Talkin' the talk
"I want to be just like Bernard."
- Michigan freshman Lester Abram on Bernard Robinson
and his play.
The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - February 10, 2003 - 5B
Players of the game
Jeff Horner Bernard Robinson
Horner dropped in 12 points for the Robinson continued to show his
Hawkeyes along with eight versatility, as the junior scored 21
rebounds and six assists in points, pulled down six boards and
Saturday's loss. tied a career high with six assists.
'D' paying 'off
Dalty Sports Writer
Midway through the second half of Michigan's 70-62
win over Iowa on Saturday, with the game in flux, Iowa's
Jeff Horner stole the ball and took off with only Michi-
gan's Bernard Robinson to beat. From the outset, it
appeared that Horner would have an easy lane to the bas-
ket, but the athletic Robinson was able to make up the
distance between the two.
Two steps in front of the hall carnier, Robinson turned
his body around, forcing Horner to his right and effec-
tively limiting the point guard's access to the hoop.
Robinson then set himself in the lane, arms out in a
defensive position, cutting Horner off and forcing him to
pull up for a long jumper on the break.
In forcing Homer to take the jumper, Robinson also
prevented the Iowa guard from dishing the ball off to
guard Chauncey Leslie, who was trailing the play.
"I knew he was going to try and pull up by the way he
was looking," Robinson said. "I just wanted to let him
shoot the three instead of letting him get to the basket,
but I wanted to get out in front of him and get in position
just in case he.wanted to drive and maybe try and take a
charge or something. I also saw Leslie coming and
wanted to box him out to make sure that I got the
While the play was just a small victory in the game, it
was indicative ofthe mindset that Robinsonhas been car-
rying with him. Previously known as a player that relied
on his athleticism, Robinson has been putting himself in
position to make plays. This is something that Michigan
coach Tommy Amaker has been trying to instill in him.
"I just don't go out there and play," Robinson said
of the difference between his play this year and in the
past. "Not everything is off of instincts, you have to
play with a little bit of thought and make the other
This new mindset has caused Robinson to become the
Wolverines' best perimeter defender and one of the best
defenders in the Big Ten. The junior admits that in previ-
ous seasons he wasn't thinking about what he could do
on the defensive end.
Robinson also paced the Wolverines with 21 points and
a season-high six assists Saturday, but has not been scor-
ing as much this season. At 12.5 points per game, his
scoring average is down from the average from his first
two seasons of 13.2 points per game. Instead, Robinson is
picking his opportunities better and has been providing
cmrciathuckets for the Wolverines.
Continued from Page Bo
Such is life in the Big Ten.
Last year, it took 11 wins to grab a By Charles I
four-way share of the conference title. Daily Sports W
The Wolverines currently stand at seven.
With road contests at Indiana, Pur- In 1987,
due, Wisconsin and Penn State, there's Amaker, the
plenty of opportunity to grab one more for Duke, w
road win (looking your way Penn Defensive I
State). year, he ha
Michigan can reach that 11-win defensive gri
mark with a 3-0 finish at home. The The Wolv
Wolverines close their home campaign long that o
with rematches against Ohio State and success is g
Illinois and a final weekend showdown 70-62 win o
with co-Big Ten leader Purdue. tion to the r
A Big Ten title? Really? While the
"We still are Michigan and we several open
represent a program of tradition," ter at the b
Amaker said. half, they
That tradition, though, has also the Hawkey
included year after year of dropping Michigan
crucial conference games at home. making mae
That tradition has included 25 con- This seaso
secutive years of Michigan teams get to the fre
watching at least one Big Ten foe cele- times a gam
brate a victory in Ann Arbor. have been
Of course, that tradition also includes j being able t
the 1976-77 Wolverines that finished 9- But Saturday
0 at home in the conference. Their final defensive g
home win, 69-65 over Michigan State, fouls and se
allowed Michigan to close the year in a charity stripe,
fashion that this year's Wolverines "You hav
would love to emulate. it," Iowa c
By beating Purdue in the last con- "If you can
ference game of the year to capture a utes and no
Big Ten title. you are doin
free throw I
Chris Burke can be reached at of the bonus
Continued from Page 1B
two steals and a career-high nine
rebounds, also provided a much-needed
boost of energy.
With freshman Daniel Horton fight-
ing injuries and his shot in the last few
games, Abram has stepped up to
become a consistent threat on both
ends of the floor. His post play and his
ability to finish near the hoop are
becoming essential to the Wolverines'
"It's not common to have a kid with
that kind of mental toughness," Amak-
er said. "I have always said Lester is
tough and a competitor. That is one of
the reasons he was a two-time high
school champion and major reason
why we wanted him to come here."
Horton was able to find Abram near
the basket twice for easy alley-oop
lay-ins, a play the two haven't tried
much this year.
"That was just us playing basketball
and finding the openings," said Hor-
ton of his passes to Abram.
The point guard benefited most
from the rest, as he finished with 16
points, three steals and two blocks.
Horton had been struggling because of
fatigue, but he seemed refreshed in the
second half, even throwing one down
for the first time this season in a
"I just get tired of people saying I
can't dunk," Horton said. "That was a
little extra motivation for me, and I
just wanted to give the team a little
The Wolverines' second half
defense mirrored its performance at
Ohio State and at home against Min-
nesota. In both those games, the
Michigan defense shut down the
opposition down the stretch in the
second half, not allowing the Buck-
eyes to gain any momentum.
Michigan got back to that on Satur-
day, and Iowa was flustered.
"They close gaps really fast and
they can jump," Iowa center Sean Son-
With the win at home, Michigan
continued its quest to win the confer-
ence title. With its difficult road
schedule, every home game is almost
"For me, every game is a must-
win," Abram said.
FG FT REB
MIN M-A M-A 0-T A F PTS
Robinson 36 8-13 4-6 2-6 6 1 21
Blanchard 31 4-10 1-4 2-12 1 3 10
Brown 21 2-4 1-4 1-3 1 2 5
Abram 37 6-12 2-2 4-9 2 1 14
Hsrton 37 6-13 2-2 0-2 6 2 1t
Harrell 1 0-0 0- 0-505
Gioninger 5 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 5
Hunter 23 25 0-2 2-5 0 1 4
teiley 5 0-1 0-0 0-0 00 0
Totals 200 2- 5810-20139 16 10 70
FG%: .483. FT%: .500. 3-point FG: 4-14, .286
(Robinson 1-2, Blanchard 1-3, Abram 0-2, Horton 2-
71- eluiks: Horton 2, Rabinsan, Brown. Steals: 3
(Abram, Horton), Roinson 2, Blanchard. Turnovers:
4 (Robinson, Hunter), Horton 3, Blanchard, Abram.
Technical fouls: none.
FG FT REB
MIN M-A M-A 0-T A F PTS
Hornen .38 a-s 0-0 2-862 12
Worley 36 3-13 1-1 4-9 1 3 7
Sonderleiter 29 -10 5-5 1-2 2 5 16
Leslie 27 3-6 0-0 2-3 4 5 6
Boys 31 4-11 2-2 0-2 1 3 12
Spurgeon 11 0-0 0-0 0-2 0 1 0
Brunner 28 3-8 3-4 2-5 1 1 9
Totals 200 22-59 11212-35 15 20 02
FG%: .373. FTr%: .917. 3-point FG: 7-21_ 333
(Goaner 4-8: anley 0-4, Sonderleiter 1-2, Leslie 0-1,
Boyd 2-5, Brunner 0-1) Blocks: 3 (Sonderleiter) 2
(Warley) Stealo: Hone, WarleH toyd Turnovers:
Leslie 5, Harner 4, Sanderleiter 3, Bayd 2, Spu'-
geon, Brunner. Technicaltfouls: none.
Michigan..- - - 31 39 - 7
Iowa............................................29 33 - 62
At:C rislerAnena, OneArbor.
BIG TEN STANDINGS
W L W L
7 2 15 5
7 2 14 8
6 3 16 5
5 3 15 4
5 4 13 7
5 4 13 8
4 4 12 7
4 5 14 8
4 5 11 9
1 8 9 11
0 8 5 14
Bernard Robinson has become an all-around player this season.
- With talented and athletic freshmen surrounding he can improve his outside shot, he has the possibility of
Robinson, he no longer feels the need to be a scorer for being abig-time pro."
the Wolverines to win. These complementary players
have allowed him to focus on his defense and rebound- Plugging in and turning up
"When you know that (they can score), you are more During his first two years at M ichigan Bernard Robin
willing to kick the ball to them, knowing that they are son was greatly criticized for his lack of defense and
going to knock down shots," Robinson said. "They are team play. But this season he has recommitted him
also so athletic and fast, like myself, that I really enjoy self, and while his scoring is down, he is considered
playing with them." one of the most valuable players in the Big Ten.
People in Ann Arbor are not the only ones impressed
with Robinson's improved play this season. Iowa coach Year Points Rebounds Assists Steals
Steve Alford said of Robinson: "His defense has Freshman 14.4 4.9 2.3 33
improved, and he really gave us a lot of problems. He's a Sophomore 12.1 4.6 2.4 34
big, strong guard - he's left-handed, so he's different. If Junior 12.5 6,2 4.6 33
MICHIGAN 70, Iowa 62
Wisconsin 74, NoRTHWESTERN.59
MINNESOTA 92, Purdue 68
Michigan State 67, INDIANA 62
ILUNOIS 76, OHIO STATE 57
Michigan State at WISCONSIN 6p.m.
ckdown defense key to closing games
Michigan coach Tommy
n the starting point guard
as named the National
Player of the Year. This
s gotten some of that
it to rub off on his team.
erines have said all year
ne of the keys to their
;ood defense. Saturday's
ver Iowa was no excep-
Wolverines did give up
n looks from the perime-
eginning of the second
were able to shut down
es for most of the game.
also defended without
on, Iowa has been able to
e throw line more than 26
ne. These charity points
a key to the Hawkeyes'
o win games this season.
, Michigan played a clean
same, committing just 10
nding the Hawkeyes to the
just 12 times.
e to give Michigan cred-
oach Steve Alford said.
defend close to 10 min-
t commit a foul, I think
ng something right. Our
year was getting to the
ine, but they kept us out
s in both halves."
's defense has been stout
all year with just a few exceptions -
see second half of the Illinois and
Minnesota games - and that defense
has been a key to Michigan's success.
The ability to go on a run and keep
the opposing team from getting out in
front rests on the defense. The Wolver-
ines know that scoring is all well and
good, but if you can't stop the other
team,, you aren't going to win.
"Our defense has been solid for us
all year long," Amaker said. "You
talk about a team in Iowa that has
shot the ball well from the perimeter
all year. Today they weren't able to
hit those shots, and our defense was a
part of that. Tenacious defense
allowed us to get some runs and has
been the catalyst for us all year to pull
out the tight games."
Freshman Lester Abram has
proven himself to be one of the
team's top defenders this season, and
his skills were on full display Satur-
day. In the second half, Abram limit-
ed Iowa's Brody Boyd to just three
points, this coming after Boyd had
ignited for nine in the first half. The
ability of Abram and the rest of the
Michigan team to stay the sharp
shooter's hot hand was instrumental
in the win.
"While I was on him, I tried to
deny him the ball and when he got
the ball I tried to put a hand in his
face," Abram said. "I'm 6-6 and he's
5-11 so I knew my wingspan would
bother him a little bit."
One of the key's to Abram's success
Michigan at INDIANA
IowA at MINNESOTA
Ohio State at PENN STATE
Purdue at NORTHWESTERN
Next Saturday's games:
Ohio State at McHiA 3p.m.
Indiana at WISCoNSIN 12p.m.
Northwesterm at MICHIGAN STATE 3:01p.m.
Penn State at towA 4:07 p.m.
Illinois at PURDUE 8 p.m.
Michigan freshman Lester Abram has shown all season that he is one of the
team's best defenders.
was studying film on Boyd before the
game. Abram was able to fight
through or work around the various
screens Iowa tried to set for Boyd.
"I saw in the tape before the game
that they set a lot of screens for
him, and he fakes one way and goes
the other way around the screen. I
didn't go for the fakes so that's why
I was able to stay with him."
WHO WILL WIN THE BIG TEN?
HOW THE AP TOP 25 FARED
Purdue (7.2) - The upstart Boilermakers have
jumped out to an early conference lead. But will
the play of two-time Big Ten Player of the Week
Willie Deane the "scoring machine" be enough to
overcome the tough schedule ahead?
MICHIGAN (7-2) - The play of Daniel Horton and
Bernard Robinson has put Michigan in position to
win the conference. But with a bench that has not
been able to produce much this season, coach
Tommy Amaker has to pray his team stays healthy.
Wisconsin (6-3) - Apparently Bo knows basket-
ball. Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan has his Badgers
playing as well as anyone in the conference. With
good defense and superior outside shooting -
both trademarks of the Badgers - there is no
limit to how far this team could go.
Illinois (5-3) - Everyone knew Brian Cook would
be a dominant force in the conference this season,
but the play of freshman point guard Dee Brown
has been just as important to the Fighting Illini.
Minnesota (5-4) - Even though Rick Rickert wears
two jersey's - No. 1 at home and No. 4 on the road
- he is still one of the conference's premier players.
Like Cook, Rickert is versatile and draws a lot of
attention to free up Minnesota's other shooters, now
if they could only hit those shots ...
Michigan State (5-4) - The Spartans have a chance
if for no other reason than their coach Tom Izzo. Izzo is a
proven winner, and with the help of Chris Hill, Michigan
State is always in the hunt.
Iowa (4-4) - While the Hawkeyes started the sea-
son strong as one of the most- pleasant surprises
in the nation, they have not been able to capital-
ize of late and are quickly headed for a sub-.500
record. Maybe Steve Alford should call up that
coach at Texas Tech for some more advice.
Indiana (4-5) - When the Hoosiers began their cur-
rent five-game skid many people attributed it to
the sore back of freshman shooting guard Bracey
Wright. But even with Wright's return, Indiana
couldn't stop its slide against Michigan State Sat-
Ohio state (4-5) - The Buckeye faithful will have to
count on another Big Ten Tournament run if they
hope to see their team in the NCAA Tournament
again this season. Ohio State has been dreadful
on the road this season and still has to travel to
face Michigan next week.
Northwestern (1-8) - The backcuts so skillfully
employed by the Wildcats have been able to free
them up for shots, but it doesn't work unless you
can hit your layups. Northwestern's lone win
came against the hapless Hoosiers, and after the
drubbing the Wildcats took at the hands of Wis-
consin, it doesn't look like many more will be
Penn State (0-8) - We've said it before, and we'll
say it again: No Crispins, no chance. Stay tuned
for March 1, when Penn State travels to
Evanston. They can't both lose ... right?
9. Oklahoma State.
11. Notre Dame
17. Wake Forest
21. Mississippi State
Record This weekend's results
16-2 Beat No. 20 California 95-80
15-2 Lost to Syracuse 67-65
14-3 Beat No. 9 Oklahoma State 78-65
118-2 Beat Arkansas 77-66
14-2 vs. Florida State
15-3 Beat Kansas State 91-89
16-3 Beat South Carolina 87-69
16-1 Beat No. 19 Indiana 95-76
17-2 Lost to No. 3 Texas 78-65
13-4 Beat Loyola Maryland 85-58
18-3 Beat Georgetown 93-92
15-5 Beat Nebraska 81-51
15-3 Lost to Michigan State 68-65
13-4 Lost to Boston College 95-71
13-5 Beat No. 21 Mississippi State 67-63
19-2 Beat Drake 88-68
14-2 vs. North Carolina
15-3 Beat Cincinnati 82-76
14-6 Lost to No. 8 Louisville 95-76
14-4 Lost to No. 1 Arizona 95-80
13-5 Lost to No. 15 Georgia 67-63
15-4 Lost to Southern Cal 91-76
13-5 Beat Lousiana State 75-66
14-3 Beat No. 2 Pittsburgh 67-65
13-4 Beat Colorado 73-70
Tom Coverdale AP PHOTO
Despite the play of freshman phe-
nom Bracey Wright, Indiana has
struggled of late. The Hoosiers'
loss to Michigan State Saturday
was their fifth straight. They have
been in a downward spiral since
losing to Northwestern.
After an embarrassing loss to Illinois
yesterday, the Buckeyes will have a
chance to avenge their early-season
loss to the Wolverines on Saturday.
This time the game will be in Crisler
Arena, though, where the Wolverines
are unbeaten in conference play.
Player G Min A Reb Pts.
Blanchard 22 31.8 1.0 7.1 16.4
Horton 22 35.8 4.4 2.5 15.7
Robinson 21 31.6 3.2 6.2 12.5
Abram 22 31.5 1.2 4.3 9.9
Hunter 22 20.9 0.5 4.0 5.9
Brown 22 19.0 0.5 4.4 5.7
Bailey 22 9.2 0.2 1.5 2.4
Groninger 22 13.1 0.6 1.0 1.9
Harrell 22 6.4 0.2 0.4 0.9
Field-Goal percentage leader
Brown 46-76 .605
Free-throw percentage leader
Robinson 69-82 .841
Three-point percentage leader
Blanchard 42-107 - .393