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November 25, 2008 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2008-11-25

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8 - Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Disappointing finish for
Michigan at NCAAs

Daily Sports Writer
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - One race.
One last opportunity to leave a last-
ing impression after four years of
hard work, early morning practices,
injuries, victories and tears.
Before the gun sounded for the
NCAA championships at the LaVern
Gibson Championship course, Mich-
igan men's cross country captain Lex
Williams, along with fellow senior
Seth Thibodeau and fifth-year senior
Justin Switzer, had a lot to think
It was the last time they would
wear the block'M' across their chests
in a cross-country race. The last time
they would run for something more
than individual accolades: an NCAA

team title.
It was the last time they would
huddle around their teammates after
a disappointing race. I
Unfortunately for the Wolverines,
a national title wasn't in the cards.
Michigan couldn't overcome the stiff
competition and strong winds. They
placed a disappointing 24th out of 31
teams, after hoping to improve on an
equal finish in lastyear's meet.
Oregon bested the field to claim
the team championship with 93
Redshirt sophomore Ciaran
O'Lionaird was the Wolverines'
top finisher, crossing the line 54th
Just'a few seconds behind, junior
Sean McNamara placed 61st (30:42).
They were joined by sophomore

Craig Forys who came in 108th
(31:11), Williams in 146th (31:33) and
Thibodeau with a 153rd-place finish
Redshirt senior Galen Rupp of
Oregon took the individual title with
a time of 28:43, a new course record.
At 5,000 meters, Michigan estab-
lished a small pack of three runners
around 60th place, setting up for a
strong finish.
But the Wolverines couldn't
match the pace of the other teams.
The Michigan runners got separated
during the last half of the race, forc-
ing them to abandon their pack strat-
The Wolverines were aiming to
have their first top-10 performance
at the NCAA championships since

Junior defensive end Brandon Graham must decide soon whether to stay with Michigan or go tothe NFL.
Long offseason means more
time for Rodriguez to recruit

Senior Nicole Edwards, shown here at the Big Ten Championships, finished 24th overall at the NCAA Championships yesterday.
Edwards named All-A-merican

Daily Sports Writer
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - It was
35 degrees and foggy at the Lavern
Gibson Championship Course yes-
terday when senior Nicole Edwards
jumped up and down in excitement,
gloved hands in fists, celebrating
her 24th-place finish at the NCAA
In her last collegiate meet,
Edwards ran fast enough to earn
All-American honors.
"I'm happy because I just found
out I got 24th place," Edwards said.
"Going into the meet my goal was to
be top-25. When I finished I thought
I was low 30s, but Mike (McGuire)
just told me I was 24th, so I'm really
excited about that."
Edwards was one of 252 runners
from 31 schools across the country
to compete in the meet. But her per-
formance was not enough, leading
the Wolverines to a disappointing
16th-place finish.
Though Michigan didn't crack
the top 10, the team did run better

than last year, when it placed a dis-
appointing 21st.
"I thought we were OK," Michi-
gan coach Mike McGuire said. "I
would have liked to have been in the
top 10 or 12, but we are still better
than last year. I definitely don't feel
as empty about things as I did last
Washington came in first place
with an impressive score of 79. Ore-
gon finished second with a score of
131, and Michigan's score was 416.
Behind Edwards, sophomore
Danielle Tauro, senior Geena Gall
and junior Kelly Sampson placed
in the low 100s and scored for the
Wolverines. The group packed
well in last year's championships
but ran much closer to the front in
yesterday's race, showing promis-
ing improvement.
"Danielle and Geena packed last
year, and this year they packed a
lot, lot higher so that was a posi-
tive sign of growth for the two of
them," McGuire said.
As a strong team all year, the
Wolverines' struggles at NCAAs

could have stemmed from a num-
ber of factors.
Losing top runners Erin Web-
ster and Alyson Kohlmeier from
last season's squad has not been
easy for Michigan, but younger
runners including Tauro and
Jenny Morgan stepped up. With
the end of the season comes time
to say goodbye to top runner
Edwards forever.
"She has had really as outstand-
ing a career as anyone who has
ever come through our program,"
McGuire said. "We are definitely
losing a front runner, so you have
to hope people continue to grow in
your program, and you know Dan-
ielle and Jenny are probably the
two we are going to be looking to
as leaders."
According to Gall this year has
been a rebuilding year for a young
Either way, the Wolverines have
fared well in most meets. After
starting out the season outside
the top 20, the Wolverines went
into the championships yesterday
ranked eighth in the nation.

By COURTNEY RATKOWIAK soon be making the decision to stay
Daily Sports Editor at Michigan or leave for the NFL.
Rodriguez said he thinks Gra-
Without a bowl game to pre- ham will be back.
pare for, Michigan football coach "Other coaches have (talked to
Rich Rodriguez will use the extra Graham about his status)," Rodri-.
time this winter guez said. "I think he's planning on
to recruit players NOTEBOOK coming back - and he should."
and visit other After Saturday's loss to Ohio
coaches - and try to stay under the State, running backs coach Fred
radar. Jackson said Graham said he would
"Nothing on that little ESPN be returning for his senior year.
ticker, no statements on 'he said, Another player recently men-
she said,' no drama on lawsuits tioned in attrition rumors was
and accusations," Rodriguez said. freshman running back Sam
"(Last offseason) was absolutely McGuffie, who was the team's
ridiculous. ... As coaches, we're in second-leading rusher this season.
the public life so we have to realize He pulled himself out of the North-
it. It's a big boy's world, so I under- western game on Nov. 15 minutes
stand that." before kickoff, and Rodriguez
Many of the Michigan assistant said two days later McGuffie had
coaches are already on the road a death in the family. He returned
recruiting, and Rodriguezwillleave for Saturday's game against Ohio
Ann Arbor next week to visit poten- State but suffered a concussion on
tial commitments. He said the Wol- his first kickoff return.
verines will likely sign between 20 But Rodriguez said he talked to
and 23 athletes in the spring. McGuffie last week about his fami-
In their free time, the Michigan ly situation, and the Cypress, Texas
coaches will travel to exchange native isn't planning to leave.
ideas with other teams. While "He has some tough issues and
coaching at West Virginia, Rodri- he's a long way from home, trying
guez shared his offensive schemes to take care of his family," Rodri-
with Ohio State coach Jim Tres- guez said. "Here's a young man
sel. And as the Clemson offensive trying to take care of his 16-year
coordinator in 1999, Rodriguez met old brother and is a long way from
with former Northwestern coach home. ... He had a pretty good
Randy Walker and offensive coor- freshman year, he got banged up a
dinator Kevin Wilson, not knowing little bit at the end, but hopefully it
the teams he helped would eventu- will work out."
ally become his conference foes. Rodriguez confirmed sopho-
Though Rodriguez didn't have more safety Artis Chambers has
time to travel anywhere last spring, been off the team since last week.
he said he and his staff will likely He said a couple Wolverines didn't
continue their annual meeting with attend Sunday's team meeting
Wilson, who is now the offensive because of "emergencies" and said
coordinator at Oklahoma. "an underclassman ... was not there
"We had some people visit (last that may be graduating."
spring), like our buddies at Okla- And redshirt junior guard Cory
homa," Rodriguez said. "They are Zirbel, who suffered a season-end-
averaging about 50 points a game, ing knee injury before the start of
better than we were. We may make the season, has most likely played.
the return trip down there to see his last game. Rodriguez said he
those guys. They took the no-hud- has talked to Zirbel about return-
dle and did a lot better than we did ing as a student assistant coach
with it." next season.
Rodriguez said he will still have "We want him back as a student
to study other teams' defensive and assistant coach, which he kind of
special teams schemes to see which did at the end of the year (with the
ones could help Michigan improve scout team), and he was terrific,"
next year. Rodriguez said.
defensive end Brandon Graham will year's redshirt freshmen and true

freshmen will likely be more pre-
pared than this year's class to make
an immediate impact.
Rodriguez said he expects as
many as eight recruits to enroll a
semester early to get started with
the Wolverines' weight program in
January and participate in spring
"In a sense, it gives them an
extra semester* and a leg up on
everybody else," Rodriguez said.
"I've never had that many, but it's
pretty exciting."
Freshman wide receiver Darryl
Stonum graduated early from high
school and came to Ann Arbor last
winter, a decision that Rodriguez
said put him ahead of some of the
other freshmen. Stonum had 176
receiving yards this year.
Some of this year's redshirtswill
also be poised to get immediate
playing time next season. Rodri-
guez said freshman wide receiver
Terrence Robinson "would have
played this year" before he was
sidelined with a knee injury and
redshirted. Next year, Robinson
will likely be used as a slot receiver
and kick returner.
With just one returning start-
er going into this year (redshirt
sophomore Stephen Schilling)
and injuries to multiple linemen
during the year, the offensive line
was constantly in flux. Next year,
Rodriguez will have at least three
more solid contenders for playing
time on the offensive line.
Freshmen Patrick Omameh,
Rocko Khoury and Ricky Barnum
were all redshirted this season, but
all traveled with the team. Rodri-
guez said all three freshmen were
almost ready to play.
NOTE: Eastern Michigan will
join Western Michigan and Notre
Dame on the Wolverines' 2009
nonconference schedule, Rodri-
guez said Monday. In 2007, the last
time the Eagles and Wolverines
met, Michigan won 33-22 at the Big
House. The 2-9 Eagles will come
to Ann Arbor next year with a new
coach - Eastern Michigan coach
Jeff Genyk was fired yesterday
morning. One open date remains
on Michigan's 2009 schedule: Oct.
17. The Athletic Department is
working to schedule another non-
conference home game.

Although Michigan didn't meet
its goal and place in the top 10 this
year, Edwards achieved her goal in
, ,' P /fher last chance to do so.
"We came into this race wanting
Tuesdays Are South Of The Border tobe top 10, but circumstance had it
Corona/Dos Equis Specials All Night and it didn't take place," Gall said.
a- "Nicole is an All-American, so we
$2 if Vo a 'dirrn are really happy about that."
25% Off Mexican Fare & NO COVER
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After upset
Daily Sports Editor S'
Andy Katz of ESPN.com calledm
7 3 6 2 it "a reprieve, for two hours at a
least, to a Wolverine State that has
7 1 2 9 been gripped byF
melancholy due o
to a crumbling Norfolk n
5 9 2 1 economy." State at a
The Los Ange-1
9 5 7 8 les Times said Michigan n
Michigan"ruined Matchup: s
a much-antici- Norfolk1-;
8_3_pated final game Michigan 3-1 f
for the 2K Sports When: Tonight, g
4 Classic tourna- 8:30 p.m. t
ment, a matchup Where: c
3 2 with 10th-ranked Crisler Arena
Duke." T .d:
But it wasn't eig Ten ' s
7 4 9 his press clip- Network v
pings that had -
6 2 5 4 7 DeShawn SimsV
gushing after the Wolverines r
pulled off an improbable upset of I
+ + ++ + ++ then-No. 4 UCLA last Thursday a
night at Madison Square garden, a


of UCLA, M' tries to keep focus

win that broke a 12-game losing
kid against top-25 teams.
The junior forward's attention
was snagged by his Facebook page
nd text message inbox.
"It's ridiculous," Sims said. "My
Facebook has been kinda slow
ver the course of the fall. But
tow it's started to pick up, and I
lmost wish I didn't even have it.
My text messages ... I changed my
umber three times and people
till manage to get it.
"It's kinda good to have that
eeling back, but, you know, we're
going to be doing a lot of winning
his year, so I hope everything
ontinues to blow up."
Sims wasn't the only Wolver-
ne to get a boost in popularity
ince the team's nationally tele-
'ised upset of the Bruins. Sopho-
more Manny Harris's Facebook
was flooded with tons of friend
equests and new messages, and
Michigan coach John Beilein saw
an influx of congratulatory e-mails
and text messages.

But the extra attention may be
exactly what the Wolverines don't
After Michigan's 80-70 upset
win over Ohio State last February,
it seemed like the team may turn
the corner. The Wolverines were
finally picking up on Beilein's com-
plicated offensive scheme - but the
progress didn't lead anywhere.
They finished the regular sea-
son on a 1-4 skid, losing to Penn
State and Northwestern, which
both had losing records last year.
The young Michigan team had
enormous letdowns all season
against teams it should have eas-,
ily beat, like Harvard (8-22 overall
last season), Northwestern (8-22)
and Central Michigan (14-17).
"That's always one of the chal-
lenges to coaching - to understand
winning," Beilein said. "We had that
situation last year a little bit with
the Ohio State game ... We've taught
that to them already. You have to be
readyto play everybody every night.
But sometimes, 18, 19-year-old kids,

they're not goingto be and you have
to learn from it."
The Wolverines will run into
what could be a trap game tonight
at 8:30 p.m. when they play Nor-
folk State. The Trojans (1-1 overall)
could represent either of last year's
trends. Coming off the UCLA win,
Michigan could be riding too high
to focus on Norfolk State, and, like
Harvard, the Wolverines could
simply perform poorly against an
inferior opponent. An impressive
win over the Trojans would be
even more proof that Michigan has
bucked the mental lapses and melt-
downs that typified last season.
A loss would mean the Wolver-
ines still have a lot of work to do.
But, reading Sims's upbeat atti-
tude, Michigan is ready to charge
through this season.
"We haven't arrived yet," Sims
said. "Coach knows it, and most
importantly, we know it. ... And
that's just the mindset of a mature
basketball team. We don't think
the UCLA win made our season."


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