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November 17, 1995 - Image 10

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-11-17

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NIT trivia
Q: Who was the first team Michigan ever faced in the post-season NIT
tournament?
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November 17, 1995

I

Wildcats up next
for cagers in NIT

Nanooks of the
- ~,-- /north come south

By Barry Sollenberger
Daily Sports Editor
Weber State?
It certainly isn't as well known as the
Dukes and the North Carolinas of the
college basketball world.
But you can bet the Michigan Wol-
verines know about the Wildcats, con-
sidering what they did to intrastate rival
Michigan State last season.
Last spring, Weber State rudely ended
the Spartans' season in the opening round
of the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats (1-0) are looking for
their second straight upset over a Michi-
gan school tonight when they face the
Wolverines (1-0) at Crisler Arena in
second-round Preseason NIT action.
ESPN2 will televise the game starting
at 7:30 p.m.
Both teams advanced to tonight's game
with wins Wednesday night. Seventeenth-
ranked Michiganbeat DePaul, 73-65, and
Weer State spoiled coach Jerry
Tarkanian's debut at Fresno State, 102-
86.
Much of the talk of the preseason had
Tarkanian, a.k.a. the Shark, leading his
Bulldogs past the Wildcats and into Ann
Arbor for a date with the Wolverines.
But that turned out to be a bigger joke
than Milli Vanilli as the Shark's boys -
even at home - were no match for We-
ber State.
The Wildcats raced off to an early 23-
9 lead and cruised to the blowoutvictory.
Jimnmy DeGraffenried torched Fresno
State for 30 points and Justyn Tebbs and
Alex Fisher added 21 and 20, respec-
tively, for the Wildcats.
Weber State's shooters present some
problems for Michigan. DeGraffenried, a
senior forward, bombed away against the
Bulldogs and finished 13 of 17 from the

field and three of four from long range.
"He is big and strong, but his shooting
touch from 20-27 feet is extraordinary,"
Abegglen said.
As a team, the Wildcats, shot.581 from
the field and .524 (11 of 21) from three-
point land against Fresno State.
That's not what the doctor ordered, as
far as the Wolverines are concerned.
Michigan was anything but a blanket
on DePaul guard Jermaine Watts Wednes-
day.
He went for 30 against the Wolverines'
trio of guards - Dugan Fife, Travis
Conlan and Louis Bullock.
While Weber State figures to bother
Michigan from the outside, the Wolver-
ines have a definite height advantage
down low. Michigan pounded DePaul on
thee boards Wednesday and could do the
same to the Wildcats tonight.
Abegglen starts just three players over
6-4, includingthe 6-6 DeGraffenried. Six-
foot-nine Maceo Baston, 6-9 Maurice
Taylor and 6-8 Robert Traylor should
control the glass at the defensive end and
give the Wolverines' some extra chances
with offensive boards.
Tonight's winner advances to the Pre-
season NIT semifinals next Wednesday
at Madison Square Garden in New York
to meet the survivor of tonight's Arizona-
Arkansas contest.
IfMichigan getsbytheWildcats,itwill
be looking for revenge against whomever
it faces.
The Wolverines lost to the No. 16
Razorbacks in the NCAA tournament
two years ago and haven't come within
20 points of Arizona the last two times
they've faced coach Lute Olson's
squad.
Michigan lost to Arizona, 119-95, in
1993 and, 78-57, last season.

By John Leroi
Daily Sports Writer
You might say Dave Laurion keeps
Alaska Airlines in business.
While most travelers will never board a
plane owned by Alaska's most famous air-
line, Laurion's Alaska-Fairbanks hockey
team does it almost every other week.
This will bethe case whenthe Nanooks
(2-3-0 CCHA, 2-4-1 overall) visit Ann
Arbor for a weekend series beginning
tonight at 7 p.m. at Yost Ice Arena.
When Fairbanks is at home, opponents
stay for a three-game set because of the
long trip. And when the Nanooks hit the
road - or the air - travel time is often
longer than game time.
"We leave late Wednesday night for
away games," Laurion said. "We catch
the red-eye flight so our players can get
some sleep. There are usually two orthree
layovers and that makes the trip longer."
Because it's the weekend before
Thanksgiving and people are flying the
friendly skies more than usual, the
Nanooks will have an even longer itiner-
ary than usual. They will stop in Anchor-
age, Seattle, Cincinnati and Detroit be-
fore arriving in Ann Arbor. With 2,464
miles in one trip, seniors have enough
frequent-flyer miles to send entire vil-
lages to away games.
"Every time we've travel, it's been a
long trip," Laurion said.
And he's not just talking about the
mileage. Fairbanks was 3-11-1 last year
on the road and hasn't earned a victory
outside its 4,591-seat Carlson Center this
season.
The Nanooks are in their first year as an
official member of the CCHA. In 1994-
95, Fairbanks was an affiliate member,
playing all of the CCHA teams but not
participating in the conference tourna-
ment.

Fairbanks' players must deal with miss-
ing two days ofelass every two weeks and
Laurion insists they bring their books on
the plane. He also holds study tgbles
whenever possible.
Laurion said that after a while, the
players get used to the long road trips.,
However, with all the expenses incurred
with 5,000-mileround-trip tickets forplay-
ers, coaches and support staff, the.
Nanooks' Athletic Department budget is,
stretched to its limit.
"Most of our budget goes to travel ,"
Laurion said. "We'll spend $750 per per-.
son just for an airline ticket each roadytrip.
I don't know how our budget compares to
Michigan's, but we lose a lot of ground.,
because of travel expenses.
"Michigan is in a class by themselves
- there are a lot of things that they have
that we would like to have, but don't."
One of these things is a strong recruit-
ing base.
Laurion goes after older players from
Western Canada who have spent time
playing junior hockey. Most of Alaska's
hottest high school talent jumps right into
junior hockey, giving Laurion little -to
work with.
However, Laurion, who skated for
Notre Dame in his college days, prides
himself on picking up some excellent
players. Center Cody Brotwell was the
Nanooks leading scorer last season.
This season, thejunior, thejunior from
Wainwright, Alberta has scored a goal in
six of seven games this year and ranks
second on the CCHA scoring list with 11
points.
Michigan (5-1-0, 7-1-0) will have to
play without two of its top guns tonight.
Left wing Jason Botterill and right wing
Warren Luhning won't be in action be-
cause of game disqualifications they re-
ceived last Saturday at Miami (Ohio).

SARA STILLMAN/Daily
The Michigan basketball team will play Weber State tonight at 7:30 at Crisier
Arena in the second round of the Preseason NIT Tournament.

The Match s:
In ba weather, Nittany Lions' big plays will be the difference
By Scott Burton team makes the biggest plays-a famil- will against a conference chock full of Soundslikeanobscuretalentbutitcannot Penn State rushingoffensevs.Michi- Penn Statepassingoffens

evs.Michi-

Daily Sports Writer
The general differences between the
Outback bowl and the Alamo Bowl really
aren't that significant. Neither bowl re-
wards standout excellence, neither bowl
determines the national champion and
neither bowl is likely to capture the foot-
ball worlds' collective imagination.
But for Michigan and Penn State, the
technical difference between the two
bowls is significant. The Outback Bowl is
for the Big Ten's third-place team, which
likely will be the winner ofthis weekend's
contest. The Alamo Bowl is for the Big
Ten's fourth-place team, an option for
this weekend's loser.
To repeat, one bowl is for the winner,
the other bowl is for the loser. Now that's
something to get riled up about.
And likely this high level of intensity
will marginalize any talent advantage one
team might enjoy Saturday. Instead, the
winner could be determined by which

iar summary of the last two matchups
between these teams.
Michigan rushing offense vs. Penn
State rushing defense:
When it comes time for Michigan to
produce first downs, forget all those for-
ward passing shenanigans. Nope, the Wol-
verines' offense is all about rushing the
ball 'til your opponents cry uncle'.
A big part of whether Penn State sub-
mitstothiscruel treatment revolves around
Tshimanga Biakabutuka's status. Michi-
gan coach Lloyd Carr said the hobbled
star is available this weekend, but did not
indicate whether he would start.
And here is where the problem lies -
none of Biakabutuka's replacements pos-
sess his consistent ability to bust routine
three-yard runs into first-down jaunts.
And such breakout ability is paramount
for the Wolverines' to move the ball,
given Michigan's struggles in the air,.
The Nittany Lions have tested their

tailback goodness and sport the Big Ten's
third-bestrushingdefense. Yet, Penn State
has only slowed rather than contained the
Big Ten's best, allowing Wildcat Darnell
Autry 139 yards and Buckeye Eddie
George 105 yards.
Should Biakabutukabe healthy enough
to carry the ball 20 or so times, give the
advantage to Michigan. Otherwise, chalk
up a category for Penn State.
Advantage: even
Michigan passing offense vs. Penn
State passing defense:
If anything worthwhile came out of
Michigan's unusual 5-0 victory over
Purdue last weekend, is was that quarter-
back Brian Griese learned how to move
the ball under the iciest of conditions.

be underestimated when you consider
that the weather conditions in Penn State
this weekend are even more extreme.
And what exactly did Griese learn?
Make safe, smart plays and think in terms
of first downs not touchdowns. Griese
needs to excel at that game plan tomor-
row.
Penn State's passing defense probably
won't play a prominent role tomorrow,
other than containing Michigan's receiv-
ers. If Griese wants a five-yard gain, give
it to him. Just don't allow substantive
downfield plays. Under a similar guise,
the Nittany Lions allowed only 96 pass-
ing yards against the run-oriented North-
western attack Nov. 4.
Advantage: even

gan rushing defense:
As publicized as Ki-Jana Carter's de-
parture was, one thing hasn't changed in
Happy Valley - a monstrous collection
of offensive lineman. Their unquestion-
able ability is why Mike Archie, Curtis
Enis and Stephen Pitts have been able to
take over the running game without an
embarrassing drop in production.
Nonetheless, it would have been an
interesting curiosity to see whethereven
the likes of Carter could move the ball
against Michigan's rushing defense.
Probably not particularly well, which
isn't a vote of confidence for Penn
State's second-tier running backs to-
morrow.
Advantage: Michigan

gan passing defense:
Michigan's scorecard against scram-
bling quarterbacks in the mold of Penn
State's Wally Richardson is mixed. The
Wolverines abused the marginally tal-
ented Johnny Johnson of Illinois, but
were constantly one step behind the ex-
ceptionally gifted Tony Banks of Michi-
gan State.
Richardson's effectiveness necessar-
ily will be a reflection of the weathr
conditions tomorrow. Banks ofsnow tend
to inhibitthe progress offleet-footedtypes,
meaning that the pressure could be on
Richardson to deliver in the pocket. But
in the absence of natural obstacles,
Richardson has the ability to terrorize
Michigan's defense.
Advantage: Penn State
Special teams:
When the weather gets rough andfoot-
ball games are decided by field position,
special teams can play a fundamental role
in the outcome of a contest. Thus, the
pressure is on for the punters and the punt
returners alike to make things happen for
their respective teams tomorrow.
To that end, give the advantage here to
Penn State. Michigan has an inability to
punt the ball with any sort of depth or
hang time and establish good field posi-
tion via punt returns. 5
Advantage: Penn State

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Overall:
Carrwillbe the first man to tell youthat
Michigan's inability to make big plays
cost the Wolverines two victories this
season. It may very well cost them a third
in the intense environment of Beaver
Stadium.
Prediction: Penn State 17, Michigan 14

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