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February 16, 2004 - Image 14

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6B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - February 16, 2004

Blue has to redefine season goals

SATURDAY'S GAME
Michigan (61)

DAN BREMMER
Garden State of Mind
While watching the beginning
of the Michigan basketball
team's practice last Monday, I
was talking with two other reporters
who also cover the team. We all had
one question in mind about Michigan's
chances of making the NCAA Tourna-
ment: Will the team allow reporters to
come to Crisler Arena for the Tourna-
ment's selection show on Sunday,
March 14?
With its loss to Iowa on Saturday, it
looks like the answer to our question
won't matter. After suffering two
straight losses on the road, the Michi-
gan basketball team can probably kiss
its hopes of earning an at-large bid to
the NCAA Tournament goodbye -
making the selection show on Sunday
worthless for Michigan fans, just as it
has been for the past couple of years.
But that doesn't mean that there
is nothing left to play for this sea-
son - which is why Michigan
needs to refocus.
At 12-9 overall and 4-6 in the Big
Ten, virtually the only way Michigan
could finish with a good enough record
to earn an at-large bid would be to run
the table over its last six games. The
second half of the Wolverines' confer-
ence schedule isn't as intimidating as
the first half. But with home games
against Michigan State and Wisconsin,
and road games at Indiana and North-
western, it's almost a guarantee that
Michigan will drop at least one of its
last six.

The only other way for the Wolver-
ines to play their way into March Mad-
ness is to earn an automatic bid by
winning the Big Ten Tournament - a
tournament where every Big Ten team
will compete.
This is Michigan's best chance at this
point, with almost a month for the team
to get its act together. And historically,
the first-place Big Ten team has strug-
gled in the tournament, and a lower-
seed comes away with the automatic
bid. A team like Michigan - loaded
with potential firepower - could get
hot and surprise some teams in Indi-
anapolis. Back in 2001, sixth-seeded
Iowa took home an automatic bid after
winning four straight in the conference
tournament.
So at 4-6 in the Big Ten, where does
Michigan go from here?
First, it has to redefine its goals for
the season.
Ever since Michigan won its appeal
over the postseason ban with the
NCAA in September, the team has
spoken about reaching the NCAA
Tournament as a goal. While it's tech-
nically not out of reach at this point,
it's unlikely, unless they can go on a
run at the Big Ten Tournament. In
order to do that, Michigan needs to
look at some interim things to accom-
plish along the way.
Here's a few suggestions:
1) Stop the bleeding.
Michigan's loss on Saturday was its
second-straight loss and its sixth in
nine games. Of the three games it has
won over that stretch, none of those
wins came against great teams.
The Wolverines knocked off Penn
State on the road. The game was note-
worthy because it was Michigan's only
road win since Big Ten play began, but
at the same time, Penn State's program
right now would lose to most MAC
teams.
Michigan also knocked off a Pur-

due team playing without Kenneth
Lowe, its star. While Courtney Sims's
buzzer-beating tip made everyone cel-
ebrate after the game, it also erased
the memory of Michigan blowing a
16-point lead - something which
Michigan shouldn't have forgotten
about so easily.
With its next game coming against
Penn State on Wednesday, a win - any
win --would help Michigan erase the
memory of two straight Ts on the
road.
2) Get smarter.
Michigan has been about as consis-
tent as Bobby Knight's mood this
season.
During conference play, Michigan
has struggled with playing entire games
from start to finish. The Wolverines
have a knack for going on scoreless
droughts or field-goal droughts of six
or more minutes each game, which has
consistently hurt them.
The team's poor decision making in
the face of adversity has led to these
runs. Instead of keeping their cool
when they sees an opponent make a
run, the Wolverines get erratic, forcing
up bad shots quickly when they should,
instead, take time to work the ball for a
quality shot.
By focusing on playing smarter bas-
ketball and taking better shots, Michi-
gan can thwart an opponent's run
before it gets out of hand - something
it will need to do as it heads down the
stretch.
3) Win another a road game (or two)
The Wolverines are young - 12
of the 15 players on the team are
freshmen or sophomores - so
every game they play has a long-
term implication. After its four-
game home stand at Crisler,
Michigan will hit the road to close
out the Big Ten season against Indi-
ana and Northwestern.
Those 12 freshmen and sophomores

Robinson
Sims
Brown
Abram
Horton
Harris
Bell
Harrell
Petway
Mathis
Dill
TEAM
Totals

FG FT REB
MIN M-A M-A 0-T A F PTS
38 3-9 3-4 1-6 2 2 9
22 3-7 1-2 1-4 1 2 7
19 3-4 2-3 2-4 0 2 8
25 3-9 7-8 6-10 1 5 13
24 1-7 4-6 0-3 2 5 7
30 3-13 1-2 1-3 2 4 10
1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
8 0-3 2-2 0-2 0 2 2
22 2-3 0-0 3-6 0 2 4
11 0-1 1-2 2-5 0 1 1
0+ 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
2-5
200 1&5621-29184882561

I
I

FG%: .321. FT%: .724. 3-point FG: 4-20,
.200 (Abram 0-3, Horton 1-5, Harris 3-9, Har-
rell 0-3). Blocks: 3 (Sims 1, Petway 2).
Steals: 9 (Horton 3, Robinson 2, Harris 3,
Harrell). Turnovers: 21 (Sims 2, Harris 3,
Robinson 3 Brown 3, Abram 5, Petway 2,
Harrell 1, Mathis 2). Technical fouls: none.
IoWA (69)

Pierce
Worley
Brunner
Horner
Boyd
Brownlee
Spurgeon
Hansen
TEAM

MIN
37
38
28
38
39
1
5
14

FG
M-A
4-9
4-12
4-6
6-11
3-10
0-1
0-2
0-4

FT
M-A
3-7
4-5
1-2
4-6
6-7
0-0
2-2
0-0

REB
0-T
2-5
2-7
2-4
1-4
0-2
0-0
1-4
0-2
1-4

A
8
3
2
4
1
0
0
0

F PTS
0 11
3 13
5 9
3 20
3 14
0 0
1 2
4 0

DANNY MOLOSHOK/
Michigan guard Daniel Horton and his teammates suffered a blow to their NCAA
Tournament hopes with Saturday's 69-61 loss to Iowa.

I
I

will play at least 20 more road games
together over the next two years. Win-
ning one or two to end their Big Ten
season this year could give them a
boost heading into the conference tour-
nament and could even have long-term
implications.
If Michigan is looking for inspiration
in making a Big Ten Tournament run, it
can look back to 1998, when the
Wolverines won the tournament as a
No. 4 seed.
Reaching the NCAA Tournament
this season has become a longshot.
But the team's success of 1998 should

BIG TEN STANDINGS AND RESULTS

UP NEXT:

Conference Overall

Team
Wisconsin
Michigan State
Illinois
Purdue
Iowa
Indiana
Northwestern
Michigan
Ohio State
Penn State
Minnesota

w
8
8
7
6
6
6
6
4
3
3
1

L
2
3
3
5
5
5
5
6
7
7
10

w
17
13
16
16
13
12
11
13
11
9
9

L
4
9
5
8
9
10
11
8
12
12
14

Tuesday's Game:
Purdue at Michigan State
Wednesday's Games:
Penn State at Michigan
Wisconsin at Illinois
Minnesota at Indiana
Iowa at Ohio State
Saturday's Games:
Northwestern at Michigan State
Purdue at Minnesota
Illinois at Penn State
Ohio State at Indiana
Sunday's Game:
Wisconsin at Michigan
Next Tuesday's Game:
Michigan State at Michigan

encourage Michigan not to abandon
all structure and to keep playing for
something. By making several adjust-
ments to play better basketball, Michi-
gan could help put itself back on
track. The Wolverines would be ready
to go when the Big Ten Tournament
comes around.
Because if Michigan doesn't make
some changes, this season threatens to
go down in the books as a failure.
Daniel Bremmer can be reached at
bremmerd@umich.edu.
HAWKEYES
Continued from Page 1B
Amaker said. "They turned the
tables on us, and we weren't able to
get any rhythm."
Michigan was also hurt by anoth-
er barrage of turnovers. The Wolver-
ines gave up the ball 21 times, with
seven players turning over the ball
at least twice.
Michigan had nine turnovers in
the game's first 10 minutes, which
allowed Iowa to jump out to an early
nine-point lead. The Wolverines also
committed 20 turnovers on Wednes-
day in Minnesota's come-from-
behind win.
"Certainly the turnovers killed
us," Amaker said. "We didn't value
the basketball."
All of these woes occurred
against an Iowa team that failed to
get one field goal from its bench
and had four players play more than

At: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa
Attendance: 16,618

4

Totals 200 21-5520.299-321819 69
FG%: .382. FT%: .69. 3-point FG: 7-20 .350
(Homer 4-5, Boyd 2-6, Worley 1-4, Pierce 0-
3, Brownlee 0-1, Spurgeon 0-1). Blocks: 5
(Brunner 1, Hansen 4). Steals: 11 (Pierce,
Worley 2, Brunner, Horner 2, Boyd 5).
Turnovers: 15 (Pierce 3, Worley 2, Brunner
3, Horner 4, Spurgeon 2). Technical fouls:
none.

Michigan..................32
Iowa........................ 28

37 minutes. Iowa was also dominat-
ed on the glass, as the Wolverines
held a 48-32 rebounding edge and
pulled down 18 offensive rebounds.
Michigan held a similar advantage
in its earlier road loss to Illinois.
"I thought it was just a gritty per-
formance from our guys," Iowa
coach Steve Alford said. "I thought
they really hung in there."
Michigan will now try to get
back on track this week as it begins
a four-game homestand on Wednes-
day against Penn State, the one
team it has beaten on the road this
season.
The homestand also includes
game against Wisconsin, Michigan
State and Ohio State. The Wolver-
ines are 10-2 at Crisler Arena this
year, with close losses against Indi-
ana and Boston University.
"We have a chance to get home
and, hopefully, to regroup and get
better," Amaker said.

29 - 61
41 - 69

Saturday's results:
IowA 69, Michigan 61
MICHIGAN STATE 69, Minnesota 58
NORTHWESTERN 69, Penn State 51
PURDUE 84, Indiana 70
WISCoNSIN 78, Ohio State 48

Penn State's Ben Luber (middle)
FENN STATE
The Nittany Lions are the one
team that the Wolverines have
beaten on the road this season.
To win on Wednesday, Michigan
is going to have to stop Jan
Jagla, Aaron Johnson and Marlon
Smith. The Wolverines also need
to keep the turnovers down.

Wisconsin's Devin Harris (left)
WISCONSIN
Michigan stuck with Wisconsin
into the second half in Madison,
but then the Wolverines' offense
went into a standstill, and rarely-
used guard Clayton Hanson lit
things up. The Badgers are not
the same on the road, but Sun-
day's game will be a challenge.

I
I

I

M WATER POLO
'M' runs table at Princeton Invitational

By Harold Fogel
Daily Sports Writer

The water polo team was looking to
share a little Michigan love this week-
end. Unfortunately for Michigan's
opponents, it wasn't the type of Valen-
tine's Day love they were looking for.
The Wolverines (10-3 overall) went
undefeated at the Princeton Invitational
this weekend, soundly defeating all four
teams they faced. It was exactly the
kind of pick-up the squad needed com-
ing off a rough outing at the Stanford

Invitational last weekend.
"The girls understood what these
games meant," coach Matt Anderson
said. "We were here to re-establish that
we are a very good team, and I am
- extremely pleased with how things
turned out."
The main event for the Wolverines,
and perhaps the entire invitational, was
their Saturday evening contest against
No. 17 Brown. The Bears, who were
undefeated entering the invitational, had
knocked Michigan out of the 2003
Eastern Conference semifinals. There

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was no question No. 8 Michigan had
long awaited an opportunity at revenge.
The game began in a deadlock as
both teams fought for possession and
control. Three minutes in, though,
Michigan's offense came alive with
goals from junior Erin Brown and
freshman phenom Shana Welch. From
there, the Wolverines never looked
back, taking a 7-1 lead into halftime.
While the second half was more bal-
anced, Brown could hardly mount a sig-
nificant comeback due to Michigan's
impervious defense and stellar goal-
tending by junior Betsey Armstrong,
who registered 12 saves in the game. In
the end, Michigan enjoyed the sweet
taste of revenge, defeating Brown 9-4.
The other ranked opponent on Michi-
gan's schedule was the host of the Invi-
tational, Princeton. While the game did
not have the same emotional atmos-
phere as the Brown contest did, it
nonetheless was a crucial game to win.
"We came out here most concerned
about Brown and Princeton," Anderson
said. "Everyone knows you have to beat
Brown and Princeton to get through the
East, so we wanted to make sure we
made a statement this weekend against
those two teams."
The team made more than a state-
ment, defeating No. 19 Princeton 10-4
Sunday. Amidst another solid team per-
formance, Welch demonstrated not only
that she can score, but that she is just as
good on the other end of the pool.
"Shana is already establishing herself
as a great player," Anderson said. "She
has been scoring (consistently) and her
defense is great as well."
Michigan's other two games came
against unranked opponents. In their
first challenge Saturday afternoon, the
Wolverines dominated George Wash-
ington, winning 17-4. Senior Julie Nis-
bet notched the ninth hat-trick of her
career while senior co-captain Rachel

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