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February 08, 2011 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-02-08

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8 - Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Michigan Daily- michigandaily.com 40

For these Wolverines,
look beyond the results 1

MARISSA MCCLAIN/Daily
Senior goaltender Bryan Hogan injured his groin during warmups before the Big Chill at the Big House on Dec. 11.

NESBITT
From Page 7
For most Michigan fans, the lA
was Hunwick. They showed up
in droves expecting Hunwick to
once again leave them thunder-
struck. He held up his end of the
bargain, but the team didn't show
up - in early December he was
stuck with a 2-3-4 record and
only a plus-3 goal differential,
mostly thanks to a 7-2 victory
over Lake Superior State in late
November.
Meanwhile, Hogan was 7-2-0
and receiving plenty of support
on both ends of the ice.
During the week of The Big
Chill at the Big House, Berenson
seemed to be on the cusp of mak-
ing a decision about the starting
job. He named Hogan the starter
for the Big Chill, onlyto have
Hogan reinjure his groin during
the warm-ups and concede the
spot to Hunwick.
Michigan was ina familiar
spot. It was down to a last-resort
goaltender - the only difference
was that this time, the emer-
gency starter had proven himself

before.
In front of the new starting
man, the Wolverines went into
defensive lockdown, making way
for Hunwick to charm the crowd
of more than 100,000 in a daz-
zling 5-0 victory.
While Hogan recuperated for
the next month-and-a-half, Hun-
wick won back the confidence of
any doubters, bumping his record
up to 10-5-4 as the Wolverines
entered February - dropping
just two contests along the way.
When the team traveled to
Oxford, Ohio last weekend, one
familiar face was back on the
Michigan bench: Bryan Hogan.
Bringing him along as the backup
was a signal from Berenson that
Hogan is healthy enough to be
depended on.
After being swept by the
RedHawks, the outlook isn't so
rosy for Berenson's troops. The
defense is crumbling - perhaps
a byproduct of becoming too
dependent on the strong goalten-
ding between the pipes. Hunwick
hasn't done much to disappoint
the team - making save after
save on point-blank opportuni-
ties - but the defense certainly

has.
It's been a one-man show in
the defensive zone. Berenson
hasn't said a dissenting word
about the goaltender because
Hunwick simply isn't allowing
bad goals.
But something has to change,
and it's conceivable that the
goalie situation could swing full-
circle from where it was at this
time last season.
Michigan is searching for a
kick-start to return to Berenson's
mantra of taking care of defense
first, and Hogan might be the
flame to reignite the once red-hot
Wolverines.
Considering the team's pro-
pensityto rally around a new
goaltender, especially when its
back is against the wall, don't
put it past Berenson to put No. 35
back on the ice to give the team a
wake-up call.
Hunwick or Hogan? 1A or 1B?
It's time to reopen the debate.
- Nesbitt hopes you caught
the Old Spice commercial
reference in the second paragraph,
and he can be reached at
stnesbit@michigandaily.com

Fans are prone to overreac-
tions these days.
Pretty quickly after
the Michigan men's basketball
team's road upset over Penn
State on Sunday, the conversa-
tion among supporters turned
to one ques-
tion: can this BEN
team make the ESTES
NCAA Tourna
ment? On Men's
At first Basketball
glance, it seems
like a rather innocuous query
- and then you realize that
such followers are talking about
making the Big Dance this year.
I will admit, there is a win-
dow of opportunity for the
Wolverines to make the tour-
nament this season. But that
window is barely even cracked.
Michigan would probably have
to win around five of its last
seven games before picking up
another victory or two in the
Big Ten Tournament to make
that dream a reality.
Finishing on such a strong
note would be easy if the Wol-
verines were still playing teams
like Gardner-Webb and Bryant,
but they're not - they're in the
heart of their Big Ten schedule,
against arguably the best con-
ference, top-to-bottom, in the
country.
Games like this week's tilts
against Northwestern and
Indiana are being considered as
must-haves. That seems reason-
able, since a tournament-bound
team should theoretically
be expected to take care of
business at home against the
eighth- and 10-place teams in
the Big Ten standings, respec-
tively. Then, you remember that
Michigan already lost to these
two squads by a combined 33
points.
The point is, there's almost no
realistic chance that the Wol-
verines will make the NCAA
field this year. Sure, they're
playing their best basketball of
the year, but they've also been
up-and-down all season, like
most young teams. To expect
them to go on a late-season run
like the one required for a tour-
nament bid is just asking too
much.
But that's fine. It's easy to
forget what the expectations
were for this team going into
the season. Michigan was
expected to be one of the abso-
lute worst teams in the Big Ten,
what with all its youth and
inexperience. Instead, Michi-
gan coach John Beilein has the
Wolverines just a game-and-a-
half out of fourth place in the
conference.
They've played above expec-
tations, but doesn't mean that
we should suddenly readjust
those expectations. As depress-
ing as some would say this
sounds, this year has always

JAKEFReOMM/Daily
Michigan coach John Beilein led the Wolverines toan NCAA Tournament
berth in 2009. Michigan didn't play ina postseason tournament last season.

been about next year and the
year after - when Beilein will
have the experienced talent
necessary to make a legitimate
tourney run.
So you can't base your
evaluation of Michigan solely
off the results of each game.
Beilein certainly doesn't - he
has repeatedly said he's seeing
things in practice that show
great development among the
Wolverines, and that he's taken
solace in them even during the
stretches of losing.
Lately, some of that has car-
ried over to the real games.
Look at the Ohio State game
last Thursday. Yes, it ended
up being a disappointing loss,
considering Michigan had a
halftime lead and couldn't hold
on against the top-ranked Buck-
eyes.
But you have to look deeper
than that. Consider that Ohio
State opened the game on a 7-0
run, putting the Wolverines
behind early, with the loud-
est crowd I've heard all season
going nuts (no pun intended).
But Michigan didn't fold.
It didn't do what one would
expect such a youngteam to
do. Instead, the players stayed
composed and fought back -
something that just wouldn't
have happened if this game was
played early in the seasoi.
And, yes, everyone criticized
the Wolverine offense for play-
ing subparly, and rightfully so,
because the unit managed just
53 points.
Again, though, you have to
dig deeper than the stats. The
Buckeyes employed a strategy
rarely seen this season against
Michigan, sticking with outside

shooters and forcing the Wol-
verines into a two-man game
with sophomore point guard
Darius Morris and whoever was
in the post.
Michigan didn't execute that
well against it, but for a relative-
ly untalented offensive attack
to have a new type of defense
thrown at it - one it wasn't pre-
pared for - and still manage to
hang in the game until the end
against the nation's No. S team?
That's impressive.
And while the Penn State
game will mostly just be
remembered as a simple win,
there were a lot of positive
developments behind it: that
guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (after
a very freshman-like bout with
foul trouble in the first half)
shook off his rustiness and
spearheaded the Wolverines'
charge in the second half, and
that Michigan started the game
playing extremely poor - on the
road, against a solid team - and
still won in the end.
Those are two more achieve-
ments that this inexperienced
bunch wouldn't have pulled off
when the season began.
Michigan is growing - that
was seen against Penn State and
the loss to Ohio State, and will
continue to be seen the rest of
the season - win or lose.
The Wolverines probably
aren't going to the NCAA Tour-
nament, but they're showing
more and more that they'll
surely be there next year, which
is what really matters for this
group.
And there's always the NIT.
For a developing Michigan team
- this season - that's still a
great thing.

.

CLUB LACROSSE
'M' seeks fourth-straight title

By JOHN EPPLER
Daily Sports Writer
Over the past three years, the
Michigan men's lacrosse team
has been near unbeatable, earn-
ing three consecutive MCLA
National Championship titles.
In fact, the seniors on the team
have yet to have a season that did
not end in a championship.
Over that three year span,
the team has won an impres-
sive 58 games, and lost only one.
The team's success has put them
into the national spotlight, with
rumors of a future rise to Divi-
sion-I status becoming more and
more widespread.
"The bottom line is that Dave
Brandon and the athletic depart-
ment are working toward that
goal," Michigan coach John Paul
said.
While this year's team is
younger than in the past, expec-
tations for Michigan are still
high. For a team with the sort
of success that the Wolverines
have recently achieved, the only
acceptable end to a season is a
championship.
"I think when you have got-
ten to the point of success that
we have had over the past years,

winning a championship has to
be a goal," Paul said.
But the team has suffered
some major losses.
Most of these are concentrat-
ed to the midfield, with the loss
of last year's faceoff specialist
David Reinhard being among
the most notable. His near 70
percent faceoff success rate
was an advantage easy to get
accustomed to and is difficult to
replace.
"We are going to be relying
on kids who may not have had
huge impacts-in previous sea-
sons," senior captain and start-
ing defender Harry Fried said.
"We have alot of new guys in the
mix, and that makes ita little bit
exciting, but a little different at
the same time."
Some of these issues sur-
faced in the 18-11 preseason
loss against Bellamine, a NCAA
Division-I opponent. Several
holes in the Wolverine defense
were exposed and faceoffs were
inconsistent. Even with the
minor hiccups, Paul wasn't con-
cerned.
"Our scrimmage last week
exposed some things that we
still need to be working on,"
Paul said. "But, that's what these

scrimmages are for. We worked
on our defense in practice this
week."
The team continued to work
through the preseason, using it
to get better and hit stride come
the beginning of the season.
In their most recent matchup,
the team earned a better result
defeating Wittenberg by a score
of 13-9 on Friday.
Still, faceoffs and defense
have been the weak links for
Michigan after two pre-season
games.
Nonetheless, a high powered
offense lead by seasoned stars
like senior attackman Trevor
Yealy was enough to put the t
Wolverines past Wittenberg.
"We are going to have to find
a faceoff guy who will have his
own way of success," Fried said.
"I think what we are goingto
see, is that the guys filling in are
going to give this team its own
identity."
Despite key losses due to
graduation, the Michigan men's
lacrosse team believes that they
will continue to experience the
success that they have become
accustomed to.
Only a championship is
acceptable.

I I

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