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January 25, 2012 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-01-25

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6A - Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.corm is

Jordan's return impactful
Daily Sports Writer

Junior Natalie Beilstein suffered an injury in Michigan's victory over Minnesota last weekend in Minneapolis.
Wolverines prepare for season
without standout Beilstein

For the Daily
In her 23rd year of coaching
the Michigan women's gymnas-
tics team, Bev Plocki knows about
winning. Her teams have gone
571-202-2, won 18 Big Ten cham-
pionships, eight NCAA Regional
championships, and made 10
NCAA Super Six appearances.
She's coached 146 All-American
first- orsecond-team athletes, and
been named Big Ten Coach of the
Year 10 times.
To put it simply, Bev Plockiis a
winner. So when Plocki says the
Wolverines will be fine after los-
ing junior Natalie Beilstein, it's
easy to believe her.
"They're fighters, and so I have
every confidence in the world
that we will be able to pull things
together and have a successful
season," Plocki said.
Beilstein, who suffered an
ankle injury in Michigan's win
over Minnesota on Saturday,
will miss the remainder of the
2012 season, as confirmed by the
Michigan athletic department on
"It's a majorblow, I'm not going
to lie," Plocki said. "It's definitely
going to affect us. We've got to
pull together as a team and step
up to the plate and take the atti-
tude that what doesn't kill us will
only make us stronger."
Not only is Beilstein a two-time

All-American on the floor routine,
but she is also a team leader, one
of just three juniors on this year's
senior-less squad. In the season
opener against Ohio State, Beil-
stein recorded two career-high
scores on uneven bars (9.800) and
floor (9.925). Last week against
Minnesota, she tied for first on
bars before suffering the injury
during her floor routine.
"She's actually taken it pretty
well," said junior captain Katie
Zurales. "(Though) I think she
was kind of upset and pretty
shocked to find out that her Achil-
les is gone."
Despite losing one of its best
athletes, the Michigan squad
remains confident in its youth and
"We still have enough talent on
this team, and we're still going to
be awesome this year - we just
need to stay positive and keep
believing," Zurales said.
Plocki is an experienced leader,
and she and her staff have already
begun the necessary prepara-
tions to move forward without
Beilstein. While Beilstein's injury
was unfortunate and unexpected,
it creates an opportunity for sev-
eral other Wolverines to step up
and contribute to the undefeated
squad. Plocki expects sophomore
Kristen Nagle to be an immediate
contributor. Nagle, the only Mich-
igan native on the team, has yet to
compete for the Wolverines in her

collegiatecareer and is expected
to be in the lineup for the first
time on Friday against Illinois.
"This is a great opportunity for
Kristen," Zurales said. "She hasn't
gotten to compete for us yet, so
it'll be really awesome to see her
in the floor lineup and hopefully
Michigan has been strong this
season on vault and floor, despite
its struggles last week against
Minnesota. The Wolverines will
look to freshman Annette Miele
to fill the void on the uneven bars.
Miele made her collegiate
debut on balance beam against
Ohio State, but she is expected
to be in the bar lineup this week.
Plocki is also planning to slowly
incorporate both Miele and soph-
omore Reema Zakharia into line-
ups as the season progresses.
Plocki is prepared to continue
Michigan's undefeated record and
make a return to the Super Six in
"I've had years in the past
where we've had smaller teams or
we've had a lot of injuries," Plocki
said. "I think when your back is up
against the wall, that's when you
find out what kind of team you
"We have always had teams
that have come out and end up
having a good season despite
whatever has been thrown at us. I
think this team will be no differ-

"I'm back."
No, Michael Jordan isn't
returning to basketball, like
he announced in his two-word
press release in 1995. But anoth-
er Jordan has made a comeback
in a significant way. This Jordan,
however, plays for the Michigan
women's basketball team.
During the Dec. 30, 2010 game
against Ohio State, sophomore
guard Nya Jordan suffered' a
season-ending ACL injury, Her
starting position was assumed by
junior guard Courtney Boylan,
but Jordan's confidence during
Big Ten games was something
the team missed in her ahsence.
Jordan underwent surgery and
intense physical therapy dur-
ing the offseason to help get her
ready for the 2011-12 season.
At the beginning of this sea-
son, Jordan, now a junior, made
significant progress from her
injury, but her knee wasn't feel-
ing completely comfortable.
Michigan coach Kevin Borseth
noticed this ' and started fresh-
man guard Nicole Elmblad in her
place. Though Jordan has seen
action in all of the games this
season, it wasn't until Big Ten
season rolled around that she hit
her stride.
Borseth altered the starting
lineup, putting Jordan back in
to replace Elmblad, even though
he believes her knee won't be
back to 100 percent until next
season. Though he reiterates
that the last five players on the
court are the true starters, Bors-
eth understands what Jordan
brings to the table during con-
ference play.
"Nya gives us a great deal of
confidence," Borseth said. "She
plays at this level, she under-
stands how to play at this level
(and) she can play really tough
in traffic."
Borseth also said Jordan
guards and rebounds well, mak-
ing her an asset on the defensive
Her confidence and ability
to hold her own against tough
Big Ten opponents is something
Elmblad doesn't have as a fresh-
man. Elmblad has yet to adapt to
the aggressiveness of conference
play, which is one of the reasons


why Jor
the star
sive I
to play
dan ha
the teat
other p
suited f

aard Nya Jordan is back in the starting lineup for the Wolverines.
rdan found herself back in Jordan is glad to be back
'ting five. with the team and excited about
grew up in a very aggres- returning to her starting posi-
basketball community," tion, though she did mention
a said. "I think (her expe- that she has learned to see the
from last year) and her game differently coming off the
ting really prepared her bench.
at this level." "Coming off the bench, you
e her freshman year, Jor- kind of have a grasp of how the
s been able to bond with game is going, the pace of the
m and build trust with the game," Jordan said. "Starting,
layers, making her well- you have to make quicker deci-
or the starting lineup. sions because you don't know
how things are going to turn
1(Jordan) Despite this challenge, Jordan
has done a good job readjust-
aderstands ing to her role as a starter. She's
been averaging 23 minutes since
w to play at returning to the starting five
h s e l and her confidence in her play
has shown in her numbers - all
of her averages have increased
since conference play began.
e team) is comfortable "I think it's been good for me
er," said junior forward because I've been (more) confi-
Sheffer. "I think just dent ... when I start the game as
ith her for the last couple far as coming off the bench," Jor-



with h
being w

years, we're a lot more comfort-
able with her. She's very athletic,
she does things not many people
can do. She's just a smart player
in general, so it's really nice to
have her out there."

dan said.
"I had a little bit of experience
before I got injured, and I was
just waiting to get back into Big
Ten play because it's much more


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