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March 22, 2010 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-03-22

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2B - March 22, 2010 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Hockey's run has
redeemed 'M' sports

Santander leads in record victory'

DETROIT - As the Michigan
defense held the puck against the
boards for the last 10 seconds of
the CCHA Championship, the crescendo
of the raucous celebration in the Upper
Bowl of Joe Louis Arena reached a fren-
zied level.
It wasn't so much
cheering. It felt like so
much more than the
millionth-or-so time I'
sang "The Victors" or
chanted "It's Great To
Be A Michigan Wol-
verine."
It was a release. ANDY
I've been to foot- REID
ball games at almost
every Big Ten sta-
dium, a slew of bowl games, last year's
NCAA basketball tournament and the
2008 Frozen Four. Nothing felt like this.
Because - unlike any other Michigan
sporting event in the last 50-odd years
- there was nothing to be taken for
granted. A win wasn't expected; in fact,
most Michigan fans (including myself,
for purposes of full disclosure) had
written off the hockey team as a major
disappointment.
Michigan fans' desperation for some-
thing - anything - good had reached
such sky-high levels before the occur-
ance at the Joe this weekend that, when
Michigan coach Red Berenson thanked
the fans during the team's on-ice cel-
ebration, it was almost enough to com-
pletely make up for the rest of the school
year's unfulfillment.
It was a giant "Whew" moment, one
that this fanbase has been waiting for
since the Notre Dame football game
back in the fall.
I hate to say this Michigan fans, but
as much as this major sports slump has
sucked, and as much as 2009-10 has
felt like The Year That The Michigan
Athletic Department Has Forgotten, it's
been a very, very good experience for
the maize-and-blue faithful in the long
run.
It doesn't feel like it right now, but I
promise it will be.
It'll be worth it when the football
team finally rights the ship.
It'll be worth it when the basketball
team finally finds a level of consistency.
And it was absolutely, 100 percent
worth it Saturday night, when the enor-

mous Michigan student contingent was
on the verge of tears in celebration.
First of all, this slump will help Mich-
igan fans - one of the most win-hungry
fanbases in the country - appreci-
ate wins a little more. The difference
between the amount of students that
came to the Joe this year for the CCHA
Finals compared to the last two years
was remarkable.
Hockey fans are some of the most
dedicated on campus, but even so,
there's only one reason for this drastic
change in attendance: With constant
winning comes complacent fans.
This win feels good because it was
unexpected. Even though Michigan had
the talent to win the CCHA Champi-
onship all season, finally seeing them
reach said potential was one of the best
sports experiences I've had as a student
at Michigan.
The word "arrogant" gets thrown out
a lot about the Michigan faithful. And to
some extent, I accept and embrace the
term. We, as fans, deserve to be cocky.
Michigan football and hockey are two
of the most storied programs in col-
lege athletics history. So, of course, we
should expect to win.
But with that expectation comes a
certain dullness with every victory. If
the Wolverines win, they were supposed
to. If they lose, it's a freaking travesty -
it's almost a lose-lose situation as a fan.
But now our fandom has been tested
- and tested and tested and tested. The
fair-weather ones are gone, and what's
left is a hardcore group, the most dedi-
cated Michigan fan base in recent mem-
ory. Like the Phoenix rising from the
ashes, what has risen from Michigan's
recent mediocrity are real, blue-blooded
fans.
I saw that last night, as completely ran-
dom strangers threw their arms around
each other in celebration - one that has
felt better than any other victory in a long
time.
And that's the reward for those Michi-
gan fans who have stuck around.
Future wins are going to feel just like
Saturday night. Special.
- Reid is trying to find a cheap way
to attend the Midwest Regional games.
Regardless, he'll be at the Frozen Four
when Michigan makes it. He can be
reached at andyreid@umich.edu.

By MICHAEL LAURILA
DailySports Writer
The No. 4 Michigan men's gymnastics
team set a school record and NCAA sea-
son best with 364.450 points on Saturday
as it cruised past rival No. 5 Ohio State on
Senior Night.
Leading the way for the Wolverines was
senior Mel Santander and juniors Chris
Cameron and Thomas Kelley. Santander,
in particular, was a bright spot, as he set
another school record with the highest all-
around score ever.
"It's my last meet here and I wanted to
do the best that I could," Santander said.
"I'm very satisfied that I did that."
Not only did Santanderbreak the school
record in the all-around, he also received
career-best scores on the pommel horse,
still rings, parallel bars and high bar.
His score of 90.650 is the second-highest
overall score of any collegiate gymnast
this season, only .25 points behind the
highest one.
Cameron placed first in the floor exer-
cise, tied for second on the still rings and
finished second on the parallel bars. Kel-
ley was the high bar champion and also

finished second in the all-around, behind
Santander.
Throughout the season, Michigan has
had trouhles puttinsg together a complete
performance. There have always been one
or two mistake-ridden rotations, but on
Saturday, that was not the case.
"Nobody was afraid of anything and
nobody was afraid of missing," Cameron
said. "Every single gymnast went up and
did the best they could do, No hand place-
ment was off and no set was off. Every-
thing was just on."
Michigan's total score of 364.450 is the
highest score of any collegiate team this
season and is 2.80 points higher than No. 1
Stanford, which held the previous highest
score in the NCAA.
Lastseason on Senior Night, the Wolver-
ines were defeated by Illinois by one point.
"I think (Senior Night) had a real posi-
tive effect this year," Michigan coach
Kurt Golder said. "Of course, last year we
lost Senior Night and maybe they remem-
bered losing last year and probably got a
little extra motivation from that as well."
Senior Torrance Laury ended his
career at Cliff Keen arena with a bang, on
his performance during the fifth rotation

on the parallel bars. A senior leader, but
never a major contributor to the team's
score in his career, he had a solid routine
and perfectly stuck his landing. His score
of 14.50 was a career best, and a great way
to finish.
"I think the whole team was very excit-
ed for Torrance Laury," Golder said. "He
always has trouble with the dismount for
his P Bar routine, and he stuck it cold. I
think the guys were extremely happy for
him."
In two weeks, Michigan will travel
to Columbus to compete in the Big Ten
Championships. They will then travel to
West Point, N.Y. on April 15, to conclude
their season at NCAAs. Though the Wol-
verines will be coming off their highest
score ever, they still think much can be
improved before the postseason kicks off.
"We can get better," Cameron said.
"It's not like we stuck everything, and it's
not like we didn't have falls. I mean, geez,
we just want to get better, and reach our
potential which is still above what we did
today. The thing I love is now we have
three contenders for all-around titles at
both Big Ten's and NCAA's. It's going to be
a fun next month, that's for sure."

Wolverines win pitchers' duel in extras

By LUKE PASCH
Daily Sports Writer
Although the fourth-ranked Michigan
softball team's 13-game win streak came
to a close on Saturday, its season-opening
27-game road trip still culminated in a suc-
cessful 4-1 weekend at the Judi German
Classic in Fullerton, Calif.
The Wolverines (22-5) got to work early
on Thursday, as they downed No. 2 Arizona
in a 1-0 pitchers' duel that saw no runs on
the board until extra innings.
Junior pitcher Jordan Taylor and the
Michigan offense knew Thursday's game
would be the team's toughest test thus far.
They were facing off against Arizona's
prized freshman phenom Kenzie Fowler,
the 2008 and 2009 Gatorade National High
School Player of the Year. Fowler was pre-
viously undefeated with a 0.70 ERA, not to
mention a lineup behind her that has three
hitters with a .420-plus batting average (the
Wolverines don't have a single .400-plus
hitter).
But Michigan coach Carol Hutchins
wasn't particularly intimidated.
"We want our team to prepare the same
for every game because the game of softball

doesn't know whether you're playing Ari-
zona or whoever," Hutchins said. "We don't
play the opponent's name on their chest; we
come out and play at the same high level for
everyone."
Day two of the tournament saw an offen-
sive explosion, as the team scored a com-
bined 29 runs against UNLV and Utah.
The team needed everybit of run support
against UNLV that morning, as it squeaked
by in a 14-13 victory that was character-
ized by a slew of pitching miscues and
unearned runs. And though the Wolverines
took down the unranked Utes in a convinc-
ing 15-1 five-inning victory in game two, it
started in a similar manner - Taylor gave
up a leadoff walk, hit two batters and com-
mitted three illegal pitches before exiting in
the first inning.
The illegal pitches raised some eyebrows
on the Michigan bench. Taylor was called
for a crow-hop violation - the pitcher's back
foot must be kept on the ground - which
had yet to be called on her this season.
"It's being called on a lot of pitchers this
year who have never been called for it,"
Taylor said. "Apparently it's a big issue right
now in softball."
Hutchins isn'tparticularly worried about

the perceived adjustment in enforcement,
so long as Taylor focuses on the "one-pitch
softball" mindset that the Valencia, Calif.
native was taught when she arrived in Ann
Arbor two years ago.
"The only pitch in the game that mat-
ters is the one you're throwing right this
moment." Hutchins said. "Some people call
it 'being in the zone'. We call it 'being in the
moment.'"
But the philosophy didn't help Taylor on
Saturday morningeither, as she losther sec-
ond game of the season to No. 15 Texas 5-2.
She gave up four earned runs on five hits,
but she also walked five batters and tossed
nine illegal pitches.
Senior hurler Nikki Nemitz pitched a
much cleaner game against DePaul that
afternoon in a 3-1 victory in which she gave
up four hits and two walks en route to her
seventh win of the season.
Last season, a season in which the Wol-
verines fell a game short of a Women's Col-
lege World Series championship game, the
team was 20-9 before it came home to Ann
Arbor. The team returns to Alumni Field
this Wednesday afternoon for its 2010 home
opener with a winning percentage 12 points
above that mark.

Enter Class of 2010 T-Shirt Design Contest
and Win $250 Cash!
The Alumni Association is sponsoring a T-shirt design competition to
celebrate the Class of 2010. Picture your design on the backs of your
classmates!
The T-shirts will be for sale in April and May on our Web site, with
all proceeds benefiting student programs like Welcome Wednesdays,
30-Minute Mentors and free memberships for new graduates.
Deadline: Monday, March 22.
Prizes: Winning design: $250 cash 2nd place: $150 cash
and your design produced 3rd place: $75 cash
by the Alumni Association
Complete rules and entry details at umalumni.com/classof2010tshirt.

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