The Michigan Daily - SportsTuesday - January 26, 2004 - 5B
Talkin' the talk
"Our backs were against the wall, but it
wasn't time to panic."
- Michigan senior Bemard Robinson after Saturday's game
about his team's three-game losing streak - and 1-3
conference record - heading into Penn State.
Penn State 59
Players of the game
Smith played a solid all-around game
for the Nittany Lions. He chipped in a
team-high 15 points while racking up
six boards and five assists.
Abram led the Wolverines with 19
points on the afternoon. He also
played an important role in defend-
ing Penn State's Jan Jagla.
No room for panic as Wolverines get back in Big Ten race
Goin' to Work
S TATE COLLEGE - Forget
what the Michigan players said
before the Michigan State
game. Forget what they preached
before heading to Wisconsin.
Saturday, at Penn State, the
Wolverines were faced with their first
true "must-win" situation of the year.
And while it didn't end up being
Michigan's best game of the season,
there's only one thing that a team
needs to do in a "must-win" situation ...
it must win.
The Wolverines accomplished that
mission, quickly jumping out to a big
lead on Penn State, and then stopping
the Nittany Lions from ever really
making a run. All of a sudden, Michi-
gan is 2-3 in the conference and
returns to Crisler Arena for a home
game against Iowa on Wednesday. A
win here, and Michigan's back to 3-3.
And in the topsy-turvy world of the
Big Ten race this season, 3-3 would
be right smack- dab in the middle of
"We never did panic," Michigan
forward Bernard Robinson said. "We
knew it was going to be a long season
and that this wasn't over for us.
"We told ourselves that as a team
- that it wasn't the time to panic.
Our backs were against the wall, but
it wasn't time to panic."
Well, let's make it that their backs
are against the wall.
One win over a mediocre-at-best
Penn State team isn't going to com-
pletely erase the three-game losing
streak that the Wolverines were com-
ing off of. Not many conference
champions lose three in a row and go
on to take the conference crown.
The Wolverines' backs are still
against the wall because of a sched-
ule that sees three of the next five
games on the road, and one of the two
home contests is against co-Big Ten
But when you look at the Big Ten -
a conference that's about as stable as
a teeter-totter with two hyperactive
kids on it -it would be foolish to
write Michigan off when talking
about teams with championship
Just because Michigan was put in a
hole, it doesn't mean that the Wolver-
ines can't recover during their last 11
"It is very difficult in our league to
go on the road for three consecutive
games," Michigan coach Tommy
Amaker said. "Those three games can
really change the course of your sea-
son - we definitely thought this
game was critical.
"We looked at this game as a situa-
tion where our backs were against the
wall, and I think we played with that
sense of urgency this afternoon."
The chore for the Wolverines now
is to maintain that sense of urgency.
You can't challenge for a confer-
ence title with an on-again, off-again
mentality. It's got to be there every
To be honest, though, the most
encouraging sign I saw at Penn State
came after the game.
Entering the Michigan lockerroom,
I expected to see a jubilant bunch -
the Wolverines had just taken it to
Penn State on the road, the losing
streak was over and they were head-
Instead, the scene was subdued.
The Wolverines sat there, looking
content but not overly excited. They
spoke of not getting too high after a
win, just as they hadn't gotten too
low after three losses.
They sounded like players who
expected to rout Penn State, like a
team that understood how quickly
things can change in the Big Ten.
The whole team sat there, knowing
the near-panic that had set in for
Michigan fans following that third-
straight loss, and just had a collective
look of "See, we told you not to
Forward Brent Petway, for exam-
ple, spoke about how the Wolverines
just needed to get back in the win
column - and now that they had, a
win streak might not be far off.
"Definitely," said Petway, affirm-
PENN STATE (59)
FG FT REB
MIN M-A M-A 0-T A F PTS
Summers 26 2-5 0-0 3-4 2 0 4
Jagla 37 5-18 0-0 2-7 1 2 13
Egekeze 26 6-10 1-2 2-3 0 4 13
Luber 40 4-9 2-2 1-2 3 4 10
Smith 39 6-14 2-2 1-6 5 4 15
Johnson 29 1-4 2-4 24 1 3 4
Fletcher 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 2 0
McDougald 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Totals 200 24-60 7-1015.361219 59
FG%: .400. FT%: .700. 3-point FG: 4-16,
.250 (Jagla 3-8, Smith 1-6, Luber 0-2).
Blocks: 1 (Jagla). Steals: 4 (Summers,
Egekeze, Luber, Johnson). Turnovers: 14
(Jagla 4, Luber 3, Johnson 3, Summers,
Egekeze, Smith, Fletcher). Technical fouls:
FG FT REB
MIN M-A M-A 0-T A F PTS
Robinson 35 3-15 2-3 1-4 5 1 8
Sims 14 1-5 0-0 2-3 0 2 2
Brown 33 2-5 0-0 3-7 1 2 4
Abram 26 6-8 5-5 1-2 1 3 19
Harris 36 5-12 2-2 2-3 1 3 15
Horton 28 4-11 4-4 1-5 5 3 13
Petway 11 2-2 0-0 1-2 0 0 4
Mathis 21 2-4 0-0 3-7 1 1 4
Totals 200 25-6213-1414-341415 69
FG%: .403. FT%!: .929. 3-point FG: 6-17,
.353 (Harris 3-8, Abram 2-3, Horton 1-4,
Robinson 0-2). Blocks: 9 (Robinson 3, Brown
2, Petway 2, Horton, Mathis). Steals: 10
(Abram 3, Brown 2, Horton 2, ). Turnovers: 9
(Mathis 3, Robinson 2, Brown 2, Abram, Har-
ris). Technical fouls: none.
37 - 59
37 - 69
At: Bryce Jordan Center, State College, Pa.
BIG TEN STANDINGS
W L W L
4 1 13 3
4 1 14 4
4 1 10 6
3 2 10 6
3 2 8 8
3 3 12 5
2 3 11 5
2 3 8 8
2 3 7 9
1 4 9 9
0 5 8 9
Daniel Horton and the Wolverines have struggled early in their conference schedule, but wins in their next couple games
would get them right back in the hunt for the NCAA Tournament.
ing the notion that a win over Penn
State could get this team rolling.
"This game can start it off for us, so
if we can get a win back at home, it
would be a new race in the Big Ten."
That's what came out of beating
Penn State in an arena that was so
quiet at times, you could hear Penn
State forward Jan Jagla's points-per-
game average drop.
Instead of the questions that were
hounding this team during three
subpar games, Saturday's effort
affords the Wolverines a chance to
sit back and realize that they are -
despite still not really hitting on all
cylinders - right in the thick of the
Big Ten race.
And when they do, finally, see
everyone put it together all at once,
there's no telling what could happen.
The talent level on this team is,
without a doubt, comparable to the
conference's elite teams.
So now Michigan will get back to
work and do what ittakes to get this
team playing at the level it is capal
of playing at.
At some point, it probably will
happen. Don't panic.
The Wolverines certainly won't
Chris Burke would like to thank Ki
Restaurant in Barkeyville, Pa., for
serving ofcountrv-iied steak1
sausage gravy. He can be reache
PURDUE 76, Michigan State 70
ng's Michigan 69, PENN STATE 59
r his Indiana 86, MINNESOTA 81
With WISCoNSIN 76, Illinois 56
"' ,, IowA 79, Ohio State 65
M goes small to stop Jagla
Maize Ragers' grueling trip to State College lifts cagers
By Daniel Bremmer
Daily Sports Writer
STATE COLLEGE - Penn State junior
Jan Jagla is listed as a forward in the team's
But the 7-footer plays
much more like a guard than
a big man.
And for this reason,.
Michigan chose to defend
the Nittany Lions' leading
scorer with a guard for most
of Saturday's 69-59 win over Penn State.
"He's basically a 7-foot guard," said
Michigan sophomore Lester Abram, who
matched up against Jagla during stretches
of the game. "We just tried to put a lot of
pressure on him. We just came out and
played our regular defense - we didn't do
Jagla - who was named Co-Big Ten
Player of the Week on Jan. 12 - struggled
in the first half, connecting on just 1-of-9
from the floor. While he made some buck-
ets in the second half, he shot just 28 per-
cent for the game (5-for-18) and was visibly
frustrated at times.
On two straight possessions in the second
half, Michigan senior Bernard Robinson
blocked Jagla on consecutive possessions.
And a few possessions later, the junior had
his pocket picked by Daniel Horton on a
drive to the basket.
"We just wanted to get a hand up on all
of his shots," Robinson said. "He's very
tall, so you can't always stop it or block it,
but you just wanna get a hand up on him
and make him shoot a harder shot."
After being recognized by the Big Ten,
opponents have keyed more on stopping Brown sa
Jagla than they had before. Maize R
"The other teams are doing a good job Those gu
against us," Jagla said. "It has been hard them thr
for me to play the way I usually play, Many
because other defenses have had a solid Maize Ra
focus on me." fiving the
Jagla's struggle may have also been in entrance
part because he was forced to work hard on lockerroo
the defensive end of the floor. After the 7- The M
footer picked up his second foul of the mocking
game, Michigan pounded the ball inside to Penn Sta
physical sophomore Graham Brown in an "You are
attempt to get Penn State's leading scorer and enjo
into foul trouble. also char
Although Jagla escaped without picking the game
up his third foul, he had to work hard on ond half.
defense to slow down the 255-pound IN KNEE
Brown. more Chi
"With a guy like that, he doesn't like to after re-a
guard the post very much," Brown said. "He ki
"Taking him down low - he's probably not night in1
used to it. So (he) probably just gets a little Amakers
tired from that." Hunter
HOME AWAY FROM HOME: The Bryce Jor- season ft
dan Center isn't exactly the best arena for his knee.
basketball. The ex
Its structure is huge - almost as big as weekend
some NBA arenas - and fails to create the NOTES
"homely" atmosphere of smaller arenas. meeting
And since Penn State's decline began a attempt t
few seasons ago, so did the attendance of Penn Sta
the school's student section has followed the crow
suit. game . .
On Saturday, a combination of the lack of from the
attendance and crowd apathy paved the way highest s
for a small Maize Rage contingent of about . . . Mic
a dozen to be heard loud and clear through- surpasse
out the building. career, sc
"You can't ask for anything more," tany Lion
HOW THE AP TOP 25 FARED
Record This weekend's results 1
16-1 Beat Georgetown 85-66F
16-0 Beat USC 77-67
id. "To go to other states and have
.age there - that's unheard of.
uys did a great job, and we heard
oughout the whole game."
Michigan players thanked the
age after by jumping up and high-
& fans - who were seated near the
of the tunnel leading back to the
aize Rage devised several chants
g the Nittany Lions' "We are ...
ate" chant. The Ragers chanted
..." at the lifeless student section,
yed the lack of a response. They
nted "We own ... Penn State" when
was out of reach late in the sec-
E-D OF RECOVERY: Michigan sopho-
ris Hunter missed Saturday's game
ggravating a knee injury.
ind of twisted his knee (Friday)
practice," Michigan coach Tommy
r missed seven games earlier this
ollowing arthroscopic surgery on
xtent of the injury suffered this
is still unknown.
: Michigan has won its last five
s against Penn State . . . In an
o get fans excited about the game,
te has a DJ and emcee to entertain
d during timeouts and before the
. The Wolverines shot 13-for-14
free-throw line (93 percent), their
ingle-game percentage this season
higan forward Bernard Robinson
ed the 1,300-point mark for his
coring eight points against the Nit-
This weeks games
Florida State; at Georgia Tech
at Oregon State; at Oregon
at Virginia Tech; at Boston Coll.
East Carolina; Charlotte
at N.C. State; Clemson
Purdue at Indiana 7 p.m.
Iowa at Michigan 7 pm.
Northwestern at Penn State 7 p.m.
Wisconsin at Ohio State 8 p.m.
Michigan State at Minnesota 9 p.m.
Ohio State at Purdue 12:07 p.m.
Michigan at Illinois 1:45p.m.
Minnesota at Northwestern 4 p.m.
Indiana at Michigan State 8 p.m.
Penn State at Iowa 8:05 p.m.
Michigan's Graham Brown fights past Penn State's seven-
footer Jan Jagla in Saturday's Michigan victory.
The Hawkeyes' Greg Brunner
Sporting a 2-3 record in a weak
Big Ten conference, Michigan
has to defend its home floor the
rest of the way. The Hawkeyes
arrive in Ann Arbor with a 3-2
conference record (10-6 overall).
They're a tough team to figure
out though. After a quality win
over Purdue to open the Big Ten
season earlier this month, the
Hawkeyes fell to Northwestern.
Sophomore guard Jeff Horner has
been on a bit of a tear lately,
scoring more than 20 points in
three of the last four games.
Academics bench Horton.
Continued from Page 1B
Bernard Robinson miss. Sixteen of
Petway's 19 field goals this season
have come on dunks.
guys," Harris said.
With 33 assists versus 29
turnovers, the 6-foot-4 guard from
Detroit Redford is one of just three
Michigan players with an assist-to-
turnover ratio over one. As a team,
3. St. Joseph's
7. North Carolina
R Pittc irn,,h
Beat St. Bonaventure 114-63
Lost to Providence 66-56
Beat Southern Miss 83-47
Beat Virginia 96-77
RPat Svmrn i, 6A6-4