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March 21, 2013 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-03-21

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 7A

Moffie pass embodies
hot transition offense

TODD NEEDLE/Daily
Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico called the eight-nine matchup "incredibly tough." Michigan will meet Villanova Saturday.
Wolverines trying not to
peek ahead to Stanford

By MICHAEL LAURILA
Daily SportsEditor
Sometimes all it takes is one
pass to score in transition.
The transition game starts in
either the neutral zone or the
defensive zone, but when senior
forward Kevin Lynch scored
the Michigan hockey team's
first goal on a breakaway dur-
ing Saturday's 5-1 victory over
Western Michigan, the play
started deep in the Wolverines'
own zone.
Junior defenseman Jon Mer-
rill made a safety pass back to
senior defenseman Lee Moffie,
who then immediately found
a streaking Lynch down the
ice. With a perfectly timed
and well-placed pass, the puck
landed directly on Lynch's stick
mid-stride. The play wasn't
completely over though, as
Lynch had to bury the break-
away chance past Bronco goal-
tender Frank Slubowski, but it
started behind the Wolverines'
blue line. It was the epitome of
a transition goal.
"(Lynch) was coming off the
bench and he skated hard," said
Michigan coach Red Berenson.
"He demanded the puck with
speed, and that's something
we're always talking about.
Don't just stand there because
you're too easy to cover. He was
on the fly, and Moffie gave him
a perfect pass."
Michigan has scored in tran-
sition this year, but against
Western Michigan it seemed
that the defensemen and for-
wards alike communicated
better than usual, while antici-
pating where the puck needed
to be.
Getting the fast-break
offense going can be important

to control the flow of the game,
and as was the case on Satur-
day, it can result in an early
goal that changes the momen-
tum. Michigan has had bigger
issues to focus on this season
than pushing the puck for those
transition goals, though.
"We have a lot of our neu-
tral-zone drills where we're
either forechecking or we're
transitioning the puck and
attacking," Berenson said. "It's
something I think that this is
the time of year where, hope-
fully, everything you've worked
on this year starts falling into
place."
And the ability to get out into
transition isn't one individual's
job. It's a combination of the
defensemen seeing the entire
ice and predicting the best spot
to send the pass, and also the
forwards maintaining posses-
sion if the puck makes it that
far.
"Half of it's on me to get open
and be there with the right
speed, and the other half is just
for the defenseman to see me
and make that play," said junior
forward Luke Moffatt. "It has
to do with both people."
Moffie's pass to Lynch, for
example, never would've hap-
pened without the combination
of the forwards and defense-
men. Lynch made an impressive
play to beat Slubowski, and as
Berenson said, Moffie "thread-
ed the needle."
And sometimes when the
pass isn't there, the defensemen
are forced to carry the puck up
themselves.
On one of freshman Jacob
Trouba's two goals Friday night
in Kalamzaoo, he single-hand-
edly carried the puck from the
neutral zone into the Broncos'

zone and ripped a slap shot for
a goal. This isn't an everyday
play, but Trouba has been a
force to reckon with all season
on the fast break. He has eas-
ily been Michigan's best rush-
ing defensemen, and this has
allowed him to set up plays and
score goals in transition.
When the pucks get dumped
into the Wolverines' zone, the
goalie can play a pivotal role in
starting the offensive transition
with a nicely placed pass. But
freshman goalie Steve Racine,
who has gone 7-0-1 in his past
eight games said that he is "not
the best puck-handler."
Berenson, though, believes
that as Racine has gotten more
comfortable and confident this
past month, his passing ability
has also improved, especially
last weekend against Western
Michigan.
"He just has to pick his
spots," Berenson said. "When
the puck gets dumped in, he
didn't try and overplay the
puck, and that was good."
Michigan's transition game
is one of many areas that have
improved as the Wolverines
have started to play better over-
all hockey.
A good transition play can
sometimes involve every play-
er on the ice, and Michigan's
recent success scoring in tran-
sition speaks about the team's
turnaround and its ability to
come together as a whole.

By GLENN MILLER JR.
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan women's basket-
ball team won't admit it's looking
ahead in the NCAA Tournament,
but it's hard to resist taking a peek
at the bracket's possibilities.
The Wolverines received an
eight seed in this year's tourna-
ment in their first back-to-back
appearances in the postseason
since the 2000-01 seasons. The
historical 2000-01 seasons also
marked the last time Michigan
garnered an eight seed, which is
the program's best-ever seed.
Michigan faces the nine seed
in the Spokane Region, Villanova,
in the first round of the tourna-
ment. The Wolverines, who have
been hardened by a competi-
tive Big Ten season, are looking
to advance past the first round,
where, they were bounced last
year by Oklahoma.
"We have more experience,
we've been to the NCAA Tour-
nament, we've been dancing
and I think this year we will be
more prepared and hopefully get
a win," said senior guard Kate
Thompson.
The Wolverines will have two
more days to prepare for the
Wildcats before their matchup
Saturday evening in Palo Alto,
Calif. There isn't a doubt that
first-year Michigan coach Kim
Barnes Arico has been installing
a game plan to outwit Villanova,
a team she faced numerous times
during her tenure at St. John's.

If
round
of the
try in
the to
barrin
Michi
its hon
"I t
is goin
senior
"Just
ment,
all tha
game,,
think
body's
neX
is g
Of
win-or
impen
ously
it's no
are soi
imposi
"An
Barney
(For)
women
long, 1
upset

Michigan avoids a first- women's games have really sepa-
loss, it will likely face one rated themselves from everyone
premier teams in the coun- else in the field and not only is it
Stanford. The Cardinal is a separation, but you also have to
p seed in the region, and go and play on their home court."
g a loss to Tulsa, will face For Barnes Arico, playing a
gan in the second round on top-ranked team is nothing new.
ne court. In 2011, Barnes Arico faced an
hink the next couple days identical situation at the helm
ig to be all Villanova," said of the ninth-ranked Red Storm.
forward Rachel Sheffer. After defeating Texas Tech in the
like the Big Ten Tourna- first round, St. John's fell to top-
you play back to back so seeded Stanford in the second
t really matters is the next round.
and that's Villanova. I don't That loss notwithstanding,
that Stanford is on any- Barnes Arico has proven her abil-
mind." ity to beat the best. Last season,
the Red Storm gained national
attention by snapping then-No.
2 Connecticut's 99-game home
I think the winning streak as an unranked
team. Even Barnes Arico admit-
Kt couple days ted Monday she had received sev-
all eral phone calls over the weekend
)oing to be reminding her of the upset, likely
in anticipation of the battle with
Villanova." Stanford.
"I always think (the Connecti-
cut upset) is something you can
go back to," Barnes Arico said.
course, when playing in a "Anything is possible if you get
r-go-home situation, the things to go your way and if you
ding matchup is obvi- hang around for long enough. You
the most important. But never know what can happen."
secret that the Wolverines But first, Michigan must take
mewhat concerned by the care of business against Villanova
ing test that lies ahead. before it can even start to dream
ything can happen," about becoming a bracket buster.
s Arico said. "It's one game. "I just think (the) eight-nine is
an eight (or) nine seed in an incredibly tough seed in the
n's basketball, it's been a women's game, (and) we have to
ong time since someone's focus on Villanova first," Barnes
a one. The one (seeds) in the Arico said.

Jacob Cronenworth leads
surging 'M' baseball team

Superstitious
freshman has
impressed early
with bat and arm
By JEREMY SUMMITT
Daily Sports Writer
He doesn't call them supersti-
tions, he calls them routines.
Every game, Michigan base-
ball freshman Jacob Cronen-
worth does a few things the
same way. He places his bag in
the same spot in the dugout and
puts his uniform on in a particu-
lar order.
But it doesn't matter what he
calls it. All that matters is that
it's certainly working for him.
Cronenworth, a two-way
player as a second baseman and
a right-handed pitcher, is leading
the Wolverines both offensively
and defensively in his first sea-
son. He has knocked in a team-
high 17 RBI in 18 games, and he
has posted a stellar 2.14 ERA in
8.1 innings of work as a reliever.
His best outing of the season
came on March 10 against Holy
Cross when he pitched the final
three scoreless innings en route
to his third save of the season.
Not even Michigan coach Erik

Bakich could've predicted the
tremendous start Cronenworth
has built thus far.
"I don't think you ever expect
a freshman to step in there and
perform at a high level right
away," Bakich said. "There's
usually an adjustment period,
but he's done a great job of really
focusing on having quality at-
bats and making quality pitch-
es."
Even though Michigan hasn't
hit many home runs collective-
ly, Cronenworth still leads that
offensive category with two on
the year. Cronenworth said that
as a kid, he used to like hitting
more than pitching, but it has
balanced out since he arrived at
Michigan.
Rightly so. His arm has served
him just as well as his bat lately.
Remaining focused on both sides
of the ball tends to be a challenge
that Cronenworth has stepped
right up to as a budding play-
maker for Michigan's young ros-
ter.
"Usually when I'm in the
field or at the plate, I'm focused
on hitting," Cronenworth said.
"And then, whenever I have to
go in at the seventh, eight or
ninth inning, whenever that
time comes that I'm warming up
in the bullpen, my mind kind of
switches where I'm all pitching."

Withthat philosophy, Cronen-
worth makes it seem pretty
simple to stay alert offensively
and defensively, but under his
humble attitude is a work ethic
that never stops operating. He
made a pledge to Bakich to beef
up before the season began, and
a significant weight gain was just
a glimpse of what Cronenworth
had in store for the upcoming
season.
"He's one of those guys that
is always working on his game
outside of practice hours on his
own, whether it be in the hitting
cages, or whatever," Bakich said.
"He's invested a lot of time into
his improvement, and results are
showing now. It's a testament to
his hard work."
All his pre- and in-season
motivation, and quite possibly
those routines, have propelled
Michigan to some recent suc-
cess. The Wolverines are 6-4 in
their past 10 games, which is a
significant improvement from
getting swept by California on
opening weekend just a month
ago.
Alongside already proven
stars like senior center fielder
Patrick Biondi and junior right
fielder Michael O'Neill, Cronen-
worth continues to provide that
extra boost Michigan has been
hoping for.

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