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March 22, 2011 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-03-22

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8 - Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

8 - Tuesday, March 22, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

It's a mental game for
Michigan in St. Louis

MEN'S BASKETBALL
A glimpse into the future

After 30 minutes, Michi-
gan was up 4-0 at Yost
ce Arena on Oct. 2nd.
Forwards Louie Caporusso,
Scooter Vaughan and Matt Rust
all scored
glamorously CASANDRA
in the open- PAGNI
ing game of
their final On Ice Hockey
campaign as
Wolverines. They scored on the
power play, at even strength and
even netted a shorthanded tally.
But, in this critical first game,
the seniors - and the rest of the
team - made a crucial mistake.
There were still 30 minutes of
hockey remaining - a memo the
Mercyhurst Lakers received,
but one the Wolverines forgot
to open. Shawn Hunwick let up
four consecutive Mercyhurst
goals, and the Wolverineswere
lucky to have left Yost with a tie,
as the Lakers won the exhibition
shootout.
It was a mental lapse by Michi-
gan that cost it the first win of the
season.
But so much has changed since
that early season mistake.
The fourth-ranked Wolverines
are currently awaiting a Friday
matchup with No.14 Nebraska-
Omaha. This Friday in St. Louis
marks Michigan's 21st consecu-
tive NCAA Tournament appear-
ance, as the Wolverines are the
No.2 seed in the West region,
with Boston College and Colo-
rado College rounding outthe
bracket.
And for this team to get past
the Gatewayto the West and into
the Twin Cities, Michigan needs
to work hard to get its mind right.
"Obviously you want to pre-
pare yourself for the team com-
ing up, and Nebraska-Omaha is
a really good team," Caporusso
said. "We can't look past that
Friday game. Everyone's got to

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g. We're only as strong lived the realitythat was roller-
weakest link. Mentally, coaster of going from a Frozen
oing to be focused. I mean, Four appearance as freshmen to
only so much you can do almost missing the tournament
lly." asjuniors.
talent is there. But there was no question on
wick has gone on a tear Sunday that Michigan was in the
curingthe starting job NCAA Tournament this year,
s play in the ensuing even after droppingthe CCHA
after The Big Chill at the Tournament semifinal game
use. The netminder, who to WesternMichigan, 5-2, last
e his extra year of eligibil- weekend.
return next year, holds a The entire team weathered
record since the outdoor various storms this year, from
menon. He also nabbed the Mercyhurst to losingsecond-
Best Goaltender honors leadingscorer junior forward
ek in Detroit. David Wohlberg, who was red-
hot at the end of the season, two
weekends ago to a season ending
Ialent and collarbone injury. This Michi-
gan squad has experienced its
erience have highs and lows, to the tune of
bad Fridays and good Saturdays,
opelled this throughout the season.
They've taken penalties they'd
n all season. like to have back (namely a few at
Joe Louis Arena) and seen a few
too many power play shifts gone
for naught.
offense has had flashes of But still, talentand experi-
ce, too, a la Carl Hagelin's ence have propelled this team for
winning heroics against much of the season.
n Michigan on Senior As the matchup with the
ust over one month ago. Mavericks looms, one grey area
an has scored five or more remains: Will the Wolverines be
ia game 12 times this mentally up to the challenge?
and the Wolverines rank After all, there are two teams
the nation in team offense. waiting to ruin Michigan's hope
the smart defensive play of making it to St. Paul.
hman Jon Merrill and Mac "We can't turn a different
t has contributed to make switch on on Friday," Michigan
e solid defensive pairs for coach Red Berenson said. "We're
Jverines. having a good week, we're ready
experience is there. for this. We're having a good
higan's roster boasts seven season. It's got to be a balance
,plus Hunwick. This is the between confidence and despera-
hat started their careers tion and focus."
verines off with a 4-3 over- If they want to leave their
in over Boston College on a mark on Missouri, this year's
sso game-winner. pack of Wolverines needs to
seniors have collected prove from the time they hit the
accolades over their four ice in St. Louis that they are men-
maize and blue, and have tally in it to get the job done.

By LUKE PASCH they could be competitive in their
Daily Sports Writer limited time in postseason play. But
they wouldn't have gotten the job
Mother Nature can be awfully done against a more experienced
cruel. and more athletic Blue Devil front-
In the waning moments of Sun- court contingent.
day's game against Duke, Darius With time and hard work this
Morris lifted a floater in the lane offseason, Michigan coach John
to potentially send the contest into Beilein will, without doubt, work
overtime. For that precious sec- on the position fundamentals with
ond, as the ball left his fingertips, his youthful players. They'll learn
the Los Angeles native dreamed to be in the right position to avoid
of home. He dreamed of upsetting picking up blocking fouls under-
the top-ranked Blue Devils and fly- neath, take better routes to the ball
ing out to sunny Anaheim, where handlers to avoid getting beaten off
he'd play in the Sweet Sixteen, just the dribble and having to reach in,
a 45-minute drive from where he so on and so forth. Duke went to
grew up. the line 25 times in Sunday's game.
Instead, the ball clanked off the Don't expect that to happen against
heel of the rim. And as it did, the Michigan in the NCAA Tourna-
sky opened up in Ann Arbor. A few ment next year.
hours after he failed to sink the big- FROM COLUMBUS TO ANN
gest shot of his career, he returned ARBOR: With a combination of
to Michigan, where he was greeted injury issues and foul trouble on
with thunderstorms and chilly Sunday, Morris played just 29 min-
winds. utes of basketball.
It'shard for Morris to look to the And if you're like any other Wol-
future. But the sun reaches even verine fan, you probably hold your
Ann Arbor eventually, and soon breath everytime junior guard Stu
enough, Morris will pick his head Douglass dribbles the ball at the
up and prepare for a better tomor- top of the key in lieu of a resting
row. Here is whatMichigan will do Morris. No matter what the depth
in the offseason to reach the Sweet chartsays, Douglass is not a natural
Sixteen nextyear. point guard, and he rarely seems
NOT SO FOUL HAPPY: As heart- comfortable leading the offense out
breaking a way to lose as it was, of the set (he does lead a solid tran-
Morris shouldn't rack his brain sition attack, though).
with "what if" scenarios. Michigan This summer, Columbus native
would not have taken down Duke and Northland High School guard
in overtime - freshman forward Trey Burke will arrive in Ann
Evan Smotrycz had already fouled Arbor to fill a gaping hole in Michi-
out of the contest, and redshirt gan's roster. The 6-foot-1 floor gen-
freshman center Jordan Morgan eral was known for his first few
had tallied four fouls of his own. years of high school as the guy who
Who was going to step in to con- simply dumped the ball to team-
test Kyle Singler and the Plumlee mate Jared Sullinger in the post
brothers in the post once Morgan - now the preeminent Freshman
fouled out (which, at the rate he'd of the Year candidate out of Ohio
gone, would've almost certainly State.
happened in a five-minute period Most recruiters were skepti-
of play)? Freshman Jon Horford cal that Burke would be able to
and redshirt freshman Blake produce without his big man, but
McLimans were the next two on Beilein wasn't. And since the senior
the depth chart, andthey've shown committed to Michigan at the

beginning of the season, he's aver-
aged over 20 pointsper game, earn-
ing the recognition of schools that
initially didn't give him the light of
day. Burke's talent is certainly still
very raw, but with another point
guard in the rotation, Morris will
be able to rest easier and Douglass
will be able to stick to shopting on
the offensive end.
HELLO HORFORD: Beilein loves
Jon Horford. The coach said as
much in a press conference this
season. And early in the year, it
appeared that Morgan and Hor-
ford would work a nice rotation at
center, as the two youngsters estab-
lished themselves as the core of the
Wolverine bigs early in nonconfer-
ence play.
Slowly, though, Horford began
to crumble against more elite Big
Ten competition, as his lack of
experience, compounded with
recurring knee issues, made it dif-
ficult for him to find success. But
you still see flashes of potential
greatness, evidenced by his and-
one dunk over Duke's Ryan Kelly in
his two minutes of play on Sunday.
Sure, he has a goofy looking run,
and Michigan fans love to tease
him for it. But Horford is more
athletic than you think, and his
development will benefit the team
tremendously.
If he can work his way back into
a platoon with Morgan, freshman
forward Evan Smotrycz can move
back to the four - he'd been play-
ing the five with Morgan for the
last quarter of the season or so.
Smotrycz is simply too small to
play center, and he appears to play
more comfortably in his natural
forward position, anyway. Chances
are, Beilein would then have to
decide whether to start Douglass
or Smotrycz at a wing (the other
four starters are solidified - Mor-
ris, Morgan, Tim Hardaway Jr. and
Zack Novak).
But regardless of what he choos-
es, options are never a bad thing.

*I

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