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April 15, 2013 - Image 10

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2B - Monday, A pril 15, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

SportsMonday: The Annual Schefter Awards

h, what a year.
What began with the
Cowboys Classic on Sept.
1ended a week ago, when the
Michigan men's basketball fell,
82-76, to Louisville in the national
championship game in Atlanta.
The days and months in
between offered some of the more
spectacular seasons of Michigan
athletics we've seen in a very, very
long time. It was a fun year to
watch, and it'll
be a fun one to
remember.
Named
after ESPN
personality
Adam Scheft-
er, one of The
Michigan
Daily's most STEPHEN J.
esteemed NESBITT
alumni, these
awards honor
the best of Michigan athletics in
the last year. Schefter worked as
a Daily Sports Editor in the late
1980s and currently serves as
ESPN's NFL insider.
Without further ado, we offer
you the 2013 Schefters.
Best Cinderella Story: Michigan
volleyball team
Despite fielding only one senior
on its roster, despite playing in the
toughest conference in the NCAA
and despite plummeting from the
national rankings after a 4-7 start
to conference play, the Michigan
volleyball team endured.
On Dec. 13, the unranked
Wolverines faced off against No.
3 Texas at the KFC Yum! Center
in Louisville. The journey to that
game, the program's first Final
Four appearance, though, was just
about as unlikely as they come.
Michigan, disgruntled and
disjointed, had slowed to a mid-
season crawl and had quickly
fallen out of contention for the
Big Ten title. But with more than
a handful of ranked opponents
lying ahead on the schedule, the
Wolverines rallied. They had no
other choice.
Michigan won 11 of its final 13
games to reach the Final Four,
defeating No. 4 Nebraska, No.10
Minnesota, No. 14 Ohio State, No.
9 Louisville and No. 2 Stanford
along the way to set up a meeting
with the third-ranked Longhorns.
A quick advantage in the Final
Four evaporated, and Texas won
in five sets to end Michigan's
season and surprise run. But
returning an almost-identical
lineup next year means this team

shouldn't be trying to fit into the
glass slipper at all next year.
Breakout Athlete of the Year:
Connor Jaeger, men's swimming
and diving
"I came to Michigan a nobody."
Connor Jaeger, a junior from
New Jersey, is never content.
Unquestionably successful, yet
unquestionably humble.
An unheralded sophomore a
year ago, Jaeger took the swim-
ming world by storm last sum-
mer. Jaeger qualified for the U.S.
Olympic Team in the 1,500-meter
freestyle and placed sixth in the
event finals at the Olympics in
London.
But that wasn't the mountain-
top for Jaeger, it was just a stop
alongthe way. After a week to rest
at home, it was back to the grind.
Above the double doors in Can-
ham Natatorium, he explained,
there's an inscription that spells
out his motivation.
"It's not every four years," the
banner reads. "It's every day."
Thanks in part to Jaeger's suc-
cess in the pool, the Michigan
men's swimming and diving team
stayed atop the national rankings
for much of the season and, on
March 30, the Wolverines cap-
tured their 12th national title -
their first since 1995.
Jaeger, a junior, captured two
titles over the same weekend
in Indianapolis, becoming the
NCAA champion in the 500-yard
freestyle and 1,650-yard freestyle.
He was a nobody, sure, but that
all changed in a hurry.
Best single-event performance:
Women's track and field distance
medley relay
Some records are meant to be
broken. And some of those are
meant to be broken by the same
people, a week later.
In early March, the Michigan
women's track and field team's
distance medley relay team of
seniors Rebecca Addison and
senior Jillian Smith, fifth-year
senior Amanda Eccleston and
freshman Maya Long set a pro-
gram record in the distance-med-
ley relay, finishing with a time of
9:56.66.
A week later, theybroke it
again, setting the bar at 9:56.46,
behind a strong push in the third
and fourth legs by Smith and
Eccleston.
And this time it was to secure
a national championship, Michi-
gan's first title in the event since
1995. Each member of the dis-

4

4

The Michigan women's volleyball team won 11 of its final 13 games to reach the Final Four, beating five teams in the topi15 along the way.
tance medley relay team was
named to the All-America first
team.

a

Game of the Year: Men's bas-
ketball - Michigan 87, Kansas 85
(OT)
This one won't soon be forgot-
ten.
The game - four-seed Michi-
gan and one-seed Kansas in the
Sweet Sixteen - encapsulated the
beauty and improbability of the
Big Dance.
Downby 14 with a handful of
minutes left on the clock, Michi-
gan star Trey Burke began to
finally mount a comeback. It was
a prayer, then it was a long shot,
then it was a really, really long
shot.
With five seconds on the clock,
the sophomore guard shifted
behind a screen and pulled up
for a 30-foot jumper to tie. That
shot, Michigan's "one shining
moment," of course, went in.
Burke, ice cold in the first
half, scored all 23 of his points
in the second half and overtime.
Michigan rode the momentum to
an 87-85 victory and the Wolver-
ines' first Elite Eight berth since
the Fab Five ruled the roost two
decades ago.
Team of the Year: Men's swim-
ming and diving
Now, most will give this cate-
gory to the men's basketball team,
but that's an oversight.
The men's swimming and div-
ing team has been a powerhouse
for decades, producing elite ath-
letes year after year. But a nation-
al championship had eluded the
program since 1995, and of the
Wolverines' 11 national champi-
onships, only one had come in the
last 50 years.
So the senior leadership of the
swimming and divingteam sat
down early in the season and set
the expectation, and they set it
high: national championship or
bust. And bust wasn't an option.
The Wolverines dominated
out of the gate and never looked
back. They swam to a three-peat
Big Ten championship, and they
handily captured the program's
12th national championship on
March 30.
Coach of the Year: John Beilein,
men's basketball
John Beilein finally made it.
Michigan's 60-year-old head
coach made stops at Eric Commu-
nity College, Nazareth, Le Moyne,
Canisius, Richmond, West Vir-
ginia and finally Michigan before
he made his Final Four.
And the wait couldn't have
been more worthwhile.
Balancing a team consisting
primarily of a hotshot freshman
class, dubbed the Fresh Five, a
star sophomore, Burke, and a

4

junior, Tim Hardaway Jr., Beilein
rewrote his traditional offense
and playing style to turn Michi-
gan into one of the quickest and
most exciting transition teams in
the nation.
Despite missing out on a Big
Ten title and a national title,
Beilein has established Ann Arbor
as a destination for big-time tal-
ent, and that stream of talent
won't slow anytime soon. The
expectations are higher now, and
that's just fine with Beilein.
Female Athlete of the Year:
Katie Zurales and Joanna Sampson,
women's gymnastics
It's hard to mention one with-
out the other. So I'll give you both.
Last month, senior Katie Zura-
les was named an AAI Award
finalist, following in the footsteps
of former captain Kylee Botter-
man, who won the award last fall.
Zurales and junior Joanna
Sampson have captained the Wol-
verines to one of the best seasons
in recent memory.
Sampson was named Big Ten
Gymnast of the Year and NCAA
Northeast Region Gymnast of the
Year. A Big Ten vault champion
and three-time NCAA vault and
all-around champion, Zurales was
named to the All-Big Ten Cham-
pionships team earlier this month.
Both were named to the All-Big
Ten first;team this season and
have combined for six Big Ten
Gymnast of the Week awards.
The Wolverines, undoubt-
edly the most consistent varsity
program on campus, have cap-
tured 18 Big Ten titles in the last
21 years. They begin the NCAA
Championships on Friday in Los

Angeles.
Male Athlete of the Year: Trey
Burke, men's basketball
The Daily diehards out there
might gripe that Burke won this
category lastyear and that there
should be a greater award to offer
the man who won every individ-
ual award the college basketball
world could think of.
Point taken.
Burke announced Sundaythat
he will forgo his junior and senior
seasons to enter the NBA Draft.
That decision was completely
expected, and even came a year
later than most anticipated.
But Burke stayed. He returned
for a sophomore season, and he
did the most with it, flirting with
records and milestones every step
of the way. Burke and his hero-
ics led Michigan to the national
championship game, and swept
the postseason awards before he
finally made the obvious decision
to leave early for the NBA.
For two years, he flashed great-
ness. He became the best player
in America, and, one day, his No.
3 should be raised to the rafters
at Crisler Center to leave him
amongthe Wolverine greats, the
ones who put Michigan firmly on
the map.
Career Achievement Award:
Denard Robinson, football
For three years, Denard Rob-
inson was the image of Michigan
athletics.
The quarterback took center
stage after gaining an NCAA-
record 502 yards against Notre
Dame as a sophomore. He says
nobody knew who he was before

that day. And then he was an
overnight celebrity, stopped on
sidewalks and in classrooms to
pose for a quick photo.
Robinson, more than any single
player, resurrected the Michigan
football team. Rich Rodriguez got
the boot and when Brady Hoke
ushered in a new era, he had Rob-
inson to ease the transition.
Robinson made 37 starts at
quarterback, ultimately setting
the NCAA record for career rush-
ing yards by a quarterback (4,495
yards), the NCAA single-season
record for rushing yards by a
quarterback (1,702), and became
the first player in NCAA history
to pass for 2,500 yards and rush
for 1,500 yards in a single season.
He broke myriad Big Ten and
Michigan program records, but
his mark remains because of the
team's success with Robinson .
at the helm - no matter at what
position. As a junior, in Hoke's
first season, Robinson led the
Wolverines to a BCS bowlvictory,
a 25-22 win over Virginia Tech in
the Sugar Bowl.
An ulnar-nerve injury sidelined
Robinson for a significant por-
tion of the back half of his senior
season, but he returned asa run-
ning back and wide receiver to
play in the final three games of his
career.
The program is certainly head-
ed in the right direction under
Hoke, but watching Michigan
simply won't be the same without
No.16, his shoelaces, his dread-
locks and hisbrilliant speed.
- Nesbitt can be reached
at stnesbit@umich.edu and on
Twitter: @stephenjnesbitt.

.a

PLAYMAKERS
From Page 1B
Gallon was targeted more than
any other receiver in the situ-
ational scrimmage, and he caught
three passes for 22 yards, unoffi-
cially.
on the other side of the ball,
Clark spent much of the day lined
up against All-American fifth-
year senior tackle Taylor Lewan.
Clark has spent much of the
spring sparring with Lewan in
practice.

On Saturday, he was asked,
again, who typically wins the
battle.
"I've gotten that question so
many times," Clark said with
a smile before saying that the
matchup has been even.
If Gallon, as Gardner said, plays
sneakily big, then Clark plays
sneaky fast. Clark played safety in
high school but added 50 pounds
during his time at Michigan.
Now 274 pounds, Clark hasn't
lost his speed, according to Dileo.
"When you have a D-end who's
probably as fast as some of your

receivers, that classifies you as a
freak," Dileo said. "Just a mon-
ster."
Last year, Clark showed flashes
of athleticism but struggled with
consistency. He also was sus-
pended for Michigan's first game
before pleading guilty to a felony
count of second-degree home
invasion. He was arrested on June
14 for attempting to steal a laptop
from Stockwell Hall.
This year, Clark said he has
looked to seniors like Gardner to
become a better leader. He has
also tried to add consistency to his

playmaking ability.
"I wanted to be that player
who coach Mattison can rely on,"
Clark said. "With one of our key
players, Jake Ryan going down,
I know he's looking for that next
player to step into that new role
and be that player for him, and
that's what I want to be. I want .
to be that player he can look and
goI know Frank's going to make
a play."'
Lewan neutralized Clark for
much of Saturday. But later in the
practice, Clark moved to the right
side of Michigan's line.

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