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February 22, 2013 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, February 22, 2013 - 7

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Friday, February 22, 2013 - 7

Illinois' Paul wants
to put a ring on it

Sophomore forward Alex Guptill said the road series against Ohio State is a chance to "turn a page" in a season gone awry.
Out of -opions, Berenson
to dress Dwyer vs.OSU

A final chance
to capture some
momentum on the
road in Columbus
Daily Sports Editor
There's bad news and good
news for the Michigan hockey
team in its upcoming series
against Ohio State this weekend.
The bad news is that the Wol-
verines have to travel to Colum-
bus, a daunting task considering
that they've yet
to put together Michigan at
a good road Ohio $tate
series. Michi-
gan coach Red Matchup:
Berenson has Mich.10-18-2;
continually OSU 13-12-7
lamented the When: Friday
fact that he 6:35 P.M., Sat-
hasn't had a urday 7:05 P.M.
team with such Where: Value
a poor road City Arena
record in years TV/Radio:
- the Wolver- Big Ten Network
ines are cur-
rently 1-8-2 on
the road this season.
So what's the good news? At
least the hostile environment
will be a learning opportuni-
ty, effectively Michigan's last

chance to get some experience
on the road under its belt before
the inevitability of traveling for
the CCHA Tournament in two
weeks time.
The Wolverines (7-15-2 CCHA,
10-18-2 overall) see the upcom-
ing series as the perfect way to
gain some last-minute momen-
tum heading into the final four
games of its regular season.
"(The season's) been tough,"
said sophomore forward Alex
Guptill. "It's going to be nice to
turn a page ... kind of like a fresh
start for us. I think it'll give us a
little bit of energy."
Michigan spent its recent bye
week addressing a laundry list of
problems that have plagued it all
season. But its biggest concern as
it approaches its matchup with
the Buckeyes is its pitiful goals-
against average - around 4.19
per game - which is good for
last in the league. This is in stark
contract to Ohio State (12-7-5,
13-12-7), which boasts one of the
CCHA's best.
"Offensively, we've gotenough
confidence," Berenson said. "If
we get the right situation, we can
find a way to score a couple of
goals. It doesn't do you any good
if you're givingup four or five."
It's no secret that part of the
reason for the Wolverines' piti-
ful goals-against average is that
they have yet to find a consistent

presence in net. Since none of the
three usual starters - freshmen
Steve Racine and Jared Rutledge
and junior Adam Janecyk - have
done much good in the crease,
Berenson will be bringing along
never-used redshirt sophomore
Luke Dwyer for the trip this
Berenson has held the name
of the starting goalie close to his
chest all week, and there's no
indication that Dwyer will even
see ice time in Columbus. But as
the Wolverines' only unknown
variable, Berenson felt Dwyer
warranted an opportunity to
travel this weekend.
"We're taking him for a rea-
son," Berenson said. "He's fine,
not out of place. We didn't pay
much attention to him early in
the year (but) he's not just prac-
ticing now, he's practicing to
have a chance to start or play."
Though every weekend the
players and coaches say the
upcoming series is a chance to
redeem their previous missteps,
the Wolverines looked truly
refreshed coming out of this bye
week, even taking time to laugh
and joke around during practice.
"There's a lot of good spirit
in that locker room," Berenson
said. "Our season's not over and
we can be a better team. I think
there's a little more confidence ...
that we haven't seen enough of."

Daily Sports Editor
Under first-year head coach
John Groce, Illinois got off to its
best start in over 100 years when
it went 12-0 in non-conference
play. The Fighting Illini rose to
No. 10 in the polls and were con-
sidered to be a legitimate con-
tender in the Big Ten.
Now that .
conference BEliN E
play is wrap-
ping up,
though, it's
a bit of a dif-
ferent story.
Illinois is
currently 6-7 in league play with
losses to Purdue and Northwest-
ern, but has had signature wins
over Indiana and Minnesota on
the road.
Senior guard Brandon Paul
leads the team as part of the Illi-
ni's duo of explosive guards. Paul
averages 16.4 points per game
- fourth best in the conference
- and scored 43 points against
Ohio State at home last season.
The Daily got a chance to chat
with Paul in October at Big Ten
Media Day.
The Michigan Daily: Do you
feel re-energized by this season?
Last season didn't end well, but
there's a new coach, a new sys-
tem - is there a new outlook
with that as well?
Brandon Paul: Yeah, I think
we have a sense of a clean slate,
everyone starting new. We have
a new coaching staff, they're
looking to do good things this
year. We aren't looking to rebuild
- we're looking to surprise peo-
ple in the Big Ten this year.
TMD: You and fellow senior
D.J. Richardson are experienced
guys, you have some guys left
over from former coach's tenure.
Do you think your experience
will help the players transition
under a newhead coach?
BP: Sam McLaurin is a five-
year guy, a transfer that came
in for us, he's going to help us
out. Me, D.J. and Tyler (Griffey)
are seniors and our sophomores
are all returning at a high level.
Aside from that, we lost Mey-
ers (Leonard) to the draft, but
we pretty much have everyone
TMD: And as you two are the

experienced players ofthe group,
you and D.J. will be looked at as
the leaders of the young team.
How have you started leading
the team?
BP: I think since our freshman
year, me and D.J. have took that
role upon ourselves (and) we just
stuck together. He's a great kid
- he looks to help everybody on
the team, and it's kind of rubbed
off on me. I usually like to lead by
example, but I've become more
vocal over the past year. I think a
lot of the guys look up to us.
TMD: What is one main
emphasis (John Groce has) given
you so far this season?
BP: Hestoppedusonepractice
and told us to think back when.
we were in high school - 'Oh
yeah, you thought you were play-
ing hard then, but think about
when you got here as a freshman,
you played so much harder.' He
lets us know that every day we
can play a little bit harder than
the day we did before, and I take
that into consideration every day
at practice.
TMD: You dropped 43 points
against Ohio State last year, but
do you think anybody in this
league could do that again this
year, considering the depth of
the Big Ten?
BP: I'm not even worried
about that, I'm more focused
about getting wins. I think obvi-
ously it can be done, since I did it
once before, but I'm not going to
into any games looking to score

43 or 44 points. I let the games
come to me, and if it does, I'll
come through in the end.
TMD: Though you and D.J.
have been the leading scorers on
the team, do you see more of a
team focus coming into Big Ten
season, like all five players on the
floor having to step up to beat
the better teams, like Indiana or
BP: All these teams are so
good,they'regettingbetter every
year. As ateam, if we're going to
lose to somebody, they have to
beat us, we can't beat ourselves.
That's one of Coach Groce's phi-
losophies as well, 'Don't beat
ourselves, make a team play
harder than us.' That's going to
be hard to do, sometimes.
TMD: Groce has some experi-
ence in beating good teams dur-
ing his tenure at Ohio, the most
recent being a win over Michi-
gan in the NCAA Tournament.
Do you think that experience
and the momentum will help
your team this season?
BP: Obviously he's had an
impressive career. He took his
team (to the NCAA Tournament)
the past couple years, so it can be
done. At the end of the season, I
don't want to be worrying about
if we're going to get in or not. I
want to be in the tournament
and competing for a title. First
thing's first, I want to get a Big
Ten ring - that's one thing I'm
focused on and is my attention
on this year.

Illinois guard Brandon Paul is fourth in the Big Ten in points per game with 16.4.

'M' to meet the Mets again
after series with Fordham

For third time in three weeks,
Wolverines back to Florida

After three walk-off
losses, Wolverines
look to regroup
before exhibition
Daily Sports Writer
Playing outside for one of the
first times of the year, in a dif-
ferent time zone, with a new
coaching staff, the Michigan
baseball team didn't start the
season as they hoped. Despite all
these facts, Michigan coach Erik
Bakich refused to claim moral
Over the past weekend, Mich-
igan (0-3) lost all three games of
its weekend series against Cali-
fornia (3-0) in walk-off fashion.
Two of these losses occurred
in extra innings with the other
coming in the bottom of the
Though there were no moral
victories, the Wolverines had
several positives to take away
from their opening series.
"For us to come out of the
chute with three one-run games
and two extra-inning games,
that's only going to help us
moving forward," Bakich said.
"Although we didn't come up
on top, we got to experience the
atmosphere when the game is on
the line, when every pitch, every
swing, every play counts."
Michigan committed lust

two errors in three games and
got quality starts out of its two
pitchers, sophomore James
Bourque and freshman Evan
Hill. Offensivelyjunior outfield-
er Michael O'Neill led the Wol-
verines and started the season
hitting at a torrid pace, going
6-of-13 with three doubles.
force at the
plate was Michigan vs.
senior out- Fordham
fielder Patrick Matchup:
Biondi, who Fordham 0-0;
picked up right Michigan 0-3
where he left
off last year, 2hP.M.,riau
going 4-for-9 day 11 a m.
with two dou- Wh Tradi
bles with three tWhere: rt
bals wih the lion Field, Port
walks in the St. Lucie, Fla.
"I thought Live Slats:
we did a lot of M otlue.com
the little things
that are going Michigan vs.
to help us in New York
the long run Mets(ex)
pretty well,"
Biondi said. Matchup:
"It's just a mat- Michigan 0-3;
ter of driving Mets 0-0
in more runs When: Satur-
and making day 4 P.M.
the most of the Where: Tradi-
opportunities tion Field
we have." Live Stats:
Though the MGoBlue.com
Wolverines can
point to several
bright spots in their opening
series, they didn't achieve their

ultimate goal of winning the
Luckily for Michigan, though,
it will get another opportunity
to garner its first victory as it
travels to Florida this week-
end. The Wolverines will play
a three-game series against
Fordham on Friday and Satur-
day before playing an exhibition
against the New York Mets on
"It's always fun when we can
play the Mets," Biondi said. "We
appreciate the opportunity and
are looking forward to a good
weekend of baseball."
The slow start to their season
has not dampened expectations
for the Wolverines this upcom-
ing weekend.
"I expect we play better than
last weekend," Bakich said.
"I expect that our program
and team is going to be bet-
ter. We expect to win, just like
we expected to win on opening
Michigan will continue to
field a very young roster with
six underclassmen in the start-
ing lineup, a fact not lost on the
coaching staff.
"We are going to continue to
get better," Bakich said. "We
have some inexperience out
there and the more our team
plays, the better we'll get."
For Bakich and the rest of the
Wolverines, though, the empha-
sis for this upcoming weekend
will be getting victories - the
real kind, not the moral ones.

DailySports Writer
In the midst of an exhausting
stretch that features multiple
doubleheaders and thousands of
travel miles every weekend, the
Michigan softball teamwill head
back down to Florida to play five
games in three days at the NFCA
Leadoff Classic.
The 15th-
ranked Wol- NFCA Leadoff
verines (6-2)
will face Classic
their stiff- Matchup:
est test of LA-Lafayette 7-1;
the week- Illinois State 5-5;
end when UC Davis 5-5;
Holstra 2-3;
they open DePaul 4-6;
the tourna- Michigan 6-2
ment against
No. 12 When: Friday 1
P.M., 3:30 P.M.;
Louisiana- Saturday 1 P.M.,
Lafayette 6 P.M., Sunday
(8-1). Led by 12:30 P.M.
pitcher Jor- Where: Eddie C.
dan Wallace, Moore Complex,
the Ragin' Clearwater, Fla.
Cajuns have Live Stats:
won seven MGoBlue.com
games since
droppinga close contest to Iowa.
Wallace has thrown five com-
plete games of the six contests
that she's started, and the fresh-
man has allowed a total of just
three earned runs this season.
Michigan will likely counter
in the circle with sophomore
pitcher Sara Driesenga, who has
performed admirably while fill-
ing in for sophomore ace Haylie

Wagner. The right-handed pitch-
er has already won seven games
in the young season and is con-
tributing from the plate as well
with a .412 batting average.
After winning Big Ten Pitch-
er of the Year in 2012, Wagner
hasn't appeared in a game this
season for undisclosed rea-
sons, and Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins said that "we don't
really like to talk about injuries."
Hutchins doesn't expect Wagner
to play this weekend.
With doubleheaders on con-
secutive days in the Clearwater,
Fla. heat, the Wolverines' relief
pitchers will be called upon
more often this weekend. Both
freshman Alice Fitzpatrick and
senior Stephanie Speierman
have pitched sparingly this sea-
son, due in part to Driesenga's
"We're going to worry about
the first game," Hutchins said.
"Obviously, if we can get our
other pitchers in, I think both
(Speierman) and Alice need to be
ready to help us win."
After the opening game Fri-
day against Louisiana-Lafayette,
Michigan will have just a few
minutes to regroup before it
faces Illinois State (5-5). Though
the Redbirds' pitchinghas strug-
gled this season, their offensive
firepower will test the Wolver-
ines. In its five victories this sea-
son, Illinois State has scored 37
runs, led by catcher Elizabeth
Kay's .387 batting average and
three home runs.
Saturday afternoon, the Wol-

verines will play UC Davis (5-5)
and Hofstra (2-3) before clos-
ing out the tournament Sunday
against DePaul (4-6). After start-
ing the season with four wins in
five contests, the Blue Demons
have dropped five consecutive
Tournaments like the NFCA
Leadoff Classic put an extra
burden on coaches, as they are
tasked with preparing for five
different opponents instead of a
series against the same team. But
Hutchins said that she's gotten
used to the challenge.
"The five games is part of the
journey," she said. "We practice
good habit. We're just trying to
get better every day."
The short practice weeks have
made it difficult for Michigan to
find a suitable replacement for
recently graduated first baseman
and two-time Big Ten Player
of the Year Amanda Chidester.
Last weekend, the Wolverines
combined for six errors at the
position, contributing heavily to
the team's loss to then-winless
LIU Brooklyn. Junior Caitlin
Blanchard - a catcher - made
her first career start at first base
during the FAU Classic, and
performed well enough to earn
additional practice time at the
position this week.
"I put (Blanchard) over (at
first) the last couple of days to
give her some practice reps,"
Hutchins said. "The competition
is on. We're trying to find who is
going to play first base for us. The
spot is still open."

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