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January 08, 2004 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-01-08

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Thursday
January 8,2004
sports.michigandaiiy.com
:sports@michigandaity.com

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41

Abram's career high
downs Northwestern

Can you hear me now?
Michigan answers call

By Dan Rosen
Daily Sports Writer
Be careful. If you're not paying
attention, you'll miss him.
Lester Abram will squeeze off
another effortless jumpshot without
you noticing. His point total will rise
up while you watch the Bernard
Robinsons and the Daniel Hortons.
"He's one of those guys that slips
Northwestern (54)
FG FT REB
MIN M-A M-A 0-T A F PTS
Vukusic 30 3-8 2-2006310
Hachad 20 0-4 0-0 1-3 0 3 0
Scott 20 2-4 0-0 2-4 1 5 4
Parker 35 2-5 2-2 0-2 2 4 7
Young 37 5-14 8-9 4-7 3 1 20
Kennedy 1 0-0 0-00 0 0 0
Jenkins 4 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Tolic 14 0-0 1-2 0-0 0 0 1
Seacat 25 3-9 0-1 0-1 0 0 8
Dunvancic 13 2-3 0-0 0-1 0 0 4
Grier 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Totals 200 17-48 13-167-18 12 22 54
FG%: .354. FT%: .813.3-poInt FG: 7-23,
.304 (Vukusic 2-3, Young 2-3, Seacat 2-7,
Parker 1-4, Scott 0-1, Duvancic 0-1, Hachad
0-4). Blocks: I (Scott). Steals: 7 (Vukusic
2, Young 2, Hachad, Scott, Tolic). Turnovers:
13 (Vukusic 5, Young 3, Duvancic 2, Seacat
2, Parker). Technical fouls: none.
MICHIGAN (78)
FG FT REB
MIN M-A M-A 0-T A F PTS
Robinson 36 9-11 0-0 2-5 7 2 18
Sims 17 1-1 0-0 1-3 0 1 2
Brown 24 1-1 2-2 0-2 0 2 4
Abram 36 7-8 10-10 0-7 1 3 27
Horton 28 1-5 1-2 1-5 2 3 3
Wohl 1 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 2
Harris 29 4-10 3-3 1-3 1 0 13
Harrell 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Petway 4 1-2 0-0 0-1 0 0 2
Mathis 22 3-4 1-21-3127
Dill 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 10 0
Ba 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Totals 200 28-4317496-311313 78
FG%: .651. FT%: .895. 3-point FG: 5-13,
.385 (Abram 3-4, Harris 2-5, Robinson 0-1,
Horton 0-3). Blocks: 3 (Sims 2, Abram).
Steals: 6 (Robinson 3, Horton 2, Abram).
Turnovers: 18 (Robinson 4, Horton 4, Brown
3, Abram 2, Harris 2, Mathis 2, Sims). Tech-
nical fouls: none
Northwestern........ 26 28 - 54
Michigan..................45 33 - 78
At: Crisler Arena
Attendance: 10,153

under the radar," Robinson said. "But
he'll slip under the radar and hit you
for 27."
Abram missed just one shot in last
night's Big Ten opener against North-
western (0-1 Big Ten, 5-7 overall), a
game that his team won 78-54. He
never forced the action, even as his
point total climbed to career heights.
After the game, his teammates and
his coach raved about his ability to
find spots in the flow of the offense
to score points.
"I felt like I couldn't miss," Abram
said of his 7-for-8 performance from
the field.
Robinson found him early in the
first half for a 3-pointer to make it 5-
2, and Abram never looked back.
He finished the first half with 19
points, as Michigan (1-0, 10-2) built
a 19-point lead. The Wolverines
never let the Wildcats get back within
12 the rest of the way.
As a team, Michigan shot 65 per-
cent on the night, finding open looks
on almost every possession against
Northwestern's slumped-back
defense.
"They were very comfortable on
offense, passing around," Northwest-
ern coach Bill Carmody said. "They
made all of the right plays."
The Wildcats looked frustrated
against Michigan's 2-3 zone through-
out the game. They were unable to
find any seams to get inside shots. So
they forced up 23 3-pointers, making
just seven.
Carmody blamed the offensive
woes on Michigan's length. He said
that it was hard for his team to find
open looks inside the arc because the
Wolverines could use their size to
close on a shooter so quickly.
"You don't want to take as many
threes as we take, but what can you
do?" Carmody asked.
Robinson was also a spark for
Michigan. He made 9-of-11 shots for
18 points. He used his athleticism
and ball-handling skills to penetrate
the Northwestern zone and find his
open teammates.
With Michigan leading 60-44 in
the second half, Robinson drew the
Northwestern defense to the baseline
under the basket and then swung a

CHRIS BURKE
Goin' to Work
ne of the most popular sports
clich6s is that of the wake-up
call.
Whenever a team is struggling
through mediocre wins or inexcusable
losses, players and TV announcers
galore wait for the proverbial ring of the
phone.
For Michigan, the call came on Dec.
30 when Boston University upset the
Wolverines 61-60 at Crisler Arena.
Apparently, the Wolverines answered.
"The Boston loss kind of opened our
eyes," Michigan guard Daniel Horton
said. "We hadn't played good basketball
for a four- or five-game stretch, and it
caught up with us."
After that stunning loss, Michigan
pounded Fairfield, 66-43, and then
repeated the feat in last night's 78-54
victory over Northwestern.
Granted, it's not like beating Duke
and Connecticut back to back, but for a
team that had to hold on for dear life to
knock off Central Michigan and
Delaware State, the impressive show-
ings are a welcome sign.
"The Boston game and before, we
weren't really putting together a full
game," forward J.C. Mathis said. "But
these last two games, we've played well
for most or all of the game, and that's
been the difference."
Last night, as has been the norm for
the Wolverines in their wins this year,
Michigan came bolting out of the start-
ing gates.
It looked like the Harlem Globetrot-
ters against the Washington Generals
for the first 20 minutes last night.
Michigan shot a ridiculous 76.2 percent
from the field in the first half-- includ-
ing a 12-for-13 mark from inside the 3-
point line.
But the real difference that separated
last night's Wolverines from the
Wolverines of Dec. 30 was that, once

they had the Wildcats on the ropes,
they didn't let up.
There was a short stretch last night
- about six minutes in the second half
- when the Michigan offense looked
about as effective as the navigational
system on the Titanic.
Unlike the pre-New Year's Day
games, though, the Wolverines never
allowed Northwestern to make a run.
Following a Jitim Young 3-point play
that brought Northwestern to within 57-
44, the Wolverines cranked it up again,
ending the game on a 21-10 run.
"I was very pleased with (how we
played with the lead)," Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker said. "It was a point of
emphasis for us this week and coming
into the game. We are building, learning
and growing."
If that's the case, and Amaker can
really see his team maturing - as it
appears to the naked eye that they are
- then this team is right where it's sup-
posed to be.
There's a lot of hoopla that always
surrounds college basketball's noncon-
ference season, but when push comes to
shove, everything leading up to the con-
ference season is fairly unimportant.
In the Big Ten, for example, it's
almost unheard of for a team to finish in
the top four in the regular season con-
ference standings and not make it to the
NCAA Tournament.
The kinks will always be there at the
start of the year, but a successful Big
Ten campaign can erase those memo-
ries. Just ask Michigan's team from last
year. Did anyone really care about an 0-
6 start after a near-Big Ten title?
Trust me, the folks over in East Lans-
ing are hoping for that exact scenario
this year.
Forget Oakland, High Point and
Bowling Green - the focus for Michi-
gan is, and will always be, centered on
what happens during the 16-game Big
Ten schedule.
"We're starting over a new season,
the Big Ten season; center Graham
Brown said. "We wanted to get that first
win, and we're hoping to roll from
there."

TONY DING/Daily
Michigan center Graham Brown sends back Northwestern forward Jitim Young's
shot with authority.

one-handed pass out to a cutting Gra-
ham Brown for a layup. He had seven
assists on the night.
"Bernard's been our catalyst,"
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker
said. "He's doing a little bit of every-
thing for us."
Horton was plagued by foul trou-
ble early and never got his offense
going. Last year's Big Ten Freshman
of the Year scored just three points on
five shots.
Despite scoring 17 points and 15
points in the two games before facing
the Wildcats, Horton was still asked

after the game about his supposed
offensive woes.
"I'm not struggling," Horton said,
sounding like Tiger Woods fighting
off questions about a slump. "Today,
that's just the way the game went."
Amaker praised Horton not press-
ing for more points.
"He did a good job of being the
quarterback of our team even though
he was in foul trouble," Amaker said.
"He was not selfish. Although he did
not have a great game offensively, he
played a decent floor game and
impressed me with his maturity."

Chris Burke can be reached at
chrisbur@umich.edu.

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