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March 19, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-03-19

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T h i e D hT

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, March 19, 2009 - 5A

Blue ready to start dancing in Kansas City

Daily Sports Writer
He's never been there before, but
he's notnervous.
DeShawn Sims doesn't get ner-
vous. Well, at least not before
and during games. And when the
Michigan men's basketball team,
the No. 10 seed in the South region,
faces No. 7 seed Clemson in the first
round of the NCAA Tournament
tonight, Sims won't be worried.
But on Sunday, while waiting for
Michigan's name to be announced
during the selection show, the
junior forward felt more nerves
than he has all season. There were
no more shots he could make that
could change the Wolverines' out-
come. It was out of his hands. He
just had to sit and wait.
"They were going to make us
wait," Sims said. "We haven't been
there in 11years. Theytried to tease
us a little bit. It's just fortunate we
were still able to get in."
When Michigan's name was
finally announced, Sims jumped

into the arms of his teammates. At
that moment, it didn't matter what
team Michigan
faced in the first Clemson vs.
round. Mich n
The feel- igt.f
ing lasted just Matchup:
a few moments Clemson 23-8;
before reporters Michigan 20-13
swarmed the When: Thurs-
players, inquir- day 7:10 PM
ing about they Where: Kansas
knew about the City, Mo.
24th-ranked TV/Radio: CBS
Tigers, who fin-
ished fifth in the Live Blog:
Atlantic Coast http://thegame.
Confeence. blogs.michigan-
Conference. daily.com
Behind a
group of media
pushing its way to interview Sims,
fifth-year guard C.J. Lee yelled,
"ACC, we'll take it."
Sunday night, exuberance filled
Crisler-Arena as the Wolverines'
celebrated making the tournament.
But Michigan coach John Beilein
isn't content with just making the
Big Dance.

"Every opponent you have at this
time is going to be a tough oppo-
nent," Beilein said. "I don't care
what seed you are, it is going to be
a tough opponent. Clemson is no
different. But we aren't pleased just
to be there, we are going to do our
best to win the game."
Beilein said he has spent the last
few days breaking down film of the
Tigers. At Monday's press confer-
enceBeileinsaid histeamwill need
to take care of the ball to counteract
the Tigers' full-court press.
Clemson averages 17.3 forced
turnovers per game, due in large
part to its defensive strategy.
"Against a team like this, if you
turn it over they are going to get
easy baskets," Beilein said. "But
when they do press you, you do
have more open court to work with
to get open shots."
Sophomore guard Kelvin Grady,
who hasn't played more than 10
minutes in a game since Feb. 26
againstPurdue, could see increased
playing time because his skills are
well-suited to break the press.

The Wolverines have mixed
resulfs against the press this sea-
son. In the last 23 seconds of regu-
lation at Northwestern, Michigan's
guards coughed up the ball three
times against a trap press. It almost
cost the Wolverines the game.
Two weeks later, Michigan tore
apart Minnesota's full-court press,
which led to open shots for Wolver-
ine sharpshooters.
A key to many of Michigan's
biggest wins this season has been
knocking down open 3-pointers.
The Wolverines shot over 40 per-
cent behind the are in big wins over
Duke, Illinois, Purdue and both
times against Minnesota.
Even if Michigan doesn't shoot
the ball effectively, its-distinct style
of play could give Clemson fits.
"Our style is so unique, with
the 1-3-1 and the zone," fifth-year
senior guard David Merritt said.
"Especially if you've never played
against it and don't have a lot of
time to prepare for it, we could be
trouble, and hopefully, that will be
the case."

Junior beShawn Sims is averaging 15.7 points per game going into the Tournament.

Undersized and under the radar,
Langlais shines on offensive end

Sophomore a finalist
for CCHA's offensive
defenseman award to
be handed out today
Daily Sports Editor
He's 5-foot-8 and weighs 180
pounds. That's eight inches short-
er and 30 pounds lighter than
senior captain and NHL first-
round draft pick Mark Mitera.
He's from Spokane, Wash.,
which is better known for being
the home of basketball power-
house Gonzaga than producing
solid hockey players.
And he's undrafted in the NHL
and played an atypically long
four years of high school hock-
ey before jumping to the much
more competitive United States
Hockey League.
All of that means nothing when
you look at the season sopho-
more defenseman Chad Langlais
has had.
Langlais leads the Michigan
hockey team's defense in scoring
and plus-minus rating with 23
points (five goals, 18 assists) and a
plus-29 rating. The next best blue-
liner in those categories? Junior
captain Chris Summers, an NHL
first-round pick, who has 17 points
and a plus-22 plus-minus rating.
And that's not at all evident in
his quiet persona.
"He's a guy that he kind of fools
you with his easygoing (person-
ality)," said Michigan coach Red
Berenson. "It's like some of those
running backs that ... hardly look
like they can even walk. Then they
get the ball and nobody can catch
them. Langlais has got a little bit
of that."
Though Langlais is a small
defenseman, Wolverine assis-
tant coach Billy Powers said that
"pound for pound, he's very strong
and he's hockey strong." He's dif-
ficult to push off the puck, which

Berenson, referring to the second-
leading all-time scorer amongst
American NHL players. "Housley
was a terrific player. He looked
like a forward playing defense.
So we moved him up to forward,
he wasn't very good. Moved him
back to defense, he was great.
"My experience is not to ever
fool with a kid like this. He's
made his mark being this kind of a
And "this kind of player" is just
what Berenson likes having back
on defense.
With three forwards typically
cycling in the zone against five
opposing skaters, it's important
to be able to generate offense
from the blue line, which Langlais
does well.
"That's what we want from all
our 'D', "Berensorn'said. "Not just
points, but you want them to help
the forwards create offense when
we have the puck. So let's move
it, let's get open, let's get shots
through, let's make the right play
with the puck."
And even though Langlais
came to Michigan as a 21-year-old
freshman after two seasons in the
USHL, Berenson is confident he
still hasn't reached his full poten-
"The one thing with older kids
- sometimes they don't get any
better," Berenson said. "But he's
getting better and that's the good
thing. His game is still growing.
"I think his next two years, that
should be his coming-out party, if
it isn't already started."

Slow start trips up'M'
By NICK SPAR which had the highest full-round
Daily Sports Writer score of any team that completed
the round before play was suspend-
Michigan men's golf coach ed due to darkness.
Andrew Sapp called it "embarrass- Senior co-captain Bill Rankin led
ing". Michigan in the finaltwo days, post-
At the end of the first round of the ing team-low scores in each of the
three-day Pinehurst Intercollegiate last two rounds. Rankin and senior
in Pinehurst, N.C., No. 36 Michigan co-captain Nick Pumford finished
- the second highest-ranked team tied for 22nd individually.
inthe field of20 -straggled to a dis- "The fact is, we got beat, and it
appointing 18th-place finish. By the doesn't matter who we're compet-
end of the three-round tournament, ing against," Rankin said. "All in all,
the Wolverines managed to climb this definitely wasn't good enough,
back into a tie for ninth. even though we're going to try to
Sapp, whose Wolverines have draw as many positives aswe can."
followed up a second-place perfor- The Wolverines' inability to sink
mance at the Big Ten Match Play putts in the last two events contin-
Championship with consecutive ues to be a pressing issue. In Pine-
ninth-place finishes, blamed just hurst, each of the Wolverines shot a
one person for the poor finish. bogey or worse for two consecutive
"We just played very uninspired holes at least once during the three
golf," Sapp said. "I guess I have to rounds. Meanwhile, just Rankin
point the finger at myself if that's and Pumford strung together con-
the case because I didn't do what- secutive birdies. Sapp attributed
ever it takes to get the guys pumped this negative trend to his team's
up to rip and ready to play." weak putting.
The tournament field included "They need to make some more
three Big Ten foes - Penn State, No. putts, and they need to stay focused,"
34 Michigan State, and Minnesota - Sapp said. "When you're not play-
who finished first, second and third ing well, and you make a bogey or a
in the tournament, even though all double bogey, often times you try to
three finished behind Michigan at press too much to get it back."
the Big Ten tournament on Feb. 13. Michigan's short game will be
The Wolverines finished 29 shots tested again at its next tournament
behind the Nittany Lions. on Mar. 27 at the FAU Spring Break
Weather was a factor throughout Championship. Sapp hopes the
the week, especially on the first day recent warm weather in Ann Arbor
of the event in Pinehurst, N.C., as willgive thecteam achance tosharp-
rain and wind hindered play. The en its short game during the 10-day
rain certainly affected Michigan, layoff before heading to Florida.

Sophomore Chad Langlais leads Michigan blueliners in scoring and plus-minus rating.

has helped Langlais become one
of Michigan's key offensive sparks
when skating or passing the puck
out of the team's defensive zone.
And it's also why he's a finalist for
the CCHA's offensive defenseman
award, which will be handed out
this evening.
"He's got the hands of any for-
ward in this league," said junior
defenseman Steve Kampfer, who
played alongside Langlais nearly
all of last season. "His stick han-
dling is unbelievable. The way he
skates, the way he can move up
there is second to none."
Langlais's unquestionable
offensive skill has led to him play-
ing point on the Wolverines' top
power-play unit since he arrived
in Ann Arbor .a couple of seasons
In Michigan's first CCHA play-
off game on Friday night, Langlais
notched a power-play goal and an
assist late in the game.
But the numbers he's put up of
late - three goals and four assists
in six games - aren't just the
product of playing on the power

play, which can often be statisti-
cally rewarding for defensemen
who start cycling the puck from
the point and can get easy assists.
Langlais has 11 even-strength
points and 12 while playing with
the man advantage this season.
Because of this, there's an
understandable inclination to
want to see how Langlais would
play forward, but Berenson knows
better from his assistant coaching
days in the NHL.
"He looks like a forward play-
ing defense, but I remember hav-
ing Phil Housley in Buffalo," said

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