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March 16, 2010 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 - 5

Bubble Burst
Women's hoops, missed
the cut for NCAAs,
looks to make WNIT run

ARIEL BOND/Da
Junior Louie Caporusso, pictured here, has scoredt11 goals in the past 15 games, including two in Friday's 5-1 win over the Spartans
.My apoloies,
Louje. Cap orusso

iY

By ALEX HERMANN
Daily Sports Writer
Going into Monday as ESPN's
Charlie Creme's "last team in"
for the NCAA Tournament, the
Michigan women's basktball
team knew "Selection Monday"
was certain to be filled with anxi-
ety.
But as the field of 64 was
unveiled and Michigan was
absent from matchup after math-
cup, all the Wolverines' hopes of
an NCAA Tournament bid with-
ered away.
Still, Michigan remained posi-
tive in light of the news.
"To have a chance is something
that we're just thrilled with, and
it shows just how far we've come,"
freshman guard Jenny Ryan said.
"As it gets going and they show
the end of the at-large bids, the 10,
11, even 12 seeds. ... And then we
saw some teams that we weren't
expecting to get at-large bids that
went up there. So, you know, as it
goes on you kind of get this sink-
ing feeling that, okay, maybe this
isn't our year."
The Big Ten received four total
bids to the NCAA Tournament,
including Iowa, the conference's
other primary bubble team, as
a surprise nine seed. Michigan
swept the season series against
the Hawkeyes, which made the
Wolverines' fate come as some-
what of a surprise.
"When (Iowa) came up as a
pretty high seed, I thought that
was good for us," Michigan coach
Kevin Borseth said. "But obvi-
ously not."
At Big Ten Media Day earlier
this year in Chicago, Borseth said
receiving an NCAA Tournament
bid was the universal goal for
teams across the country, includ-
ing his own.
Yesterday, Borseth was unsure
of why his team was left out of the
Big Dance.
"They've got a pretty tough
task, sitting down in the room and
determining all that," Borseth
said. "They've got reasons why
they do what they do, and we just
have to live with it."
But despite the fact that
Michigan (8-10 Big Ten, 17-13
overall) leaves its preseason
aspirations unfulfilled, the
Wolverines expressed opti-
mism about their postseason.

TOREHAN SHARMAN/Daily
Michigan coach Kevin Borseth led the Wolverines to a 17-13 record this season
after being predicted to finish last in the Big Ten Media Preseason Poll.

t the tail end of last season, Wolverines' road to Joe Louis
Louie Caporusso, then a Arena for next weekend's CCHA
ophomore on the Michi- semifinal matchup against Miami
gan hockey team, drew some (Ohio), I've come to a realization
'Ho-bey, Ba- about this group: as Louie Capo-
ker' calls from russo goes, so goes this team,
the Wolverine one that's slowly turning NCAA
faithful, as the Tournament hopes into a reality
Woodbridge, once again.
Ont. native was Between the team's five-game
a finalist for the r losing streak in November - cul-
coveted piece minating in its loss to basement-
of hardware. dwelling Bowling Green - and
But after lMARK its sweep of No. 2 seed Michigan
the first half BURNS State this past weekend, at this
of this season, stage in the season, I still wonder
there were no which team will step onto the ice
such cries from the hallowed halls on any given night. Will it be the
of Yost Ice Arena - and there defensive-minded group that has
shouldn't have been. shut down its opponents as of late
About six weeks ago, I wrote a or will it be the lackluster group
column about Caporusso's current that was swept earlier in the
season, and to put season by Miami
it frankly, I chas- (Ohio) and the
tised him for his Cearly Louie Spartans?
lack of production .4o e, But t'm sure
on the offensive done about one thing:
side of the red you've if Michigan is to
line. Through the everything... to clinch a tourna-
first 26 games of ment berth, it
the season, Capo- rove me wrong. will be headed
russo registered by Caporusso's
just six goals and offensive produc-
was far off his tion.

absent - Michigan is 6-1 in its last
seven games.
He's passing less and shoot-
ing more, something Michigan
coach Red Berenson has advised
the 5-foot-9 center time and time
again. His "keep it simple" men-
tality on the ice has paid positive
dividends for the Maize and Blue,
who are set to face the top-seeded
Redhawks on Friday.
If Michigan's ready to take
the next step and win the CCHA
Tournament, it will be led by
Caporusso.
And when he does, I won't be
sorry I told you so.
Burns suggests giving blood in the
near future. He gave blood yesterday
. in the Michigan Union. He can be
reached at burnmarkoumich.edu.

While it was not yet official when
the Daily spoke with the team,
a Women's National Invitation
Tournament bid seemed very
likely. Michigan will play Kent
State in the first round of the
WNIT on Friday in Crisler Arena.
"Ultimately, you kind of have to
prove it," junior guard Veronica
Hicks said. "It'll be all talk if we
don't come up big in the NIT. I
think it would show, youknow, that
you deserve to be in the NCAA if
you ultimately finish up the NIT."
Certainly, a just-missed NCAA
Tournament bid represents a
giant step forward for a program
that finished 10-20 a year ago and
was picked to finish last in the
conference in the preseason this

year.
"It's exciting for us, it's excit-
ing for the program, exciting for
fans and the entire university just
to really show that we are making
progress and that they have the
opportunity to see' that progress
in action," Ryan said. "We didn't
just make the (WNIT), we made
it as a high seed to get the home
game and that's exciting for us."
Regardless of the disappoint-
ment that may exist, the opportu-
nity to obtain a physical symbol of
that progress is certainly one the
team relishes.
"Our ultimate goal is to be
number one and win a champion-
ship," Hicks said. "Whether it's
NCAA or NIT, we'll get a banner."

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pace from last year's team-leading
24 lamplighters.
Caporusso hadn't been play-
ing that far off his potential and
for me to come out and blatantly
call him a "ghost" on the ice was
clearly wrong - it just took him
a little longer to hit that Hobey-
Bakeresque level everyone caught
a glimpse of last season.
Clearly Louie, you've done
everything in the past 15 games
to prove me wrong. Since Jan. 29,
you've netted 11 goals and eight
assists, with eight of those points
coming in the Wolverines' four
playoff games.
So, I'm sorry.
Over the course of the last
month and a half, along the

He's found his scoring touch
around the net and has really let
his game speak for itself. When he
puts pucks in the net and marks
up the statsheet, the Wolverines
are far better off than when he's
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