Whatever you do, don’t call the Michigan water polo team
cocky.

After winning their fourth straight Central Water Polo
Association championship this season and running off a 12-game
winning streak earlier in the year, the No. 8 Wolverines have
nothing but confidence heading into this weekend’s league
tournament at Canham Natatorium.

“I do know that we will be in the championship game versus
Indiana on Sunday,” Michigan coach Matt Anderson said.
“Hopefully things hold true to form. They’ve never
defeated us (since we’ve been a varsity program).”

But before they get to No. 10 Indiana, the Wolverines will have
to take care of their opponents in the first two rounds of the
tournament. Since it won the league championship, Michigan received
a first-round bye. As a result, the Wolverines will face either
Penn State-Behrend or Salem International in the second round on
Saturday.

During the regular-season meetings, Michigan dominated both
squads, taking care of its potential second-round opponents by a
combined score of 34-8.

“On our side of the bracket, the teams are competitive
with each other, but they’re not at the level to be
competitive with us,” Anderson said. “Today we
game-planned for our first two opponents, and even though we beat
them (easily) the first time we played them, the girls still have
to realize that they have to beat them to (get to the
championship). We have to make sure that we don’t get hit by
the sucker punch.”

With a win in its second-round game, Michigan will go on to play
either Slippery Rock or Washington and Jefferson for a ticket to
the tournament championship.

Although the Wolverines dominated these teams in the regular
season, Anderson is not worried about a potential letdown.
“This team does a good job of not overlooking people,”
Anderson said. “I generally go one game at a time. This
weekend we have to prepare for three different opponents because we
already know what our path is.”

Michigan’s head man is worried about the possible
distractions that can come from playing at home, however.

This weekend’s tournament will mark the first time the
Wolverines have played a non exhibition game since Jan. 25.

Between then and now, the team has been criss-crossing the
country from the West Coast to the East Coast seemingly every
week.

“Being at home for a regular game is always nice,”
Anderson said. “When it’s something like a conference
championship, where there’s stuff at stake, being at home can
actually cause distractions. Yes, I’m glad we’re home
because we don’t have to travel. I’m also hesitant
because there are a lot of distractions that can make us forget why
we are playing.”

Anderson remarked that he had two main concerns about
distractions: The presence of family and friends and the
possibility of his players getting out of their game-day routine,
which includes following a proper diet and staying focused.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, I’ll get on the
Internet or talk to my roommates (instead of getting
focused),” Anderson said.

Distractions aside, the coach is still confident that his team
will take care of business this weekend.

Regardless of what happens in the CWPA championship, Michigan
will travel to Lewisburg, Pa., to compete in the Eastern
Championship on April 23, with a trip to the Final Four on the
line.

“Our game Sunday could very well be a preview of next
Sunday’s championship game for a bid to the Final
Four,” Anderson said. “(Michigan or Indiana) will be
the top seed, and both of us will be in the top three seeds for the
NCAA Regional.

“I do like the fact that we will play a team that will get
us ready for the exact same team that we will have to play a week
later.”

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