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November 16, 2004 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-11-16

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Tuesday
November 16, 2004
sports. michigandaily. com
sports@michigandaily.com

Oe R TSigan Baidv

9

. . ........ ---- ------ --- - -- . . . .......... ...... .

Cagers advance
in preseason NIT

For Burnett, it's the
future that counts

v

By Eric Ambinder
Daily Sports Writer
With a little less than 13 minutes
remaining in the opening round of
the Preseason
NIT, Michigan B GA
and Binghamton MIN 59
- a team that lost
to Division II St. Rose in an exhibi-
tion game just 12 days ago - were
tied at 39. Junior guard Daniel Hor-
ton brought the ball up the court after
a Bearcats miss and saw sophomore
Brent Petway ahead of the play, curl-
ing towards the basket.
"I (saw) it was open, and Daniel
always sees it when it's open," Petway
said. "So he just throws it up there and
made a great pass, and he made it easy
on me."
Petway's alley-oop invigorated the
previously quiet Crisler Arena crowd,
giving Michigan its first lead at 41-39
since a Horton 3-pointer in the opening
minutes of the first half.
Petway's energy resonated for Michi-
gan, as it relied on efficient defense
down the stretch to secure a 59-46 vic-

tory over the Bearcats in its first game
of the season.
"The way we played (defense) in the
second half is how we want to play the
whole season," Horton said. "It can even
get better."
After 32 first-half points, Bingham-
ton scored just 14 in the second half on
4-of-26 shooting.
"I was very pleased with the second-
half performance of our team, in terms
of our defensive effort," Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker said. "I thought (Bing-
hamton) got a little tired and missed
some shots that they ordinarily would
have made. And I thought that was one
of the factors of us being able to wear
them down a little bit."
The Bearcats were stymied by the
Wolverines's varying pressure defense
in the second half. Michigan was able to
cut off Binghamton's screens and force
the Bearcats into sloppy perimeter shots.
Possibly the Wolverines' biggest ally in
the game, however, was the abundance
of fouls called by the referees. Bingham-
ton 7-footer Nick Billings - a legitimate
NBA draft prospect - played just seven
minutes, attempted just one shot and did

RYAN WEINER/Daily
Brent Petway (23) and Daniel Horton teamed up for an alley-oop in Michigan's win.

not score. Billings racked up two first-
half fouls, which kept him off the floor
for 16 minutes before halftime. Then he
committed two more violations within
the first minute of the second half.

A teammate of Billings at Bing-
hamton, current Wolverine Dani Wohl
transferred from the school to attend
Michigan before last season. Wohl was
See BINGHAMTON, page 10

ree throw shooting key for Blue

DANIEL BREMMER
Garden State of Mind
"Do we have to go back there?"
his was just the first of many
hesitations from Michigan
women's basketball coach
Cheryl Burnett when asked about the
bumpy past few years of the women's
basketball program at Michigan.
Burnett didn't want to speak about
any of the difficulties that the program
has endured over the past few years
- former coach Sue Guevara's sud-
den resignation or having six players
leave the program following her own
first season as a coach - not merely
because she was dodging the questions.
Burnett didn't want to dwell on the pro-
gram's past because she is excited for her
team's future, and she doesn't waste time
worrying about where it's already been.
Now, after spending more than
three years in the Big Ten basement
and one year rebuilding from the
foundation, the women's hoops team
is headed in the right direction under
Burnett. And even though the team
might struggle this season - which
kicks off on Friday against Alabama
- things look good for the long
term future of the program.
It's been a wild ride for the team
over the past 19 months. On March
24, 2003, the women's basketball pro-
gram at Michigan was in shambles.
Former coach Sue Guevara had just
resigned after an awful 13-16 season
(3-13 Big Ten) in 2002-03. The year
before, Guevara guided the team to a
winning overall record, but just a 6-10
conference record. During both these
seasons, the chemistry between most
of the players and the coach were non-
existent. Off the court, Guevara didn't
give herself much of a chance of win-
ning by recruiting players who, with
only a few exceptions, weren't good

enough to compete in the Big Ten.
Enter Burnett.
Burnett took a hands-on approach
with nearly every aspect possible
of her team and her program. She
involved herself in the team's mar-
keting and reached out to the local
women's basketball community. As a
result, she was able to set a single-sea-
son attendance record despite failing
to reach the .500 mark on the court.
Burnett became a vocal, enthusias-
tic cheerleader on the sidelines dur-
ing games - hyping up the crowd at
every chance she could get. It worked.
The excitement at women's basketball
games last year was as high as it's
been in the last four years.
Most importantly, Burnett took
steps towards correcting the biggest
problem that Guevara left her with:
She hit the recruiting trails hard,
bringing in the type of talent that
Michigan needs to win games and the
type of players who embody the role
of the Michigan student-athlete.
Take a look at the profileĀ§ of seven
(that's right, seven) new faces of the
women's basketball team. For every
basketball accomplishment listed -
and there are plenty - there's an aca-
demic accomplishment, as well. Many
coaches preach about the importance of
academics, but the two valedictorians
Burnett recruited speak even louder.
While things are headed in the right
direction for this program - with new
talent on the court and a renewed local
interest - this season will still be
filled with challenges.
For starters, the team has just three
nonfreshmen - seniors Tabitha Pool
and BreAnne McPhilamy, and sopho-
more Kelly Helvey. In the physical Big
Ten conference, it's likely it will take
these freshmen some time to adjust to
the rough style of play. With a mini-
mum of two freshmen on the floor at
all times, it's going to be hard for the
team to avoid mistakes, both physical
and mental.
It's also going to be tough without
a true center. McPhilamy is the tall-
est on the team at 6-foot-1. But she's
going to pale in comparison to some of
See BREMMER, page 10

By Josh Holman
Daily Sports Writer
Binghamton surprised almost everyone in Crisler
Arena last night when it jumped out to as much as a 12-
point lead over Michigan in the first half. The Wolverines
were down 29-17 at the four-minute media timeout, and
they were showing no signs of a productive offense. But
the Bearcats gave Michigan its chances to get back in the
game, and the Wolverines cashed in on those chances
- exactly 91.3 percent of them.
Michigan made 21-of-23 from the free throw line in
its 59-46 victory. Five Wolverines were perfect from the
charity stripe on a night when free throws kept the Wol-
verines in the game and buried the Bearcats in an ugly
second half.
"We were tremendous from the line tonight, and that
was a big weapon for us because we certainly struggled
offensively in the first half," Michigan coach Tommy
Amaker said. "Free throws allowed us to make a game

of it in the first half when they jumped out and got a
double-digit lead on us."
Binghamton led 32-28 at the half, but it could have
been much worse had the Wolverines not shot 10-for-
11 from the stripe. For a team that shot just under 70
percent from the line last year, that improvement is the
difference between going into halftime down four - but
with momentum - or going in down seven or eight,
wondering how a team from the America East Confer-
ence could jump out of the gates so fast.
The Wolverines took that momentum and carried it
into the second half. They kept getting to the line, and
the Bearcats paid for it.
Just 19 seconds into the second half, Binghamton's 7-
foot center, Nick Billings, collected his third foul of the
game. Thirty-seven seconds later, he picked up a fourth.
"We tried to get some early fouls on (Billings) so we
could keep him off the floor," junior tri-captain Graham
Brown said. "Our guys did a great job with that. He came
in with a lot of energy. We knew he was a shot blocker,

and we tried to use that against him."
Then, with 17:09 remaining, forward Alex Adediran,
Binghamton's third-leading scorer, was tagged with a
fourth personal foul.
Neither Adediran nor Billings made an impact for the
remainder of the game. Billings came in later, only to
foul out after two more minutes of play. He finished the
night with no points, two rebounds and five fouls in just
seven minutes of play.
"We were just playing our game," sophomore center
Courtney Sims said. "Fortunately, we got a couple of
calls our way. It just went that way. Some days it hap-
pens to me, so I know how (Billings) feels."
The Bearcats committed 22 personal fouls, leading to
the 23 trips to the line for Michigan.
"We spend a lot of time shooting free throws," sopho-
more Dion Harris said. "It's kind of contagious. Once
one guy goes up there and knocks free throws down, I
think that gives the rest of us motivation to go up there
and knock ours down."

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