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March 06, 2003 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-03-06

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March 6, 2003
michigandaily. corn





Amaker has his critics
singing different tune

Blue regroups
to get back on
winning track
By Nawed Sikora
Daily Sports Editor
STATE COLLEGE - Coming off the most emo-
tional loss of the season Saturday against Illinois,
nobody knew which Michigan basketball team would
show up at Penn State last night. Turns out, the team
that won 16-of-19 games - not the squad that lost its
last two - showed up in State College.
For the first time in the Big Ten season, five play-
ers scored in double figures for _IHGNy____ 7
Michigan as it cruised to a 78-
62 win over the Nittany Lions.P
The Wolverines had everything working on the offen-
sive end, as they shot 60 percent from the field for
the game and nearly 70 percent in the second half.
Although the win gave Michigan (10-5 Big Ten,
17-11 overall) 10 wins in conference for the first
time since 1997-98, Wisconsin's 60-59 win over
Illinois clinched the regular season title for the
"Before the game, we talked a lot about how this
would be a difficult game for us and how it would
say a lot about our team," Michigan coach Tommy
Amaker said. "I thought we did a great job of
regrouping and responding."
For the second consecutive game, LaVell Blan-
chard was on fire. The senior, playing in his final reg-
ular season road game, drained 4-of-5 3-pointers in
the first half on his way to 16 points in 18 minutes.
Nobody could stop him, as he was able to carry the
Wolverines through a difficult defensive stretch.
But finally, the injury bug bit, as Blanchard suf-
fered an ankle injury after grabbing a rebound late in
the first half. He left the game, came back in to sink
one of his 3-pointers, but did not feel comfortable on
the floor.'
"I wasn't moving well, so Coach Amaker decided
to take me out," Blanchard said.
Blanchard only played seven minutes in the second
half, but his comrades turned it up a notch and

The Daily Grind
From day one, Tommy Amaker
had a plan. Not everyone under-
stood it. Not everyone believed
in it - especially the outsiders, the
media, the radio-talk show hosts.
But the Wolverines did, and that's all
that mattered.
I know I was skeptical.
-In my first ever meeting with Amak-
er - in August of 2002, before he
coached his first game for the Maize
and Blue - I asked him what he had
learned from his turbulent days as
coach for Seton Hall.
While there, he proved he was a
masterful recruiter, grabbing a top 10
class. But his top catch - the extreme-
ly talented, yet cocky, freshman Eddie
Griffin - thought he was bigger than
the team, bigger than the coach, bigger
than the program. Griffin is no longer
there, and neither is the black eyed he
gave teammate Ty Shine, but the mem-
ory still remained in Amaker's mind.
Amaker told me then that he learned
from the mess that he needed to "be
himself" and "give the team what the
team needed."
At first, I thought it was a typical
PR-spun diatribe of ideology - typi-
cal of many head coaches. After all, in
his introductory press conference, he
preached his "five virtues."
But after seeing him give the
Wolverines exactly what they needed
over the last two years, Amaker should
be given something he deserves -
National Coach of the Year honors.
He inherited a team with no hope, no
wins, no confidence, no discipline, no
sense of the word "program," and he put

it in a position to win a Big Ten title.
And he did it before most anyone
They needed discipline.
The Wolverines in the infamous
"Ellerbe era" lacked direction both on
and off the court. Some got arrested.
Others got suspended or dismissed
from the team entirely. And their
actions on the court weren't any better
as they finished 10-18 in Ellerbe's
final season. According to one player,
Ellerbe "never had a practice plan."
That probably didn't help.
But they did having a "losing cul-
ture." Coincidence? I think not.
In comes Amaker, and it didn't take
long for the Wolverines to know who
was running the show. He organized 6
a.m. workouts in the summer - even
lifting weights with them. He ran them
hard. He rode them hard. He demand-
ed perfection in every drill of every
practice. You didn't touch the line, you
did it again. It was that simple.
No one could cut corners.
That meant an All-America candidate,
hometown hero LaVell Blanchard, was
just as accountable as a walk-on. Starters
were benched for lazy practice behavior.
Walk-ons were rewarded for hustle and
heart -two things Amaker demanded
from everyone.
As one player says, "he weeded out
all those people who didn't want to
come on ship. He only wanted those
people who bought into it." Five play-
ers have been dismissed or transferred
under his watch.
The media blasted Amaker for sacri-
ficing victories, for being stubborn and
for not explaining himself.
But the only people Amaker felt
needed to "buy in" to his long-term
plan were the players.
They needed trust.
It wasn't just that anyone could have
come in and told the Wolverines to
"jump" - and they'd automatically say
"how high?" Amaker had something
that one player admits "not many
coaches have" He had a certain aura, a
See SMITH, Page 10A


Freshman center Chris Hunter pleased all of his teammates with 12 points last night against Penn State. This
monster dunk didn't hurt his standing with them either.

'M' offense
By Seth Klempner
Daily Sports Writer
came into yesterday's 78-62 win over
Penn State with a sick feeling in its
stomach. After dropping a three-point
game to Illinois on Saturday, it then
saw its chance of capturing the Big
Ten Championship become that much
smaller when Wisconsin beat Min-
nesota on Sunday.
But the Wolverines were able to
respond to the weekend's blows with
one of their best offensive performanc-
es of the season. In scoring 78 points,
they put up their second biggest scor-
ing effort in Big Ten play, as they shot
60 percent from the field and 70 per-
cent in the second half.
But what is most telling about the
Wolverines' performance is the 17
assists and five players reaching dou-
ble figures. It marked the first time in

gets everyor
Big Ten play that five Wolverines l
scored more than 10 points in a game.I
Previously, four Wolverines had l
reached the mark on five occasions in1
conference play.1
"I thought we had a really solid per-
formance and did a tremendous job in
the second half of picking up the I
pieces," Michigan coach Tommy
Amaker. "We played an outstanding +
team game and didn't rely on just one1
The Michigan offense was able to
spread the Penn State defense by com-
pleting extra passes and finding play-;
ers down low. The Wolverines poured;
in 34 points in the paint for the game.
Extra passes allowed Michigan to
complete baskets in transition,
strengthening its intensity on the
defensive end. On one sequence late in+
the second half, a Chuck Bailey block
led to a three-on-one fast break led by
Bernard Robinson. Robinson dished to1


Daniel Horton, who hit a trailing Chris
Hunter, who slammed the ball home.
Hunter was the final Wolverine to
break into double digits with 12
Passes like these were not being
made in some of Michigan's losses,
particularly against Wisconsin last
Wednesday. Players admit that getting
everyone involved raises the intensity
level of the team and makes playing
more enjoyable.
"Its great to see that we are multi-
dimensional and not just one or two
guys," Hunter said. "Tonight Daniel
and Bernard got us some open shots
and some easy looks. I am thankful for
them for getting us good shots."
Michigan's low-post baskets opened
shots up for Michigan's outside shoot-
ers, who buried more than half of their
3-point shots, going 9-for-17 on the
night. It was the first time this season
that Michigan has connected on more
than half of its 3-point attempts.
"We spaced well, we drove it and
were very unselfish," Amaker said.
"As a player you enjoy playing in that
atmosphere and style when you know
See OFFENSE, Page 10A

Robinson 39 8-14 0-0 2-7 5 3 17
Blanchard 25 6-11 0-0 1-3 1 0 16
Brown 22 1-3 2-4 1-5 2 4 4
Abram 35 3-5 7-9 0-6 3 1 14
Horton 38 5-10 0-0 0-2 6 1 12
Harrell 5 1-1 0-0 0-1 0 1 3
Groninger 4 0-0 0001 0 0 0
Hunter 23 6-6 0-0 1-3 0 3 12
Bailey 9 0-0 0-0 1-2 0 0 0
Totals 200 30-50 913 6.32 1713 78
FG%: .600. FT%:.692. 3-point FG: 9-17, .529 (Blan-
chard 4-6, Horton 2-6, Robinson 1-2, Abram 1-2,
Harrell 1-1). Blocks: 4 (Baily 2, Horton, Hunter).
Steals: 5 (Abram 2, Robinson, Brown, Horton,
Hunter). Turnovers: 10 (Robinson 3, Abram 3, Hor-
ton 3, Blanchard). Technical fouls: none.
Penn State (62)
Summers 14 2-2 0-0 3-5 0 0 4
Jagla 30 6-12 2-2 3-6 1 3 15
Vossekuil 7 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Watkins 36 2-11 0-0 1-2 2 1 5
Chambliss 36 5-10 0-0 0-1 0 1 15
Cameron 20 2-7 3-4 1-5 5 2 8
Johnson 34 5-12 5-8 2-3 2 1 15
Riley 15 0-3 0-0 0-3 2 0 0
Egekeze 8 0.1 0-0 0-0 0 2 0
Totals 200 22-58 10-1413-28 1210 62
FG%: .379. FT%: .714. 3-point FG: 8-21, .381
(Chambliss 5-10, Watkins 1-5, Cameron 1-3, Jagla
1-2, Riley 0-1). Blocks: 1 (Jagla). Steals: 6 (Jagla 2,
Vossekuil, Watkins, Johnson, Riley). Turnovers: 10
(Jagla 2, Chambliss 2, Riley 2, Vossekuil, Watkins,
Johnson). Technical fouls: none.
Michigan...........................38 40 - 78
Penn State .....................28 34 - 62

It's all or nothing for
Michigan in Indy

By Gennaro Filce
Daily Sports Writer

After losing 10 of its final 11
games, the Michigan women's bas-
ketball team finished Big Ten play
with a 3-13 record, giving it the

But with a first round matchup
against Illinois (9-7 Big Ten, 17-10
overall), the Wolverines will have a
hard time wiping the slate com-
pletely clean.
On Jan. 5, the Fighting Illini
came into Crisler Arena and blew

conference's worst
mark. Dropping 10 con-
ference games by dou-
ble-digit deficits, this
has been a year that the
Wolverines would love
to forget.
According to Michi-
gan head coach Sue
Guevara, tonight they
At 8 p.m., the Wolver-

To k
iv MCdizvs 1 li t } 5
Fir Lun
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out Michigan 89-57 in
the teams' only meeting
of the year.
The 11-seeded Wolver-
ines will get a second
crack at the No. 6 seed
Fighting Illini, and Gue-
vara believes that success
for Michigan lies in
awareness on defense.
"They have a lot of
kids that can run a couple


ines play their first game in the Big
Ten Tournament and - in Guevara's
mind - get a fresh start.
"(The Big Ten Tournament) is a
totally different season, and I think
unless you've been there, its tough
to understand that," Guevara said.

of different teams," said Guevara. "I
think we need to know where the
shooters are, get our hands up, and I
think we need to defend against the
On offense, Michigan needs to
See BTT, Page 11A


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