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March 20, 2012 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-03-20

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The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom T

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 7

A loss is the program's win

ERIN KIRKLAND/Daily
at two years in Green eay playing for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL.

O Freshman forward Travis Lynch spe

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Lynch returns to the Bay
By MATT SLOVIN Lynch's USHL career catne on the an increase in production. After a
Daily Sports Editor same rink that Michigan hopes to lightning-fast start to the season,
win two games on this weekend, Lynch's stick has fallen silent and
Every single member of the in order to advance to the Fro- he's recorded just two points in
Michigan hockey team, excluding zen Four in Tampa, Fla. There, his last 15 games. He hasn't found
freshmen, enters Friday's first- Lynch and the Gamblers hoisted the back of the net since the first
round game against Cornell with the Clark Cup, awarded to the weekend in January.
NCAA Tournament experience. league's playoff champion. "He'll be more comfortable,
But one of those first-year players "It was crazy," Lynch said of more familiar, with the rink and
will feel right at home when the the series-clinching victory. "It the situation," Berenson said.
Wolverines take the ice in Green was a packed house - about 8,400 "He'll have friends there. ... He
Bay, Wisc. this weekend. people. (It was) really loud, and likes the building."
Freshman forward Travis we came from behind and won it." Lynch wasn't instrumen-
Lynch played two years of junior Michigan coach Red Berenson tal during the Gamblers' run to
hockey with the Green Bay Gam- doesn't anticipate the same type the 2009 USHL championship,
blers of the United States Hockey of atmosphere for this weekend's though he did score twice in the
League prior to coming to Ann Midwest Regional. The Green postseason. But the next year,
Arbor this year. So more than Bay fans might rally behind a after adjusting to life in the top-
just the Wolverines' No. 1 seed in hometown winner,but throw four tier junior leagues, Lynch's scor-
the Midwest bracket thrilled him teams from across the country ing took off, and he doubled his
during Sunday's Selection Show. into the mix and travel plans make production from 22 points to 44
"It's going to be fun (to return)," attendance figures look dicey. points.
Lynch said. "I'm pretty excited to After playing in front of sold-out "When we won, we weren't the
get back in the Resch Center. It's crowds at Joe Louis Arena this best team going into the finals,"
going to be a good time." season, the atmosphere in the Lynch said. "(We) just were work-
After Lynch graduated from 10,200-seat Resch Center won't ing hard, making the right plays
Lakeland High School in White compare, despite the tournament and trying to make the least
Lake, Mich., the Gamblers select- environment. amount of mistakes."
ed him with their fifth-round pick "I can't tell you we're going to For better or worse, Lynch
in the 2009 USHL draft. That * have a full building in Green Bay," won't be able to escape the famil-
summer, Lynch arrived in Green Berenson said. "(Last year in St. iar this weekend. He'll look up in
Bay for a tryout and later earned a Louis), there weren't 5,000 people the crowd and see friends and his
spot on the roster. in a 20,000-seat building. It was host family - Lynch expects a lot
Friends and adopted family unbelievable. There was nobody of ticket requests.
anxiously await Lynch's return to there." But the opposing bench might
Green Bay. During his stay in "There (are) cases where you've hold some familiar faces aswell. If
Green Bay, Lynch lived with a host got to generate your own atmo- the Wolverines are able to advance
family. His face brightens when sphere, just to keep everybody out of the regional semifinal, they
he speaks about seeingthem again excited and in the game when will face either Ferris State, a
this weekend. nobody's in the building. ... Even team Michigan has alreadybeaten
"I actually still keep in touch though no one's there, it's the twice this season, or Denver. Fer-
with them today," Lynch said. "I biggest game of their career - it ris State's Scott Czarnowczan and
stayed (with them) for two years could be their last game of their Denver's David Makowski both
and it was definitely a good expe- career." played alongside Lynch in Green
rience." Berenson would like the famil- Bay, so no matter where he looks,
The defining moment of iar arena to provide Lynch with he'll be in his element.

en the Michigan
women's basketball
team received an
NCAA Tournamentbid last Mon-
day, it was a pleasant surprise.
The Wol-
verines had MICHAEL
made the LAURILA
tournament-
for the first On Women's
time in 11 Basketball
years and
finally received the recognition
they'd hoped for.
But when Oklahoma easily
defeated Michigan in the first
round on Sunday, it was unpleas-
ant. And still a bit of a surprise.
Though the 11th-seeded Wol-
verines were the underdog, and
ultimately had to play a road
game since the first round took
place in Norman, Okla., they still
felt confident going into the game.
Their confidence didn't trans-
late into a victory, but that's
beside the point.
For one of the only times dur-
inghead coach Kevin Borseth's
tenure Michigan's first-round
contest put the program on the
national scene - which is a vic-
tory, but just a moral one.
But how can any loss for a
team that wanted more be a vic-
tory?
It's simple. For the past
decade, all of the best recruits
in the nation wouldn't even con-
sider playing for the Wolverines.
There was no reason for them
to. Michigan hadn't made the
NCAA Tournament in years, has
never won a Big Ten title and was
rarely even in contention for such
a championship.
The Wolverines were con-
tinually out-recruited by Big Ten
teams such as Michigan State,
Purdue and Ohio State nationally
and regionally.
But Borseth has proven him-
self an elite coach and developer

during
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Th
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and I)
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As B
the pro
with t
three j

his time in Ann Arbor, Jenny Ryan and Nya Jordan and
ally this season. This year's center Rachel Sheffer. Sheffer led
class, which included star the team in scoring this year and
uard Courtney Boylan showed much improvement from
ree-year starting guard her sophomore campaign. The
n Reynolds, was Borseth's Wolverines also received ample
ver recruiting class. bench production from junior
Ian was named Minne- guard Kate Thompson and junior
Miss Basketball coming out forward Sam Arnold this season,
school, but at 5-foot-7 she and theyboth could potentially
ought to be undersized for start next season.
tTen. The 6-foot Reynolds Similarly, freshmen guards
gged as a great shooter, Nicole Elmblad and Brenae Har-
s too small to play forward ris had flashes of greatness over
t quick enough to be a lead the course of the season as well.
Borseth said all year that Harris,
y both lacked natural who is a candidate for the vacant
and body type, and they point guard position, was a better
ve been merely average as defender than Boylan because
ollegiate careers waged of her speed and size. How suc-
t Borseth's tutelage and his cessful she will be next year will
first, ask questions later, depend on her development over
s-style offense enabled the summer.
layers to thrive. He is I'm not saying that Michigan's
for his ability to recruit loss to Oklahoma was a good
s that fit into his scheme, thing. Obviously, a win would've
th Michigan now on the been better, but realistically, the
al scene, he could have a lot Wolverines were a long shot to
pool to choose from. advance past the first round. Still,
while on the national stage, they
just might be able to land some of
the top prospects in the country
ey Just might - or at least the Midwest. These
payers, along with their return-
able to land ing roster, just might be able to
achieve more than a rare tourna-
ne of the top ment berth in the years to come.
Whether or not the success
prospects. that the Wolverines found this
season will continue is impossible
to tell.
But they have the right ingre-
r program has changed so dients to maintain their high-
since coach Borseth came level of play - strong upper-class
Boylan said. "(Reynolds leadership, a go-to scorer and
were a part of his first a coach who runs atight ship.
ing class, and to be able Michigan has definitely arrived
e our footprint on the pro- on the national scene and with
neans so much to us." another year of all "Borseth play-
toylan and Reynolds leave, ers," the Wolverines will look
:gram's success won't leave to make a little more noise than
hem. Michigan returns a first-round loss in the coming
unior starters in guards years.

... ,... . . .......... . .

.... ....... . .,, t., ., . ,.,... ,.. ....., .. ,.,.

Michigan still searchingfor
consistency from bullpen

By STEVEN BRAID could be problematic if they con-
Daily Sports Writer tinued.
Sure enough, Maloney was cor-
Enough talent, but too much rect.
inconsistency. In its last eight games, Michi-
That's been the story of the gan has a 3-5 record. Out of
Michigan baseball team's bullpen those five losses, the bullpen has
all season. allowed at least three runs after
"I feel like we have a lot of tal- the sixth inning on three different
ent in the bullpen, a lot of guys occasions.
who can pitch, so now we just "We need to limit our freebies,"
need to pitch better and be more Wood said. "We've walked some
consistent," fifth-year senior guys out of the pen, so we need to
right-hander Kolby Wood said work on that."
last week. So far, Maloney has relied
There's no denying that the heavily upon his two freshmen
Wolverines (9-11 overall) have - Ogden leads the team in relief
plenty of relief options. Sopho- innings with 12, while Skutznik
more right-hander Alex Laka- has been the third-most active
tos has allowed only one earned reliever, hurling nine innings.
run in nine-plus innings. Fresh- Despite his loyalty, Maloney
man right-hander Matt Ogden has received varying success in
and freshman left-hander Trent return.
Szkutnik, both have received early After allowing three earned
praise from Michigan coach Rich runs and walking four in the sev-
Maloney. And then there's Wood enth and eight innings during a
and fellow fifth-year senior hurler 6-4 defeat to LSU on March 10,
Travis Smith, who are reasserting Ogden bounced back to pitch two
themselves as contributors in the hitless innings to earn his first
Wolverine bullpen after missing career save in a 7-5 victory against
most of last year with season-end- Connecticut last Sunday.
ing arm injuries. Skutznik has been just as
But if there's one thing the inconsistent. Despite getting hit
relievers have struggled with, with a line drive off his pitching
it's reliability. After the Snow- hand against Xavier on March
bird Invitational in Port Char- 4, Skutznik pitched two solid
lotte, Fla. at the beginning of the innings the following weekend in
month, during which the relievers a 6-5 victory against Notre Dame.
relinquished late leads in games This past weekend, he allowed
against Ohio State and Xavier, three runs in one inning while
Maloney noted that the bullpen walking five in Michigan's 6-2 loss
had faltered in most of team's six to Coastal G olina.
losses at that point. He cautioned Though the relievers have
that the relief-pitching struggles mixed poor performances with

effective outings - Ogden owns
a 4.50 ERA and Skutznik has a
10.00 ERA - Maloney's faith
hasn't waivered.
"I still really like Ogden and
Skutznik," Maloney said.
Not just the freshman have
been inconsistent, and it has
caused Maloney to tinker with
how he plans to utilize his relief
pitching, as five different pitchers
each have earned a save, and none
of them have recorded more than
one.
Maloney hopes that Wood and
Smith can provide some stability
with their experience. In 2010,
Wood led the Wolverines with 21
appearances out of the bullpen.
And last year, Smith pitched four-
plus innings without allowing a
run before sitting out the rest of
the season.
Maloney has said that the fifth-
year seniors could be the team's
back-end pitchers in relief when
they become strong enough to
pitch multiple times in a series,
but neither has shown that ability
yet. In three appearances, Wood
has pitched less than two innings.
Smith has only made one appear-
ance so far this season.
Whatever, or whoever, the solu-
tion is, Maloney understands that
the bullpen needs to find it fast.
"I think one of the keys for the
team the rest of the year is going
to be 'can we finish games?' I am
very pleased with what we've
been getting from our starting
pitching - they've been doing
outstanding - but our bullpen has
been struggling."

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