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January 30, 2001 - Image 11

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-01-30

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Daily trivia
, hy, a new question will appear in this space. Two tickets
to the ,Ithigan-Michigan State hockey game on Feb. 17 will
go to the two respondents that answer the most questions cor-
tectd. Send answers to sports.contest@umich.edu
Today's question:
Wha school has the Michigan hockey team played the most
totalgames against?
michigandaily.com /sports

wwkjz~ t~

TUESDAY
JANUARY 30, 2001

11

Champs and ch
Retooled 'M' seeks huge upset

ers

DAN
WILLIAMS

By Michael Kern
y Sports Editor
Over the last week, the Michigan men s
basketball team has turned some heads
around the Big Ten with road wins against
then-No. 14 Iowa and Northwestern and a
four-point home loss to No. 6 Illinois, a
team that beat the Wolverines by 29 in
Champaign.
"They're playing some of their best ball
at they've played in two or three years,"
. chigan State coach Torn Izzo said.
The biggest key to the turn-around for
the Wolverines has been handling the ball
better on offense. Michigan (3-4 Big Ten,
9-9 overall) has cut down on turnovers,
averaging just over 13 a game over the last
three games, as opposed to the almost 20a
game they were averaging before that.
"We are playing smarter," Big Ten co-
player of the week LaVell Blanchard said.
"We've cut back on a lot of little things
like turnovers, and we've won. And that's
*at we need to do to keep winning."
The Wolverines' recent success has the
Michigan players believing that they can
beat No. 5 Michigan State (5-2, 16-2)
tonight.
"Earlier on in the season, I don't know if
we believed we could play with the ranked
teams, but then we came out and beat
Iowa. So now, we know we can," sopho-
more Gavin Groninger said. "We know
*t every game we have an opportunity to
win, and that's going to be good for our
confidence."
But if there is any question whether or
not the Wolverines' 51-point loss to the
Spartans last season is still burning in its
collective brain, one only needs to check
the Michigan lockerroom, where an assis-
tant coach tacked the number on the bul-
letin board.
"It's time to get some payback," fresh-
man Avery Queen said. "51 is no joke."
Wut Michigan coach Brian Ellerbe
would rather focus on this season and
tonight's game between the two in-state

rivals.
"I try to forget last year," Ellerbe said.
"We've got a totally different team. We are
younger than we were, and I think they are
deeper than they were... But there is noth-
ing we can discuss about last year that can
help us right now."
To beat the Spartans this time around,
the Wolverines will have to continue to cut
down on turnovers, get back on defense to
guard against Michigan State's transition
game and stop the Spartans on the glass.
For the third-straight year, Michigan State
leads the nation in rebounding margin. The
Spartans dominate their opponents on the
boards, outrebounding them by an average
of 16.5 rebounds per game, and they do it
at both ends.
Michigan State has grabbed 290 offen-
sive rebounds to its opponents' 31 1 defen-
sive ones. That means that the Spartans
rebound 48.5 percent of their own missed
shots.
"We can't let them get inside position;"
Young said. "Every time a shot goes up we
have to find our man and put a body on
him."
Another key for Michigan will be stop-
ping sophomore Jason Richardson, who
leads the Spartans with 16 points per game
in Big Ten play while shooting 59 percent
from the field.
The Wolverines will have to stop the
swingman from getting to the basket while
still respecting an outside shot that has
allowed him to sink half (15-of-30) of his
3-point attempts over the last seven
games.
"He is big-time player," Ellerbe said.
"With big-time players, you try to limit
their opportunities. I don't think you ever
stop them."
For Michigan to win, it will take a mon-
umental effort. Every single player will
have to be firing on all cylinders and com-
pletely focused on the task of beating the
heavily favored Spartans.
"We have to play our best basketball of
the year to win," Ellerbe said.

A4 c/lance for closure'
and a new begining

PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHIGAN STATE SPORTS INFORMATION
Tom Izzo and Michigan State have reached the top of the college basket-
ball world in the last year. Today, Michigan looks to climb a few notches.
Probable starting lineups

Michigan State
G Charlie Bell
G Marcus Taylor
F Jason Richardson
F Andre Hutson
C Zach Randolph

've had a lot of cinematic fan-
tasies about what could happen
tonight and beyond.
For instance - after a recent stint
of improved play, Michigan finally
arrives, bests the defending National
Champions and rides its new found
faculties to the NCAA tournament
and beyond.
Unfortunately, I can't think of any
reality-based precedence for such an
event. Zeroes-to-heroes stories don't
occur within a'sports season unless
you're renting "Major League."
Even if the Wolverines play the
game of a lifetime and succeed,
they're just 4-4 in the Big Ten -- a
long way from the promised land,
March Madness.
But if Michigan can upset the
Spartans tomorrow, it could at least
go a long way towards reinvigorating
the program.
A canyon has somehow developed
between these neighboring rivals in a
very short amount of time. Of course
I recall tales of early departees for the
NBA, Ford Explorer accidents and
some prospects from Flint that
panned into national champions. But
it just seems amazing that Michigan
State has reached the pinnacle so
quickly while Michigan keeps bot-
toming out.
These programs have been polar
opposites since they met in Ann
Arbor a year ago - winners and
losers.
An analysis of the gap:
Michigan State is fighting for a
No. I seed in the Tournament while
Michigan is fighting for any postsea-
son play.
Tom Izzo has become the nation's
coaching poster-boy, while Brian
Ellerbe's position is insecure and his
relation with the media is lukewarm.
The Spartans have a more talent-
laden squad.
Michigan State is out-recruiting
Michigan and the Spartans are
viewed nationally as the superior pro-
gram.
The Wolverines now suffer from
the same syndrome as Michigan State

football. As Michigan attempts to
make basketball progress, everything
will be measured against the
Spartans.
The harsh reality has finally sunk
in around town, and Michigan people
no longer retort when confronted with
their basketball instate inferiority.
But the bright side is that tables
can turn quickly - they could turn
with just one win for Michigan.
With a victory tonight, the
Wolverines are on a roll and back in
the NCAA tournament stratosphere.
It's a national statement to recruits.
media and competitors - reports of
Michigan's demise have been exag-
gerated. And this one victory could
close the book on Michigan's year-
long tale of suffering.
The flip side of the coin is that a
loss buries the Wolverines further into
their subordinate role. Of Michigan's
current players, only Josh Asselin has
ever beaten the Spartans. Another
loss means that Michigan's image as
the state's second-best basketball
team is further implanted in the
minds of the nation.
All this adds up to a make-or-break",
game for the Wolverines - in terms
of the season and in terms of rehabili
tation.
One of Ellerbe's favorite things to
preach is that one game is just that -
the meaning of a single contest
shouldn't be overemphasized.
It doesn't do much good for his
team to get caught up in hype or fore-
casting.
I can empathize with this line of
thinking.
Still, I believe the Michigan players
realize the magnitude of the
approaching contest, even compared
to other rivalry games.
I think they are quite aware that the
Wolverines need a bridge between the
unsatisfactory present and a potential-
ly bright future, and that this game
could have immeasurable repercus-
sions.
Dan Williams can be reached-

Hgt. Year

PPG

6-3
6-3
6-6
6-8
6-9

senior 15.3
freshman 8.2
sophomore 15.7
senior 13.0
freshman 11.1

Off the bench: Mike Chappell. David Thomas, Adam Ballinger,
Aloysius Anagonye, Adam Wolfe and Jason Andreas.
- Michigan State usually runs 11 players deep.

Michigan
G Avery Queen
G Bernard Robinson
F LaVell Blanchard
F Chris Young
C Josh Asselin

Hgt. Year

5-7
6-6
6-7
6-9
6-11

freshman
freshman
sophomore
junior
senior

PPG
5.2
14.4
18.4
8.1
10.8

Off the bench: Maurice Searight, Gavin Groninger, Leon Jones and
Josh Moore.
- Michigan usually runs 9 players deep.

-it dbhi

TRACKING MICHIGAN STATE'S BEST
HH~L~W: AND MICHIGAN'S WORST IN A YEAR.

February 2,
2000
Michigan
State beats
Michigan in
Ann Arbor,
82-63.

President
Michigan State Clinton visits
wins the Big Ten the Michigan
Tournament and State campus
then the 2000 and celebrates
National the title with
championship. . 9, 2000 the team.
March 4,2000C p p May 9, 2000 Sept. 4, 2000 Dec,
exits Jan. 9, 2000
In the rematch in the after a suspension- Starting point guard Michigan falls
Breslin Center, Mic.g,. <led season, Jamal Kevin Gaines is behind 34-2 to
State crushes the Crawford elects to kicked off the No. 1 Duke and
Wolverines, 114-63, the go to the NBA draft Michigan team for a eventually loses by
worst defeat in Michigan rather than return to DUI arrest outside 43, 104-61.
history. Michigan. Detroit.

@'iQ4umn ic/h. LdU
Nearly a
year later, "
Michigan
gets its
chance for
redemption
and rebirth
hosting the.
Spartans.
Today
January
30, 2001

LOUIS HOWN/Uady
Michigan State senior Charlie Bell and Michigan senior Josh Asselin have met a few times over their
careers. Bell has gotten all the spoils lately; Michigan State has won five straight in the series.

'51' on Blue's bulletin board

By Raphael Goodstein
Daily Sports Editor
Fifty-one point losses don't come
very often, especially in rivalries. So
while Michigan head coach Brian
Ellerbe reminded his team of last
year's 114-63 debacle at Michigan
State after Saturday's 72-65 win over
Northwestern, he didn't need to.
"It's up on the board and we do
think about it," sophomore shooting
rd Gavin Groninger said. "It's not
a good memory for us."
"I can remember 51," freshman
Bernard Robinson said. "I can guar-
antee you that won't happen again.
We want to be in it at the end."
If they are, the Wolverines will
have imoressed quite a few onlookers.

only to be disappointed seeing him in
street clothes. Crawford had broken
an NCAA amateurism rule while he
was in high school. The Wolverines
fought valiantly that night but were
outmatched, and lost by (only) 20.
Crawford never played in a Michigan
uniform again.
"It was tough for us to deal with
that game:" Groninger said. "The two
times we played them last year left a
sour taste in my mouth."
While Groninger had a sour taste in
his mouth, things couldn't get much
sweeter for Michigan State coach
Tom Izzo. But it wasn't always this
way. Michigan leads the series, 88-61,
and until the last three years, has had
the upper-hand in recent history.
Most of Michigan's first memories

Keys to an upset
If Michigan is going to shock the world of college basketball and overcome
its rivals from East Lansing, the defending national champion Spartans, each
of these five storylines must come to fruition:
1. Michigan State's rebounders kept in check:
Michigan State has outrebounded its Big Ten
opponents 268 to 168 this season, and.BRANONSEDLOFF/Day
the Spartans average 14 more rebounds
per game than their conference foes. if
Michigan can slow them down on
the glass - like they did against
two other rebounding teams in
Iowa and Wake Forest - the
Wolverines can stay in the
game.
2. The Spartans' transition game neu-
tralized:
Michigan has had trouble all season with}
missed shots turning into fastbreaks the>
other way. Michigan State is one of the best :
cnunternttack teams in the country. If the'

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