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February 11, 2014 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-02-11

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - 7

Five things we learned: Michigan vs. Purdue

By SHANNON LYNCH
Daily Sports Writer
Last Sunday's 65-56 loss to
No. 25 Purdue highlighted the
current issues the Michigan
women's basketball team is
dealing with, and offered
perspective on the probable
future for the team in 2014.
1. Fouls causing problems
for Wolverines.
There's no argument that
forwards Cyesha Goree and
Val Driscoll have played major
roles in Michigan's success
this season. Goree, a 6-foot-
3 junior, nabbed her seventh
double-double this season
against Purdue. Driscoll, a
6-foot-4 senior, has anchored
the Wolverines' defense with
54 blocks. The tallest players
on the roster also have more
experience than most on
Michigan's roster - both had
seen time on the court prior to.
the 2013-14 season.
Each has shown strong
leadership and aggressiveness
this season,but the duo'spositive
impact has been hindered by
personal fouls in a number of
games. Sunday, Goree fouled out
and Driscoll had three heading
into the second half, putting her
under pressure for the last 20
minutes of play.
"Both Cyesha and Val, I
thought, got alittle down by being
in foul trouble," said Michigan
coach * Kim Barnes Arico.
"When we're playing against a
rebounding team like (Purdue)
and we don't have two bigs in the
game, it really affects us."
At this point, the Wolverines
have a seven-player rotation,
meaning that when Driscoll and
Goree are forced to sit out valuable
minutes everygame, Barnes Arico
and her coaching staff have few
options when itcomes to replacing
them. That spells trouble for the
Big Ten Tournament.

Boilermakers the upper hand.
"I thought we started the
game with great energy and great
effort, and we were able to build
that lead," Barnes Arico said.
"They started to push the ball
and score easy buckets on us and
really penetrate to the basket, and
that was something we wanted to
take away,but that's what brought
them back in the game."
The Boilermakers did a great
job of managing their half-
court defense as well and kept
Michigan's top scorers at bay.
Guards Shannon Smith and
Siera Thompson, who both
average just over 14 points per
game, finished with just six and
10, respectively.
5. Lack of focus is weighing
on Michigan.
Barnes Arico has continued
to address the rigorous schedule
her young team has faced and
the amount of pressure it has put
on the Wolverines. While most
of their recent losses have come
down to the wire, they look worn
outinthe lastminutesofthegame,
leading to unnecessary turnovers
and missed assignments on the
defensive end
"We need to be smarter
on the defensive end and not
pick up silly fouls," Driscoll
said. "Everybody on the floor,
everybody on the bench, we all
need to be focused and checked
into what our game plan is."
Goree, Driscoll and Barnes
Arico all say that the team
is dealing with inexperience
rather than fatigue.
"Sometimes, we may have
mental lapses that cause us
to hurt at the end - if it's in
the beginning of the game,
the middle of the game, it still
affects us lateat the end," Goree
said. "I believe that we are in
good shape, and we always work
hard and play hard, so at the end
of the day it comes down to a
mental thing."

Junior forward Cyesha Goree has had a productive season after spending much of last year on the bench, but staying out of fou trouble will be key down the stretch.

2. Determination in
conference play hasn't gone
unnoticed.
Now 6-5 in the Big Ten,
Michigan has fallen to sixth
place in the conference after
losing four of its last six games.
The Wolverines have faced
most of the Big Ten's best in
the last month but have rarely
gone down without putting
up a fight, and they've shown
resilience and growth even
in defeat. They lost to No. 15
LSU by just two points back in
November, and three of their
five conference losses have
been by 11 points or fewer.
"We knew when the Big Ten
schedule got here that it was
going to be extremely difficult,
We knew that we were going
to be challenged," Barnes Arico

said. "But I think we've shown from beyond the arc. Against
to be competitive night in and Purdue, she tied her career high
night out. We had a tough one with three 3-pointers, the fifth
against Nebraska, but I think time she has done so.
that's probably the only game Ristovski has struggled
that wasn't a with her
game, so I'm consistency
really proud of from beyond
the effort." "I'm really proud the arc this
According season, failing
to Barnes of our effort." to knock down
Arico, the a 3-pointer in
locker room seven different
attitude is still games. But
very positive, and there is a lot when she's on, it matters. If
to be happy about despite the Ristovski can manage to keep up
more recent losses. her outside shooting percentage

"But there are bumps in the
road. You're fighting fatigue,
you're fighting the grind, you're
fighting our schedule - you're
fighting all those things, and
coach is still trying to tell you to
get up 200 extra shots a day."
4. Transitions make all the
difference.
Against Purdue, the
Wolverines started off strong
with a 6-0 run, and they held
a 14-point lead with just over
five minutes left in the first
half. But Michigan started to
slow in transition and allowed
the Boilermakers to get the
defensive rebounds that sparked
offensive bursts. Purdue
ended the half on a 14-2 run
and then had another strong
12-0 run midway through the
second frame that gave the

3. Ristovski is bound to
impress as time goes on.
Sophomore guard Madison
Ristovski has been one of
Michigan's strongest players off
the bench, shooting 43 percent

in Michigan's remaining games,
she could be the difference
between a deep run in the Big
Ten Tournament and a non-
existent postseason.
"When she plays well, usually
we win," Barnes Arico said.

Nagelvoort's inconsistency
reopens goaltending battle

Michigan coach Erik Bakich has held practices outdoors to teach his Wolverines about how to overcome adversity.
Wolverines build confidence

By BRAD WHIPPLE
Daily Sports Writer
The seats at Ray Fischer
Stadium are blanketed in snow.
The only evidence of a baseball
field are the foul poles and fence
in the near distance.
But in left field, there is a patch
of green. In left field, there are
footprints in the snow. In left
field, there's confidence.
There haven't been spectators
in the stands or pitchers on the
mound, but the Michigan baseball
team has built a resistance to the
cold and learned what it takes to
live up to expectations.
Michigan coach Erik Bakich
has been prepping 'Team 148'
for Friday's opener since the first
day of the school year, facilitating
significant improvements all
around and seeing that the team's
core values fall in line.
Winter classes resumed Jan.
8, but the NCAA start date for
team practice is Jan. 24. Bakich
left it to the players to use the 16
days in between to voluntarily
work out and participate in
small-group activities, telling
them it would build and hit the
ground running on day one of
winter training.
The indoor facilities at
Oosterbaan Field House
don't hinder any of the team's
development, but Bakich would
rather be outdooi. because
nothing truly beats it.

Assuming the temperatures
are above single digits and snow
isn't hammering Ann Arbor,
Bakich wants his players outside
as much as possible. The team
starts by shoveling off the field,
and then the Wolverines run
through their drills.
After the 2013 season, the
natural field - was transformed
into a turf diamond and outfield.
The new surface makes playing
outdoors possible despite the
uncooperative Michigan weather.
Bakich says that there's a
toughness elent that he
wants his players to endure,
something that will shape his
players' character.
Michigan trained before
winter break' as well. The
fall term, Bakich said, was
meant to "get guys out of
their comfort zone and teach
them about being comfortable
being uncomfortable" through
team-building activities, one
of which involved traveling to
other colleges and high schools
to play.
Oosterbaan Field House
doesn't have an indoor
bascball field. Bakich settles
for two outfielders in indoor
scrimmages. But he feels the
Wolverines have made the best
of their situation indoors by
controlling what they can.
Each practice is extremely
f.. p.accd with high energy
baukich's hope is that the games

will feel a bit easier if his
players go through a tough daily
routine. Michigan starts with a
dynamic warm-up, moves on to
a throwing program, works on
individual and team defensive
drills and then steps to the plate
in the batting cages. To finish
practice, the team participates
in a fun competition that offers
a competitive edge without the
high stakes.
Another one of Bakich'sffocuses
is to have each of his players
embrace being a "Michigan maini,"
stressing that the defaing values
of such a model are one of the
most important things this year
for a new team still trying to find
an identity.
"Michigan is an extremely
special place," Bakich said. "Our
No. 1 guiding principle in the
Michigan Athletic Department
is that we demand integrity.
You're a person of integrity
when your actions line up with
your words."
During the first days of
winter training, the Wolverines
struggled to get their bat on
the ball. They hadn't seem live
pitching in Months. But after
weeks of high-intensity traitning,
Bakich notices the confidence his
players have gained at the plate
and beyond.
He notices the improvement
thathas come out of the preseason.
He notice the pt ch of gr.ass
in let t field.

Racine impresses
in 45-minute relief
stint at Penn State
By ERIN LENNON
Daily Sports Writer
On any other team, Steve
Racine is a starting goaltender.
Last season, the then-
freshinan emerged from a
first half filled with question
marks as the Michigan hockey
team's strongest option in net.
In 25 games during his first-
year campaign, Racine boasted
a 12-6-3 record, leading the
Wolverines to the CCHA
tournament. finals with a .899
save percentage.
His performance during his
team's final games of the season
earned him a spot on the CCHA
All-Tournament Team and
was good enough for Michigan
coach Red Berenson to declare
Racine the starter in September,
prior to the beginning of the
2013-14 season.
. "He's been through a year
of the routine," Berenson said
before the season opener. "Of
school, and hockey and off-ice
training, and he's had the ups
and downs. Fortunately, he
finished on a high."
Then, on Oct. 18 - just three
games into the year - Racine
suffered a groin injury that
forced him off the ice for four
weeks. Up until that point, in
slightly more than eight periods
of play, Racine posted a 2.22
goals-against average and a
.931 save percentage, numbers
that stood out considering
the Wolverines' young and
inexperienced defense.
If sitting out wasn't bad
enough, Racine's replacement
gave his coaches something to
ponder. Freshman goaltender
Zach Nagelvoort was unbeaten
M t w overtime contests
that weekend against New

Hampshire and only improved
in the weeks to come.
Now, nearly four months
later, Racine's October injury
still plagues him. Though it
appeared the 10th-ranked
Wolverines would go with
a two-goalie system in
November, Nagelvoort was
given the nod most often
through the first half. Dressed
in full uniform and mask,
Racine watched the freshman
- who now ranks among the
nation's best netminders -
start seven straight games,
begging the question: had
Nagelvoort solidified himself
as Michigan's starter?
Though Berenson felt no
need to seal the envelope,
Nagelvoort's stellar
performance against then-No.
9 Wisconsin two weeks ago all
but did the answering for him.
But on Saturday at Penn
State, Racine - on in relief
of Nagelvoort, who allowed
three goals in fewer than 14
minutes of play - reminded the
Wolverines why he was their
starting goaltender in October.
Racine stopped 30 of the
31 he shots faced in his first
appearance since Dec. 28.
Though Michigan's dormant
power play couldn't muster a
comeback, the sophomore gave
the Wolverines an opportunity
to come back for the better part
of two periods.
His performance was all
the more impressive given
Michigan's shaky defense and
the pressures that come with
taking the ice in the middle of
a period without ample time to
warm up, especially after six
weeks on the bench.
"It's obviously never how you
want to get in there," Racine
said. "When you're standing
on the bench, it's hard to stay
focused, but it's just something
you have to do. You just have to
be ready whenever."
So, as the Wolverines prepare
for a pair of marquee matchups

against No. 2 Minnesota,
Michigan's coaching staff has
more questions to answer.
"We'll have to wait and see,"
Berenson said. "(Nagelvoort) has
played really well, and then all of
a sudden he had a stinker. That
happens to the best of goalies.
"IlikethewaySteveresponded.
He jumped in, and I still thought
we had a chanceto win thatgame
... but he gave us a chance."
Though it's a small sample
size, Racine boasts a .930 save
percentage and has allowed just
2.64 goals per game. And though
Nagelvoort disappointed against
Penn State, he has proven he can
play against any team.
The coaching staff makes
decisions about goaltenders on
the Thursday before each series,
and Berenson said this week
will be no different. If nothing
else, the door has been opened a
little wider for Racine.
"We're watching how they're
playing, how they're handling
it, and so on," Berenson said.
"But I don't think we're going to
overthink it."
Still, 40 minutes of solid
netminding doesn't fully
characterize a starter. Racine's
numbers may make him a shoo-
in for starting goaltender at
nearly any other program in the
country, but this is Michigan,
a team with two worthy
candidates, and there's only
room for one in net.
NOTES: Michigan will likely
skate without junior forward
Alex Guptill this weekend,
Berenson said Monday. Guptill
left late in the second period
Saturday with an upper-body
injury after being pinned by two
Penn State players and didn't
return for the final frame. ...
Freshman defenseman Kevin
Lohan, who suffered a torn
anterior cruciate ligament on
Nov. 1, won't play this weekend,
but will be evaluated again next
week before the Wolverines host
the Nittany Lions on Feb. 21.

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