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January 21, 2003 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-01-21

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4B - The Michigan Daily - SportsTuesday - January 21, 2003
Check it out
The Wolverines have gone from rock bottom to tops in the Big Ten. How has it happened?

Michigan begins the season 0-6 - its
worst start in the history of the program.
Michigan is now 11-6. Following their
loss to Duke, the Wolverines have rattled
off 11 straight victories, and are first
place in the conference heading into their
game against Minnesota tomorrow. How,
you ask, has this happened? How can a
team go from doing nothing right to look-
ing like one of the better teams in the
nation? Who is responsible for all of this
madness? Can they keep it up? Can they
get back into the top 25? Check it out.
No fun in the suY
Nov. 25, 2002
St. Bonaventure 89, Michigan 68
Virginia Tech 65, Michigan 53
Kansas State 82, Michigan 71
The Paradise Jam Tournament was unkind
to the Wolverines, as they begin their sea-
son by digging a hole. The games were
characterized by poor shooting,
turnovers and mental mistakes.
Michigan is hoping a return to
Crisler will turn things around.
See ya!
Nov. 27, 2002
Michigan junior Avery
Queen is dismissed
from the team for vio-
lating team rules. His
departure would open
the door for Daniel
Horton, wh begins Queen
playing almost 40
minutes per game.
Spanked by two directional schools
Dec. 3, 2002-
Western Michigan 56, Michigan 52
Central Michigan 85, Michigan 78
The Wolverines have now officially got-
ten off to the worst start in the history
of the program-and they can't pin-
point the problem. The offense sputters
against Western, while the defense is
hurting against Central. Heading into
Duke, the Wolverines have nothing to
build on.
Westward bund
0 uhore
P~rmanc Igerson
IIPPR I4'ewants
houids ta l es that
hei rfrat the
en O te fal snster
He 'rWta#fy ad&s Ingerson
Sarl 3ran so. /
nSen
'to Duk
/ ,/',Devi
behind.
/ / Wolveri
r/ /7/or
/ 1

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Road to respect U
Jan. 18, 2003
Michigan 61, Ohio State 50
Michigan 77, Northwestern 70
Michigan make it 11 with two
monumental road wins. The first
is in Columbus, where the
Wolverines shoot well at the
free throw line and play
tenacious defense to
lock up the victory.
Against the Wild-
cats they come
from behind.

1 2"t?

01

Freshman
torche the Bru ins
for seven 3-pointers
and 24 points as he
led the Wolverines
over UCLA 81-76. It
was Horton's third
20-plus point
performance of the
season.
DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily

ppy Blue Year
Jan '4, 2003
Mic *gan 85, E tern MichigAi 57
Michigan $1, LA 76
Michigan 74, n Francisco 64
Michigan 84, PUI 79
While most students are at
home opening presents, the
Wolverines are on the war
path. The break is high-
lighted by their win
over UCLA at Pauley
Pavilion, one of
their best noncon-
ference wins in
several years.

The scene
below took place
on the floor at
Crisler Arena after
the Wisconsin vic-
tory. Wolverine
fans rushed the
court and mobbed
the players imme-
diately after the
final buzzer
sounded.
BRENDAN O'DONNELL/Daily

, a

0

eyvrole

Signs of life ; l'i'
December 21, 2002
Michigan 83, Bowling Green 57
Michigan 84, Charleston Southern 53
Michigan 70, Vanderbilt 66
Things finally begin coming together for
the Wolverines, as LaVell Blanchard and
Horton begin to find the stroke. Michi-
gan's gritty, hard-fought win over Van-
derbilt is the highlight of this stretch.
The Wolverines struggle, but do all the
little things right to win.

LaVeli BI " - 6 i 7,5
sIJgnited ck againinin
straight 3-pointers with less than five minutes remaining.
a Scored 23 points and nabbed 10 rebounds in Michigan's first
win of the season over Bowling Green.
. was a perfect 10-of-10 from the line in Michigan's win over
vanderbilt
Daniel Horton 17.4 2.3 36.7
a Drained a season-high seven 3-pointers in Michigan's road win
over UCLA.
. With under 20 seconds to play against Wisconsin, Horton
nailed a short jumper and blocked a shot on the other end to lock
up the win.
Scored a season-high 26 points, including 24 in the first half, in
Michigan's win over Bowling Green.
Bernard Robinson 13.5 6.1 31.0
Held Ohio State guard Brent Darby to 2-of-12 shooting in
Michigan's win over Ohio State.
Scored a season-high 18 points against the Bruins and kept the
Wolverines in the game early on with defense.
Lester Abram 9.2 4.6 32.1.
Hit two crucial second-half 3-pointers against Northwestern to
tie the game at 45."
Held UCLA star Jason Kapono to just five points in Michigan's
win over the Bruins.
Scored a season-high 20 points against IUPUI, going 7-of-8 from
the field and 6-of-6 from the foul line.
Chris Hunter 5.9 4.0 19.2
Blocked a 3-point attempt late in the second half against Ohio
State to spark a fast break opportunity.
Scored 12 points and pulled down five rebounds vs. San Fran-
cisco.

Checkpoint
Dec. 7, 2002
Duke 81, Michigan 59
The Wolverines fall to Duke, as
expected, but it is an encourag-
ing loss. For the first time in
three years, they hold Duke under
100 points. Tommy Amaker
decides to wipe the slate clean
and start over. In his eyes, Michi-
gan is now 0-0. This frame of
mind seems to inspire the Wolver-
ines, who have a heavy burden
lifted from their shoulders.

4

'I

ior OaVell Blanchard during Michigan's 81-59 lD
e. Blanchard put up only nine ponts against tis h c a thiees n w yth o v rnsSn e h tl s ,B a c ar a e h hBg i e ,p a i g ih m r i e u deuheor s tngf o o g r n e
TONY DING/Daily

Graham Brown 5.5 4.4
Scored a season-high 14 points in Michigan's win over
Charleston Southern.

19.2

DRAWING THE LINE

By Seth Klempner Daily Sports Writer

The Michigan basketball team is running
away. Running away from its 0-6 start, its 22-
point loss to Duke, the off-court troubles that
have stuck to the program like shoes to a movie
theater floor and embarrassing double-digit
losses to its biggest rivals. It is running away,
and like Lott fleeing Sodom, refusing to look
back for fear that it will turn into a pillar of salt.
Just weeks prior to the start of the season , in
which coach Tommy Amaker would begin his
sophomore campaign with his much bally-
hooed freshman class, it was delivered a blow.
University President Mary Sue Coleman
announced in the Michigan Union that the team
would be placed under self-imposed sanctions,
foregoing a postseason for the transgressions
committed before any of the current Wolver-
ines had graduated junior school.
The Wolverines proceeded to lose their first
three games at the Paradise Jam, drop their first
two home games and were beaten on national
television by Duke. At 0-6, the 2002-03 Michi-
2an basketball team was off to its worst start in

Amaker used the motivational technique of
starting the season over. The Wolverines
embraced this, and started playing like the
team that people thought they would be. They
were playing help defense and making the
extra pass on offense.
Before anyone knew it, Michigan had won
its seven remaining nonconference games with
the highlight coming in a five-point win over
UCLA on the road. It was Michigan's first non-
conference road victory since 1998.
Michigan then showed the refusal to quit that
it hasn't shown in past seasons when it fought
back from halftime deficits against Wisconsin,
Ohio State and Northwestern. It became evi-
dent that players were buying into Amaker's
system and were focused working hard to
improve as individuals and as a team.
"They respond in their own way," said
Amaker of his teams response to adversity.
"What I love about this team is that when I
need to jump them or get them fired up in prac-
tice or during the game. I think they recognize

er's willingness to break from his man-to-man
style and play a zone defense to get a better
matchup. In addition, according to senior tri-
captain Rotolu Adebiyi, the Wolverines also
recognized that they can't let opposing teams
work harder than them and must be more will-
ing to hit the deck for loose balls.
"We started winning games when we started
playing defense and stopped giving other teams
easy shots or transition buckets and points off
of turnovers," senior tri-captain
Gavin Groninger said. "I knew we "There is ai
had a good half-court defense, just on being a U
at times when we gave up buckets years ago, w
it would deflate us. But now we much talent
are not allowing that to happen." but people
This style of play has come to been as focu
form the identity of the team, .
which bases itself on hard work, been ito it
hustle and a blue-collar mentality. -
This attitude has given theC
Wolverines a toughness that had
been absent in the previous year and was often
pointed at as the cause for blowout losses to
Michigan State and Ohio State.
The team-first attitude has also helned pro-

t
v
r
t
t

kind of in a sticky situation, all the fresh-
man give their input and how they feel we
can win the game because we have all been
in those situations before."
Speaking up on the part of the freshmen is
something that the coaching staff has stressed
to the team. Abram also felt that at the start of
the season, the freshman didn't feel they had as
much to say because the team was losing. But
the team started winning, the freshmen felt they
could add to what the older
lot more focus players were saying. This acted
eam now. Four to create an egalitarian environ-
we had just as ment, allowing, everyone to
with my class, contribute and has led to the
might not have teams success by increasing
:used or have their trust in each other.
for themselves." Becoming team leaders has
also helped the freshmen
Michigan senior become more confident in,
Gavin Groninger their on-court ability. Three
of the freshmen start regularly
while all five freshmen are in the rotation,
making crucial contributions to the 11-
game winning streak.
The most integral freshmen is point guard

leading scorer and rebounder with 17.2 and 7.1
per game, respecfully, and for the first time in
his Michigan career, he seems to fit into his
role on the team as a leader and captain.
"None has been bigger than LaVell Blan-
chard," Amaker said. He is a "senior captain
who is our best player and best worker. He has
produced for us. I start with him, and that has
been the reason why we have been able to make
things go our way so far."
In addition, this is one of the first times that
the team has been absent of personnel prob-
lems which have marred team chemistry.
Whether it was players transferring (Brandon
Smith, LeLand Anderson, Marcus Bennett
and Dommanic Ingerson), academic problems
(Josh Moore, JaQuan Hart and Kelly Whit-
ney), dismissals from the team (Kevin Gaines,
Maurice Searight, Avery Queen) or NCAA
violations (Jamal Crawford), the team had
previously been surrounded by distractions
and smeared with scandal.
"The cohesion is a lot better now," Groninger
said. "There is a lot more focus on being a team
now. Four years ago, we had just as much talent
with my class, but neople might not have been

0

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