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December 06, 2011 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2011-12-06

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8 - Tuesday, December 6, 2011T nh

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Dogsleds and hockey


W nning... you remem-
ber what that is, right?
It's the thingthathap-
pens when one team scores more
goals than the other.
Now, that's not to be confused
with losing, which is when your
team scores less. Anywho, that
first thing I was talking about
- the one
team with the
more goals
and whatnot.
Believe it or
not, that team
was Michigan
on Saturday.
I know, hard ZACH
to believe,
but trust me HELFAND
on this one, I
saw it.
In asyear, the Michiganhockey
team will leave the CCHA and
teams like Alaska Fairbanks for
better (and warmer) pastures.
The Daily trekked to Alaska this
weekend for what could be the
last time. Fellow writer Matt
Slovin and I saw the Northern
Lights, touched the Trans-Alaska
Pipeline and went snowshoeing
in Denali National Park.
It was all worth it to bring you
something rarer than a glimpse of
the Alaskan sun in wintertime: a
Michigan victory.
Plus, some locals taught us
a thing or two about hockey,
and they seemed to be speaking
directly about the Wolverines.
"It's all about findingthe right
chemistry," said a Fairbanks resi-
dent we met named John. "Some-
times one doesn't work on the
same line as another, so you have
to cycle them around until you
find the right combination."
OK, so John was our dogsled
guide, and he was talking about
the dogs pulling our sled. But
until he started mentioning
females in heat and neutered
males, we could've sworn he was
talking aboutthe line changes
Michigan coach Red Berensni
made in the middle of last series.
In fact, aslot of what John
had to say addressed Michigan's
problems during its seven-game
winless drought. A dog-sled team
is a lot like a hockey team, and the
marathon of a season is a gruel-
ing race like the Iditarod. Yeah,
those two comparisons mean you
should prepare yourself for an
extended metaphor longer than
winter in Fairbanks.
Michigan has its musher in
Berenson, the man giving the
commands and steering the
sled. Fifth-year goalie Shawn
Hunwick is the lead dog, and the


Fifth-year senior goalie Shawn Hunwick got his first road shutsut last weekend.

Junior guard Eso Akunne is a perfect 5-for-5 shooting in six games coming off the bench for Michigan
Unlikely duo impresses off
bench for No. 20 Michigan

team will only go as far as he'll
take them. On Saturday, Hunwick
found himself ina duel with Alas-
ka's goaltender Scott Greenham,
who made 41 saves on the game.
But after a scoreless regulation
- Michigan's first since 2007 -
Greehman cracked first.
Hunwick said he saw Green-
ham sitting with 25 saves midway
through the second period and
knew that he would have to shut
out the Nanooks if Michigan
were to win.
"(Hunwick was) the bottom
line, and he earned that," Beren-
son said. "He was rock solid."
On our dogsled ride, we had
a few mistakes. Once, the dogs
veered off the trail and had to be
coaxed back onto the path. Most
of the dogs knew which way to go
and pulled inthat direction, but
the whole team had to be in sync
to get the sled going.
The Wolverines couldn't get
in sync during their own slide.
Twice, the defense surrendered
just two goals, only to have the
offense score one. Once, Michi-
gan poured in five, only to surren-
der six. They couldn't all pull in
the same d irection.
Another time on ourride,
Slovin fell off the sled while driv-
ing. If you aren't quick with a
command to slow the dogs, they'll
just take off and leave you behind.
Luckily for Slovin, John and I
remained on the sled and allowed
him to catch up. Our team stayed
together, despite Matt's embar-
rassing miscue.
On Saturday, freshman defend-
er Brennan Serville had his own
Slovin moment when he picked
up a boarding penalty at the
worst possible moment - with
2:06 remaining in the game.
The team didn't break apart.

Instead, it hunkered down and
thwarted the Nanooks' late flur-
ry. Again, Hunwick led the way,
turning aside several slap shots in
open space.
The defense earned some mea-
sure of redemption after strug-
gling mightily in the previous
four games. Michigan allowed 20
goals against duringthat four-
game span.
"Now it's 20 in five," Hunwick
said. "Which still doesn't sit too
good, but it was huge to get a
shutout on the road."
Maybe it's fitting that fresh-
man forward Alex Guptill scored
his game-winning goal with
the help of a lucky bounce off
an Alaska defenseman. For the
past few games, the Wolverines
have said that they've played well
enough to win, they just haven't
been gettingthe bounces.
Again, they played betterthan
the score showed on Saturday.
The offense generated 42 shots
on Greenham, and finally moved
the puck down low to get high-
quality scoring chances.
But Michigan will take the win
any way it can get it. A sweep in
Fairbanks, with Michigan State
and the Great Lakes Invitational
looming, could've spelled disas-
ter. Michigan did what it needed
to do. So what did we learn in
Alaska? We learned that nights
are long, that righting a wayward
sled team is difficult and that
sometimes you fall off.
As for the Michigan hockey
team, they relearned how to do
something Hunwick said they
were beginning to forget.
What's that word again?
Right, winning.
-Helfand can be reached
at zhelfand@umich.edu.

Daily Sports Editor
Aside from adding a couple of
freshmen, the Michigan men's
basketball team's bench is no dif-
ferent from last year. Yet, eight
games into the season, it's look-
ing like the players coming off of
it could be.
Junior guard Eso Akunne and
junior forward Blake McLimans
have been seeing increased min-
utes lately and they've made the
most of their time on the court.
Neither has missed a shot this
season, and they've given Michi-
gan coach John Beilein more
efficiency in their playing time
than last year's regulars - senior
guard Stu Douglass and junior
guard Matt Vogrich. Akunne and
McLimans are a combined 8-for-8
from the field, and Douglass and
Vogrich are shooting a combined
36 percent' from the field and 23
percent on 3-pointers.
Akunne has seen time in all but
two games and has sunk all five
of his shots, three of which have
been 3-pointers. In 12 minutes in
Michigan's 76-66 win over Iowa
State on Saturday, Akunne bur-
ied a 3-pointer after coming off a
ball screen and taking a handoff
from McLimans in the first half.
He later drained a jump shot with
five minutes remaining inthe sec-
ond half.
"His game has matured so
much from coming in from high
school as far as what's going on on
that floor," Beilein said. "He can
make shots.
"We have a tough time guard-
ing him (in practice). We say he

puts a guy into a blender, you
know, like a milkshake. He starts
shaking and baking and all of a
sudden he gets an open shot. He's
McLimans was also effective in
his six minutes of play. After the
assist to Akunne, he scored on a
pick-and-roll layup from sopho-
more forward Tim Hardaway Jr.
and nailed a 3-pointer with 22
seconds left in the first half.
And in garbage time in a 70-58
loss to Virginia on Tuesday, McLi-
mans made a 3-pointer, pulled
down a rebound and blocked a
"I think Blake definitely gets
his confidence just from the way
he plays in practice," Akunne
said. "Blake is a really good shoot-
er. He's worked really hard and
we each believe in ourselves and
know that we can help the team
when we get in the game."
Akunne and McLimans are
traditionally on the "maize" team
in practice, which scrimmages
against the "blues," which consist
of starters. Beilein said that the
games are competitive everyday,
thanks in part to Akunne and
"If he's wide open, he's going
to knock it down," Hardaway Jr.
said of Akunne. "He kills us in
practice for the scout team. Him
working so hard since he's been
here to now and working on his
game all through the summer is
paying off right now."
Akunne is a versatile guard
and has spelled freshman point
guard Trey Burke, while also
seeing time as a 2-guard. He's
only turned the ball over once in

32 minutes.
"The first exhibition, I didn't
even (get in)," Akunne said. "But
I've always had the approach of
staying ready in case coach calls.
I just need to continue to gain his
trust and play solid when I'm out
"This year I've matured a little
bit, being older, understanding
how important each possession
is. Being better on defense has
helped too."
McLimans can see minutes
at center like he did on Saturday
when he replaced redshirt soph-
omore Jordan Morgan, or on the
wing as he did on Tuesday.
"They'd have moments like
this (in the past), but there wasn't
consistency to it," Beilein said.
"Eso now has showed us con-
sistency where that's why he's
been coming off the bench every
game. Blake hasn't showed us the
same consistency, but I'd say his
last couple weeks have been very
What remains to be seen is if
Akunne and McLimans's strong
play in limited minutes is enough
to spell Douglass and Vogrich for
longer periods of time.
"A smart coach would do that,
I think," Beilein said.
NOTES: Sophomore center Jon
Horford has an injured foot and
is in a walking boot. He was held
scoreless in 10 minutes on Satur-
"We're tryingto limit his min-
utes while he gets better," Beilein
said. "But he does have a little
stress in his one foot and we're
tryingto gauge that before we see
where he can go."

Players react to Spartan snub

TIM ROHAN Spartans.
Daily Sports Editor "If (Cousins) wants to go
sit on the couch and go watch
The Michigan and Michigan us play in the Big Ten Cham-
State football teams couldn't pionship Game, then he can
both be satisfied when the BCS do that," said fifth-year senior
bowls were announced Sunday. defensive end Ryan Van Ber-
Only one spot remained for an gen. "We would love to trade
at-large Big Ten team, under places and have that chance
the BCS's and have that opportunity.
rules and NOTEBOOK "All complaints aside, they
guidelines. had an opportunity to go to the
Though the Spartans Rose Bowl. It was sitting right
lost to Wisconsin in the Big in front of them to grab and
Ten Championship, 42-39, they didn't seize the opportuni-
they thought they rightfully ty. I think they'll do well in the
deserved that spot. Having Outback Bowl, but best of luck.
already beaten Michigan in the Best wishes. We're goingto the
regular season, they had a case. Sugar Bowl and we're excited
"Michigan sat home tonight about it."
on the couch and watched us," In the final coaches poll,
said Michigan State senior which accounts for a portion
quarterback Kirk Cousins of the BCS formula, Michigan
after the game. "We played our coach Brady Hoke ranked his
hearts out - you saw it. I don't team No. 11 and the Spartans
see how you get punished for No. 13.
playing and someone else gets Michigan State coach Mark
to sit on the couch and get what Dantonio had his team at No.12
they want." and the Wolverines at No. 13 in
At the time, Michigan sat at his final ballot.
No. 16 in the BCS standings, Naturally, there was going
needing to jump two spots into to be dissension between the
the top 14to become eligible for rivals.
an at-large selection. Michigan "I'd rather play in the Big
State was ranked No. 13, and Ten Championship Game - the
despite the Spartans' pleas, the inaugural Big Ten Champi-
Wolverines did hop them in the onship," said senior tight end
rankings - ultimately securing Kevin Koger. "That says a lot
a BCS bid over Michigan State. about the team that played in it.
Moments after the Wolver- I would've been happy to trade
ines learned they were heading places with (Cousins)."
to the Sugar Bowl, they didn't RIMINGTON WATCH: The
offer much sympathy for the Big Ten's best offensive line-

man could soon be named the
nation's top center.
Fifth-year senior David
Molk was named one of six
finalists for the Rimington
Trophy, which is awarded
annually to the best center. It's
the second-consecutive season
Molk has been named a finalist
for the award.
Van Bergen, Molk's room-
mate, thought the first-team
All-Big Ten center was worthy
of the distinction.
"Well you know Molk, he's
such a jabber-jaw that he's so
hard to keep contained," Van
Bergen said, tongue in cheek.
"That's all he does is run around
the house and tell me how he's
such a better (offensive) line-
man than me. And I tell him, 'I
don't even play (offensive) line.'
"No, I mean, I couldn't be
more happy for Dave Molk and
what he's accomplished. He
works so hard and is a tremen-
dous worker. As far as national
accolades go, the sky is the limit
for him. I know there is still the
Rimington to be announced
and I think he is the prime can-
didate for that. I mean, he is the
best center in the country -
hands down."
Molk will find out if he wins
during Thursday night's ESPN
College Football Awards show.
The winner will be deter-
mined by picking a consensus
first-team center from four
All-America teams - America
Football Coaches Association,

Walter Camp Foundation,
Sporting News and the Foot-
ball Writers Association of
America (FWAA).
If he wins, Molk would join
David Baas (2004) as the only
other Wolverine to have won
the Rimington.
Bo Schemebechler is the only
Michigan coach to have won
the Eddie Robinson Coach of
the Year award - given to the
nation's best coach, as voted
on by the FWAA, in Division-I
football. In 1969, Schembechler
won it in his first season as the
Wolverines' coach.
On Monday, Hoke was named
one of the award's five finalists.
Schembechler (1969) and
Lloyd Carr (1997, 2006) were
the only Michigan coaches to
previously be named finalists.
The announcement came on
the heels of Hoke winning both
coach of the year awards in the
Big Ten, as voted by the coaches
and the media, last week.
Hoke's argument for the
award is strong. He guided
Michigan to a 10-win season
and a Sugar Bowl berth after
the tumultuous Rich Rodriguez
era came to an end in January.
But Hoke's competition is
stiff. The other finalists include
LSU's Les Miles, Kansas State's
Bill Snyder, Clemson's Dabo
Swinney and Oklahoma State's
Mike Gundy.
The winner will be
announced on Dec.15.

.Monday, November 28,2011.


Hoke'sfirst team tastes redemption

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