8A - Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Rodriguez optimistic for
Forcier, mum on Threet
All-Big Ten first team
By MICHAEL EISENSTEIN
Daily Sports Editor
Michigan football coach Rich
Rodriguez will talk all you want
about early enrollee Tate Forcier, a
scar recruit. NOTEBOOK
The same goes
for redshirt junior quarterback Nick
Sheridan and his four career starts.
And the same for redshirt sopho-,
more David Cone, who has complet-
ed one career pass as a Wolverine.
But all you'll get out of Rodri-
guez regarding Steven Threet, an
eight-game starter last year who
announced his plans to transfer Feb.
16, is a smirk and the usual mantra:
"We just talk about the guys that
are here," Rodriguez said. "But Nick
has some experieriee. Then we have
David Cone, who's been in the pro-
gram, worked hard.
"Tate's kind of a gym-rat type of
guy that loves learning about the
game, has put the time in. I'm anx-
ious to see how they perform in the
When the Wolverines begin the
first of 15 spring practices Saturday,
Sheridan, Forcier and Cone will be
sharing repetitions under center.
"Nick'sobviously themost familiar
with it," Rodriguez said. "But Tate's a
quick learner, so we didn't bring him
here and didn't sign him and (incom-
ing freshman) Denard (Robinson)
to stand in the background. They're
going to get the chance, every oppor-
tunity to win the job."
The biggest difference between
this spring and last at the quarter-
back position is the experience of
the rest of the offense.
Michigan returns all of its offen-
sive startersfrom the end of lastsea-
son except tight end Mike Massey.
"It's different," Rodriguez said.
"Not only because obviously Nick
has some experience, but because
the guys around him now have some
experience. It's not like last year
where it was a little bit tougher on
the quarterbacks because they were
surrounded by a bunch of guys who
hadn't played in the system as well."
WELCOME, MR. ROBINSON: To
improve the Big Ten's second-worst
scoring defense, Rodriguez brought
in former Syracuse head coach Greg
Robinson as the Wolverines' new
"Greg has been around enough to
know it's not all about the schemes,"
Rodriguez said. "This spring, just
as much as anything else, is teach-
ing tackling and fundamentals and
breaking on the ball and doing a lot
of those things we have to get bet-
One of the biggest changes the
Wolverines will see in spring prac-
tice this year are in the defensive
"We play so many different styles
of offense - both in the league and
out of the league - that you're not
playing in a traditional three-line-
backer scheme anymore,"Rodriguez
said. "Half the games you're playing
in, you're playing a nickel scheme
with an extra safety in there.
"That being known, and our
coaches being aware of it, there
will be a lot of times on defense this
spring where our first defense will
be a so-called nickel defense with an
extra strongsafety in there."
Rodriguez said senior free safety
Stevie Brown could move into that
spot. Though it is rare to practice
the nickel in the spring, "you better
prepare for it early," he said.
POCKET PROTECTORS: Though
the quarterback competition natu-
rally garners the most attention,
Rodriguez is particularly excited
about Michigan's depth on the
There was just one returning
starter entering last year: redshirt
junior right tackle Stephen Schil-
ling. Rodriguez likes to have eight
linemen he feels comfortable with.
"With our guys, that 0-line, we
may be able to have 10," Rodriguez
The surplus of linemen is due to
Rodriguez's decision to redshirt all
six freshmen last year.
Read more at michigandaily.com.
he Big Ten men's basketball
coaches and a media vot-
ing panel announced their
2008-09 All-Big Ten first team on
Monday. Both sets of voters had the
Michigan forward Manny Har-
State guard Kalin ALEX
Lucas, Ohio State PROSPERI
forward Evan On men's
Turner, Penn basketball
State guard Talor
Battle and Purdue center JaJuan
The media named Michigan
junior forward DeShawn Sims to
the second team, and the coaches
named him to the third.
My All-Big Ten first team predic-
tion lastweek was the same as the
coaches' and media's. Knowingthat
the coaches and media wouldn't
leave out a player from the Big
Ten's second-best team, Illinois,
or third-best team, Purdue, Sims
didn't make the cut.
Butthe award should go to the
best five players, so Sims should
have been on the list over Johnson.
Michigan is only as good as
Harris and Sims. Without either
player, Michigan would have no
shot of makingthe NCAA Tourna-
ment. Harris averages 17.1 points
and seven rebounds per game. Sims
averages 15.3 and 7.3. Michigan's
third-highest scorer, redshirt fresh-
man Laval Lucas-Perry, averages
7.4, while Michigan's third-highest
rebounder, freshman Zack Novak,
While Johnson averages 13.2
points and 5.9 rebounds per game,
Purdue has three players aver-
agingdouble figures in scoring.
Junior DeShawn Sims was given second team All-Big Ten honors by the media.
And the Boilermakers' success on
offense depends more on all five
players on the court, notjust two.
Michigan has been searching for
a third scorer all season, but more
often than not, the bulk of the
offensive load falls on the shoul-
ders of Harris and Sims.
And although Johnson has the
advantage on the defensive end (2.2
blocks per game), his play is com-
plemented by Purdue's stingy team
defense, which is the third-best in
the Big Ten.
Sims not only deserves the
award over Johnson because he
means more to his team and can
also extend the floor with his out-
side shooting - but also because he
has been more productive.
Sims averages more points and
rebounds. Despite beingtwo inches
shorter, he has the same number of
And Sims plays great in big
games. In wins against then-No.4
UCLAand Duke, Sims led Michigan
in scoring and rebounding. When
Michigan hosted No.9 Michigan
State, Sims was the lone Wolverine
that played well, scoring18 points
and grabbing four rebounds.
After Michigan dropped a heart-
breaker at Iowa, it needed to win
two of its last three games. Sims
had 29 points in a victory against
Purdue and 24 at Minnesota in a
Sims is more valuable to his
team and has better numbers. That
should mean he's on theAll-BigTen
Beerensons extension still
leaves recruiting questions
Seniors reflect before final home meet
By GJON JUNCAJ age against him and have told some
Daily Sports Writer recruits he doesn't even go on the
ice during practices.
Last Tuesday marked a return to Sophomore forward Aaron
a familiar scriptfor Michigan hockey Palushaj said other CCHA coaches
coach Red Berenson, who signed a emphasized Berenson's contract
one-year contract extension through status to discourage him during his
next season. Now in his 25th year as recruitment, but they never resorted
head coach, Berenson worked under to inappropriate scare tactics.
rolling, one-season contracts from Word-of-mouth also plays a role
his first year until 2006, when his in negative recruiting. Freshman
current three-year deal began. defenseman Brandon Burlon said
But the short-term extension recruits from other schools warned
won't mitigate all possible concerns him Berenson doesn't play freshmen.
on the recruitingtrail. But besides sophomore Bryan Hogan,
In the past five years, questions who played injustsix games lastsea-
about Berenson's eventual retire- son as the backup goaltender, every
ment have increased. Berenson, 69, member of this year's roster played
says it comes up in every conversa- at least 23 games as freshmen.
tion with a recruit's parents. And he Recruiting battles extend beyond
openly admits to players he may not the realm of the NCAA. Morals are
be coaching when they graduate. sometimes compromised when the
Recruits are often courted when Canadian Hockey League becomes
they are as young as 15 years old, involved in courting teenage ath-
whichheightensthe attentionregard- letes. The CHL consists of three
ing Berenson's uncertain future. And major junior leagues, most notably
it also serves as a weapon for other the Ontario Hockey League, all for
teams - both inside and outside the players ages 16 to 20.
CCHA - to discourage parents from The junior leagues are in compe-
sendingtheir son to Michigan. tition with NCAA schools for play-
"I've got a kid in this year, and he ers. Burlon suggested they can often
said it's definitely out there," assis- resortto disparagingthe level of play
tant coach Mel Pearson said. "They inthe college game to tryto persuade
ask; 'You don't even know how long parents there's only one clear path to
the Michigan coach is going to be the National Hockey League.
there, so why would you consider Before entering college, Ameri-
that school?' ... We hear a lot that can players often play in the United
Red's not involved in the recruit- States HockeyLeague, in some cases
ing at all, but that's false. We hear until they are 20 years old, to gain
that Red's going to retire next year. experience against top competition.
I think that's a yearly thing." CHL representatives sometimes try
Berenson suggested last \'eek to convince players that American
that opposingcoaches have used his junior leagues aren't as effective
in developing athletes, especially
those older than 18.
"That's their selling point," Bur-
ion said. " 'The OHL - you come in
early, you develop earlier. ... Obvi-
ously, they want you, and they use
the card that you're going to have to
play two years of juniors, which isn't
the same caliber of the OHL most
times before you go to college."
Berenson is openly critical of the
CHL's relaxed standards of decency.
He recalled when former Wolver-
ine Jack Johnson (2005-07), now
with the Los Angeles Kings, was
15 years old. A CHL representative
approached Johnson at 7 a.m. at the
golf course he was working atto talk
about his future on the ice.
The major junior leagues don't
always leave players alone after
they've arrived on campus, either.
Representatives sometimes target
active Wolverines with poor grades
to persuade them to leave school.
"It's relentless," Berenson said.
"We need informed parents, and we
need parents that we can trust. It's
usuallythe parents whogive intothe
pressure. The kid, he doesn't know.
The parents are guiding him."
The coaching staff maintains
their recruiting classes have been
mostly unscathed by other teams'
recruiting tactics. In the past five
seasons, 20 of 36 Wolverine fresh-
men entered college already select-
ed in the NHL Draft.
"If a kid has an interest in Michi-
gan, and we really like them, things
end fast," assistant coach Billy Pow-
ers said. "As soon as you get them in,
you take them."
By COLT ROSENSWEIG
Daily Sports Writer
Four years ago, eight freshmen
gathered around a table at the
Michigan Union before classes
started. Like most other incoming
students, they were just trying to
figure out where they would fit in.
None of them knew that they
would become the face of Michi-
gan men's gymnastics immediate-
ly, and for the next four years.
They went from acquaintances
to fast friends, their distinctive
each other as they made their way
through their freshman year.
"When you're first experienc-
ing something, the other seven
people around you are first expe-
riencing that situation, too," Phil
Goldberg said. "It kind of helps
with that stuff."
Goldberg is , the goofy, yet
mature co-captain. Kent Caldwell
is the artist and the mediator. John
Sawicki, known as J-Slick, is simul-
taneouslythe class baby - he won't
turn 22 until Aug. 20 - and the one
most known for an unshakeable
There's Joe Catrambone, who
was loud even as a freshman, and
quiet Ralph Rosso, who Scott Breg-
man describes as "the three-year-
old brother I never had." Bregman
is the sarcastic one. Ryan McCa-
rthy is the extrovert who will
try anything in the gym. Jamie
Thompson is the social butterfly,
who, as an incoming freshman,
called every one of his prospective
teammates just to chat.
And sinice that first year, almost
half the regular lineup has con-
sisted of some combination of that
But Saturday night will be the
beginning of the end, when along
with fifth-year senior Paul Wood-
ward, the eight will walk onto
the Cliff Keen Arena floor for the
final time. Although three of them
- Caldwell, Goldberg and McCa-
rthy - have the option to stay one
more year, they wanted to experi-
ence Senior Night the same way
they had done everything else:
"Even though it might not be my
last time, the fact that I'm walking
out with the teammates that I'm
the closest with, that's going to be
the killer for me," McCarthy said.
"It's going to be sad."
But the bond they developed
isn't one that will be broken any-
time soon. The eight seniors have
always stood out for the strong
individual attachments between
"(Bregman) would always say
that - and this is something we
established freshman year - any
of us can hang out with any other
one of us, like one-on-one, and it
wouldn't be awkward," Caldwell
said. "I don't think you can quite,
say the same for any other class."
The seniors can seemingly com-
plete each other's thoughts, often
talking over one another.
And like most athletes at the end
of their college careers they can't
believe how fast their time togeth-
er time has flown.
"Everyone tells you how fast it
goes, but ... until you experience it,
you don't understand how fast it
really does go," Catrambone said.
"I still feel like I'm a freshman."
"You still act like one," Thomp-
son told him.
Even if most of them haven't
changed much, the seniors have
built up a huge store. of shared
There was the meet at Cliff
Keen in 2007 when Michigan beat
powerhouse Oklahoma in front of
an electric, standing-room-only
crowd. And the time Goldberg
dressed up as a unicorn for Hal-
loween. And the 25-hour road
trip to Utah to watch the women's
gymnastics team in NCAA cham-
teammates in stealing Thompson's
laptop in an elaborate April Fool's
prank. And finding each other in
the wee hours of the morning at
the West Quad-South Quad snow-
ball fight, even though they had
training at 6:30 the next morning.
They'll be doing their best to
make these last six weeks together
as memorable as possible.
"The only thing that could top
off our experience would be -
Catrambone finished the sen-
tence: "A (championship) ring."
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