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February 03, 2003 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - February 3, 2003 - 5B

Talkin' the talk

"It's always good to get payback, but I
think this victory is more about getting a
key Big Ten win."
- Minnesota guard Moe Hargrow after the Golden
Gophers' avenged a Jan. 22 loss to Michigan on Saturday.

SATURDAY'S GAME
Michigan 80
Minnesota 87

Players of the game

Jeff Hagen
(Minnesota)
The Minnesota big man played
just 11 minutes, but managed to
pour in 12 points, including three
straight 3-point plays.

Lester Abram
(Michigan)
The freshman guard continued to
impress, scoring 18 points and grab-
bing six boards in a season high 40
minutes played.

Now is La Time for
La Vell to take charge

MINNEAPOLIS - As I watched
the second half of Saturday's Michi-
gan basketball loss to Minnesota
from the balcony of Williams Arena,
I saw five, inexperienced freshmen
try to battle a
hostile crowd
and lead Michi-
gan to victory
over a hot-shoot-
ing Gophers'
team.
Now, like me,
you're probably
thinking why the NAWEED
Wolverines were SIKORA
relying on their Blowin'
youth to pull out Smoke
a tough Big Ten
road game.
Where were the veteran players with
the experience? Where was LaVell
Blanchard?
The senior was on the bench in
foul trouble. After starting off strong
in the first few minutes of the game,
Blanchard finished with just nine
points on 2-of-13 shooting. He
missed three free throws. He didn't
deliver in the closing moments of the
game, when coach Tommy Amaker
called a play to get him an open 3-
point look.
Bernard Robinson said after the
loss that even though the Wolverines
lost twice this week, they still have
the same level of confidence they
had during the winning streak.
"You have to remember this is still
the same team that won 13 straight,"
Robinson said.
But there is one difference -
Blanchard has pulled a disappear-
ing act in Michigan's last three
- games. He has not made the big
buckets down the stretch that
Michigan needs him to make - the
buckets that he should be making
- and it is hurting the Wolverines
in crunch time.
Against Michigan State, Blan-
chard went 0-for-5 from the field,
finishing with just two points from
the foul line. Michigan was able to
pull out the win thanks to contribu-
tions'from other players, but Blan-
chard was not a scoring factor.
He had 18 against Illinois, but was
nonexistent in the second half when
Brian Cook exploded to lead Illi-
nois' comeback. Blanchard's first
half contributions were significant,
but his teammates needed him to
DAVID KATZ/ 4.
Daily ~ -'
Freshman -
Lester
Abram was
stellar for
Michigan
in its 87-
80 loss to
Minnesota
on Satur-
day. The
guard
scored 18
points and
pulled
down six
rebounds 4'
in the

respond to Cook's onslaught with
some baskets of his own. They need-
ed him to be poised and confident
down the stretch, but he wasn't a
factor, and Michigan lost.
Saturday was the ultimate vanish-
ing act, as the memory of his quick
start quickly went away as he lost
confidence in his shot and the
Wolverines fell short.
Where was the clutch-shooting
Blanchard that began dropping 3-
pointers like raindrops against Wis-
consin to spark Michigan's
comeback? Where was the Blan-
chard that took over against Min-
nesota on Jan. 22 by scoring 24
points in the second half (28 in the
game) to get Michigan the victory?
Where was the poised Blanchard that
went 10-of-10 from the free throw
line against Vanderbilt to lead his
team to a win?
When Amaker speaks of his senior
and how Blanchard is the key for
Michigan this season, he is speaking
of these qualities - he is speaking
of these times when Blanchard
showed leadership and determination
in the face of adversity.
But those qualities haven't been
showing up lately, and Blanchard
must find a way to regain the confi-
dence he had so he can start playing
like a senior again. His success is
particularly important right now, as
Michigan is heading into the meat of
the Big Ten season with road games
against Indiana, Purdue and Wiscon-
sin on the horizon.
Showing up at home is not enough
anymore. Experience always counts
for something, and in Blanchard's
case, he must use what experience he
has to deliver away from home. He
needs to be the one leading this team
into conference battles, and the one
bringing them home with a win.
Right now, Michigan is in an
excellent position to contend for the
conference title. Still, without a title
under his belt, Blanchard should be
hungry.lieneeds to seize this oppor-
tunity, and put this team on his
shoulders.
Blanchard's success never meant
more to Michigan in his four-year
career than it does now. It's time to
deliver.
Naweed Sikora can be reached at
nsikora@umich.edu

SATURDAY S GAME
MICHIGAN (80)
FG FT REB
MIN M-A M-A 0-T A F PTS
Robinson Jr. 19 3-9 0-0 2-4 3 4 8
Blanchard 28 2-13 36 0-4 1 4 9
Brown 24 3-4 6-8 5-9 1 3 12
Abram 40 6-10 4-4 4-6 2 2 18
Horton 40 8-21 0-0 2-4 5 3 20
Harrell 17 1-2 0-0 1-1 1 2 3
Groninger 4 0.0 00 0-1 1 1 0
Hunter 26 2-6 6.8 1-4 0 4 10
Bailey 2 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Totals 200 2566 192619-3914 23 80
FG%: .379. FT%: .731. 3-point FG: 11-28, .393 (Hor-
ton 4-14, Blanchard 2-7, Abram 2-4, Robinson 2-2,
Harrell 1-1). Blocks: 2 (Hunter, Robinson). Steals: 6
(Abram, Brown, Harell, Horton, Hunter, Robinson).
Turnovers: 13 (Blanchard 4, Brown 3, Abram 2, Hor-
ton 2, Robinson 2). Technical fouls: none.
Minnesota (87)
FG FT REB
MIN M-A M-A 0-T A F PTS
Rickert 30 6-12 3-3 1-5 2 3 17
Bauer 18 2-4 1.1 0-3 1 5 6
Holman 31 8-11 2-2 1-4 0 4 18
Hargrow 37 3-9 6-8 0-5 8 2 14
Burleson 32 3-7 4-4 1-7 4 0 12
Gaines 7 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 3 0
Johnson 17 0-1 2-2 0-1 3 1 2
Robinson 8 0-1 0-0 1-4 2 1 0
Esselink 9 2-4 0-0 0-0 0 2 6
Hagen 11 4-6 0-0 0-0 0 1 12
Totals 200 28.56 22-2510.37 21 22 87
FG%: .500. FT%: .880. 3-point FG: 9-20,'.450
(Burleson 2-5, Esselink 2-4, Hargrow 2-4, Rickert 2-
3, Bauer 1-3, Robinson 0-1). Blocks: 6 (Burleson 2,
Rickert 2, Hagen, Holman) Steals: 7 (Burleson 2,
Rickert 2, Esselink, Gaines, Holman). Turnovers: 18
(Burleson 4, Bauer 3, Holman 3, Gaines 2, Rickert
2, Hargrow, Robinson, Hagen). Technical fouls:
none.
Michigan....... ..........41 39 - 80
M innesota..................................44 43 - 87
At: Williams Arena, Minneapolis
Attendance: 13,965.

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

STANDINGS
Conference Overall
W L W L
6 1 14 4
6 2 13 8
5 2 15 4.
5 3 15 4
4 3 14 6
4 3 12 6
3 3 11 6
4 4 12 8
3 5 10 9
0 7 8 10
0 7 5 13

Yesterday's results:
MICHIGAN STATE 68, Illinois 65
Saturday's games:
MINNESOTA 87, Michigan 80
OHIO STATE 65, Northwestern 52
Loulsviu.E 95, Indiana 76
WISCONSIN 86, Penn State 55
Purdue 80, iowA 77 (ot)
fi' f ^ , 4 i 4,

DAVID KATZ/Daily
Michigan's defense in the post wasn't this tight all day, as Minnesota's big men combined for 53 points.
Freshman lineup sparks late M' rally

By Naweed Sikora
Daily Sports Editor

MINNEAPOLIS - When was the
last time the Michigan basketball team
turned to five freshmen at once to lead
it down the stretch and deliver in clutch
situations?
If you said Saturday at Minnesota,
you're right.
With senior LaVell Blanchard and
junior Bernard Robinson each having
four fouls before the halfway point of
the second half, Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker was low on options.
With time running out, the crowd
getting rowdier and the Gophers'
momentum growing, Amaker made an
unexpected move.
He inserted freshman Chris Hunter
for Blanchard, and put in seldom-used
Sherrod Harrell for Robinson. Along
with Daniel Horton, Lester Abram and
Graham Brown, the Wolverines had five
freshmen on the floor to claw their way
back in a hostile environment.
The freshmen ended up spending the
majority of the final 10 minutes togeth-
er on the floor. Although they aren't,
Michigan's most talented five-man
combination, they almost succeeded in
leading the Wolverines back from dou-
ble digits with just over 11 minutes to
play in the second half.
"I thought our freshmen were
absolutely phenomenal," Amaker said.
"To be able to battle back and give us a
one possession opportunity to tie the

game up, they gave us a chance.
"They played with guts, they played.
with character - they just came up a
bit short."
At 11:17 in the second half, Michi-
gan trailed by 11 points. It was Min-
nesota's largest lead of the game, and it
appeared as though Michigan was
beginning to fade. But with under a
minute to play, Michigan was down
just three, and had the ball. The
Wolverines swung it around to Abram,
who found himself wide open at the
top of the arc, but bricked the shot that
would have tied it.
"We were just trying to play as hard
as we could," Abram said. "We were
trying to win, we fought hard, but it
wasn't enough."
The Wolverines fell just short in a
game that was shaping up to be a
blowout. But Horton and Abram would
not allow that to happen.
Both made clutch basket after basket
to keep the Wolverines hanging around.
Abram, who scored 11 points in the
first half to lead the team, played 40
minutes for the first time of the season.
Horton also spent the entire game on
the floor for the third time this season.
Brown and Hunter had difficulty
controlling Minnesota's inside game.
Big man Jeff Hagen led the Gophers'
charge in the second half with three
consecutive 3-point plays. But despite
the size disadvantage, Michigan's cen-
ters stayed aggressive, making several
scrappy plays down the stretch to keep

the game alive.
And finally, there was Sherrod Har-
rell. Although he didn't shoot much, his
3-point basket with 1:05 remaining
brought Michigan within two and
might have turned out to be the biggest
basket of the game had Michigan been
able to come back.
"I'm happy he had the confidence in
me to call my name," Harrell said.
All in all, Michigan's freshmen
scored 63 points and grabbed 24
rebounds in 147 minutes. It was the
first time that four freshman have
scored in double digits in the same
game. With Michigan's two leaders
struggling, the young group took the
burden on their shoulders.
"We didn't have the contributions
from our two veteran guys, but the
freshmen were going toe-to-toe with
(Minnesota)," Amaker said. "I liked
how they were playing, and I liked our
chemistry on the court when they were
out there:'
The all-freshman combination cer-
tainly didn't become Michigan's opti-
mal five-man team, but it definitely
turned into a legitimate option for
Amaker in the future (this season and
beyond) if the situation calls for it.
Saturday night, the situation called
for it, and they almost delivered.
"I'm not sure that anyone was play-
ing tougher than those guys on the
floor," Amaker said. "They made the
run for us, and we were going to stick
with them."

Wednesday's games:
Wisconsin at Purdue
Indiana at Northwestern
Iowa at Penn State
Minnesota at Ohio State
Next Saturday's games:
Iowa at Michigan
Wisconsin at Northwestern
Purdue at Minnesota
Michigan State at Indiana
Sunday's games:
Ohio State at Illinois

7 p.m.
8 p.m.
8 p.m.
8 p.m.
1217 pm.
1 p.m.
1:34 p.m.
7 p.m.
12 p.m.

UP NEXT:

unauncey Leslie

AP PHOO

Blue struggles in hostile arenas

HOW THE AP TOP 25 FARED

NEXT WEEKEND:
IOWA
There might not be anything Michi-
gan needs more right now than
some time off. That's exactly what
the Wolverines will get, as they
won't play again until Iowa comes
to Crisler Arena next Saturday
afternoon. Michigan will also retire
the jersey of former Wolverine star
.Rudy Tomjanovich at halftime.
This will be the only time that
these two teams meet in the regu-
lar season. The Hawkeyes are com-
ing off a home loss to Purdue
80-77. Their backcourt is led by
senior guard Chauncey Leslie, who
is averaging 16.3 points per game.

By Charles Paradis
Daily Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS -This past week,
the Michigan basketball team experi-
enced just how
tough it is to win BASKETBALL
on the road. The Notebook
Wolverines fell
87-80 at Min-
nesota in a game in which they never
held the lead. The Golden Gophers
handed Michigan its second consecu-
tive loss on the road, after falling to
Illinois 67-60 Wednesday.
Michigan had won its first two

nas), and the crowd is loud and every-
body is jacked to play at home."
Michigan played Minnesota at
Crisler on Jan. 22 and beat the
Gophers 75-63 in front of a large,
boisterous home crowd. But Saturday
the roles were reversed as the Gopher
faithful packed Williams Arena and
rode Michigan all game long.
The difference was apparent as the
Minnesota team that showed up Sat-
urday in no way resembled the dazed
and confused squad that scored just
one basket in the final seven minutes
of the game played at Crisler.
"It's a tough place to play," Horton

"I've always said this is one of the
toughest places to play - maybe one
of the more underrated places to play
- in terms of getting the recognition
for how difficult it is (to play here),"
Amaker said. "I've always felt that it
is very very difficult to play here."
BANGIN' INSIDE: Saturday's game
was one of the most physical the
Wolverines have played all season.
Freshmen centers Graham Brown and
Chris Hunter battled inside with Min-
nesota's Jerry Holman, Rick Rickert
and Jeff Hagen. Hunter had 10 points,
while Brown dropped in 12 and
pulled down a game-high nine

Team
1. Arizona
2. Pittsburgh
3. Texas
4. Florida
5. Duke
6. Oklahoma
7. Kentucky
8. Louisville
9. Oklahoma State
10. Maryland
11. Notre Dame
12. Kansas
13. Illinois
14. Connecticut
15 Genrnia

Record
16-2
15-2
14-3
118-2
14-2
15-3
16-3
16-1
17-2
13-4
18-3
15-5
15-3
13-4
13-s

This weekend's results
Beat No. 20 California 95-80
Lost to Syracuse 67-65
Beat No. 9 Oklahoma State 78-65
Beat Arkansas 77-66
vs. Florida State
Beat Kansas State 91-89
Beat South Carolina 87-69
Beat No. 19 Indiana 95-76
Lost to No. 3 Texas 78-65
Beat Loyola Maryland 85-58
Beat Georgetown 93-92
Beat Nebraska 81-51
Lost to Michigan State 68-65
Lost to Boston College 95-71
Reat Nn 21 Missisinni State 67-63

'M' STATS

Player
Blanchard
Horton
Robinson
Abram
Hunter
Q-

G
21
21
20
21
21
~ l

Min
31.9
35.7
31.4
31.3
20.8
i o n,

A
1.0
4.3
3.1
1.1
0.5
n.

Reb
6.9
2.6
6.2
4.0
4.0
A A

Pts.
16.7
15.7
12.1
9.7
6.0
; a

i

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