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October 16, 2008 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2008-10-16

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

8A - Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

From page 5A
at the very end,he said, 'Can we get a
Go Blue?' And that just reallytickled
me because we were at the Olympic
trials,whichis averyindividualized
competition, and to know he was
already thinking about saying, 'Go
Blue and Go Michigan,' I knew he
was going to be a phenomenal coach
to work with."
Bottom's success with sprint
swimmers in college and at the
Olympics has earned him the repu-
tation as one of the world's best
sprinting coaches. Between the
1996-2004 Olympiads, nine of 18
medals awarded in the men's SO-
and 100- meter freestyles were won
by swimmers training with Bottom.
The key to his coaching philoso-
phy is building strong working and
personal relationships with his
Spend a few minutes with Bot-
tom, and his passion for helping his
swimmers succeed in their lives on
dry land becomes quite clear. When
asked about his goals for the pro-
gram, his first response is getting
each athlete to maintain a GPA of
3.0 or higher.
"When we come in, he is always
asking us about our families and our
said. "It's a reliefthat we knowhe's set-
tingus up to perform to the best of our
ability in the pool, and in life."
It's proof that the new coach
hasn't completely lost touch with his
background in psychology. In fact,
his experiences working with young
athletes have taught him he never
really had to choose between coach-
ing and counseling. The two are
more connected than he imagined.
"I know the developmental
struggles of these guys," Bottom
said. "And that knowledge helps me
to be able to look in their eyes and
not see them as a swimmer only, but
as a person who is developing and
becoming a man and that's truly
what it's all about."
So far, swimmers and coaches
say the coaching transition has been
smooth. First year assistant coach
Josh White is pleased with way the
athletes have responded.
"This has been the easiest coach-
ing transition I've been a part of by
far," White said. "The team has no
reluctance at all to doing new things
and have been both accepting of us
as people and also open to different
coaching techniques than they've
had in'the past."

Bottom is just the sixth head
swimming coach at Michigan in the
last 83 years. During that time, the
program has been the best team in
its conference, winning 31 Big Ten
titles - most recently, last season -
and 11 national championships. Jon
Urbanchek, Michigan's swimming
and diving coach from 1982-2004,
who led the Wolverines to 13 Big
Ten titles and one national cham-
pionship, has been instrumental in
helping to make the transition to
Bottom. Urbanchek will serve as a
volunteer coach for the next year
or two. Bottom said it's an honor to
work with him, and has named him
the program's coach emeritus.
Martone said that seeing a famil-
iar face on the pool deck has been
invaluable in helping the swimmers
through the transition. He said hav-
ing a "Michigan Man" work along-
side the new coaches has created a
positive work environment.
"He's a legend on this deck and
someone we all know," Martone
said. "There is no nervous tension
on deck. The atmosphere is very
subdued and focused, and that has
helped us tremendously to move
From 1997 to 2007, Bottom was
the co-head coach at California.
During his 10 seasons in Berkeley,
the Golden Bears had nine consecu-
tive top 10 finishes at the NCAA
championships. After leaving Cali-
fornia, Bottom was the head coach
of an elite-level training group
called The Race Club in the Florida
Keys. The Race Club was founded in
2003 by 10-time Olympic medalist
Gary Hall Jr., who has trained with
Bottom for the last 13 years.
Bottom admits that he had no
plans to return to collegiate swim-
ming, but he started thinking about
pursuingthe Michiganjob after hav-
ing dinner with former Michigan
captain Davis Tarwater at atraining
camp in Colorado. Tarwater, who
now swims for Club Wolverine, was
concerned that the Athletic Depart-
-ment hadn't found a new coach. He
asked Bottom if he would consider
taking the job.
Bottom points to the rich tradition
of Michigan's swimming and diving
program and the strength of its aca-
demic programs as the main reasons
he chose to join the Wolverines.
"There is no other school in the
country that has the tradition Mich-
igan has," he said. "I wouldn't have
come back if it were another school.
Michigan was just the right chemis-
try for me to be coming back to col-

Power-play problems plague 'M'
Daily Sports Writer


Even though he had a three-
point weekend that included
Saturday night's unbelievable
game-winning goal, scored as he
was falling down, Aaron Palushaj's
mind was somewhere else after the
Michigan hockey team's sweep of
St. Lawrence.
As he left the ice after the Wol-
verines' 5-3 victory Saturday, the
sophomore forward compared the
power-play unit's opening-week-
end performance with that from
last year's Ice Breaker Invitational
against Boston College and Minne-
sota. Michigan's extra-man attack
went scoreless in nine chances
then, and this year's squad convert-
ed just once in 18 man advantages
in two games against the Saints.
Off-season rust is usually the
reason good teams struggle to con-
vert scoring opportunities early in
the season.
Take, for instance, the debuts
of last season's other three Frozen
Four participants: 1loston College,
Notre Dame and North Dakota.
In four games this weekend, the
teams tallied just three power-play
goals on a combined 31 opportuni-
"It's not going to click right
away," Palushaj said after Satur-
day's game. "But towards the end
of the second and third periods, I
thought we had alot of chances."
With nine seconds left in Satur-
day's contest, junior forward Brian
Lebler finally capitalized on a
man-advantage opportunity. Leb-
ler charged through the slot and
beat freshman goalie Robby Moss
glove side after receiving a spot-
on centering pass from freshman
forward Robbie Czarnik. The one-
timer put the exclamation point on
a wild third period that featured
six goals.
Last year, Michigan's first line
of Kevin Porter, Chad Kolarik and
Max Pacioretty registered 30 of the
Wolverines' 47 power-play goals.
Now, the trio is gone. That the goal
was scored by Lebler, who usually
plays on the third or fourth line,
illustrates the importance of hav-
ing power-play options throughout
the depth chart.
"Everybody's capable of scor-
ing," Michigan coach Red Beren-



Sophomore Aaron Palushaj and the Michigan special tearners made due on one of 18 power-play opportunities last weekend.

son said Friday. "You just need the
right chance."
. Getting special teams scoring
from unlikely sources is a great
luxury. But Michigan's primary
focus will be on how the Wolver-
ines' most potent weapons can
carry a power-play attack that con-
verted at a 20.5-percent clip last
season, good for 12th in the nation.
Last year's line of Palushaj and
sophomore forwards Carl Hage-
lin and Matt Rust is reunited. And
that line, especially on the man
advantage, could be deadly.
"Playing with Carl and Palushaj
last year for five, six months, we
definitely had some chemistry
coming into the (first) game," Rust

said Friday. "It's nice. (Hagelin's)
got so much speed. He's so easy to
play with. He works so hard. So he
definitely added a lot to mine and'
Palushaj's game."
Berenson labeled the extra-man
attack "a work in progress." And
while the team will highlight a
number of elements this week in
practice, Rust gave an indication
Friday of his biggest concern.
"We had a lot of (power-play)
chances," Rust said. "Sometimes,
the bounces go in. Sometimes,
they don't. We got our shots down.
Sometimes, we were a little too
cute. But overall, I think it's head-
ing in the right direction. But we
definitely got to capitalize. I think

that was one of our weakest parts
of our game."
Because players are still regain-
ing their feel for the puck at the
start of the season, the timing was
off on crossing passes at times.
When asked about that, Berenson
implied that a more crisp offense
will arrive as the players devel-
op their coordination with each
"In the power play, when we
move the puck great, we're abetter
team, Berenson said. "It's a little
bit of communication, (and) it's a
little bit of getting to know each
other when you're on a certain
line. We're still feeling each other



Sparty has eyes on Bucks, BCS berth

Daily Sports Editor
Nineteenth-century English
novelist Eliza Tabor, once said
"Disappointment to a noble soul
is what cold water is to burning
metal; it strengthens, tempers,
intensifies, but never destroys it."
Michigan football fans better hope
that's true, because they've suffered
through some pretty intense disap-
pointment this year. But for those
of you fans who aren't comforted
by the possibility of strengthened
passion for the team, you might just
want to forget all aboutthe Wolver-
ines and focus on the crowded and
entertaining race for the Big Ten
As the season powers past the
halfway point, each game has
greater impact on which teams
will be playing in January. Penn
State, Ohio State and the "little

brother" who has grown up a lot
in the last year are all sitting pretty
with unblemished Big Ten records.
A good game by any of them this
week puts that team in pole posi-
tion in the conference - but by the
end of this weekend, at least one
will fall from the ranks of Big Ten
This is the biggest game the
Spartans have played in a long,
long time. For too many seasons,
they've shown promise before fall-
ing by the wayside. For too many
seasons, they've been on the cusp
of success. For too many seasons,
they've a plethora of "what ifs" and
"almosts." With a win against Ohio
State this weekend, Michigan State
- whose next three opponents are
underwhelming Michigan, Wis-
consin and Purdue - could secure


a shot at its first-ever BCS berth
when it plays at Penn State to end
the season on Nov. 22.
Yeah, this game is kind of a big
deal in East Lansing. But the Buck-
eyes aren't going to make it easy - I
don't know of you've heard of this
freshman quarterback they have,
Terrelle Pryor, but he's pretty good.
Combined withrunning back Bean-
ie Wells, Pryor has improved the
Ohio State offense each week since
he's taken over at quarterback, and
don't expect that progression to
slow now.
This is going to be a helluva
game. And I guess Wolverines fans
can take some solace in the fact that
the state of Michigan is involved in
the Big Ten title chase.
What happened to the Badgers?
Three weeks ago, they were eager
to prove they were legitimate
national title contenders. Now,
after a third straight and totally
uncompetitive Big Ten loss, Wis-
consin is reeling. Still looking for
their first conference win, the
Badgers clash with an Iowa team
that is slowly improving. If the
Hawkeyes steal this one, it could
send Bret Bielema and his team
into atailspin.
This game has virtually no
impact on the conference-title
race. But it will be interesting to
see whether ornotthe Badgers can
start to play up to their preseason
potential and whether or not the
Hawkeyes' dominating win over
Indiana proved they were ready to
step out of Big Ten purgatory.
One more win and the Wildcats
are officially bowl eligible. Two
more, and they'll definitely clinch
a spot in a bowl somewhere. With
games against the Boilermakers,
Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan
and Illinois remaining, North-
western is almost guaranteed a
13th game. This is exciting stuff
for a football program that has
consistently been stomped on by
the bigboys of the Big Ten.
even remotely exciting. Save your-
self a boring three hours and go
watch Texas-Missouri, Kansas-
Oklahomaor Vanderbilt-Georgia.




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