8A - Wednesday, March 20, 2013
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com 0 I
8A - Wednesday, March 20, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom 9
Gardner, pro trash talker
For 'M,' another low
seed awaits in March
By ZACH HELFAND
Daily Sports Editor
In between workouts and
practice, redshirt junior Devin
Gardner studies professional
quarterbacks. He sends periodic
text messages to Michigan offen-
sive coordinator Al Borges about
reads. He watches film on each
practice. Twice. Yet the new face
of Michigan football says there is
one bigdifference from lastyear:
he's not so tired anymore.
And why not? Gone, finally, is
the positional confusion - is he a
quarterback? Receiver? Both? In
2012, as Michigan coach Brady
Hoke put it, Gardner "was torn
between being a wide receiver
and a quarterback."
Now, Gardner enters spring
practices as the presumptive
starter at quarterback. And so,
after a year of Gardner being
inside his own head, he's finally
where he's most comfortable:
inside others' heads.
"He's really good at getting
in people's heads," said Gard-
ner's teammate, fifth-year senior
Taylor Lewan. "If you get called
out by a quarterback, your start-
ing quarterback right now, that's
kind of a kick in the ass."
Hoke says that on the field,
Gardner is more confident in
the pocket, that he sees the field
more quickly. But Gardner's big-
gest change this offseason might
be his maturity. Gardner says
he watches film on NFL quar-
terbacks like Colin Kaepernick
to improve his play, but he also
studies Tom Brady, Russell Wil-
son and Peyton Manning to learn
how to be a better leader.
Gardner has emerged with his
sense of humor intact, but now,
it has a purpose. When Gardner
sees a player make a mistake, he
says he'll pull him aside to cor-
rect so he doesn't embarrass the
player. But Gardner is also quick
with a taunt - anything to moti-
"He's a professional trash
Redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner is trying to be both a professional quarterback and professional trash talker.
talker," said fifth-year senior
safety Thomas Gordon. "He
knows how to get to your nerves
and he knows what gets you mad.
"You always got tobe on your
p's and q's."
Gordon, for example, often
gets text messages from Gard-
ner, who taunts the 5-foot-11
safety for his height. On Tues-
day, Gardner took a photo with
Gordon and afterward, remind-
ed him that "he's really, really
short," Gardner said. In practice,
Gardner threw jump balls to
6-foot-5 sophomore tight end
Devin Funchess, challenging
Gordon to stop it.
Gordonsaid that Gardner "can
pick you apart," but his team-
mates say they have responded
both to Gardner's talent as well
as his prodding.
"He's done a great job of using
his personality and his humor to
lead this team and do different
things," Lewan said.
CHAMPS OF THE EAST?
Michigan will always declare
itself the champion of the West,
but according to a report from
ESPN.com, that soon might be
Adam Rittenberg reported
Tuesday that the Big Ten plans
to realign its divisions accord-
ing to geography, with Michi-
gan joining rivals Ohio State and
Michigan State in the East. The
changes will take effect in 2014,
when Maryland and Rutgers join
According to the report, "bar-
ring a late shift in the discus-
sions between athletic directors
and league officials," the eastern
division will comprise Michigan,
Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio
State, Penn State and Rutgers.
Officials have yet to assign Pur-
due and Indiana to a conference.
There has been no word on
the fate of the oft-ridiculed cur-
rent division names, "Legends"
and "Leaders." The distinctly
polarizing names highlighted
an initial divisional alignment
that eschewed a traditional geo-
graphical split seen in most other
conferences in favor of competi-
In the new format, the east
dominates the west in both his-
torical and present-day terms.
Schools in the East, which
include soon-to-be newcom-
ers Rutgers and Maryland, have
combined for84 Big Ten champi-
onships (includingshared titles).
Western schools claim just 66.
Last year, Eastern teams went
a combined 44-27, compared to a
record of 40-38 for the West. The
Western division - which com-
prises Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota,
Nebraska, Northwestern and
Wisconsin - does own the past
three Big Ten titles, all of which
belong to the Badgers.,
The realignment means
Michigan and Ohio State will
meet just once, barring a meet-
ing in the future national playoff.
Under the current alignment,
which has Michigan and Ohio
State in separate divisions, the
schools could theoretically meet
in the Big Ten Championship
game for the second consecutive
week after playing the tradition-
al rivalry game in the last week
of the regular season.
IF THE BRACE FITZ: Tail-
back Fitzgerald Toussaint took
part in limited drills during
practice Tuesday, which was
the first full-pads practice of
the spring. The fifth-year wore
a brace on his leg and was in full
gear, but he didn't participate in
Toussaint suffered a grue-
some injury to his left leg Nov. 17
against Iowa. Since then, Tous-
saint's recovery has progressed
faster than expected.
Hoke said that running backs
coach Fred Jackson "has dif-
ferent drills, cutting drills and
those kinds of things" for Tous-
By DANIEL WASSERMAN
Daily Sports Editor
As a No. 4 seed and co-Big Ten
champion last year, the Michi-
gan men's basketball team had
its sights set on bigger and better
things than a loss in its first NCAA
Tournament game. Standing in
its way, though, was Ohio, and
instead, it was the 13th-seeded
Bobcats who dashed to the Sweet
Sixteen before dropping a closely
contested game to North Carolina
in the regional semifinal.
The Wolverines' first-round
opponent this year, South Dakota
State, shares several commonali-
ties with Ohio. Both teams - each
No. 13 seeds - entered the Big
Dance riding win streaks after
winning their conference tourna-
ments, and each features a talent-
ed veteran point guard.
Hoping not to repeat its fate
from the previous year, several
Michigan players that were on
last year's team openly admitted
they'd use the upset as a teaching
tool, showing that anyone can be
beat in the tournament.
"Definitely, I'll bring that up
because as a freshman, or any
player, it's March - March Mad-
ness," said sophomore point guard
Trey Burke. "It's hard to not look
at the bracket and see where you
would be if you were to play in
the Elite Eight, or who you could
potentially play in the Sweet Six-
teen. It's hard (not) to do that, so
it's my job as a captain ... to con-
tinue to tell them that we've got to
take each game by each game and
not look ahead."
As a leader, Burke said that the
team will "definitely hear my voice
and just my opinion about how
we should approach this game."
Burke referred to last year's loss as
a "trap game," and that he'll make
sure Michigan doesn't get off to
another slow start like last year.
Both junior guard Tim Hard-
away Jr. and redshirt junior for-
ward Jordan Morgan also said
they'd make sure everyone, espe-
cially the team's five freshmen,
don't forget about the Ohio game,
but Morgan was also quick to point
out that the freshmen have had
experience this year losing games
the team shouldn't lose. Though
he didn't specify which games he
was referring to, the loss at previ-
ously winless Penn State certainly
comes to mind.
"This is really a different team
(than last year's)," Morgan said.
"We lost some close games (this
year), games that we didn't think
we could lose, games in ways we
wished we hadn't lost. You can't
take anyone lightly, and I think
this team has done a good job at
Michigan coach John Beilein
thought his team had turned
"stale" by late Friday afternoon
when the Wolverines faced off
against Ohio in Nashville, Tenn.
last March. And when Michigan
opened the game by missing open
layups and easy jump shots allow-
ing the Bobcats to jump out to an
early lead, the coach admitted that
his team "played not to lose."
"We're doingeverything we can
to make sure we go in there and
play to win," Beilein said.
Still, Beilein cautioned, he can't
overplay last year's loss, and while
he certainly acknowledged an
urgency the team must play with,
there's a fine line he must walk.
"I think you've got to be care-
ful there," Beilein said. "We have
to make sure we go after this with
everything we can ... but you can't
go in with this attitude where,
'We're going to go home if we don't
NOTE: Burke was named the
National Player of the Year by
Sports Illustrated on Tuesday,
becoming the first Wolverine to
earn that distinction since Cazzie
Russell did it in 1966.
Lying on ice, Michigan's mindset changes
By GREG GARNO
Daily Sports Writer
You can't teach sacrifice in
It's nearly impossible to show
a method practical for sacrificing
'the body, but it can be manifested
'when a team blocks shots.
In the Michigan hockey team's
practice on Tuesday, Michigan
coach Red Berenson stood by
'his forwards on the ice, feeding
pucks to a lone defenseman act-
ing as a shooter. He provoked the
forwards to get down on a knee,
forcing the shooter to change the
angle of his shot.
The 73-year-old coach skated
up and demonstrated how to hold
the stick and what angle to take.
The drill, simplistic and practical,
is one by which the Wolverines are
learningthe concept of sacrificing.
But all of the aspects Michigan
is dominating on the stat sheet
during it's eight-game unbeaten
streak - scoring more than four
goals per game, allowing two and
killing off all but two penalties in
eight games - they haven't domi-
nated the number of blocked shots.
"I think we could do a better job
of blocking shots," Berenson said.
"Our team, still, is not a strong
shot-blocking team. We have play-
ers that are doing good jobs in
games, but it's not enough - it's a
work in progress."
The Wolverines blocked more
shots than Western Michigan just
once this weekend in their sweep
- the firsttime they have finished
with more blocks in a conference
Even on the season, Michigan
has-blocked 474 shots, while its
opponents have combined for 571
But the evidence isn't in the
number of shots blocked, and the
defense doesn't necessarily agree
with their coach. The number of
goals allowed has decreased since
the Wolverines traveled to Colum-
bus, and most importantly, started
"I think one thing we've really
been good at lately is just limiting
their shots in general," said junior
defenseman Mac Bennett, who
has 36 blocked shots this season.
"Getting in front of pucks is huge
because that means they're not
gettingto the net.
"It means that guys are will-
ing to sacrifice their body for the
The score sheet doesn't keep
track of how many shots are
altered, but it does keep track of
how many shots are taken.
Against its two CCHA playoff
opponents, Northern Michigan
and Western Michigan, Michigan
has allowed no more than 28 shots
in a game. The Wolverines held
the Broncos to just 18 shots in Fri-
day's first game of their sweep.
The Wolverines were sparing
their bodies to force awkward
shots from the outside. It's a men-
tality that lacked earlier in the
season and the sacrifices made the
difference in the weekend sweep
of Western Michigan.
Midway through the second
period of Saturday night's 5-1 win
in the CCHA quarterfinal, the
Broncos attempted their come-
back by pressuring Michigan into
But as Western Michigan
wound up and fired shot after shot,
there was sophomore forward
Andrew Sinelli dropping down
on one knee, lowering his stick to
block a slapshot from the blue line.
Junior forward Derek DeBlois lay
on his stomach to block a shot, and
junior defenseman Jon Merrill
skated between the net and the
"They're playing great," said
freshman goaltender Steve Racine
of the defense. "They're sacrific-
ing their bodies, doing whatever
to prevent goals and help me out."
Added Bennett: "It's playoffs,
so every game counts. You can't
afford to take a night off. We have
to come to play and have to be
ready to win."
For a team as desperate as the
Wolverines, it might not be neces-
sary to teach sacrifice. It's instinc-
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