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January 04, 2012 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-01-04

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4B - January 4, 2012s d The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
In Rewind: A look back at Michigan athletics in 2011

By STEPHEN NESBITT
Daily Sports Editor
NEW ORLEANS - It was
November 26, the date Jim Tres-
sel emphasized when he was dis-
missed at Ohio State five months
earlier.
"Don't forget: on November
26th we're going to kick (Michi-
gan's) ass!" the embattled Tressel
told a roaring crowd outside his
home in mid-June.
He was wrong.
As the errant fourth-down
pass hovered a few feet above the
ground, Courtney Avery dove over
a downed receiver and snatched
the ball out of the air. Fans flooded
over the brick retaining wall and
onto the Michigan Stadium turf.
Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison
embraced.
40-34.
For the first time in eight tries,
Michigan had beaten Ohio State.
Roy Roundtree spied Mike
Martin standing by the tun-
nel. The lanky receiver pushed
through the droves of students
separating the two players and
stopped a few feet short.
"Mike," Roundtree yelled,
spreading his arms wide. "Mike.
We finally did it, brother."
Martin pulled out of a photo-
graph pose with a student to greet
Roundtree.
"We did it," he screamed back.
Martin - all 6-foot-2, 304
pounds of him - grabbed the out-
side of Roundtree's shoulder pads
and lifted him straight into the
air. Roundtree saluted the crowd
behind the tunnel.
At long last, Roundtree and the
Wolverineswere really, truly, back
on top.
It was the culmination of four
years on campus forthe duo. What
began as three years of misery
ended in magical fashion - a vic-
tory over the Buckeyes, a 10-2
record and a BCS bowl berth.
It was also the lasting highlight
in a memorable 2011 for Michigan
athletics. But it wasn't the only
one. Here are some more memo-
ries, in reverse chronological
order:
DECEMBER 30 - DETROIT
Little-used sophomore defen-

seman Kevin Clare couldn't have
found a better time to score his
second career goal. Clare's goal
midway through overtime gave
the Michigan hockey team a 3-2
victory over Michigan State and
the Great Lakes Invitational title
for the second consecutive season.
DECEMBER3 - PALO ALTO,
CALIF.
In a season defined by valleys
and peaks, the Michigan volley-
ball team hit its high at just the
right time. The same team that
was ranked No. 18 at the open-
ing of conference play - yet went
on to lose eight of its next 10 Big
Ten games - displayed a familiar
dominance in a four-set upset of
No. 6 Stanford to advance into the
Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tour-
nament.
NOVEMBER 19 - ANN ARBOR
The Nebraska football team vis-
ited Michigan Stadium for the first
time since 1962 and left husked,
shucked and defeated. Michigan
welcomed the 17th-ranked Corn-
huskers to the Big Ten with a
45-17 drubbing. The win marked
a reemergence of classic Michigan
football and set the Wolverines up
for The Game the following Satur-
day.
NOVEMBER3 - WOLFE-
BORO, N.H.
One of the biggest highlights
for the Michigan basketball team
had nothing to do with anyone
on the roster. This was the date
that Mitch McGary, a high school
senior at Brewster Academy and
a consensus No. 2 prospect in the
nation, bypassed perennial pow-
ers Duke and Florida to commit
to coach John Beilein and the
Wolverines. The true effect of
McGary's decision won't be felt
for another season, but it certainly
sent ripples down the traditional
hierarchy ofcollege basketball.
SEPTEMBER 10 - ANN
ARBOR
Nobody left their seat early
at the Michigan football team's
Under the Lights matchup with

Notre Dame - the firstnightgame
in Michigan Stadium's storied his-
tory. Viewed by 114,804 pairs of
eyes, junior quarterback Denard
Robinson and the offense drove
80 yards in 28 seconds, capped
by a 16-yard touchdown pass to
Roundtree in the corner of the end
zone, to defeat the Fighting Irish,
35-31.
May 30 - Columbus
Tressel is dismissed by Ohio
State. If you think this doesn't
belong in Michigan's year in
review, you're wrong. Nov. 26
may not have happened the way it
did without May 30. After 10 sea-
sons, six conference titles and a
9-1 record against the Wolverines
at the helm in Columbus, Tres-
sel was replaced by intirim coach
Luke Fickell amid a memorabilia-
selling scandal and cover up. A
week later, star quarterback Ter-
relle Pryor left the Buckeyes.
MAY 25 - ANN ARBOR
In what Athletic Director Dave
Brandon called "the worst-kept
secret in America," the club men's
and women's lacrosse teams were
promoted to varsity status. Michi-
gan is the first FBS school to add
men's lacrosse since Notre Dame
did it in 1981. The nation's fastest-
growing sport has a new hub in
Ann Arbor, and it's here to stay.
APRIL 15 - COLUMBUS/,
CLEVELAND
In one' night, the Michigan
men's and women's gymnastics
teams made history - twice.
Senior Kylee Botterman won
the NCAA all-around title at the
NCAA Semifinals in Cleveland,
becoming the latest Wolverine
gymnast to win the national title
since Elise Ray won a split title
in 2001. Botterman later won the
AAI Award as the nation's best
gymnast. A few hours away in
Columbus, freshman Sam Miku-
lak captured the all-around title
at the NCAA Championships for
the men's team, becoming the first
freshman to ever win the NCAA
title. With the duo winning the
NCAA all-around titles, Michigan
became the firstschool ever to win

Michigan fans stormed the field at Michigan Stadium after the Wolverines' first victory over Ohio St

both the men's and women's titles
in the same season.
APRIL 9 - ST. PAUL, MINN.
In a span of two days, the Mich-
igan hockeyteam felt the extremes
of elation and devastation in the
NCAA Frozen Four at Xcel Energy
Center. First came the toppling of
No. 1 North Dakota in the semifi-
nal, a 2-0 shutout for senior goalie
Shawn Hunwick and the Wolver-
ines. Hunwick made 40 saves to
catapult Michigan into the NCAA
title game. It was the Wolverines'
first appearance in the NCAA final
since Michigan coach Red Beren-
son's team won the program's
ninth championship in 1998. But
then the agony of defeat hit. The
Wolverines took No. 3 Minneso-
ta-Duluth into overtime in the
finale before Bulldogforward Kyle
Schmidt took a feed in front of the
net and flipped the puck past Hun-
wick for the 3-2 win.
APRIL 4 - AUGUSTA, GA.
At the ripe age of 22 years old,
Michigan golfer Lion Kim found
himself paired with PGA veterans
Jose Maria Olazabal and Davis
Love III at the 2011 Masters. Kim
became the first Michigan student
to earn a Masters bid. On his third
stroke of the tournament, Kim
secured his first career birdie at
the Masters after sticking a seven
iron to eight feet and draining the
putt. Kim missed the cut by just
three strokes after shooting a 148
(+4) over two rounds, tying for
64th overall.

MARCH 20 - CHARLOTTE,
N.C.
Darius Morris's last shot in a
Michigan uniform won't soon be
forgotten. After a 75-45 beat down
of Tennessee in the NCAA Tour-
nament round of 64, the Wolver-
ines trailed No. 3 Duke, 73-71, in
the round of 32. With three sec-
onds remaining, Morris elevated
to sent up a floater from just inside
the free-throw line. The ball lofted
over the outstretched arms of Blue
Devil forward Ryan Kelly, hung
above the hoop and finally clanged
off the back of the rim. The senior-
less team was mere inches away
from doing the unthinkable. Two
months later, Morris announced
his decision to forgo his junior and
senior seasons to enter the NBA
draft.
MARCH 19 - PHILADELPHIA
Michigan redshirt junior wres-
tler Kellen Russell captured the
first national title of the year for
Michigan by posting a 5-0 record
at the NCAA Championships.
Russell fought off an ankle inju-
ry to defeat third-ranked Boris
Novachokov (Cal Poly) in the final
of the 141-pound weight class. He
finished the season with the best
individual season record in Michi-
gan wrestling history, a perfect
38-0. Russell was later named
Michigan Athlete of the Year with
Mikulak and Botterman.
MARCH 5-- ANN ARBOR
If The Game was the top regu-

lar-season highl4:ht in 2011, sec-
ond place would have to go to the
Michigan basketball team's sweep
of Michigan State - the first
sweep since the 1996-97 season.
Freshman guard Tim Hardaway
Jr. exploded for 20 second-half
points in the season finale against
the Spartans at Crisler Arena,
leading Michiganto a 70-63 win.
JANUARY 11- ANN ARBOR
You can't have the end of the
year without the beginning. On
this date, Brandon announced
the hiring of Hoke, a relatively
unknown head coach from San
Diego State, to replace outgoing
head coach Rich Rodriguez. Hoke
had just a 47-50 record in stints
at Ball State and San Diego State,
but he represented a return to the
Michigan football of old.
He worked under Michigan coach
Lloyd Carr in the 1990s. It took no
time for Hoke to endear himself to
a Wolverine nation thirsting for a
new face for the program.
His opening press conference
set his plan in stone: Win with
the current team, win the Big Ten
Championship and beat "Ohio."
And when asked if the Michigan
coaching job is as prestigious as
it once was, Hoke coined a phrase
now immortalized within the pro-
gram:
"This is Michigan, fergod-
sakes."
On Tuesday, Jan. 3 - 357 days
since his hiring - Hoke led Michi-
gan into its first BCS bowl victory
since 2000.
But that's for another year.

Hockey report card: First-half grades

OFFENSE

EVERETT COOK// DAILY SPORTS EDITOR
DEFENSE SPECIAL TEAMS GOALIES INTANGIBLES COACHING *
-~ I.n

Before the season, concerns
about youth and inexperience
surrounded the offense of the
Michigan hockey team. Coach Red
Berenson said that he didn't know
which of his freshmen were going
to step up, statingthat it might take
a while for the teamto figure it out.
He was right about that, but for
different reasons than expected.
The veterans, rather than the
freshmen, have been the inconsis-
tent players. Freshman Alex Gup-
till leads the team in goals with
nine, and fellow freshman Phil Di
Giuseppe is right behind him with
eight. Guptill has seemingly come
out of nowhere after his last two
seasons in junior hockey ended
with injuries.
David Wohlberg has been one
of the most confounding veterans.
The senior captain has picked up
his offensive production recently,
but he started the season with just
three goals in the Wolverines' first
15 games . His play in the second
half will have a massive impact on
theoffense'sefficiency.
Michigan (5-6-3 CCHA, 9-8-3
overall) leads the CCHA in scor-
ing offense with 78 goals, but that
number would be alot lower with-
out some early-season blowouts.
Thanks to the line of Chris Brown,
Guptill and Wohlberg, the offense
has been solid and has given the
Wolverines a chance in most games.
Still, Michigan continues to look for
offensive consistencyin2012.
GRADE: B

Everything changed with the
suspension of sophomore Jon
Merrill. Last season's fresh-
man sensation hasn't played a
game this season, challenging
the depth of a group that hasn't
played up to expectations yet.
The defense is seventh in the
CCHA, allowing 2.59 goals a
game, but that doesn't tell the
whole story. While the offense
might be inconsistent, the
defense has been downright
unreliable. During the Wolver-
ines' seven-game winless streak
- they didn't win a game in
November - the defense became
as unpredictable as a dinner in
MoJo. On Nov. 18 against Ohio
State, the defense gave Michigan
a chance to win by allowing just
two goals. The next night, the
Wolverines allowed six. There
are nights when the defense
looks impenetrable, but then
there are nights when every-
thing turns sour after one goal.
The top pairing of senior Greg
Pateryn and sophomore Mac
Bennett has been the bright spot
for this defensive corps. The
duo uses different approaches to
complement each other, as Ben-
nett attacks the offensive zone
while Pateryn stays back and
shoots from the point.
The predicted return of Mer-
rill should do wonders for the
defense - one of Michigan's cur-
rent weak links.
GRADE:C

Berenson has tinkered with
his penalty kill and power play
units from day one but still
hasn't found a successful com-
bination. With an inexperi-
enced special teams corps, he'll
continue to tinker for the rest of
the season - and for good rea-
son.
The power play hasn't been
bad, but it also hasn't been very
good. Michigan is convert-
ing a little over 16 percent of
its power plays, which is good
for seventh in the CCHA. Not
horrible, but nothing to tweet
about. Experience is the name
of the game for the power play,
so look for a bump in production
in the second half of the season.
The penalty kill is a differ-
ent story - Michigan is dead
last in the CCHA in penalty kill
percentage at 80 percent. The
frustrating part for Michigan
is when those man-down goals
are coming. Often, the penalty-
kill unit will hold strong for the
first 90 seconds, then give up
a goal with 30 seconds or less
left on the penalty. The depth is
simply not there.
A reduction of needless pen-
alties will certainly improve
the penalty kill - Brown might
as well get his mail delivered to
the box - and Merrill will be a
big contributor, but as of right
now, the unit needs to improve.
GRADE: C-

Let's be honest - this section
should read "Goalie." Backup
sophomore netminder Adam
Janecyk has played significant
minutes only once this sea-
son, and that was just because
starter Shawn Hunwick went
all Manny Pacquiao on a North-
ern Michigan player and got
ejected.
Though Hunwick hasn't been
perfect, he continues to make
Berenson look like the smartest
recruiter in the land.
The former walk-on is the
sole starter for the first time in
his career, and so far he is the
indisputable MVP of the Wol-
verines. His .917 save percent-
age is sixth in the CCHA, but
that number is skewed consid-
ering the erratic defense that
plays in front of him.
He went through a rough
patch when the defense was
struggling, but Berenson
declared him "back" after the
series in Alaska.
Nobody Michigan has played
this season has had a goalie left
out to dry as much as Hunwick,
who makes one-on-one plays
look easy, night in and night
out. He will rank up there with
the best goalies in Michigan
history when his career ends in
a couple months.
Just hope Hunwick doesn't
get hurt.
GRADE: A-

During that November los-
ing streak, not a single Wolver-
ine had an answer as to why the
team was in such a funk. A whole
lot of"I don't know" and "we just
have to keep working" answers
were doled out, skirting over the
underlying, potentially very seri-
ous issue.
This is a team that looked
lethargic, lazy and even disinter-
ested for most of November. One
negative play, and things would
just snowball. This young team
didn't have the mental fortitude
and "want-to" to keep any sort
of momentum together, an issue
that is a lot harder to fix than
defense or special teams.
But over the last month, they
seemingly fixed the problem.
Michigan looks more confident
and poised on the ice, getting
to the promised land of match-
ing its physical abilities with its
mental fortitude. Maybe it was
more experience, or perhaps it
was the Wolverines finally buy-
ing into Berenson's specific style
of hockey.
Whatever the reason, the
team from a month ago would
not have gotten anywhere close
to winning the Great Lakes Invi-
tational, as it did last week. For a
young team, confidence is every-
thing, and the Wolverines are
seemingly growing up before our
very eyes.
GRADE: B-

Berenson had one ofhis top two
defensemen suspended before the
year. He has had to manage an
inexperienced roster that consists
of almost one-third freshmen.
And he dealt with losing his top
assistant coach for 23 years, Mel
Pearson, to Michigan Tech after
last season.
Yet Michigan is right in the
thick of things. It is eighth in the
CCHA - but is just eight points
outofsecond place- andwould be
in the hunt for the NCAA Tourna-
mentfor the22rd consecutive year
if the season endedtoday.Amid all
the expectations that come with
Michigan hockey, the old coach
has mostly kept the ship righted.
It has rocked a little - actually, a
lot - but there have been no cast-
aways yet. The schedule in 2012
is much tougher than 2011, but if
there is anyone who knows how to
handle it, it's Berenson.
The most impressive part of
Berenson's work this season has
been how he has dealt with the
Merrill situation, Some coaches
would have brought back a star
player as soon as possible to try
and halt a month-long losing
streak, but Berenson stuck to his
guns. He will bring Merrill back
when his pupil has improved not
as a hockey player, but as a person.
Some things are bigger than hock-
ey, and Berenson has a pretty good
grasp on that.
GRADE: A

I

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