The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - February 7, 2005 - 5B
WHAT DID YOU SAY?
"The regular season is
done, and now we have a
new season to go after and
fight for the Big Ten title."
- Michigan guard Dion Harris
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
The junior went to the line 15 times,
grabbed seven rebounds and netted
24 points. Brunner also complained
to the refs about twenty-four times.
Petway scored a career-high 16
points and grabbed 10 boards. Sur-
prisingly, none of the sophomore's
six field goals were dunks.
By Josh Holman
Daily Sports Editor
The records and the players may have
been different, but two teams that have
been plagued by similar problems took
the court at Crisler Arena Saturday.
Iowa's 74-72 overtime win over
Michigan pushed the
Hawkeyes closer to an
at-large NCAA Tour-
nament berth - a goal 314
that has been out of
reach for the Wolver-
ines for more than a
But the path the Hawkeyes and Wol-
verines have followed have been nearly
identical - a schedule that has included
broken dreams for teams and players.
Iowa (7-9 Big Ten, 19-10 overall)
began the season as one of hottest teams
in the country. It earned early-season
victories over then-No. 11 Louisville
and then-No.13 Texas at the Maui Invi-
tational. The Hawkeyes entered the con-
* ference season with just one loss.
But they lost three of their first four
conference games and have remained
To make matters worse, junior Pierre
Pierce was dismissed from the team on
Feb. 2 because of legal troubles. He was
the team's leading scorer at 17.9 points
per game and a possible All-Big Ten
Michigan has taken a similar path.
After a promising start, any hope of
landing an at-large berth in the NCAA
Tournament went out the window with
a 10-game losing streak during the con-
4 The Wolverines also had to deal with
the suspension of a marquee player
when it was announced that junior Dan-
iel Horton would miss the remainder
Rudy has nothing
on Dani Wohl
Sophomore Brent Petway had his third double-double of the season Saturday.
of the season after pleading guilty to
domestic violence charges.
"They have obviously handled things
incredibly well with their. circumstanc-
es," Michigan coach Tommy Amaker
said. "We haven't done it as well in
terms of numbers, but I'd like to think,
internally, we'd like to think we've han-
dled things well."
A POSITIVE ZERO: Even if the season's
numbers haven't added up for Michigan,
plenty of impressive individual numbers
popped up in the boxscore on Saturday,
most notably those of sophomore Brent
The forward recorded his third career
double-double, scoring a career-high 16
points while grabbing 10 rebounds.
But his most impressive stat may
have been zero - the number of dunks
For a guy that is known for the num-
ber of different dunks in his repertoire,
Petway showed just how much his game
has grown. He hit three shots inside the
lane that led to opportunities for 3-point
plays, two of which he converted. He
also hit a few jump shots from outside
"I don't think my game has really
evolved that much," Petway said. "I've
always had that in my game a little bit.
I've just got more confidence when coach
tells me to shoot it a little more."
Despite the performance, Petway felt
his game was lacking during some key
"At the end, I gave up a couple offen-
sive rebounds that could have helped us
close the game out," Petway said. "I'm
disappointed in myself for that. I'm usu-
ally a good finisher, and I don't like when
I don't perform up to my potential."
NOTES: Saturday's matchup was
Michigan's second overtime game of the
season. It lost 61-60 in overtime to Ari-
zona on Nov. 24 in the Preseason NIT in
New York ... Sophomore center Court-
ney Sims played just five minutes off the
bench, recording one foul. He did not play
in the second half or the overtime period
... Michigan's 4-12 Big Ten record is its
worst since the 2000-01 season, when it
finished with the same record.
irst, Dani Wohl heard what he
He wasn't tall enough.
Wasn't quick enough.
Wasn't good enough for college bas-
Once he did play college basketball,
he heard what he couldn't do.
Couldn't play in the Big Ten.
Couldn't play for Michigan.
Couldn't start for Michigan.
Good thing Dani Wohl never really
The 5-foot-li senior ended his
Michigan basketball career
at Crisler Arena on Saturday
against Iowa. He never scored more
than four points in a single game. But
the more important total, one the stat
sheets will never measure, is the num-
ber of people he inspires to make the
People like Danny Komendera, a
short 11-year-old who wants to be just
like Dani. The autograph Dani signed
for him on Saturday may sit on his desk
or on the wall above his bed. Komendera
will look at it for inspiration. He, too,
has already been told he's too short to
play point guard for his fifth-grade St.
Regis basketball team.
When they tell Komendera he isn't
quick enough, he won't listen. Because
Wohl's journey from high
school in West Bloomfield to
his court of dreams in Ann
Arbor was filled with more pot holes
than the 37 miles of road that separate
the nearby cities. And never once did
Dani pull over. Never once did he tap the
"I've always been a dreamer," Wohl
said. "Wished that I could play here
- believed I could play here."
Wohl may have been the only one.
"I'm going to play at Michigan," he
told his father, Milt.
"Nah," his dad replied.
"I'm going to play," Dani replied.
Milt thinks back to that conversation
now and says, "I don't even know if
people in his family believed him."
Wohl committed to play basketball at
Binghamton, a small college in Vestal,
N.Y. in 2001 after he was named All-
State honorable mention as a senior at
West Bloomfield High School. But he
said Binghamton wasn't for him. He was
too far away from his family and friends.
It just didn't feel right. Binghamton
coach Al Walker dialed Michigan assis-
tant coach Chuck Swenson on Wohl's
behalf. Dani wanted to come home.
Now at Michigan, Wohl had to beat
out 250 to 300 other dreamers fighting
for two open roster spots on the basket-
Over fall break that year, Wohl was at
home when the telephone rang.
It was Swenson.
"We have practice in 45 minutes,"
Swenson said. And he then hung up.
Wohl said he doesn't remember the
ride over. No pot holes.
After sitting out a year due to NCAA
transfer rules, Wohl achieved what
everybody told him was impossible.
"Just making the Michigan team was
his dream - even if it was just getting
on the floor in the last two minutes of
the game," Milt said.
Dani played a total of 13 minutes last
year, his first season with the team.
Milt said he would come to the games
an hour early to watch Dani during
shoot-around. To Milt, that was Dani's
S enior year - Dani's last.
Disaster strikes the team. Tri-
captain and team-leader Lester
Abram learns his season is over just
three games into the year because of a
shoulder injury. Then, the levy of health
crumbled - shoulders, knees, ankles,
elbows, noses all pained different Wol-
But for Wohl, like an ancient Chinese
proverb says, crisis is opportunity. And
Dani had been prepared.
With Abram out and guard Daniel
Horton sidelined with a knee injury,
Wohl played a career-high 30 minutes
against High Point.
The practice after Wohl played the
"game of his life," he tore a ligament in
his elbow. Team doctors told Wohl his
season was over.
Good thing Dani didn't listen.
Four weeks later, he was back. The
doctors were stunned.
Five games after Dani returned from
injury, two days after Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker suspended Horton
for legal troubles, Wohl was named a
The game: Michigan State. Breslin
And you think Dani is a survivor?
Sixty-years to the day of Dani's first
start, Wohl's grandmother was liberated
from Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration
camp where as many as three million
Jews were slaughtered. Dani's grand-
mother, Milt's mother, was the sole-
surviving member of the family to walk
out of Auschwitz alive. Dani's mother,
Renee, remembers standing near the
Breslin court thinking how wonderful
and blessed Dani was to be living such a
normal life. She said it was a wonderful
feeling, an awe.
"If she had not made it out of the
concentration camp, none of us would be
here," Milt said.
Wonder where Dani got his persis-
n Saturday, the journey - save
for one last road trip to Chicago
"It was emotional," Wohl said, fighting
back tears with a low, trembling voice.
"It was the last time I get to put a jersey
on in this arena - the last time I get to
run through that tunnel. I'm just proud to
have been here, to have played with these
guys. It was one of the greatest experi-
ences of my life."
Wohl said the high point of his career
at Michigan was winning an NIT
Championship. It wasn't the game a few
weeks ago against Penn State, when he
accumulated six steals - one shy of the
Michigan record. Wohl would never say
that, would never believe it.
Little Danny Komendera - no taller
than 4-foot-5, no more talented than Wohl
at his age - averaged seven points per
game and led his fifth grade basketball
team to an undefeated season this year.
"I want to be a point-guard at Michi-
gan," he said.
Because of Dani?
As Mark Whicker wrote in the Phila-
delphia Daily News after 5-foot-7 Spud
Webb won the 1986 NBA Slam Dunk
Championship: "If you promise never to
say impossible again, so willI."
On behalf of little guys like myself
thanks Dani. Eric Ambinder can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
FG FT REB
MIN M-A M-A 0-T A F PTS
Hansen 16 0-0 0-0 0-2 0 3 0
Brunner 39 7-12 9-15 4-7 1 2 24
Henderson 36 3-8 1-2 1-2 1 1 7
Haluska 34 6-11 4-4 1-3 3 4 17
Horner 44 5-17 4-4 3-8 6 3 15
Thompson 8 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 2 2
Brownlee 11 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 3
Thomas 24 3-4 0-0 3-8 0 1 6
Reed 11 0-1 0-0 2-3 2 3 0
Gorney 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 1 0
Totals 225 26-5518-2516-38 1415 74
FG%: 47.3 FT%: 72.0 3-point FG: 4-
16, .25 (Brunner 1-3, Henderson 0-1,
Haluska 1-2, Horner 1-8, Brownlee 1-1,
Reed 0-1). Blocks: 2 (Haluska 1, Thomp-
son 1). Steals: 7 (Henderson 5, Hansen
1, Haluska 1). Turnovers: 15 (Brunner
4, Haluska 3, Hansen 2, Henderson 2,
Homner 2, Thompson 1, Gorney 1). Tech-
nical fouls: None.
225 26-62 11-17 18-331417 72
FG%: 41.9 FT%: 64.7 3-point FG: 9-24,
37.5 (Mathis 0-1, Harrell 1-1, Harris 6-
14, Petway 0-1, Coleman 2-7). Blocks:
4 (Mathis 3, Sims 1) Steals: 5 (Brown 2,
WohI 2, Petway 1). Turnovers: 14 (Harris
6, Petway 3, Brown 2, Coleman 2, Wohl).
Technical fouls: None.
35 28 11 - 74
34 29 9 - 72
At: Crisler Arena
Attendance: 11, 574
Continued from page 1B
"Our team, we go to whoever is playing well," Brunner said.
"Today it happened to be me. (Horner) and the other guys did
a great job hitting me in the post. That's why I like this team,
whoever is hot, we get them the ball."
Petway was more effective on the other end of the floor, play-
ing perhaps the best offensive game of his career. Not only did
he score a career high in points, but he also managed to score all
16 points without a single dunk. As the season has progressed,
Petway has developed an increasingly effective jump shot and
gives Michigan a new threat on the offensive end.
He also grabbed six offensive rebounds, part of his 10 total
boards on the day. In addition, he went to the free-throw line five
times to complete two 3-point plays.
"(Petway) was very active, and we needed that from him,"
Amaker said. "His energy and aggressiveness helped him take
the open jump shot. I'm impressed that he has improved his foul
Harris balanced his scoring between the halves, paced by
his six 3-pointers. His performance capped his fourth 20-point
effort in the past seven games. Harris has often gone up against
double-teams since the suspension of Horton earlier this season
and has had to carry the team himself.
"I just have to go out there and get us wins," Harris said. "I play
the point guard position, and I have to run this team. The stuff
I've been through this season will make me a better leader."
Saturday's game was also the last game at Crisler Arena for
seniors J.C. Mathis and Dani Wohl. Both played emotional
games and made key plays throughout the game. Wohl did a
good job distributing the ball and dishing out six assists to just
one turnover. Mathis finished with just two points, but scored on
an inspiring put-back dunk late in the second half.
Both Wohl and Mathis were transfers to Michigan and said
after the game that they were humbled by the opportunity to play
"I have a lot of good memories on and off the court," Mathis
said. "There were a lot of emotions going through my mind out
there today. It was very emotional."
Michigan now heads to Chicago for the Big Ten Tournament
on Thursday as the No. 9 seed. In the first round, the Wolverines
will face Northwestern. The two teams split the season series
with both teams defending their home courts. The winner of the
game will face No. 1 Illinois on Friday.
BIG TEN STANDINGS
Big Ten Overall
IGQ11/ YIFD 14 11 VtVI4;111
Senior J.C. Mathis played in his final home game for Michigan on
Saturday. The forward had a put-back dunk late in the game.
Iowa 74, MICHIGAN 72 (OT)
WIScoNsIN 64, Purdue 52
INDIANA 77, Northwestern 55
MICHIGAN STATE 90, Penn State 64
OHIO STATE 65, Illinois 64
The number of free throws con-
verted by Iowa and Michigan,
respectively, in a game decided
by two points.
Ninth seed Michigan and No. 8 Northwestern (14-15
overall, 6-10 Big Ten) split their two games this
season. The Wolverines posted a 71-61 victory on
Jan. 12, while the Wildcats posted a 69-53 win on
Feb. 26. Northwestern forward Vedran Vukusic totaled
48 points against Michigan this season, shooting a
combined 19-for-26 from the field. The Wildcats are
still fighting for an NIT berth. Michigan is fighting for
If Michigan defeats the Wildcats on Thursday, it
would face No. 1Illinois (29-1, 15-1) on Friday. The
Illini are coming off their first loss of the season, a
65-64 heartbreaker against Ohio State yesterday. The
three-headed monster of guards Luther Head, Deron
Williams and Dee Brown will have something to prove,
especially against a Michigan squad that played the
Illini to a tight six-point loss a few weeks ago.
MICHIGAN IN THE BIG TEN
1998 (No. 4 seed)
No. 5 Iowa, W 77-66
No. 8 Minnesota, W 85-69
No. 3 Purdue, W 76-67
1999 (No. 10 seed)
(10-6, 20-9) ,
2. Michigan State