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February 04, 2003 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-02-04

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Tuesday
February 4, 2003
michigandaily.com
sportsdesk@umich.edu

(bt 1Miitrgn Uativ
iPORTS

8

Blue'sfinish
hinges on a
Bies revival
By Gnn Flic
Daily Sports Writer

JEFF
PHILLIPS

Like the Wolverines,
fans should not panic

After the first 20 minutes of Sunday's game at .:
Wisconsin, Michigan found itself trailing the lowlyn
Badgers (who held a 5-14 record going in) 34-30. A
few ticks into the second half, the home team's lead
ballooned to double digits.
Michigan attempted to get back BASKETBALL"
into the game, but Wisconsin ,
easily countered every Wolver- Commentary
ine surge. With less than 10
minutes left in the contest, the deficit remained in
double digits, and Michigan found itself inan
extremely strenuous position.
A loss would drop the Wolverines' Big Ten mark.
to 2-6, making the possibility of an NCAA Tourna-
ment bid as bleak as it has been this season. Knowing
its back was against the wall, Michigan's only chance
was to make a huge run down the stretch. To do so,
The Wolverines would have to utilize a few keyw^,
sources that have become synonymous with college
basketball comebacks: the confidence and steadiness
of a senior, the leadership and relentlessness of a
team captain and the overall savvy play of a presea-
son first-team all-conference selection. Luckily for
the Maize and Blue, one Wolverine bared all these
traits by herself. Unfortunately, this well-qualified,,
renaissance woman of basketball spent the game's FILE PHOTO
final 10 minutes riding the pine. Foul trouble? No. Michigan forward LeeAnn Bies has not started for the Wolverines in weeks after being named to the preseason
See BIES, Page 9 All-Big Ten team. Bles' production has decreased in every category since last season.
Swingman Crawford commits to 'M' cagers

By Chris Burke
Daily Sports Editor

It turns out that a two-loss road trip
didn't make for an entirely bad week for
the Michigan basketball team after all.
That's because Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker unexpectedly received
the commitment of Detroit Renais-
sance High School junior Joe Craw-
ford to play for the Wolverines last
Thursday night.
Crawford, a 6-foot-4 swingman,
joins Romulus' Ronald Coleman as the
two current members of Michigan's

class for 2004-05.
"I like the style of play, and I like
Tommy Amaker," Crawford told the
Detroit Free Press. "I like the academ-
ics, too, it's kind of like Renaissance."
Recruiting analyst Clark Francis of
HoopScoop, believes Amaker has land-
ed a gem in Crawford.
"He's a very talented player - he's a
top-50 player nationally," Francis said.
"People have asked how the NCAA
investigation has affected (Michigan's)
recruiting, and it hasn't at all."
Crawford emerged as-one of the
country's best players last season when

he averaged 22 points per game in
leading Detroit Renaissance to the
Class B semifinals.
The junior continued his rapid rise as
a teammate of Coleman on the AAU
team The Family - the team for which
current Wolverines Lester Abram and
Graham Brown played together -
when he led them to the AAU State
Championship. Crawford posted a
spectacular 29-point, 11-rebound, 6-
assist outing in capturing the AAU 16-
and-under state championship.
Crawford is averaging 26 points per
game for Detroit Renaissance this year,

and chose Michigan over Missouri,
Michigan State, Notre Dame and Ohio
State.
"Ohio State thought that they had a
great shot to get him," Francis said.
"It's a testament to Michigan that they
have so many guards and wing players
and they got him."
Analyst Vince Baldwin of Prepspot-
light.com also is very high on Craw-
ford, ranking him as the No. 2 shooting
guard for the 2004 class nationally and
No. 20 overall. Baldwin was impressed
with Crawford during the AAU season,
and noted the swingman's ability to
throw down "Vince Carter-like dunks."
Michigan has alrea4dyaeived
national attention for the recruiting
class currently signed for next year
comprised of three top-100 players -
guard Dion Harris of Detroit, forward
Brent Petway of Georgia and center
Courtney Sims of Massachusetts.
Coleman and Crawford's commit-
ments for 2004-05 mean that this year's
recent run of success for the Wolverines
could be just a brief glimpse of some
incredible things to come.
See CRAWFORD, Page 10

hatever you do, don't panic.
This applies much less to the
members of the Michigan
basketball team, rather it is intended for
its fans; simply because the Wolverines
have dropped two games in a row does
not mean that you should jump off the
bandwagon.
Even the best Michigan teams lost
more than two conference games. (Yes,
I know that the best team lost them all
according to the new record books, but
we know better). Jalen Rose and com-
pany had their struggles and rarely does
any team make it through the season
without them. These Wolverines should
be treated the same way as the greats
that came before them.
The Big Ten conference season is not
unlike a conference game. Often a team
will build up a lead and then either blow
it or sustain it through the end of the
game. Or a team could fall behind early
and get its act together in time to finish
out the game. Likewise, a team could
drop a few conference games early, but
go on a win streak and earn a NCAA
Tournament bid, or win early and back
its way into the tournament season.
For Michigan, neither of these situa-
tions has occurred. In previous seasons,
it has only won the occasional confer-
ence game and built up the occasional
lead in games. But this season all that
has changed, yet fans still feel that
Michigan has had a good run and now
the losses that everyone expect are
coming.
To contrast this attitude, I'd like to
apply the game-season analogy to the
Michigan State game.
Against the Spartans, after leading
nearly the ntire game, Michigan fell
behind by five with 6:22 left and a wave
of panic swept through Crisler Arena. It
was as if everyone was witnessing the
wheels finally coming off the train that
had 12 games of momentum. For any-
one that has followed the Wolverines
the past few years, it was a familiar
sight.
Over the past three years, it seemed as
though Michigan could only win games
that it led throughout. As soon as the
opponent gained a two- or three- point
lead, the Wolverines lost any momen-
tum, and that lead quickly quadrupled.
The fear of losing was so great that the

players froze up, could not move the ball
around and forced long-range shots out
of pure desperation. This phenomenon
contributed to plenty of losses.
The crowd had that same fear when
the Wolverines fell behind by five. The
fans, which had been raucous all day,
were disjointed and struggled to put
together even the simplest of cheers.
They were not thinking about how
impressive the 12 consecutive Michigan
wins were; theonly thing on their minds
was how, after so many blowouts, the
Wolverines had come so far, yet would
again come up short.
But the Wolverines came through.
They overcame a quieted crowd and
brought it back in the game. Now, when
Michigan appears to be slipping again,
the fans should remain confident just as
the players have. Bernard Robinson said
after the game that the team knew it
could win. After all, it was the same
team that won 13 games in a row.
Even in the two losses, the Wolver-
ines had a chance to win in the end.
This team, unlike those of years past,
didn't collapse and lose by 30.
At the beginning of the season, if you
had asked the most optimistic of Michi-
gan fans what it would take to beat
Michigan State and be 6-2 in the Big
Ten, he would say that it would take a
miracle. It was this line of thinking that
left so many season tickets unsold.
The last thing that students wanted to
do was lay down more than $100 to see
their team lose and be embarrassed
again by their rival. The fear of losing
was so deep that fans refused to support
their team. It was this same doubt that
left me $100 richer, but with an
immeasurable-amount of'disappoint-
ment at having trouble getting tickets.
Even though I know I have trouble
getting..a seatnmow, I hope. it .continues.
There is no greater source of pride for a
fan base or a team than a full stadium.
With only four home games left, Michi-
gan's fans should show the same heart
that its team has - and sellout Crisler.
While some fans might be content to
just beat the in-state rival, the Wolver-
ines aren't.
-Jeff Phillips can be reached at
jpphilli@umich.edu.

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