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December 05, 2002 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-12-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Decembe 5, 2002
michigandaily com



Even at 0-5, Cagers
. remain confident


By Charles Paradis
Daily Sports Writer
Even though they are still search-
ing for their first win, the Michigan
basketball players have not lost their
It has been a rough start for the
Wolverines, who must think that they
were star-crossed before the season
even started. One of coach Tommy
Amaker's incoming freshmen,
Amadou Ba, was a partial qualifier
and is redshirting this season. The 6-
foot-10, 250-pound center could
have helped Michigan in the post,
where the Wolverines have been
dominated by the likes of Virginia
Tech's Terry Taylor and, most recent-
ly, Central Michigan's Chris Kaman.
Last week, backup point guard
Avery Queen was dismissed from the
team. The loss of the junior leaves
Michigan with two freshmen, Daniel
Horton and Sherrod Harrell, to run
the point. Michigan also announced
that Dommanic Ingerson is transfer-
ring. All of this has come after
Michigan's self-imposed sanctions
because of the Ed Martin situation.
Though the odds seem stacked

against them, the Wolverines have
remained confident that things will
get better.
"Definitely our confidence is still
there," forward Bernard Robinson
said. "It is only one or two things
wrong that is causing all these (loss-
es). If we can find these things and
fine tune them, a lot of these would
be wins. (We are) one or two plays,
maybe five possessions away from
winning these games. So we are
going to have to fix them and be
willing to work on them."
In the last two losses, Michigan
has been in the game in the final
two minutes. After falling behind in
the second half both times, the
Wolverines fought tooth and nail to
get back in the game in the waning
moments. Tuesday, the Wolverines
went on an 8-1 run at the end of the
game against Central Michigan to
bring the score to 81-79 with 22
seconds left in the game. And Sat-
urday the Wolverines had a shot to
win the game in the final seconds
that rimmed out. On both occa-
sions, Michigan was able to force
steals and turnovers in the last two
minutes and reach deep into its

Despite rough start, this
season still has purpose

Michigan freshman Lester Abram goes up for a layup during the Wolverines' fifth
straight defeat, an 85-78 loss to Central Michigan on Tuesday.

reservoir of energy.
"It kind of had that same feel
because we were down and we had to
do something to get back in the
game," Horton said. "I'm amazed
because it seems like in the last
minute, two minutes, we played
harder than we played the whole
game. Don't get me wrong, we gave
effort and played hard the whole
game, but it seems like in the last
two minutes of the last two games,

we've dug deep and found some way
to get back in the game."
The Wolverines have remained
confident in themselves and the
team. Even though the beginning of
the season has been rough, it has not
soured their outlook.
"I'm not going to get down about
it, because I know things are going to
get better," freshman Lester Abram
said. "I don't know when, but I have
a feeling it is going to get better."


Berenson worried about fatigue after Worlds

Since the Michigan basketball
team began its regular season,
everything that could have possi-
bly gone wrong, has gone wrong -
and then some.
Not only are these Wolverines off to
the worst start in Michigan basketball
history, but their players seem to be
dropping like flies.
Michigan's horrendous start has
left many people wondering if these
first five blunders are a preview for
the remaining games on the Wolver-
ines' schedule. The start, along with
the postseason ban, has left many
people saying that this basketball sea-
son is a wash.
But this is not the case. Letting
this season go to waste would be
detrimental for coach Tommy Amak-
er and his future at Michigan. There
is still a purpose for this season, and
Amaker needs to realize this and act
There are two reasons why Amaker
needs to get this team on track:
1) Michigan's second-year coach
needs to prove that he can coach on the
floor. Amaker has done everything well
since coming to Michigan except mak-
ing good decisions on the court and
coming up with wins.
Last year, most people, including
myself, were willing to cut him some
slack. In his first season, he had no
recruits of his own to put on the floor,
and the players had to get acclimated
to his system. So, when the Wolver-
ines finished with just one more win
than they had the previous year,
everyone focused on the 2002-03 sea-
son as the one in which Michigan
would start showing some significant

But this hasn't happened, and if
Amaker wants to silence his critics, he
must turn the Wolverines around now.
Postseason or no postseason, a lack of
motivation is no excuse for losing these
nonconference games - especially the
past two against Western Michigan and
Central Michigan. These are games the
Wolverines should be winning no mat-
ter what.
2) If Amaker wants to be successful
here in the next few seasons, he cannot
allow the "losing culture" of the pro-
gram, which he spoke of after Michi-
gan's loss to Virginia Tech at the
Paradise Jam, to affect his freshmen
Amaker said that because of the pro-
gram's past few unsuccessful cam-
paigns, and the off-court problems that
have plagued it recently, the program
has a losing mindset right now. He also
said the Wolverines will have to break
out of this mindset if they want to start
But while some of Michigan's older
players might be stuck in this unfortu-
nate tornado, the freshmen are just get-
ting exposed to it.
They didn't come in with a losing
culture; in fact, they came in with
exactly the opposite. A perfect exam-
ple is Lester Abram, who came to
Michigan with two high school state
championships at Pontiac Northern
under his belt.
These kids came in with pride and a
drive to win. Amaker must find a way
to put a stop to this landslide and sal-
vage this season, or his first recruiting
class might get sucked into the tornado,
and it will be too late to change those
players back.
See SIKORA, Page 7A

By Kyle O'Neill
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson said he is
proud of the two Wolverines - sophomores Dwight
Helminen and Eric Nystrom - who made the 2003
United States National Junior Team roster that was
announced yesterday. The team will compete in the
World Junior Championships in Nova Scotia, Dec.
26 to Jan. 5. But Berenson is a little concerned that
the commitment to the national team might wear
down two of his best players.
"We've had a lot of games and situations (in the
past) where these (World Junior) players get back and
we're excited about having them back, and they might
play a game or two and then they go in the tank,"
Berenson said. "It's rare that the player has come back'
and not missed a beat."

Not to say the players become worse, but fatigue
does set in for these players who do not get the same
winter break as their teammates.
Both Helminen and Nystrom played all seven of the
United States' games in the Championships last year,
and each experienced pains coming back. Nystrom
had his longest scoring drought of the season - four
games - right after last year's event in the Czech
Republic. Helminen didn't score a goal his final 14
games last year. Former Michigan player Mike Cam-
malleri, who played for Canada last year, had the worst
post-Juniors experience when he felt the wear and tear
of the tournament by falling sick with mononucleosis,
which sidelined him for 10 games.
"This tournament can be a great thing for some
players, but it also can be a nightmare if it's not well-
oitagized dr'the players don't'find a god role on the'
team," Berenson said. "But I've never discouraged a

kid from going, but I've had the odd kid who would-
n't go back. (Most of) these kids think it's a good
thing, so I give them the opportunity to go."
Their departure leaves holes in Michigan's lineup
for the Great Lakes Invitational, Dec. 28-29, and also
against Miami, Jan. 4-5, if the two are playing in the
medal games.
For Helminen and Nystrom, this year's tournament
will be a chance for a little redemption. With a 6-1 loss
to Russia in the first game of the playoff round last
year, the United States took itself out of medal con-
tention. It did win its final two games against the
Czech Republic and Sweden to finish in fifth place
out of the 10 teams at the tournament. Canada had just
one more win than the United States overall, but was
still able to finish second.
"With the players that are on the team, it's going to
be a great squad," Nystrom said.

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