The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 17, 2003 - 5B
Talkin' the talk
"When you come to a program you want to
leave it in better shape than when you
came, and hopefully we were able to do that."
- Michigan senior captain LaVell Blanchard discussing
his class' impact on the program.
Players of the game
Moye was a thorn in Michigan's The junior nearly posted his first
side all day, coming out of nowhere career triple double, finishing with 15
to pour in 18 points to lead Indi- points,11 rebounds and eight
assists in 39 minutes.
Blanchard bids farewell t
By Naweed Sikora
Daily Sports Editor
CHICAGO - As Michigan senior Lavell
Blanchard walked toward the lockerroom
door following Friday night's loss to Indiana,
the emotion in his eyes was mixed. The sting
from the loss was evident, but there was more
than pure disappointment.
There was a clear sense of pride. Pride
from knowing that he's leaving the program in
better shape than when he came. Blanchard
has given more to the Wolverines in his career
than just numbers. His dedication to winning
and love for the program has made a strong
impression on the younger players, which is
just as important to him than individual
"I think he's passed on the passion and the
will and drive to work hard," freshman Daniel
Horton said. "He stuck with it and played
hard all year. (The seniors) have passed down
a lot that hopefully we can pass to the people
coming in after us when we graduate."
Horton, whose ankle injury was easily bad
enough to keep him out of the game, said he
decided to play because he didn't want to let
his seniors down.
"I couldn't let their careers end with me on
the bench," Horton said. "I met LaVell before
I came here, and he was a great guy, and I had
to be a part of this for him."
Blanchard had one of the most successful
Michigan basketball careers in the history of
the program. The senior became the only
Wolverine in history to lead his team in points
and rebounds for four straight years. He fin-
ished sixth on the all-time scoring list with
* By Charles Paradis
Daily Sports Writer
1,818 points, and is one of just seven players
in Michigan history with over 1,800 points.
Blanchard also finished seventh on the all-
time rebounding list with 845 boards.
But unfortunately for the Ann Arbor native,
his accomplishments were not always the
focus, given the turbulence within the pro-
gram during his career.
"Everything didn't go as well as he wanted
coming out of high school," assistant coach
Charles Ramsey said. "But I think he dealt
with it very well.
"I think our younger players have learned a
certain humbleness from him. He's had a pro-
ductive career, he's graduating in May and I
think the kids appreciate and respect that."
Blanchard entered Michigan as part of a
highly touted recruiting class, composed of
fellow senior Gavin Groninger and former
guards Kevin Gaines and Jamal Crawford.
Within a year, Crawford and Gaines, who
were supposed to be Michigan's one-two
punch in the backcourt, were off the team.
That was the first blow dealt to Blanchard.
The Wolverines finished 15-14 overall that
season, but went 6-10 in the conference and
lost in a first round NIT game at Notre Dame.
Blanchard continued producing over the
next two seasons, but the team continued to
struggle, as attention was directed toward off-
court issues, mainly the replacement of Brian
Ellerbe with current coach Tommy Amaker.
And finally, the biggest blow was dealt
when the Wolverines banned themselves from
the postseason prior to this season, guarantee-
ing that Blanchard would leave Michigan
never having the chance to play in an NCAA
But again, the senior persevered, leading
Michigan to a 17-13 overall record and get-
ting selected to the First Team All-Big Ten for
the first time in his career.
"I respect LaVell a lot," Michigan freshman
Lester Abram said. "When we found out we
weren't playing in the tournament, he could
have laid down and went for his individual
stats, but he still played with the team, and he
played hard every game. He didn't have to do
that, and I respect him for that."
But what has the senior learned from his
experience at Michigan?
"I've gone from an 18-year-old kid to a 22-
year-old man," Blanchard said. "It's been a
major change, but I have matured so much
and grown up a lot.
"It's all gone by very fast. I think I'm going
to miss going to practice and spending time
with the guys the most, because we had a
Blanchard went on to say that even
though he won't be a part of it, the future of
Michigan basketball is secure in the hands
of Amaker and Michigan's freshmen. He's
also said he's tried his best to pass on the
lessons he's learned over his career to
"You try to teach them as much as you
can about and tell them about your experi-
ences," Blanchard said. "Whatever they
absorb, they absorb."
But looking at the heart and passion the
Wolverines played with this season, it was
clear their captain rubbed off on them.
"I just want to tell him thank you for every-
thing he has taught me and for leading by
example," Abram said.
Although Michigani captain LaWell Blanchard splashed his
name~ all over Michigan's record books ini his fou~ryear
career, he was forced to endur~e a great deal of adversity, just
what has La Vel lanchard Ibeen through. in his furyer
His recruiting clas ,
~JamnaI Crawford- Ctawfoidis rldinlgbl o he W,<1 ,tine '
game again st.Michigari Stare on l~eL 1, 2000, Due to a vilaiolI of
NCAA ruls, he sfrcdt ms h last 14 gamiesof thesaon On
May 9, 2000 Craford delares for the NBA Dr igi d kaves dt
Leland Ander~son - Anderson decids to leave the mth rxr
Blanchard's sohomorseasont on July 7, 2000
b~y Brian Ellerbe for violaing team policy,
GavinGoninget~ Cronner is the only other m~emer o B
chardslss to gduate, burt never reached his potentil.
Hisfist cach ..
Brian Ellerhe -- Ellkrbe is fired on.March 13 Xatrcahm
Bla~nchard for two years. Two weekla t oixiny Amyker is hied.
March 15, Z2000 -Blanchard plays in his oni postseasoin gdmce a4
a Wolverine. Michigan loses this first-rounid NIT game gai N1orr
His carer ..
t Sixth on all-timne Michigan~ scoring list with ,Sl fin.
* Seventh on all-time rebounin~hg list with 845.
* 2003 Alt-Big Tn first team
2002 AllbBig Tenthird team
8 2001 All-Big Teiscod team~r
* 20coBgn ehman 'fthe a
2000All-Big Tnthird team
FG FT REB
MIN M-A M-A 0-T A F PTS
Wright 32 2-8 4-4 1-4 0 1 8
Newton 39 59 5-6 1-6 2 2 15
Leach 10 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 4 0
Coverdale 40 4-13 4-4 0-6 4 2 15
Strickland 26 0-5 3-4 0-2 2 2 3
Moye 25 6-6 5-7 2-4 1 4 18
Hornsby 22 1-5 1-2 2-3 4 1 3
Roberts 6 0-0 1-2 0-0 0 2 1
Totals 200 18.47 23-29 8-29 33 18 63
FG%:a383. FT%: .793. 3-point FG: 4-24 167
(Coverdale 3-12, Moye 1-1, Wright 0-5, Hornsby 0-3,
Strickland 0-3). Blocks: 4 (Newton 2, Leach 2).
Steals: 3 (Coverdale, Leach, Moye). Turnovers: 4
(Leach, Newton, Roberts). Technical fouls: none.
Totals 200 21-54 12-14 9-26 12 19 61
FG%:.389. nFM .857.3-point FG: 7-1, .368 (Blan-
chard 3-6, Horton 2-8, Abram 1-3, Groninger 1-2).
Blocks: 2 (Hunter, Robinson). Steals: 8 (Hunter 3,
Robinson 2, Abram 2, Horton 1). Turnovers: 15 (Hor-
ton 7, Robinson Jr. 6, Abram, Hunter). Technical
38 - 63
26 - 56
At: United Center, Chicago
Despite loss, Blue is
just short of greatness
CHICAGO - It was almost a per-
fect game for Bernard Robinson. The
junior swingman dropped 15 points
and ripped down 11 boards against
assists put him just
two shy of his first
triple double. But 80
even playing one of
the best games of his
career was not
enough for him.
"I just want to win the ball game,"
Robinson said. "Whatever I've got to
do to win the game is the type of
game I want."
Robinson and the rest of the
Michigan basketball team fell 63-56
to the Hoosiers in a game the Wolver-
ines controlled for all but the final
When word began to circulate that
freshman point guard Daniel Horton
severely sprained his ankle the night
before the game, it was apparent that
Robinson would have to pick up some
of the slack. Robinson, who had run
the point at times this season, would
have to fill in if Horton was not going
to play. Fortunately, Horton did play
Friday, but he was limited in his action
due to his injury, and Robinson was
called upon to show his versatility.
"Coach (Tommy Amaker) gives me
the freedom to do a lot of things and
that's the way he wants me to play day
in and day out," Robinson said. "Hav-
ing to deliver like that all year around
consistently meant I felt pretty good
out there. The team as a whole did a
good job, we just let a couple of things
slip at the end of the game."
Robinson played an average of 32
minutes a game throughout the sea-
son, but Friday his minutes were
extended to almost the entire game.
In his 39 minutes of action, Robinson
moved between the point guard and
Goin' to work
Michigan's Bernard Robinson was just two assists away from his first career triple
double Friday, but the Wolverines still fell 63-56 to Indiana.
small forward position and places in
between. Near the end of the game, it
was becoming apparent that all the
minutes were wearing down on
Robinson. The lefty was able to drive
to the hole, but unable to get his shots
to fall around the basket and also had
six turnovers, including two late in
"I thought we got a little fatigued in
the second half, with the turnovers,
you can see that with Bernard," Amak-
er said. "And not being able to finish
as much. His ability to finish the ball
around the rim was not there for us
tonight. But I thought he played a
tremendous all-around game."
TRIGGER FINGER: Indiana has always
been known for its ability to shoot
from beyond the arc, but Friday the
Hoosiers almost shot themselves out
of the game in the first half.
Standout freshman Bracey Wright
was 0-for-5 from beyond the 3-point
line, and senior guard Tom Coverdale
connected on just three of his dozen
attempts from 3-point land. Of the
Hoosiers two dozen 3-point attempts,
they made just four, with the lone non-
Coverdale triple coming from forward
"We only had four turnovers but
we shot 24 three's, so 15 of those
were like turnovers, so give us 19
turnovers," Indiana coach Mike
CHICAGO - Everyone's well
aware of the path the Michi-
gan basketball season took.
The devastating sanctions handed
down before the start of the year,
the 0-6 start, the turnaround and,
finally, the struggles down the
It is - well, pick a word -
amazing, unfair, ironic how much
the Wolverines' trip to the Big Ten
Tournament mirrored this season.
In what can only be described as
a perfect microcosm of the year,
Michigan ran the full gamut of
emotions in Chicago.
On Thursday night came the
unexpected blow: Starting point
guard and Big Ten Freshman of the
Year Daniel Horton badly turned
his ankle on a freak play at the end
of practice. For much of the day on
Friday, it sounded as if Horton had
no chance to go. Walking on
crutches, trying to fight the
swelling, Horton's injury had the
Wolverines' backs against the wall
before they even had a chance to
So the thinking inside the United
Center became, "Write 'em off.
There's no way they can compete
against Indiana if Horton can't go."
It's funny how no one learned
from what this team did all year.
Thirty minutes before tip-off, the
Wolverines took the court to shoot
around led by, of course, Daniel
Limping heavily on a noticeably
taped ankle that probably had no
business being walked on, let alone
played on, Horton ran through
drills for close to 10 minutes.
At that point, he returned the
lockerroom to receive one last
round of treatment before the game
And, with Horton at about half of
his normal self, the Wolverines
came out flying.
As if they were once again forced
to play with that us-against-the-
world mentality, Michigan played
exceptionally solid for 30 minutes
against an Indiana team in need of
a victory to guarantee an NCAA
Tournament berth, grabbing a five-
point halftime lead.
Just like during the rest of the
season, though, Michigan came up
Just short of a regular season
conference title. Just short of a
bench deep enough to compete with
the Wisconsins and Indianas of the
times by the rest of the teams in the
Sometime between Michigan's
loss at Duke way back in December
and Friday's defeat at Indiana's
hands, the Wolverines made a trip
to the garage for a serious upgrade
on the Jalopy that had chugged
around the Crisler Arena floor for
the last few years.
It was, in fact, LaVell Blanchard
who put things in perspective after
Friday's game better than anyone
outside the team ever could.
"At times this was a difficult
year, but it was also a beautiful
year. We started working together
and got closer as a team. You have
to credit the players and the coach-
ing staff who worked hard and
made it like we could go to the
(NCAA) Tournament every game."
Obviously this team never could
go to the tournament.
And what that means is that the
Wolverines have played this entire
year for one thing and one thing
It's a word that had lost meaning
for the basketball team in Ann
Arbor in the last few years.
Pride meant not losing to Michi-
gan State by more than 20 or grab-
bing a win over pitiful Penn State.
"When you come to a program
you want to leave in better shape
than when you came," Blanchard
said. "And hopefully we were able
to do that."
They were, and now, Michigan's
pride is that anything short of a Big
Ten title is disappointing, and that
losing a game - ANY game - is
That's why Horton played Friday
night when he probably should
have been on a trainer's table, or
why Bernard Robinson dug deep
enough to run the point in Horton's
stead and still guard Indiana star
And it's why Blanchard, whose
career has never gone the direction
that he envisioned it would while
enduring losses and player defec-
tions and coaching changes, was
able to avoid ever looking too dis-
traught after his final game. He
remained composed and told any-
one who still doubted this team
why they shouldn't anymore.
The Wolverines didn't win on
Friday, meaning that their season
ends without tons of fanfare.
There is no tournament trip, no
NIT, no Big Ten title banners to
It's hard to feel disappointed in
this team, though. They didn't lose
because they threw in the towel and
didn't care. They lost because this
team is, and has been all year, still
a year or two away from being
But it didn't stop them from
doing some spectacular things this
Big Ten Tournament
vs. Indiana 56-63
Now that the season's over, the
Wolverines have to sit and wait for
the NCAA Infractions Committee
to rule on the Ed Martin scandal.
vs. St. Bonaventure
vs. Virginia Tech
vs. Kansas State
at Ohio State
at 1 rdfria'
at Penn State
South Carolina State
East Tennessee State
Sam Houston State
Continued from Page 1B
percent, while Michigan connected on eight field
goals. Indiana outscored Michigan 38-26 in the half
and held the Wolverines to six points in the final
Acting as a catalyst for the Hoosiers was junior A.J.
Moye, who came off the bench to score a team-high 18
points in 26 minutes. Moye, who had 16 of his points
in the second half, was 6-for-6 shooting and 5-for-7
from the line.
Moye gained Indiana's first lead of the game when,
with more than six minutes to go, he connected on a 3-
point play. But Moye, who had been fouled by senior
Gavin Groninger on his way to the hoop, took a third
step that the referees did not call.
The play took the momentum away from the Wolver-
ines, who were held scoreless for the next four and a
half minutes except for two Robinson free throws.
FINAL 'M' STATS