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January 13, 2005 - Image 10

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-01-13

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Thursday
January 13, 2005
sports.michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily.com

dPORTS

1OA

On the road to recovery

Horton
leads with
{ P oSn s
By Eric Ambinder
Daily Sports Writer
In his first game back since mid November, junior
Graham Brown attempted just one inconsequential shot.
But he made the game-changing play.
After a Dion Harris floater put Michigan up five
with just over three minutes remaining, Brown -
who had hernia surgery on Dec. 7 - stepped in front
of Northwestern's Vedran Vukusic to draw a charge.
The crowd hadn't stopped
chanting "Moose" - Brown's NORTHWESTERN 61
nickname - when Harris hit MICHIGAN ®
yet another floater, effectively
clinching Michigan's 71-61 win over the Wildcats
last night at Crisler Arena.
"The charge that (Brown) took late in the second
half was a very big play for us - for that kid to
come back and put his body on the line like that,"
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said.
It was the Wolverines' ability to draw the foul
that kept Northwestern (1-2, 8-7) from gaining
any momentum. Michigan (2-0 Big Ten, 11-5
overall) converted 15 of 18 free throws in the
second half.
"I thought our foul shooting was the biggest key
for us," Amaker said. "I thought by us being able to
make free throws, it kept (the Wildcats) at bay."
Amaker said he was also pleased with the play
of 6-foot-li forward Courtney Sims and the sopho-
more's ability to get to the free throw line. Sims has
converted on 16 consecutive free throw attempts and
went 7-for-7 from the line last night.
Sims - who netted 17 points on 5-for-7 shooting
- also contained Northwestern center Mike Thomp-
son. The 6-foot-10 Duke transfer shot 4-for-13 from
the floor and had just 12 points. Thompson averaged
17 points in his first two conference games.
"I think Courtney is a player (who) plays better
when he's had a bigger matchup size-wise," Amaker
said. "Sometimes with smaller players, it kind of
throws him for a loop."
During Michigan's five-game winning steak,
Sims has held opposing centers to just 5.8 points per
game - surprising because the Wolverines have
had injury problems up front.
Forward Chris Hunter missed his second straight
game after injuring an ankle against Iowa, and soph-
omore Brent Petway - who injured his shoulder on
Saturday against Fairfield - was expected to start,
but didn't.
"It came as a surprise to me," forward J.C. Mathis
said about starting instead of Petway. "Brent was
prepared to start. Since he couldn't go, I tried to
go out there and basically contribute, mostly on the
defensive end."
S1mS steops

'M' at its best when
playing inside-out

FOREST CASEY/Daily
Junior Daniel Horton brought his career total points to exactly 1,000 today with a 24-point performance.

Mathis netted four points in 20 minutes. The
senior averaged just 6.6 minutes per game prior to
last night's start.
Harris admitted that the team missed Pet-
way's energy.
"We miss the big dunks, the big blocks, the big
rebounds," Harris said. "When a guy like Brent goes
out, all the excitement and the energy fades down.
We got to get energized (without him), and I think
we did that for the most part (last night)."
The Wolverines led 31-26 at halftime behind a
strong first half from Harris. The sophomore hit
all three of his 3-point attempts and added four
assists. But it was guard Daniel Horton - in just
his third game back after missing a month with
a left knee sprain - who took over for the Wol-
verines in the second half. The junior scored 19
of his 24 points after intermission, bringing his
career total to exactly 1,000.
"Today, things went well for me in the first half,"
Harris said. "I don't think I shot the ball that well
0into big-ma

I

By Josh Holman
Daily Sports Writer
Courtney Sims has watched the
musical chairs of injuries safely from
his position at center. The 6-foot-11
sophomore has not succumbed to the
plague of injuries that has finally
worked its way through the rest of
Michigan's low-post players.
Sophomore Brent Petway - who
injured his shoulder in Michigan's
last game against Fairfield - warmed
up before gametime but did not feel
healthy enough to go at tip, forcing

senior J.C. Mathis to make his first
start of the season. With junior forward
Chris Hunter missing his second con-
secutive game due to an ankle injury,
Sims suddenly had to shoulder most of
the offensive production down low for
the Wolverines.
Sims also had to perform against
Northwestern's Mike Thompson, a
6-foot-10 junior transfer from Duke
who, coming into today's game, was
averaging 12.5 points per game over
his first eight games.
Considering Michigan's depleted
frontcourt, it was probably the most

difficult post matchup th
faced all season.
"I just felt I had to play
system," Sims said. "Th
want to play all the time,
Chris and Brent aren't inI
Sims shot 5-for-7 fron
and 7-for-7 from the free
for 17 points. He also;
rebounds and three block
On the other end of
Thompson managed just
on 4-for-13 shooting, due
Sims's defense.
"(Thompson) is a very
LAST NIGHT'S
Northwestern 61
FG FT RI
MIN M-A M-A 0
Vukusic 40 8-13 3-4 2
Duvancic 14 1-2 2-4 1
Thompson 33 4-13 4-4 3
Parker 37 6-9 3-4 2
Hachad 6 0-1 0-0 0
Van Schaick35 0-3 0-0 1
Oglesby 29 1-2 0-0 0
O'Sullivan 6 0-0 0-0 0
TEAM 2
Totals 200 20-4312-169
FG%: 47.7 FT%: 75.0 3-poli
.500 (Parker 3-3, Vukusic 3
1-2, Doyle 0-1, Hachad 0-1)
(Duvancic 1) Steals: 3 (Jen
1). Turnovers: 13 (VukusicF
2, Doyle 2, Thompson 2, Ha
Scott 1). Technical fouls:N
MICHIGAN 71
FG FT R
MIN M-A M-A 0
Coleman 38 3-5 0-2 1
Mathis 20 1-1 2-4 C-
Sims 36 5-7 7-7 1
Horton 39 8-13 7-8 0
Harris 38 6-14 2-2 0
Wo~hl If0-0l 0-0l0-

in the second, and (Horton) stepped right in, and he
took the load off me. I didn't have to score much in
the second half."
Northwestern kept it close in the second half by
pressing the Wolverines, but Horton was able to
break the pressure.
"I was open a lot in the middle against their
pressure and was able to get the ball up the floor
and get to the basket when we had numbers,"
Horton said.
Horton broke the pressure twice when Michigan led
by five points midway through the second half. And the
junior was able to hit key free throws down the stretch.
He converted on all six of his free throw attempts with
under two minutes remaining in the game.
"I thought our backcourt was really efficient,"
Amaker said. "(Harris and Horton's) scoring was
one of the keys for us to win the game. Dion's
first half was hot for us, and Daniel made some
tremendous drives and free throws for us (in the
second half).
n spotlight
at Sims has when he catches it inside," Mathis-
said. "So we tried to play him before
within the he caught the ball by fronting and
hat's how I getting on top of him."
even when Sims's play was overshadowed
the game." by the 24 and 17 points from junior
m the field Daniel Horton and sophomore Dion
throw line Harris, respectively, but his night
added five was productive nonetheless.
s. Without Petway and Hunter,
the court, Sims's performance was that much
t 12 points more pivotal. Petway - who leads
e in part to the team in blocks with 18 - has
been Michigan's most intimidating
good player defensive player. Hunter has been
an offensive force since earning a
GAME spot in the starting lineup in early
December, averaging 11.2 points per
game.
EB Junior Graham Brown and Mathis
)-T A F PTS - the two other forwards that saw
-5 3 1 22 playing time - combined for just
-3 0 1 4 four points and five rebounds. Brown
36 3 4 18 played in his first game after hernia
-0 0 2 0 surgery kept him out for eight games,
-4 2 2 0 while Mathis logged a season high in
-1 1 4 5 minutes (20). Both contributed their
-0 3 1 0 share on the floor, but Sims was left to
'-24131861 fill up the stat sheet for the big men.
"Courtney's done a great job this
it FG: 7-14, year, especially from the free throw
Blocks:n1 line," Brown said. "You can see him
kins 2, Doyle growing down in the low post, get-
5, Duvancic ting stronger in the low post, but he's
achad 1, done a great job shooting from the
NJone. free throw line."
Surprisingly enough, Sims did
most of his stat-sheet stuffing at the
EB charity stripe. Sims - a 71 percent
D-T A F PTS shooter on the season - has not
-2 1 0 8 missed a free throw in four games.
-4 1 4 17 He has drained 16 of his last 16
-5 1 3 24 attempts.
-2 5 1 17 "When I look at his line, I'm very

BRIAN SCHICK
Schick Happens
Now this is how Tommy
Amaker envisioned the com-
plete Michigan basketball
game.
By no means am I saying that last
night's 71-61 win over Northwestern
was the perfect game. But it was
close to the style of play that the
Wolverines hoped they could use in
order to be successful this season:
the inside-out game.
This wasn't even the best lineup
Michigan can put on the floor,
but it made the most of what was
available - which has been the
story of the season. When three
players can contribute 82 percent
of the Michigan offense, some-
thing is going right.
Just let that sink in for a minute.
Daniel Horton, Dion Harris and
Courtney Sims scored 58 out of 71
points for Michigan. The other five
players that saw game time scored a
total of 13. While that's impressive,
it was the way the team put together
its offense last night that has me
optimistic about this team - inju-
ries and all.
"I think this is (the) best we've
played - since I've been here - as
a team," Sims said. "Everybody is
playing as a team, and nobody is
worrying about their stats. Every-
body is trying to win."
The only way the inside-out game
works is for players to be unselfish,
and that was clearly evident against
the Wildcats. When a forward is
double-teamed down low, he needs
to kick it to a guard. If a guard can't
find an open perimeter shot, he
needs to pass it into the post.
For as much heat as Sims has taken
from the Michigan coaching staff
this season, he put together a solid
effort last night. In addition, he was
the lone regular frontcourt starter
who was healthy, which increased
the pressure on him. As soon as Sims
saw that senior J.C. Mathis would
receive his first start ofthe season,
he knew that the Northwestern front-
court would be targeting him. And he
stepped up to the challenge.
Sims looked more physical in the post,
especially against a tough opponent on
defense in Northwestern's Mike Thomp-
son. Sims scored 17 points and hit all
seven of his foul shots, which was most
impressive to Amaker.
"When I look at his line, I'm
very impressed," Amaker said after
the game. "He's responded in a
positive way."
Not to be outdone, Harris and

Horton managed to balance each
other out in both halves. Harris was
on fire in the first half, scorching
the Wildcats for 11 points. Then
he handed off the baton to Horton,
who scored 19 of his season-high 24
points in the second half.
"We always want to work off of
each other," Harris said of Horton.
"We're just working together out
there, and it's working out perfect
right now."
Michigan has proven to be at its
most dangerous when anyone on the
court is a threat to score. Northwest-
ern had its hands full last night, as
it had to worry about three players.
When Chris Hunter returns to the
lineup and Ron Coleman explodes
the way he has shown he can in
recent games, opposing defenses
will be having fits.
The return of Horton to the lineup
has taken a lot of the pressure off
Harris to create his own shots and
keep the heat off the post'players by
hitting 3-pointers: The effect of Hor-
ton's return on Harris has been obvi-
ous, as the sophomore has scored
12, 20 and 17 points since Horton's
return against Iowa on Jan. 5.
With .the guards scoring in double
figures each night, things open up
for Michigan's big men. Sims nar-
rowly missed his career-high point
total of 19 by just two, and his
aggressiveness forced the North-
western defenders to keep fouling
him. Horton believes that, when
Sims plays well, he will also have a
good game.
"When (Sims) establishes himself
as a low-post threat, it opens up (the
perimeter)," Horton said. "When
he's scoring like that, they have to
give him more attention. When they
double him, it leaves us open on the
perimeter. We just have to be ready
to shoot."
Amaker is always looking for all
his players to be consistent scor-
ing threats, and he has done a great
job of pulling out wins without his
best talent of the floor. Now, all the
various components are falling into
place. With key players returning to
the lineup, the offense has picked up
as well. Tonight's 71 points was the
third-highest output of the season,
and Michigan's 56.1 percent shooting
was also its third best mark of the
season. After the game, it was appar-
ent that Amaker liked what he saw.
"When you look at the stat sheet,
we had pretty good balance," Amak-
er said. "It was good balance for
having some players out. The (bal-
anced) scoring was one of the keys
for victory tonight."
Not only tonight, but I'll bet
Amaker will be looking for the
inside-out game to be the key to his
team's success throughout the Big
Ten season.
Brian Schick can be reached at
bschick@umich.edu.

01

BIG TEN STANDINGS
TeamBjg Ten overaJl w -v
Illinois 3 . 7 Min 71 NrthwestemO1
Michigan State 2 0 10 2M NNT3 Pur
Minnesota 2 0 12 3, s
Mkchigan 2 14 5.....$T~9
Wisconsin 2 " 1 it 3 M c a tP n S ae 1 : 7p m
Indiana 1 1 6 7' I at Prd nton
Ohio State 1 2 12.4 .. nn.s. t; at wa 2:2 Y':.r.m
Norhwstm 12 .IlInois at Northwestern 437 p.m.
Iowa 0 2 12 3 Ohio State t'LD C ..
Perin State 0 S 6 10 SAT AY's eAM
Purdue 0 3 4 9 Michigan State at is si 1:3O pm.
Ax
It has become the year of the injury for the Michigan men'
basketball team. The Wolverines have lost seven players due
to ailments at various times this season. Below is a
update on the status of Michigan's infirmary. Welcome to D s.
Amaker's office.
Name:. Games Missed: Status:
Daniel Horton 6 Returned Jan. 5
(Iowa)
Chris Hunter 2'Day-to-day

0

.A.,:::- . ::

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