnovers, Michi-
gan coach Kevin Borseth and
the Wolverines proved they
wouldn't let their normal flaws
get in the way of victory.
Michigan took its fewest
shots from the field all season
(37) but responded by shooting
62 percent from the field, its
best shooting performance of
the season.
Michigan's strong play on
the defensive end forced VCU
to shoot just 30 percent from
the field and created numerous
three-on-two fast break oppor-
tunities that led to wide-open
shots. Cooper led the way with
four assists.
"We usually don't get that
many assists," Borseth said.
"That's a pretty big figure for
us."
After last night's victory, the
Wolverines have their sights set
on one goal.
"We have our eye on the
prize," Jones said. "We want to
win the championship."

By CHRIS MESZAROS
Daily Sports Writer
After a three-week layoff,
some questioned whether the
Michigan women's basketball
team could play its best offen-
sive basket-
ball in the NOTEBOOK
second round
of the Women's National Invi-
tational Tournament.
Its 75-57 win over Virginia
Commonwealth proved that it
could.
The long layover was a bless-
ing after the Wolverines were
dominated by Iowa in the Big
Ten Tournament. The Hawk-
eyes held Michigan to just 37
points - the team's lowest total
of the season - and raised some
questions about how prepared
the team was heading into the
postseason.
"We needed the time to sit
back and re-evaluate and fix
some things and get us moving
in the right direction," Michi-
gan coach Kevin Borseth said.
"I thought (the break) really
helped us."
Borseth used the bulk of the
time off to work on the team's
shooting, a glaring weakness
in the Iowa game. And after
shooting a paltry 27.1 percent
against the Hawkeyes, Michi-
gan was lights-out against Vir-
ginia Commonwealth, shooting
over 72 percent in the first half
and 62 percent for the game.
"We had a great week of
practice," Borseth said. "With
preparation for this game, we
were probably a lot better than
we were when we ended the
year. We had our best practic-
es, probably, in the last week.
We prepared ourselves better
for this than any game that we
played."
Not only did the break allow
theWolverinesto shoreupsome
areas of concern, it allowed
them to rest up. But the senior
class was ready to get the tour-
nament started, never having
played in a postseason game.
"(When you're) practicing
every day and not playing a

game, you just feel anxious to
get out there," senior Janelle
Cooper said. "But when you're
out there, your adrenaline is
flowing and you're excited tobe
there."
PRAYER ANSWERED: If one
miracle shot wasn't enough this
season, Michigan made sure it
got a second.
As the seconds wound down
in the first half, senior Krista
Clement lost control of the
ball while dribbling through
half court. The senior regained
possession with three seconds
remaining on the clock and
heaved up an off-balance shot
from about 35 feet away. Just
like Krista Phillips' buzzer-
beating shot against Wisconsin
which sent the game to over-
time and allowed the Wolver-
ines to win, Clement's shot fell
"(The shot was) pretty lucky,
I guess," Clement said. "Every-
one was laughing. (My oppo-
nent) was like, 'you traveled
and they didn't call it, and you
lost the ball and you got it and
then you made it.' It was pretty
funny."
The shot gave Michigan a 41-
25 lead at halftime and ignited
the Crisler Arena crowd.
"That was drive, that was
Krista Clement drive," Borseth
said. "She's one of those kids
that doesn't quit on the play.
She's a complete player. She
threw it up there and every-
body was like, 'yes!"'
STAYING HOME: In a sur-
prise turnaround, the Wolver-
ines willbe hosting round three
of the WNIT against Southern
Mississippi on Thursday. Last
week, it appeared that Michi-
ganwould have to travelto Mis-
sissippi to play because of the
women's gymnastics Big Ten
Championships scheduled for
Friday. But the Athletic Depart-
ment was able to re-schedule
when equipment for the gym-
nastics meet would be set up.
Playing at home has been a
major boost for Michigan this
season. The Wolverines are 11-
3 at home and just 5-8 on the
road.

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