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November 18, 2004 - Image 9

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-11-18

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Thursday
November 18, 2004
sports.michigandaily. com
sports@michigandaily.com

PORTS

9A

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Back

to

the

Big

Apple

Michi gan
moves to
NIT semis
By Megan Kolodgy
Daily Sports Writer
With just under three minutes left in last night's
game, Colorado was charging at the Wolverines
with a tenacity not befitting a team that had been
down by double digits since the opening of the first
half. Now within eight, the Buffaloes blocked shots
in the paint, double- and triple-teamed Michigan's
big men and stuck to the guards in the backcourt.
For a moment, the Wolverines looked concerned.
But just for a moment.
After Colorado turned the ball over on a simple
inbounds play, Michigan junior tri-captain Lester
Abram capitalized by lobbing the ball to sopho-
more Brent Petway on the other side of the court.
Petway threw down an incendiary dunk that both
ignited the crowd and boosted the Wolverines'
advantage back to a more comfortable double-digit
status on the way to Michigan's 69-60 win over
Colorado in the second round of the Preseason
NIT Tournament.
"They were just not quitting," Michigan coach Tommy
Amaker said. "I was very impressed with that."
The highlight of the Michigan stat sheet last night
was undoubtedly guard Dion Harris's career-high
24 points, which he capped off with a pair of free
throws in the waning seconds of the game. Harris
went 7-for-7 on free throws and shot dynamically
from the floor, with nine points coming from three-
pointers and several others off of jump shots.
"Coach talked to me," Harris said. "He just
wanted me to be a really confident player this year,
and just more aggressive. So I think that's what I'm
trying to do - and I think it started tonight."
Michigan sophomore Courtney Sims struggled
against Colorado's overbearing defense under the
rim. His efforts earned him a double-double - 10
points and 10 rebounds - but the 6-foot-11 for-
ward made just five of his 16 attempted field goals
on the evening, due largely to Buffalo Julius Ash-
by's six blocks, which tied Colorado's single-game
record for blocks in a road game.
But when a free throw from Colorado's Marcus
Hall and a basket from outside the arc by Rich-
ard Roby brought the Buffaloes back within. strik-
ing distance, they coighed it up' again o another
avoidable inbounds error. Junior Daniel Horton
snatched the ball, and blew across half court for

Blue can prove it
belongs at the top

BRIAN SCHICK
Schick Happens
Frank Sinatra might want to
"start spreadin' the news" that
the Michigan basketball team is
heading back to Madison Square Gar-
den - but this time for the Preseason
NIT final four.
"I want to be a part of it, New York,
New York..."
And assuming that Wright State
won't pull off a stunning upset of No.
10 Arizona tonight, the Wolverines will
play one of the premier programs in
college basketball.
The Michigan players and coaches
have said that this is a great oppor-
tunity for Michigan and a chance to
play against some quality opponents.
While this is true, just playing against
Arizona and being competitive against
the Wildcats are two completely dif-
ferent things. Making the triumphant
return to the Garden is a great achieve-
ment, but if the Wolverines continue
to keep playing erratically - the way
they have in the early going this season
- just making it to New York might
not seem like such a great achievement.
The Wolverines need to show they
belong there.
Looking at the two NIT games
so far, it was a tale of two halves for
Michigan against Binghamton on
Monday. The Bearcats looked as if
they'd play the spoiler, jumping out to
a double-digit lead. A solid second half
from Dion Harris and Daniel Horton
helped whittle away the lead at little bit
at a time, and Michigan pulled away to
secure the win.
Tonight, the Wolverines looked like
they'd send Colorado packing before
five minutes elapsed. But Michigan
couldn't extend its 15-point halftime
lead, and eventually surrendered 35
points in the second half. There were
several instances down the stretch
when it appeared that Colorado might
have stolen the momentum from the
Crisler Arena crowd. Granted, Michi-
gan kept finding ways to keep the Buf-
faloes at bay, but it was too close for
comfort.

old New York... "
It appears that each game has fea-
tured one half in which Michigan looks
like it can make a serious run at the
Big Ten championship this year and
can hang with the elite teams in college
basketball. The other half is plagued
with careless passing, bad turnovers and
questionable shot selection, which would
be good enough for the Postseason NIT.
The most frustrating aspect of the
first two games is seeing flashes of a
great team trying to get past inconsistent
play. I have no doubt that the Wolverines
have the talent to give Arizona a great
game a week from tonight, but it will
take two halves playing like the team
we saw in the first half tonight and the
second half against Binghamton.
I'd hate to see people start referring
to this team as one that could give a
good team just one good half. After
all, this team has accomplished so
much over the past few years, emerging
from controversy and making steady
steps each season, culminating in the
Postseason NIT championship. To not
cement Michigan's return to being a
quality program on a national stage
would be disheartening.
"IfI can make it there, I'll make it
anywhere ... "
This might seem like an exag-
geration, but I feel that this trip to New
York will have a big impact on how the
rest of the season will go for Michigan.
If the Wolverines can put together a
game with two consistently solid halves
to make the perfect game - even in
defeat - this team can be proud of its
effort and show it belongs in the top-
25 with the Arizonas of the basketball
world. But if the Wolverines come out
flat and have lackluster performances,
it could be a serious blow to the team's
confidence - especially heading into
the Georgia Tech game on Nov. 30 -
from which the team may not recover
and drop out of the Big Ten race.
I really don't see the latter situation
happening from what I've seen so far;
this club recognizes the importance
and even if they won't say, the play-
ers have had their eye on the potential
matchup with Arizona since the NIT
schedule was announced. It seems
this team is ready for a big game on a
national stage to show that it is ready
to make a name for itself and it won't
back down from any challenge.
With apologies to Old Blue Eyes,

Dion Harris had a stellar night, scoring 24 points, including nine points from shots outside the arc.

a layup.
He missed, but Sims was right behind him.
Sims grabbed the rebound, and threw down a
put-back dunk.
"(What was good was) Courtney not standing
back and watching one of his teammates going
for what he thinks is going to be a made layup,"
Amaker said. "He followed up - and he was the
only one on the floor who did it. It showed a lot of
hustle."
Despite Harris's big night, and the Wolverines's
15-for-8I'free~h'lr6\( shootingMichigin once
again had difficulty stringing two quality halves
together. Although it shot out of the blocks with a

24-8 run and held Colorado to 29-percent shooting
in the first half, the Buffaloes outscored Michigan
in the second half.
"I wish we would have protected our lead bet-
ter," Amaker said. "We were disappointed with
that. And we turned some over late, and we got
nervous a bit - we got riled at the end. So that's
something to work on for us."
Another low point for Michigan came in the
final minutes, when junior tri-captain Graham
Brown was elbowed in the face, and had to leave
the court. His status remains unknown. Amaker
said that he may need stitches and might have had
a concussion.

Harris busts out with career-high 24

By Eric Ambinder
Daily Sports Writer

prove (that I can be the best)."
Harris had a career-high 24 points
last night against Colorado in Mich-
igan's 69-60 win.

When Michigan coach Tommy
Amaker asked each of his basketball
players to write a paragraph about how
he wanted to be remembered this sea-
son, Dion Harris wrote that he wanted
to be the best player on the team.
And through the first two games
this season, Harris is living up to
his goal.
"He believes in me," Harris said
of his coach. "I'm just trying to
YESTERDAY'S GAME
Colorado (60)

And not only did
the sophomore light
it up offensively, he
played his most com-
plete as a Wolverine.
Harris finished with
a career-high five

Y"A© /

MIN
Eddy 28
Osborn 6
Arrington 15
Obazuaye 13
Roby 35
Ashby 33
Copeland 19
McGee 13
Hall 24
Freeman 9
King-Stockton 5
TEAM
Totals 200

FG
M-A
0-5
0-3
0-1
1-3
6-12
4-11
3-6
0-2
7-12
1-3
1-1

FT REB
M-A 0-T A
2-2 3-6 4
0-0 1-2 2
0-0 1-2 0
0-0 0-2 0
4-4 0-5 1
0-0 5-111
0-0 0-4 1
0-2 0-0 1
2-2 0-3 3
0-0 0-0 0
0-0 1-1 1
0-1

F PTS
2 2
0 0
3 0
1 2
1 18
1 8
4 9
10
1 3 16
1 3
0 2

steals, was 7-for-7 from the line and
dished out four assists.
"We needed (Harris's strong
effort) tonight because our inside
game wasn't as strong as we need
it to be," sophomore Brent Petway
said. "And Dion made some tough
shots tonight. He made some great
shots. He lifted us a lot with those
threes he hit."
Harris connected on his first of
three triples to put Michigan up 19-
6 early in the first half, and had 15
points on 6-of-9 shooting before the
intermission.
"I thought Dion Harris's play was
just tremendous," Amaker said. "I
thought his overall floor game for us
has been as good as it's been since

he's been here. And it couldn't have
come at a better time for us."
On Monday night against Bing-
hamton, Harris scored 14 second-
half points and keyed the decisive
12-0 run in Michigan's 59-46 win.
BROWN AND OUT: Late in the second
half, senior center Graham Brown was
hit below the eye by an errant elbow.
Brown staggered toward the sideline
in a daze and proceeded to lay down
with his hands over his head.
"He got hit under the eye and it
kind of knocked him out for awhile,"
said junior Chris Hunter, who served
as Brown's crutch on the walk to the
locker room. "He was a little bit dazed.
We asked him if he was ready to go,
and he said he was alright. Hopefully
he'll be better by tomorrow because
we need him to play hard."
Amaker was uncertain about
Brown's status after the game, say-
ing that Brown may have suffered a
slight concussion and needed stitch-
es below his eye.
Before the injury, Brown went
3-of-6 for six points and grabbed
seven rebounds.
FAST START: Against Binghamton

on Monday night, Michigan trailed
22-12 early and had to play great
defense in the second half to beat
the Bearcats. Last night, however,
the Wolverines got an early jump
on the Buffaloes. Michigan opened
with a 14-2 run, forcing several
early steals that turned into easy
transition buckets. The Wolverines
were able to stretch that lead to 15
by halftime, leading 40-25.
"I think the start of the game for
us was one of the keys," Amaker
said. "We got out of the blocks real
early and put them on their heels.
We had opportunities, and I think
we converted them. I was really
impressed with that."
Sophomore Daniel Horton said
Michigan's fast start was related to
how the team practices.
"We don't ease into it," Horton
said. "Once we get going in prac-
tice, we get it going full speed. That
gets us accustomed to get it going in
the game. A lot of teams like to ease
into the game. We come out swing-
ing. That's one thing I like about
this program - that we do it from
the tap."

Brian Schick can be reached ai
"I'll make a brand new start of it, in bschick@umich.edu.

RYAN WEINER/Daily
The Wolverines need to put together two consecutive solid halves in order to beat Arizona,
which could be a major springboard game for the rest of the season.

23-59 8-10 8-33 14 17 60

_ I ... AR M 1.1

FG%: 39.0. FT%: 80.0. 3-point FG: 6-18,
.333 (Copeland 3-4, Roby 2-4, Free-
man 1-3, Eddy 0-2, Hall 0-2, Osborn
0-2, McGee 0-1). Blocks: 12 (Ashby 6,
Arrington, Copeland, Eddy, Freeman,
King-Stockman, Roby) Steals: 11 (Roby
4, Ashby 3, Eddy 2, Arrington, Hall). Turn-
overs: 19 (Ashby 4, Arrington 3, Hall 3,
Copeland 2, Freeman 2, Osborn 2, Roby
2, Eddy). Technical fouls: None.
MICHIGAN (69)

MIN'
Abram 39
Brown 22
Sims 29
Horton 36
Harris 38
Petway 23
Hunter 6
Harrell 5
Coleman 2

N
3
a
i
3
3

FG
M-A
3-10
3-6
5-16
3-10
7-12
4-8
0-1
0-0
0-0

FT
M-A
6-7
0-0
0-0
1-2
7-7
1-2
0-0
0-0
0-0

R EB
0-T
2-7
2-7
4-10(
0-3
1-2
1-4
0-0
0-0+
1-3+

A
3
1
0}
6
4
2
0
0
0

F PTS
0 12
3 6
0 10
4 8
1 24
0 9
1 0
1 0
00

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