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February 14, 2013 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-02-14

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 7A

PAUL SHERMAN/Daily
Junior defenseman Mac Bennett sustained an upper-body injury Jan. 8, and Michigan coach Red Berenson said he rushed Bennett back to help the reeling Wolverines.
Bennett gains coach's perspective

Junior defensemen
said he felt helpless
while nursing a
month-long injury
By LIZ VUKELICH
Daily Sports Editor
In the past month, Mac Ben-
nett discovered a newfound
respect for the Michigan hockey
team's coaching staff.
It dates back to Jan. 8, when
the junior defenseman sustained
an upper-body injury in Michi-
gan's game against Bowling
Green. Since then, Bennett could
do nothing but watch from the
stands as the Wolverines stum-
bled their way through the rest of
January.
It was during this month-long
absence that he gained a new per-
spective on some of the team's
problems.
"If anything, it's frustrating," .
Bennett said. "I'm helpless stand-
ing up there, you want too yell
down to the ice and grab someone
and say, 'Do it this way,' but you
can't do that.
"Now I understand what it

would be like to be a coach ... when
they're trying to getcthrough tous
and tell us to do things certain
ways and we're just not doing it.
It's frustrating to watch."
The bulk of the Wolverines'
injuries this season have been to
their defensemen, so Bennett's
absence on the blue line was a big
enough blow in itself.
But even more worrisome
for the Wolverines was that

everyone's happy. That was kind
of my role while I was out."
Michigan coach Red Berenson
knew this off-ice leadership could
'only do so much. Though Bennett
tried his best to carry the team
off the ice, just being a presence
in the locker room didn't seem to
be enough to get the team back on
track.
"I can tell you through these
last eight games of hell that

the absence
deprived them
of one of their "You want to
alternate cap-
tains. And for yell down to
a team that's '
been struggling the ice and gra
to find consis-
tent leader- Someone"
ship to guide
it through its
rough patches,
that perhaps was the biggestblow our team."
of all. ThoughI
The captains say time and ingbyhims
again that the best way to lead is only had a c
by example. But with his injury, tact practic
Bennett had to find a way to direct team before
the Wolverines in lieu of playing. the Notre D
"If I can't be a presence on the end.
ice, I just have to up my presence Berenson
in the locker room," he said. "Just timing of B
be around the guys, make sure have been

our team has
gone through,
it's been just
as tough on
(Bennett),"
Berenson said.
b "I know he
couldn't wait to
get back on the
ice and do what
he does best to
help influence
Bennett started skat-
elf a few weeks ago, he
ouple days of full-con-
e with the rest of the
returning to action in
tame series last week-
n admitted that the
ennett's return might
a little premature -

had the Wolverines been faring
a little better in their games, the
coach would've waited until after
the bye week before putting Ben-
nett back'in, giving him another
two weeks of practice to fully,
regain his legs.
His rustiness definitely
showed - a poor turnover in front
of Michigan's goal let in the Fight-
ing Irish's fifth goal of the night
on Friday. Though his defen-
sive-zone coverage did slightly
improvethe nextnight, it was still
too little, too late for the Wolver-
ines, who ended up surrendering
13 goals on the weekend.
After Saturday's game, Ben-
nett admitted that though he
had physically recovered, he still
wasn't mentally where he need-
ed to be in order to productively
contribute to the defense. He
said having to take time to think
about his actions as a result of los-
ing muscle memory over the.past
month slowed down the pace of
his game.
That's why the upcoming bye
week couldn't come at a better
time for Bennett.
"It's coming back," Bennett
said. "I want to get back to the
point where I don't think, I just
play"

Zakharia no longer
one-trick gymnast
By CINDY YU floor.
Daily Sports Writer This year, as an upperclass-
man, Zakharia has taken on
Junior Reema Zakharia is more responsibilities and is more
becoming a stronger asset for focused on refining the details of
the No. 3 women's gymnastics her routines, saying consistency
team. is an emphasis.
Typically a floor exercise Her strategy has worked.
specialist, Zakharia competed Earlier this year, she scored a
in three events for just the sec- career-best9.925 on floor against
ond time in her career at the last Illinois and was named Big Ten
home meet against Iowa on Feb. Co-Event Specialist of the Week.
2. To have her ready to go on Zakharia made up her own
vault and beam will add a more floor routine that features excit-
seasoned competitor to the mix ing choreography and an enor-
and motivate her teammates to mous running double-front
work even harder. opening pass. Her background
"It was great doing three in dance radiates in her high-
events," Zakharia said. "I'm not energy routine and brings out
100-percent her upbeat personality.
satisfied with "Training is going well,"
my perfor- Zakharia said. "The girls are all
mance, but it's working hard. We're just trying
just driving to really build our confidence
me to work even more and hit routine after
even harder in routine."
the gym and Against the Hawkeyes,
consistently RUBYWALLAU/Daily Zakharia hit all of her routines.
get inthe otherlineups." On vault, she upgraded her
The Wolverines (4-1 Big Ten, front-handspring pike from the
8-1 overall) have shown surpris- previous year to a front-hand-
ing depth and persistence from spring pike with a half twist. On
last season,whichwasmarred of beam, she executed a clean set
injuries and void of any seniors. under pressure after the Michi-
"Ther's definitely a very dif- gan gymnast competing prior
ferent team dynamic," Zakharia to her fell. Her routine featured
said. "The upperclassmen really a front-tuck-to-back-tuck flight
show a different sense of leader- series and a front full-twisting
ship, and I mean that with every dismount. Zakharia's frontctum-
single individual" bling is highlighted in her beam
Despite an impressive start to and floor routines. On floor, she
the firsthalfofthe season, Mich- tied for fourth witha 9.825.
igan has yetto peak, accordingto The junior spent the previous
coach Bev Plocki. The Wolver- week rehabbing her leg and did
ines still have upgrades planned, not compete in the most recent
and a top-six lineup to finalize. meet againstcOhio State.
They are utilizinga new strategy "I wouldn't call it- an injury,
of switching up the lineups to but we have to monitor it and be
keep veterans fresh and injury- careful going forward," Plocki
free and to give their teammates said. "I would expect to see her
the opportunity to gain valuable in and out of the lineup depend-
meet experience. ing on where we feel like we
"Our team score could be need to resther."
higher if we did X, Y and Z," Zakharia is excited to return
Plocki said. "That's a good thing. to the lineup this Saturday
It keeps a team motivated, hun- against Penn State.
gry, and they work harder in the "Every meet has the same
gym as a result." amount of pressure," Zakharia
As a leader on the team, said. "Whether you are compet-
Zakharia has experienced the ing in conference or against the
highs and lows of Michigan Southeastern Conference, there
gymnastics. During her fresh- are great gymnasts out there so
men year, she was a member of you always just want to put out
the team that won the Big Ten your best-'A' game."
Championship and qualified for Zakharia and the Wolverines
the Super Six - the most presti- have proven that they can han-
gious competition in women's dle the pressure of being on top.
collegiate gymnastics. Last They've been ranked in the top
year, Zakharia competed on a three everyweek this season and
team that failed to qualify for twice have been ranked No. .
the NCAA Championships and , "I just want my team to get
ended afive-year winningstreak back out there and get the Big
at the Big Ten Championships. Ten Championship title back
Hailing from the same gym as like we deserve," Zakharia said.
2012 Olympic bronze medalist "I definitely want to head back
Danell Leyva, the Miami native to the Super Six again, end up
is one of the best floor-exercise on the podium and go after that
workers inthe nation. Her fresh- national championship because
man year, Zakharia was the I really think we are contend-

Michigan builds young stars to
fill void left by departing seniors

Driesenga,
Fitzpatrick and
Susanna could be
contributors
By ALEJANDRO ZUNIGA
Daily Sports Writer
As one of eight sophomores on
the preseason watch list for USA
Softball National Collegiate
Player of the Year, pitcher Hay-
lie Wagner was nowhere to be
found when the No.14 Michigan
softball team opened its season
in Florida last weekend. Instead,
sophomore Sara Driesenga took
.to the circle for the Wolverines
(3-1), which may- have found
another ace for their rotation.
Wagner, a 32-game winner
and unanimous Big Ten Pitcher
of the Year in 2012, was expect-
ed to retain her leadership role
this season. But her absence
from practice and Michigan
coach Carol Hutchins' vague
words suggest that the pitcher is
suffering from a health-related
issue.
"We don't really like to talk
about injuries," Hutchins said.
"She just isn't in the lineup yet.
We're hopeful that we'll get her
back in a relatively short period
of time."
Driesenga made the most of
her opportunity, pitching 23
innings on the weekend and
W allowing just three earned runs.
Her efforts were capped by a
complete-game shutout in the
Wolverines' 4-0 blanking of
Samford on Sunday, when Dries-
enga added two hits and an RBI.
"I thought (Driesenga) han-

Sophomore pitcher Sara Driesenga replaced Haylie Wagner. who was the 2012 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, last weekend.

died it well," Hutchins said.
"She's a fit kid, she's a strong kid.
... The competition isn't going to
get any easier."
Though not as impressive as
Wagner, Driesenga's freshman
year was also solid. In2012, she
made the All-Big Ten first team
as a utility player after splitting
time on and off the mound. Still,
her performance last weekend
demonstrated marked improve-
ment since the successful fresh-
man campaign.
"Sara is definitely better now
than she was at the end of last
season," Hutchins said. "She
still isn't quite where she needs
to be. ... (Driesenga and Wagner)
are both going to pitch for us,
and we'll see where that goes."
But the competition for
playing time is far from over.
Hutchins stressed that they

weeks before Big Ten play will
allow players to earn bigger
spots on the team. Freshman
pitcher Alice Fitzpatrick made
her collegiate debut on Feb. 9
against Florida Atlantic by strik-
ing out a batter in 0.2 innings,
and she will be used more
this weekend. Senior pitcher
Stephanie Speierman also saw
action against the Owls, but was
chased after allowing two runs
- one earned..
Two other starting slots are
up for grabs as well. Before the
season began, Hutchins named
four players who might take
over the vacant first base posi-
tion. Junior Taylor Hasselbach
held the spoton opening day, but
freshman Kelsey Susanna also
saw time by the end of the week-
end. Juniors Nicole Sappingfield
and Lyndsay Doyle have secured

starting roles in the outfield, but
Hutchins said the third position
was still undecided.
Winners of five consecutive
conference titles, Michigan is
still searching for its 2013 iden-
tity. Before the season-opening
tournament in Florida, Hutchins
- who has been a part of the
program since 1983 - claimed
she had no idea how the team
would perform in game situa-
tions. Though the team's week-
end was marred by a close loss
to No. 12 South Florida, she was
pleased with the way the team
was coming together.
"We did play well," Hutchins
said. "If we keep getting runners
on, then there's going to come
that big hit where we do score
and we do get that extra run
across the board that will push
us over and help us win."

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