8 -Tuesday, January 24 2012 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
Tough CCHA is nothing for
Michigan to worry about
Bench sees extra
playing time for M'
ake Superior State has the
eighth-best record in the
CCHA. For all intents and
purposes, that's not good.
Ohio State has the best record
inthe CCHA. For all intents and
purposes, that's pretty good.
The Buckeyes and the Lakers
play a series
end, with six
points on the
line. In most
years, a Janu-
and first-place EVERETT
team wouldn't COOK
be too signifi-
But now let's imagine that
there's a significant ice shortage
in the greater Midwest area and
the rest of the conference gets
the weekend off. Oh, and imagine
Alaska doesn't have snow either
- I'm not creative enough to
come with a scenario where Alas-
ka doesn't have snow in January.
In this severely ice-lacking
scenario, a sweep by Lake Supe-
rior State would vault it into first
place in the conference. One
weekend sweep - that's what
separates No. 1 from No. 8 in the
CCHA right now. The confer-
ence is more packed than the bus
shipping Engineering nerds up to
North Campus. And with roughly
two months left in the season,
nine teams have a shot at finish-
It's not like the conference is
full of scrubs that can't separate
from one another. There are cur-
rently eight teams in the Pairwise
top 17. Though it's bereft of a
standout team that's a lock to
win the CCHA, this conference is
loaded from top to bottom - the
difference between first place and
not even securing a first-round
bye in the CCHA Tournament is
just four points.
But as daunting as it maybe
to finish off the season in the
best conference in the country
successfully, the No.8 Michigan
hockey team is goingto be fine.
By MICHAEL LAURILA
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan women's basketball
coach Kevin Borseth is known
for going to his bench early and
often this season.
On Sunday, when Michi-
gan (5-2 Big Ten, 16-4 overall)
squared off against Indiana at
the Crisler Center, Borseth did
just that. He was able to play 13
different players, and it was a
happy occurrence that this hap-
pened on the team's "Parent's
Day" in Ann Arbor.
With 16:25 left in the second
half, the Wolverines led by as
many as 28 points. The drubbing
of the Hoosiers enabled Borseth
to play some reserves that rarely
see the court.
"Great win, obviously," Bors-
eth said on Sunday. "Everybody
got a chance to play, and that sure
makes the locker room sweeter
after the game."
In the second half, Indiana
went on a 9-0 run, forcing Bors-
eth to revert back to the start-
ers. But it was short-lived, as the
Wolverines quickly built their
lead back up, allowing Borseth to
clear the bench once more. Other
than that Hoosier run, the bench
players had all-around success
against Indiana, combining for
18 points and 10 rebounds.
The last time Michigan played
13 players in a game was on Nov.
14 against Florida Atlantic. It
was even more significant that
the entire team played against
Indiana since so many players'
parents were there to see it.
"Everybody's parents were
here, and parents want to see
their kid play, so fortunately we
got everyone in the game and
they were able to play a little bit,"
Borseth said. "That's really key
Added senior guard Courtney
Boylan: "Everybody pretty much
had a parent here, so that was
really great, because I think it's
good for the parents to get to see
everybody come in. Plus it's just
great for team camaraderie."
Along with being important
for morale, the Wolverines' abil-
ity to play the entire roster is also
beneficial for some of the young-
er players' development. Fresh-
men Brenae Harris and Cyesha
Goree saw more time than usual.
At one point in the second
half, the lineup of Harris, junior
guards Kate Thompson and
Jenny Ryan and junior forwards
Rachel Sheffer and Nya Jordan
was a preview of what Michi-
gan's starting five could look like
Though Harris has had alimit-
ed role for most of the season, the
Ohio native was a highly touted
recruit, and after Boylan's gradu-
ation, she could see more playing
time at pointguard. In the 11 con-
tests Harris has appeared in, she
has averaged 7.9 minutes and 2.1
points per game. These numbers
might not look good on the stat
sheet, but the Borseth offense
can be tough for a player just out
of high school to transition into.
"Obviously, there's a lot of
promise sitting (on the bench),"
Borseth said. "We feel good
about the kids that we've got that
are sitting down there."
Since Michigan has had a lot
of close games - seven of its
20 games have been decided
by seven points or less --the
reserves haven't seen a lotof time
on the floor. But Borseth, who
played collegiately at Lake Supe-
rior State, knows how it feels to
sit on the bench.
"I've sat there before as a
player and never got a turn to
play when my parents came, and
inside, it really hurts," Borseth
said. "It's very difficult to sit
there, I get it. A lot of those guys
are waiting for their turn."
But it won't always be that
much "sweeter," as Borseth
said. Indiana is winless in Big
Ten play, and one of the weaker
teams in the conference. When
Michigan faces No. 18 Penn State
on Thursday, the Wolverines will
look to avenge their Jan. 12 loss
at State College, and it'll be up to
the starters to accomplish that.
Fifth-year senior goaltender Shawn Hunwick has compiled a .958 save percentage for Michigan this January.
Two weeks ago, that statement
would have sounded a lot more
hollow, considering the Wolver-
ines were entering their toughest
two-week stretch of the year.
Michigan had to go on the road
against then-No. 2 Ohio State and
then at then-No. 6 Notre Dame
the next weekend, a four-game
stretch that would decide a whole
lot about the direction of the
The Wolverines emerged from
that gong show of a stretch at 3-1,
sweeping the Buckeyes and split-
ting with the Fighting Irish.
The games won during that
stretch are obviously important,
but not as important as the way
The Wolverines went into
Notre Dame and played their
most physical series of the year,
clawing their way to the split and
not backing down an inch. The
penalty-kill unit is back to where
it was last year with the return of
sophomore defenseman Jon Mer-
rill, and the power play actually
scored some goals on the road in
Most importantly, fifth-year
senior goaltender Shawn Hun-
wick is playing out of his mind
recently. His .958 save percentage
in January will keep Michigan in
the thick of things even if every
other unit has a slip in produc-
tion. 163 saves in 170 shots is more
than good - it's CCHA champion
And this team is getting hot at
the right time. Its loss at Notre
Dame was its first since Dec. 9.
Michigan has traditionally been
a second-half team, and this year
isn't looking any different. A lot
of things could happen over the
next two months, but right now,
the Wolverines look as good as
any team in the CCHA. Michigan
just played its two best oppo-
nents of 2012 - and its upcoming
schedule is a lot more manageable
than January was.
The bye weekend following the
Notre Dame series comes at the
perfect time, giving Michigan a
chance to recover physically. The
Wolverines then close out the
regular season against two of the
worst teams in the conference,
Northern Michigan and Bowling
Green, which makes a late push at
first place much more likely.
In October, Hunwick was top-
pled over in the net by a Northern
Michigan player. He stood up and
decked the Wildcat, getting him-
self thrown out of the game.
In January, Hunwick was
toppled over in the net by a Notre
Dame player. He stood up and
skated away as a swarm of Wol-
verines flew toward the net to
protect their goalie.
Tough conference or not,
Michigan is going to be fine.
- Cook can be reached
Wolverines travel to Purdue in search of season's first true road win*
By BEN ESTES NCAA Tournament assuming the
Daily SportsEditor Wolverines don't disappoint down
In its first 20 games, the Michi- Road wins, though, are a crucial
gan men's basketball team has had factor in the tournament selection
blowout wins and blowout loss- committee's methodology. To be
es. It's pulled a few hard-fought blunt, Michigan needs a road win
upsets and has fell victim to sev- - and soon. The Wolverines nearly
eral underdogs. had one last Saturday at Arkansas.
But for all the Mhigan They climbed back from 20 points
different out- down and had a shot to win it at the
comes they've at Purdue buzzer, but freshman point guard
seen, the Wol- Matchup: Trey Burke's step-back 3-pointer
verines still Michigan 15-5; rimmed out, giving the Razor-
don't have a Purdue 14-6 backs a 66-64 win.
road win. When: Tues- Michigan coach John Beilein
In terms of day, 7 p.m. said his team isn't lacking in con-
the big picture, Where: fidence, despite its road struggles.
No.20 Michigan Mackey Arena "If anything, (the Arkansas loss)
(5-2 BigTen,15-5 . should give them confidence that
overall) is doing tSPNd' you can have this bad of a game,
fine. The team as far as guys having horrendous
remains tied for shooting nights, but can still be
first in the conference with Ohio within an inch of winning that
State and Michigan State, and its game," Beilein said. "Hopefully,
RPI of 24 means that it shouldn't it keeps them believing in them-
have to worry about making the selves even more."
With trips to Columbus and
East Lansing looming in the next
two weeks, a date at relatively
weaker Purdue (4-3, 14-6) seems
like the perfectopportunity forthe
Wolverines to snare their first road
contest of the season.
Having topped Illinois at home
and bested Minnesota in Min-
neapolis, the Boilermakers have a
couple solid wins under their belt.
But they've also been blown out by
Michigan State and Penn State on
the road, and their loss on Jan. 12
to Wisconsin ended their 26-game
winning streak at home.
But Purdue remains a solid
team. The bigger problem for
Michigan is that Mackey Arena
has been a house of horrors for the
Wolverines in recent years. The
Boilermakers have won the last six
games played in West Lafayette -
Michigan hasn't won at Mackey
since Feb. 19, 2003. The last time
Beilein's team tripped there was
in 2010, when the Wolverines
couldn't overcome the ejection of
Manny Harris and felliby10 points.
"Down (in West Lafayette), it's
usually been a really good first half,
but they just wear you down with
their defense eventually," Beilein
said. "We've got to do everything
we can to keep that from happen-
The Purdue attack is once again
spearheaded by Robbie Hum-
mel, a player who opposing teams
must feel like has been there for-
ever. The fifth-year senior is in the
midst of a successful comeback
from two ACL tears, the first suf-
fered toward the end of the season
two years ago and the second in
the team's very first practice last
season. While point guard Lewis
Jackson and 3-point marksman
Ryne Smith bolster the offense,
the key to stopping the Boiler-
makers is still to stymie Hummel,
who's averaging15.4 points and 6.3
rebounds per game. The forward
has struggled a bit in his team's last
three games, shooting just 10-for-
42 in that span. Hummel was par-
ticularly ineffective in Saturday's
loss to Michigan State, scoring just
two points, but Beilein said he's
still a "tremendous" player.
Michigan knows what it's like
to have a star player in an offen-
sive funk. Sophomore guard Tim
Hardaway Jr. has not looked like
his normal high-scoring self in
recent weeks, averaging just 9.3
points per game while Burke has
become the team's go-to threat.
It's a reversal from last sea-
son for Hardaway Jr. The Miami
native turned it on in Big Ten play
last season, especially from deep,
shooting 44.2 percent on 3-point-
ers during conference play. This
year, Hardaway Jr.'s gotten colder
in the Big Ten. He's shot 19.2 per-
cent on 3-pointers and is just 1-for-
16 in the last three games.
Meanwhile, sophomore for-
ward Evan Smotrycz continues to
disappoint. After enjoying the best
all-around stretch of his career
in December, Smotrycz has aver-
aged just 3.9 points per game since
scoring 10 in the Big Ten opener
against Penn State.
"You have a flow to your team,"
Beilein said. "Last year, we really
had a flow with Darius, and Stu,
and Zack, and everyone in concert
all the time. ... Right now, we're
trying to develop the same flow,
and sometimes that will throw a
good player just out of his timing."
The Wolverines have not
fared well on the road against .
teams which themselves just suf-
fered a disappointing loss away
from home, falling to both Iowa
and Arkansas. At the same time,
Michigan defeated Wisconsin and
Michigan State when both teams
were coming off losses.
That's the situation on Tuesday
night, and Purdue is 5-0 this sea-
son after a loss. With Michigan
desperate for its first road triumph,
something's going to give.
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