The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 9A
'M' takes on hot-streaking
Eastern Mich. in WNIT
Looking to improve team's stamina,
Blue practices in Colorado's thin air
By EVERETT COOK
Daily Sports Writer
The tournament may be dif-
ferent, but the goal is the same.
The Michigan women's bas-
ketball team finds itself in a place
to do some serious damage in a
different postseason tournament
- the WNIT. The Wolverines
might have been
after finding out
they would not
be playing in the Michigan
NCAA tourna- Matchup:
ment, but they Michigan
quickly shifted 17-12; Eastern
gears to the Michigan
"I think a When: Thurs-
lot of us were day at 7 p.m.
prettyupsetthat Where: EMU
night (selec- Convoca-
tion Monday), lion Center
so it took a little
time to cool off,"
junior guard Courtney Boylan
said after practice Wednesday.
"But the next day rolled around
and our mindset was really set
for the next game. We didn't
do quite enough to get into the
NCAA Tournament, but we are
ready for the next goal, which is
! to win the WNIT."
Michigan (10-6 Big Ten, 17-12
overall) will drive down the
road to Ypsilanti on Thursday to
take on Eastern Michigan (10-6
MAC, 22-12 overall) in its first
test since losing to last-place Illi-
nois in the Big Ten Tournament.
And Michigan coach Kevin
Borseth knows the Wolverines
can't look past the Eagles.
"Eastern is hot," Borseth said.
"They are really just playing
Eastern Michigan went into
its conference tournament a No.
5 seed, but won three games in a
Michigan coach Kevin Borseth's team will have a size advantage over EMU.
row to reach the finals. It even- a little over seven per game,
tually lost to Bowling Green by and assists, with almost six per
five points in the championship game.
game, just missing an automatic As a team, though, the Eagles
bid in the NCAA Tournament. are not impressive shooters.
The Eagles have an impres- They shot just 39 percent from
sive starting lineup, but the the floor, including a paltry 29
production drops off after that percent from 3-point range dur-
- they have just four players ing the season. Instead, they rely
averaging more than four points on creating turnovers to secure
per game. In contrast, Michigan baskets in transition, and they
has eight players averaging more force an astounding 21turnovers
than four points per game. Their per game, including 12 steals per
starting lineup doesn't feature a game (16th in the nation). That
single player over 6-foot-1, mak- would be an issue for the Wol-
ing the Wolverines the larger verines if they had trouble hold-
team for one of the few times ing onto the ball, but fortunately
this season. The big difference for them, that is usually the least
in the starters, though, is in the of their worries. Michigan only
experience. There will be three turns the ball 13 times per game
seniors starting for the Eagles, - good for second in the country.
and only one senior - Veronica Michigan will have to stick
Hicks - for the Wolverines. to what it excels at in order to
Michigan will be forced to advance one step closer to its
compete with the impressive goal. If itcantake care of the ball
Eastern Michigan backcourt, and limit the damage from the
which is headlined by two play- Eagles backcourt, the Wolver-
ers who account for almost half ines shouldbe in good shape.
of the team's total offensive "There isn't a lot of prepara-
output. Junior Tavelyn James tion, but we know who we are
averages 17.5 points per game, and we need to do what got us
and senior Cassie Schrock con- to this point," Boylan said. "It is
tributes almost 15. Schrock also important to do what we know
leads the team in rebounds, with how to do."
By HEIKO YANG group of seniors, they do the same
Daily Sports Writer thing four years in a row. It's like you
eat the same breakfast four years
The winningest program in the in a row every day, and eventually
modern era of college water polo you're going to get bored of it."
doesn't have much of a postseason Anderson doesn't want that to
resume. happen again, not with the amount
Despite being the first team to of talent and experience that has
reach 300 wins last weekend, Mich- returned to the team. This year, he
igan has never won an NCAA Tour- devised a way to give his players a
nament. In recent years, it hasn't mid-season jolt of energy.
even survived the first round. He took them to Colorado
In 2008, the Wolverines lost 12-3 Springs for their spring workout -
to No. 2 USC. The following post- a mile above sea level, where even
season, they were knocked out 13-6 going through the motions would
by No. 3 UCLA. Last year didn't go be difficult.
much better, as they fell again to "I wanted to prove to them that
No. 4 Cal, 12-8. It's no rocket science they can push themselves harder
to figure out that there's a pattern and accomplish something their
here. The trick is to figure out how senior year," Anderson said. "(I
to change it. wanted to get them) motivated to
It's not a lack of talent. Michi- realize how well they could do the
gan coach Matt Anderson recruits restofthe season."
well nationally and is able to out- The Wolverines spent the week
compete California schools to of spring training at the Colorado
draw more than half of his team Springs Olympic Training Center.
from the recruiting hotbed state. It's one of three official training
The Wolverines have produced 21 facilities for U.S. Olympic athletes,
All-Americans, and several former and its housingcomplex is currently
players have gone on to pursue home to nearly100 athletes training
professional careers in water polo, for the 2012 Olympics.
including one Olympian in Betsey The players' dailyscheduleswere
Armstrong. slotted with numerous pool work-
It's not the coaching, either. outs and gym exercises. Between
Anderson has been honored as 7:30 a.m. and lunch, there was
Coach of the Year by the Collegiate breakfast, a video session, a three-
Water Polo Association three times hour pool practice and an intense
in his nine-year tenure at Michigan. gym circuit where, according to
His record is 254-93, and his Wol- junior Meagan Cobb, the players
verines have made it a habit of beat- "threw tires and swung hammers
ingtop-10 teams regularly. and did crazythings."
So what's the missing ingredient? Team-building activities were in
Anderson thinks it's a lack of the afternoon, and after dinner, the
stamina. For some reason, the team players capped off the night with
tends to lose focus and intensity as another three-hour pool practice.
the season wears on. Michigan goes "We had maybe a half hour to
through the motions in conference rest," Cobb said.
play, beats Indiana to win the divi- At the end of the week, Ander-
sion championship, but then comes son upped the ante. Literally. He
out flat for the NCAA Tournament. made his players climb the Mani-
"We have a long season," Ander- tou Incline, a mile-long ascent at
son said. "Especially with your a 40-degree angle that was paved
with unused railroad ties. Some of
the seniors likened it to climbing a
mile of stairs.
Though they didn't have to, most
of the team finished the hike by
sprinting back down. Maybe it was
the thin air, or maybe it was fatigue,
but Cobb said it seemed like a good
idea at the time.
The day ended with two full pool
"(We did it) at the end of the week
when they were really starting to
feel tired and worn out," Anderson
said. "I used to live there, soI knew
of (the Manitou Incline), and our
strength coach really encouraged
us to do it.
"The resounding comment from
all of them was that this was the
hardest thing they'd ever done, and
they liked it."
Three weeks later, Anderson's
plan appears to have worked. Prac-
tices seem tighter, and spirits seem
higher. Players look as if they are
playing through the end of each
practice with as much intensity as
they would a real game.
"It was a mental challenge and
a physical challenge," Cobb said.
"After the high altitude training, at
first we were a little tired, but we're
getting back to full strength.We feel
strong and confident going into the
next part of the season."
Senior Lauren Orth wants the
team to take the momentum all
the way to the NCAA Tournament,
where she and her fellow seniors
have made three consecutive
appearances. The three consecutive
first-round losses are still fresh on
"Making it is always an accom-
plishment, but we want to do more
than just make it," Orth said. "We
want to place higher than we have
before and even try for the champi-
"I want us to be the winningest
class that's everbeen at Michigan."
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