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March 29, 2004 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-29

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - March 29, 2004 - 5B

Talkin' the talk
"Knowing that you've been on the same court
as a bunch of great players ... makes you want
to go out there and do something special."
- Michigan senior Bemard Robinson on playing at Madison Square
Garden, where the New York Knicks play their home games.

TOMORROW S GAME
Oregon 9 Pm.
Michigan ESPN2

Players to watch

Luke Jackson
(Oregon)
Oregon's star senior can light it up
from behind the arc. He shot 44 per-
cent this year, good for 12th in the
nation.

Bernard Robinson
(Michigan)
Robinson has been Michigan's defen-
sive stopper, and tomorrow, Jackson
will likely be one of the senior's
toughest assignments yet.

Horton finally back on track
Michigan hoping last trip to MSG provides edge

By Daniel Bremmer
Daily Sports Editor
Daniel Horton picked the right
time to bust out of what some have
called a season-long funk.
Horton had been inconsistent all
year. Some said he was in a slump,
but others, including his coach,

most of his team-
mates and even
Horton himself
said that the soph-
omore was just
struggling to get
used to his new
role on the team,

1 r
8

which included more responsibili-
ties on defense and an increased
leadership role.
Now, with his numbers on the rise
over Michigan's last five games,
Horton may be disappointed to see
the season come to an end this
week, even if his team wins the NIT.
That's because Horton appears to
have finally reentered his comfort
zone - a zone that he was in for
most of his freshman season, but
which had eluded him through the
beginning of this year.
"He's been as good as anybody in
certain stretches and especially
down the stretch in the two previous
games," said Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker of Horton's per-
formance in the Wolverines' wins
over Oklahoma and Hawaii. "When
Daniel has played better, our team
has been a lot better. I think, as
we've seen, with a few more games
and more opportunities to get better,
and for him to improve his game,
he's done that."
Horton struggled as the Big Ten
regular season drew to a close.
During a four-game homestand
near the end of the regular season,

he struggled to find his rhythm,
averaging eight points per game -
four below his season average -
while connecting on just 8-for-30
from the floor.
But since the regular season has
ended, Horton has picked up his
game, averaging 15 points per con-
test over the Wolverines' five post-
season games.
Horton credited his performance
to something that his father and his
coaches both suggested to him
recently.
"They just told me to be myself,"
Horton said. "They said that they
noticed that I didn't have the same
confidence, the same swagger that I
had since I came to the University
of Michigan. And I went back and I
looked, and watching myself play -
I didn't. I just tried to get that back
through hard work.
"I think it's paid off."
In addition to his recent success,
Horton may have some additional
motivation when Michigan faces off
against Oregon tomorrow night.
Oregon coach Ernie Kent was the
head coach of the U.S. Junior World
Championship team, which Horton
was cut from this past summer. But
Horton downplayed any feelings of
ill will he may have toward Kent
when asked about the situation on
Friday.
"I'd rather not talk about that,"
Horton said. "It's in the past, and
things happen for a reason. Right
now it's not about Ernie Kent and I.
It's about Michigan vs. Oregon."
MICHIGAN SQUARE GARDEN: Prior
to the Big Ten Tournament at Con-
seco Fieldhouse, Amaker said he
wasn't sure if the Wolverines would
benefit from a win over Butler at the
Fieldhouse on Nov. 30.
But the Wolverines are hoping

that having already played this sea-
son at Madison Square Garden -
where they knocked off Fairfield 66-
43 on Jan. 3 - will give them an
edge in this week's games.
"Just being able to play there and
know how those rims are, and get-
ting the feel of the court, and not
being too amazed with the sur-
rounding stuff - because we've
been there before - will definitely
help us," senior Bernard Robinson
said. "But Oregon's a great team, so
we're going to have to do a little
more than just feeling comfortable
about the court (to win)."
LES IS MORE: After missing four
games due to a shoulder injury suf-
fered against Iowa in the Big Ten
Tournament, sophomore Lester
Abram returned to the court for
Michigan in its win over Hawaii on
Wednesday. The Wolverines' leading
scorer made a quick impact, finish-
ing the game with 17 points on 7-
for-11 from the floor.
After the game against Hawaii,
Amaker said that he played Abram
more minutes (21) than he had
intended because Robinson was in
foul trouble. But Abram felt few lin-
gering effects of the injury on
Thursday after the game.
"He said that he was feeling much
better," said Amaker of Abram's
condition on Thursday, which was
an off-day for the team.
NOTES: Due to the Dance for
Mother Earth Pow Wow being held
at Crisler Arena, Michigan was
forced to practice at the IM Building
over the past three days ... Michigan
is a combined 5-8 away from Crisler
Arena this season ... This will be the
first year that the NIT will not play
a consolation game.

Michigan sophomore Daniel Horton has averaged 15 points per game since the end of the regular season.

Loser is Ore-gone
After enjoying the friendly confines of Crisler Arena for three straight games - and benefitting from some of the loudest crowds Crisler has seen in recent memory - the Wolverines will hit the road for the
remainder of the NIT Michigan enters Madison Square Garden having already played there once this season, a 66-43 win over Fairfield on Jan. 3. The winner of the Michigan-Oregon game will meet the winner of
the Rutgers-Iowa State contest on Thursday night. Michigan basketball writer Dan Rosen takes a look at the matchups for tomorrow night's second NIT semifinal.
TtMQRRO w
Mxchgan(9-9 Bg'Ten, 21-41 overal ,
'regon (9A Pac 10, 18424
Tue9 p.m. (follkwng fw~ emitmnal)
W~dson Square Qarden u ESN2

Dion Harris - The freshman has also been on fire
in the postseason. He led the Wolverines in scor-
ing, with 17, in their win over Oklahoma last
week. He also torched Iowa for a career-high 23
points on a Big Ten Tournament-record six 3-
pointers.

Key stats
9.9 points per game
78 percent on free throws
34 percent on 3-pointers

Shooting
guard
Edge:
0

Key stats
12.8 points per game
4.6 rebounds
3.0 assists

Andre Joseph - The senior guard, who is second
on the Ducks in scoring this year, recorded a sea-
son-high 19 points in the team's win over California
in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament. The 6-
foot-3Joseph also does his fair share of board work,
pulling in more than four rebounds per contest.

Graham Brown - The sophomore played for
Oregon coach Ernie Kent at the 2003 U.S.
Junior World Championships last summer. He
matched a career high with 14 points and added
six boards to help Michigan down Hawaii last
Wednesday.

Key stats
4.4 points per game
4.1 rebounds
55 total offensive boards

Power
Forward
Edge:
0

Key stats
12.6 points per game
5.2 rebounds
56 percent from the field

Ian Crosswhite - The 6-foot-11 Crosswhite is
second on the Ducks in rebounds (5.2) and
third in scoring (12.6). The sophomore led the
team with 10 rebounds in its win over Notre
Dame that gave the Ducks a berth in the NIT
Semifinals.

Bench - Led by sophomore Lester Abram, the team's leading scorer, Michigan's bench
is deep. Abram came off the pine to lead the team in scoring against Hawaii, with 17
points. Chris Hunter has also come on strong in the postseason. The 6-foot-11 Gary,
Ind., native makes 80 percent of his foul shots, including a 6-for-6 showing against Okla-
homa. High-wire act Brent Petway has made a whopping 69 percent of his field goals this
year, which would lead the nation if he averaged five or more shots per game.

Bench
Edge:

Bench -James Davis, the Ducks leader off the bench, is 27th in the nation in 3-point
percentage (42 percent). The senior has made a team-leading 85 shots from behind
the arc on the way to 10.9 points per game. After that, the bench gets pretty short -
as is evidenced by the fact that the team's top three scorers drop in 61 percent of the
Ducks' total output. Head coach Ernie Kent's son,Jordan, also comes off the bench.
He has played in 28 games this year and averages 1.8 points per contest.

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