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November 14, 2012 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-11-14

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8A - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 TMUDlmhny

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.cam

Kovacs wants to make last
Big House memory count

Junior guard Tim Hardaway Jr. paced the Michigan offense against Cleveland State at Crisler Center on Tuesday.
'Michigan atdvances to
New York with blowout

By LUKE PASCH
Daily Sports Editor
Jordan Kovacs is all business.
On Tuesday of senior week,
members of the media had to
pry to get the fifth-year senior
safety to reflect on his time with
the Michigan football team. On
Saturday, he'll play at Michigan
Stadium for the last time. He'll
run out of the tunnel and slap
the 'M Club' banner for the last
time.
But he's still focused on Iowa
- Saturday's visitor who Kovacs
has yet to beat in his Wolverine
career.
"We've had struggles with
them year in, year out," Kovacs
said. "They're a tough football
team, they run the ball down-
hill, and (James) Vandenberg
is a good quarterback, so we're
going to have our hands full.
Obviously you don't want to go
0-4 or 0-S against an opponent,
so I'm hungry."
Kovacs has had a storybook
career. A high school kid from,
Curtis, Ohio with no Division-I
offer, except to be a preferred
walk-on at Toledo, tried out for
the Michigan Wolverines. In his
freshman season, after making
the first cut, he told the train-
ers his knee was bothering him,
and it would eventually require
surgery that had him rehabbing
all year - a football death sen-
tence for somebody with no real
potential.
But a year later, Kovacs start-
ed eight games in his redshirt
freshman season, and over four
years he grew into a captain of
one of the most prestigious foot-
ball institutions in the country.
And Kovacs' ascendance in
the locker room hierarchy has
coincided with the turnaround
of a program that lost its way for
some time. During former coach
Rich Rodriguez's tenure, Michi-
gan skidded through three of
the worst years in program his-

tory.'
years
team.
In
Hoke,
verin
ing s
and
Bowl
he he
droug
and h
Cham
"(A
antici
season
it's alv
and d
antici
of the
adver
"It
a r
Ko
limeli
ing ca
in all
freshn
being
again
Sept.
Tat
fresh
don G
defen
leade
defen
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again
"I wa
was
on sp
in my
be on
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was j

Those were the first three A week later, Kovacs's life got
of Kovacs's stint with the a bit more surreal.
After assisting on one tack-
2011, under coach Brady le in kickoff coverage against
Kovacs helped the Wol- Western Michigan, Rodriguez
es snap a seven-year los- tapped Kovacs to start against
treak against Ohio State visiting Notre Dame on Sept.
later became a Sugar 12. He recorded three tack-
champion. This season, les against the Fighting Irish,
elped halt the four-year planting the seed for a long,
;ht against Michigan State, fruitful Michigan career.
e's in the thick of a Big Ten Kovacs admitted Tuesday
ipionship race. that his goals weren't always so
season) never goes as you lofty. His father, Lou, walked on
pate," Kovacs said. "The to the Michigan football team
n is always a rocky road, and lettered in 1982 under coach
ways tough. It's had its ups Bo Schembechler, but he only
owns, and I guess that was played a few minutes of garbage
pated. ... I think I'm proud time in his career. It was impor-
way we've responded to tant that his son managed his
sity." expectations.
"At first, I just wanted to
make the team, wanted to be a
part of the team whatever way
sbeenq I could, whether it was spe-
cial teams or just scout team,"
ide, quite the Kovacs said. "And I think after
the first few weeks of practice
jOUrney" I thought, 'You know, I could
play with these guys.' Gradu-
ally, I just set the bar higher and
higher, seeing how far I could
vacs was thrust into the push myself."
ght very early in his play- Since those first games, fans
areer at Michigan, playing have grown accustomed to see- 4
12 games in his redshirt ing No. 32 flying to the ball on
man season, the first every single play. It doesn't mat-
on special teams coverage ter if he's in coverage or he's
st Western Michigan on blitzing - wherever the ball
5, 2009. goes, he's finishing a tackle or
te Forcier was the true hustling to the ball until the
man quarterback. Bran- whistle blows.
raham was the strong side Now No. 11 - the program
sive end and the senior recently dubbed Kovacs the lat-
r of a very underwhelming est honoree of a Michigan Leg-
sive unit. ends patch to pay tribute to the
he first time (I played) was famed trio of Wistert brothers,
st Western," Kovacs said. who all donned No. 11 in their
s on special teams, kind of Wolverine careers - Kovacs
not really expecting to be is looking to make one last Big
ecial teams at that point House memory.
'career, but I was glad to "It's been quite a ride, quite
it. Just running down the the journey," he said. "It's one
el and touching the banner of those things that you thought
he first time, everything would never come to an end, but
ust surreal." it will on Saturday."

Hardaway scores
game-high17 points
to propel Michigan
to the Big Apple
By DANIEL WASSERMAN
Daily Sports Writer
Trey Burke celebrated his
20th birthday in style on Mon-
day night, scoring 22 points and
dishing out nine assists in a con-
vincing Michigan win. Tuesday
night, there would be no birthday
hangover.
Burke CLEV. STATE 47
opened the MICHIGAN 77
game with a
break-your-ankles crossover for a
layup.and for the first time in this
early season, the Wolverines took
control from the get-go, jumping
out to a quick 8-0 lead before the
first official timeout.
Cleveland State narrowed its
deficit to 10-7 at the 14:27 mark,
but Michigan responded with
authority, clamping down on the
defensive end and scoring 32 of
the half's final 39 points to take a
commanding 42-14 halftime lead.
The teams traded baskets for
much of the second half, allowing
the Wolverines to win convinc-
ingly, 77-47.
"Our defense was terrific," said
Michigan coach John Beilein.
"It fueled our offense, which
was mostly fast break and really
allowed us to just get out in front

so much that the lead was going
to be hard to overcome, no matter
what Cleveland State did."
With the win, Michigan
advances to the NIT Season Tip-
Off semifinal, which kicks off
next Wednesday in New York
City's Madison Square Garden.
After cruising through the open-
ing two rounds, the Wolverines
are the favorite entering the Big
Apple.
"That was a goal," Beilein said.
"Many of the kids have not been
to New York, they've not been
to the Garden, and we wanted
them to get there ... I'm excited
that this team can go to one of the
most storied places to play bas-
ketball."
Burke and junior guard Tim
Hardaway Jr. led a balanced
first-half Michigan offense that
saw eight different players score.
Hardaway scored 10 points in the
opening stanza and finished with
game-high 17 points. Burke paced
the offense with 12 points and
seven assists.
The Wolverines' impressive
first-half defensive lockdown
can be largely attributed to their
domination on the defensive
glass. Michigan rebounded 20 of
the Vikings' 21 first-half misses
and allowed no second-chance
points.
The freshmen continued their
steady play for the Wolverines.
Guard Nik Stauskas flashed
the impressive shooting that
brought him to Michigan, set-
ting a career-high with 15 points

thanks to 3-of-4 3-point shooting,
while also adding six rebounds -
three-times more than his season
total entering the game.
Stauskas called his 2-for-5
3-point shooting in an exhibition
win over Saginaw Valley State
last week "a bad night."
So how about his 3-for-4 per-
formance?
"I'll take that," he said, laugh-
ing. "I know eventually I'm going
to get my looks. Coach (Beilein)
gave me the confidence to just
keep shooting (and) knock them
down when I can, and my team-
mates are going to find me."
Forward Glenn Robinson
III had a slow shooting night,
connecting on just 2-of-7 from
the field, but he added seven
rebounds. Forward Mitch
McGary made all three of his
field goals for six points and gath-
ered a game-high nine rebounds.
Anton Grady was the only
Viking to score more than six
points. The forward scored 15
points, but was held to just three
rebounds, as Michigan com-
manded the glass, outrebounding
Cleveland State 45-28.
Ten Wolverines scored, as the
bench chipped in with 29 points.
"You just see those guys how
much work they put in in the
offseason - just as much as you
did," Hardaway said. "You see
them going out there and play-
ing their hardest and it's great
because they got that opportu-
nity to come here and play. Hats
off to them. They deserve it."

ICE HOCKEY
November poses threat for 'M'

By LIZ NAGLE first in the NCAA.
DailySports Writer The defensemen have played a
sizable role in the surge of offen-
It's already nine games into the sive production, with nine goals
season and the No. 13 Michigan from four different of blueliners.
hockey team has yet to sweep a But they've sacrificed their duties
weekend series. in the defensive zone in order to
Last year, the Wolverines contribute offensively. '
extended their nation-best streak "Part is everyone buying into
of 22-consecutive NCAA Tour- playing better defensively," Beren-
nament berths. They set the pace son said. "We've got guys too
early in the season, winning their worried about scoring goals and
first four games with 24-5 goal getting points - that's how they
differential, registering a pair of measure themselves. And we mea-
sweeps and dropping only one sure them how they're playing
contest through the month of without the puck."
October. At the midpoint of the month,
But early this fall, with an Michigan is on pace to duplicate
injury-prone team and four series last season's troublesome Novem-
behind it, Michigan posts an ber, but without the same six-win
unimpressive 4-4-1 overall record. cushion.
It's been an internal battle defined Last year's team registered
by lack of chemistry, inconsistent an unremarkable 1-6-1 record in
special teams and inexperienced November, dropping four-straight
goalies. matchups after a shootout loss
It seems like the one-step- against Miami. Michigan may be
forward-two-steps-back tempo headed in that very direction, fol-
as the Wolverines' offense tries lowing a split weekend against
to keep the team afloat with the Michigan State.
defense struggling. Michigan has Looking at the upcoming
scored a CCHA-high 38 goals (4.22 November schedule, the Wol-
per game), eight goals better than verines will face off against No.
Miami's No. 2 scoringoffense. But 7 Notre Dame, No. 10 Cornell -
the defensive slips have been a the Big Red defeated Michigan
reoccurringsetback, surrendering in the NCAA Midwest Regional
a conference-worst 32 goals (3.56 in overtime last season - and the
per game). reigning national runner-up Fer-
"How are you going to win ris State.
when you're giving up four goals a Fortunately for the Wolverines,
game?" asked Michigan coach Red their lone contest against Bowling
Berenson. Green on Nov. 21 looks promising.
In an effort to compensate, the The Falcons sit second to last in
Wolverines have relied on its ros- the conference with a poor scoring
ter depth of 15 goal scorers. Pav- offense (1.73 goals per game), pen-
ilg the way is senior forward A.J. alty kill (75 percent) and power
Treais, whose eight goals put him play (6.1 percent) units.

But until then, Michigan has
to find a way to keep itself from
repeatinglast season's faults.
"It'sdefinitelyhard," saidsenior
defenseman Lee Moffie. "You pic-
ture the season going a certain
way and when it starts turning,
for the wrong, it's frustrating. But
we've been here before in the past.
... I'd rather have this happen early
in the year than at the end." ' C . V°
The Wolverines' year may not
be defined by a single month of ice
action, but by their splitting-series
pattern. Michigan has not won
back-to-back games for a sweep in A n h n x w A
the first third of the regular sea-
son.
Since opening the season with A d t n t
a 7-2 finale win over Roches-
ter Institute of Technology, the
Wolverines have dropped three-
straight closing contests to the
RedHawks, Northern Michigan
and the Spartans. a * * w
It's a reversing trend from last
year's decision schedule, where C * W * *
the Wolverines fell in only one of
16 series finales, consisting of four
tying tallies and 11 wins - three
of which were overtime victories
over Alaska, Michigan State and
the Wildcats.Ux
Berenson puts partial blame
on a sense of overconfidence.
After making a rallying comeback
against Northern Michigan and
slaying the Spartans in the series
opener, the Wolverines came into
the Saturday games with a differ-
ent mentality.
"You don't win by relaxing after * SOStkit er ttttittio h esofi sottirs stbifto hest areste as
so sw tuer I sftroll W.4"O~wbossattritssti 0tt tudotN Is t t.0rs a (or , YUfi htsa lby
the first game and thinking it's b ays t fassvsas tsr othst tao ess4t t fi Loseesig
going to be easier the next night," teloii4 a0 trsfth eohtresissatssss(eta atp ujeosb tsitysoh!sitt ehsleersis
Berenson said. "Guess what's mus a stt tlotlltsmtrs.r155 50 il i 5ssl slsrd tM04rwAt
going to happen the next night."

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