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December 08, 2005 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-12-08

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Thursday
December 8, 2005
sports.michigandaily. com
sports@michigandaily.com

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PORTFS

8A

... - ..- _.._ . ___.._ SA

Sims posts
career high

Sims calms Matt's
scary nightmares

in M'

W1n

By Jack Herman
Daily Sports Writer
In a timeout during the first half of last night's game
against Delaware State, Michigan coach Tommy Amaker
told center Courtney Sims that if he continued to play the
way he was playing, he had a shot at scoring 40 points.
Sims didn't do that, but his per-_
formance was anything but a dis- MICHIGAN
appointment.
With no player taller than 6-
foot-9 on the Hornets' roster,the LISTEN
6-foot-il Sims looked like a man LSE
among boys, bucketing a career-
high 33 points and grabbing 13
rebounds to pace Michigan (6-0)
to a 69-49 win at Crisler Arena.
"I've never seen a big man for Download a podcast of
our eamdomiateliketha," basketball writers Scott
our team dominate like that, Bell and Kevin Wright
Michigan guard Daniel Horton debating the value of
said. "It's a great feeling for me games against weak
to see him play like that because nonconference teams.
I want the best of him. I want him www.richigandaily.com.
to play great."
Sims missed three of his last four free throws - even
airballing one. But apart from that, he was simply unstop-
pable. It seemed as though every time down the court,
Sims either battled for position, tipped in a teammate's
missed shot or simply broke the Hornets' defense to find
himself wide open.
From the start of the game, Sims established himself
in the paint. On the Wolverines' third possession, guard
Dion Harris lobbed the ball to Sims, who went up for the
dunk to tie the game at two. After wing Lester Abram hit
a 3-pointer the next time down the court, Sims rattled off
nine-straight points to give Michigan a 14-2 lead.
Sims opened the second half in a similar fashion. Hor-
ton scored Michigan's first basket out of the locker room
on a 3-pointer, but then Sims took over, scoring seven-
straight points to give Michigan a 42-28 advantage.
When the Hornets (2-6) whittled the lead to seven
midway through the second frame, Sims jumpstarted the
offense once again, this time with a little help from his
teammates. With the Wolverines ahead 48-41, Horton
drove to the lane and hit Sims for an alley-oop. Horton
and Sims hit a free throw each over the next two pos-
sessions before Harris knocked down one from beyond
the arc to increase the lead to 14. Sims scored six more
points, and, after Abram drove past guard Elyon Bush for
a two-handed dunk, the Wolverines posted their largest
lead of the game at 67-43.
Sims left the game just half a minute later, and the

P rior to Tuesday night, I didn't,
expect the Delaware State
game to be much of a contest.
Michigan was coming off a thrill-
ing 71-67 road victory
over Notre Dame, and last
night, it returned to Crisler
Arena to play a team from
the MEAC, one of the
weakest conferences in the u
nation. Who could blame
me for expecting a blow-
out? After all, Delaware
State isn't a name that
strikes fear throughout the
world of college basketball. M
But subconsciously, I guess SI
some doubt crept into my
mind. Tuesday night, I had Spit
a dream that the Hornets
upset Michigan.
The details are kind of fuzzy, but I

second call when he pressured a Hornet
near midcourt. He then drifted down
low and rejected a shot 10 seconds later.
Sims was unusually aggressive on the
glass as well. On one play,
he even fought off the king
of hustle himself - Graham
Brown - to come down
with a defensive board.
Sims clearly ben-
efited from Delaware
State's unusual slowdown
offense and reliance on
zone defenses. While the
Hornets' unconventional
TT tactics might throw some
GER teams for a loop, their
gameplan played right into
gFire Sims's hands. On offense,

[A
INC
Ctin,

J ,IJ IN BA ,S/ lly
Senior Courtney Sims lit up the court with 33 points and 13 rebounds In the Wolverines' win over Delaware State.

remember walking home from Crisler
Arena in the snow and looking sadly
at the post-game stat sheet. Delaware
State had somehow pulled off a 55-53
victory, a sudden and shocking end to
the Wolverines' undefeated noncon-
ference season.
I'm not sure if Courtney Sims had a
similar nightmare, but he sure played
as if he did. While the rest of the Wol-
verines seemed content to go through
the motions against their minor-col-
lege opponent, Sims played as if he
felt threatened by the Hornets.
Right from the get-go, Sims estab-
lished himself as Michigan's go-to
player. Two minutes in, he threw
down a one-handed dunk to kick off
the Wolverines' scoring. Just over six
minutes later, Sims poured in his 11th
point of the night, giving Michigan a
14-2 lead. Even though the Wolverines
soon let their guard down and allowed
Delaware State to claw back into the
game late in the first half, Sims never
slowed down. He finished with a
career-high 33 points - nearly half of
Michigan's 69-point total - dunked
six times and dominated the boards en
route to a season-high 13 rebounds.
Sims made it look easy, but the 6-
foot-1l forward didn't take anything for
granted. On one impressive second-half
sequence, Sims nearly forced a five-

Sims exploited Delaware
State's zones, often catching the ball
within eight feet of the hoop. From
there, the undersized Hornets didn't
have a prayer - nothing short of
fouling could slow Sims down.
On the other side of the court,
the Hornets intentionally ran down g
the shot clock to 15 seconds or less
before running an offensive play.
Although Sims had to guard smaller,
quicker players, he was able to stand
flat-footed for the first 20 seconds
of most Delaware State possessions.
As a result, the easily fatigued Sims
could catch his breath on the defen-
sive end, allowing him to save his
energy and continue terrorizing the
Hornets on offense. With Sims look-
ing fit and energetic in the second
half, Michigan coach Tommy Amak-
er felt comfortable keeping his star
on the court, to the tune of a season-
high 32 minutes.
Obviously, Sims's teammates were
grateful for his performance. The
team finished with 19 assists, most
of which came on easy lobs to Sims
in the post or passes to a wide-open
Sims on the fast break.
In the end, it became clear that my
bedtime fears were unfounded. Even
though Delaware State is coming off
an NCAA Tournament bid - some-
thing the Wolverines haven't been
able to claim for almost a decade -
See SINGER, page 9A

Crisler Arena crowd gave him a standing ovation.
"We really thought that he could have a big night,"
Amaker said. "He's capable of those kinds of numbers."
Throughout the game, Sims's teammates were more
than willing to let him do the work on offense and
supplied him the ball to make sure he could. Horton
led the charge with nine of the Wolverines' 19 assists.
Michigan's next-highest scorers were Abram with 10
and Harris with nine.
"I have to give a lot of credit to my guards," Sims said.
"They looked for me, they put me in good position, and
I just finished."
Most of the Wolverines followed Sims's lead in exploit-
ing the size advantage, and they emerged with a 43-18
differential on the boards. Forward Graham Brown had

the second-highest total on the team with 12.
A strong all-around defensive performance in the sec-
ond half also contributed to the Wolverines' cause. In the
first, Michigan allowed the Hornets to find open shots both
in the paint and outside the 3-point line. But poor shooting
prevented Delaware State from ever tying the game.
The use of zone defense helped Michigan during the
second half. Delaware State - known for its signature
slow-tempo offense - often ran down the clock, only to
settle for a long 3-pointer. The Wolverines held the Hor-
nets to 20 percent shooting overall and a 3-for-14 perfor-
mance from the beyond the arc. The zone also allowed
Sims a bit more rest on defense, enabling him to log a
season-high 32 minutes.
See HORNETS, page 9A

0

* WESTIG

Luke tops No. 1 in nation

By David Murray
Daily Sports Writer
When Ryan Bertin graduated last year, some Michigan
fans thought that the 157-pound weight class would never be
the same. But hose fans don't understand. The wrestling team
didn't have to rebuild. They had to reload.
But who knew that there would be little drop-off in per-
formance between a two-time national champion, and Steve
Luke, the redshirt freshman now at 157 pounds?
Wrestling coach Joe McFarland knew.
"I have known since (Luke) stepped into our practice room
last year as a true freshman how good this guy is going to be,"
McFarland said. "He's a special kid. He has all the tools, men-
tally, physically, to be a multi-time NCAA champion."
Alex Tirapelle knows.
Luke defeated Tirapelle - the top-ranked 157-pounder
from Illinois - this past weekend, claiming first-place honors
at the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas.
"He really kept his calm throughout the whole thing,"
McFarland said. "There were a couple of times when Tira-
pelle got in on him, but (Luke) wrestles through every posi-
tion. He never really bails out of a position. I think a lot of that
is toughness. That's just having the grit that you need to win
those tough matches. He's one of those guys that has that, and
not everyone has that."
Steve Luke knows.
"Because I'm a freshman people don't expect a lot," Luke
said. "But I did just beat (Tirapelle), and he was No. 1. So I
know I'm up there with everyone."
Perry High School knows.
The Massillon, Ohio, native didn't need the win over Tira-
pelle for people to realize his potential. Luke won the Ohio

high school state championship three times.
Lithuania knows.
Luke has been successful on every level he has wrestled
at. He earned respect worldwide by competing in the Junior
Freestyle World Championships this past summer in Lithu-
ania. Luke also won the FILA Freestyle Junior Nationals
and the 74-kg crown at the U.S. Junior World team trials
over the summer.
"He made the Junior World team this past summer and did
extremely well over (in Lithuania)," McFarland said. "I think
he got a lot of experience and confidence being on the Junior
World team."
Luke wants the team to know.
Even though Luke has had success against world-class
competition, he said he realizes he is still just a freshman.
"I remember, entering high school, I was at the bottom of
the totem pole, and I had to work my way up," Luke said. "No
one really expects anything of you until you compete with the
top guys. So when I came to Michigan, I knew what I was in
for. I'm just trying to work my way to the top."
Luke's opponents will soon know.
The scariest thing for Luke's future challengers is that he
has room to grow. With a flawless 7-0 start to his season, it is
hard to fathom that he is just going to improve.
"He is going to continue to develop as a wrestler," McFar-
land said. "He's capable of even a lot more than what he's
shown so far. Technically, he can get better in certain areas."
Before long everyone will know.
"You are going to be reading about this Steve Luke kid in
the future because he is going to be great," McFarland said.
"It's hard for me to say that there is one thing that makes
him special, but I think that his drive and his toughness
really set him apart."

0

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