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March 10, 2011 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-03-10

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 7A

Despite loss to Illinois, 'M'
is a tournament team

Hunwick gaining confidence in net

You've probably experienced
the feeling before.
Maybe it's like that feeling you
had after fifth grade baseball try-
outs. You botched the last ground
ball right in front of the head
coach and you
figured that KEVIN
would be the RAFTERY
reason you
wouldn't make On Women's
the team - Bosketball
sorry if that
opens up an old wound.
Your stomach churns, you find
it hard to concentrate, you can't
sleep. You know the situation is
out of your hands, yet you can't let
it go. What if you would've done
something different?
If you've ever experienced
these types of feelings, you and
the Michigan women's basketball
team have something in common.
(I bet you never thought you'd
hear that.)
But for the Wolverines, this
feeling comes as they sit square on
the NCAA Tournament bubble,
hoping they've done enough this
season to earn a bid to the Big
Dance - something they haven't
done since 2001.
And this feeling was self-inflict-
ed. It didn't have to be this way.
Just a week and a half ago,
Michigan was in the driver's seat
for an at-large NCAA Tourna-
ment bid. The Wolverines (10-6
Big Ten, 17-12 overall) capped off
their best Big Ten season since the
2000-2001 campaign with a 58-55
win at Illinois, and they secured a
first-round bye and the No. 3 seed
for the Big Ten Tournament.
One win in the Big Ten Tour-
nament and this team was a lock
for the festivities in March.
And after last-place Illinois
upset No. 6 seed Wisconsin and
was slated to play Michigan last
Friday, it appeared the Wolver-
ines' ticket had been punched.

All they had to do was beat the
lowly Fighting Illini - a team
the Wolverines beat twice this
year and who had only recently
snapped a brutal 12-game losing
streak.
Maybe they caught the Illini
when they were hot. Maybe it was
the perfect storm for Michigan
- playing against a team with
absolutely nothingto lose, while
you potentially have everything
to lose.
Whatever it was, it ended in a
55-47 loss for Michigan, in a game
where the Wolverines never really
had a chance. They were down
37-16 at halftime.
That sure doesn't sound likea
Tournament team to me. Neither
does ateam who has lost to the
third-worst team in the Big Ten
(Minnesota) twice and to Detroit
(13-17).
Clearly, the Wolverines' record
won't blow anyone out of the
water. And they know that.
"I know (the tournament com-
mittee) looks at overall records so
much, and obviously ours is 17-12,"
junior guard Courtney Boylan said
after Michigan's loss to Illinois.
"It's not 20 wins. Generally I think
that's what they look for, 19 or 20."
And the team's stats won't
exactly turn any heads either.
Michigan isn't in the nation's top-
50 in scoring offense or defense,
and it lacks a superstar-caliber
player.
But despite all of that, this is a
tournament team.
Not only did these Wolverines
prove they can beat some of the
best teams in the nation - Big
Ten Tournament Champion Ohio
State (twice), Iowa, Kansas, Wis-
consin (twice) - they also have
the perfect formula to weave deep
into the Tournamentbracket.
Michigan had eight different
players lead the team in scoring
this year.

In a three-game stretch start-
ing in late December, when the
Wolverines rolled off three-
straight wins against ranked
opponents, different players led
the team in scoring in each game.
Sophomore forward Rachel
Sheffer led the team with 19
points against then-No. 24 Boston
College, Hicks and junior forward
Carmen Reynolds poured in 17 in
a 64-51 win against then-No. 12
Ohio State, and Boylan tallied 18
in her first start of the year in a
60-53 victory at then-No. 14 Iowa.
On any given night, seven dif-
ferent Wolverines (excluding
sophomore Nya Jordan, who has
been out since late December with
a knee injury) have the potential
to lead this team to victory. Sure,
Hicks is clearly the emotional
leader, and she leads the team in
points per game. But this Michi-
gan team in no way depends on
her to score, like many other
squads do of their senior leaders.
When Michigan is in need of
a bucket, nobody knows who's
going to step up - but everybody
knows that somebody will step
up. That's a rare quality, and it's
one that is crucial in March.
And this team takes care of the
ball - something vital to postsea-
son success. Prior to the Illinois
loss last Friday, the Wolverines
were ranked second in the nation
in turnover-to-assist ratio. Even
after a horrible performance
against the Illini in which Michi-
gan had 15 turnovers and just 12
assists, the Wolverines are still
14th in the nation in that category.
You'll hear that Michigan is on
the bubble. But if I was a betting
man, I'd say that sick feeling that
the Wolverines are feeling now
will turn to elation come Monday
night.
And who knows, maybe you'll
get that baseball career back on
track after all.

By CASANDRA PAGNI
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan coach Red Beren-
son described netminder Shawn
Hunwick's season last year as an
adventure.
In the latter stages of last sea-
son, Hunwick was called upon to
fill the void in net when starter
Bryan Hogan went down with
a groin injury. Having seen less
than three minutes of game-
action prior to that point, Hun-
wick utilized his opportunity
to anchor the Wolverines' push
to reach their 20th-consecutive
NCAA Tournament.
But that was last year, and if
Hunwick knows one thing, it's
that he can't live in the past.
Now, the goalie finds himself
in a similar role. He will be the
one to defend the pipes as Michi-
gan begins its playoff run in this
weekend's CCHA quarterfinal
best-of-three series against Bowl-
ing Green.
"I think last year, it was all
an adventure," Berenson said.
"He was hoping, and he handled
it well. But now he's got a base,
he's got a base of expectations.
He knows what can do (and) he
knows what he should do."
With the regular season com-
pleted, Hunwick has worked
his way to a career-best three
shutouts this season, including
two against Michigan State. The
Sterling Heights, Mich. native
ranks second in the conference in
goals against average (1.95), save
percentage (.931) and winning
percentage (.690) - even after
getting out to a slow start this sea-
son.
Hunwick's record heading into
The Big Chill at the Big House
was a mediocre 3-3-4 and he
wasn't even supposed to play in
the event. But when Hogan went
down during warm-ups, Hunwick
took over. He registered a shutout,
finding the same success as he did
near the end of last season.

SALAM IA/oily
Senior goaltender Shawn Hunwick led Michitan tooa CCHA title last season.

The only difference was that
this time around, Hunwick had
the confidence and the poise of a
veteran.
"I thought he played better in
that situation than he (did when
he) was playing for the job in the
first half," Berenson said. "For
one reason or another, he took
advantage of the opportunity or
he appreciated the opportunity
more. It just seemed tobe another
experience that turned out to be a
positive one for him."
Since that game, Hunwick has
kept his foot on the gas. He led the
Wolverines to both a Great Lakes
Invitational title and a CCHA reg-
ular season title, earning a 16-7-4
overall record and a 5-1-2 line
when making 30 or more saves in
a game along the way.
"If we didn't end up with the
lowest goals against, we weren't
going to win (the CCHA)," Beren-
son said. "He was the reason,
night after night. Look at all the
close games we played in. We
weren't the prolific team that we
could really separate ourselves
many nights from our opponents,
and Hunwick was a big factor in
our success."
As Michigan's postseason
begins this weekend, it marks
the beginning of the end for the
current Wolverine senior class.
But the good news for Michigan

fans is that Hunwick - who was
approached by the coaches after
the 2009-10 season about his addi-
tional year of eligibility - weighed
his options and has decided to stay
at Michigan for another season.
"A lot of people talk about the
goalie as being kind of an indi-
vidual sport," senior forward
Matt Rust said. "There's no one to
back him up, he's the last line of
defense. I know when the offense
hasn't been putting a lot of goals
to the net, we've really looked to
Shawn to backstop us. He's done a
great job all season and he's going
to continue to do that for us in the
future."
Hunwick is sure to put thoughts
about the future on hold as the
only thing occupying his mind is
the job in front of him and the rest
of the Wolverines, starting with
Bowling Green.
And in this year's playoff run,
Hunwick has the experience to
add a little control to his Michigan
adventure.
"I'm definitely confident going
into the playoffs (this year), but
I think at the same time, I'm just
another piece to the puzzle," Hun-
wick said. "I'm asked to do my job,
I'm not asked to recapture last
year's run or do anything like that.
They're asking me just to play
good (in goal), to continue to play
the way I have."

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