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February 07, 2011 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-02-07

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2 - February 7, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

28 - February 7, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Michigan tops Fighting Illini

I cheered for
Woodson on
Super Sunday.

O nthis Super Bowl Sun-
day, a day full of athletic
pageantry and a pure
American love of sports, I can't
help but look
back at my
first vivid
sports mem-
ory..
I was eight
years old,
and I had, in =
that moment, x
almost instan- RYAN
taneously KARTJE
decided who
my favorite
athlete of all time would be. He
wore No.2. I had just watched
him make an electrifying punt
return and intercept a pass near
Michigan's endzone against Ohio
State.
And as the game came to end
- my dad jumping up and down
in our living room - he iconi-
cally put the rose in his mouth,
giving me a memory I would
never forget.
Sure, I didn't know what that
meant more than many other
eight-year-olds around, but I
knew who my favorite football
player was. And I knew that
Charles Woodson had made me a
Michigan fan.
Thirteen years later, Woodson
is still my favorite athlete of all
time. His defensive presence on
Michigan's 1997 National Cham-
pionship team is, in my opinion,
the most dominant season by a
defensive player in the history of
college - and maybe even pro-
fessional - football.
And as we embark on the most
exciting and important day in
all of sports (sorry, but there's
no arguing this), I feel it's my
civic duty to honor one of the
best Michigan football players
of all time and one of the best
cornerbacks in the history of the
National Football League on his
second Super Bowl Sunday.
Woodson is a remnant of what
Michigan football, and football
in general, used to be.
If you take a look at the statis-
tical breakdown from the 1997
Wolverine team, you'll under-
stand what I mean.
Brian Griese, the quarterback
of Michigan's national champi-
onship team only threw for 2,293
yards and 17 touchdowns in the
Wolverines' magical season. For
comparison's sake, that would
rank him 42nd nationally in
passing yards and touchdowns in
2010. So, think Wisconsin quar-
terback Scott Tolzein. And yeah,
how many of you would see Tol-
zein asa national championship
quarterback?
Chris Howard, the running
back of Michigan's national
championship team, would've
been 45th nationally in rush-
ing yards and 47th nationally in
touchdowns if he played in 2010
with 938 yards and seven touch-
downs to lead the Wolverines.
Those are numbers quarterback
Denard Robinson almost doubled
this season.
Those offensive numbers
probably wouldn't hold up in

today's NCAAfootball landscape.
But a quick look at the defense,
led by Mr. Woodson, shows that
the moniker of "defense wins
championships" absolutely rang
true in 1997.
The Wolverines had five first
team All-Big Ten defensive
starters - three of which were
also first team All-Americans.
They allowed just 8.8 yards per
completion, still an NCAA FBS
record (Thanks, Charles), led the
Big Ten in total defense (222.8
yards per game) and allowed just
9.5 points per game. Those last
two marks haven't been beaten in
the Big Ten in the last quarter of
a century.
And on that defense - boast-
ing future NFLers James Hall,
Glen Steele, Sam Sword, Dhani
Jones, Ian Gold, Tommy Hen-
dricks, Marcus Ray and William
James - Woodson was the most
feared of all.
A great deal was made of
Woodson's matchup in that 1997
Ohio State game with David
Boston, one of the NCAA's most
dominant wide receivers at the
time. But Woodson was far from
intimidated. He and Boston
exchanged jibes all week long,
and unlike any Michigan player
since, he came through on all of
his guarantees.
There's one
player who has
renewed my
love for football.
Aside from a late 56-yard
touchdown catch, Boston was
held to just two catches for 12
yards total. And like any great
cornerback, Woodson spent
much of the day getting inside
his head.
"The first time I jammed
him and told him he was soft,"
Woodson said of Boston. "Every
time I lined up against him, I
told him nothing would come
easy. I was like a father chastis-
ing his son for running his mouth
to the wrong people. He made
one catch for a touchdown, it
was a great catch. Except for the
touchdown I gave up, it's the all-
around game I wanted."
At Michigan, Woodson repre-
sented everything that football
should be: hard-nosed defense,
mild trash talk, big plays and no-
excuses results. It's something
the Wolverines haven't seen in
awhile, and something Michi-
gan fans should hope for as the
regime changes.
So I'll be rooting for the Pack-
ers on Super Bowl Sunday - even
though the game will be long
over by the time you read this.
Because as much as I love
the Steelers' Lamarr Woodley,
there's one player who has, on
multiple occasions, renewed my
love for the game of football.
And that's Charles Woodson.

By KEVIN RAFTERY
Daily Sports Writer
It would be difficult to think
of a worse way for the Michi-
gan women's basketball team
to start off the game on Sunday
against Illinois.
After winning the tip, the
Fighting Illini had the ball for
64 seconds
straight, ILINOIS 59
fueled MICHIGAN 69
by an
unheard-of five offensive
rebounds in one possession. On
its fifth try, Illinois finally con-
verted the first bucket of the
game.
"When there's five offensive
rebounds off the bat, you figure,
'Oh boy, here we go,"' Michigan
coach Kevin Borseth said after
the game. "But fortunately the
game is 40 minutes long, not 50
seconds."
Led by senior guard Veronica
Hicks' 24 points, the Wolverines
eventually recovered from the
horrendous start en route to a
69-59 victory over visiting Illi-
nois.
But it took Michigan (7-4 Big
Ten, 14-9 overall) some time to
get going.
Three minutes into the con-
test, Illinois led 7-0 and the Wol-
verines had barely even touched
the ball.
That's when Hicks took over.
She went on an a tear, scoring
Michigan's first eight points of
the game. The Fighting Illini
(2-9, 7-17) simply didn't have a
way to stop her.
"My teammates did a great
job of moving the ball around
and found me a couple of times,"
Hicks said. "I was able to get to
the rima couple of times and fin-
ish, unlike last game."
Hicks darted in and out of the

Illinois defense with ease, fin-
ishing nearly every shot she took
- both in and outside the arc.
She finished the first half with
18 points - just six away from
her career high for a game.
But she wasn't completely
alone in the first frame. With
junior guard Courtney Boylan
struggling, sophomore forward
Kate Thompson was called on
earlier than usual.
"We needed to get a bigger
hand on (Illinois guard Amber
Moore)," Borseth said. "(Moore)
got a couple shots off early on us,
so we put Kate out there. She got
a hand up and blocked a couple
shots, and then altered a bunch
because of her length."
Thompson was successful on
the offensive end, too. She went
into the break with 8 points on
3-for-4 shooting from the field.
With Hicks and Thompson
leading the way, Michigan head-
ed into the locker room with a
38-29 advantage.
For much of the second half,
Illinois wouldn't go away. Every
time it seemed like the Wolver-
ines were on the verge of pulling
away, the Illini responded with
a bucket.
And after Illinois sophomore
forward Karisma Penn, who
torched the Wolverines for 23
points and 11 rebounds, hit a'
free throw with 9:21 remaining,
Michigan's 10-point lead was
down to just two.
That was the closest the
Illini would get - Thompson
and sophomore forward Rachel
Sheffer combined for Michi-
gan's next 13 points to increase
the lead back to double digits.
The Wolverines were nearly
flawless from the charity stripe
down the stretch, and they fin-
ished the game 18-for-22 from
the line.

Sophomore forward Kate Thompson scored 13 points in the Michigan win.

"Before the game, Coach was
saying that we'll be successful if
we get to the line," Thompson
said.
"(We knew) it would put them
in trouble."
Sheffer, who was 6-for-6 from
the charity stripe, reached dou-
ble digits in points for the sixth-
straight game and has been
pivotal to the success of this
young Wolverine squad.
"I don't know if (today) was
one of her better games, but
she's developing into a postplay-
er down there," Borseth said.
"She's scoring against kids that
are bigger than her, and she's

learning in the process."
With a rematch against Big
Ten-leading Michigan State
looming next Sunday, the Wol-
verines will have a week to
digest this one and prepare for
what will arguably be their most
important game so far this sea-
son.
But first, there was a football
game to watch - at least for
coach Borseth.
"Right now, we're gonna go
watch the Super Bowl," he said.
"That's what I'm gonna do.
Then we've got to get ourselves
energy, because Michigan State
is a big game that we want to be

0

Senior gaurd Veronica Hicks tied her career-high with 24 points on Sunday and tallied 18 points before the break in Michigan's 69-59 win over Illinois.
Hicks's4 propel Blue to win

By EVERETT COOK
Daily Sports Writer
Senior guard Veronica Hicks
was about a half-second away
from a new career high in points.
She banked a deep 3-pointer in

May 201 GraduMates!
Michigan College Advising Corps
is now hiring UM Grads for full-time,
paid service positions as
college advisers
Apply Now!
The Michigan College Advising Corps seeks new
graduates to serve as college advisers in underserved
high schools across Michigan
Application deadline: February 21, 2011
For more Information and an application packet visit
wwwceo.u m chedulmcac

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the Wolverines' last possession
that didn't count due to a shot
clock violation.
But fortunately for the Michi-
gan women's basketball team,
that was about the only thing that
went wrong for Hicks all game.
Hicks scored the Wolverines'
first eight points to bring them
out of an early chasm and led
them to a 69-59 victory over the
Fighting Illini:Coming off a slug-
gish loss to Penn State, Hicks
made sure Michigan didn't lose
its' third straight game.
She tied a career high with
24 points, including nine from
beyond the 3-point arc, while
shooting 64 percent from the
floor. Hicks also grabbed eight
rebounds and four assists and
played some of her best defense
of the season, nabbing four
steals andsforcing countless
poor Illini shots.
"She played within herself,
which was really good," Michi-
gan coach Kevin Borseth said
after the game. "Obviously, she
got things done when she had to."
It's an understatement to say
Hicks has been vital to Michi-
gan's success this season. She
leads the team in points, with
close to 12 per game, as well as
rebounds, with just over five per

game.
the W
have b
Aft
from t
Lions,
going
on her
the gi
kept n
almos
it had
scored
first-h
Michi
eight.

In Sunday's game, though, "When you're around long
rolverines definitely would enough, your days get num-
een in trouble without her. bered," Borseth said. "Roni
er shooting just 33 percent (Hicks) is playing like there's no
he floor againstthe Nittany tomorrow right now, which is
it seemed like Hicks was really good."
to carry the Wolverines Hicks's play overshadowed the
r back against Illinois from struggles of the starting unit, as
et-go. Play after play, she she scored more than the other
Michigan in the game, and four Michigan starters com-
t single-handedly ensured bined. The backcourt tandem
the lead at halftime. She of sophomore Jenny Ryan and
1 18 of the Wolverines' 38 junior Courtney Boylan com-
alf points, while no other bined for one point. And though
gan player had more than the frontcourt of junior Carmen
Reynolds and sophomore Rachel
- Sheffer combined for 19 points,
they did it on 33-percent shoot-
ing. Sophomore forward Kate
'(Hicks) is Thompson had a nice game off
the bench, scoring 12 points, but
Ala in like without Hicks, Michigan would
J C have seen a loss.
there's no "You get in the gym and you
shoot," Hicks said. "It's just com-
omorrow." ing out here and doing it now on
the court."
Aside from the 3-pointer
called off late in the game, Hicks
ks is the team's only senior, also missed a free throw late in
as taken an enormous lead- the game that would've given
role for the young squad. her a new career high in points.
only five games left before "I knew I was close to my
g Ten tournament, it seems career-high," Hicks said. "I had
licks is treasuring her final some opportunities, but I'm just
as a Wolverine. glad to come out with a 'W.'"

0

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