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December 02, 2008 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-12-02

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8 - Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.cam

Novak redeems himself
in OT after missed dunk

Kampfer returns to
practice with team

By ALEX PROSPERI
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan men's basketball
team's overtime win against Savan-
nah State Saturday included two
plays Wolverine fans will remember
for the rest of the
season. NOTEBOOK
With the score
tied at 56 and three seconds remain-
ing in regulation, freshman guard
Zack Novak stole a pass near mid-
court, drove to the hoop and missed
what could have been a game-win-
ning dunk.
For those in attendance, the sight
of the ball sailing through the air
after clanking off the-rim as time
expired was rare.
"I just looked up, and I was like,
'What went wrong?"'Novak said. "I
think (my teammates) kind of got a
kick out of it. They probably wanted
to kick me at the same time."
But fifth-year senior co-captain
David Merritt had a different per-
spective.
"I told him that I felthe was going
to hit a big three," Merritt said.
"I just wanted to give him some
encouragement. That's a tough
play, especially for a freshman. He's
going to remember that for the rest
of his life."
Merritt's encouragement
worked.
Minutes later, Merritt's predic-
tion came true when Novak hit a key
3-pointer with just 1:39 left in over-
time.
"(We) called timeout," Novak
said. "Coach asked me where you
want to hit a three from. I told him,
came out (and) got it done. I think
they're proud of me for doing that."
BUZZER BEATER: At the end of
overtime, junior forward DeShawn

SAID ALSALAH/Daily
Freshman guard Zack Novak missed a game-winning dunk Saturday against Savan-
nah State but redeemed himself with a clutch 3-pointer in the overtime period.

Sims found himself open on the
right wing with seconds remaining.
With the score tied, Sims launched
a jumper that hit the bottom of the
net to give Michigan its fifth win of
the season.
And he did it with ease.
"I just shot it regularly," Sims
said. "(I) didn't force it, just shot it
comfortable. Perfect jump shot and
it went in."
Sims's shot did more than just
beat Savannah State. It punctuated
a 20-point comeback, prevented
a potential loss to a program that
won just 10 games from 2001-06
and saved the Wolverines from tak-
ing a step in the wrong direction.
"I think it really helps our men-

tality," Merritt said. "Losing wasn't
an option for us."
His game-winner also made it a
easier for Novak to move on.
"I owe Peedi a lot," Novak said.
WORDS OF WISDOM: With his
team down 20 points at the half,
Michigan coach John Beilein could
have ripped apart his players in the
locker room.
But instead of focusing on the
first half, Beilein told his team that
they were going to win, Merritt
recalled.
"We were clearly rattled at half-
time," Beilein said through the
Athletic Department. "We didn't
need a coach that was going to go in
there and rattle them some more."

By NICOLE AUERBACH
Daily Sports Writer
The color of a practice jersey
doesn't mean much.
But for Michigan junior defen-
seman Steve Kampfer, a white
jersey means much more than a
red one.
Red denotes an injured player,
someone the rest of the skaters
should take extra caution around.
White simply means a defense-
man.
Practicing with no-contact
instructions, Kampfer wore a
white jersey yesterday, which
means he's taking a step in the
right direction. And that path
leads back to the blue line.
"Right now, it's just about get-
ting back out there with the team,
start passing, making sure my feet
are getting back into things and
my speed's getting up," he said.
"I don't think it'll be that long of
a process."
Six weeks ago, Kampfer was
hospitalized with a fractured
skull following an off-ice assault.
He wore a neck brace until Nov.
19.
Thirty minutes before yester-
day's practice, Kampfer worked
on conditioning with Wolverine
assistant coach Mel Pearson, who
fed the defenseman passes all
over the ice. Kampfer worked on
passing, skating backwards and
sprinting.
Then, he skated a full practice
with his teammates, completing
all the drills.
Before yesterday's practice,
he was energetic and excited.
He repeatedly referred to "right
now," trying to focus on his pres-
ent abilities and current condi-
tions.
He said he's been lifting light
weights and bench-pressing small
amounts to try to build up his
strength.
And he hasn't had to rehabili-
tate alone. Senior defenseman
Mark Mitera, who suffered an
ACL injury in the season-opening
game against St. Lawrence, has
also lifted weights and watched
practice with Kampfer. The two
have grown closer as they have
worked through serious injuries,
and they sat in the bleachers to
watch theirteammates skate each
afternoon.
"Watching from the stands, it's
a lot easier to see plays," Kamp-
fer said. "We try to see (what)
we would have done compared to
what the guys do, if they're good
or bad. ... We're trying to keep
everything positive for the two
of us because we're both going to
come out of this stronger as peo-
ple and as players."
Kampfer said he has seen prog-
ress each day. As soon as he got
the neck brace off, he was able to
startctraining on a stationary bike.
Last week, he skated alone for the
first time to see if he could with-
stand the weight of his hockey

MAX cOLLINS/Daily
Junior defenseman Steve Kampfer, pictured here in a game last season, complet-
ed a full practice yesterday for the first time since he was injured in October.

Tough first year won't spell doom

That sour taste in your
mouth, the one from a 3-9
football season - that's not
going away any time soon.
Despite an inexperienced offense
and many holes in the defense,
expectations were high for Michi-
gan coach Rich Rodriguez's first
season in Ann Arbor from West
Virginia.
Fans expected the Wolverines to
quickly learn JASON
a complicated KOHLER
new system.
Fans
expected that A ''
Rodriguez would be good as the
reputation preceding him.
Fans expected to win.
But expectations were lower
when John Beilein, also a former
West Virginia coach took over the
Michigan men's basketball team.
Beilein inherited a program that
didn'thave such deep tradition.
A team that was recovering from
scandal. A team that hadn't made
the tournament since 1998.
Although the Wolverines limped
to a 10-22 record last season,
Beilein faced less criticism. Fans
understood Michigan needed time
to learn a complicated new system.
They knew Beilein didn't have the
players to fit his system yet and
recognized the Wolverines were an
inexperienced team.
Sound familiar?
"The parallels are all over the
place," Beilein said at Michigan's
Media Day in October. "When

there's change, there's going to be
a lack of consistency that you'd see
when a coach is established over a
long period of time."
A season later, the Wolverines
(5-1) better understand Beilein's
system and their roles. The experi-
ence showed in an upset of then-
No. 4 UCLA two weeks ago, and
helped place Michigan back into
the spotlight of college basketball.
The Wolverines credit much of
their early-season success to last
year's failures.
"We had to lose lastyear as
a stepping stone," fifth-year
senior C.J. Lee said. "I think guys
remember howthey feltat certain
moments last season, and I think
that is going to push them through
the walls that we're goingto have
this season."
In Beilein's 16 years of Division-I
coaching, his teams have never had
a losingseason after his firstyear
at a program. Two seasons after
he guided West Virginia to a losing
record in his first season as coach
there, the Mountaineers reached
the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tour-
nament in 2005.
Beilein could be on a similar
track at Michigan, but the Wolver-
ines haven't put all of lastyear's
troubles behind them.
This weekend, when Michigan
surrendered a 20-point lead to
Savannah State at halftime, memo-
ries of last season's losses to Har-
vard and Central Michigan flashed
in the minds of many Wolverine

fans. Unlike last season, Michigan
responded and came back to win
66-64 in overtime.
"Last year we had a couple
games where we got down and we
would come back, but we weren't
able to get over that hump," fifth-
year senior David Merritt said.
"Today everything was thrown at
us. They shot incredibly well in the
first half, had us down by 20, but
we never gave up."
If Michigan would've lost to the
Tigers, few fans would've been
surprised. When the football team
falls to Toledo, there's an outcry
because of the high expectations.
But Beilein's changing the culture
of the basketball program to a point
where it will be inexcusable to lose
to teams like Savannah State.
Regardless of the outcome, the
nail-biter against Savannah State
brought back that sour taste for a
lot of Michigan fans - a taste that's
never gone away for the players.
"The key thing isujustbeing a
10-22 team last year, and we know
how it feels," sophomore forward
Manny Harris said. "That taste in
our mouth, we never want to expe-
rience anything like that again."
When Harris was asked when
that feeling would go away, he said
notuntil the team reaches to the
NCAA Tournament.
Rodriguez, like Beilein, has to
erase the taste of a losing season.
But Beilein is already on his way of
making a losing season the excep-
tion rather than the expectation.

helmet.
"It gives the team a boost," said
sophomore defenseman Chad
Langlais, who was often paired
with Kampfer last season. "He's
worked really hard, and he looks
good."
After practicing yesterday, his
next goal will be to take a hard
hit.
"That first hit, I'm going to sit
back and be like, 'Whoa, what's
going on here?"' Kampfer said.
"Right now, we're just kind of try-
ing to take it day-by-day. How do
I feel today? Basically, how am I
doing tomorrow? How'd I feel
yesterday?"
Kampfer said his doctors told
him he would regain full strength
and neck movement in a month.
Then, "it's all up to the coaches,"
he said.
Pearson said it'll probably take
the defenseman a few weeks to
get back to game speed.
Over the past six weeks, Kamp-
fer has gotten a taste of what it's
like to be an average college stu-
dent - a student-athlete without
his sport.
After taking a week off from
class initially following his hos-
pitalization, Kampfer returned to
academics.
He said he has become more
focused on school over the past
semester, since he is taking more
challenging classes and has more
time to study for them;
The extra time to focus on

classwork has replaced time
Kampfer has usually spent with
his teammates or other friends.
"I didn't feel comfortable going
out in a neck brace to see any of
my friends," he said. "I didn't feel
comfortable being around people
who were intoxicated."
And instead of traveling with
the team on trips to Alaska and
Minnesota, Kampfer spent time
with his parents, who live just
20 minutes from campus. He
followed the team's games, but
something was missing.
"When the guys were on the
road, I'd either hang out with my
parents or go watch a movie,"
Kampfer said. "Just trying to
do other things so I'm not bored
out of my mind.... I missed being
around the guys a lot. Missing
the road trips, you don't get that
bonding in hotels on the planes on
the bus."
It looks like he will be able to
experience that pretty soon.
But the past six weeks have
taught Kampfer something he
couldn't learn on the ice or in a
classroom - appreciation.
"People don't realize in the
blink of an eye, your whole life
can change," Kampfer said. "I had
that thought process for a week:
Am I going to be OK? Am I going
to be able to play hockey again?
"Then you sit there and you
realize, everyone's there to get
you through the whole thing and
make you stronger as a person."

0

Post players dominate with different styles

Cornell University
Summer in Washington
June 1-July 24, 2009
A unique Cornell experience
in Washington, DC

By TIM ROHAN ers. Though shooting is one of her
Daily Sports Writer strengths, Phillips has shot 2-for-8
from behind the arc this season.
The Michigan women's basket- After starting 26 of 33 games
ball team has a tandem in the post last year, Phillips' role on the team
that is wreaking havoc. Instead has diminished this season. She
of facing opposing defenses at the has come off the bench in each of
same time, the the Wolverines six games this sea-
two have tag- son, and her scoring has suffered.
teamed their iciga After leading Michigan in scoring
way to success at USC her sophomore year (10.3 points
this season. Matchup: per game), she is now fourth on the
Senior for- Michigan 4-2; team (6.3 points per game).
ward Stepha- USC 3-1 Skrba, who used to come off the
ny Skrba and When: Tonight bench for Phillips, has replaced her
junior center 10 p.m. in this year's starting lineup. Skrba
Krista Phillips is also now experiencing the same
both have dis- Whe: Galen success Phillips had last season,
tinct styles of Center and the two have literally switched
play and have Stats: minutes played and points per game
split time in the mgoblue.com between this season and last.
post. Michigan Skrba was named to the All-
coach Kevin Borseth sees their dif- Tournament team, in the Lady
ferences as positives on the court. Eagle Classic, after averaging 17.5
"Skrba can score with her back points and seven rebounds in two
to the basket," Borseth said. "She's games. Phillips played just 22 min-
got a really soft set of hands. ... She utes all weekend.
shoots the turnaround. She shoots The advantage this year seems
the jump hook. She has the ability to go to Skrba, who is second on
to take the ball to the basket." the team in scoring, first in blocked
On the other hand, Phillips is shots and third in rebounding. Her
more comfortable facing a bas- presence in the post also helps the
ket and squaring up to shoot. But offense run smoothly.
Borseth can still use his tallest "That person (down low) offen-
player with her back to the basket. sively has to be able to score it down
When Michigan lost 59-56 to there, and/or distribute it," Borseth
Texas A&M on Nov. 20, Aggies said. "They are the hub. They are
coach Gary Blair saidhis post play- the center of everything."
ers had trouble guarding Phillips, a on offense, Borseth said Phil-
center who can shoot three-point- lips too often gets pushed out of

the paint without a call from the
official, making her less effective as
a distributor and an inside scoring
force. But on defense, Phillips has
the edge.
"(Phillips) understands the
defense concept completely, where
Stephany doesn't quite understand
the way (Phillips) understands it,"
Borseth said. "(Phillips) under-
stands the defense, switching
screens and the whole nine yards.
She gets all of that. She sees the
floor real well."
Skrba and Phillips' contrasting
styles of play could complement
each other while both are on the
court at the same time. Borseth
said he mayuse the two at the same
time later in the season, when the
Wolverines face bigger teams that
the 6-foot-2 Skrba and 6-foot-6
Phillips can handle.
Michigan (4-2) leaves Ann Arbor
for sunny Southern California to
face USC (3-1) tonight at 10 p.m.
Skrba and Phillips will face USC's
front court, which features 6-foot-5
sophomore forward Kari LaPlante.
And it doesn't really matter which
Wolverine post player starts.
"I don't know if it is really signif-
icant which one of those two kids
is in the starting lineup," Borseth
said. "I could rotate the two of
them. They both have to be able to
play. They both give us some of the
same and something different...It's
not important who starts, but who
finishes."

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