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Quote of the break
"To me this is an NCAA Tournament team. I see
them to be in the top four of the Big Ten."
- Colorado State coach Ritchie McKay, on the
vastly improved Michigan squad after the
Wolverines beat his team, 87-80, on Sunday.
Player of the break
Michigan guard Leon Jones
The sophomore was named co-Big Ten Player
of the Week after shooting 76.4 percent and
averaging 19 points a game in wins against
Towson and Colorado State. Jones was perfect
against Towson, shooting 8-for-8 from the field.
Michigan begins Big Ten war tonight at Minnesota
By Chris Duprey factly, without whining. games are broadcast in Seattle, one would
Daly Sports Editor And no team is - with the exception of imagine. But that doesn't mean Michigan'ss
MINNEAPOLIS - Quick quiz: How the Wolverines. youth will be overwhelmed when they take 4
would Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight Chapter One begins tonight at "The the court at 9 p.m.
react if you were to tell him that his team Barn," Williams Arena, a throwback to old These are the same guys who were cau-<
would be opening up Big Ten play with two times, where Big Ten basketball was played tioned about going on the road to face
consecutive road games in four days? He in tiny fieldhouses across the Midwest, not Georgia Tech - before coming home withR
A As -- a I A *,0- A lk A 1 9- A
VS. COL ST,
A) Use some rather foul language and
then. shake like a baby's rattle whomever
nmade the decision; B) Take out his anger by
g on an extended hunting trip; or C)
Neither of the above?
The answer's C). Surprised? Because it's
a trick question. No one from the confer-
ence home office would even dare try to
schedule Knight that way.
Michigan's Brian Ellerbe, in just his third
season, doesn't yet have the power to dic-
tate demands to Big Ten brass. So here's
how Ellerbe is handling this unusual two-
e road trip, starting tonight at
nesota (8-2) and ending Saturday after-
noon at Purdue: taking a few deep breaths,
playing "the hand we've been dealt," and
packing an extra pair of suspenders.
"No one should start two games on the
road in this league," said Ellerbe matter-of-
large multipurpose superarenas packed
with luxury suites.
Williams is the classic road venue. The
band is just a little louder than others from
around the conference, the fans are just a
little more in-your-face and the rims seem
just a bit tighter.
Small differences, yes, but they snowball
in the irritation of visitors. The atmosphere
is the reason why Michigan (9-2) has won
just three games at Williams in the 1990s,
despite finishing ahead of Minnesota in the
Big Ten seven times during that span. Even
worse, the Wolverines haven't won at
Williams since '93 - their longest losing
streak at any Big Ten arena.
Michigan's freshmen haven't yet experi-
enced such a hostile environment. Jamal
Crawford put it best when he said that he
had "heard" about the well-renowned raised
floor of Williams - relatively few Gophers
a win. These is the same bunch who heard
everyone coo over the skill level and funda-
mental soundness of Duke, before taking
the Blue Devils to the wire in a measuring-
stick game last month. So far, they have
risen to all of their high-profile challenges.
"That's motivation," Crawford said of the
adversity Michigan has faced. "It's going to
bring out the best in us."
Emotion will be an asset of Michigan's.
Ellerbe will try to ensure that smart deci-
sions and game management are part of the
Wolverines' arsenal, as Michigan tries to
win in Minneapolis for the first time since
1993 - the Fab Five's sophomore year.-
"You're going to have runs that you've
got to face on the road, and you've got to
create some on your own," said Ellerbe
"You can't make a lot of mistakes on the
road - you can't waste possessions."
Spoken like a true road veteran.
Blanchard 8.9 11
Vignier 5.2 0
Asselin - 4.9 3
Crawford 5.2 10
Gaines 4.9 4
Jones ' 2.2 3
Gaines 1.6 0
Jones 1.1 0
Crawford ;' 0.9 . 0
Gaines 3 2 '
Crawford ,j 3.0'
FIELD GOAL PERCE
Anderson ' 10-1
ichigan at Minnesota
Tonight, 9 p.m. EST.
Minnesota lost at Nebraska, 90-78.
A doser look at the last three Michigan-
Jan. 20, 1999, in Minnesota:
Minnesota 76, Michigan 70. Brian Ellerbe
left Williams Arena asking for respect after
the referees gave the Gophers 39 free-
throw opportunities. Minnesota took advan-
tage by making 34 of the 39, silencing the
Wolverines and starting what would .
become a five-game losing streak.
Feb. 7, 1998, in Minnesota:
Minnesota 87, Michigan 77. The Wolverines
fell down by 16 on the road and couldn't
come back, as Minnesota put on a long-
range show. It was obvious that it wasn't
going to be Michigan's day when 6-foot-11
Minnesota center Kyle Sanden drained a 3-
pointer from the top of the key, killing
Michigan's comeback effort.
Jan. 11, 1997, in Ann Arbor
Minnesota 70, Michigan 64. Michigan
seemed to be down and out, trailing the
Gophers by 11 with just over 10 minutes to
play until the Wolverines went on a electric
run, scoring nine straight.
Jones - 14-26 .538
Gaines 10-22 .455
Groninger - 21-48 .438
FREE THROW PERCENTAGE
Crawford 17-19 .895
Blanchard 23-31 .742
Gaines 35-48 .729
Does the soft-tongued LaVell Blanchard refer to his oppo-
nents as 'sir' when he dunks over them?
Veteran Smith returns to hoops lineup
Two Michigan State players, Mateen Cleaves (above) and
Mq is Peterson, are in the running for college basketball's
prglous Wooden Award.
Cleaves to grace
From Staff and Wire Reports
According to ESPN, Michigan State officials have con-
fir d that the school's basketball phenom, Mateen Cleaves,
witrreturn to the hardcourt on Wednesday.
Despite retaining a national ranking in the top ten all sea-
son., the Spartans (9-4) have not performed up to last year's
standards, having most.recently fallen to no-name opponent
Cleaves will return just in time, as Michigan State begins
its Big Ten season on Wednesday against Penn State. But he
won't lift the team onto his shoulders immediately. Officials
say he'll play only a controlled 15-20 minutes, and he won't
sta the game.
*aves has missed all 13 of the Spartans' games this sea-
s"n after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot only
weeks before the campaign began.
Tom Izzo's squad hasn't been the same at the point guard
spot in Cleaves' absence. David Thomas initially took over
for East Lansing's fallen hero, but the shooting spot is a more
natural position for him.
Veteran Charlie Bell has taken over the point guard duties
as-of -late, and Cleaves will replace him off the bench on
Thomas, who has been ill, will be spelled by freshman,
anaginaw native, Jason Richardson at the shooting guard
By Mark Francescutti
Daily Sports Writer
Sparked by the return of junior forward
Brandon Smith, the Michigan basketball team
made perfect on a three-game winter break
homestand with an 87-80 victory over Colorado
State this past Saturday.
Thanks to wins over Duquense, Towson and
the Rams, the Wolverines padded their final
nonconference record to 9-2, entering Big Ten
play at Minnesota tonight.
Saturday's victory marked the first appear-
ance by Smith this season, who had surgery on
his knee this past June.
"He adds leadership," freshman Jamal
Crawford said. "He's a utility player. He can do
it all. It's just great being out there with him. He
was one of the main reasons, as far as players
go, for me coming here. It's like a dream being
out there on the same team with him."
Smith scored six points and looked healthy in
his debut. The junior also fought off an early
scare when he had to leave the game halfway
through the first half..
In a scuffle for a loose ball, Smith fell hard to
the floor and was down for a few minutes
wrenching in pain. He returned a minute later to
the bench and came back to the game soon after.
"The best thing that happened today was that
Brandon fell down and he didn't fall to pieces;"
Ellerbe said. "He needed that because right now
it's all psychological."
Smith's return helped piece together one of
Michigan's best all-around performances of the
season, especially due a a proper balance with
the Wolverines' inside-outside game.
Center Josh Asselin had his best game of the
season, leading Michigan with 19 points on 8-
of-9 shooting. The senior finally started to find
his rhythm inside and made good on the post
"We know what we want a little more offen-
sively," Michigan coach Brian Ellerbe said. "I
made a deal with the guys. - 'if we're in tran-
sition, and you have opportunities, you go
ahead, use your abilities and attack the rim. But
if we don't have it, we need a post touch and a
ball reversal. I give you a piece, you give me a
The Wolverines built several runs throughout
the game and could have put the Rams away
countless times, but Colorado State kept around
like an annoying little cousin, constantly
responding with threes.
The Rams' John Sivesind and Aki Palmer
shot a combined 16-21 for the game, leaving the
Crisler Arena crowd baffled as to whether any-
thing could buckle the Rams.
"It's unbelievable" Crawford said. "They
were getting ball screens, and we were trying to
get out there to them, but they were just knock-
ing them down. If someone told me they were
going to make that many threes before the
game, I wouldn't have believed them. I'm just
glad we were able to hold on."
But even a Crisler Arena-record 17 3-pointers
by the Rams wasn't enough to stifle the
Wolverines' strive for a finishing win to their
nonconference slate, as all the Michigan starters
scored in double figures, and two posted dou-
Freshman LaVell Blanchard scored 15 points
while grabbing I I rebounds for his fourth dou-
ble-double of the season. Jamal Crawford
added 14 points and 10 assists.
Michigan's freshmen backcourt of Crawford
and Kevin Gaines also took care of the ball,
handing out a combined 15 assists while only
committing three turnovers.
Michigan now enters Big Ten play at
Minnesota tomorrow folloved by a trip to
Purdue on Saturday.
The Wolverines return home to face Illinois
the following weekend, giving Michigan three
tough contests to find their true faces in confer-
"I am really excited, because everybody said
that we were doing well because we weren't in
the Big Ten (season) yet," Crawford said. "Now
we're here. Bring it on."
ANDERSON STILL OUT: Freshman forward
Leland Anderson will remain out of the lineup
for the Minnesota game. Anderson, who has
missed the past four games due to a leg injury,
might not be back for awhile according to
"Leland is a very difficult situation," Ellerbe
said. "Medically it's a dilemma and it's going to
be awhile until we can come to a conclusion
.. .FG FT' REB
MN M-A M-A' 0-T A' F PTS'
Jonchard 27 5-9 2-2' 1-4 °3 2' 5
Blanhard 28 5S-11 0.0 4-11 '1 3 1t
Asselin ' 30 :8-9 .33 1-3 0 1 19
Crawford 35 6-12 0-0 1-510 0 .14
Gaines 33 7-10' 1-2 0-2' 5 2 17
Groninger .11 1-2 ,0-0 0-0 02 3
Smith 19 3-7 .0 1-2 2. 1 6
Young 10 11 0-00 002
Vignier 7' 0-0. 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Totals 200 36-61 6-7 8-29 21 11 87
FG% s.590 FT%.857 3-point FG.9-19 .474 (Jones 3-4
Gaines 2-3, Crawford 2-4, Groninger 1-2, Blanchard I-
4, Smith 0-2). Blocks: 1 (Asselin) Steals: I (Smith).
Turnovers 8 (Blanchard 3, Gaines 2, Smith 2, Crawford
19D Technical Fouls: none.
Colorado State (80)
FG FT REB
MIN MM-A N-A O-T A. F PTS3
Sivesind 35- 8-12 0-0 1-3 0 4 23
Patk 10' 0-0 0-0 3-4 0 0 0
Goodwyn 33 8-19 0-1 2-6 33 17
Grady' 28 1-87 2-2 0-3 2- 1 4
Palmer 35 9-10 2-2 1-3 3 3 29
Birley 17 0-2 0-0 0-1 2 0 0
Greene 5 0-i 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Fisher. 11 0-1 o-0 1-1 00 0
Ford 26 3-6 1.2 2-3 3 0 7
'totals 200 29-59 5-7 11-28 13 11 80
FG4 A92 FT% 714 3-point FG 17-27 .630 (Palmer 9-
10, Sivesind 7-11, G oodwyn1-3, Grady0-1). Blocks: 1
(Goodwyn). Steals: 3 (Goodwyn 2, Grady). Turnovers:
12 (Goodwyn 6, Sivesind 2, Grady 2, Pack. Ford).
Technical Fouls. none.
Colorado State......... 41 39 --80
Michigan....... 46 41-87
At: Cnsler Arena
Minnesota Twin Cities
The real season begins against the
Gophers. A 9-2 record has people excit-
ed about Michigan basketball again, but
this is the freshmen's first Big Ten test
Fortunately, Minnesota is not the team
that has beaten Michigan three times in -
Michigan at Purdue, West Lafayette, 2:31
Brian Cardinal and the Boilermakers
should be a force in the Big Ten this year.
They will be Michigan's toughest test
since Duke, on Dec. 11
Sunday, Jan. 16th
Illinois at Michigan, Cnsler Arena, 1 p.m.
Michigan has missed junior Brandon Smith's intensity this season. He returned to the hardcourt
and provided quality minutes in the win against Colorado State.
Wooden race narrows
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Mateen
Cleaves and Morris Peterson of
Michigan State, Khalid El-Amin of
°iecticut, and Kenyon Martin of
Cincinnati are among 30 candidates
for the John R. Wooden Award as
the nation's top college basketball
Cleaves, Mark Madsen of
Standford and Hanno Mottola of
Utah didn't nlav the minimum num-
Arceneaux of Weber State, Cory
Bradford of Illinois, Chris
Carrawell of Duke. Jason Collier of
Georgia Tech, Ed Cota of North
Carolina, Marcus Fizer of Iowa
State, Kevin Freeman of
Connecticut, Kenny Gregory of
Kansas, A.J. Guyton of Indiana,
Tony Harris of Tennessee, Mark
Karcher of Temple, Lamont Long of
New Mexico. Desmond Mason of
Cardinal makes it three in a row
Stanford, one of three unbeaten teams remaining in
Division I, was No. I in the AP college basketball poll
for the third straight week Monday.
LSU and Kentucky movedinto the Top 25, giving
the Southeastern Conference five ranked teams.
The Cardinal (11-0), which won the Stanford
Invitational last week, received 62 first-place votes
and 1,738 points from the national media panel as the
top seven teams remained unchanged.
MQSt rehl tresulIts
Beat Davidson, 87-61
Beat Sacred Heart, 83-56
Beat UNLV, 106-66
Beat Stony Brook, 100-45
Beat Delaware, 89-77
Beat South Alabama, 82-61,
Beat Hartford, 90-69
BeatWilliam & Mary,96-55
Beat St. Louis, 71-60
I os to Wright SL,t49