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December 04, 2003 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-12-04

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4

Thursday
December 4, 2003
e
"wwuw.michigandaily.com
_sports@michigandaily.com

SPORTS

8A

Smith has
her way in

Moving Mom in helps
Woods handle heartache

A'.,

victory

By Eric Ambinder
Daily Sports writer
Before last night's women's basketball game
between Michigan and Charlotte, 49ers coach
'Katie Meier had a premoni- CHARLOTTE 65
'Iion. McIA 2
When Michigan center Jen-
nifer Smith walked on the court hours before tip-
'off and minutes before her teammates, Meier
turned to her assistants and said, "we're in trou-
bile."
She must be psychic.
Smith dominated, scoring a career-high 37
points in Michigan's 72-65 win over Charlotte at
Crisler Arena.
With nine minutes remaining in the game,
t'harlotte's Pam Brown kept the 49ers close,
scoring seven points during a 12-2 run that gave
them a 55-53 lead.
And then Burnett told her team to get Smith
the ball.
Just as easily as Burnett gave the instructions,
Smith scored 17 of her team's final 19 points to
seal the victory for the Wolverines.
Fighting through a double-team all night, the
6-foot-4 senior excelled in the paint and from the
charity stripe, hitting 1 1-of-13 free throws.
"Jen Smith is pretty good, huh?" Meier joked.
"We doubled her from the backside, we doubled
her from the top, we doubled her on man, we
'doubled her from the zone. Ultimately, she domi-
nated the game. She looked great on film and
even better in person."
What Meier saw on film was Smith's first two
30-plus scoring efforts of the season.
What Meier saw in person was last night's 37-
point performance that boosted Smith's average
to 25.1, more than 10 points higher than last
ydar's 14.6 average. In her first three seasons,
Smith never scored more than 29 points in a
game.
She not only has emerged as Michigan's go-to
option down the stretch, but she also leads the
team with an .835 free-throw percentage.
"I just knew when I got the ball, I wasn't

BRETT MOUNTAIN/Daily
Michigan's Jennifer Smith grabs a rebound last night against Charlotte. The Wolverines prevailed 72-65 behind
Smith's career-high 37 points. The 6-foot-4 center has now scored at least 30 points three times this season.

looking to pass it back out, I was looking to
take it up strong," Smith said. "It's nice to know
that I can be the one that my teammates go to at
the end of the game when they need a person to
step up on the line or take it down low in the
post."
Michigan took a 40-32 lead into halftime
behind Smith's 15 first-half points.
Teammate Stephanie Gandy paced the Wolver-
ines early in the second half, blocking a shot on
one end and converting the bucket on the ensuing
fast break.
Like Kobe compliments Shaq's inside game,
Gandy's perimeter presence and speed in the lane
stifled the Charlotte defense all night.
Focused on doubling Smith, the 49ers allowed
Gandy to pour in 20 points and grab seven
rebounds.
Gandy, who had started Michigan's first five
games, did not start this past weekend at the
SMU Hoops for Cure Classic in Dallas. She
wanted back in the starting lineup.
"I just wanted to come out and play, because I
did not want to come off the bench anymore,"
Gandy said. "I wanted to come out and show that
I could be starting."

While the Smith-Gandy combination caught
the 49ers' attention, Burnett credited the rest of
the team for its ability to get the ball to Smith
late in the game.
Sophomore Niki Reams led the Wolverines
with four assists, and the rotation of the Michi-
gan bench chipped in adequately to feed Smith
down low late in the second half.
"I congratulate the players that got her the ball
in the half-court," Burnett said.
"Niki did a great job of finding her with some
unbelievable passes, and (Smith is) of course
who we wanted to have the basketball."
THE SMITH FILE
Michigan center Jennifer Smith has lit up the opposi'-
tion this season, hitting for 20-plus points in five of
the team's eight games, including three games with at
least 30. Here's a look at Smith's dominance in the
paint:
Nov 21 vs. Western Michigan -32 poits
Nov.28 at Texas Tech -30 points
Dec. 3 vs. Charlotte - 37 points (career high)

COURTNEY LEWIS
The Daily Grind
he answering machine mes-
sage at Pierre Woods' Ann
Arbor home is a little different
than an average college football
player's. Make the call, and you'll be
told that you've reached "the Woods
family." The junior linebacker does-
n't live with his teammates or his
buddies. His roommate is his mom.
That might not sound like the
ideal living arrangement for a col-
lege student, but it's what Woods
wants. And besides, Woods says, he
doesn't live with his mom - "she
lives with me."
Woods moved his mother, Jacque-
line Tatum, from Cleveland (where
Woods grew up) to Ann Arbor in
June. It was something he had vowed
to do after he moved out of the
dorms, something he saw as his
responsibility.
"It's working out well," Woods
said. "She's working at K-mart.
She's having a good time. (If) she's
happy, I'm happy."
Woods said his mother, who he
called his "hero," gives him free-
dom: "She doesn't treat me like a lit-
tle kid or anything like that."
And how could she? Woods, who
has uncommon maturity, had to
grow up a long time ago. He has a
child of his own -four-year-old
Pierre Woods, Jr., or P.J. - and,
already, a lifetime's worth of pain
crammed into just 21 years.
"He's my heart," Woods said of
P.J. "When I don't feel like practic-
ing, when I don't feel like doing
anything, I just think about him. I go
out there, and it keeps me going.
"That's my inspiration."
P.J. lives with his mother in Cleve-
land, but Pierre had him in Ann
Arbor last summer, and he hopes to
move him here full-time next year.
That's a lot of responsibility for

someone who's also trying to bal-
ance football and school.
But maybe Woods clings so close
to his family because he has lost part
of it.
Woods runs through the toll mat-
ter-of-factly:
When Pierre was in eighth grade,
his father died of emphysema.
During his senior year of high
school, his eldest brother passed
away.
A few months later, his high
school basketball coach was gone.
After his father died, Woods "did-
n't want to live anymore. My father
was like my best friend. Anywhere
he went, I went. When he passed
away, I just wanted to die with him.
But I know you have to go on with
life and everything like that."
With the help of the rest of his
family (there were eight kids) and
his coaches, he did go on. And he
grew.
"Actually, it made me a better per-
son," Woods said. "Made me a
stronger person, better person. I have
to take care of the family. I'm the
baby of the family, but a lot of peo-
ple look up to me.
"It was tough, but I made it
through, and I'm here."
He's here, and he's making his
presence known as an integral part
of Michigan's defense. He had a big
hole to fill this season - the one
left by All-Big Ten linebacker Victor
Hobson -but he has loads of ath-
leticism, and he's left more than a
few quarterbacks lying on the turf.
He leads the team with six sacks.
And now he has a Big Ten Champi-
onship and an impending trip to a
BCS bowl.
He has made it this far, in part,
because people were there for him
during the hard times.
"People took me under their wing,
like my junior high school coach
and my high school coach," Woods
said. "So I was always taken care
of."
Now, Pierre is the one taking care
of the people who need him.
Courtney Lewis can be reached at
cmlewis@umich. edu.

Cagers toughen up on interior

I

By Bob Hunt
Daily Sports Writer
During the second half of Michi-
gan's game Sunday night, Butler
found easy openings in front of the
basket. Sometimes the openings
#were so vast that you could park a
sport-utility vehicle in them.
But on Tuesday, the Wolverines
;controlled the paint.
In the second half of Tuesday's 68-
:61 win over North Carolina State,
the Wolverines locked down the
interior with a deadbolt. The Wolf-
pack were unable to earn anything
'from the inside after its 18-2 run in
the first half. Until Michigan turned
conservative in the final two min-
utes, it gave up just three scores
inside of 15 feet.

"When we came in here at half-
time, all the big men just told each
other we have to 'D' up and not let
them win this game on the inside,"
freshman forward Brent Petway said.
"We really came out and focused on
all the big men and didn't let them
get easy shots."
This kept N.C. State from creating
any type of run to get back in the
game, as its offensive frustration
kept it outside the arc. Of the 29
shots the Wolfpack took in the sec-
ond half, 14 of them were from
behind the arc. They hit just two.
"Defensively I think we did a very
good job," said junior forward J.C.
Mathis, who was playing the Wolf-
pack for the sixth time, transferring
to Michigan from Virginia. "I've
seen N.C. State carve people up with

that offense."
Tuesday's game against N.C. State
was a great contrast from the Butler
game, in which Michigan's adjust-
ments left it vulnerable in the interi-
or. Throughout Sunday's first half,
Michigan's trapping schemes,
although successful, left Butler with
a plethora of wide-open 3-pointers.
After the Wolverines' adjustments in
the second half, the Bulldogs were
able to break through for a number
of easy layups.
On Tuesday night, N.C. State had
to fight for everything. Michigan
was constantly deflecting passes and
creating turnovers, something it was
unable to do against Butler. And
every time N.C. State was able to get
the ball inside, Michigan was often
able to double down on the Wolf-
pack ball handler and made him earn
his points at the line. With the
exception of a Julius Hodge fast
break layup, the Wolverines went 13
minutes and 19 seconds without
allowing a field goal.
"I've never seen an offense like
(Butler's) where they are looking to
drive and kick," senior wing Bernard
Robinson said. "That's definitely
something we weren't used to, and
we were able to adjust and pull out
that victory. Whereas (N.C. State)
was more mechanical. They kind of
knew they wanted to have their great
players getting shots and getting
backdoors and on the fast break."

Henderson gives hope
to future M' walk-ons

HYAN WEINER/Daily
J.C. Mathis' presence in the post has
given Michigan a much-needed boost.
Michigan's defensive prowess
throughout the second half really
showed in the final two minutes,
when Hodge, the Wolfpack's leading
scorer, terrorized the Wolverines the
second they became more conserva-
tive. In the game's final minute,
Hodge was able to score at will
because Michigan wanted to avoid
putting N.C. State on the free-throw
line. But Hodge, and the rest of the
Wolfpack, was quiet for the most
part until then. Coach Tommy
Amaker's only regret was that his
Wolverines were unable to capitalize
on their defensive prowess on the
other end of the floor.
"We didn't do enough to extend
our lead. I'll tell you that," Amaker
said.

By Michael Nisson
Daily Sports Writer
For anyone who has dreams of walk-
ing on to the Michigan hockey team,
but hasn't figured out how to manage
such a feat,-listen up.
Charlie Henderson can tell you how
to do it.
Henderson, a junior forward and an
East Lansing native, came to Ann
Arbor on a path different from most
Michigan hockey players.
Instead of being barraged with phone
calls inviting him to come play college
hockey, Henderson was the one making
a pitch to the Michigan coaching staff.
"He took the initiative," associate
head coach Mel Pearson said. "He
called us first and said, 'Hey I'm look-
ing for a school. Would you guys have
any interest (in letting me walk on)?'
and we said, 'Yeah, we're looking for a
guy, and we have some interest."'
Henderson, who has had several of
his uncles take the ice for Michigan
State, never really considered the Spar-
tans as the team for him.
"My family wasn't real big fans of
the whole coaching staff there (at the
time when I was making his decision),"
Henderson said. "It wasn't the right
place for me, and I needed to get out of
there."
In fact, the Spartans never really
recruited him. And he's even happy

about that, which is music to the ears of
any diehard Michigan fan.
"I should thank (Michigan State) for
giving me the opportunity to play
here," Henderson said. "The success
we've had over the years (at Michigan),
and just being a part of a program like
this, is unbelievable."
Of course, when you ask him about
the rivalry, he says the same thing any
seasoned college hockey veteran would
say -not too much.
"You've just got to think of it as any
other game," said Henderson of the
rivalry between the Spartans and
Wolverines that will be rekindled this
weekend. "You've got to know that it's
a big rivalry. It's a huge game for our
team right now, especially because
we've got to get a couple of wins here"
Overall, Henderson's Michigan
career has been up and down. He
played in 24 of the team's 44 contests
during his freshman year, tallying 13
points on seven goals and six assists.
But during his sophomore year, Hende-
son's playing time fell, as did his pro-
duction. He only participated in 18
contests, and was able to notch just two
assists.
Pearson noted that it has probably
been hard for Henderson, or for any of
the guys in his position.
He also noted that any time the situa-
tion could change drastically.
See ICERS, Page 9B

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