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May 27, 2003 - Image 12

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2003-05-27

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12 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Maloney a
success in
year one
GENNARO Fia
ON BASEBALL
Before Rich Maloney's arrival as head
coach this season, the Michigan baseball
team held a shoddy 69-92-1 mark in the
new millennium. During this three-year
period, the Wolverines chalked up a 34-
49 conference record en route to eighth,
sixth and eighth place finishes in Big
Ten play. Basically, a once proud pro-
gram that tore through the '80s with a
tecord of 465-146-1 (142-37 Big Ten)
- while winning eight conference
championships - had fallen to relative
obscurity in the Big Ten.
Maloney made it clear early in his
inaugural season that each game's out-
come did not matter to him, he just
wanted his team to "get after it."
And "get after it" they did.
Michigan finished 30-27 overall -
its best record since 1999 - and earned
a third place finish in conference stand-
ingswith a 16-14.Big Ten mark.
Throughout the season, Maloney
credited Michigan's success to the
team's "never say die" attitude.
"We're not going to back down to
whoever we play," Maloney said earlier
this season. "We're going to expect to
.be the best."
This cavalier mindset was evident in
the Wolverines' 12 come-from-behind
victories this year. Michigan's feisty
approach was also apparent when it
defeated Midwest powerhouse Notre
Dame and took a home series from
Ohio State (the Buckeyes' first home-
series loss since 1997) in one week.
At the plate, Michigan rode its senior
leadership throughout the season. The
trio of Brock Koman (.368, 55 RBIs),
Gino Lollio (.329, 58 runs), and Mike
Sokol (.340, 38 runs) paced the Michi-
gan offense on a daily basis.
- Senior Tim Leveque was paramount

-- AP PHOTO
First-year Michigan coach Rich Maloney has taken the Wolverines from the bottom
of the Big Ten to third place - a five-spot leap from last year.

on the mound, giving Maloney a steady
reliever with a 3.68 ERA.
Although these seniors were vital to
Michigan's success this year and will be
missed in 2004, Maloney did a stellar
job developing a lot of the young talent,
namely pitching. Of Michigan's 11
hurlers who made appearances this
year, all but one (Leveque) will be avail-
able for service next season. This young
staff was beat up a bit this year, but with
players like Drew Taylor (9-1, 3.97
ERA) and Phil Tognetti (6-5, 3.76
ERA) returning, the Wolverines should
be solid on the mound in 2004.
Michigan also returns many position
players next year. Jake Fox had a mon-
ster junior season, hitting .357 and lead-
ing the team in homeruns (15) and
RBIs (67). Besides Fox, the Wolverines
will boast five other players in 2004
with at least 20 starts under their belts.
All in all, under the tutelage of Mal-
oney, the program is headed in the right
direction. In seven years at Ball State
(1996-2002), Maloney transformed the
Cardinals from a cellar-dweller to a two-
time Mid-American Conference champi-
on. So far, it looks like he's going the
same route with Michigan. In his first
season with the Wolverines, Maloney
achieved one of the team's main goals
(30 wins), improved Michigan's final
conference standing five spots from a
year ago and - through this rampant

success - thwarted any idea of 2003
being a typical "rebuilding year" (the
new-era term for a losing season).
Led by Maloney, Michigan finished
just behind the conference's two perenni-
al contenders - Ohio State and Min-
nesota - who both will compete in the
2003 NCAA tournament. Will it
leapfrog the Buckeyes or Golden
Gophers next season? Possibly. Will it
make the NCAA tournament for the first
time since 1999? There's a chance. But,
under Maloney's reign, at least one thing
is guaranteed in 2004 - the Wolverines
will most certainly "get after it."
BASEBALL
Continued from Page 11
shots that were line drives right at
somebody."
The Wolverines never got back to the
form seen in Wednesday's 7-2 win over
Indiana, in which Michigan's 3-4-5 hit-
ters had five RBIs. Michigan mustered
just one rally against the Buckeyes in
the eighth, with sophomore right fielder
Matt Butler's homerun. Fox later came
up with the bases loaded, but hit into a
double play. Sokol then grounded out.
"We had the right hitters up, we just
didn't get it done," Maloney said. "The
seniors may have put too much (pres-
sure) on themselves to try to get it done
because they knew it was their moment."

ACC
Continued from Page 11
college football? The Big East and
ACC, two weak football conferences,
have been taking up two automatic
BCS bids. They've made it tough for
schools in the Big Ten, Pac-10, Big 12
and SEC, who have great seasons but
aren't conference champs, to finda
way into the BCS mix.
Take last season as an example.
There is no reason that an 8-4 Florida
State team deserved to play 12-1
Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Usually,
each year, there is one team from the
ACC or Big East that does not belong
in the BCS.
But that wouldn't be the case any-
more. There would likely be three
at-large bids to the BCS instead of
two, which certainly is good for the
Big Ten, as the Michigan-Ohio State
loser is always a lucrative at-large
choice.
The ACC becomes a very solid
football competitor with the addition
of Miami. The 'Canes and 'Noles
will always be among the most tal-
ented teams in the country, and now
with the emergence of new coaches
Chuck Amato at North Carolina
State and Ralph Friedgen at Mary-
land, the ACC has some up-and-com-
ing programs waiting to strike on the
national scene.
The ACC expansion simply helps
the big boys get fatter. The Big East
will become a conference that will
have to choose an identity: Even
weaker football conference or a con-
ference that is built on basketball-
only schools like Georgetown,
Villanova and Seton Hall. Keep in
mind that is what the Big East was
before it changed its direction by
adding Miami in the early '90s. The
football schools left in the Big East
- Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech and
West Virginia - will likely scramble
for new partnerships as soon as
annexation is made official sometime
in June.
The losers here are clearly these
three schools. Frank Beamer has
built Virginia Tech into one of the
top 15 football programs in the
nation year in and year out, but for
some reason that just wasn't enough

to be included in the ACC's invite
list. Regardless, the Hokies, Panthers
and Mountaineers will have some
suitors to be sure.
Conference USA is licking its
chops, hoping that adding one or a
few of these schools will make ita
candidate for an automatic BCS bid.
Some believe the Big East will raid
C-USA to get its automatic bid back
and keep a somewhat respectable
football reputation. But honestly, a
Conference USA-Big East combo
doesn't come anywhere close to
deserving an automatic BCS bid.
The Big Ten could possibly add one
of the three castaways, most likely
Pittsburgh, which holds the academic
credentials for admission to the Big
Ten. The Pac-10, Big 12 and SEC are
in no position to add teams, and the
Mountain West - always clamoring
for a BCS bid and national respect -
is also not likely to take action.
It has been rumored that the Big
Ten is interested in expanding, just
like in 1999 when it offered its 12th
spot to Notre Dame. But Minnesota
Athletic Director Joel Maturi says
the conference is not interested in
adding a team. Pittsburgh, a school
flourishing in football and basketball
recently, will likely make a push to
join the Big Ten.
It's interesting that the Big Ten
isn't feeling the pressure of this peri-
od of Manifest Destiny in college
football. Why not add the Panthers,
give Penn State a natural rival and
become the country's fourth super-
power? It's probably because the Big
Ten isn't in a desperate mood right
now. It has the finest team in t
land, Ohio State, and a confered
championship game would take away
from the Ohio State-Michigan game
at the end of the season.
The Big Ten's football revival last
season was impressive. But if it falls
back to where it was the previous two
seasons, and the three "superconfer-
ences" continue to increase their pres-
tige, how long can the Big Ten sit
back and watch?
Time will only tell.
J Brady McCollough can be reached at
bradymcc@umich.edu.
BIG TEN
Continued from Page 11
member Missouri. The Irish compete in
the Big East in every sport except foot-
ball (in which they are independent). In
1999, Notre Dame rejected an offer to
join the Big Ten, but many believe that
the Midwest powerhouse may reconsider
if the Big East trio bolts to the ACC.
Although Syracuse has already received
an invite from the ACC, the Orangemen
have always been considered a possibili-
ty in the Big Ten. Pittsburgh, Rutgers
and Missouri garner attention because of
their respective sports-hungry markets.
Decisions from Miami, Syracuse and
Boston College are expected in June.
Though many feel this wilt spur the Big
Ten into action, Maturi believes the con-
ference won't seek addition.
"To be very honest with you, we in
the Big Ten have not talked about
expansion in the nine months I've been
here," Maturi said. "I feel pretty confi-
dent with the formal discussions that
I've been involved in."
"We're not looking to expand."

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1

4

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