8 - Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
'M' faces first major test in
weekend's Old Spice Classic
By GJON JUNCAJ
Daily Sports Writer
The past three weeks have almost
felt like an extended preseason for
the Michigan men's basketball team.
That means the 15th-ranked Wolver-
ines are more than
eager to enter Michigan vs.
against Creighton Gvighon
in the opening Matchup:
round of the Old Michigan 2-0;
Spice Classic. Creighton 2-1
"Jost being When: Thurs-
able to play that day. toss
many games, it's Where:
like making op for Orlando, Fla.
lost time," senior TV/Radio:
forward DeShawn ESPN2
Sims said last
week. "We've Live Blog:
been having (six www.michi-
or eight) days in gandaily.com
so I'm excited to
go on Thanksgiving. I've spent too
many Thanksgivings here."
The four-day invitational held in
Orlando, Fla. features eight teams,
half of which made the NCAA Tour-
nament last March. Creighton fin-
ished 27-8 last season and advanced
to the second round of the National
Invitational Tournament. And
despite graduating last season's Mis-
souri Valley Conference Player of the
Year in Booker Woodfox, the Blue
Jays (2-1) are averaging 79 points per
game and have five players scoringin
This year, Creighton coach Dana
Altman has trained his guards to run
elements of Vance Walberg's famous
igan coach John Beilein praised the
way Altman has juggled a deep rota-
"They're so diverse right now
with what they do," said Beilein, ref-
erencing Creighton's high-post and
got to prepare for both (offenses).
They're also running10 to 12 players
at you, and scouting the opponent is
To compound that problem, three
of Creighton's top six scorers - Dar-
ryl Ashford, Wayne Runnels and
Ethan Wragge - were in either junior
college or high school last year, so
the Michigan coaching staff just has
three games'worth of filmto analyze
The Wolverines may not know
Coach Red Berenson experienced the Michigan vs. Minnesota rivalry-as a player.
on old rivalry
Senior DeShawn Sims scored five 3-pointers in the win over Houston Baptist, and is expected to step up in the Old Spice Classic.
much about Creighton's top scorers,
but they do know the Blue Jays have
one glaring weakness - the front-
court. Creighton finished dead last in
the MVC last season in rebounding
margin, and is just minus-five this
year with a lineup that has nobody
taller than 6-foot-9.
The Wolverines (2-0) also have
something to prove after getting
wiped out on the glass against lowly
Houston Baptist last weekend, fin-
ishing with a minus-13 margin. But
against Creighton's small lineup,
Beilein should be able to divide min-
utes at power forward among Zack
Novak, Zack Gibson and Anthony
The coaching sthff has also dedi-
cated practice time this week to
It looked weak at times last week-
end, as Houston Baptist guards drove
the length of the floor for easy layups
throughout the first half.
"We've worked on it every day for
15 to 25 minutes," Beilein said. "It's
a yearly event. No matter what hap-
pens, no matter what team you have,
your transition defense stinks when
you first get it."
Michigan will face either Xavier
or Marquette on Friday, both of
which are 3-0 this year and earned
top-six seeds in last season's NCAA
Tournament. The overall quality of
the Old Spice Classic is a welcome
step up from the doormats Michigan
has played this month, so there's a
palpable sense of curiosity among
the team regarding how well they
will play in back-to-back games.
Perhaps the strangest possibility
of this weekend's tournament is the
slight chance the Wolverines will
face Baylor, where former Michigan
starting center Ekpe Udoh trans-
ferred to after the 2007-08 season.
Now a redshirt junior, Udoh is aver-
aging 16 points and nine rebounds
through four games.
"It's definitely going to measure
up - at the end of the tournament
- where we are and how far we've
come (since last year)," Sims said.
"We've lived up to the hype so far....
This is goingto be one of our biggest
tests of the season."
Although the Wolverines are the
only ranked squad in the tourna-
mernt, Beilein believes four to five of
the seven other teams can earn an
NCAA Tournament invitation next
He views this weekend as an early
season teaching opportunity.
"It's preparing us for Big Ten play,"
Beilein said. "We talk about transi-
tion defense, and we're talking about
(how) you have to be ready to shoot
quickly and come off a screen hard,
or somebody's going to be there. It
hits you after you play these teams.
There'll be positives out of it - either
way - after this weekend."
By MICHAEL FLOREK players in the NHL - this game
Daily Sports Writer will have a slightly different feel
from their previous meetings.
In the opening game of this For the first time in College
weekend's College Hockey Show- Hockey Showcase history, both
case, the Michigan hockey team teams will be under .500 when
will take the ice against Minne- the puck drops.
sota - a team Michigan coach . "We've played them when
Red Berenson knows well. we're both up in the top 10 in
After all,theteams have played the country," Berenson said.
258 times and used to square off "Looking at Minnesota's sched-
as conference rivals in the West- ule, they've played in North
ern Collegiate Hockey Associa- Dakota, they've played in Wis-
tion, until the Wolverines moved consin, they've played some
to the CCHA in 1981. tough games. I think they're like
When Berenson played at us, they're probably better than
Michigan under coach Al Ren- their record."
frew in the early '60s, the rivalry Michigan snapped a five-
was one of the most intense in game losing streak last weekend
college hockey. against Bowling Green, its lon-
"(Then-Minnesota coach gest skid since 1988.
John) Mariucci would complain The Wolverines' usual
about all the Canadians playing strength - their offense - has
for Michigan, and he was priding largely failed to deliver this sea-
himself (on) playing all Minne- son. Minnesota has had-a simi-
sota and all U.S. kids," Berenson lar problem. Like Michigan, the
said. "I heard that when I was team is in the bottom half of the
playing,'Berenson, you goddamn country in scoring and power
Canadian.' play percentage.
"So there's been a pretty good In the Showcase, wins over
rivalry going on for a long time." Minnesota on Friday and Wis-
As Michigan changed confer- consin on Saturday would give
ences, the College Hockey Show- Michigan -its first consecutive
case was created to keep those wins since Halloween weekend.
rivalries alive. The Wolverines have lost to
And the intensity isn't lost every ranked team they have
among the current Michigan played, and have been outscored
players. 16-6. A strong showing this
"I think it just goes along weekend could help salvage what
with the history of the two pro- has been a disappointing season
grams, the games we've had and so far.
the tradition with both teams," "If there is a big picture at the
junior forward Matt Rust said. end of the season, these games
"I know back from my fresh- will really be important games,"
man year until now, we've had Berenson said. "Just in terms of
some tough games against them. our momentum, when we play
It's an important series for both Ohio State and Notre Dame in
teams." the upcoming games in our con-
Even with the progams' sto- ference, we have got to be more
ried histories - Michigan is first ready than, let's say, we were
and Minnesota is fifth in nation- against Bowling Green. So these
al championships and both are games hopefully will get us
among the top in terms of putting there."
Club soccer loses in
Michigan's four-person senior class
could be best in program's history
ss of 2010 is only that and it gets a little over the top,
but that's her.
e that has made "I've always told our past cap-
tains that you have to lead within
o Tournament in your own personality, and Bower
all four years embodies that."
all our ears The rest of the seniors, regard-
less of playing timie, hate shown
By MARK BURNS that same spirit over the past few
Daily Sports Writer years.
From role player last year to cur-
en Megan Bower came to Ann rent starting middle blocker, Rood
the Michigan volleyball pro- has maintained a positive attitude
seemed to be at a standstill. that has helped create great team
am had finished the 2005 chemistry within the locker room.
with a sub -.500 conference And Paz, a junior college trans-
and missed the NCAA Tour- fer from Iowa Western Community
t. College, has brought new enthusi-
four years later, Bower and asm to the Wolverines - one that
ree senior counterparts - fanshavegrown accustomedtoover
ca Rood, the past two
a Paz, and years. Whether
Petoskey e don't have she's jumping
ive helped a up and down
he program to evaluate them after snag-
e national ging a service
... they've just ace or dancing
higancoach '''around in the
Rosen said proven that." huddle during
ould be the pregame intro-
enior class ductions, Paz is
chigan his- never at a loss
By JAKE FELDMAN
Daily Sports Writer
Junior forward Mia Miller runs
to her friends' house. She walks
in, heart still pounding from the
quarter-mile sprint, and begins
to pace the living room. When her
friends ask her to grab a seat and
relax, she refuses. Miller hangs
out for about a half hour, stand-
ing all the while, before departing
for the gym where she'll begin her
daily workout routine.
Her behavior typifies the life-
style of the women's club soc-
cer team - they do not like to sit
So when the Wolverines (4-3-1)
finished the regular season in fifth
place nationally and their national
tournament hopes appeared to be
in jeopardy, players and team sup-
porters refused to wait helplessly
to hear which teams receivedbids.
Instead, they took action.
"We had our board members
and coach and even parents con-
tacting our regional director
fighting to get an at-large bid to
Nationals," senior co-president
Bethany Carlson said. "The issue
with the regular season is that not
all of the teams play each other.
For some reason, every year, we
play all of the strongest teams in
With a winning record and a
very tough schedule, Michigan
was ultimately awarded a tourna-
Once the Wolverines arrived in
Arizona for Nationals, they were
anxious to prove they belonged.
Miahigan emerged as the Vin-
ner of its pool, shutting out Texas
State and Colorado State 2-0 last
Thursday. Senior forward Kaitlyn
Sargent scored Michigan's most
- a beautiful header off a cross in
the first half of the game against
The two victories propelled
the Wolverines into the Sweet 16,
where they beat Virginia Tech,
5-1, in their most dominant per-
formance of the year.
"During the season, I wouldnot
have been confident in our abil-
ity to score, but during Nationals,
scoring came with ease," Miller
said. "Everyone's goals seemed to
effortlessly slide past the oppos-
After three convincing wins
over formidable opponents, Mich-
igan proved its at-large bid was
well deserved. The Wovlerines
headed into their Elite Eight con-
test against UC-Santa Barbara
brimming with confidence.
Although both teams had
numerous scoring opportunities,
the Wolverines failed to convert
when it mattered. Their postsea-
son run ended at three games, as
Michigan fell, 4-0, to the eventual
National Champion Gauchos.
"The loss is a little less painful
knowing that they won the tour-
nament, but at the same time it's
tough to deal with knowing that
they are beatable," Carlson said.
But it's not as if the Wolverines
needed such a tough loss to keep
them motivated during the off-
season. Judging from their past
behavior, they won't be sitting
around very long anyway.
tory. for energy.
"They've gone the farthest in the "I remember the first week of
(NCAA) Tournament, they've won practice we were like, 'Wow, she's
the most, they'll be the first time to really, really good,' " Rosen said. "I
go to the tournament four times," think what we were most impressed
he said. "So that in respect, we don't with was not just her offense. ... But
have to evaluate them subjectively, the rest of her game - her serving,
they've just proven that." her passing, her defense - just the
That's a testament to the class's full game she brings. We got every-
leadership, beginning with team thing and more out of her."
captain Bower. After this upcom- Petoskey, who grew up in Ann
ing weekend's match against Ohio Arbor, hasn't played much during
State, she will become the Wol- her Michigan career. But she has
verines' all-time leader in career maintained the same commitment
matches played. Her passion on and dedication ever since she first
the court and ability to mentor the arrived on campus.
team's underclassmen have influ- "I think the biggest thing I've
enced the entire program. learned is that consistent behavior
"She leads from her heart," builds trust," Petoskey said. "If you
Rosen said. "She leads with every- come in everyday, you work hard. If
thing, every ounce of her personal- you build trust with yourself, your
ity. Sometimes she has to temperk coaches, your teammatep - you're
Senior Megan Bower will become the all-time leader in matches played. -
going to find success." be the first time a class has made it
And success is exactly what the to the tournament in all four years.
2010 senior class has experienced And the senior class hopes it can
over the last four seasons. The Wol- help the team to another first - a
verines are a shoo-in to make the FinalpFour visit to Tampa in Decem-
NCAATournament this yeam It will ber.