December 6, 2002
Winless cagers excited
about facing No. 4 Duke
aily orts rr T OMORROW
Berenson feels pain
of basketball program
By Kyle O'Neill
Daily Sports Writer
There was a brief time when
Michigan owned Duke in basketball.
For three years, the Wolverines had
the Blue Devils' number, capping off
a three-game win streak in the rivalry
with a thrilling 81-73 come-from-
behind victory in 1997.
But in light of the University's
self-imposed sanctions on its basket-
ball program, those games have been
erased from Michigan's record
books, as if they never happened.
The same goes for Michigan's
national title loss to Duke in 1992
and the Wolverines' defeats in 1993
There are probably plenty of
Michigan supporters who wish that
tomorrow's 3:30 p.m. matchup
between the two teams at Cameron
Indoor Stadium wasn't going to
That's because No. 4 Duke has
not slowed down at all this year,
despite losing forward Mike Dun-
leavy, center Carlos Boozer and
guard Jay Williams to the NBA after
last season. The Blue Devils are 4-0
and have already posted impressive
double-digit wins against UCLA
and Ohio State.
The Wolverines, meanwhile, have
gotten lost in the state of Michigan's
basketball compass, dropping home
games to Western Michigan and Cen-
tral Michigan en route to an 0-5 start.
But despite the mismatch on paper,
the Wolverines are still confident and
eager to give Duke a battle.
"We're just going to go down there
and play as hard as we can and try to
surprise them," Michigan center Gra-
ham Brown said. "We're going to
show them that our record does not
reflect the ability of this team."
Coach Tommy Amaker echoed
"We recognize that we need to
respect our opponents; we don't fear
our opponents, we respect them,"
Amaker said. "We are going to do the
things that we feel gives us the best
chance to win - otherwise we
wouldn't go. There is no sense in
playing if we don't think that we can
compete and win."
Saturday's game will also give the
Wolverines an opportunity to repress
the memories from the last three
meetings between the two teams.
Duke is on an amazing run in the
series, having scored 104 points in
three consecutive meetings against
Michigan, including an 104-61
romp at home over the Wolverines
two years ago.
"We're not thinking about that
now," said Michigan senior forward
LaVell Blanchard. "We're thinking
about preparing right now - if we
Michigan senior Gavin Groninger remembers what happened to the Wolverines two
years ago at Duke, but is hopeful that this year things will be different.
do the things we're told, we have a
chance to win."
With the loss of Boozer, this year's
version of the Blue Devils does not
feature a dominant inside presence.
6-foot-11 senior Casey Sanders has
been splitting time at center with
wiry 6-foot-10, 215-pound freshman
While the Wolverines may not be
dominated inside as they have in
several games already this year, the
Blue Devils' quickness and depth at
the guard positions - led by
National Player of the Year candi-
date Chris Duhon - could give the
depleted Michigan backcourt seri-
The Wolverines have lost the serv-
ices of guards Avery Queen and
Dommanic Ingerson within the span
of two weeks, leaving freshmen
Daniel Horton and Sherrod Harrell
and senior Gavin Groninger as the
only true guards on the roster.
"We have to get other players more
involved with the ball-handling
duties," Amaker said. "We have our
work cut out for us."
As a winless team, the Wolverines
are no doubt a long way from where
they hoped they'd be heading into
this game. Nevertheless, a win over
Duke could make people forget those
first five games.
"That's what you play for - big
games like these," freshman Chris
Hunter said. "You want to show peo-
ple what you can do and there is no
bigger stage than against a national
championship program and on
national television, too."
If there's one man who knows about
some of the pain and suffering that
Michigan basketball coach Tommy
Amaker is going through, it is the man
who sat. 10 rows up in the north section
of Crisler Arena during Michigan's 85-
78 loss to Central Michi-
gan Tuesday night.
That man is legendary BERRY EV
Michigan hockey coach
Red Berenson, who was :WMi Mh2g
able to attend the game as Northern Mi
his Tuesday night radio ses- 7-5-1)
sion was canceled for the when: 7:05
week, and tomorroA
Though the game was Latest: Capta
hard for any Michigan fan meyer is que
to watch, Berenson had this weekend
seen his program go
through the same struggles on the ice
when he took over a Michigan team in
1984 that had developed its own "losing
culture." Berenson had to endure three
seasons before he saw his team finish
higher than .500. Now he has eight
Frozen Four berths and two national
titles under his belt.
"I think Tommy Amaker will do a
good job, I really do;' Berenson said. "I
think he'll bring in the right kind of
people, and he'll teach them how to
play the right kind of basketball. But it's
just like when I came to Michigan.
"I thought all that we needed was a
coach and it wasn't just a coach, it was a
whole program and a philosophy and an
attitude and a work ethic and a commit-
ment. Really there's a lot of things that
have to happen, because (opponents
aren't) standing around just waiting for
you to get better."
Berenson can relate to Amaker as a
coach, given that both of their sports are
very high-paced - one possession can
lead to success or downfall.
"I think they're going to get better, I
mean, they could have won (the Central
Michigan) game," Beren-
son said. "When the
ENT CENTER momentum goes for you it
;an (--1 can be great, and when it
1 overall) vs goes against you it can be
chigan (640, devastating.
"When you think about
p.m. tonight it, these are still young
)w kids, just like the kids on
ain Jed Ort- my team - these are not
stionable for 28- to 38-year-old pros.
d's games. But basketball's not unlike
hockey either. Turnovers or
missed opportunities are something you
lament when you lose."
But even now, Berenson and his
eighth-ranked Wolverines still face
challenges and endure failure. They will
be trying to make amends for last year's
1-3 start in the CCHA - two of the
losses coming at the hands of Northern
Michigan - when they travel to Mar-
quette to play the Wildcats tonight and
"So here were are, we're a pretty suc-
cessful program and every game still
comes down to a fine line - and we
expect to win," Berenson said. "We
have the confidence of winning, we
have the tradition of winning and it's
still a dog fight.
"But it doesn't happen overnight, it
doesn't happen in one year. I remember
walking in our lockerroom when I knew
that this team was the team that was
going to turn the corner, and that wasn't
until my fourth year."
And although Berenson never had to
endure the fallout from a previous
regime's scandal, he did receive his fair
share of criticism for his three straight
"The one thing that (former Athletic
Director) Don Canham told me, he said,
'Don't worry about what they write, we
know you're going to get the job done;'"
Berenson said. "So the media has to be
patient too, but when there's blood on
the streets, people like to write about it."
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