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January 21, 2009 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-01-21

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8A - Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


M' stumbles to third
straightconference loss
By ALEX PROSPERI fifth-yearsenior David Merrittsaid. 3-pointers), no other Wolverine The Nittany Lions made
Daily Sports Writer "Didn't come out and give a good made more than two field goals. extending their lead to

o it ugly by
as much as

Sophomore Chad Langlais notched Michigan's lone goal in last weekend's series.
K *
Langlais sparks
spforadic offense

midst of a decade's worth of medi-
ocrity, the Michigan basketball
team has recently seen some of the
highest MICHIGAN 58
highs in a PENN STATE 73
long time.
Somehow, it seems only fitting
that the Wolverines' lowest point so
far this year took place in a valley.
"We're just struggling in so many
areas," Michigan coach John Beil-
ein said. "Today, I don't think from
the beginningto the end, it was one
of our better performances."
Whether it was the Wolverines'
fatigue from playing its fourth Big
Ten game in11 days or the shock of
CBS personality and NCAA Tour-
nament regular Gus Johnson pro-
viding commentary for the Big Ten
Network, Michigan lost its third
straight game in a frustrating 73-58
defeat to Penn State.
"(We're) pretty down right now,"

effort tonight. We're not defending,
we're not shooting."
Although the two teams came
into the matchup in a statistical
deadlock, it was the Nittany Lions
that clearly dominated the contest.
Penn State shot 9-of-17 from behind
the arc as the Nittany Lions' guards
penetrated Michigan's defense with
ease and found open shooters. And
if Penn State wasn't scoring from
the outside, forward Jamelle Corn-
ley was dominating the interior.
"Cornley was going bananas in
the first half," Merritt said.
The forward scored 11 points and
grabbed eight rebounds in the first
frame. He finished with 17 points
and 11 rebounds.
Michigan had its worst 3-point
shooting game of the season, con-
verting on just five of 30 attempts.
Sophomore Manny Harris tied
a career low with four points on
just 1-of-9 shooting. And aside from
junior DeShawn Sims (21 points)
and freshman Stu Douglass (three

Sims was also the only Michigan
player to score in double figures.
"I can't really say," Harris said
when asked about Michigan's
shooting woes. "We shoot enough
in practice. Maybe we need to shoot
even more."
Beilein partially attributed the
poor shooting night to the Wolver-
ines' inability to find a rhythm on
the road.
"An important part of this game
was establishing a tempo, and we
did not," Beilein said. "You don't
see me get that upset with my team
at the beginning of the game. Itwas
'my turn' and 'your turn.' "
The Wolverines were 2-for-16
from behind the arc in the first half,
and it was the sixth straight half
that Michigan shot less than 50
percent from the field.
Despite anotherforgettable first
half, Michigan trailed by just seven
going into the break. But a quick 8-2
Penn State run early in the second
half put the contest out of reach.

26 in the second stanza.
Beilein even shook up the lineup
in the first half to try to find some-
one who would play with poise. He
putinsenior Jevohn Shepherd, who
hasn't played significant minutes
since Dec. 29 against North Caro-
lina Central, while playing Harris
for just 12 minutes.
In the next month, the sched-
ule only gets harder for the Wol-
verines. And for a team that relies
heavily on 3-pointers, shooting 26
percent frombehind the arc during
the past three games won't cut it for
the Wolverines.
Beilein said his teams at West
Virginia suffered through similar
slumps and that a shooting drought,
like the ones the Wolverines saw
last night, can end in an instant.
"One or two shots go in, and then
all of a sudden, it absolutely turns
around," Beilein said.
And the Wolverines need a turn-
around soon to havea realistic shot
at playing in the postseason.

Daily Sports Editor
During the Michigan hockey
team's recent six-game win streak,
the Wolverines averaged almost a
four-goal margin of victory. They
hadn't quite figured out how to win
a low-scoring nailbiter.
In fact, the
Wolverines' 1-0 NOTEBOOK
shutout of Bowl-
ing Green Saturday marked the first
time all season that they won a game
withoutcscoring at least three goals.
"We need to be in games like
this," Michigan coach Red Berenson
said after the victory. "I think it was
a good gut check for the team."
The CCHA basement-dwelling
Falcons held the Wolverines score-
less through 90 minutes. Midway
through the second period, sopho-
more defenseman Chad Langlais
fired a shot from the left point that
flew past Bowling Green goalie
Jimmy Spratt. A perfect screen from
junior forward Anthony Ciraulo
blinded the netminder.
Langlais credited Ciraulo, who
filled in for an ill Matt Rust, and his
line of Danny Fardig and Luke Glen-
dening for his goal.
Langlais' tally also marked the
first goal scored with senior goal-
tender Billy Sauer between the pipes
in almost 180 minutes of play.
"(Sauer) hadn't been able to win,"
Berenson said. "Finally, the team
scored a goal for him. ... You can't
win games if your team can't score."
Langlais, who said before the
season that he intended to be more
aggressive and add to the team's
offense, has followed through on his
He tallied his first career goal in
the season opener against St. Law-
rence and has quietly accumulated
assists since then. Saturday's goal
gave Langlais his 14th point of the
season and put the Spokane, Wash.,
native into a tie for eighth place
among CCHA defensemen.
The sophomore has also emerged
as one of the league's top point men
for power plays. Michigan assistant
coach Billy Powers said in Octo-
ber that Langlais' vision on the ice
makes him a good "quarterback" for
the power-play unit.
GETTING ROUGH: With two sec-
onds left in Saturday's game, both
teams finally snapped.
Seven penalties were dealt -
three to Michigan players - after
a handful of players dropped their
sticks and traded punches after the
Referees called 46 combined
penalties in the series, including
three majors. Hits echoed loudly in

the cozy confines of the BGSU Ice
Arena Saturday night.
The hit that caused the most con-
cern for the Wolverines came 23
seconds into the first period of Sat-
urday's game. Junior defenseman
Chris Summers got slammed into
the boards in front of the Falcon
student section and didn't get up for
a few minutes. Berenson said Sum-
mers suffered a head injury.
Summers, the team's acting cap-
tain, was forced to watch the rest of
the game from the stands with the
scratched players. He said he felt
dizzy after the hit and was taken
out of the game for precautionary
With Summers out of commis-
sion, the Wolverines played with just
five defensemen. Early in the third
frame, that number almost became
four. Sophomore Tristin Llewellyn
limped off the ice with what looked
like a left knee injury after Falcon
Josh Boyd clipped him near center
ice. Llewellyn returned to the game
and was sporting an ice pack on his
knee after the game.
"We've been dealing with inju-
ries all season, so it's nothing new
to us," added Langlais, adding that
some defensemen saw more ice time
than usual and played well.
It marked the first time all year
the Wolverines lacked aplayer wear-
ing a letter on the ice. After senior
captain Mark Mitera suffered an
ACL in the season-opening game in
October, Summers began wearing
a 'C,' and Berenson didn't appoint
another alternate captain.
And with both Mitera and Sum-
mers sitting in the stands Saturday,
sophomore forward Louie Capo-
russo and junior defenseman Steve
Kampfer represented Michigan
when talking to referees about pen-
alties and a disputed goal.
Summers didn't practice Mon-
day, but the trainers cleared him to
play in yesterday's practice and this
weekend. Summers said yesterday
he felt a little sluggish since he hadn't
been on the ice for a few days.
NOT QUITE: All weekend, senior
forward Tim Miller kept finding
himself with the puck in front of the
net, including three good scoring
But without a little puck luck, he
couldn't get past Spratt.
It appeared Miller figured out
the secret to success late in the
third period of Saturday's game. He
poked the puck into the net, which
elicited a red light and cheers from
the Michigan contingent of fans.
But when the referees reviewed
the play, they ruled that Spratt had
held the puck long enough to war-
rant a whistle before Miller's shot.

Tis is the lowest of the lows


ast month, Michigan men's
basketball coach John Beil-
ein wasn't quick to jump to
In his postgame press confer-
ence following
the Wolverines'
upset over then-
No. 4 Duke, Bei-
lein called this
season a "roller-
coaster," saying
his young team
would encoun- RUTH
ter both ups and LINCOLN
downs this sea-
"We don't want to go the other
way, but experience tells you that,"
Beilein said on Dec. 6. "This is the
good part of the rollercoaster."
But after last night's 73-58 loss
to Penn State, it's clear that Michi-
gan has not only fallen hard but dug
itself into a deep hole with poor
shooting and even worse defense.
Rebounding from this low point
will require a little more than a

comeback win in overtime. Maybe
Beilein can get some West Virginia
mining equipment to help out the
But until something changes, the
chance of climbing out of this dead
space is looking grim.
The Wolverines shot a season-
low 16.7 percent from behind the
arc and allowed 36 points in the
Entering last Wednesday's game
against Illinois, the Wolverines
averaged 73 points per game. Since
then -three games and seven days
later - Michigan hasn'tscored more
than 58 points in any contest.
"This was disappointing just
from a standpoint that we're just
struggling in so many areas," Beil-
ein said.
The remainder of the season has
only three "gimme" games, if that.
The rest are filled with the likes of
Michigan State at home and Pur-
due, Wisconsin and Minnesota on
the road.
The last 12 games, five home
games and seven road ones, will be

an uphill battle. And with the Wol-
verines struggling, it could get ugly.
I'm not saying it's easy to win on
the road in the Big Ten. Just look
at the Boilermakers. Purdue, the
media's pick to win the Big Ten this
season, also lost in State College
and was a missed Northwestern
layup away from being humiliated'
in Evanston.
But Purdue didn't fall behind by
26 points in Happy Valley.
Sophomore Kelvin Grady noted
the frustration he's felt over the span
of these lastfewgames.
"It's just tough right now," said
Grady, who scored three points on
1-of-5 shooting. "We're not shoot-
ing the ball well, and the chemis-
try's not there. We've got a lot of
things that are correctable that we
can fix."
That chemistry following the
team's upsets over Duke and UCLA
was so apparent it practically
smacked you in the face.
But it's gone now.
In each of Michigan's three con-
secutive losses, there's been just one

Wolverine stepping up each time.
Last night, it was junior forward
DeShawn Sims's 21 points and 11
rebounds that carried his limping
team to the finish. Manny Harris,
who entered the game as the confer-
ence's leading scorer at 18.8 points
per game, failed to show up.
Harris's second-halfheroicsbhave
carried this team before. But last
night, he looked almost timid and
afraid to drive. He finished with
four points, which tied a career low
dating back to last season.
Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions
lit up the Bryce Jordan Center with
four players in double figures.
Michigan needs that same bal-
anced offensive attack to finish this
season with its head up.
Beilein said after the loss to Wis-
consin on New Year's Eve that it's,
sometimes a loss that's the turning
point in a team's season.
This loss could be a turn for the 4
- Lincoln can be reached
at lincolnr@umich.edu,


Can Robinson help Rich Rod revive Blue's 'D'?

Career Fair
Tuesday, January 20th
2-6pm at The Michigan Union
Discuss full-time job & internship
opportunities with organizations from
across the country!
Registration on-site the day of the fair.
See our website for a list of participating
Quick Tips
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Check the Fair website for more tips
Becausen...oe day can make all the difference!

what h
He better hope
Rodriguez had
next defensive co
to mesh with the
After all, that's
why Scott Sha-
fer lasted just
one season with
the Wolverines.
Shafer came
to Ann Arbor
as an outsider
and left as an
outsider. He
never gained
the trust of his
fellow coaches.
Michigan's schem
match Shafer's dE
phy, and he never
personally with th
Rodriguez thin
cuse coach Greg
Wolverines' new
dinator, will be a1
from Robinson's lt
sive coordinatora
shows Rodriguez
part right.
After then-Lon
Derrick Johnson,r
Chief, interceptei
Oklahoma, Robin
group of fans whr
ling him. The fans
let outa string ofe;
Robinson said h6
- ---- ------ ---- - - --
From page 1A
total. During his
Robinson won twc
"Greg brings a
rience as a defen
both at the collet
sional level," Rod
statement release
Department. "Wi
have Greg, Laura
family join our M
know that Greg w

n football coach the "hook 'em horns" gesture.
Rodriguez got Passionate, intense and slightly
e wanted. immature. Robinson should fit right
it's enough. in with Michigan's coaching staff.
stressed that his But will he be good enough to
crdinator needed turn around the Wolverine defense,
rest of the staff. which, by far, had its worst-ever
season statistically last year?
Even if Rodriguez gets his spread
offense clicking, the defense has a
lot of work to do to help Michigan
get to the level the coach was hired
to reach.
Those in favor of Robinson's hir-
ing will point to 10 games - two
DAN I Super Bowls (with the Denver
FEDBroncos in 1997 and 1998), four
FELDMA Rose Bowls (including one against
Michigan in 2005 with Texas),
a Fiesta Bowl, a Cotton Bowl, an
tes didn't always Aloha Bowl and a Freedom Bowl.
efensive philoso- A perfect 10-0 record in college
really connected bowlgames and the only NFLbowl.
te other coaches. But then there are the three words
iks former Syra- that make Robinson a risky hire -
g Robinson, the as an assistant.
defensive coor- In one sense, it should be com-
better fit. A story forting for the Wolverines that
one year as defen- Robinson is again an assistant, a
at Texas in 2004 role in which he has appeared phe-
probably got this nomenal.
But the collection of legend-
ghorn linebacker ary coaches Robinson has worked
now aKansas City under is astounding - Pete Car-
d a pass against roll, Mack Brown, Terry Donahue,
son turned to a Monte Kiffin, Mike Shanahan and
o had been heck- Dick Vermeil. Maybe Robinson is
alleged Robinson more of a product of their systems,
xpletives at them. especially considering his complete
simply gave them failure at Syracuse.

The Orange went 10-37, includ-
ing 3-25 in Big East play, during his
only head-coaching gig.
Robinson's sound bites, or
Gregisms, were widely mocked. He
once said the team's attitude "can
maybe snowball into something
that can catch fire."
In July, Syracuse's top-rated
recruit decommitted in favor of
Central Michigan because the Mid-
American Conference Chippewas
were more attractive than Syra-
Because Rodriguez spends so
much time with the offense, his
defensive coordinator almostserves
as the head coach for half the team.
So it's tough to completely ignore
Robinson's shortcoming with the
But Rodriguez has a record of
making the right choice here. He's
in his fourth head coaching job.
And for the fourth time, his defen-
sive coordinator in year one won't
see year two.
Phil Elmassian was ousted after
one year at West Virginia. His
defensive coordinator at Glenville
State retired. And football was
dropped at Salem following Rodri-
guez's first year there.
After suffering losing seasons in
the first year of his last three jobs,
Rodriguez found the right coordi-
nators to help turn his programs
Rodriguez hired Todd Graham
and Jeff Casteel as co-coordina-
with a wealth of knowledge who
the players really respond to. His
season here in 2004 produced one
of the best defenses in Texas his-
tory and helped set the stage for
our National Championship season
in 2005."
But at Syracuse, Robinson posted
a dismal 10-37 record, never finish-
ing higherthan seventh place in the
eight-team Big East conference.
Of the nation's 119 teams, Syra-
cuse posted the 101st ranked scor-
ing defense last season.
Though he immediately threw

tors at West Virginia. Dean Hood
moved from offensive to defensive
coordinator at Glenville State.
Graham is the head coach
at Tulsa, which went 11-3 and
trounced Ball State in the GMAC
Bowl this year.
Casteel, still at West Virginia, is
one of the most-respected defen-
sive coordinators in the nation.
And Hood is the head coach at
Eastern Kentucky, which quali-
fied for the Football Championship
Subdivision playoffs this year.
Can Robinson live up to that
pedigree? After he failed miserably
once realizing his lifelong dream of
becoming a head coach, my biggest
question is whether he can show
the same fire he did with the Bron-
cos in the 1990s.
But a story relayed by Nick San-
tiago, a defensive tackle at Syracuse
last year, provides some relief.
Robinson used to call the Orange
into a huddle onthe field after their
pregame warm-ups. He delivered
impassioned speeches and got so
fired up he would jab at the players
on the inner part of the circle.
Before a game earlier this season,
Robinson hurt his hand because he
hit a player so hard.
Maybe Coach Rob will be good
enough, after all.
Coach Rod better hope so. His
job might depend on it.
- Dan Feldman can be reached
at danfeld@umich.edu.
his hatinthe ring for coaching posi-
tions around the nation after being
fired, Robinson recently suggested
thathe hadn't gottenoverlosinghis
job at Syracuse.
"My stomach is sick," Robin-
son told The (Syracuse, N.Y.) Post-
Script Standard at his final press
conference last month. "I need
relief. I need a pill, because I'm sick
to my stomach that it's done. That's
what I hate. It's what's in my gut.
Shoot. That's the biggest regret.
Pulling boxes into my office. That's
ugly. It is."

time in Denver,
o Super Bowls.
wealth of expe-
sive coordinator,
giate and profes-
Iriguez said in a
d by the Athletic
e are excited to
and their entire
tichigan family. I
ill work well with

our defensive staff, entire football
staff and players."
Robinson also has coordina-
tor experience at the college level,
spending the 2004 season as Tex-
as's co-defensive coordinator and
eight seasons at UCLA as the Bru-
ins' defensive line coach.
"Greg's a high energy, creative,
hard-working guy who has had suc-
cess at both the NFL and collegiate
levels," Texas coach Mack Brown
said inanother statement released
by University of Michigan Athletic
Department. "He's a veteran coach

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