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March 23, 2012 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-03-23

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, March 23, 2012 - 7

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Junior forward Chris Brown was moved off the first line to a heavy-checking, big-bodied line this week.
Berenson shuffles lines in
preparation for Cornell

Daily Sports Editor
GREEN BAY, Wisc. - For the
first time in months, senior for-
ward Luke Glendening could take
a deep breath. A sigh of relief.
But only for a second - it's win
or go home time
For the 22nd Cornell vs.
year in a row, Michigan
the Michigan Matchup:
hockey team Cornell 18-8-
earned a bid 4; Michigan
in the NCAA 24-12-4
Tournament. When: Fri-
And in the end, day, 9 P.M.
it didn't have
much to sweat Wher: Resch
- the Wolver-
ines earned TV/Radio:
a one-seed in ESPNU
the Midwest
region, setting up a matchup with
four-seed Cornell on Friday night.
But for a while, that streak was
in serious jeopardy. On Thursday,
Glendening revealed for the first
time how much that gnawed at
"You talk about the legacy
of Michigan hockey a lot, and I
didn't want to be part of the legacy
that was the first to not make it,"
Glendening said.
It was senior defenseman Greg
Pateryn, actually, who spoke first.
He indicated that the team didn't
feel too much pressure, that the
team was confident it would
rebound after a dreadful Novem-
ber. But Glendening deviated from
his teammate's response. For him,
he said, it was personal.
The Resch Center, where
Michigan will play Cornell on
Friday, sits right in the shadow of
Lambeau Field. So when college
hockey's most consistent dynasty
drove past the home of one of the
NFL's most consistent dynasties
and arrived at the arena, Glenden-

ing could be content.
But not for long.
"It's not good enough for us
just to be here," Glendening said.
"That's not what we came to do.
It's not satisfying just showing up.
You come to play hockey."
And so to protect the team
from complacency, Michigan
coach Red Berenson is making
some somewhat substantial line
Well, maybe. During the week,
junior forward Chris Brown, who
usually plays on a potent scoring
line with senior forward David
Wohlberg and freshman forward
Alex Guptill, was elsewhere.
Instead, sophomore Derek DeB-
lois replaced him.
But Berenson isn't positive that
he's making changes.
"When you see the line chart
(on Friday) you'll have a better
idea," Berenson said. "But I like
the fact that we've got some flex-
ibility. We've had different players
play with different players during
the year, and we've even had some
guys play different positions. I
think when you get to this point of
the year, you have to be flexible, as
a coach and a player.
"That doesn't answer (the)
question, but that's my answer."
SO to counter Michigan's
just-have-to-wait-and-see line
changes, Cornell plans on... well,
actually, Cornell doesn't really
"We pride ourselves on great
balance," said Cornell coach Mike
Schafer. "Defensively, I'm never
really worried about anybody on
our team and line matchups ...
(so) you know that if you play a
team that's going to create a one-
two punch and two players, or
you're playing against a team that
can contribute offensively from
everywhere that we have that bal-

"We don't feel that there's a line
that we have to protect or defen-
sive pair that we have to protect."
Cornell, after all, has per-
formed well defensively no mat-
ter who it has played. The Big Red
allow just 2.27 goals per game,
good for 12th in the nation, and
got tougher against tough oppo-
nents. They surrendered just
two goals to Boston University
when the teams played at Madi-
son Square Garden in a game that
went into overtime. And they sur-
rendered just four total goals in
two games against Colorado Col-
lege. Because of its tough defen-
sive style, Berenson feels a sense
of familiarity with Cornell.
"I see them as a CCHA-type
team," Berenson said. "If they
were in our league, they'd be right
there with the top teams in our
league. They're in the ECAC, but
they look like they belong in the
And if this one is close, look for
penalties to play a deciding role.
Michigan has been anemic on the
power play this year with a 15.3
percent conversion rate, but Cor-
nell's penalty kill (78.9 percent) is
even worse. Michigan will need
to capitalize on those opportuni-
ties if it is to advance to the sec-
ond round against the winner of
the Ferris State-Denver contest.
Berenson's team was all busi-
ness on Thursday. While the first
three teams to take the ice blared
songs by Kelly Clarkson and Gym
Class Heroes, the Wolverines
practiced in silence.
Maybe that's because Beren-
son, who's seen his share of
NCAA Tournament games, sees
this do-or-die game as a nail-
"Whether it's their grinding
style or the defensive style, I just
see this as a real grinding, hard-
fought, close game," he said.
Deep breath's over.

avigatingthe Michigan
locker room last week
in the minutes after the
Wolverines fell victim to Ohio's
upset bid was a dreary chore.
Players sat
solemnly at
their lockers.
The room
was cloaked
in a shocked
silence, and
obliged the
atmosphere BEN
by practically ESTES
their ques-
tions to the few who seemed
worthy of an interview.
Mst of the attention was
given to seniors Zack Novak and
Stu Douglass, whose careers
had just ended in near tragic
fashion. They were asked mostly
ahout how they could look past
this immediate disappointment,
whether they could reflect on all
they had managed to accomplish
at Michigan.
But while the pair of captains
spoke about their pasts, the
queries for the next generation
of team leaders were focused on
their futures: would Trey Burke
and Tim Hardaway Jr. be return-
ing for their sophomore and
junior years, respectively?
Really, it was a silly time
to be asking that question of
them. The two had just finished
playing a heartbreaker, having
allowed an underdog to end their
season well before they imag-
ined it would. Even if Burke and
Hardaway Jr. had thought about
their futures before that night,
the only thing that possibly
could have been in their head at
that moment was how painful
that loss was.
But because we, the media,
know we won't have regimented
access to the team again until
next fall, we're forced to ask
about the NBA right then, 15
minutes after the season had
I asked Hardaway Jr. first if
he had thought about his future
plans at all.
"I'm staying," he said. "I'm
"You're staying for sure?" I
"For sure," Hardaway Jr. said.
And that was that: unadul-
terated confirmation from the
source himself that Tim Hard-
away Jr. would be wearing the
maize and blue as a junior.
At about the same time, Burke
also told reporters he'd be com-
ing back. That would end the
speculation and controversy
already - no reason to be follow-
ing this story for the next few
But here's the problem: NBA
draft decisions made in the wake

Freshman guard Trey Burke is testing the NBA draft waters this month.

of season-ending losses - or
even made in front of the media
in general - mean nothing.
Burke proved as much this
week, when his father Benji
told several media outlets that
the family was looking into his
draft status, and that they would
decide whether Trey would stay
in school or leap to the NBA once
they came back with solid infor-
mation about where he might be
Whether Burke ends up
staying or going, the informa-
tion-gathering step in itself is
evidence enough that there's
no point in taking any stock of
unreliable public draft resolu-
It's hard to fault Burke for
looking at his options. Most play-
ers grow up dreaming not of col-
lege basketball, but the pros, and
Burke is doubtless no exception.
Considering that college success
and NBA draft standing are so
fleeting - in almost all cases, a
player's stock goes down after
an additional year in college - it
makes sense to leave as soon as
you know you'll be a first-round-
er, meaning you're guaranteed a
And though some maybe mad
at the apparent hypocrisy of
telling the media you're staying,,
only to then explore the possibil-
ity of leaving, you can't blame
any player for ever doing so.
Just what good would come
out of telling the truth? It would
immediately bring a firestorm of
unwanted attention, making the
whole process even more stress-
ful for someone like Burke.
Despite the high-minded
air they may hold themselves
in, fans don't really care about
If Burke said after the loss
to Ohio that he was consider-
ing the NBA and then went out

and actually declared, Michigan
supporters wouldn't say, "Well,
at least he was honest about it."
They would be just as angry as
they would if he declares now
after saying he was staying - the
focus would be on his actual
decision, not what he said in an
emotional moment after a loss.
There's just no benefit for
Burke or anyone else to be forth-
coming about it in such a situ-
ation. Fans will be angry if he
leaves either way, and no points
for honesty will be given.
So while Hardaway Jr. was
pretty emphatic in declaring his
intentions to stay, I'm goingto go
ahead and ignore what he said.
Even if he and Burke end up
returning, there are too many
examples of players who have
claimed they're coming back
only to change their stance a
short time later. Look no further
than star Kentucky freshman
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who
told reporters a few weeks ago
he would come back for his
sophomore season. ESPN's Chad
Ford reported on Wednesday
that Kidd-Gilchrist was instead
headed to the NBA.
Do I think Burke and Hard-
away Jr. will leave? No, though
I'm much more confident Hard-
away Jr. stays, justbecause his
struggles this season essentially
mandate that. But we'll know
one way or the other on March
29, the deadline to declare for
the NBA draft. And the picture
clears up even more on April 10,
the deadline to pull out of the
draft ifa player has declared.
The only thing we know for
sure? The declarations of March
16 will continue to mean nothing.
Estes would like to announce
that he's coming back for his
senior year. He can be reached
at benestes@umich.edu.

New staff boosts morale

Blue opens vs. JPFW

Daily Sports Writer
After a 20-game road trip, the
Michigan baseball team finally
gets to enjoy the comforts of Ray
Fisher Stadium for the first time
this season.
For the third time in four sea-
sons, Michigan (9-11 overall)
opens up its home schedule with
a three-game series against Indi-
ana-Purdue Fort Wayne.
In 2009 and 2010, the Wolver-
ines opened up with sweeps of
IPFW, but if they hope to repeat
their performances, they will
need their bats to awaken.
"I don't think it's a concern, but
I think it's something we need to
improve on quickly," said junior
centerfielder Patrick Biondi.
Since starting the season red-
hot, the lineup has cooled off con-
siderably and it's reflected in the
team's record. En route to win-
ning six of their first 10 games,
the Wolverines averaged 7.3 runs
a game. But in their last 10 games,
they have just won three.
According to Maloney, the
Wolverines haven't given them-
selves enough opportunities to
score runs.
"You've got to score runs,"
Maloney said. "Some of that is by
working yourself to earn more
freebies. We've got to strike out

less so that we'll get more oppor-
tunities. Teams will make errors,
but you've got to put the ball in
Sophomore right fielder
Michael O'Neill and freshman
left fielder Will Drake, the team's
two best hitters, have especially
slumped recently. Two weeks ago,
O'Neill was riding a 10-game hit-
ting streak and was second in the
Big Ten with a .480 batting aver-
age. Eight games later, O'Neill is
now hitting just .363. Over the
same period, Drake has seen his
batting average plummet from
.372 to .329.
But O'Neill and Drake aren't
the root of Michigan's anemic
offense. Biondi, senior third base-
man John Lorenz, senior catcher
Coley Crank and freshman short-
stop Dylan Delany - all key com-
ponents to the offense - are all
hitting lower than .243. As a team,
the Wolverines' batting average
has plunged over the past few
weeks and currently sits at .251.
If Sunday's victory against
Connecticut was any indication,
Michigan could break out of its
slump this weekend against the
Mastodons (4-14).
The Wolverines knocked
Husky starter Jared Dettman
out after just three innings. They
scored just two runs on Dettman,
but their patience at the plate

forced him to throw 73 pitches
and walk four batters. They took
advantage of a weak bullpen to
score five more runs against Con-
necticut's relievers.
IPFW will most likely pro-
vide plenty of opportunities for
the offense to find a rhythm.
None of the Mastodons' three
expected starters this weekend
- Jason Kalber, Travis Reboulet,
Charles Weaver - have an ERA
under four, and only Kalber has
recorded a win. Though the Wol-
verines don't have any starting
pitchers that average a strikeout
per inning, they have plenty of
firepower on the mound. Junior
right-hander Ben Ballantine is
undefeated with a1.87 ERA, while
allowing opposing offenses to hit
just .209 against him. Redshirt
junior left-hander Bobby Brosna-
han has recorded two wins and
has a 2.54 ERA. They should have
little trouble against IPFW's line-
up. Not one hitter with more than
14 at-bats is hitting above .300.
Senior right-hander Brandon Sin-
nery, who has struggled of late,
will look to record his first win
when he starts on Saturday.
The Wolverines are eager to
play their first games at home.
Maloney, though, just hopes
Michigan can put aside its excite-
ment and just play mistake-free

By LIZ NAGLE seemingly harsh reaction.
Daily Sports Writer "That was a moment," Merri-
man said. "It's about a situation,
Michigan baseball coach Rich and he understands, (Ogden) gets
Maloney left practice early on it.... Every daypresents something
Wednesday to start planning for different for you to try to teach
next year. While he and assistant and you have to adapt to whatever
coach Matt Husted took a short that situation shows you. Youhave
recruiting field trip, the Wolver- to seize the moment."
ines were left in Ray Fisher Sta- Welton spent 33 years at Chel-
dium to keep preparing for this sea High School in Michigan as
season. the baseball coach - 23 of those
The team with a 9-11 record years as the athletic director -
needed guidance on the field. So and shortly after retirement, he
who was out there coaching? was ready to get back into the
Before the season started, game.
Maloney brought variety to his Building on their 10-year rela-
staff. He recalled pitching coach tionship, Maloney asked Welton
Steve Merriman to the program to share his wealth of knowledge
and brought in long-time friend with the team. And everyone has
Wayne Welton to help recover responded to the experience he
and rebuild from last season's brings to the table, especially the
17-37 finish. On Wednesday, Wel- starting outfielders - freshman
ton, the volunteer coach, stood at Will Drake, sophomore Michael
home plate with the bat gripped O'Neill and junior Patrick Biondi.
between his hands. Each pitcher Merriman has the attitude that
stepped onto the mound and Maloney considers a "demand for
hurled it into the catcher's mitt. excellence," and he hopes it'll rub
Simultaneously, Welton would off on the bullpen.
lightly toss aball into fair territory He previously worked for the
to simulate a bunt. Wolverines for single-season
It was freshman right-hander stints in 1995 and 2002, and Mer-
Matt Ogden's turn to practice riman returned this year with a
pitching in bunt situations, but he bank of useful experience.
wasn't throwing the strikes that After coaching a handful of dif-
Merriman wanted to see. ferent college teams, he joined the
"Go to the bullpen until you Detroit Tigers in 1996 and found
can throw 15 in a row!" Merri- himself warming up the bullpen,
man yelled. Ogden did as he was watching film and doing the odd
told, and Merriman explained the jobs. But Merriman isn't knownto

stay in one place for too long.
Merriman was sent to scout
school, recommended by the Col-
orado Rockies, and he passed with
flying colors. Then, after working
with the New York Mets, Arizona
Diamondbacks and the Major
League Baseball Scouting Bureau,
he returned to Michigan for his
"junior year."
"Hopefully, they'll let me
graduate," Merriman said with a
Freshmen start to get comfort-
able in the environment and toss
aside old habits on the mound.
It's the year of reformation and
adjustment. Sophomores learn
how to manage innings and con-
trol damage, and no longer have
to think about the fundamentals.
The string of starting pitch-
ers - senior Brandon Sinnery,
redshirt junior Bobby Brosnahan
and junior Ben Ballantine -- had
completed the first two cycles and
were ready to move forward in
their development when Merri-
man arrived.
They had simple deliveries and
solid mechanics, but they lacked
in confidence. Both coaches have
been consistently working with
the team to build up its self-assur-
ance - something that may be
hard to do with a losing record.
But Welton reminds them,
"Baseball is such a game of chal-
lenge. Good hitters fail seven out
of 10 times."

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