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January 22, 2003 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-01-22

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0

January 22, 2003
michigandaily.com
sportsdesk@umich.edu

ReTSiicg a njilq

8

Wolverines
still hung
for Victories
By Chris Burke
Daily Sports Writer
What a week this could be for the Michigan basketball
team.
With home games against Minnesota tonight and
Michigan State Sunday, the Wolverines (4-0 Big Ten, 11-
6 overall) have the chance to extend their longest winning

streak in a decade to 13 games
- which could include Michi-
gan's first victory over its arch-
rival from East Lansing since a
79-69 win on Jan. 10, 1998 a
game the Wolverines forfeited.
But, as has been the case
throughout this streak, Michigan
coach Tommy Amaker has
preached the principle of "one
step at a time" to his young team.
And tonight could be a very
treacherous step.

CRISLER ARENA
Who: Michigan(4-0 Big
Ten, 11-6 overall) vs. Min-
nesota (1-2, 9-5)
When: 8 p.m.
Latest: Michigan will
attempt to win its 12th
straight game for the first
time since the 1992-93
season.

Horton feeling no
pressure at point
Daily Sports Writer
Daniel Horton has been playing basketball since he was a child
- and from the looks of things right now, he has a long, success-
ful career ahead of him at Michigan.
Horton has improved dramatically since the start of the sea-
son. Through the first nine games he had more turnovers than
assists, but since then, he is averaging more than five assists to
just three turnovers a game.
"I'm getting more comfortable as each game goes by," Hor-
ton said. "First couple of games I was kind of nervous because
it was my first couple of college basketball games, but now it
seems like I'm getting into the flow and getting more comfort-
able. It is starting to get like every other level I played in.
Once I get comfortable, I start to play well. My teammates and
my coaches have helped me adjust more and become more
comfortable to the level of play."
While some freshmen may have a problem coping with the
pressure of a college career, Horton has not buckled or even
shown signs of stress yet.
"There's no pressure" Horton said. "It's basketball, and I don't
see how people find pressure in playing basketball."
But if you have ever seen Chris Webber pass up on a shot at
the end of the game, you know some people do find pressure
and shy away from it. Horton is not one of those. The point
guard stares "pressure" in the face and then drains the 3-point-
er, as he did so many times against Wisconsin, at Northwest-
ern and at Ohio State.
The consummate team player, Horton credits his ability to
make plays to his teammates as much as himself.
"I've got guy's making plays," Horton said. "I would like
to say it is me being clutch, but it is -mostly my teammates.
They are doing a lot of things to put me in the right position
to make plays."
Those pressure situations in which it is Horton alone at the top
of the key are what he lives for. From there, Horton has a myriad
of options. He can call for a pick, drive the lane and use his pene-
tration to open up a teammate, pull up for a midrange jumper or -
as he is so prone to do - square up to the basket and launch a
triple. In any given game, Horton will do some or all of these.
Against Northwestern, Horton arguably had the play of the
game in such a situation. With the shot clock running low in
the second half, Horton drove to the basket - used his body
to protect the ball and initiate contact with the defender - and
laid up a circus shot off the glass. He went on to make his free
throw to complete the three-point play.
He runs the point with poise and confidence and has shown no
signs of his nervousness from the beginning of the season.
When No. 4 begins to crouch low and look his defender in the
eye as he calmly dribbles the ball at the top of the key, there is a
good chance that something special is about to happen.
"For a point guard, that's the ultimate," Horton said. "The shot
clock winding down, and it is just you and your man, and you've
got to go make a play."

0

Minnesota (1-2 Big Ten, 9-5 overall) is coming off one
of its most complete games of the year, a 77-69 victory
over Michigan State on Saturday. In that game, Big Ten
preseason Player of the Year Rick Rickert tossed in 21, as
did fellow forward Michael Bauer, and the Golden
Gophers got their first Big Ten win.
"They played extremely well in that game," said
Amaker of Minnesota. "This is a great challenge that we
have in front of us."
On paper, Minnesota appears to be the type of team
capable of giving Michigan fits, at least in the low
post. Rickert, averaging 14.7 points per game, stands
6-foot-li and 216 pounds - a build similar to Michi-
gan freshman Chris Hunter. The Golden Gopher is
capable of playing low or high, making him exception-
ally tough to guard.
Throw in fellow forwards Bauer, Maurice Hargrove
and center Jerry Holman, and the Gophers often play
with, essentially, four forwards on the court.
"They are a team that has all the ingredients and the
talent," Amaker said. "Certainly Minnesota's size and
their depth on the front line concerns us."
Michigan forward Graham Brown said he believes
that the Wolverines are capable of hanging with the
Minnesota big men.
"We need to do the little things like box out and make
sure we get on the glass, and we'll get some easy baskets

DAVID KATZ/Daily
Chris Hunter and the rest of the Wolverines will be tested by Minnesota power forward Rick Rickert. Michigan hopes to
draw a large home crowd with discounted tickets.

and rebounds down low," Brown said.
The most curious fact about the Gophers is that,
despite their heavy reliance on their frontcourt players,
they have struggled to dictate the rebounding battle.
Michigan State hammered Minnesota on the glass, outre-
bounding the Gophers 46-33 despite the loss. Wisconsin,
a team Michigan beat in the rebounding column, 35-
30, also manhandled the Gophers in rebounds, 40-29.
Michigan can take solace in those numbers, and in the
fact that the Wolverines have used the man-to-man and 2-
3 zone defenses effectively throughout the Big Ten cam-
paign. Amaker also might use a matchup zone - a
combination of zone and man-to-man defenses - which
would allow the Wolverines to maintain pressure on
Rickert while also keeping the zone intact.
The Wolverines also will try to take advantage of their
quickness at the guard spots. Freshman Daniel Horton
has been spectacular during the 11-game winning streak,

as has senior LaVell Blanchard.
"(Blanchard's) playing at a very high level right now,"
Minnesota coach Dan Monson said. "I think he's playing
as one of the premier players in the Big Ten. As most
players that senior year, the comfort level is very high -
experience, you just can't put a value on."
The teams split two games last year, with Minnesota
winning at home, 90-82, and Michigan doing the same
10 days later, 71-69, on a last second shot by Robinson.
$5 students' tickets
Five-dollar tickets are available for students for
tonight's Michigan basketball game against Minneso-
ta. Students can purchase tickets at the Michigan
Ticket Office or at Crisler Arena before the game. Stu-
dents must bring their M Card in order to purchase.

4)

I. I

TOM FELDKAMP/Daily
Eric Werner may be declared ineligible by the Big Ten because of his failure to
meet the conference's academic standards.
Defenseman Werner
awaits Big Ten verdict

By Bob Hunt
Daily Sports Writer
The most important event to hap-
pen to the Michigan hockey program
tomorrow may not happen in Sault
Ste. Marie, where the Wolverines
will take on Lake Superior State, but
at a place where most people don't
know college hockey exists - Park
Ridge, Ill.
This is where the Big Ten - not
the NCAA or the CCHA - will
decide the fate of Eric Werner
tomorrow morning. Werner has been
declared academically ineligible by
the conference.
While no one would comment on
what rule specifically was in ques-
tion, Werner said that it had to do
with some personal issues he had at
the beginning of the year, and that
it's not his fault.
"We're confident that (the Big
Ten) is going to make the right deci-
sion on it," Werner said. "So all you
have to do is be patient on it and
wait until they meet. It's out of my
hands now."
Werner's loss would give Michi-
gan just five experienced defense-
men. It also would put a player with

the defense, a rotation of five
defensemen is actually preferable to
a rotation of six defensemen because
skaters are on the ice every other
shift instead of every third shift. But
if anyone goes down, a rotation of
four defensemen would be a big
problem. Michigan played with
mostly four defensemen during the
last five games of the 1998 postsea-
son, when the Wolverines won their
last national championship. But that
was with the help of senior goal-
tender and future NHL All-Star
Marty Turco.
"When you get down to four
defensemen, then you really get
down to trouble," Powers said. "If we
had to play four, that would be a
very, very difficult challenge for our
defense."
If Michigan did lose another play-
er, it could also mean more playing
time for Reilly Olson. The sopho-
more played a minimal amount dur-
ing the Western Michigan series,
but did not step onto the ice in
October and November. Powers felt
that if either Olson or David Wyz-
gowski, who could move back from
forward as he had earlier in the sea-
son, were put onto the ice, they

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