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March 05, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, March 5, 2009 - 5A

Lebler's odd secret to success .
Unconventional of his life. He has set career highs
offseason workout for goals (eight) and assists (seven).
After a choppy first half, the junior
spurred strongest has five goals in his last six games
and contributed significantly on theaB ighe n s
season of career the Wolverines' third line. He had

By MICHAEL EISENSTEIN
Daily Sports Editor
This summer, Michigan hockey
junior forward Brian Lebler used
some strange workout equipment.
"We had big monster truck tires,
and outside we had big sledgeham-
mers and stuff, and we just kind of
pushed stuff (and) ran," said Leb-
ler, who has scored six goals in the
second half of the season. "We just
did a different workout everyday
pretty much."
Lebler, afBritishColumbianative,
while working out this summer in
his backyard, followed an unortho-
dox training plan.
For cardio, Lebler and a friend
of his who plays hockey at Mercy-
hurst would run to a lake 20 to 25
minutes, away. They would then
swim for 15 minutes before jog-
ging back to Lebler's house. After
lunch, the two would weightlift
by flipping tires and racing with
them.
"(We would) just do something
different, so it's a little more fun
and easier to work hard," Lebler
said.
And it paid off. Lebler, who's
listed at 210 pounds, returned to
Michigan last fall in the best shape

just six tallies all of last season.
"On his behalf, he had to take a
step," Michigan coach Red Beren-
son said. "He's a junior. He really
hadn't done anything. He'd been
consistently average or below aver-
age.
"He has to watch his weight.
He has to watch what he eats. He
has to work harder than the aver-
age player just to keep up. So he
made a commitment this summer,
which was good. That's a sign of
maturity and a sign of a real, 'Hey,
this is serious. If I'm going to get
any better, if I'm going to play at
all at Michigan, I better do what I
can do in the summer to be more
ready.' "
This is the first time Michigan
has seen Lebler clicking on the ice.
Last season, he was scratched for
14 of the Wolverines' 43 games,
including the CCHA Champion-
ship game and the entire NCAA
Tournament.
Berenson said the scratches may
have been due to Lebler's "heavy"
skating and lack of quickness. The
junior has always been one of the
Wolverines' more physical players,
but playing at a weight of well over
200 pounds while his faster team-
mates played at around 180 pounds
certainly impacted his production..

top players

SAID ALSALAH/Daily
Junior Brian Lebler has a career-high number of both goals and assists this season.

"The (first) couple falls, he was
in okay shape, but this time he came
in real good shape," Michigan asso-
ciate head coach Mel Pearson said.
"He really made a concentrated
effort to get leaner, shape his bodya
little bit more, get in better shape."
Lebler took the big step over
the summer, but it wasn't until the
Great Lakes Invitational in late
December that it started to show.
With sophomore forward Aaron
Palushaj playing at the World
Junior Championships, Lebler got
the chance to play on the first line
alongside offensive playmakers

Louie Caporusso and David Wohl-
berg.
The line exploded, posting four
goals, and Lebler returned with
confidence in the second half.
Now, Lebler's adding to Michi-
gan's biggest strength - its deep
offense, in which all four lines
regularly contribute to the score-
board.
"Definitely in the second half,
I think he's got a little bit better
role on the team now, and you see
that," Pearson said. "What he did
last summer is starting to show up
now."

By ALEX PROSPERI
Daily Sports Writer
The Big Ten Network will
release its men's basketball All-Big
Ten team Monday. But instead of
waiting four more days, here's a
sneak preview of the likely group.
Hint: It's'an all-sophomore roster.
FORWARD EVAN TURNER,
OHIO STATE
Also my pick for Big Ten Player
of the Year, Turner is as versatile
as they come. He leads Ohio State
in scoring, rebounding and assists.
He's the Big Ten's leading scorer in
conference play and has six dou-
ble-doubles on the year.
But it's Turner's efficiency that
makes him so dangerous. The
sophomore shoots 51 percent from
the field, including 45 percent
from behind the are.
How valuable is he to Ohio
State? The 6-foot-7 Turner fills
the middle position in the Buck-
eye's 2-3 zone, which is usually
occupied by a team's tallest player.
Because of his length and athleti-
cism, Turner wreaks havoc on the
defensive end. He is the glue that
has kept Ohio State on the NCAA
Tournament bubble and he's the
best player in the conference.
FORWARD MANNY HARRIS,
MICHIGAN
Another no-brainer. Michigan
coach John Beilein asked Harris
this season to be more of a com-
plete player, and Harris has deliv-
ered. He has 86 more rebounds
and 44 more assists than at this
point last year. And unlike his first
season, he'll end the season with a
positive assist-to-turnover ratio.
Inconsistency is Harris's lone
weakness. He scored in single dig-
its three times in a crucial four-
game stretch for the Wolverines,
and he scored just nine points in a
heartbreaking loss at Iowa on Feb.
22.
But Harris has played the role
of Superman more than once. He
willed Michigan to victory against
Northwestern on Feb. 15 when he
scored 25 second-half and over-
time points, and he scored 27 while
looking unstoppable in an 87-78

upset of Purdue on Feb. 26.
GUARD KALIN LUCAS,
MICHIGAN STATE
Lucas is the best player on the
eighth-ranked Spartans, the best
team in the Big Ten. The point
guard has flourished in conference
play, averaging 16.2 points.
But the most impressive part of
Lucas's game is his ability to take
care of the ball (134 assists to just
55 turnovers).
ESPN.com senior college bas-
ketball writer Andy Katz wrote in
January: "If Lucas can be a deci-
sion-maker, a decisive presence
for the Spartans, then they have
a chance to win the Big Ten and
reach their ultimate goal: getting
to (the Final Four)."
Lucas has done just that, and
Michigan State is certainly on the
right path to playing in the final
game of the season.
GUARD TALOR BATTLE,
PENN STATE
Despite standing just 5-foot-
11, Battle averages more than five
rebounds per game. Along with 17
points and five assists on average
per game, Battle has emerged as
one of the top two point guards in
the Big Ten. And his 2.2:1 assist-
to-turnover ratio has helped Penn
State turn around from a medio-
cre Big Ten program to a possible-
NCAA Tournament team.
And Battle has shown up in big
games. In Penn State's big wins
over Purdue and Michigan State,
Battle posted 21 and 29 points,
respectively.
CENTER JAJUAN JOHNSON,
PURDUE
This was the toughest pick.
Michigan junior DeShawn Sims,
Northwestern's Kevin Coble and
Penn State's Jamelle Cornley were
also in the running, but at the end
of the day, it's likely the second-
best team in the Big Ten will have
someone on this list. Johnson has
anchored Purdue's tough defense
with 2.2 blocks per game. His
6-foot-10 frame and. long arms
make him a force on the offensive
end as well, where he has nine
16-point or better performances.

Borseth to trade his hair for tourney title

Last-place
Wolverines will take

already," Hicks said jokingly of
her coach's thinning hair.
Michigan, the last seed in
the tournament, starts the mis-

on.
Te

Mic
coach
gan St
Tom I
Upper
soon h
mon.
"I'll
said if
weeken
"That's
Izzo
regular
but Bor
go. An
ica Hic
promis
"I do

Hoosiers in Big sion when it
faces No. 6
in Tournament seed Indiana Michigan
(11-7 Big Ten, VS. Indiana
By TIM ROHAN 18-9 overall)
Daily Sports Writer today in the Matchup:
first round of Indiana118-9;
higan women's basketball the Big Ten Hichigan 10-19
Kevin Borseth and Michi- Tournament When:.2:30 P.M.
ate men's basketball coach at Conseco Where: Conseco
zzo both hail from the Fieldhouse in Fieldhouse
Peninsula, but they might Indianapolis. TV: BTN
ave another thing in coin- Michigan lost
twice to the Live Blog: http://
shave my head," Borseth Hoosiers this thegame.blogs.
the Wolverines win this year, 67-61 last michigandaily.
ad's Big Ten Tournament. Sunday and com
what Izzo did, didn't he?" 60-50 on Jan.
's Spartans won the men's 22.
--season conference title, Borseth said it's a disadvantage
-seth's squad has further to for both teams to face each other
d sophomore guard Veron- so soon after their last matchup.
ks isn't buying her coach's He emphasized that the Wolver-
e. ines, even though they are in last
n't think he's far from that place, can compete with any team

in the.Big Ten.
Michigan (3-15, 10-19) has
maintained a positive attitude
throughout a tough conference
season'.Of its 15 conference losses,
just four have been by more than
10 points. And three of those four
have come at the hands of each of
the top three seeds in the tourna-
ment: Ohio State, Michigan State
and Purdue.
"As the year has progressed, the
sense of urgency really has height-
ened," Borseth said.
But that urgency he talked
about hasn't resulted in victories.
The Wolverines will need four
wins to secure a new haircut for
Borseth. If Michigan wins the
tournament, it will automatically
receive a bid to the NCAA Tourna-
ment. But the Wolverines haven't
won four consecutive games all
season. Their longest win streak is
three games, and it has only hap-
pened once this season. To make
matters worse, Michigan is 2-12
away from Crisler Arena this sea-
son and 1-0 on neutral courts.

For the Wolverines to fix their
issues for the Big Ten Tourna-
ment, they will have to close out
games, which has been a problem
all season long.
"Just keep going hard all
throughout the game," senior
guard Jessica Minnfield said. "We
can't let down, not one possession.
We just got to keep playing each
possession like it's oar last." -
Hicks echoed Minnfield's senti-
ments but also said the team's cur-
rent confidence level is in a state
of flux.
"I think that we have a confi-
dence level that has been consis-
tent with what we've been having
all year," Hicks said. "But it could
be higher. Clearly the losses that
we had mean something, because
you have to find a way to win.
"When you're winning consis-
tently, it's almost expected. When
you start losing consistently, that
almost becomes habitual, too. So
I think that it's just finding a way
to turn it around and get used to
winning."

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