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September 03, 2002 - Image 57

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-03

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The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Tuesday, September 3, 2002 - 3E

The A
Horton, Abram and other
guards to set offensive tempo

(maker)-Team

By Joe Smith
Daily Sports Editor

A Michigan basketball team that can
run with the "Running Rebels?"
That may be a reality for this year's
Wolverines, who lost most of their size
but gained several quick and aggressive
recruits - leading m'any to believe next
year's group will adopt a "run-and-gun"
style of play.
'"They're going to have to be creative,"
said Theinsiders.com recruiting analyst
Vince Baldwin. "They're going to have
to play to their strength. If they don't
have a legitimate big man, they have go
more up tempo.
"They may turn out to be a '40-min-
utes-of-hell' type of team."
It's a style of play that Amaker had
previously stated that he wanted to
instill, and his Wolverines showed signs
of it in their two Big Ten Tournament
games. A usually stoic Amaker vehe-
mently yelled at Bernard Robinson and
other Michigan guards to jump into a
fast break right after they grabbed a
rebound.
The second-year coach also gave
Robinson and senior LaVell Blanchard,
who was finally able to bury his outside
shots, the freedom to take the ball from
the wing and create plays for themselves
or teammates - resulting in two of
Michigan's top offensive performances
of the year.
And this year Michigan will welcome
a potential superstar point guard in
Daniel Horton, along with swingman
Lester Abram, who Baldwin said is a
"tremendous slasher with an uncanny
ability to finish in the lane."
Horton improved his stock dramatical-
ly over last summer by going head-to-
head with some of the top guard
prospects in the country, and as Baldwin
says, "coming out on top against nearly
every one of them.
"His presence alone should make them
win a few more games next season.
(Point guard is) a position where they've
been hurting" in the past few years.
"He has a bulldog tenacity - especial-
ly on the offensive end of the court to
carry his team to victory," Baldwin said.
But the problem for Michigan this year
is that it has no "bulldog" in the paint, as
Amaker said that "any more than one

post player will be a luxury."
"On the front line, we're going to need
any and all guys in a Michigan uniform
to help us out," Amaker said. "We need
guys up front. Size, strength and num-
bers on the frontline are crucial."
And while the three big men Amaker
recruited - Graham Brown, Chris
Hunter and Amadou Ba - are all over 6-
foot-10, analysts agree that none of them
is ready to make a major impact in the
paint right away.
"Hunter has tremendous talent level,
but needs to be stronger," Baldwin said.
"Brown has strength, but needs to play
better competition on a routine basis. Ba
has the longest way to go of any of
them."
HoopScoop recruiting analyst Clark
Francis agrees: "Brown has potential, but
ideally you may need someone else bet-
ter. They still need a big guy or two."
Unless freshman Chuck Bailey bulks
up and learns a few more post moves,
Michigan will be without a go-to-guy in
the post - which will put some extra
pressure on the outside shooters to knock
down their shots.
Apparently, Horton - just like Dom-
manic Ingerson - has the range to do
just that, which should improve Michi-
gan's last-place finish in field goal
shooting.
Horton is a "deadly - and I do mean
deadly - offensive player with range
past 3-point range," Baldwin said. "They
better pick him up when he crosses half-
court."
Even if the lack of post presence is
Michigan's Achilles' heel this season,
Amaker has found some "team-first"
players that he needs to rebuild the pro-
gram.
Baldwin compares Abram to former
Detroit Piston Joe Dumars as far as char-
acter is concerned, labeling Abram as a
"tremendous locker room player" who is
essentially a "superstar with a role play-
er's mentality."
"That's a key to any program's suc-
cess," Baldwin said. "You have enough
things to worry about as a coach other
than kids not being prepared."
Having program-orientated kids "kills
33 percent of the stress. And maybe it
will help Michigan stay away from the
off-the-court antics that plagued the pro-
grari for the past few years," he added.

DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily
With new bleachers installed, Michigan coach Tommy Amaker brought the Maize Rage right behind the benches.
Two pried recruits Commit early,, g've hope
*p*.6v

By Jim Weber
Daily Sports Writer
Nothing gets between a boy and his Air Jor-
dan's. Detroit Redford junior and Michigan
recruit Dion Harris taught his mother that at an
early age.
When Dion was just six years old, he grew
so fast that he needed new shoes constantly.
His mother, Rischon, bought him a new pair,
but they weren't Jordan's. Instead of playing
with the new shoes, Dion took the old Jordan's
out of the trash can and kept playing with them
despite the uncomfortable fit.
Dion's mother asked what the difference
between the shoes was, besides the size. Dion's
response: "Mom, they make me jump higher."
Michigan basketball coach Tommy Amaker
will let Harris wear whatever he wants in the
2003-04 season. Harris is an extremely impor-
tant piece in Amaker's effort to rebuild the
Michigan program. He joins Daniel Horton and
Lester Abram as blue chip recruits that Amaker
is using as a foundation for the program. It
could also lead to an exciting backcourt con-
sisting of Harris, Horton, Bernard Robinson Jr.
and Dommanic Ingerson.
Harris also considered other top programs
such as Michigan State, Duke, North Carolina,
Missouri and Florida. Michigan has always had
the edge on recruiting Harris because he has
attended Michigan's youth basketball programs
since he was nine. Harris is the first person in

his class to commit to Michigan and is one of
the top prep shooting guards in the nation. But
after the indictment of former basketball boost-
er Ed Martin, Harris gave the Michigan coach-
ing staff a scare when he told the Detroit Free
Press that he needed more time to decide
where to go to school. Amaker reassured Har-
ris that NCAA sanctions are unlikely, and as a
result, Harris committed to Michigan. Unfor-
tunately for Amaker, if sanctions are imposed,
Harris can still attend another school without
violating NCAA rules because Harris has just
verbally committed.
Amaker played a big part in Harris' decision
to become a Wolverine. Harris was immediate-
ly impressed with Amaker when he came to
watch Harris play just weeks after becoming
Michigan's basketball coach. The three other
people involved in the decision - his parents
and his coach at Detroit Redford High School,
Derrick McDowell - were equally impressed
with Amaker. Harris' mother and coach both
described Amaker as "sincere," but what
impressed Harris' mother the most about
Amaker was his dedication to academics.
When recruiting her son to Michigan, Amaker
talked about academics first and basketball
second, the way she said she thinks it should
be. Harris' mother consistently contacts
McDowell to check on her son's academics
because she expects a coach to monitor how
the players score in the classroom.
Harris also apparently learned something

from the Ed Martin scandal. According to
McDowell, the decision was kept within this
small group because Harris did not want peo-
ple involved in the decision that did not have
his best interests in mind. Harris said he com-
mitted to Michigan so early to avoid those peo-
ple and the hassles of recruiting.
Judging by the way he has impressed prep
magazines and college coaches alike, his com-
mitment saved him a big headache. Harris,
who averaged 22 points a game, 4.5 rebounds
and four assists last season as a junior at Red-
ford, is ranked as one of the top 20 players in
his clags by prep publications Hoop Scoop
(No. 5), Prep Spotlight (No. 12) and School
Sports (No. 20).
He is also a leading candidate for next year's
Mr. Basketball for the state of Michigan after
being the only non-senior to be named to the
Detroit Free Press' All-State Dream Team.
According to Harris, becoming a Michigan
man has given him extra motivation to win the
award.
"The last four Mr. Basketball's have gone to
Michigan State," Harris noted. "I want to
change that."
LOOKING FARTHER DOWN THE ROAD: Tommy
Amaker has locked up the top in-state recruit
for the 2004-05 season. The Wolverine reported
that rising junior Ronald Coleman has given
early commitment to Michigan. A 6-foot-6
small forward, Colemanaveraged 17 points and
nine rebounds last season for Romulus.

Women cagers' good start ends
with a harsh finish in the WNIT

By Jim Weber
Daily Sports Writer

A season that turned bad quickly
ended with a thud.
The Wolverines, who were a presea-
son favorite to win the Big Ten title, lost
62-49 to Valparaiso in the first round of
the 2002 women's NIT. It was the third
lowest point total for the Wolverines all
season.
Jennifer Smith led Michigan with 20
points on 7-of-11 shooting from the
field. The rest of the Wolverines shot
just 24 percent from the floor.
Not even Smith could match Val-
paraiso's 6-foot-5 center Marlous
Nieuwveen, who scored a game-high
26 points. She made all nine of her field
goals and all eight of her free throws.
Guard Katie Boone followed with 14
points and a game-high 12 rebounds,
nine of which came in the second half
Trailing by four points with five min-
utes remaining, the Wolverines allowed
Valparaiso to pull away with a four-
point possession. Jeanette Gray failed to
convert a three-point play, but the Cru-
saders got their own offensive rebound.
Tabitha Pool was called for a foul on
Nieuwveen after what appeared to be a
clean block, and Nieuwveen made both
shots from the charity stripe.
Michigan scored just four points in
the final five minutes of its season.
The game ended the careers of sen-
iors Alayne Ingram, Heather Oesterle
and Susana Jara.
Ingram, who was in tears after the
game, shot just 2-of-16 from the field.
The Michigan career 3-point shooting
leader was also 0-for-5 from behind the
arc and had five turnovers.
"(I went) into the lockerroom and
realized it's not my lockerroom any-
more, and that's hard," Ingram said.
She was especially disappointed after
how well the team played at the Big Ten
Tournament. Michigan beat Illinois by
20 points and took Big Ten Champion
Purdue into overtime before bowing out
in the second round.
"It's disappointing," Ingram said. "It

ing defense, which Crusaders' coach
Keith Freeman compared to the Wis-
consin men's basketball team under
Dick Bennett that went to the Final Four
in 2000.
"The way we play defense, if you
aren't used to it, it's different,' Jackson
said. "It is the old Dick Bennett stuff.
We are contesting every pass."
Valparaiso's improved rebounding in
the second half was also crucial in the
victory. After being outrebounded by
nine in the first half, the Crusaders had
21 boards in the second stanza, includ-
ing one that set up Valparaiso's key
four-point possession.
The Crusaders jumped out to a 30-18
edge, led by Nieuwveen's 18 points. As
a team, Valparaiso shot 59 percent from
inside the 3-point arc. Smith was the
only Michigan player to record double
digits in the first half, tallying 12 points.
The Wolverines trailed the entire
game but closed the deficit to just one
point four minutes into the second half
after a 9-2 run coming out of the locker-
room.

DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily
Jennifer Smith (54) and the rest of the
Wolverines struggled against the Big Ten.

U - Eg l E AGM.ll

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