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January 29, 2014 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-01-29

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The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - 7A

Wolverines embrace 9-year-old teammate

Partnership with
Friends of Jaclyn
helps form bond
By JASON RUBINSTEIN
Daily Sports Writer
Most people have played
a sport at one point in their
lives. Whether it's T-ball or
basketball, many children shape
their childhoods around sports
and take away lasting memories.
It could be the game-winning
buzzer beater, a goal, a home
run or just a friendship.
Imagine if that was taken
away.
Enter 9-year-old Miles Root.
Root's life took a drastic turn
when he was just five. His love
of soccer would have to be put
on hold. He was suffering from
a brain tumor and would have
to use his competitive energy
elsewhere.
The brain tumor was fully
removed just a couple of days
later, but Root then suffered
from posterior fossa syndrome
- symptoms that can occur
after surgery - which resulted
in him being unable to speak or
move the right side of his body.
The news was grim for Root,
a Tecumseh, Mich. native. To
cure the syndrome, he had to
endure 30 rounds of radiation,
nine rounds of chemotherapy,
a shunt placement and two
hospitalizations due to
infections.
Root, though, didn't let that
defeat him. Doctors confirmed
he was cancer-free nearly
four months after the initial
diagnosis.
But Root relapsed early last
year and is now in hospice.
Root and his family found
he had a much larger support
system this time, though - the
Michigan men's lacrosse team.
Upon hearinghis story, senior
defensive midfielder Jeff Chu

nice for him. It's awesome to see
others rallying around him."
Though they were already
making an impact in Root's life,
the team wanted to do more.
Again, under Chu's direction,
the Wolverines had no trouble
finding the perfect way.
Chase Jones, founder of the
Vs. Cancer Foundation and a
cancer survivor himself, reached
out to Chu about the possibility
of having the team shave their
heads to raise cancer awareness.
Chu had short hair, making
the decision easy, but others had
a harder time deciding. Lacrosse
"flow," or long hair that hangs
outside of the player's helmet,
is part of the culture. It takes
monthsto growit out, andshaving
it off is a major commitment.
"Hair is a 'lax bro' thing, and
I wasn't sure how the team or
other lacrosse teams would
take to it," Chu said. "But we
recognize it's for a good cause,
so we're willing to give that up."
Saturday,withthehelpofAnn
Arbor's Coach and Four Barber
shop, the players followed
through on their promise.
Brown hadn't had his hair
cut in almost eight months. But
said he would do it again in a
heartbeat.
As one player was getting
shaved, others teased him about
his chances with girls. But
teasing aside, they enjoyed Root
watching as they buzzed off
their hair.
"With Miles here, it not
only helps me, but the team
also," Brown said. "There's
team bonding all over, and
it's unbelievable how this
simple action can get so much
laughing, but also shows a lot of
support for his family, which is
awesome."
Root's presence is recognized
every day by each team member,
and it's allowing him to be part
of something that was taken
from him. For now, sports canbe
a part of Root's life once again.

Senior defensive midfielder Jeff Chu and the Michigan men's lacrosse team shaved their heads in solidarity last Saturday in order to promote cancer awareness.

knew he wanted to get involved.
"I wanted to help and show
support to kids with cancer,"
Chu said. "A lot of athletes get to
go to Mott Children's Hospital
on Thursday nights, and that
was something I always really
enjoyed. So I thought that this
would be something we would
enjoy."
The University's partnership
with the Friends of Jaclyn
program made Chu's aspirations
tangible. The program - with
a mission "to help improve the
quality of life of children and
their families battling pediatric
brain tumors" - accomplishes
its purpose by placing children
on sports teams based on
geographical proximity to the
hospital.
The Friends of Jaclyn
program then reached out to

the lacrosse program about the most part, have everything
adopting Root. The decision going well in their lives," said
was easy: The 9-year-old would Michigan coach John Paul.
become the team's newest "This really puts in perspective
member. that whatever problems you
"No have, they
questions often pale in
asked," said perspective to
sophomore "Being involved other things
long stick people are
midfielder in a sport again going through.
Chase Brown. Our team
"It was the is the best part has really
least we could embraced that,
do to show our for him ." and it has had
support." a tremendous
Though impact."
Root can't Added
physically help the team, his Chu: "We as athletes have a
presence has been emotionally really unique platform, and
beneficial to the Wolverines. we can touch a lot of lives, and
"He and his family helped sometimes it's easy to lose sight
put a lot of things in perspective of that. But with Miles on our
to a lot of young men who, for team, and when we bring him

to the locker room, it brings the
team back down to earth and
puts things into perspective."
Educating the team about
his illness isn't the only way
Root interacts with the team.
Michigan lets Rootlead the team
in stretches and participate in
practice.
Before the annual Maize vs.
Blue scrimmage, Root was given
the opportunity to put on a maize
jersey to be on the offensive
team, or a blue jersey to be a part
of the defense. He chose blue,
and the unit erupted in cheers.
Brown recalls that moment as
his favorite with Root.
"Being involved in a sport
again is the best part for him,"
said Nicole Root, Miles's mother.
"He can't actively participate
in sports, so being involved in
something with camaraderie is

As an elite player,Stauskas
welcomes teams' attention

By NEAL ROTHSCHILD
DailySportsEditor
Becoming the 'it' guy for the
Michigan men's basketball team
hasn't been all open 3-pointers
and clear paths to the basket for
Nik Stauskas.
Last year, as the fourth or
fifth option, Stauskas was able
to play as well as his talent
would allow. The deck wasn't
stacked against him.
But as he's emerged this
season as an elite player, the
sophomore guard has had to
deal with the auxiliaryeffects of
a breakout season - becoming
opponents' focal point. Rather
than simply being one of No.
10 Michigan's best players -
someone worth payingattention
to - Stauskas is now the object
of teams'

pretty big learning experience
for me, and I think I've done
a pretty good job after that of
adjusting to how teams play
me," he said.
Initially, opponents played
Stauskas tight, not giving him
space to fire a jump shot and
daring him to beat them off the
dribble. But as Stauskas has
flashed his improved strength,
ball handling and floor vision,
he has punished teams with
high-flying dunks and nifty
passes around the rim.
In Big Ten play, teams have
tried to wear Stauskas out on
the defensive end, trying to
render him less effective on the
other side of the court.
Penn State guard DJ Newbill
commanded the Nittany Lions
offense on Jan. 14, going at
Stauskas

ALEX GALEL/Daily
Freshman guard Siera Thompson is one of the best free-throw shooters in the country and is deadly from beyond the arc.
Road test won't faze 'M'

ByALEXADETTELBACH
Daily Sports Editor
For all its youth and
inexperience, the Michigan
women's basketball team has
figured out what some veteran
squads never do - how to win on
the road.
The
Wolverines
(5-2 Big Ten, Michigan at
14-6 overall) Nebraska
are 6-0 in true Matchup:
road games Nebraska 13-5;
this season, and Michigan 14-6
despite also
having success ednsday
at home at the B P.M. EST
Crisler Center, Where:
Michigan Pinnacle
has found its Bank Arena
niche in hostile
environments. Radio:
In their six true MGoBlue
road games, the
Wolverines are
beating opponents by an average
of 19.2 points.
Michigan will be on the road
again Wednesday night to face
the USA Today Coaches Poll's
No. 23 team, Nebraska, in its
second-straight away game.
The Cornhuskers (3-3, 13-5)
are the fourth-ranked team
the Wolverines have faced
this season and are a critical
matchup for their NCAA
Tournament aspirations.
Still, Michigan has mixed
results against ranked

opponents, barely losing to
then-No. 15 LSU on Nov. 30 and
then falling more handily to
then-No. 4 Notre Dame on Dec.
14. But the Wolverines nabbed
their first and only win over a
ranked team Jan. 15 when they
beat then-No. 22 Purdue in
West Lafayette.
But Nebraska poses a new
set of challenges for Michigan,
which is just 1-7 against the
Cornhuskers in its last eight
matchups.
"Nebraska is a great program,
a top-25 program that's made a
run in the NCAA Tournament
in the last few years, and they
have a great environment at
home," said Michigan coach
Kim Barnes Arico. "I think
our kids are excited about the
opportunity to play a great
team, a great program on their
home court."
The Cornhuskers' leading
scorer, forward Jordan Hooper,
averages 19.1 points per game
while grabbing 9.9 rebounds.
Hooper is No. 8 among all active
NCAA Division I scorers and
leads Nebraska on both sides of
the floor. And despite Michigan
being the only Big Ten team to
hold opponents under 60 points
in league play, the Cornhuskers'
hot offense could change that.
"(Nebraska) wins all their
games that they score in the
70s, so we're going to try and
focus on stopping that," Barnes
Arico said. "That's been a goal

of our team all year, to really
lock down and play defense
and really limit opponent's best
players."
Another impact player for the
Cornhuskers is forward Emily
Cady, who averages 14.2 points
per game and 9.6 rebounds.
Junior forward Cyesha
Goree will need to continue
her dominance on the boards to
compete with Nebraska. Barnes
Arico will most likely start her
bigger lineup, which puts senior
center Val Driscoll in the middle
with sophomore guard Madison
Ristovski coming off the bench.
Since Ristovski has developed
into a true sixth man, she has
developed chemistry with
the Wolverines' two starting
guards, junior transfer Shannon
Smith and freshman Siera
Thompson.
All three players have the
ability to score from long range
and spread the floor out as well
as penetrate the paint.
Michigan will need its
guards to play all over the
floor to help balance the size
mismatches the Cornhuskers
pose. In addition to Nebraska's
star forwards, the team also
has guard Rachel Theriot, who
averages 13.2 points and 5.9
assists per game.
But at 6-foot-0, Theriot is
taller than the Wolverines'
guards, and she should provide
a challenge for Smith and
Thompson on the defensive end.

gameplans. repeatedly
Duke face- until the
guarded "Teams are going Mississauga,
Stauskas Ont. native
in early to attack me." was gassed
December, and came out
sticking of the game on
guard Tyler a substitution,
Thornton on the guy who had slamming a chair in frustration.
carried Michigan's offense to Newbill scored 17 points, but
that point in the season and Stauskas couldn't be kept down
beyond. Stauskas was shadowed offensively, picking up 21 points
as soon as Michigan took over and registering six rebounds in
possession and denied the ball the 80-67 win.
at all spots on the court. The In last Wednesday's win over
Blue Devils removed Stauskas No. 10 Iowa, 6-foot-9 forward
from the action, aided by the Aaron White tired out Stauskas
ankle injury he was already by backing him down in the
nursing. He could muster just post en route to 14 consecutive
two field-goal attempts, neither points in the second half. While
a make. Duke forced Michigan Stauskas was less effective
to play four-on-four and the scoring the ball during that run
Wolverines couldn't capitalize by White, he still picked his spots
in the 66-50 loss. during the second frame, tying a
"That Duke game was a big career-high with 26 points.
game for me, because they kind "I understand I'm not the best
of shut me down and they just defender in the world," Stauskas
paid a lot of attention to me on said. "Teams are going to attack
and off the ball," Stauskas said me. That's exactly what teams
last week. used to do to me last year. They
Since then, teams have would have four down, have the
tried a few tactics - almost guy at the top of the key and just
always unsuccessful - to go at me. So I understand that
prevent Stauskas from scoring teams are going to do that, and
opportunities. I've got to be prepared."
"That game by itself was a Most recently, against

Michigan State on Saturday,
Spartan standout Gary Harris
hounded Stauskas all night
He played physical defense,
grabbing at the sophomore;
holding him and bodying closely,
Again, Stauskas found a way
to stay effective, using screens
and manufacturing enough
space between his defender tq
let his 3-pointer fly - six times
in total, and he made five of
them in the 80-75 win.
"He was limited to even
touchingthe ball," said Michigan
coach John Beilein after the
game. "Once we got used to that;
then we said, 'We've got to attack
in different ways, and Nik cari
score off some residual things."'.
In the final minutes, Michigan
worked togetStauskas the ball so
that he could be fouled to shoot
free throws to ice the game, but
the Spartans double-teamed him,
even taking him to the ground.
Freshman point guard
Derrick Walton got the ball
instead on most of the final
possessions, and he drilled all
but one of his free throws.
Stauskas watched Walton's
free throws and relish that once
again, he'd taken an opponent's
best shot and responded by
continuing to make his own.
BY THE NUMBERS
Nik Stauskas
19
Average points perngame in
conference contests.
4.2
3-point field goal percentage
for the season.
809
Free-throw percentage in BigTen play.
33
Total assists in conference play, leading
the team.

b

j

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