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December 04, 1995 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-12-04

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4B - The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, December 4, 1995

1995-96

Women's

Mchigan hopes to climb
out of Big Ten basement

42 Jennifer Brzezinski
6-1, senior, center

I '!
55 Catherine DiGiacinto
6-1, Junior, forward

By Dan Stillman
Daily Sports Writer
The 22-year history of Michigan
women's basketball is not a pretty one.
Only three times have the Wolverines
finished a season with a winning record,
including the 1989-90 NCAA Tourna-
ment team. Only eleven times has Michi-
gan won more than two games in a season
against Big Ten opponents. And since the
'90 tournament team the Wolverines are
31-106 including 11-71 in the Big Ten.
But fourth year coach Trish Roberts
and the '95 Wolverines (3-1) are confi-
dent they can turn
things around in
one of the top con-
ferences in the
sport, despite be-
ing picked last in
the Preseason Big
Ten Coaches Poll.
"There's a dif-
ferent attitude
among the play-
ers," Roberts said.
"It's like they're on a mission."
This change in attitude within the pro-
gram has been a long time in the making.
After leading Maine to two North At-
lantic Conference championships in four
seasons, Roberts took the Michigan head
coaching job in '92, following the Wol-
verines' worst season in seven years (7-
21. 3-15).
Roberts immediately implemented her
plan to lead the Wolverines to winning
ways, and she has stuck with it ever since.
"We wanted to establish a work ethic in
the program," Roberts said. "And after
going through a year, we realized that if
we were going to stay up with the Big Ten,
we needed to recruit bigger and faster
players."
Despite Wolverine records of 2-25 and
3-24 in her first two seasons, Roberts
pressed on, and things finally started to
look up during the beginning of last sea-
son.
Through the first ten games Michi-
gan went 5-5, and that was without
SportsChannel Chicago All-Big Ten
Freshman guard Jennifer Kiefer.
Kiefer, who led the Big Ten in three-
point field goal shooting (48.5 per-
cent) in her freshman year, missed her
entire sophomore season with a knee
injury.
But soon the wheels came out from
under the Wolverines.
In the final game before the Big Ten
season, 6-3 center Pollyanna Johns also
went down with a season-ending knee

injury, and suddenly injuries became con-
tagious. By the end of December,
Michigan's roster had been depleted from
14 players to seven.
Michigan finished 8-19, good fora last-
place tie in the Big Ten.
With thoughts of staying healthy on
their minds, many Wolverines worked out
in the weight room and played in basket-
ball camps over the summer.
"The kids finally understand that it takes
a certain amount ofcommitment and dedi-
cation for (the program) to be successful,"
Roberts said.
And now the Wolverines have em-
barked on a new season with a healthy
Kiefer and Johns, as well as a new attitude.
"We've established a work ethic and
discipline," Roberts said. "We've estab-
lished a winning attitude within the pro-
gram. Our goal is to finish no lower than
.500. I think this is a team that's very
capable of doing a lot better than that."
While Michigan has fared well from 3-
point land in recent years, a strong inside
game and a healthy Johns could be the key
to success for the Wolverines this season
according to Roberts.
"She has great athletic ability, and her
potential is unlimited," Roberts said. "Her
6-3 frame is an intimidating factor in the
paint."
The Wolverines also have something
else they lacked a year ago - depth.
Due to minor injuries, neither of
Michigan's two best post players, Johns
nor 6-1 senior center Jennifer Brzezinski,
could make the trip for the team's first two
regular season games last weekend against
Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette.
Both returned to action this weekend.
Thanks to solid bench play, though,
Michigan won both games.
"We are much stronger on the bench
than we thought we were," Roberts said.
Tiffany Willard, a 6-0 sophomore for-
ward, played well in place of Brzezinski,
amassing 26 points and 23 rebounds in the
two games.
Junior forward/guard Amy Johnson also
made an impact from the bench. She led
all scorers with 25 points against
Marquette.
Johnson ranks fifteenth among
Michigan's all-time scorers and needsjust
five more three-point field goals to be-
come the Wolverines' all-time leader in
that category.
Molly Murray will also help out at the
forward position. The 6-0 sophomore tied
a Michigan record for 3-pointers made in
a game when she drained five against
Nebraska last year.

While Roberts continues to try out dif-
ferent combinations ofplayers,junior for-
ward Silver Shellman, sophomore guard
Akisha Franklinand freshman guard Ann
Lemire should all see many minutes this
season.
Shellman, a member of the Big Ten
All-Star team that toured Japan over the
summer, is a consistent defensive player.
She finished eighth in the conference in
steals (2.07 per game) and has started in
all 54 games since coming to Michigan.
Franklin was named SportsChannel
Chicago Freshman of the Year after start-
ing every conference game at point guard
last season. She finished the season third
in the conference in steals (2.6 per game)
and ninth in assists (3.5 per game).
Already providing impact is Ann
Lemire, who came off the bench to slow
South Carolina's Naismith College Player
of the Year candidate Shannon Johnson
during the second half of Friday night's
contest.
The addition of freshman center Anne
Poglits adds more height to the team. At
6-5, she is the tallest Wolverine.
The weakest aspects of this year's
squad could be its inexperience and lack
of leadership. This weakness was evi-
dent Friday as South Carolina handed
the Wolverines their first defeat of the
season.
Although Michigan stayed close
throughout, it was Johnson and a nucleus
of seniors that pushed the Gamecocks
over a Wolverine team looking for some-
one to step up.
The Wolverines might eventually find
leadership in the bodies of captains
Brzezinski and Kiefer.
"I'd like to see them take more of a
leadership role on the court," Roberts
said. "We definitely need their vocal lead-
ership."
So far, Kiefer has been vocal and en-
couraging on the court.
"Most importantly, I want to keep ev-
eryone pepped up on the court and try to
pick up the intensity," Kiefer said.
So, while this year's Wolverine squad
might not be the UConn ofthe Midwest,
some could be underestimating Michi-
gan according to South Carolina head
coach Nancy Wilson, whose team faced
Northwestern and Minnesota earlier in
the week.
"There's no way that team (Michi-
gan) is going to finish last in the Big
Ten," said Wilson after the game. "I
think (Michigan) is a lot stronger than
Minnesota and very comparable to
Northwestern."

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10 Akisha Franklin
5-8, sophomore, guard

'A

s

41 Pollyanna Johns
6-3, sophomore, center

L

Freshman Ann Lemire pulls up for a jump shot in Michigan's 78-69 loss to South Ca

Women's basketballis
i the midst oafa

40 AmY Johnson
5-11, Junior, forward/guard

pqpularfy
By Andy Knudsen
Daily Sports Writer
People traditionally don't pay much
attention to women's basketball until
the season has been whittled down to
two teams playing for a national title.
But the popularity of the sport is
rapidly increasing and, naturally, tele-
vision wants a piece of the pie.
This year, tele-
vision cameras
will bring the
hardwood action
into homes
across the nation
throughout the
regular season, as
well as providing
expanded cover-
P1# A I age of the NCAA
tournament.
ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to
show 64 games in the 1995-96 season,
including 25 in the NCAA tourna-
ment.
SportsChannel Chicago will show
10 Big Ten Game of the Week con-
tests, including Michigan's home game
against Illinois Feb. 4.
"This is an exciting time for
women's basketball," Minnesota
coach Linda Hill-MacDonald said.
"The TV coverage is encouraging be-
cause little girls can see women role

bom
sioner Jim Delany said. "All five play-
ers can pass the ball."
And whoever coined the phrase
playing like a girl' hasn't seen
women's basketball. Watch out for
elbows if you're in the front row - it's
a physical contact sport.
Some Big Ten schools have sold a
couple thousand season tickets for their
women's home games.
"Around the country the numbers
have gone up," Michigan coach Trish
Roberts said. "The last three champi-
onships have been sold out."
Don't be surprised, though, if the
spreading popularity of women's bas-
ketball misses Ann Arbor.
Women's basketball usually only
draws a light scattering of fans to
Crisler Arena.
In fact, at Michigan's Nov. 16 exhi-
bition game against Waikato (New
Zealand), fans were told, "seating in
the yellow sections is prohibited."
And there were a lot more empty
blue seats thanthere were occupied.
(For any freshmen who haven't made
it to Crisler yet because it's too far to
walk from Markley, the yellow seats
are the upper section, blue seats the
lower section).
This is understandable considering
the history of women's basketball at
Michigan.

SPLIT
Continued from Page 113
the fact that the Gamecocks constantly
beat Michigan with dribble penetration
and gave them too many free throw
attempts.
35 attempts to be exact, and the Gamy-
cocks converted on 28 of them.
Highly-touted guard Shannon
Johnson was responsible for clutch free
throws to seal the game, connecting on
five out of six in the remaining 2:20 of
the contest.
Johnson led the Gamecocks with 26
points, getting 12 quick points in the
first eight minutes of the game.
But when it came down to crunch
time, Johnson showed her leadership by
example.
"I think Shannon was the difference
in the game," Gamecock coach Nancy
Wilson said. "To have her consistency
in scoring and quickness and her expe-
rience down the stretch in the last two
minutes was the difference in the game."
The Wolverines had a well-balanced
scoring attack with fivewomen indouble
figures.
Amy Johnson topped the Michigan
MICHIGAN (91) FT REB
MIN M-A M-A 0-T A F PTS
! ranklin 32 4.12 6-8 3-6. 3 4 15
Kiefer 39 4.8 4-4 0-0 2 1 14
Lemire 17 3-5 1-1 2.2 2 4 8
Johson 4 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 1 0I
Johns 30 7-15 0-0 47 1 3 20.
Brzezinski 12 4-6 0.0 0.2 1 3, 8
Shellman 40 2-7 2-3 1-5 3 4 6
Poglits 0 0-0 0-0 1-1 0 0 0
Willard 26 8-12 3-10 3-5 3 4 20
DiGiacinto 0 0-0 0-0 0.1 0 0 '0
Totals 200 326 22.38 14-29 1624 91
FG%: .485. FT%: .579. Three-point goals: 5-13,
.385 (Kiefer 2-4, Lemire 1-1, Willard 1.2,
Franklin 1-5, Shellman 0-1). Blocks: 1(Johns).
Turnovers: 13 (Lemire 4, Kiefer 3, Johns 2,
Brzezinski, Shellman. Willard). Steals: 13
(Franklin 4. Shellman 3, Willard 3, Johns 2. .
Lemire). Technical Fouls: none.
OHIO (79)
_ FG FT REB

MARK FRIEDMAN/Daily

13 Jennifer Kiefer
5-7, sophomore, guard

Sophomore guard Akisha Franklin contributes to a solid backcourt.

Big Ten two years ago in three-point
shooting as a freshman, hitting 48.5
percent of her shots from behind the
are.
The return of sophomore Pollyanna
Johns will help balance the Wolverine
attack by giving them another player

'This is an
exciting time for
women 's

lM _

L~E,.L.INTU.VT/

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