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February 10, 2003 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-02-10

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Utbe AlitriguujoaiI,
SPORT Si2

February 10, 2003

SECTION B

i:!: i I I Wil I il RON: I I WMI

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on

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MICHIGAN 70,
'M' title run dependent
on defense of Crisler

The National Champions of 1988-89
didn't do it. Neither did the NIT
Champions of 1997 or the Fab Five
(although according to the official Univer-
sity record books, the
Fab Five didn't do
much).
In fact, it's been 26
years since any
Michigan team has
done it.
But this year's
Wolverines -the
sudden toasts of Ann CHiS
Arbor, that loveable BURKE
bunch of scrappers
that no one gave a Goin' to
snowball's chance in work
hell at the start of the
season - have the chance to run the table
at home in the Big Ten.
And if the Wolverines are serious about
giving Rudy Tomjanovich's retired No. 45
jersey some company with a Big Ten
Championship banner, then they had better
do just that.
With a 70-62 come-from-behind victory
over Iowa on Saturday, the Wolverines
grabbed their 11ith straight home victory,
and, more importantly, moved to 5-0 on
Crisler Arena's floor in the Big Ten.
Forget the missteps against Central
Michigan and Western Michigan earlier
this year, because they really mean
absolutely nothing in the long run this sea-
son - Michigan has figured out how to
win at home. And the Wolverine faithful
(13,274 strong Saturday) are responding.
"There is a lot of basketball to be_
played, but a team always has to hold court
in their own building," Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker said. "It is important for a
team in a conference like the Big Ten to
win in their home arena in front of their
home crowd."
Amen to that.
After this weekend's play, just four of 11
Big Ten teams have fewer than four confer-
ence losses: Michigan, Purdue, Illinois and
Wisconsin.
None of them has lost a home game.
Winning on the road in this conference

is far from being a given - it's an enor-
mous bonus.
Take, for example, Penn State and
Northwestern. The lowly Nittany Lions
and Wildcats are the only two teams in the
entire Big Ten with home records below
.500 and - surprise, surprise - they are
dragging up the rear in the conference.
But even Northwestern held serve in
Evanston last Wednesday, stunning an Indi-
ana team that's dropping faster than a
bungee jumper without the bungee.
"It feels good to be back on our home
court," said forward Bernard Robinson
after Saturday's victory. "The whole sup-
port felt good - it was great to go play out
there in front of the cheering crowd."
And it's amazing how much difference it
can make when that crowd is cheering for
you.
Michigan was given a harsh lesson in
how difficult conference road games can
be when the Wolverines dropped two tough
games at Illinois and Minnesota last week.
Saturday, Michigan won a game that it
very well might have lost if the game been
played in Iowa City.
Don't fool yourself. Michigan didn't
play great basketball against the
Hawkeyes.
The Wolverines shot 50 percent from the
free throw line, they were sloppy and spo-
radic offensively in the first half and they
trailed an undermanned Iowa team that
dressed just nine players, 46-40, with 14
minutes left.
But if the miraculous Michigan come-
back against Wisconsin proved anything,
it's that games canchange in a heartbeat at
home.
After the loss at Illinois, Amaker said his
team "came apart at the seams."But on
Saturday the reverse was true. Michigan
stayed composed, hit a few key baskets and
got the crowd back into the game.
And Iowa came undone.
After grabbing that six-point lead, the
Hawkeyes scored four points in the next 10
minutes. They were firing up wild shots
and turning the ball over, leading to several
easy Michigan baskets.
See BURKE, Page 5B

Wildcats
annilate
Wolveines
By Gennaro FiCe
Daily Sports Writer
During a 31-0 run in the first half
of Northwestern's 67-38 shellacking
of Michigan, Wildcats radio announc-
er Dan Owen expressed his feelings
about the jaw-dropping spurt:
"I have never seen the Northwest-
ern Wildcats play like this."
Truth is, before yesterday's 29-
point blowout against Michigan,
nobody, especially the Wolverines,
had.
Entering yesterday, the Wildcats
had lost 52
of their last MICHIGAN 38
53 confer-
ence games. H NORTHWESTERN 67
Michigan
had defeated Northwestern (2-10 Big
Ten, 7-16 overall) on 10-straight
occasions, including the Wolverines'
65-50 win at Crisler Arena earlier this
season. But none of these numbers
had any significance in the game's
result.
Yesterday's outcome was decided
in an extremely one-sided first half.
The game began with both teams
feeling each other out and struggling
to put the ball in the hoop. Six min-
utes into the game, Michigan (2-8,
11-10) trailed Northwestern 7-6. But,
in the ensuing 13 minutes, the Wild-
cats took advantage of an unbeliev-
able Wolverine drought, scoring 31
unanswered points. Northwestern
coach June Olkowski believes the run
occurred because of her team's solid
work on the boards.
"I just kept telling them they have
to rebound," Olkowski said. "Michi-
gan was going to go over the back,
they were going to keep driving. It's
about rebounding the ball in that situ-
ation."
While Northwestern enjoyed a
huge first-half output (40), the Maize
and Blue had to score six points in
the final 1:22 to reach double digits
in points (12).
While the Wildcats shot a scorch-
ing 65.4 percent from the field (17-
26, including 6-of-8 from beyond the
arc) in the opening 20 minutes,
Michigan produced a dismal 13 per-
cent mark (3-23).
Olkowski credits her team's early
dominance to their commitment to
See WILDCATS, Page 3B

BRETT MOUNTAIN/Daily

Michigan senior LaVell Blanchard collects one of his 12 rebounds in Michigan's win over Iowa.

Cagers survive sluggish start, retake control of Big Ten

By Naweed Sikora
Daily Sports Editor

Having time off can be a blessing, but it can
also be a challenge to come back playing with the
same timing and exe-
cution as before a -IOWA 62
break. With no game
Wednesday, Michigan M MICHIGAN 70
had a few days of extra
rest to prepare for Saturday's game against Iowa
- and it looked like that was going to hurt it.
After looking as sluggish and void of energy
as it had all season in the game's first half, the

Wolverines' extra rest finally kicked in as they
put the Hawkeyes on lockdown defensively in the
final eight minutes to win 70-62. The win
snapped Michigan's two-game losing streak, and
gave it some added momentum as it heads into
Bloomington Wednesday to face the Hoosiers.
"I really thought that our second-half defense
was the key to pulling this one out;' Michigan
coach Tommy Amaker said. "I thought our play
defensively allowed us to get into their passing
lanes and get some fast-break points."
Poor execution was Michigan's biggest prob-
lem in the first half. The Wolverines shot just
37.5 percent from the field and committed nine

turnovers. These miscues led to lapses in the zone
defense, lapses during which Iowa was able to
work the ball inside and score many easy layups.
Seven of Iowa's 10 first-half buckets were scored
in the paint. But because the Hawkeyes shot just
37 percent from the field, Michigan was able to
enter halftime with a 31-29 lead.
"We are concerned with the lack of execution,"
Amaker said.
But the second half was a different story.
Junior Bernard Robinson and freshman Lester
Abram seemed to have an infinite amount of
energy coming out of the lockerroom. Both put
relentless pressure on the Iowa offense, picking

up a combined five steals for the game.
The defensive heat translated into several fast
break opportunities for Robinson, who filled the
box score with a game-high 21 points, six assists,
six rebounds and two assists.
"I hit my first jumpshot, and then I opened up
a little bit and got more confidence," Robinson
said. "I was able to get to the basket today and
find those other players, and we finished on our
shots. I played well but the team really boosted
me. They were able to find me and everybody
was looking for each other."
Lester Abram, who finished with 14 points,
See HAWKEYES, Page 5B

Icers fly over Wildcats for huge sweep

By Dan Rosen
Daily Sports Writer

For one night, Michigan freshman forward Andrew
Ebbett was the Great One.
The Vernon, British Columbia native camped behind the
Northern Michigan net and
whipped holes in the Wildcats j NORTHERN MICH. 1
defense like Wayne Gretzky.
Ebbett passed his way to three MICHIGAN 5
assists, leading to a 5-1 Michigan
win and its first-ever series sweep of Northern Michigan.
"We're going to add the other nine back there this
week for practice, for the 99 back there," forward Milan
Gajic joked after the game of Ebbett's jersey, which as of
now bears a No. 19.
While he may not be as good as the NHL's all-time
leading scorer, Ebbett seemed pretty comfortable
behind the goal.
"If no one's forcing me, I'll sit there all day," Ebbett said.
The freshman's line on the powerplay, which also fea-
tured sophomores David Moss and Gajic, dominated the
Wildcats penalty kill to the tune of three powerplay goals.
Michigan coach Red Berenson put them together after the
Wolverines went 0-for-5 on the powerplay Friday night.
In total, Michigan had a whopping 13 powerplays on Sat-
urday, as Northern Michigan racked up 74 penalty minutes.
Moss put Michigan on the board early with a powerplay
ana in A-1intn ~±-~the. first nrirl iHefn~iind na nn,,,nnek

In the game, Moss had a career-high three points on two
goals and an assist.
He scored his second goal later in the first period with
two Wildcats in the penalty box. Moss was the beneficiary
of Ebbett's prettiest assist of the game. The freshman
ripped a pass around the goal, and Moss bounced the puck
off of his stick and into the net to give the Wolverines an
early, but comfortable, 3-0 lead.
"The start of this game, I thought, was going to be
huge;' Berenson said. "Certainly Northern wanted to come
back and right the ship. They played well last night with
how close they were. We knew how close the game could
be if we let them get going."
The Wolverines continued their assault early in the sec-
ond period on a sharp drive by captain Jed Ortmeyer.
Senior John Shouneyia found his linemate in the slot from
behind the net. Ortmeyer stopped the puck with his skate
and ripped a slapshot just inside the far goalpost.
The goal was Ortmeyer's 11th on the season, keeping
him one ahead of Moss for second on the team.
Gajic added his second goal of the game late in the sec-
ond period to put a cap on Michigan's scoring outburst at
5-0. Ebbett found him with a pass from behind the net
that was eerily similar to his assist to Moss earlier in the
game.
Gajic also had two goals last Friday against Ferris State.
He now has nine goals on the season, but no hat tricks.
"It's kind of funny, it kind of looks like I'm afraid of it
o~r Rnebnr Giie. Raidnf Pttmng three crnaikin a

I

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