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January 19, 2010 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-01-19

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

January 19, 2010 - 3B
Wright provides spark off bench

ARIEL BOND/Daly
Junior Ben Baldus-Strauss returned to the Windy City Invitational where last year
he partially tore his MCL. The junior competed in the high bar event this weekend.
Blue miast looks
to overcome injuries

By CAITLIN SMITH
Daily Sports Writer
CHICAGO - For junior Ben Bal-
dus-Strauss, a trip with the men's
gymnastics team to the Windy City
Invitational this past weekend was
more than just another competition
- it was a reminder of his health and
his injury-plagued career as a Wol-
verine.
Baldus-Strauss has endured a
cycle of sport-related injuries since
the beginning of his college gym-
nastics career.
His freshman year started with a
stress fracture to his wrist. He was
in a cast for about a month but was
back and competing by February.
Baldus-Strauss made it through
most of that season unharmed until
NCAA preliminaries.
In the final stretch of his fresh-
man season, Baldus-Strauss broke
his left ankle and tore his deltoid
ligament. He didn't compete in the
NCAA team finals, and it took him
nearly four months to complete
rehab.
His first meet back was the open-
er to his sophomore campaign at
the 2009 Windy City Invitational.
"I was second up on the first
event," Baldus-Strauss said. "I
missed my hand, peeled off the
(high) bar, and caught my knee on
the mat weird. I ended up partially
tearing my MCL, so that put me out
yet another month."
Despite another setback, Baldus-
Strauss finished the 2009 season
strong. He received an Academic
All-Big Ten selection and was a
2009 Big Tenindividual event final-
ist on the vault.
And as he returned this past
weekend to the same Chicago gym-

nasium, a year after his last injury,
he was definitely apprehensive.
"I think my freshman year on
vault, when I got hurt, I was just so
confident that I didn't even think
twice about where I was in the air,"
Baldus-Strauss said. "I was just
programmed to do it. But now I am
much more careful thinking about
absorbing the landing and having
my feet in the right position."
He considers his knee injury to
be the result of an unlucky fluke,
so performing in the same atmo-
sphere and on top of the same mats
brought increased anxiety to his
high-bar routine. As an extra pre-
caution, the Michigan coaches kept
a second mat underneath Baldus-
Strauss during the event.
More than anything, Baldus-
Strauss hopes to finish his last two
years as injury-free as possible.
Though his motivation may have
been stunted in the past, he has
high ambitions for the rest of his
college career.
"One goal I have for myself is
All-American by my senior year,"
Baldus-Strauss said. "But in terms
of the team, we obviously want to
repeat the Big Ten Championship
and hopefully an NCAA Champi-
onship."
Like any serious competitor,
pain, loss of practice, and watching
your team go on without you, can
easily take a toll on both mental and
physical capabilities. But, Baldus-
Strauss believes he has become a
stronger gymnast through injuries.
"My injuries have taught me
that you have to be so aware during
every skill," Baldus-Strauss said.
"You can't ever take anything for
granted, because anything can go
wrong and result in an injury."

By CHRIS MESZAROS
Daily Sports Editor
After searching all season for
that elusive third scorer, Michi-
gan finally found not just a third,
but a fourth and fifth in Sunday's
upset win over Connecticut.
One of those sources came as
somewhat of a surprise.
Michigan unleashed its secret
weapon in redshirt junior Antho-
ny Wright, whose previous season
high had been five point efforts
against Northern Michigan and
Creighton.
Even more surprising, Wright
led the Wolverines in perhaps
their most vulnerable stage.
When several Michigan starters
got into foul trouble early, and
senior DeShawn Sims and junior
Manny Harris combined for
just eight points in the first half,
Wright carried some of the load.
In fact, Wright tied Harris and
sophomore Laval Lucas Perry
as the second-leading scorer for
the Wolverines in the first half
and combined with senior Zack
Gibson for 25 minutes in the
game. The two provided balanced
offense and the size to match a
more physical Husky team.
"Our bench has not been a
strength all year long," Michi-
gan coach John Beilein said. "For
whatever reason, we haven't. But
maybe this is the confidence that
those two need."
Wright made two of his three
3-point shots in the first half, hit-
ting his first spot-up jumper at
the 8:08 mark. Six minutes later,
Wright's second triple extended
Michigan's lead to eight with 2:25
to play in the half.
While the Michigan fans may
have held their breath each time
Wright went up with the ball, he
says he has confidence in his shot.
"I've been hitting in practice,
and in games I'm looking to shoot
but I'm trying to find the team
shot," Wright said. "Today, I got
a lot of team shot opportunities,
that was probably the biggest
thing."
More important, Wright hit
his third three at the beginning
of the second half, halting a 7-0
Connecticut run that cut the
Michigan lead down to just four.
Wright's three with 16 minutes to
play reignited the Wolverines.
But it wasn't just Wright who
contributed. Michigan had by far
its most balanced effort on the
stat sheet all season. And while
it was no surprise that Harris led
the Wolverines with 18 points,

Redshirtjunior Anthony Wright scored a season high nine points off of three 3-point shots in Michigan's 68-63 win Sunday.

it was a bit of a shock that Sims,
Michigan's second-leading scorer,
tallied just eight points against
the Huskies.
Both Wright and sophomore
Zack Novak finished ahead of
Sims in points scored.
While Wright may have been
the biggest surprise in Sunday's
upset win, he wasn't alone. All
season, Michigan has struggled to
find offense from any source out-
side of Harris and Sims.
And while sophomore Stu Dou-
glass and Novak are known for
their three-point shooting, they

are shooting just 32 and 27 per-
cent from behind the arc, respec-
tively.
Though the two didn't fare
much better than their season
averages, it was the quality of shot
that mattered.
In the final minutes of the
game Novak hit perhaps the
most important shot of his
career, breaking a 58-58 tie with
a 3-pointer that put Michigan up
for good.
And though Gibson scored
just four points in the contest,
he recorded a mammoth block in

the first half and made countless
hustle plays on defense with two
steals.
Even though Michigan can't
expect an effort across the board
throughout the rest of the sea-
son like it saw Sunday against
the Huskies, the Wolverines can't
continually put all of the pressure
on Harris and Sims as they head
into the meat of their conference
schedule.
"Michigan needs that," Con-
necticut coach Jim Calhoun said.
"Harris and Sims can't be the only
stars in town."

KART
From
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the disa
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JE - No. 4 in the country then.
page 1B And Notre Dame, Michigan's
best competition for that fourth
spot, has yet to sweep a weekend
:s. all season, despite their solid 2-0-2
f you take a step back from record against the Spartans. They
ppointment and the salty do have an easy schedule from here
Michigan's mouth, being on out, though.
t in Yost's first shootout is Though the Wolverines eventual-
s relevant as Alaska hock- ly lost on Saturday, they showed they
al hype video on YouTube. could overcome a deficit and have a
t really matters is that the chance to win the game, something
ines' tallied four of six pos- they have lacked all season.
ints on the weekend against "I liked the way our team battled
m that occupied the coveted back and arguably could have had
pot in the CCHA. the best of the chances to win it,"
op three spots in the Berenson said after the loss.
nce - currently held by That wasn't the case earlier this
(Ohio), Michigan State and season, when Michigan either col-
tate - are far from chang- lapsed late or couldn't muster the
ds, and with just one spot offense for a comeback.
Against Boston University in
October, the Wolverines' comeback
effort was pulled out from under
"I like the them when Hogan made a serious
puck-handling mistake and lost the
ay our team game late in the third.
Against RPI in the first round of
ittled back" the Great Lakes Invitational, two
goals in the third period were made
irrelevantby a Shawn Hunwick
missed save, as they lost 4-3.
ng for a bye in the confer- But on Saturday, the Wolverines
irnament, it's going to be a showed they could mount a come-
rint from pretty much every back and keep it, even coming close
:urth through eighth place, to winning in OT. So who cares if
re on out. they lost the shootout? Only the
vhat the standings don't tell CCHA counts it as more than a tie.
iat Michigan has the best Michigan is playing its best
nity of all to lock down that hockey of the season, showing what
pot. Berenson said was the Wolverines'
Superior State - which most complete 60-minute effort of
ly sits in fourth place - got the year in their 6-0 win on Friday.
hed by the Wolverines The logic may not make sense
tichigan struggled early that a team, barely over .500, ison
closest thing to a signature the fast track to the NCAA Tourna-
the Lakers was their 3-3 tie ment. But if Michigan can over-
igan State two weekends come the pseudo-humiliation of a
, and they still have match- shootout gone awry and show the
h Miami, Ferris State and same tenacity it did last weekend
remaining. in its next two important weekends
Nanooks - now in fifth against Ferris State and Michigan
still have to play Miami State, the Wolverines might just
higan State, and their big- have the last laugh.

CONNECTICUT
From page 1B
lowed by a Connecticut turnover,
which Harris finished at the rim to
give the Wolverines a command-
ing 5-point lead with just a minute
left.
Harris finished with a game-
high 18 points, 12 in the second
half. The other member of Michi-
gan's Big Two, senior DeShawn
Sims, had a relatively quiet after-
noon, tallying just eight points, but
the forward still managed to grab

11 rebounds.
"I just didn't hit shots. It was
unfortunate but I did some other
things," Sims said. "I focused on
defense and rebounding and mak-
ing some ' of those hustle plays.
That was enough to get us over the
top."
And for the first time this
season, when Harris and Sims
couldn't find their shots, the rest of
the team stepped up in a big way.
Novak had 10 points and the big-
gest shotof the game. Douglass fin-
ished as the second-leading scorer
with 13. Redshirt junior Anthony

Wright - who in recent games has
seen his playing time dissipate -
chipped in nine points, including
two 3-pointers in the first half.
"It's just a matter of being ready
to shoot the open shot," Wright
said. "Which I always have been.
But not too many opportunities
have come my way."
Now the team has an opportu-
nity to either impress the selection
committee or drive a stake into the
heart of its tournament chances.
Michigan's next three games? At
Wisconsin, at Purdue and Michi-
gan State at home.

So the Wolverines find them-
selves in a bit of a no-man's land
- they know their odds at making
the tournament are still long, but
they believe Sunday's win leaves
them in the hunt.
That relentless optimism will
certainly come into play during
this next stretch of games.
"Not being in the tournament
race and having a little salty taste
in your mouth is not good for our
team," Harris said. "This is giving
us a lot of confidence, and we've
got a great stretch. Hopefully we
keep it going."

remaini
once tou
dead spr
team, fot
from he
But w
you is th
opportu
fourth s
Lake
current
demolis
when M
on. The
win for
of Mich
ago. Oh,
ups with
Alaska i
The
place -
and Mic
gest win
at a neut
course,

SHOOTOUT
From page 1B
a minute after that.
Michigan (8-7-1-0 CCHA,
13-10-1 overall) had scored all
three of these goals ina span of one
minute and 23 seconds.
"That is back to Michigan hock-
ey," senior defensemen Chris Sum-
mers said. "That's been my past
experience the last three years and
that has always been our style to
come out and jump the team early
on. I think that was the first time
all season we really honed in and
did that."
But Friday's relatively easy scor-
ing was short lived as goals were
at their usual premium Saturday.
Heading into the shootout tied at
three, both teams chose its three
players to shoot and try to gain the
extra point.
After four players had shot,
the Wolverines found themselves
down 1-0 with all their hopes
dependent on junior Louie Capo-
russo.
With everyone in the build-
ing on their feet, Caporusso faked
backhand and went to the five-
hole. Greenham read the deke and
shut the door on Caporusso ending
the Wolverines' season-high four-
game win streak.
"It is a fun position to be in,"
Caporusso said. "When you have
the game on your stick - that's the
type of thing you want to have. You
always think about that and imag-
ine it when you're playingwith your
little brother on the outside rink....
Hopefully, next time I put it in."
Despite the loss the Wolverines
picked up four of the six possible

Junior Louie Caporusso took Michigan's last shot in the Wolverines' first-ever shootout. Caporusso, Carl Hagelin a
Brown all failed to convert on their shootout opportunities, and Nanook Dion Knelsen won the game for Alaska.

points on the weekend. But accord-
ing to the coaching staff, the team
needed more.
"No, we needed six," Berenson
said when asked just before he left
the press conference.
Perhaps the biggest difference
between the two games was in
penalties. The Nanooks (7-7-4-4,
10-7-5) came into the weekend as
the least-penalized team in the

country, but racked up 22 minutes
on Friday. The Wolverines convert-
ed on two of their 10 chances, but
held the momentum throughout
the contest because of the regular-
ity with which Alaska went to the
penalty box.
But on Saturday, Michigan's
march to the penalty box started
just over a minute into the game
when junior Tristin Llewellyn

went off, starting a 16 minute slide.
Alaska's two goals on the man
advantage came in that second-
period flurry.
"I think our team learned
something," Berenson said. "They
learned how valuable the little
things are. The penalties, it might
seem like they're not important,
they're huge. Even if you kill
them."

came against Michigan
tral site in Anchorage. Of
the Wolverines were still

- Kartje can be reached
at rkartje@umich.edu

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