The Wolverine

February 2019

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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16 THE WOLVERINE FEBRUARY 2019   INSIDE MICHIGAN ATHLETICS Ice hockey senior defenseman Joseph Cecconi played a huge role in Michigan's run to the 2018 Frozen Four, appearing in all 40 games and finishing third on the team with 22 assists. His role increased immensely prior to the 2018-19 campaign, however, when head coach Mel Pearson tabbed him a team captain. "It has been a huge honor," Cecconi said. "Every player who gets to wear a letter here should be grateful. It was one of my goals when I decided to come back for my senior year, especially after I was par t of the leadership group last season as an assistant captain. "I'm still learning a lot about the role, but my leadership qualities have gotten a lot better — it's just an honor to be mentioned with all the previous captains this school has had." Michigan's regular season will come to an end March 2 at Wisconsin, and Cecconi's collegiate playing days could as well if the Wolverines don't make the postseason. At 8-9-6 (as of Jan. 23), a postseason bid seems unlikely, but the senior isn't ready to give up hope yet. "We've had our ups and downs this year, but we have a team who can compete and make it back to the Frozen Four," he insisted. "We proved last year we just need to keep fighting and get things rolling, because that will allow us to build more confidence. "We were below .500 the first half of last season, but wound up winning 14 of our last 20 games." Cecconi actually had an impressive personal highlight in the outdoor victory at Notre Dame Jan. 5, when one of his goals wound up making SportsCenter's Top 10 highlight reel that evening. "I shot it from the top of our circle, and the goalie didn't see it," he said with a laugh. "It just kind of bounced and beat him — it was pretty funny." The senior defenseman confirmed he'd like to continue playing hockey professionally after graduating from U-M, though he doesn't know quite where yet. However, he also touched on what life will be like once his athletic days do come to an end, and how valuable his Michigan degree will be while seeking an occupation. "I'm waiting on just seven more credits and will then be able to say my biggest accomplishment has been graduating from the University of Michigan," Cecconi explained. "My parents, grandparents and relatives will be so happy, and it'll be a huge honor to graduate from a school like this. Once my hockey days are over, I hope I'll be able to walk around with that Michigan degree and have the ability to get any job I want. "I've talked to alumni who prefer to hire former Wolverine student- athletes, so I understand the weight a U-M degree carries. This university is one of the best schools around, so it's assured that people who attend it will be smart and hard-working. " The student-athlete aspect just exemplifies how well you can work as a team and with groups of people, and shows an ability to persevere and get through anything." — Austin Fox Cecconi was tabbed as a team captain prior to the 2018-19 season. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHY Through Jan. 21, the Michigan men's basketball team (17-1 overall, 6-1 Big Ten) featured one of the best defenses in the country. Head coach John Beilein's squad ranked third nationally with an average of just 57.1 points allowed per game, behind only Virginia (52.9) and Texas Tech (55.8). In all but four games this season, the Wolverines held their opponent to at least 10 points below its season scoring average. Only South Carolina managed to eclipse its season average, tallying 78 points — 3.1 points above its year-long clip — in an 11-point loss to U-M Dec. 8. Here's a look at how each team fared against Michigan, its scoring average on the season and the difference between the two. — Andrew Hussey Student-Athlete Of The Month Ice Hockey Senior Defenseman Joseph Cecconi Opponent Points Against U-M Avg. Pts. Per Game Difference Norfolk State 44 73.1 -29.1 Holy Cross 37 69.5 -32.5 Villanova 46 75.9 -29.9 George Washington 61 64.9 -3.9 Providence 47 74.2 -27.2 Chattanooga 55 73.3 -18.3 North Carolina 67 86.1 -19.1 Purdue 57 78.2 -21.2 Northwestern 60 70.4 -10.4 South Carolina 78 74.9 +3.1 Western Michigan 62 71.5 -9.5 Air Force 50 67.7 -17.7 Binghamton 52 64.1 -12.1 Penn State 55 67.8 -12.8 Indiana 63 74.6 -11.6 Illinois 69 74.2 -5.2 Northwestern 60 70.4 -10.4 Wisconsin 64 73.4 -9.4 Michigan Holding Opponents To 15.4 Points Below Season Average In 17-1 Start

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