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March 04, 2009 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-03-04

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8A - Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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Injuries ground Blue's seven-footer

Outdoor game would bolster
rich Wolverine tradition

The sight of 100,000-plus
Wolverine fans isn't
rarity in the Big House.
But imagine if those fans were
chanting the now-infamous
"C-ya" chant.
Michigan State has hosted an
outdoor hockey
game and one CHRIS
will happen MESZAROS
next year at
Wisconsin, so On Ice Hockey
why not Michi-
gan?
The University is close to
Hockeytown, home of the Red
Wings, located in a state that
loves hockey and has rabid sup-
port from a loyal fanbase.
"(The athletic department is)
talking about it," Michigan coach
Red Berenson said. "Nothing
will happen before the (football)
stadium is finished in 2010. But
they're definitely talking about it,
with things going in that direc-
tion with these outdoor games."
The Badgers will likely break
the record for attendance at a
hockey game, tentatively set for
Feb. 6, 2010, when they host the,
Wolverines. Michigan State cur-
rently holds the record, jamming
74,544 into Spartan Stadium for
a game against Michigan back in
2001. Camp Randall Stadium in
Madison seats 80,321.
If Wisconsin breaks the
record, and with the Big House
soon to again hold the title of
"largest football stadium in
the country," no one would be
able to break the record should
Michigan fill up its stadium for a
hockey game.
The support from the Michi-
gan hockey team is certainly
there.
"I believe that Michigan peo-
ple will not let anybody else have
their record," Michigan assistant
coach Mel Pearson said. "I think
they will support it to make sure
that we prove that we're the lead-
ers and best, and we will fill-that
place and establish the record."
Michigan coach Red Berenson

said he'd love to coach in an out-
door atmosphere, and sophomore
forward Aaron Palushaj called
the prospect of playing in front
of 110,000 Michigan fans "awe-
some."
Plans wouldn't necessarily
be just Michigan versus some
other college opponent - it could
include the entire hockey com-
munity. Perhaps a Red Wings
game a few hours after the college
game could add to the excitement,
especially against a team like
the Toronto Maple Leafs, which
would draw support from both
Michigan and nearby Canada.
"It's such a neat atmosphere
to play outdoors," Pearson said.
"Hockey started outdoors. It's
a sport meant to be played out-
doors. Getting that many people
into a stadium to watch a hockey
game, just being outdoors, it
would be a great experience for
the players and the fans."
Added Berenson: "Even the
Red Wings brought it up. I was
reading an article in Toronto and
they said, 'Well if they have an
outdoor game, they should have
it at the Big House.' But I think it
will (happen)."
Michigan State became the
first team to hold a hockey game
outside in 2001, followed by the
NHL's Winter Classic, which has
been held annually in Buffalo,
N.Y., Edmonton, Alberta and Chi-
cago, respectively. All four events
sold out.
But each of them had their
own problems. Michigan State
scheduled its game in early Octo-
ber, Nyhich could have been a
major problem had the weather
been warm. In fact, weather
is the most important variable
involved. Should it be unseason-
ably warm, the ice will melt and
compromise game conditions.
But in Buffalo, the snowy
weather and freezing cold con-
ditions required the ice to be
cleaned constantly. Even the ref-
erees' whistles froze.
The Winter Classic in Chicago

this January had terrible sight
lines and the glare of lights on
the ice made it difficult for fans
to see. Similarly, fans at the top of
the Big House will find it nearly
impossible to find the puck.
There are also a slew of logisti-
cal issues surrounding the game,
all of which seem solvable.
For one, the event couldn't be
held until the stadium renovation
is completed in 2010. An outdoor
hockey game would make an
excellent addition to the inaugu-
ral season of the new Michigan
Stadium.
"We'll see," said Berenson
when asked if the game could be
held right after construction is
finished. "But I've supported it
from day one. Any time anyone
asked me would you would like
to have a game at the Big House,
absolutely. But it's about schedul-
ing, it's about the field...with the
field turf now, it is a possibility."
There's also the cost. Pearson
estimated that setup and prepa-
ration for the game would cost
$500,000-$600,000. But if the
Wolverines charge $15 per ticket,
the same price Wisconsin is
charging, and add in concessions,
box seats, merchandise revenue
and possible sponsorships, the
Athletic Department could easily
cover the cost and then some.
But it is yet to be seen whether
these outside games are simply a
fad and will lose their popular-
ity within a few years. The game
takes a substantial investment,
and, without substantial fan sup-
port, might result in a financial
loss.
While the obstacles to holding
,a outdoor winter game require
significant planning and fur-
their research, the tradition and
excitement that would come with
the game make it a worthwhile
endeavor.
"I think it's a no-brainer for
us to try and have one," Pearson
said. "Michigan's a great hockey
state, I think it'd do very well
with one."

By ALEX PROSPERI
Daily Sports Writer
When former NBA player Fred
Hoiberg was at Iowa State in the
early 1990s, he was so popular
that he earned the nickname "The
Mayor" after receiving write-in
votes for the Ames, Iowa maypral
race.
Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje
might want to watch his back,
because Michigan men's basketball
coach John Beilein has someone
with a similar personality as Hoi-
berg.
"He's one of these guys who
could run for mayor of the fresh-
man class or something," said Bei-
lein about freshman Ben Cronin.
"He's easily seen and easily speaks.
Anybody who has met him (knows)
he's a really delightful kid to be
around."
When Beilein says Cronin is
"easily seen," he's not kidding. The
265-pounder is the first 7-footer to
don the maize and blue since Josh
Moore in 2000. He wears size 17
shoes and his 7-foot-5 wingspan
matches that of Yao Ming.
Cronin is big off the court, but
he has yet to make an impact on the
court. And while Michigan's three
other freshmen - Stu Douglass,
Laval Lucas-Perry and Zack Novak
- have accounted for nearly 30
percent of the Wolverines' offense,
Cronin is still waiting for his chance
to show what he can do.
Cronin injured his left hip during
a workout in the spring of his senior
year at Henninger High School in
Syracuse, N.Y. His injury worsened
when he got to Ann Arbor and Beil-
ein redshirted Cronin on Dec.23.
Two weeks after the redshirt
decision, he had surgery to repair a
torn labrum in his left hip - a pro-
cedure with an expected recovery
time of four to six months. For near-
ly one month, Cronin was forced to
use crutches.
"It sucks," Cronin said in the
locker room after the Michigan
State game on Feb. 10. "I don't even
get to hear the huddles anymore. (I
don't) even know what play we're
running. Overall, I'm just kind of
frustrated right now."
But on Feb. 17, Cronin was cleared
to walk on his own. Two days later,

I

4

sAID ALSALAH/Daily
Freshman Ben Cronin was given a redshirt this season in order to have hip surgery.

he was moving around, dribbling
and shooting layups before Michi-
gan hosted Minnesota. Even with a
shirt and tie on, Cronin looked the
happiest he has since getting on
crutches.
Douglass, Cronin's roommate,
seemed just as happy about Cronin's
recovery.
"He's not laying in bed and boss-
ing me around and whatnot," said
Douglass. "I can clean the room a
little bit. I don't have to take the
trash out all the time and be his
caterer."'
Cronin will continue a rehabilita-
tion process so he can be in optimal
game shapeby June.
"Just trying to get all the move-
ment back, start to strengthen my
legs," Cronin said. "I know my left
calf and quads are so much stronger
than my right one already." ,
If all goes well, Cronin will then
have the entire summer and fall to
prepare for the 2009-10season. Bei-
lein said Cronin will spend a lot of
time with strength and condition-
ing coach Mike Curtis to regain

quickness and jumping ability.
"Because of the hip problems,
he didn't go through a lot of the
preseason training," Beilein said.
"And there's some major gut work
involved in preseason training at all
levels of college basketball, includ-
ing here. Those are types of things
that I think will be interesting how
he handles. He will handle them, I
know he will do that. But is he ready
for it? I don't know."
A healthy Cronin would help
Michigan's small lineup, which
currently features just one player
(redshirt junior Zack Gibson) over
6-foot-8. Michigan is so under-
sized that 6-foot point guard C.J.
Lee played the small forward posi-
tion for much of the season. If
Cronin can return from the injury,
he will be an integral part of the
team next season, both on and off
the court.
"He. will have a great attitude,
he's a great kid," Beilein said. "He's
going to be a great leader on this
team. That's our hope because he's
got such a great personality."

I I

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