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January 07, 2009 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-01-07

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4

2B - January 7, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wolverines win
out at Orange
Bowl Classic

English class resumes in
Wash tenaw County

a

First-year coach
focuses on team
bonding during
weeklong trip
By MARTY LAROUERE
Daily Sports Writer
Though the Michigan football
team didn't go bowling this year,
the men's swimming team did -
and it dominated.
No. 4 Michigan won all of its 11
events against competition from
Duke, Rutgers and George Mason
in the Orange Bowl Classic in Key
Largo, Fla.
Victories by sophomores Tyler
Clary and Neal Kennedy and
senior Bobby Savulich highlight-
ed the non-scoring meet. Clary
swept both the 50-meter and
100-meter backstroke events,
while Kennedy won both breast-
stroke and Savulich both free-
style events.
Junior Alon Mandel also stood
out, finishing second in the 100-
meter backstroke and helping
the 200-meter medley relay team
earn first place.
"In my opinion, Alon is the
best backstroker on this team,"
first-year Michigan coach Mike
Bottom said. "He proved to me he
can compete in the event and has
the willingness to improve."
For the first time this sea-
son, the team's races were mea-
sured in meters instead of yards.
This slightly altered Michigan's
approach to last weekend's meet.
Bottom said swimming in
meters was "liberating". Instead
of worrying about individual
times, swimmers focused on
their stroke counts and the other
swimmers in their race, which
made for a more relaxed atmo-
sphere at the meet.
Prior to the Jan. 3 meet, the

team had a week-long training
period in Florida.Bottom stressed
conditioning, intelligence and
building team camaraderie.
The swimmers trained for
seven to eight hours each day,
which included a dry land prac-
tice with running drills, morning
and afternoon pool practices and
a weight lifting session.
Bottom was pleased with the
physical progress his team made
over the week and praised former
Michigan coach Bob Bowman for
instilling discipline in the pro-
gram.
"They are physically prepared
and well-conditioned," Bottom
said. "Bob was a real driver. He
made them do incredible amounts
of swimming and that has carried
over to this year."
In additionto physical training,
Bottom also stressed strength-
ening every swimmer's mental
approach.
"Because Michigan is academi-
cally the brightest of schools in
the top 10, everyone here needs to
use that to our advantage, break
out and think creatively," he said.
Savulich heeded his coach's
calling at the Orange Bowl Clas-
sic and made personal improve-
ments.
"Bobby made critical changes
to his stroke technique in the
freestyle events," Bottom said.
"It's not just about swimming
back and forth, but having cre-
ative intelligence and constantly
evaluating yourself."
The swimmers spent a lot of
time interacting with each other
outside of the pool with activi-
ties like snorkeling and boating,
which helped build team chem-
istry.
After their solid showing in
the Orange Bowl Classic, the
Wolverines are poised to prove
themselves on the national scene
against No. 6 Tennessee and No.
14 Indiana this weekend.

The news from the Michi-
gan football program over
the holiday break was
mostly about departures.
Defensive coordinator Scott
Shafer
"resigned."
Dual-threat
quarterback
Shavodrick
Beaver decom-
mitted for the
greener pas-
tures of..Tulsa?
But the big- NATE
gest college SANDALS
football story
in Washtenaw
County over the break was an
arrival, and it didn't come to Ann
Arbor.
Believe it or not, the biggest
news came just down the road in
Ypsilanti.
For those of you who missed
it, former Michigan defensive
coordinator Ron English was intro-
duced as the head coach at Eastern
Michigan on Dec. 22. The hiring
came one year and four days after
Rich Rodriguez was introduced as
Michigan's head coach - a job Eng-
lish reportedly interviewed for.
This column isn't calling into
question the Rich Rodriguez hir-
ing, nor is it suggesting English
should have replaced Lloyd Carr at
Michigan.
But English deserved a chance
to runa program. Carr certainly
thought so. After all, Carr was
brought in by Eastern to consult on
its search, and you better believe
he played a big role getting Eng-
lish's foot in the door.a
Now that he has the job, it's up
to English to prove himself as a
leader, and there's little doubt he
has the tools.
At Eastern, English is charged
with turning around a program
that is awful, even by Mid-
American Conference standards.
The Eagles went 3-9 last season,
includinga loss to Toledo. Sound
familiar?
All skewed comparisons to

I

4

FILE PHOTO
Eastern Michigan coach Ron English was recently hired by the Eagles after a coaching search orchestrated by former Michigan
coach Lloyd Carr. English served as defensive coordinator for the Wolverines for two years.

Michigan aside, it will be inter-
esting to see English develop as
a head coach just down the road
from where he made a name for
himself as a defensive coordinator.
English is an energetic, young
coach who has great recruiting
ties across the country, especially
on the West Coast. English won't
compete with Michigan for top
recruits while he's in Ypsilanti.
The Eagles haven't had a wincing
season since 1995, and they won't
have one in 2009, either. ,
But this is the first stop in what
is likely to be a long coaching
career. Five years from now, don't
be surprised if English is the head
coach for a big-time program.

After watching English's intro-
ductory press conference, it was
easy to see he still has the fire that
helped make Michigan's 2006
defense one of the best in school
history. Sure he was working with
a lot of talent, but talent doesn't
translate to success without good
coaching.
English becomes one of just
six black head coaches at the 119
Football Bowl Subdivision teams,
and for many, that will be the big-
gest angle on his hiring. English
told the Ann Arbor News at his
introductory press conference that
he would rather just be known asa
head coach, regardless of his race.
But he admitted that the lack of

minority representation in head
coaching positions is an "issue."
For now, the color of English's
skin might be what draws atten-
tion to his hiring at Eastern
Michigan. But with his energy
and passion for coaching, success
on the field will likelybe the story
when he leaves the Eagles for a
high-profile gig.
And the Wolverines won't have
to wait long to see what it's like to
have their old coach glowering at
them from across the field.
English's Eagles visit the Big
House on Sept. 19.
- Sandals can be reached
at nsandals@umich.edu.

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