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October 22, 2014 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-10-22

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 7A


Defense sparks offense
early in season for 'M'

r Devin Funchess doesn't thinkof Saturday's game against Michigan State as anything more than a game.
Lensity no different

If you want to get a sense of
where the Michigan football
team's rivalry with Michigan
State stands in 2014, take a look
at these two quotes from both
From Spartan coach Mark
a Tuesday press conference:
"This (Michigan) is still the most
important game on the schedule
for me, personally and for our
program.Whenyou compete day
in and day out with them - and
that's what we do for recruits
- day in and day out, for fans,
for everything, it carries over
to volleyball, basketball, carries
over to everything."
And from- Michigan junior
wide receiver.Devin Funchess on
Tuesday: "I mean, it's a rivalry
week, but we take it as just
another week on the schedule."
It's a game that stretches back
107 years, includes bragging
rights spanning an entire state
for a year and is full of plenty
of smack talk. in 2007, former
runningback Mike Hart referred
to Michigan as "Little Brother."
Just last year, former offensive
lineman Taylor Lewan said
Michigan State "bullied" the

There's a spot for the Paul
Bunyan Trophy - awarded
annually to the winner of the
in-state rivalry game - in
Schembechler Hall with an
etching that says it will return
this year. The game is generally
on national television because it
draws such a large crowd.
But now, the rivalry that
has always been marked on
everyone's calendar is hyped up
by one team publicly and not the
"It gets in your blood a little
bit," Dantonio said Tuesday.
"There's no difference in
this game than the South
Carolina-Clemson game when
I was in college (playing for the
Gamecocks). It divides the state,
and it makes it unique in that
Added Spartan quarterback
Connor Cook: "The hits are
always bigger, the plays are
always bigger. There is pushing
and shoving after the whistle,
but the energy is just always that
much more in this game."
But the overwhelming
sentiment frominside Michigan's
camp, as if it were read from
a script, isn't buying into the
intensity surrounding it. Players
say it's about treating Saturday
like any other game.
Given the Spartans are the No.

8 team in the country, that could
have more meaning for a team
that has struggled to a3-4 record
this season.
"We definitely have to prepare
like it's just another game," said
sophomore quarterback Jourdan
Lewis. "It is a big rivalry, but we
just have to step it up."
Added junior linebacker Joe
Bolden: "Every week we practice
with the intentions of winning,
so I would say no (Saturday's
game isn't different)."
Perhaps the comments are
meant to avoid saying anything
too provocative, the type of stuff
that ends up running on TV over
and over.
But more often than not,
Lewan's comments aside,
indifference has been the theme
for Michigan in the past seven
years. Michigan State is 5-1 since
Hart's comments. They're slowly
chipping away at the Wolverines
68-33-5 all-time record in the
The attitude, if anything, is
indicative of how they've played,
lacking the intensity that's very
evident 65 miles away.
If last year's 29-6 dismantling
in East Lansing, which included
Michigan rushing for minus-48
yards, isn't enough to make it
"more than a game" in 2014, it's
tough to imagine what is.

Daily Sports Writer
Cutler Martin watched his
skater, stood tall and pointed at
his teammates. The freshman
defenseman's first goal, in his
collegiate debut no less, would
become the go-ahead goal in the
No. 10 Michigan hockey team's
first victory of the season.
For Martin, the first tally
was the figurative monkey off
his back, but for ateam that has
struggled to put the puck in the
net, it was the difference in the
game. And it was an indication
that, if nothing else, the defense
can and will score.
In fact, the only two players
to find the back of the net on
Saturday were defensemen - an
accomplishment the Wolverines
couldn't point to last year.
Last season, the defense
accounted for four of the
Wolverines' 107 goals - two
goals apiece from then-senior
defenseman Mac Bennett and
freshman Michael Downing -
and struggled to create offense
for its forwards. Defense,
by and large, was also the
reason Michigan finished a
disappointing year with just 26
power-play goals.
Just three games in to the
nonconference schedule,
Michigan defensemen have
contributed more offense than
the unit did in 35 games last
season. Though the stats are
unofficial, freshman Zach
Werenski's pair of tallies,
combined with two goals from
defensemen Saturday, equals
the Wolverines' 2013-14 total.
In Michigan's own zone, the
difference between Friday's
embarrassing 5-1 loss and
Saturday's win was also defense.
Backed by junior goaltender
Steve Racine - who made his
first start since March 8 - the
Wolverines fended off four New
Hampshire power plays and

looked faster in transition.
"Our team's still figuring it
out," said Michigan coach Red
Berenson. "I think they realized
that with a more focused
approach, playing the right kind
of hockey, it'll help our team...
We're not there yet, but we
competed harder and better.
"We didn't give up much, and
that helped us."
Saturday, Downing switched
over to play right side on the
top line alongside Werenski.
Downing played his entire first
year on the left side, recording
one of the best games in his class.
Comfort in his position on ice,
as well as with Werenski, will
take time.
Last season, Downing and
to build the chemistry they
maintained through March.
After that point, the duo became
Michigan's most reliable pair.
"It's kinda something that
takes a decent amount of time to
get used to," Downing said. "I've
been with three different guys
now, and it's just one of those
things. ... It takes a while."
In addition to size and power,
a Werenski-Downing line could
provide Michigan with the most
scoring potential from the blue
line. Werenski scored two goals
in an exhibition against Wilfred
Laurier, and Downing's tally,
Saturday showed improvement
in the offensive aspect of his
Sometimes, more than shot
adjustments, scoring from the
point is as simple as keeping
one's head up.
"We've gotta find lanes,"
Downing said. "I don't think
it was so much that we weren't
getting pucks through, I think it
was just that we didn't work on
it enough. This year we stress it
a lot more.
"We can't get shots blocked.
It's on us."
The unit has also gotten a
boost, both this season and last,

from senior Andrew Sinelli.
Though he dressed as a forward
last week, Sinelli's versatility
makes him an offensive
threat both on offense and as
a defenseman. Sinelli spent
the majority of last season on
defense, adding a hat trick, and
saw time on Michigan's third
line on Saturday.
Still, on any given night,
Michigan's top two defensive
pairings comprise three
sophomores and a freshman
whose age suggests he should
still be in high school. That
means leadership is the job of
more than just seniors Mike
Chaisson and Brennan Serville,
but of players like Downing and
sophomore Kevin Lohan.
"I like kind of being the first
guy to go (on the ice), because
that's how it was with (Bennett)
last year and it's something I'm
used to," Downing said. "I want
to be a leader on the back end,
and I think I am."
For Michigan, winning in
the circle is just as much an
offensive opportunity as it is a
defensive victory. Simply put, a
faceoff win takes pressure off
the defense, especially late in
While faceoff battles were
split almost evenly on Friday,
the home team capitalized
on twice as many chances as
the Wildcats on Saturday, a
stat Berenson attributed the
Wolverines' first win.
"For example, if you dropped
tried to pick it up and run away
with it, you'd do everything you
could," Berenson said. "You'd
kick and scratch and claw, and
so on. That's what faceoffs
are. We need people who are
desperate in faceoffs, and who
can't wait for the battle."

Bektas, Yurovsky
shine on last day

For theDaily
Championship matc
Champaign featured a
familiar faces - familiar
and familiar to one anoth
For the second con
year, Michigan women'
teammates senior Emina
and junior Ronit Y
faced off in the title
Last year, Yurovsky o
Bektas in three sets. T
championship match lo
too similar after the Wo
split the first
two sets.
But this year, iI
Bektas flipped
the script. gi
One day after
securing the t
doubles title
with freshman the
Alex Najarian,
Bektas put
the finishing
touches on her im
tournament in a 4-6,
"When you can get
your players through
know that one of them's
have the opportunity (to
a good feeling," said M
coach Ronni Bernstei
proud of the girls, and
they handled themselve
Bektas had squared of
another Wolverine, seni
Lee,inthe semifinalsofth
draw. The eventual ci
took down her teams
straight sets, 6-4, 6-1.
"It's definitely a little
Bektas said about playing
teammates in a tourname
something you never re
used to, but you sort of hav

HINE a way to get through that, because
we're both competitors and both
want to do well. You definitely try
egionals to think of it as just another match
h in and another opponent, but it's
pair of weird when it's your teammate on
r to fans the other side of the net."
er. On the doubles side, Bektas
secutive and Najarian cruised through the
s tennis draw until reaching the finals,
a Bektas where they met Notre Dame's
furovsky Quinn Gleason and Monica
match. Robinson. After fending off three
utlasted consecutive match points in the
uesday's tiebreaker, the Wolverines' duo
oked all clawed its way to a tense 8-7 (6)
lverines victory in the pro set.
"We stuck
together really
n proud of the well," Bektas
said. "For
rls, and think not playing
together at
hey handled all, we mesh
together well
mselves well." and have really
good chemistry
so we just tried
to stay positive
pressive and aggressive even when we
6-1, 6-1 were down match points. That
was definitely the key for us."
both of Bernstein didn't shy away from
and you heaping praise on Najarian, either.
going to "Alex, our freshman, to handle
win), it's her nerves and show us what she
tichigan can do, it really impressed all the
n. "I'm girls actually," Bernstein said.
I think Because of the strong
s really performance at the tournament,
Michigan will be well represented
f against in Flushing, New York at the ITA
or Sarah National Indoor Championships
esingles in early November. In addition to
hampion Bektas and Najarian, Yurovsky
mate in will be looking for an at-large bid
in the singles draw.
weird," "For us to win the doubles and
against for Emina to win both her senior
ent. "It's year, I think is great for her,"
ally get Bernstein said. "It was really a
e to find good team effort for us."

TurgeonembracingBig 10 slate
DailySports Writer
Mark Turgeon has felt like an
outsider the last two years in the
Atlantic Coast Conference.
Since the University of s
Maryland Board of Regents
voted on Nov. 19, 2012 to leave \Xk
the ACC and join the Big Ten,
the Terrapins' basketball coach
has been preparing for the jump
so much, he didn't even feel like
a member.
"To be honest with you, I
felt like we were in the Big Ten
the last few years," he said last
Thursday at Big Ten Basketball
Media Day. "As soon as we
announced we were leaving, we
were gone. We were physically
playing in the ACC, but not a lot
of teams liked us."
Turgeon has been watching '
Big Ten games for two years,
not two months, to prepare
for the switch. Describing the
experience as "overwhelming,"
Turgeon had a heavy load of
film to watch - half footage on PAUL SHERMAN/Dail
the season going on and half for Remember this guy? It's former Michigan forward Evan Smotrycz, who will be playing against his former team this year.

games more than a year in the
"We've done film study on
every team in the league last
year, even though they might
have lost four seniors or changed
their plays," Turgeon said. "We
did multiple film studies and put
a scouting report together on
each of those teams like we were
going to play them that week."
Though the workload has
been heavy, Turgeon described
the new scouting as "fun." But if
there was any particular aspect
of the transition that was rough
for Turgeon and Maryland, it
was spending a season waiting to
exit the ACC.
"People thought I wasn't

excited about moving to the Big
Ten," Turgeon said. "It was going
through the process of getting
to the Big Ten that was really
hard, and not a lot of fun. I'm
not saying the ACC did anything
to deliberately hurt us, and they
didn't. You just knew you weren't
really part of the family anymore.
It's understandable. We made the
decision to leave."
With that long-awaited
departure finally complete,
Turgeon set deadlines to be
as prepared as his team could
be entering the season. To
complement all the video his
staff has watched, Turgeon has
set a goal of Nov. 1 to have all Big
Ten scouting reports done. With

"seven or eight" teams finished
before last Thursday, Turgeon is
on track to be finished before the
first exhibition game tips off.
The extra time will help the
Terrapin staff come February,
according to Turgeon, when
Maryland is in the middle of
its conference schedule and
recruiting is in its critical stage.
Additionally, current fifth-
year senior and former Wolverine
forward Evan Smotrycz's
knowledge of the conference will
come in handy for Maryland once
it is in the heart of Big Ten play.
"We'll rely a lot on Evan this
year," Turgeon said. "He's been
out of it for two years, and I'm
sure it's changed. Personnel has

definitely changed. I'll rely on
Evan a lot. He's an older, mature
guy. He's been around so we'll
talk a lot. We'll talk more this
year when we get closer to the
Big Ten about teams.
"He's a smart kid, smart
player, so I can rely on him in a
lot of areas."
And he's not worried about
losing rivals Duke and North
Carolina. He'll find new ones
soon enough.
"You replace Duke and
(North) Carolina with Ohio State
and Michigan State - it's pretty
impressive," he said. "Wisconsin,
Michigan, you know this league
can argue it's been the best
league in the country."



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