March 25, 2004
Dear Mom and Dad:
See you this Tuesday
By Bob Hunt
baily Sports Writer
Living two time zones from its
nearest opponent, Hawaii is used to
traveling insane distances. Earlier
this season, the Rainbow Warriors
went from Boise State to play
Southern Illinois on national televi-
sion, only to travel to Texas-El
Paso on three-and-
a-half hours sleep
for a crucial West-
ern Athletic Con-
But this week's
journey was even
more of a challenge.
The Rainbow Warriors beat
Nebraska in Manoa (near Honolu-
lu), Hawaii, in the NIT second
round on Monday night and went
straight to the airport. After a two-
hour layover in Salt Lake City,
Hawaii arrived in Detroit at about 6
p.m. Tuesday and went to Crisler
Arena for a shoot-around.
- While the Rainbow Warriors des-
perately wanted to reach the NIT
semifinals for the first time in
school history - yesterday was their
fifth quarterfinal appearance - they
ran out of gas in the game's final 10
"(The Wolverines) were running
it a little bit more than what the
film showed, and it wore us down,"
Hawaii coach Riley Wallace said.
"And it showed."
The Rainbow Warriors did an
excellent job running their offen-
sive sets in the first half and went
into the locker room down just six,
but they didn't have the energy in
their legs to do the same in the sec-
ond half. Michigan's superior ath-
leticism forced a lot of steals,
leading to a plethora of fast-break
"That's something that we were
able to do earlier in the year that
we were not able to do in the Big
Ten conference," Michigan guard
Daniel Horton said. "Coach
(Tommy) Amaker said our first
option on defense is to steal the
Wallace said that he has never
been prouder of his team despite
the loss because they had to travel
more than any other team in school
history. The team's leading scorer,
Michael Kuebler - who scored 19
last night - is also an academic
All-American and holds a job on
"Those guys are what the student-
athlete is all about," Wallace said.
While the Rainbow Warriors
aren't going to New York, they are
going someplace that may be bet-
"It's the greatest place to live,"
Wallace said. "I'm an Illinois boy -
I like the Midwest. But there's no
place like Hawaii."
BACK IN STYLE: Still not fully
recovered from the separated shoul-
der he suffered at the Big Ten Tour-
nament, Lester Abram didn't think
he would see any action in last
Not only did Abram play, but the
sophomore led the Wolverines in
scoring, finishing with 17 points
and five rebounds.
Abram checked into the game
with 13:35 remaining in the first
half and showed few signs of rust.
A minute later, freshman guard
Dion Harris found Abram open in
the corner in front of the Hawaii
bench, and Abram drained the 3-
pointer. Shortly after that, Abram
Days of Thunder
Dear Mom and Dad,
Clear a space at the dinner
table and take that old exer-
cise equipment out of my room -
I'm coming home to New York.
No, I didn't drop out of school.
It's not Spring Break either. You see,
Michigan's playing in the NIT semi-
finals at Madison Square Garden
I know, I know. It's short notice. I
would've let you know sooner, but
this one really hit me by surprise.
You saw in the paper how I picked
Michigan to lose in the first round
of this tournament. I had no idea.
But the Wolverines made it hap-
pen with some of their best basket-
ball of the season. They shot the
lights out at Crisler Arena last night,
putting up 88 points - their sec-
ond-highest total of the season.
They dished out 18 assists, includ-
ing Daniel Horton's crowd-pleasing
alley-oop to a soaring Brent Petway.
They even made 17-of-19 free
throws against Hawaii.
"Michigan hasn't played in the
postseason in a long time," senior
Bernard Robinson told me after the
game. "So when you get that oppor-
tunity, you have to savor it."
That being said, I don't think any-
one could have predicted how much
the Wolverines were actually going
to savor it. At least I couldn't.
As Michigan coach Tommy
Amaker said, the team has matured
on the court over the last few weeks.
Sure, the Wolverines still make
some mistakes (see: 14 turnovers
last night), but they've been smarter
with the basketball down the stretch
in the last three games. The Wolver-
ines only turned it over five times in
the second half against the Rainbow
Warriors. And because of that, they
avoided one of those long offensive
droughts that have plagued them
many times this season.
The NIT committee must've real-
ly wanted me to spend a few nights
back in my old room, too. They let
the Wolverines play three games at
home, where Michigan is now 16-3
this year. They even made Hawaii
fly for like 12 hours after its second-
round win on Monday to tire the
team out. That must've been rough.
"We were fortunate to have home
games and our crowd really helped
us," Amaker said. "But certainly our
players realize that they played in a
manner that allowed our crowd to
really get behind them."
Now Mom and Dad, keep in mind,
I'm not sure how long I'll be stay-
ing. The team has struggled outside
of Ann Arbor this year - the
Wolverines are just 5-8 at buildings
other than Crisler Arena.
When the Wolverines showed up
to play at Madison Square Garden in
early January against Fairfield, they
weren't exactly comfortable.
They had a tough time shooting
free throws, because they said that it
was harder to gauge the distance to
the rim, making just 6-of-19 from
the charity stripe. So I might just get
one night to eat some of that home-
"That was a long time ago," Hor-
ton informed me. "Guys just have to
See ROSEN, Page 9B
Michigan sophomore Lester Abram celebrates during his team-high 17-point performance.
Abram had missed Michigan's three prior games due to a shoulder injury.
stole a pass in the backcourt from
Hawaii guard Jason Carter and
took the ball coast-to-coast for a
"I didn't think I was going to play
at all," Abram said. "I just went out
there and was my regular self."
Abram went 5-for-7 from the
floor in the first half for .12 points.
Abram played extended minutes as
senior forward Bernard Robinson
was in foul trouble early in the sec-
NOTES: Home teams are 28-6 so
far in the 2004 NIT ... The NIT
will not include a consolation
third-place game this year, a
change from recent years.