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November 14, 2005 - Image 14

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6B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - November 14, 2005

Starting the season off right

Free throw removes
preseason jitters as
Blue's Harris rebounds

SHUBRA OHRI/Daily
After failing to score in Michigan's first exhibition game, guard Dion Harris netted 14 points in the 101-56 victory over Northern Michigan on Friday.
CagersdestroyuskiHes 1infinal tune up

By Kevin Wright
Daily Sports Writer
He could finally relax.
Junior Dion Harris was at the free
throw line in the first half of the
Michigan men's basketball team's
contest against
Northern Michigan.
Having not scored
a single point in 32
minutes of action in
last Saturday's nine-
point victory over
Grand Valley State,
Harris needed to get on the board.
"I just wanted to bounce back
from last week," Harris said. "I
didn't have a good game (against
Grand Valley State). I just wanted
to let things come to me and not be
too timid to take shots tonight."
The junior launched the first of
two attempts. It rattled around the
rim and popped out. That left Har-
ris with one more chance to ease his
mind and record the first point of
his young season. He lifted the sec-
ond shot up, and it fell through the
bottom of the net.
That harmless free throw was all
Harris would need to jumpstart his
performance. Later in the first half,
he hit a 3-pointer - his first field
goal.
Although Harris accounted for
just four of the Wolverines' 50 first-
half points, he exploded in the sec-
ond half. The Detroit native scored
eight points in the final 20 minutes.
He slashed to the basket, adjusted in
mid-air to finish floaters in the lane
and hit two triples.
But Harris did more for Michi-
gan than just score points. He also
involved his teammates in the
action, dishing out five assists. The
guard constantly looked downcourt
for the open man streaking to the
basket. Harris's five assists were
even more impressive considering
he didn't turn the ball over to the
Wildcats in 26 minutes of play.
"I'm ready to go now," Harris
said. "That's two exhibition games
under my belt. Last week, I wasn't
really in tune with the team. Today,
I just wanted to ease my way in, and
I think that I did that."
FRIGHTENING FLASHBACKS:.The fans
in Crisler Arena sat quietly, collec-
tively holding their breath in antici-
pation as Courtney Sims lay on the
floor with trainers examining his
knee.
Sims eventually rose to his feet
and, with the assistance of the train-
ing staff, limped off the court and
immediately went to the Wolver-
ines' locker room. Later, he was
diagnosed with a strained knee.
The injury occurred just under two
minutes into the second half, when
Northern Michigan's Ricky Volcy

drove along the baseline. As Sims-
leaped to block the shot attempt,
Volcy bumped Lester Abram into
Sims's leg.
"It was a shooting pain," Sims
said. "Lester came down on it, and
it went straight really fast. It jerked
my knee."
Later in the second half, the Wol-
verines received another scare when
Chris Hunter went down, holding
his mouth in pain.
With eight minutes remaining
in the game, Hunter posted on the
right block. As the entry pass came,
his defender knocked the ball away,
and on the strip, hit Hunter hard in
the mouth. The senior was forced'
to leave the game with a chipped
tooth.
After an injury-riddled season
last year, coach Tommy Amaker and
the Wolverines can only hope that
this season will not follow the same
disastrous pattern.
In the locker room after the game,'
both Sims and Hunter seemed opti-
mistic about the severity of their
injuries.
"(My knee) is real sore right now,'
but I'll be OK," Sims said.
CROWD PLEASER: When Amaker
looked down his bench with 5:53 left
in the second half, neither Sims nor
Hunter sat in the 'M' emblazoned
seats to await his instructions. So,
with the Wolverines comfortably in
control of the game, A maker turned'
to Amadou Ba - much to the delight
of the crowd - to rest forward Gra-'
ham Brown.
When Ba entered the game, the
Maize Rage erupted in applause for
the reserve. Ba didn't disappoint the
fans.
In five minutes of play, he collect-'
ed six rebounds, scored three points
and kept several of the Wolverines'
offensive possessions alive with his'
hustle.
"Every time that you get a chance
to put on a Michigan jersey, it's
very exciting," Ba said. "Every,
time that people look at the picture'
there is something behind it. (My'
teammates) put me in a good posi-'
tion; they played their tails off and
allowed me to come into the game.
And when I went into the game, it'
was easy because all of my team-'
mates were talking and helping
me."
As the game neared its conclu-,
sion, Ba put the finishing touch on
the win when he stepped to the free-
throw line with 45 seconds left and
the Wolverines ahead, 99-53. The'
crowd quietly watched as Ba flicked
the first shot into the air. When the
ball slowly glided through the net,
the fans couldn't contain their emo-'
tions, roaring with appreciation for'
Ba getting the Wolverines over 100
points on the night.

By Scott Bell
Daily Sports Writer
After a preseason opener in which its ability to
close out an opponent looked suspect at best, the
Michigan men's basketball team looked to play a
strong 40 minutes in its final
preseason test. 'NORTHERN H.56
Mission accomplished. °I
The Wolverines let their
depth and balance chip away at the visiting North-
ern Michigan Huskies, using a strong six-minute
run by sophomore Ron Coleman to pull away with
an impressive 101-56 rout on Saturday.
"We don't think the first game (against Grand
Valley State) is who this team is going to be," senior
point guard Daniel Horton said. "We're still not
there yet, but it's a lot better indication of who we
want to be. ... If we keep doing this, we'll be fine."
The Wolverines held a 25-point lead with nine
minutes remaining - reminiscent of their 24-point
lead over Grand Valley State with 11 minutes to go
just a week earlier. But unlike Michigan's previous
preseason test, Coleman and his teammates finished
the game strongly. Michigan closed with a 25-7 run
in the game's final nine minutes to put an exclama-
tion point on the end of its preseason schedule.
Horton found Coleman in a soft spot of Northern
Michigan's zone, and the sophomore proceeded to
knock down a jumpshot to spark the run. Following
a Dion Harris 3-pointer, Coleman scored the next
four trips down the court for Michigan. Two more
jumpers, combined with a putback off an offensive
rebound and a dunk off a Horton pass, stretched the
Wolverines' lead to 38. The run erased the fear of
another late-game comeback from the minds of the
Crisler Arena faithful.
"Coach always (tells) me to flash to the post, flash
to the post," Coleman said. "It was there tonight. I
was open, and my teammates got me the ball, and I
was able to knock it down."
Coleman finished the night with a game-high 17

points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field. All but
two of his points came in the second half. The 6-
foot-6 wing spent a lot of time at the power forward
spot, grabbing six rebounds during the time at his
trial position.
The game began as well as the Wolverines could
have hoped, with Michigan scoring on each of its
first seven possessions. A failed alley-oop from
Horton to junior Lester Abram was the lone unsuc-
cessful trip down the court in the first four minutes
for the Wolverines.
Junior Courtney Sims and senior Graham Brown
were able to establish themselves down low early
and often in the first half, as the frontcourt duo com-
bined for 20 first-half points. But Sims's quick start
was stifled early in the second frame. Less than two
minutes into the half, the 6-foot-11 forward went
down with a strained left knee.
With a slim frontcourt, it was Horton who was
able to establish the flow of the game during his
time on the court. He shot a perfect 4-for-4 from the
field in the first half and also managed three assists
and three steals to make for another complete per-
formance from the senior.
"The play that (Horton) exhibited (Saturday) in
terms of his overall floor game, I just think he has a
purpose and a bounce to his step that is very good
for us," Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. "I
think when he's in that mode, that we're a different
team."
Horton finished with 12 points, five steals and four
assists. His aggression on defense led to numerous
fast-break opportunities for Michigan, which shot
58 percent from the field for the game.
In all, six Wolverines scored in double figures,
with two more adding at least seven. But while the
points and margin of victory were impressive, there
was one statistic that stood out even more to Amak-
er - an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2-to-1.
"I really thought we were incredibly unselfish,"
Amaker said. "I was very pleased to see that we had
22 assists versus 11 turnovers."

!-

HEY, BARRY ALAVAREZ, COLLEGE
FOOTBALL DOESN'T END IN OCTOBER.
YOU CAN'T WIN THE GAME WITH BOTH
HANDS WRAPPED AROUND YOUR NECK.
DAILY SPORTS

SHUBRA OHRI/Daily
Courtney Sims sat out a majority of the second half in
Friday's exhibition game after injuring his knee.

Michigan opens season with split

4

By Ian Robinson
Daily Sports Writer

A clean slate.
After going 5-23 last season, the Michi-
gan women's basketball team opened this
season with a weekend trip to Eugene,
Ore., for the Women's
Sports FoundationMIH4
Challenge at McAr-
thur Court.
Playing against two
NCAA tournament .AS 5
teams from a year ago,
Michigan showed it can play with some of
the country's top programs with a week-
end split - losing to No. 22 Temple 65-
48 on Friday night before dominating the
St. Francis (Pa.) Red Flash on Saturday
night, 80-52.
The Wolverines used a historic free-
throw performance, pressure defense and
a quick start to cruise to victory against
the Red Flash.

"We try to put them in game-type pres-
sure and situations (in practice)," Burnett
said. "We shoot free throws when we're
tired. I see free throws as a confidence
(building) skill."
On Friday night, sophomore Katie Dierdorf
made her first appearance for Michigan in 11
months after recovering from a hip injury. On
Saturday night, she scored a career-high 13
points, including a team-high seven points from
the free throw line.
Using a trapping, full-court press,
Michigan forced St. Francis (0-2) into
committing 17 first-half turnovers and
shooting just 20.6-percent from the field.
"We went to our scramble defense early
and felt that it gave us some good offen-
sive opportunities," Burnett said.
The early-game defensive intensity
opened up the fast break and helped
Michigan build an 18-2 advantage in the
first 6:30 of the game.
Freshman Stephany Skrba - who made
her first career start on Saturday night - led

In second half, Michigan commit-
ted nine turnovers while the Red Flash
turned the ball over just three times, but
Michigan's advantage was too much for
St. Francis to overcome.
On Friday night, nationally ranked
Temple (2-0) held a 31-16 lead at halftime.
Michigan mounted a comeback in the
second half, trimming the deficit to eight
with 4:28 remaining.
"Coming back, we did some great things
defensively," Burnett said. "We simply
turned the ball over and did not get good
offensive possessions at the time."
Michigan could get no closer and Tem-
ple finished the game with an 11-4 run.
Burnett was proud of how freshman
point guard Jessica Minnfield performed
in her first collegiate game. Minnfield
was the team's leading scorer with 15 in
29 minutes of play.
Although the Wolverines fought back, they
need to improve to beat a team like Temple.
"We really feel after playing them that

,:.v,..

t.

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