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March 12, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, March 12, 2009 -5A

'Humble' Wohlberg
excels on Blue's top line

M' preps for Big Tens

By MICHAEL EISENSTEIN
Daily Sports Editor
It's hard to imagine freshman
forward David Wohlberg - the
Michigan hockey team's second-
leading goal scorer - being moved
off the Wolverines' top line.
But last year, while playing for
the U.S. National Development
Team, he wasn't just demoted to
a lower line for a few weeks in the
season's second half - he was sent
down to the under-17 team from
the under-18 squad.
"It's like going from the varsity
to the JV," associate head coach
Mel Pearson said. "So it was a
wake-up call, but I thought he
handled it extremely well."
On Monday, Wohlberg was
named to the CCHA's All-Rookie
Team by the conference's coach-
es. The South Lyon native has .85
points per game, a CCHA best
among freshmen.
"I think it all started with last
year," Pearson said. "It's a demo-
tion, so I think at that point it all
started there.
"I think he used that as motiva-
tion coming into this year, and he
was prepared right from the get-
go to compete for a job here."
Wohlberg came in unconcerned
with what line he would play on
or how much ice time he would.

get. Michigan coach Red Beren- could do, but they didn't know
son started him off centering the what I really could give complete-
Wolverines' fourth line. He slowly ly. (Having a) new start, that's
gained Berenson's confidence with helped a lot."
a strong defensive mindset and What makes Wohlberg's season
reliable penalty killing. more remarkable is how, despite
As Wohlberg moved up to the ' his typically defensive mindset, he
third and second lines, playing has put up 13 goals while usually
each forward position along the facing opposing teams' top blue-
way, the goals started to come as line pairings. Just one freshman
well. Wohlberg scored his first in last year's 11-player class scored
goal eight games into the season more goals the entire season: Max
against Ohio State, a shorthanded Pacioretty, who now plays in the
marker that began a three-game NHL. Sophomores Louie Capo-
goal streak for the freshman. russo and Matt Rust lit the lamp
"Here he is this year having a 12 times apiece last year.
surprising, a better-than-anyone- Senior forward Tim Miller, who
expected season," Berenson said. plays on Wohlberg's opposite side,
"We expected him to play well, sees the same thing.
but we didn't expect him to score "He plays the game like' I do,"
as consistently as he has." Miller said. "He has a defensive
Wohlberg posted two two- mind first, then he also has offen-
goal games and two three-assist sive capabilities.
games over a six-game period in "After that first game, you could
late November and December. In tell he was a playmaker, you could
his past five games, he's tallied six tell he was going to score goals."
points. And anyone who is asked about
Wohlberg, however, will rarely Wohlberg's first-year success can't
take credit for his success. Last help but admire his modesty.
season's demotion certainly influ- "If he scores a good goal in the
enced his attitude, which Pearson game, he's pretty excited about it,
thinks has driven his success. and he likes to say how nice his
So what's the main difference goals are, something like that,"
this year for Wohlberg? Miller said. "But after the game,
"New opportunities, new he's humble about it and he knows
coaches," Wohlberg said. "(Last . that it's a team effort and it wasn't
season's coaches) knew what I just him that created the goals."

ByANDY REID
Daily Sports Editor
Famed Green Bay Packers coach
Vince Lombardi once said, "If it
doesn't matter who wins or loses,
then why do they keep score?"
Lombardi was a classic coach with
a classic mindset - the only thing
that matters about sports is win-
ning.
Some Michigan men's basket-
ball fans may be alarmed to find
out that's not the theory Wolverine
coach John Beilein holds for every
game.
"He's not
really concerned IOWa VS.
about winning Michigan
and losing," Matchup:
fifth-year senior Iowa 15-16;
David Merritt Michigan 19-12
said yesterday. When:
"He's concerned 2:30 p.m.
about getting
better, and if you Where:
get better, you Cd
know, improve
your fundamen- TV: .SPN2
tals, eventually Live Blog:
the wins will htt egs
come. " michigan-
Beilein, who daily.com
employed the
same strategy during his inaugural
22-loss season in Ann Arbor, must
be doing something right. Dur-
ing his stint at West Virginia, he'
took teams lacking top-level talent
to the Elite Eight and Sweet Six-
teen. And there's no denying that
he's already turning the Michigan
program around in his sophomore
campaign.
But his "get better first" strat-
egy came under heavy criticism
when the Wolverines dropped an
overtime game at Iowa on Feb. 22 -
during which first-team All-Big Ten
selection Manny Harris sat out the
extra period. Beilein felt he needed
to send his star player a message.
"I didn'tthink (Harris) was really
playing well," Beilein said after the
loss to the Ann Arbor News. "He
didn't look fresh, he wasn't himself,
and so we decided to go in another
direction."

SAID ALSALAH/Daily
Michigan coachJohn Beilein benched Manny Harris in overtime against owa on Feb. 22.

At the time, it looked like the loss
would officially knock the Wolver-
ines out of the running for an NCAA
Tournament bid. But Io and behold,
Harris has looked like a whole new
player and Michigan has looked
like a whole new team since that
loss, upsetting Purdue and stealing
a road game from Minnesota to get
right back in the tournament hunt.
Losing the Iowa game wasn't the
end of the world. Sitting Harris for
overtime and sending the all-star
sophomore a poignant message was
about the bigger picture.
"If we lose a game, we lose a
game, but did we get better?" Mer-
ritt said. "How did we learn from
that game? That's always been (Bei-
lein's) focus and that's what I love
about him."
Now, after a 31 regular-season
games to focus on getting better,
the Wolverines (19-12) will get a
shot at revenge against that same
Iowa team today in the first round
of the Big Ten Tournament.
Beilein, with four full days to pre-
pare for the Hawkeyes, is focusing
his attention on Iowa coach Todd
Lickliter's defensive style, which he
brought with him from Butler and
features a game-changing big man
in the middle with senior Cyrus

Tate.
The Hawkeyes held Michigan to
just 9-of-37 shooting after the break
in the Wolverines' loss in February.
"You hear about the Purdue
defense, Michigan State and the
Ohio State zone, but this Iowa team
is very good," Beilein said. "It is like
(Lickliter's) Butler defenses.- you
think they aren't guarding you, but
they are guarding you like crazy."
Although most men's basket-
ball pundits have Michigan in
their latest NCAA Tournament
mock brackets, the Wolverines will
breath much easier with a win this
afternoon.
And Beileinknows you can't take
anything for granted this time of
year.
"You have to go in to these games
with that same idea," Beilein said.
"You cannotcount on anything.You
have to go in there and say 'Listen,
all these games are very important,'
but at the same time you don't want
to be in there fearful. Go in there
and play to win.
"You are the only one that can
control you destiny right now.
There are so many other things
that are going on that are out of you
control. A win over Iowa would be
great for us."

Wolverines riding high on
21-match home win streak

Michigan hasn't lost
at Varsity Tennis
Center since 2006
By GILAD BERKOWITZ
Daily Sports Writer
The last time the Wolverines
lost at home, most of the Michi-
gan women's tennis team's mem-
bers were still in high school.
ThelasttimeMichigan dropped
a match at the Varsity Tennis Cen-
ter was on March 4, 2006 against
Texas A&M. The team has been
unstoppable in Ann Arbor and is
currently riding a 21-game win-
ning streak at home.
"We always have a shot to win
at home," Michigan coach Ronni
Bernstein said. "The crowd helps
pull us through in those close 4-3
matches."
Opponents haven't fared well
since the building opened in 1997.
Michigan has an 89-37 (.718)
record all-time at the complex.
"We are so familiar with the
building, we practice there every
day," Bernstein said. "It's dif-
ferent than when we travel to a
Miami and have to adjust to the
weather."
Since the eight indoor courts
in the Varsity Tennis Center were
awarded the "Court of the Year
Award" by Tennis Industry mag-
azine in 2000, the complex has
undergone renovations.
State-of-the-art electronic
scoreboards, both on the indoor
and outdoor courts, individual

video cameras on every indoor
court and a brand-new, stylish
audio system have been added.
"Our facility is one of the best
in the country." Bernstein said.
"The Athletic Department does
an incredible job with its upkeep-
ing."'
Bernstein, who is in her second
season with the Wolverines, said
that the high quality of the facili-
ties contributed to her decision to
coach at Michigan.
The spacious facility even helps
during games.
"We have so much space
between courts and behind them
that we have very few lets," Bern-
stein said of the court, which has
20 feet between courts and 24
feet between the baseline and the
back curtains.

"It's very unusual for an indoor
facility to have that much room in
between courts."
Sophomore Rika Tatsuno said
a mental boost is the most benefi-
cial part of the Wolverines' home-
field advantage.
But there's nothing that she can
reference to explain the comfort-
able atmosphere the team feels at
home other than support of the
crowd.
Although the Varsity Tennis
Center is almost a mile and a half
away from the Union, Bernstein
hopes the state-of-the-art facil-
ity will help begin to draw fans to
matches.
"We want to get out to the
community, and we just got to
keep being successful to do that,"
Bernstein said.

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