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February 04, 2009 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2009-02-04

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8A - Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

'1W surprisingly
hasn't seen a
shootout so far

The Victors vs. the eSt
We know the Wolverines have a game tomorrow against Penn State. So what? The team is taking on
Connecticut, the top-ranked squad in the nation, on Saturday - and that's always a big deal. The Daily
has dug through the record books and found Michigan's all-time record versus the No.l team in the na-
tion, and guess what? It's not great. In 19 tries, the Wolverines are 1-18. Can they make it 2-18 on Saturday?

Daily SportsEditor
Last month, the CCHA released
its annual captains' poll. The
awards given out ranged from the
serious (best passer) to the silly
(best nickname).
"Best shootout skater," intended
to be a legitimate category, turned
out to be one of the most comi-
cal. The honor went to Wolverine
sophomore forward Aaron Palush-
aj, a talented skater and stickhan-
What's so funny about Palush-
aj's nod? Well, he plays for the
Michigan hockey team - the only
squad in the conference to not play
in a shootout so far this season.
During the off-season, the con-
ference became the nation's first to
implement a three-player shootout
formation for CCHA games that
remain tied after 60 minutes of
regulation and a five-minute over-
time period.
But the Wolverines haven't
competed in a shootout, let alone
played in overtime, through their
first 20 conference games.
By this time last season, Michi-
gan had already posted three ties.
And it's not like the Wolver-
ines haven't been in close games.
They've played eight games decid-
ed by one goal and won five of
"It's kind of weird," junior act-
ing captain Chris Summers said.
"I guess it's just how the puck
bounces. We don't really expect to
go into overtime or anything like
that. I guess it's just a coincidence
that we haven't."
Summers said it would have
been nice to have an extra period
Saturday night against then-No. 1
Notre Dame, the closest the team
has come to ending regulation in
a tie.
With 31 seconds left in the game,
it appeared that junior defense-
man Steve Kampfer had battled a
loose puck into the back of the net
for the game-tying goal, complet-
ing a comeback from a three-goal
deficit and drawing comparisons
to last year's Frozen Four game

between the two teams.
"They called the goal off, so I
wasn't really getting my hopes up,"
Palushaj said. "Since we haven't
been to overtime this year, I don't
think it went through most of our
heads (that we might)."
And because Michigan hasn't
played an extra pefiod all season,
it logically hasn't competed in a
shootout, either.
The conference decided to
institute the shootout because it
needed a tie-breaking procedure
for the CCHA standings. The team
that wins the shootout gains an
extra point - making it equiva-
lent to a regular or an overtime
victory. Coaches voted and league
officials agreed that an NHL-style,
three-player shootout would be
crowd-pleasing and less draining
on players than endless overtime
Each Wednesday in practice, the
players divide and compete against
one another in a mock shootout.
But Berenson doesn't think a prac-
tice environment simulates the
pressure of a game-deciding shot
in a hostile arena.
"You try to create some compe-
tition," Berenson said. "But still,
I couldn't tell you for sure who's
going tobe good in a shootout until
they actually do it in a game."
Palushaj, the captain's poll
favorite, and fellow sophomore
forward Carl Hagelin are likely
selections for a shootout. Players
seem to enjoy Wednesday shoo-
touts, always teasing teammates
who miss and cheering players
who score.
This weekend's opponent, Lake
Superior State, has the experi-
ence in shootouts that Michigan
lacks. The Lakers have been in six
overtime games and are tied for
most in the conference. And while
that could give them an edge in a
potential extra frame or pressure-
packed shootout, the Wolverines
aren't worried.
"They've been in them, and we
haven't been in their," Berenson
said. That doesn't concern me.
We're playing to win every game,
not to tie."


From left to right: The Wolverines lost to No.1i's UCLA in 2006, Duke in02001, Illinois in 2005 and Ohio State in 2007. They will face No .1Connecticut this Saturday.
No. 1 No. 1 No.1 No.1No.1
Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State Duke Kentucky
80-58 89-64 72-57 100-93 84-
N0.1 1 No 1 No. 1 No. 1
UCLA * Indiana Indianaf Indiana f Indiana
90-77 74-48 80-74 72-67 OT 6
NoNo0. 1 No.l No. * No.1
Duke f Duke f Indiana , Duke Duke
88-85 OT 71-51 93-92 81-73 104-6
No.1 No.1 No.1l No.1 -No.1
Duke Illinois UCLA Ohio State Connecut
104-83 57-51 92-55 65-61 0
What's wrong with recruiting?
Theprocess, not the players

When wide receiver Roy
Roundtree decom-
mitted from Purdue
in favor of Michigan on National
Signing Day last year, he drew the
ire of Boilermaker football coach
Joe Tiller.
"If we had an early signing date,
you wouldn't
have another
outfit with a
guy in a wiz-
ard hat sell-
ing snake oil
to get a guy at
the last min-
ute, but that's DAN
what hap- FELDMAN
pened," Til- _
ler told the
Indianapolis Star last February.
You probably won't hear any
coaches blast A.J. Westendorp or
Nader Furrha today, the first day
high school football recruits can
sign National Letters of Intent.
Westendorp is a senior at Hol-
land Christian, and Furrha gradu-
ated from Ann Arbor Pioneer last
month. Both were excellent high
school quarterbacks and will play
at the collegiate level next year --
Westendorp at Central Michigan
and Furrha at Michigan.
Although neither verbally com-
mitted anywhere, both called the
coaches at the other schools that had
recruited them once they decided
to go elsewhere. It wasn't hard for
them. It was the right thing to do.
Roundtree didn't call Tiller,
and the redshirt freshman said at
Michigan Media Day last summer
that he regrets it.
Dissecting how the recruiting
process has changed, several pun-
dits have criticized "kids these
days" for being disloyal. The Mich-
igan football team has already had
seven players back out of verbal
commitments, and it'd be pretty
surprising if at least one more
didn't today. Schools all around the
nation have had similar issues.
But fixing the kids isn't the way
to solve the problem. The bet-
ter answer is ensuring high-end
recruits go through a lower-pres-
sure process like Westendorp and
Furrha, who had a single Division
I offer between them. Although the
rules for Division II recruiting aren't
different, the practices clearly are.
Westendorp says his strength is
scoring touchdowns, and his num-
n 0%

bers certainly back that up. He's not
the fastest, and he's not the biggest,
but he threw 40 touchdowns (with
just four interceptions) and ran for
another 25 this year while leading
his team to a state title.
Most of his interest came from
ventional element he encountered
in the recruiting process was Grand
Valley State coach Chuck Martin
stopping by his house to pick up a
highlighttape and askinghimnotto
take an official visit to North Dakota
State. Hardly sinister.
But Westendorp spent most of
his time in the process waiting for
a Division I offer. He finally got it
Sunday, and he will attend Central
Furrha grew up so close to
Michigan Stadium that he proba-
bly would have heard the cheers on
football Saturdays had he not been
at the games.
Division II powerhouse Grand
Valley State also pursued him. He
weighed his options and opted to
walk on at Michigan. It wasn't a
drawn-out public affair. He follows
recruiting, sees players waver in
their commitment to the Wolver-
ines and wonders how hard it is to
make a decision.
Well, it's hard because the pro-
cess is so screwed up. I'm sick of
everyone putting the blame on'
recruits not being mature enough
to honor their commitments.
Are Westendorp and Furrha
better people than all the recruits
nationwide who decommit, or are
there other factors for the recruits
who have multiple options with-top
Our generation isn't the problem.
It's the way recruiting is set up.
It's in a recruit's best interest to
commit early, even if he's not sure
he's want to attend that school.
By verbally committing, at least in
theory, a school will hold a scholar-
ship for him.
But that isn't always the case.
South Carolina coach Steve Spur-
rier pulled a scholarship offer from
a committed recruit, according to
Palmetto Sports. Spurrier found
better recruits and cast the lesser
player aside.
The NCAA needs to take a few
steps to ensure these tricks don't
spiral out of control:
1. Give recruits the option of
signing a. non-binding letter of
intent at any time. A recruit and a

school can agree to hold a schol-
arship, and the player wouldn't be
allowed to have contact with any
If a player wants to re-open his
recruitment, he could formally 4
rescind the letter. The school
couldn't void it unless the recruit
has disciplinary problems.
This way, schools and recruits
know exactly where they stand.
Players couldn't hold a spot while
flirting with other schools, and
coaches can't pull the rug out from
under recruits.
2. Eliminate oversigning. More
and more, schools are signing more
players than they have room for
under the NCAA's 85-scholarship
limit. It always seems to work out
because someone doesn't qualify
academically or someone isn't
cleared medically to play.
But that leaves coaches in the
position of needing some of their
players to fail. Coaches should have
to show the available scholarships
for every letter of intent, binding or
An added benefit is coaches
would give preference to players
they know would qualify academi-
3. Guarantee scholarships for
four years. Currently, scholar-
ships are granted on a year-to-year
basis. This would also help stop
coaches from oversigning since
they wouldn't be able to jettison
older players to make room for new
4. Investigate and punish. No
set of rules will work if the NCAA
doesn't actively seek out offenders
and discipline them.
These suggestions are not origi-
nal, and they're pretty straight-
forward. But until these or similar
measures are implemented, college
football recruiting will continue to
be a mess.
Recruiting used to be annoying.
It's quickly becoming unbearable.
The NCAA needs to take action
and give top recruits the chance to
show the class of Westendorp and
Although not calling Tiller was a
mistake, Roundtree isn't necessar-
ily a worse personthan Westendorp 4
and Furrha. The other two justben-
efited from goingthrough a simpler,
less-stressful recruiting process.
- Feldman can be reached

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