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January 29, 2003 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-01-29

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Thursday
January 3, 2003
michigandaily.com
sportsdesk@umich.edu

ORTeiSigtn 3tilg

5A

Horton,

D'

show

JOE
SMITH

they are human

By Seth Klmpner
Daily Sports Writer

CHAMPAIGN - Michigan fans
had been dreading to see the chink in
the armor of their freshman phenom
Daniel Horton, and yesterday they
lamentably got a chance to see it dur-
ing a 67-60 loss at Illinois. The loss
snapped a 13-game winning streak
that began before the exam period
began during the fall semester.
With 11 minutes to go in the second
half, Illinois' own standout freshman
guard, Dee Brown, challenged Horton
and forced him to labor the ball across
halfcourt by playing tight defense.
Once across, Horton seemed all too
glad to get the ball to a teammate.
"The thing is, you pick up the pres-
sure, but the other guy is a McDonald's
All American, and he has jets too so
you can't just pick him up," Illinois
coach Bill Self said of Brown's play on
Horton. "He did an unbelievable job of
picking his spots and made a couple of
blunders, but not many."
Just a few minutes later, Horton let
go of a lackadaisical pass headed
toward the Michigan bench. The pass
seemed to lack the energy and mental
readiness that usually accompanies his
play and was one of the first times this
season that Horton appeared to be flus-
tered. The freshman finished with
seven turnovers, matching his point
total, to go along with iwo assists.
Horton, who is leading the team in
minutes played, clocked in 39 last
night, receiving his only minute of rest
in the first half. Long nights like these
are not unusual to the freshman, who
has played 38 minutes or more in eight
of his last 10 games. He is averaging
37.3 minutes per game to go along
with 18 points in Big Ten play.
Horton "has played beyond his years
for the majority of our games," Michi-
gan coach Tommy Amaker said. "I
thought tonight was a game where for-
moments, he played like a freshman.
And you have to remember that he is
going to have moments where he is
going to play like a freshman. I think
he has earned that right and deserved
that right."
But the problem for the Wolverines
was that Horton was not the only one
who seemed to hit the wall. Michigan's
zone defense, which was able to frus-
trate Illinois all first half, lacked the
same intensity in the second.
The second half was a separate story
for Illinois, which broke out of its 25-
percent shooting funk to shoot 11-for-
21, as Brian Cook dropped 26 points

on the Wolverines in the half.
The Wolverine defense, which has
carried the team through the end of
games during the winning streak,
seemed to be nonexistent. In the past
several games, Michigan has been able
to clamp down in the closing minutes,
holding its opponents scoreless during
key stretches at the end of the games.
This defense had been allowing Michi-
gan to hold onto leads and win the
game from the charity stripe.
During a seven-minute span in the
second half, Illinois chipped away at a
10-point lead to tie the game at 53
apiece with 5:54 to go.
But the run the Wolverines had been
making in previous games was
nowhere to be found, as Illinois wore
them down. It did not help that Cook,
who went 6-for-6 from inside in the
second half, effortlessly answered
every Michigan bucket as the Wolver-
ines tried to pull away.
While senior LaVell Blanchard did-
n't think his team was fatigued in the
second half, the 39 points allowed in
the second half, a conference high for
the Wolverines, indicates otherwise.
In the end, it was the fresher legs
that were the difference in the game, as
the Wolverines struggled to keep up
with a team that played with the ener-
gy of five puppies.
But the Wolverines will not get a
chance to rest their tired legs, as they
will have to hit the road again this
weekend to play at Minnesota.

Get on the bandwagon:
no headbands allowed

The campus was buzzing. Maize
and blue headbands were the
latest fad. And the Michigan
basketball bandwagon was picking
up steam.
It was autumn of 1999. A group of
five talented freshmen strutted into
Crisler Arena, gearing up to take
Michigan hoops to new heights.
Silky, smooth freshman Jamal
Crawford attracted a cult-like follow-
ing for his trendy headband, brash con-
fidence and uncanny ability to take
over games. And he put the Wolverines
on his shoulders. In the first six games,
Crawford put on his headband and
Superman cape, nailing two game-
winning shots.
Sound familiar?
And along with backcourt buddy
Kevin Gaines, sharp-shooting guard
Gavin Groninger, hometown-hero
LaVell Blanchard and little-known
enforcer Leland Anderson, the fresh-
man-laden Wolverines shocked the
nation with a 12-3 start.
Sound familiar? It should.
This year, a similar group of fresh-
men have revitalized the once-proud
program recently decimated by dou-
ble-digit losses, off-court issues, a
fired coach and endless amounts of

embarrassment.
And the reason this year's version
of the "Fab Five" will bring the
Wolverines back from the national
doghouse and into the penthouse is
that they don't have the selfish and
detrimental characteristics that tore
apart the 1999 team.
"The biggest difference between my
(freshman) class and this class is the
cohesiveness," Groninger said. "People
had agendas my year, they were look-
ing to go to the next level, at least a
couple of them.
"These guys are a cohesive unit.
They embrace their roles. And they
love playing together."
Yes, the 1999 team may have been
more talented, more flashy and more
successful in the first six games (6-0).
But the Wolverines also had bigger
egos, bigger rap sheets and a bigger
problem just making it to their sopho-
more years.
Unlike this year's team, which is in
the driver's seat of the Big Ten race at
6-1, the 1999 Wolverines'dropped
eight of their first 11 conference
games on their way to a somewhat dis-
appointing 15-14 season - ending in
a first-round NIT loss to Notre Dame.
See SMITH, Page 8A

AP PHOTO
Michigan junior Bernard Robinson tries to stop Illinois guard Deron Williams as he
pulls up for a jump shot. Michigan's winning streak was broken at 13.

BIG TEN
Team
Michigan
Purdue
Illinois
Wisconsin
Iowa
Indiana
Minnesota
Michigan State
Ohio State
Northwestern
Penn State

STANDINGS
Conference Overall

W
6
5
5
4
3
4
3
3
2
0
0

L
1
1
2
2
2
3
3
4
5
6
6

W
13
13
15
14
11
14
11
11
9
8
5

L
7
4
3
4
5
5
6
8
9
9
12

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Yesterday's results:
LIJNOIs 67, Michigan 60
Minnesota 76, PENN STATE 75
PURDUE 70, Ohio State 65
WIScoNSIN 69, Northwestern 50
Saturday's games:
Michigan at Minnesota, 2:30 p.m.
Northwestern at Ohio State, 12:15 p.m.
Purdue at Iowa, 8:05 p.m.
Penn State at Wisconsin, 4:37 p.m.

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