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April 06, 2009 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-04-06

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2B - April 6, 2009 The.ichian aily-m.higndaiyco

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wolverines should aim for
Spartan -like fan base


Sophomore Kylee Botterman was one of just three Wolverines to qualify for NCAAs.
Blue's Nationals
streak ends at 16

Daily Sports Writer
It was a rite of passage to get to
Nationals. It was a hurdle the No.
16 Michigan women's gymnastics
team cleared for the last 16 years.
But this season was different.
The Wolverines tripped up in
their race towards Nationals with
a less-than-perfect performance
at the NCAA South Regional
Championships on Saturday. They
finished third behind first-place
Stanford (196.200) and second-
place Arkansas (196.300). The top
two finishers advance to the NCAA
This year's team - with a roster
down to 12 after four seniors grad-
uated last season and no freshmen
came in - was more deserving of
a trip to Nationals than previous
years' teams, according to Michi-
gan coach Bev Plocki.
Six of this year's returning
gymnasts had surgery to correct
injuries before the regular season.
Plocki said some of her athletes
couldn't train until November,
meaning that they lost two and a
half months of practice this sea-
The Wolverines couldn't put
their best lineup together until the
Big Ten Championships on Mar.
"During the season, we were
able to get people back and put
together our best possible lineup
for Big Tens, and we hit and it was
great," Plocki said. "And I know we
brought that confidence from Big
Tens with us, but I don't know if
because everything that this team
has been through if they wanted it
too much, if they tried too hard."
The squad tackled a handful of
obstacles to finish the season with
a 10-0 Big Ten record, despite its
earlier-than-anticipated end to
the season.
But in the end, Michigan missed
second place and a trip to Nebras-
ka by five-tenths of a point.
Going into the final event,
Michigan and host Arkansas were
neck and' neck for second place,
and both teams knew it all came
down to the last event. Michigan

was on the balance beam, the most
difficult event in women's gymnas-
tics, ahead by one tenth of a point.
Arkansas finished up on floor.
Teams generally prefer to
begin meets on vault, because it's
a fast event which is easier to do
under the influence of early-meet
adrenaline. A rotation beginning
with vault automatically ends on
It is toughest to begin or end on
beam, because there is too much
adrenaline at the beginning of the
meet and it often comes down to
the performance in the last event.
"You can equate (the five-tenths
of a point) to the fall on balance
beam," Plocki said. "But I can eas-
ily find other places were we could
have got those points. It is very
easy to say it was our last mistake
that cost us that trip to Nation-
als, but we could have got that five
tenths back if one person stuck on
When two Wolverines fell off
the beam in their last rotation,
they knew it was over and that
their dream of competing in their
17th consecutive NCAA Nationals
had disappeared. Sophomore Kylee
Botterman, who will move onto
Nationals as an individual after a
phenomenal floor performance at
Regionals, fell for the first time all
year on beam.
"I can't tell you what happened,"
Botterman said. "I haven't fell on
beam all year and I'm disappoint-
ed, but it's a team sport. This is not
how we thought we were going to
end, but we're looking to next year
and how we can do everything
In addition to Botterman, senior
Becky Bernard (uneven bars) and
junior Sarah Curtis (all-around)
will travel to Nebraska to partici-
pate in individual competition.
"The fact that we got this far, it
breaks my heart that we had to end
this way," Plocki said. "I feel like
this is one of the most deserving
teams that I have ever coached in
terms of their commitment level.
It is heartbreaking, devastating to
get this far and to have our season
end prior to the national champi-

I've never seen so much green
and white in my entire life.
Drivingthrough downtown
Detroit on Friday before the Final
Four teams held open practice, I
saw what looked like a Spartan pil-
grimage to Ford Field.
I also realized that most Michi-
gan fans would consider so many
Spartan fans massing together in
a major metropolitan area a sign of
the impending apocalypse
On the way from the parking lot
to Ford Field, I heard "Go Green,
Go White," the
entire way.
From the
moment I
stepped inside
the stadium :.
moment I left,
it felt like the
Michigan State NATE
fight song was SANDALS
on repeat. (I
used to only
know the opening line, "On the
banks of the Red Cedar." I know
much more than that now.)
But as difficult as it was for the
Michigan student in me to take in
that whole scene, stepping back, I
had to admit it was pretty cool.
It was pretty cool that 20,000-
plus Spartan fans skipped work
and school on a Friday just to watch
their favorite teamrun a 50-minute
It was pretty cool that local fans
had a rooting interest in the Final
Four, though it couldn't have been
planned when Detroit was awarded
the event six years ago.
It was pretty cool that the Spar-
tan fans had the chance to jump on
the bandwagon.
Bandwagon fans are usually a
negative part of any team's title
run. They tend to be less knowl-
edgeable and more obnoxious than
the diehards.
But Friday's practice was the
perfect time to let those bandwag-
on fans yell and shout and try to
cover for the fact that they knew
very little about Michigan State
basketball. But those fans have that
right, because the team they're
loosely affiliated with is having a
great season.
The Michigan men's basketball




Twenty-thousand Michigan State fans converged at Ford Field Friday to cheer on the Spartans, even though it wasjust a practice.
team should hope to have so many fans may have been sucked in just gram. 4
bandwagon fans sometime soon. enough to stick around, to learn Michigan State's foundation is
The more bandwagon fans you more about the program and solid. If it wasn't, there wouldn't
have, the better you must be doing become season-long fans. have been so much green and white
that year. John Beilein has a long way to in Detroit this weekend, proximity
The Wolverines saw their band- go in building this program before of East Lansing to Detroit aside.
wagon fill up a little bit when they he catches Tom Izzo's behemoth. Beilein is still building his foun-
made the NCAA Tournament. And (Even longer after the Spartans' dation in Ann Arbor. But he has
it got even more crowded after run these past few weeks.) But it proven at all of his stops he knows
Michigan knocked off Clemson in starts and ends with winning. what he's doing.
the firstround.Followingthelossto Izzo and Co. have been winning So don't stop dreaming of the
Oklahoma, most of those fans prob- for what seems like forever, and each day 20,000 fans in maize and blue
ably jumped right off, not planning successful year builds on the last. attend a Final Four open practice. It
to think about Michigan basketball No team is going to win the might not be that far away.
again until the next big win or the National Championship every year,
next trip to the Big Dance. but even one down year can put - Sandals can be reached
But a few of those bandwagon a dent in the foundation of a pro- at nsandals@umich.edu.

M' remains undefeated with sweep


Daily Sports Writer
For most of Saturday night's-
first quarter against No. 8 Colo-
rado State, it appeared as if the
Michigan men's lacrosse team's
perfect season might be in dan-
With 5:50 remaining in the
frame, the Wolverines' high-pow-
ered offense still hadn't found the
cage against the Rams' zone and
the game was tied 0-0.
It was just the calm before the
Ten minutes later, No. 1 Michi-
gan had taken complete control of
the game, pouring in nine unan-
swered goals.
"Any time you face a zone,
which you don't see that often,
it takes you a little time to kind
of feel it out and see where the

seams are," Michigan coach John
Paul said.
And luckily for the Wolverines
(11-0), they had plenty of time to
resolve the confusion. They domi-
nated the possession battle, win-
ning 51of 80 groundballs en route
to a 16- victory.
The defense held the Rams
(8-4) to just 10 shots on goal and
excelled tremendously in the
transition game. Colorado State
had scored at least five goals in
eachgame before Saturday night's
thrashing at Oosterbaan Field-
"The one thing that I didn't
feel like we've done all year was
put together a complete defensive
game, and tonight we really did
that in all facets," Paul said. "Our
defense played the lockdown style
that we want, (sophomore goalie
Andrew) Fowler played great

in goal and we did a great job of
clearing and handling the ball."
At the beginning of the sea-
son, Wolverine defenders often
extended pressuretoo far fromthe
cage and were beaten by speedy
attackmen. Under the leadership
of senior captain Zach Elyachar,
the talented unit has adopted a
more disciplined approach and is
seeing the results.
"It's great that we played with
this much confidence against a
great team like Colorado State,"
Elyachar said through the Ath-
letic Department. "I think we've
had confidence all season, but this
was the game when we put it all
together; the offense had very lit-
tle turnovers, we executed great
and our defense really buckled
Junior attackman Kevin Zoro-
vich led the Wolverine offense
with five points on two goals
and three assists. Sophomore
attackman Trevor Yealy notched
a game-high four goals and out-
scored the opposition by himself
for the second straight game.
On Friday night, Yealy broke

the Michigan single-game scoring
record, netting 11 goals in an 18-10
win over Minnesota Duluth.
"I just kept moving around, try-
ing to find open holes and seams,
and my teammates kept finding
me," Yealy said.
And at six-foot-three, he's dif-
ficult to miss. His tall frame and
soft hands make him a prototypi-
cal crease-man, since he provides
his teammates with a big target
and releases the ball very quickly.
He moves very well without the
ball, is highly capable of dodging
from the outside and has quickly
emerged as one of the best finish-
ers in the league.
Yealy leads the Men's Colle-
giate Lacrosse Association with
4.9 goals per game, despite strug-
gling for much of the six-week
practice season last fall.
Paul still expected a great sea-
son out of the lanky sophomore,
but was shocked by the perfor-
mance againstthe seventh-ranked
Bulldogs nonetheless.
"We never foresee someone 4
scoring 11 goals in one game," Paul
said. "That's pretty unheard of."

You'll find it
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