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January 09, 2009 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-01-09

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8 - Friday, January 9, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com a

Wolverines aim to avenge only
back-to-back losses this season

a

Aft
Mia
By
Two
on the
record
team's
The
also
the V
turnin
Six
Michig
aged ju
in its
series
Miami
was sw
firsc ti
road
three y
Mic
coach:
was sl
Aftert
Hawk
their g
But
weeker

er being swept by ines way down in the conference
standings, the players seemed
imi in November, positive.
And then, almost out of
VI has won five nowhere, Michigan's results
began to match its attitude. It
of six games crushed then-top-ranked Min-
nesota, swept archrival Michigan
NICOLE AUERBACH State and cruised to its second-
Daily Sports Editor straight Great Lakes Invitational
title.
L's stand next to each other The Wolverines have won five
Michigan hockey team's of their last six games, with at
as a painful reminder of the least five goals in each victory.
low point so far this year. And now, they aim for revenge
blemishes against the team that embarrassed
represent Miamiat them in Oxford. Michigan hosts
Wolverines' Mich' n the RedHawks in Yost Ice Arena
g point. M this weekend.
weeks ago, Matchup: "Losing two in a row to Miami
;an man- Miami 12-5-3; in Miami, obviously that kind of
istone goal Michigan 13-7 hits the heart a little bit and you
weekend When: want to get back at those guys,"
against Tonight, sophomore center Louie Capo-
(Ohio). It 7:35 p.m. russo said. "Hopefully, all the guys
vept for the Where: Yost will be hungry for this game."
me on the Ice Arena And not just tonight's game,
in almost TV: FSN Plus either.
'ears. Berenson and his players have
higan echoed the importance of a Michi-
Red Berenson said his team gan sweep - two conference wins
poradic and inconsistent. and four points in the standings.
the final buzzer, the Red- The Wolverines currently sit at
players jumped on top of fifth place, nine points behind
oalie with obvious elation. Miami and 10 behind CCHA-lead-
despite a demoralizing ing Notre Dame.
nd that dropped the Wolver- Because the top fourteamsin the

conference get a bye in the CCHA
Tournament in March, Michigan
(7-5-0-0 CCHA, 13-7-0 overall)
knows it must pick up points in the
second half of the season.
"You have to beat the teams
you're trying to catch," Beren-
son said. "If we split with Miami,
we're taking ourselves right out of
the hunt."
Would the team be happy with
anything short of a sweep?
"Not really, no," sophomore
goalie Bryan Hogan said. "We
need the four points."
But the Wolverines are in a
much better position to knock out
Miami this time around.
"We had unknowns early,"
Berenson said. "Now we're getting
a little bit of stability. Our defense
is getting a little more confident.
Our team is getting a little more
consistent. ... I like the direction
we're going in."
Since the Nov. 21-22 sweep,
Michigan has solidified the start-
ing goalie spot.
The departure from a netmind-
er rotation has provided comfort
and reliability for the Wolver-
ines.
A rejuvenated defense, thanks
to the return of junior Steve
Kampfer, has taken away pressure
from the top-scoring forwards. An
explosive group of forwards with

A

I

zAcHARY MEISNER/Daily
Sophomore Bryan Hogan has made Michigan's defense more consistent after taking over the starting goalie spot four weeks ago.

multiple hat tricks in the past six
weeks, has given the team breath-
ing room.
And the RedHawks (10-2-2-1,
12-5-3) come into the matchup
tonight having suffered two losses
to nonconference opponents, the
only time they've lost back-to-back

games all season.
No. 8 Miami still sits comfort-
ably in the conference standings.
But with the main parts of the
Wolverines' game meshing, Mich-
igan is primed for a second-half
surge. That starts tonight with
Miami, and the outcome could set

the tone for a series showdown
with Notre Dame at the end of the
month.
"How good can we be?" Beren-
son said, then paused.
"We still don't know. I think
you'll see our best hockey in the
second half."

MEN'S BASKETBALL
As several key contributors step
up, Beilein shifts starting lineup

Gators chomp Sooners
for second national
title in three seasons

4
I

By JASON KOHLER
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan coach John Beilein
has been searching for the perfect
mix in his starting lineup all sea-
son.
At the begin-
ning of the year, Iowa at
he had redshirtMcg
sophomore Michigan
Anthony Wright Matchup:
start at forward Iowa 11-5;
with junior Michigan 12-3
DeShawn Sims When: Sun-
on the bench. day, 11:30 a.m..
But when Where: Cris-
Wright started ler Arena
by clanking shots
off the rim early TV: BTN
in games and
Sims proved he
was Michigan's best threat in the
post, Beilein decided to switch up
the lineup.
Now, Sims is one of the Wolver-
ines' most consistent starters -
and Wright has played just three
minutes in the last six games.
Even with Sims emerging as

a solid starter, Beilein continues
to juggle the starting five. Michi-
gan (2-1 Big Ten, 12-3 overall) has
employed a different combination
of starters in each of its last four
games.
Ten Wolverines have started
this season. Sophomore forward
Manny Harris is the only player
to be in Michigan's top five every
game.
Beilein attributes much of the
shuffling to his effort to find other
scoring threats to complement
Harris and Sims.
"We're still searching to find out
who is our 'other guy' out there,"
Beilein said.
Harris averages 18.7 points per
game but has been held in check in
Michigan's three Big Ten contests,
averaging about five fewer points
per game.
"That man has a bullseye on his
chest every time he comes out,"
fifth-year senior C.J. Lee said.
"He's getting the best defenders in
the conference every night."
In Big Ten play, Harris has often
forced shots and is committing

an average of four turnovers per
game.
But with Harris's lesser impact
on the scoreboard, Michigan's role
players have stepped up.
"[My shots] haven't been fall-
ing," Harris said. "I've continued
to work on it and it still isn't fall-
ing. ...But teammates like C.J. Lee
and everybody else picked it up."
During Michigan's 72-66 win
over Indiana Wednesday, Lee and
redshirt freshman guard Laval
Lucas-Perry were the difference-
makers for the Wolverines.
Lee came off the bench and hit
two key 3-pointers in the last 1
minutes that helped Michigan
overcome a 20-point deficit.
"(His shots) were the changing
point to me," Harris said Wednes-
day night. "We could've laid down.
You got to have balls to take that
shot, and C.J (Lee) had them
tonight."
And Lee isn't the only under-
the-radar player stepping up for
the Wolverines.
Junior forward Zack Gibson-
played his best game of the season

against Illinois last Sunday by put-
ting up 10 points, including two big
momentum-turning dunks.
In Michigan's loss to Wiscon-
sin on Dec. 31, freshman guard
Zach Novak was the lone bright
spot for the Wolverines, pouring
in a career-high 20 points. Novak
earned a spot in the starting lineup
and then played a team-high 42
minutes against Indiana.
With so many role players step-
ping up, it has been difficult for
Beilein to cement his starting
lineup.
And the mixed combinations
haven't helped Michigan in con-
ference play - the Wolverines
have not led at halftime in any of
their Big Ten games.
Against Indiana, Michigan
went to the locker room down by
17 at halftime. Beilein encouraged
his players to keep their poise
and the Wolverines eventually
triumphed. For Sunday's game
against Iowa (1-2, 11-5), Beilein
will need to evaluate all of his past
lineup combinations in an attempt
to create the perfect starting five.

Hicks leads Michigan's late charge in
closer-than-expected win over Illinois

By RYAN KARTJE That defense has helped to lead
Daily Sports Writer Michigan to victories in seven of its
last eight games at Crisler Arena.
After two embarrassing losses DespitethesuccessinAnnArbor,
to Big Ten opponents - Penn State the Wolverines have dropped four
and Ohio State - the Michigan consecutive road games. Borseth
women's basketball team knew it said it has little to do with playing
couldn't suffer a third. away from Crisler.
But last night, the Wolverines "The other team battles every
found game," Borseth said. "It doesn't
them- ILLINOIS 44 make a whole lot of difference
selves MICHIGAN 52 to play at home or on the road.
locked in There's no mystique about playing
a struggle with an Illinois squad at home. It's about making things
that has spent much of the season happen."
in this conference basement. Against the Illini (0-5, 4-12), the
And after a sluggish start in the Wolverines made sure to minimize
second half, Michigan saw its com- the impact of junior center Jenna
fortable nine-point halftime lead Smith, who averaged 18 points and
begin to dwindle. eight rebounds in her team's first 12
"We couldn't just sit back and games. The Wolverines held Smith
say, 'We're letting it slip away,' like to two points in the first half and
we have this season," sophomore ten points total, one of her lowest
guard Veronica Hicks said. "We outputs of the season.
needed to make a statement here at "They were putting two or three
home for our own confidence so we people on Jenna in the post," Illi-
can take that with us on the road." nois coach Jolette Law said. "They
With two clutch shots from were just daring us to take the out-
behind the arc in the game's clos- side shot, but we just couldn't hit
ing minutes, Hicks took the reins those shots."
and scored 10 second-half points The Wolverines coupled their
in Michigan's 52-44 victory. suffocating defense by drawing 14
It was only the second time this more fouls than Illinois and earn-
season the Wolverines scored less ing21free throw attempts.
than 60 points and still managed Borseth said drawing those
to come out with a victory. fouls was one of the keys to victory
"We did a great job at rallying and credited the discrepancy in
when we needed to," Michigan fouls to his team's aggressiveness
coach Kevin Borseth said. "We on both sides of the ball.
made some great shots and played In addition to the offensive
some great defense in the process. spark from the defensive-minded
It looked like our confidence was Hicks, junior center Krista Phil-
finally building." lips made a resurgence. Phillips

Tim Tebow adds to
illustrious collegiate
career with ten-point
Florida victory
By BEN WALKER
Associated PressSports Writer
MIAMI (AP) - Tim Tebow gave
Florida the jolt it needed, and the
Gators toughed out a second BCS
title in three years.
Their 24-14 win over No. 2 Okla-
homa in a choppy, sloppy affair
Thursdaynightmade themanation-
al champion. But it likely did littleto
quiet fans of Southern California,
Utah and Texas, allof whom already
claimed the top spot.
The high-scoring shootout
between Heisman Trophy winners
never materialized. Oklahoma's
Sam Bradford couldn't score from
in close and Tebow threw two inter-
ceptions, as many as he had all sea-
son.
, Tebow, however, shook off two
miserable throws to rescue the top-
ranked Gators (13-1). He drove them
to the clinching score - he took two
hard steps toward the line, jumped
and zipped a 4-yard touchdown
pass to David'Nelson with 3:07 to
make it 24-14.
Percy Harvin returned from an
ankle injury and dashed for 122
yards on only nine carries. His
52-yard gallop set up Jonathan Phil-
lips' 27-yard field goal early in the
fourth quarter for a 17-14 lead.
Tebow added to the title he
helped the Gators win in 2006 with
a rout of Ohio State and, one season
after winningthe Heisman, brought
home another trophy.
"Tebow, just call him Superman,"
Harvin said.
National chomps, indeed!
The Associated Press will release
its final poll early Friday morning.
Tebow was picked the game's
most outstanding player, running
for 109 yards. His passing wasn't
so precise - 18-for-30 - yet it was
his sheer will that kept coach Urban
Meyer's team going.
It was the third straight national
title for a team from the Southeast-
ern Conference, and marked the
Sooners' fifth straight loss in a BCS
game. Oklahoma (12-2) set a mod-
ern record for scoring this season
and put up at least 60 points in its
last five games, yet never found its
rhythm.
Bradford, who beat out Tebow for
the Heisman, was a disappointing
26-for-41 with two interceptions.
Like Tebow, he's going to explore
his potential for the NFL draft -
not exactly the performance he
wanted.
Tebow struggled throughout
the first half, his lone highlight a
20-yard touchdown pass to Louis
Murphy for a 7-0 lead early in the
second quarter. Bradford came right
back with a swift 65-yard drive,
capped by his 6-yard TD toss to Jer-

maine Gresham.
Florida's defense, rather than
Tebow, Harvin and its speedsters
on the other side of the ball, kept the
Gators close.
Poised to break the tie midway
through the second quarter, Okla-
homa owned a first-and-goal at
the 9.
Chris Browncarried four straight
times and the Gators stood up the
1,100-yard rusher, twice stuffing
him from the 1.
Rarely turned back in the red
zone this season, the Sooners let it
happen to them again in the final
minute before halftime.
There were 10 seconds left and
Oklahoma was out of timeouts when
Bradford dropped back from the 6.
He tried to hit Manuel Johnson at
the goal line, but the pass deflected
off him and the Gators rana perfect
tip drill, with three defenderstouch-
ingtheballbefore MajorWrighthad
the interception.
Tebow, meanwhile, kept stopping
the Gators.
The interceptions were bad picks,
too - Tebow telegraphed a long,
cross-field throw that Nic Har-
ris easily grabbed and later made a
short flip over the middle right to
Gerald McCoy.
Were the Gators out of whack?
Hard to tell, though offensive coor-
dinator Dan Mullen certainly had
a lot to think about. Hired recently
by Mississippi State, he becomes the
Bulldogs' full-time head coach Fri-
day.
Both teams seemed to have trou-
ble with the game officials. The crew
kept interrupting play for various
reasons, and the result was a sloppy,
scoreless first quarter.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and
Meyer took turns hollering at ACC
referee Ron Cherry, as if to tell him
"Let'em play!"
Florida linebacker Brandon
Spikes was equally vocal. A few days
after calling Big12 defenses "a joke,"
he got into a couple of early shout-
ing and shoving skirmishes with
the Sooners. It was even a bit edgy
before the game - warming up in
the end zone, an Oklahoma kicker
rolled his eyes when two Gators
leaned against the goal post right
behind him.
Tebow, naturally, came out
charged up.
He got off the team bus, walked
over to a clutch of Florida fans,
waved his arms and then ripped off
his tie and threw it into a bunch of
tailgaters - tail-Gators, in this case.
By the time Tebow trotted out for
warmups, most of the Gators were
already kneeling along the goal line
to stretch. Tebow walked up and
down the line, slapping hands and
backsides of all 90-some players.
Notes: The BCS title game next
year will be played atthe Rose Bowl.
... Oklahoma opens the 2009 season
against BYU in the Dallas Cowboys'
new $1 billion-plus stadium. Florida
starts off at home vs. Charleston
Southern.

4

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4

4

4

ANNA BAKEMAN/Daily
Sophomore guard Veronica Hicks scored 10 second-half points in Michigan's win.

notched more playing time than
the Wolverines' other post pres-
ence, senior Stephany Skrba, and
Phillips's size in the middle helped
Michigan lock down Smith in the
paint.
If the Wolverines hope to dictate
post play in their next two games
against Wisconsin and Michigan
State, Phillips's six-and-a-half-foot

stature could be essential, espe-
cially against All-Big Ten Michi-
gan State center Allyssa DeHaan.
And if the Wolverines hope to
silence their road demons this Sun-
day against Wisconsin, it'll take an
aggressiveness from Hicks and the
rest of the Michigan squad that the
team has previously lacked away
from home.

4

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