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November 23, 2005 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-11-23

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November 23, 2005
sports.michigandaily. com
sports@michigandaily. com

OeRTSigan Bailq



helps Blue
hold off
By Jack Herman
Daily Sports Writer
BOSTON - Two years ago Boston University
visited Crisler Arena and
defeated Michigan 61-60.
Last year, the Terriers invad- MiGN
ed Ann Arbor again and left
with a 63-51 victory.
This year, the Wolverines
went to Boston looking for revenge. Even though
Michigan took an early lead that it never surren-
dered, a victory seemed anything but eminent for
most of the game.
But then Daniel Horton took over.
Horton scored 11 of his game-high 21 points in
the last six minutes of the game and played excep-
tional defense on Terriers freshman sharpshooter
Corey Hassan. His efforts enabled the Wolverines to
escape with a 51-45 victory in Agganis Arena.
"Obviously, Daniel Horton was the difference,"
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. "His out-
standing play throughout the game, (and) certainly
down the stretch propelled us to victory."
The Wolverines (2-0 overall) held a 38-33 lead
with 5:35 left, when Horton set things in motion by
driving to the basket and drawing the foul. Horton
hit just one of those free throws, but he followed it
up by scoring on a fast-break layup off Michigan
forward Chris Hunter's block. Horton then knocked
down two straight jumpshots to give the Wolverines
a 44-35 advantage, their largest of the game.
"I just saw some openings," Horton said. "We
were trying out our motion offense, and ... I was
able to turn the corner and get to the free throw line.
That's a pretty easy shot for a lot of guys on our team.
It just happened to be me getting the shots."
But Hassan and Boston senior Shaun Wynn both
had their eyes on the role of hero. Wynn had an
assist on each of the Terriers' next three posses-
sions, including connecting with forward Ibrahim
Konate on a beautiful alley-oop. The other two
passes went to Hassan, who knocked down two 3-
pointers, the second of which left the Terriers (0-2)
down by just three.
Horton then succeeded where his teammates had
failed all game. Fouled twice while Michigan was
in the bonus, Horton hit all four of his free throws,
a stark contrast to the 7-for-17 performance the rest
of the Wolverines turned in from the line. More

It wasn't pretty,
but it's not a loss


BOSTON - Chalk it up as one of the
ugliest wins imaginable. Facing Boston
University, a team Michigan couldn't
possibly underestimate - the Terriers won the
last two meetings between the squads - the
Wolverines were off target on almost every level.
Michigan fell into immediate foul
trouble, frequently failed to box out,
had no sense of offensive rhythm,
committed a litany of inexcusable
turnovers and struggled immensely
from the foul line.
But somehow, Boston University
managed to outdo even this laundry
list of woes. While the Terriers con-
stantly threatened, they never led,
largely thanks to their own turnoverM
and scoring problems. And when
push came to shove, Michigan man- Si
aged to hold on - if only by the spit
slimmest of margins and the ugliesti
of methods. In the end, one player - senior Dan-
iel Horton - pushed the Wolverines over the top.
Call it a reawakening for the 6-foot-3 guard.
With his team floundering in the second half,
Horton did what stars are supposed to do when
things get rough - he placed the team squarely
on his shoulders. After an unremarkable start to
the game, Horton kicked it into high gear in the
last six minutes, scoring 11 of his 21 points in
that span. The run's climax came when Horton
hit consecutive jumpers from the elbow putting
Michigan up by nine with 3:50 to play.
Of course, the Wolverines let the Terriers bite
back, and less than two minutes later, Boston
had the ball down by just three. Skinny Boston
guard Corey Hassan - who looked more like a
high school sophomore than a D-I college player
- had already drilled three treys, and the Terri-
ers ran a complicated series of screens to get him
open for the game-tying shot.
Horton would have none of it. Hassan didn't
get even an inch of separation, and his teammate
Brian Macon was forced to hoist up an ugly
three with the shot clock winding down. Hor-
ton then calmly drained four consecutive free
throws, finally sinking the pesky Terriers.
Horton's vintage performance was certainly
cause for optimism, but there's absolutely no
reason the game should have come down to his
heroics. All told, Michigan was lucky to come
out of Boston's sparkling new Agganis Arena


with a victory.
Just how ugly was Michigan's performance
against Boston University? Usually, when
human victory cigar Amadou Ba checks into the
game, it means Michigan is cruising to a blow-
out victory. But last night, Ba entered the game
with 6:18 to go in the first half
Michigan's three primary post
players - Chris Hunter, Court-
ney Sims and Graham Brown
- combined for seven personal
fouls in the first 14 minutes, fort-
ing Michigan coach Tommy
Amaker to delve deeper into his -
bench than he ever imagined.
With high-flying junior Brent
ATT Petway out for the nonconference
season due to academic ineligibil-
4GER ity, Michigan's forwards simply
ng Fi have to be more aware. The refs
set the tone early, calling Sims
for an offensive push-off during the game's first
possession. And I know Brown loves setting
picks, but after his first illegal screen foul, he
needs to tone it down.
The excessive fouling might have been more
forgivable if the Wolverines were dominating
down low. But Michigan was simply pathetic on
the defensive boards, letting the undersized Ter-
riers squeeze by them and clean the glass with
12 offensive rebounds. Despite the Wolverines'
talent advantage in the frontcourt, Boston senior
Kevin Gardner was by far the most impressive
big man on the court, scoring 12 hard-earned
points and adding 11 boards.
The Wolverines looked bad in a number of
other areas as well. They didn't take care of
the basketball, committing 19 turnovers. They
struggled mightily from the foul line, making
just 60 percent of their free throws. And they
failed to put away an inferior team, often a
recipe for disaster.
All that being said, Michigan deserves credit
for coming up with a win in its road opener
- the first time it's done so since the 1997-98
season. Despite playing generally bad basketball,
the Wolverines managed to grit out a win. And
while that might not be the optimal way to do it,
it sure beats leaving Boston with a loss.

Guard Daniel Horton scored 11 of his 21 points in the final six minutes of Michigan's win last night.

importantly, Horton prevented Hassan from getting
a decent look from downtown, and the Terriers were
finally stopped.
Whereas Horton was nearly the only disappoint-
ment in the season opener last Friday, scoring just
four points, his play last night shone as basically
the lone bright spot for the Wolverines. Wingman
Lester Abram's 10 points represented the only other
double-digit scoring performance of the night.
Michigan committed 19 turnovers in both of
its first two games, but last night, it had just seven
assists - 14 fewer than it had in its first game. After
the Wolverines jumped out to a 12-4 lead to start
the game, their sloppy play allowed the Terriers
- who shot 9-for-24 in the first half - to enter the
locker room down just 26-22. Foul trouble for post
players caused forward Amadou Ba to log seven
minutes in the first half, three more than his career-
high. The Wolverines did not box out, allowing the
Terriers to occasionally burst into the lane for the
offensive board.
Courtney Sims, who scored 20 points in Michi-
gan's season opener, struggled to duplicate the per-
formance in front of his hometown crowd, netting
just five points while grabbing eight boards. Fresh-

man Jerret Smith failed to follow up on a superb
debut performance, dishing just three assists while
recording no points. Forward Chris Hunter, one of
the best free throw shooters last season, went 0-for-4
from the line.
"(It was) a game by both teams that wasn't neces-
sarily a pretty basketball game," Amaker said. "But
to win a game, to gut a game out on the road, at any
point of the year, is a tremendous accomplishment."
Guard Dion Harris played just seven minutes
because of a nagging heel injury. Harris started both
halves, but the defensive performance of freshman
Jevohn Shepherd gave Amaker enough confidence
to hold Harris out for the majority of the game.
Even with all these negatives, Michigan felt that
getting the first road win out of the way was a tre-
mendous accomplishment.
"It feels great, especially against a team like this,"
senior Graham Brown said. "We knew coming into
the game these guys are going to fight as hard as they
could. They got a couple wins on us a couple years
at home. We just wanted to come in and play as hard
as we could and try to get a big road victory at the
beginning of the season. It's just a great feeling com-
ing out of here with a win."

- Matt Singer can be reached
at mattsing@umich.edu.


Big weekend poses tough test for Icers

By James V. Dowd sider ourselves a contender. It will have a big impact on
Daily Sports Writer the ratings later in the year."
One of the focus points for the Wolverines will be their
For a lot of sports fans around the country, Thanksgiv- even-strength - that is, five-on-five - play. Through
ing weekend means football. The Detroit Lions and the 11 games this season, 26 of Michigan's 48 goals have
Dallas Cowboys play on that Thursday come off the power play. At the end of
every year. Michigan high schools host last year, power-play markers accounted
their football state finals on Friday and for just 61 of the Wolverines' 178 total
Saturday. Texas and Texas A&M meet goals.
in College Station on Saturday. THIS WEEKEND In an effort to improve this part of its
But in Ann Arbor, Michigan fans Friday: Minnesota game, which will become increasingly
are hoping to put their Ohio State foot- at Michigan, 8 p.m. important against experienced and well
ball misery behind with victories in Saturday: Wisconsin disciplined Wisconsin and Minnesota
the annual College Hockey Showcase. at Michigan, 7:30 p.m. squads, Michigan has been working on
The Wolverines greet No.7 Minnesota its forecheck in an effort to keep pressure
and No. 2 Wisconsin to Yost Ice Arena S rea in their opponent's zone.
Friday and Saturday nights, respec- "We have changed up our forecheck
tively. over the past week," Ebbett said. "We're
Each year, Michigan and Michigan just bringing a second guy down a little
State meet the Badgers and Golden lower and reading off their second defen-
Gophers in the College Hockey Showcase, giving CCHA seman. Then that second forward has the chance to cre-
and WCHA fans a chance to catch a live glimpse of the ate more turnovers for the offense."
talent that the other conference has to offer. And come Freshman Jack Johnson has been a key part of the
NCAA tournament selection time, matchups against power play and hopes that the Wolverines can try similar
top-ranked opponents can play a large role in where schemes to succeed in their even-strength game.
Michigan might end up. "Usually five-on-five we try to get too creative because
"A lot of people have us rated highly," alternate cap- we have so many skilled players," Johnson said. "On the
tain T.J. Hensick said. "But until we prove that we can power play we're pretty basic, and it has been successful.
beat the best teams in the country, we can't really con- So we need to bring some of that into five-on-five play."

To take advantage of the extra even-strength practice,
the Wolverines will have to keep themselves out of the
penalty box. With a young and aggressive roster still
adjusting to collegiate officiating, Michigan has amassed
a lot of penalty minutes. Hensick hopes that he can help
calm the rookies' nerves so that they don't commit bad
"It will be a good experience for the young guys,"
Hensick said. "When I first started playing in the Show-
case, I really didn't understand the significance of the
games and their impact on rankings. We just have to
help them focus on playing the game so emotions don't
get the best of us."
As it continues to improve its own game, Michigan
has also been focusing on adjusting to Minnesota and
Wisconsin's style of play. The Wolverines hope to slow
down the Golden Gophers' and Badgers' transitions
from offense to defense - something they also did lead-
ing up to their victory over Boston College.
"They're going to be great transition teams," Johnson
said. "They both have a lot of highly skilled players, and
we have to come out hard trying to stop that."
Both the Gophers and Badgers are coming off key
conference series victories last weekend and are looking
to jump up in the national rankings. Michigan has lost to
both teams in the Showcase for two consecutive years,
amassing a four-game losing streak. Michgan State and
Minnesota are threatening to take over as the all-time
winningest team in the Showcase's 13th year.


Alternate captain T.J. Hensick has notched six goals and 13 assists in Michigan's
first 11 games this season. Hensick leads the Wolverines with 19 points.


R. i-ii



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