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January 10, 2014 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-01-10

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6 - Friday, January 10, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

WRESTLING
Wolverines set
for Big Ten slate

By ZACH SHAW his weight class.
Daily Sports Writer In addition to the strong class
of freshmen, the Wolverines'
If you were to throw a dart at older competitors appear to have
a large map of the Midwest, odds improved from last season. After
are high that you wouldn't land an early loss to Kent State, Michi-
too far from the hometown of an gan has been gaining steam,
elite Big Ten wrestling program. recording impressive fifth and
Boasting the past seven NCAA third-place finishes at the Cliff
champions, five top-10 teams and Keen Invitational in Las Vegas
10 in the latest Top-25 rankings, and the Midlands Championships
it's clear the conference domi- in Evanston, respectively. The
nates on the Wolverines also took down then
mat. Purdue at No.15 Maryland, and appear to be
"It's another more than prepared for Big Ten
level, no ques- Mcia play.
tion shout it," Matchup: With six ranked wrestlers -
said Michi- Purdue 3-2; compared to theBoilermakers'
gan coach Joe Michigan 4-2 one - the Wolverines look better
McFarland. "It When: Fri- on paper. But anyone around for
almost goes day 7 P.M. Michigan's surprising19-18 loss to
without say- Where: Cliff Purdue last year knows that in Big
ing, especially Keen Arena Ten play, rankings can be thrown
that upper tier away once the match begins.
of teams. It's a "We didn't wrestle our best last
very challenging stretch for us. year against them, and we were
We have to be ready to go every very disappointed in the loss,"
single week. But it's also very McFarland said. "This year, our
exciting for our team and the best guys are putting in extra time and
wrestlingyou'll find anywhere." are ready to go start the Big Ten
Those rankings and records season on the right foot."
willbe puttothe test Friday when In McFarland's eyes, the key
No. 18 Michigan takes on No. 20 to doing well in conference play
Purdue. is having a quick start in every
For the past four seasons, match. Since falling to a notori-
Michigan (4-2) has struggled ously slow and conservative Stan-
in the rigorous conference play, ford on Nov. 24, Michigan has
failing to finish above fifth since put an emphasis on being aggres-
2008. But unlike past seasons, sive in matches from the open-
McFarland believes that with the ing whistle. The approach has
addition of several new successful worked well so far,but McFarland
starters, this year's team is enter- knows that the importance of hit-
ing conference play prepared to ting firstonly increases in the sec-
take steps forward. ond half of the season.
"We've added a lot to our "We've been talking a lot as a
lineup," McFarland said. "The team about how we need to be
youngerguys havebrought alot of ready to wrestle as soon as we
positive energyto the team. Their get on the mat," McFarland said.
mindset and energy have been a "We're going to try and set the
good injection this year. They're pace early like we did against
going to be the leaders on some Maryland. We want to be compet-
special teams inthe future." ing right away."
The future begins now-with With a team as youth-driven as
freshmen Conor Youtsey, Brian Michigan's, the jury's still out as
Murphy, Dom Abounader and to exactly where the Wolverines
Adam Coon. The four first-year will finish in the Big Ten when
starters are a combined 46-11 in all's said and done. But despite the
matches this season, and only uncertainty, McFarland knows
Abounader remains unranked in exactly what the goal is.

PAUL SHERMAN/Daily
Michigan coach Red Berenson remains confident in his team despite a string of turnovers and defensive mistakes in its zone during the Great Lakes Invitational.
'M' looks to fix D-Zone miscues

By JEREMY SUMMITT
Daily Sports Editor
Michigan hockey coach Red
Berenson says his team is in a
much better place now than it
was a month ago. But rewind
two weeks to the conclusion of
a disappointing showing in the
Great Lakes Invitational and it
was Berenson
who felt that Michigan at
his team had
come out of the Wisconsin
tournament Matchup:
worse than it Michigan
came into it. 10-4-2;
Have the Wisconsin
ninth-ranked 11-6-1
Wolverines When: Friday
made that quick 9 P.M. ET;
of a turnaround Saturday 8
in only one P.M.ET
week of prac- Where: Kohl
tice? Center
Michigan TV/Radio:
hasn't won in BTN; Fox
three games, Sports Wis-
dating back to consin
a Dec. 2 victory
at Ohio State. The Wolverines
(2-0 Big Ten, 10-4-2 overall)
are in their worst stretch of the
season heading into the heart of
their conference schedule.
Perhaps Berenson is correct,
and maybe a few rough games
no end the 2013 calendar year
created a sense of urgency hy
highlighting season-long faults,

such as defensive zone cover-
age and failing to convert scor-
ing opportunities. Berenson
assures those are fixed.
"I think we'll look a lot better
than we did going into the GLI,"
he said.
But no one will really know
where the team stands until
the conclusion of this week-
end's pivotal series at No. 14
Wisconsin (2-2, 11-6-1). The trip
to Madison - Michigan's first
since 2010 - could be the turn-
ing point of the season.
"It's our chance to bounce
back from losing two games in a
row," Berenson said. "We need
to take a step forward."
Surely, sweeping two games
at the Kohl Center - where the
Badgers boast a 10-1-1 record -
would constitute as much. But
in Madison, the Wolverines'
defense will be placed under a
microscope.
The ice is ten feet wider
than normal, approximating
an Olympic-sized rink, and
the larger playing surface will
make defensive miscues more
costly.
"We need to be smart where
we are defensively in terms of
angling and positioning," said
sophomore forward Andrew
Copp.
For atea gthat surrendered
half of its goals in the GLI off
defensive-zone turnovers,

there's no question the defen- Wolverines, but they haven't
sive play needs to be tighter. been able to finish them all
And that will be tested by Wis- season. In the GLI, there were
consin's high-octane offense point-blank opportunities that
that averages 3.5 goals per were fired wide and numerous
game. shots that rang off the posts.
Forwards Mark Zengerle The GLI finish might have
and Michael Mersch typical- been a result of bad luck or just
ly guide the Badgers' attack, a tough weekend. The Wol-
and as expected, will demand verines had two weeks off and
the majority of attention from just two practices before the
Michigan's defensive pairings. tournament began. They were
Zengerle has 18 assists, while without Copp too, their leading
Mersch has found the back of scorer, while he was with the
the net 11 times this season. USA World Junior team com-
Much of the peting in Swe-
Wolverines' den.
practices this Berenson
week have "It's our chance admitted the
been geared bo n eGLI hasn't
towards to bounce back been kind to
defensive- Michigan the
zone coverage from losing two past few years
and limiting , anyway.
turnovers. To games in a row' The tough
have success weekend was
this week- excusable for
end, the kinks those reasons.
inside their own blue line need- Now, with a full roster and a
ed to be ironed out in practice chip on its shoulder, Michigan
this week. can bury any questions about
"We have to be better in our the direction the team.is-head-
zone," Berenson said. "We have ed. Berenson says they're in a
to be better without the. puck, better place, but only winoning
and then hopefully we'll be bet- will prove that.
ter with the puck."
Good defense usually leads Want livecoverage?
to quicksbreakouts that result to
quality scoring chances. Those ichigknDafo u
chances have been there for the tig tewekn1o uds

aG & DIVING

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Weekend of ranked
opponents awaits

By BRAD WHIPPLE
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan women's swim-
ming and divingteam is tired.
Some high intensity training in
Florida, considered by Michigan
coach Mike Bottom to be their
best week of practice, followed by
travel back to Ann Arbor through
the polar vortex has proven ardu-
ous forthe Wolverines.
In a close race to remain one
of the top 25 teams in the College
Swimming Coaches Association
of America, No. 24 Michigan will
need to stay motivated as the Wol-
verines (1-2 Big Ten, 3-2 overall)
take their skills to Indianapolis
and Chicago in their next meets
of the new year.
"There was no limitation to the
amount of work we did (in Flori-
da)," Bottom said. "They're going
to be tired, so we'll see how they
perform."
On Friday, Michigan will com-
pete in a dual meet against No.
20 Purdue before heading to the
Windy City the next day to face
No. 25 Notre Dame, Northwest-
ern and Rutgers in a quad meet.
This weekend will be the Wol-
verines' first conference matchup
since October, and Michigan's
first time racing in back-to-back
meets this season.
Despite the busy schedule
ahead, sophomore Ali DeLoof
likely speaks for the rest of the
team when she acknowledges her
own enthusiasm for the meets.
"We are going to treat it like
it were a Big Ten Champion-
ship meet and remain positive,"
DeLoof said. "It's goingto be very
exciting."
With her 44-point contribu-
tion to the Wolverines' Orange
Bowl Swim Classic win last week,
DeLoof set numerous records,

including the 200-meter med-
ley relay (1:54.31), 200-meter
freestyle relay (1:46.65) and the
50-meter freestyle (26.60). For
the third time this season, she
earned Big Ten Swimmer of the
Week on Tuesday.
The Boilermakers (2-0,5-0) are
ahead of Michigan in the rank-
ings, so Fridaynight's contest will
be a tight battle to climb the bi-
monthly poll. In the two power-
houses' third matchup in 16 years
- the Wolverines holding an 8-1
all-time edge - things will be
tougher than they look on paper.
Purdue senior Carly Mercer
for example, a two-time Big Ten
Swimmer of the Week, holds the
country's fastest time in the 100-
yard freestyle this season (48.43).
Bottom is adamant that his divers
will need to step up, especially
against Purdue's two-time All-
American senior Casey Matthews
- the reigning NCAA Champion
in the three-meter dive.
But Michigan might be more
focused on the Fighting Irish
after they cruised through the
Wolverines in last year's match,
185-115. Junior EmmaReaney, the
country's top breaststroker with a
personal best of 58.84 in the 100-
meter breastroke, will help the
Irish (4-3) make a strong finish.
Bottom hopes to counter her with
Michigan senior Angela Chokran.
"Chokran mightcnot be the fast-
est but she is damn tough," Bot-
tom said.
Add the Wildcats (5-3, 1-3) and
the Scarlet Knights (3-1) into the
mix, and the Wolverines are going
to have a busy Saturday afternoon.
Bottom says that "turns, starts,
finishes, race strategy and lane
placement" must be tuned up
if Michigan wishes to earn two
wins this weekend, and Bottom
hopes they come to fruition.

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