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January 26, 2006 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-01-26

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Thursday
January 26, 2006
sports. michigandaily. com
sports@michigandaily.com

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- - ---- ------- ----- - - -- - --- --------------

Hunter dunks
and dashes
Spartans' hopes

Memorable win a
lesson in teamwork

4

By Kevin Wright
Daily Sports Writer

When Michigan State's Drew Neit-
zel spun toward the baseline with 10
minutes left in the game, he saw noth-
ing but an open lane to the basket in
front of him.
Unfortunately, he didn't see 6-foot-11
Chris Hunter waiting under the hoop.
As the Grand Rapids native lofted
the ball into the air, Hunter rose and
swatted it right into the hands of a
player on the Michigan State bench.
"(Hunter) lifted us a lot," sopho-
more Ron Coleman said. "Of course
we had the atmosphere but getting big
blocks like that just gave us an extra
boost in our spirits."
At halftime, Hunter was having a
less than impressive night. He took
just one shot and grabbed one rebound
in eight minutes.
The Wolverines mirrored the for-
ward's offensive frustrations. The
Michigan frontcourt lacked the pro-
duction to match the Spartans. Hunter
and the Wolverine forwards shot just
2-for-7 from the floor.
Coming out of the locker room
Hunter looked like a different player.
In the second frame, the senior made
four field goals and had two monstrous
blocks.
"Chris had a great game," senior
Graham Brown said. "He came out
and blocked some shots and hit some
big shots for us. You just got to hand
it to him. He's always prepared.
When he came out, he showed what
he could do."
Hunter's biggest contribution to the
Wolverines' victory came with the
score tied and 11:14 left in the contest.
Running the court, Hunter set up
on the wing waiting for a pass. Junior
Dion Harris saw him and dished it off
to the waiting forward.
Hunter got the ball and immediate-
ly hoisted the shot before a Michigan
State defender could close on him.
The 3-pointer dropped through the net

without even grazing iron.
The senior's lone make from behind
the arc gave Michigan a lead that it
wouldn't surrender.
"That was a game-changing play,"
junior Brent Petway said. "It was the
Pontiac game-changing performance."
Throughout the second half, Hunter
brought the energy to the defensive
end that ignited the Wolverines.
With less than four and half min-
utes left, Michigan State's Maurice
Ager drove to the lane and put up
a tough lay-up. The basket would
have cut Michigan's lead to four, but
Hunter had other ideas. He soared to
meet the shot at its height and swat-
ted it out-of-bounds.
"(The block) was great," Hunter
said. "It got the fans involved and got
our team going a little bit. I was just
out there trying to make plays."
Then, Hunter made his presence felt
on the offensive end.
After blocking Neitzel, Hunter
extended the Michigan lead to four.
He bobbled an entry pass in the post,
but gathered it and spun to the base-
line to slam the ball home.
Later, Hunter built Michigan's
advantage to seven when Horton found
him open on the low block. As he
leapt for the dunk, the Spartans' Matt
Trannon jumped to block the shot. But
Hunter adjusted in midair to convert
the up-and-under lay-up on the other
side of the rim.
"I'm just being patient," Hunter
said. "We have a lot of guys on this
team that can do a lot of things. When
the opportunity arises you have to
take advantage of it, be patient and
keep playing hard."
Three years removed from his last
victory over Michigan State, Hunter
savored the moment.
"It was my last game at home
against Michigan State," Hunter
said. "It was great to come out here
with a victory against a great team
like that."
NOTES: Last night marked the sec-

M ichigan State was too damn fast.
Michigan State was too damn
trong. Michigan State was too
damn money from long range.
Then, the second half started.
Suddenly, Izzo's troops didn't look so
sharp. Suddenly, the Wolverines were
dictating the pace. Suddenly, the mighty
Spartans seemed just a bit intimidated by
the Crisler Arena crowd.
Yeah, you read that right.
Michigan State was rattled byt
a Crisler Arena crowd.
Paul Davis couldn't find a
grip on the ball. Drew Neitzel
fired an alley-oop pass 20 feet
out of bounds. Maurice Ager
had his pocket picked by Dion
Harris.
And, to their credit, the
Wolverines capitalized. They
didn't play perfect basketball,M
but they did the little things
to keep the Spartans on their Si
heels. And, most impressively, Spit
it was a total team effort.
For once in a big matchup,
Michigan broke out of marvel-at-Daniel-
Horton mode, and played a true five-man
game. Yes, Horton played an awesome
ballgame. But he was only the most
important cog in a well-oiled Michigan
machine.
There was Chris Hunter, who catalyzed
Michigan's second-half run. The 6-foot-11
senior seems to always save his best for
the big games, and man, did he show up
in a huge way last night. In a two-minute
span midway through the second half,
Hunter scored seven points, including the
trey from the right corner that gave Michi-
gan a lead it wouldn't relinquish. For good
measure, Hunter also added a couple of
crowd-pleasing blocks, and converted a
ridiculous up-and-under lay-up which put
the Wolverines up by seven with 2:37 to
play.
There was Dion Harris, who
shrugged off an awful shooting night
to make several crucial free throws
down the stretch. Guarded by Ager for
most of the game, Harris struggled to
get any open looks. But in the second
half, Harris's aggressiveness brought
whistles, and he took advantage by
converting 7 of 8 free throw attempts,
including two at the end to ice it.
There was Graham Brown, whose
hustle and opportunism kept Michigan's
momentum going throughout the second
half. Brown's not a small guy, but he
looked like a point guard slicing through
the lane to retrieve offensive rebounds.
The senior's glass-cleaning mentality
also led to buckets - Brown poured
in 10 points in his last intrastate rivalry
game at Crisler Arena.
There was Ron Coleman, who made
the Wolverine faithful momentarily
forget about Lester Abram's sprained

IN
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ankle. Coleman's first-half perimeter
buckets kept the Wolverines afloat
and set the stage for their second-half
comeback. And faced with the nearly
impossible task of keeping Spartan
wings Ager and Shannon Brown at
bay, Coleman performed admirably.
Ager and Brown got their points, but
Coleman never let the Michigan State
stars get open looks.
And there was Daniel
Horton. He opened the
game with five straight
points, and took it straight
at the Spartans for all
of his 36 minutes on the
floor. Horton was money
when he needed to be.
With about nine minutes
to go, Graham Brown
flew in for an offensive
board and kicked it to
Horton. Seeing the senior
1GER wide open at the right
ngFire wing, Crisler Arena start-
ed cheering ... before
Horton released the shot.
Sure enough, Horton drilled the trey,
putting the Wolverines up seven.
Five guys. One goal. It's amazing
what happens when "playing as a team"
becomes more than a simple cliche. What
seemed impossible became a reality
- and the result was an all-out party on
center court.
It would have been easy for the Michi-
gan players to put their heads down as
Michigan State roared past them in the first
half. The Spartans were quick as lighting
in transition. They were rough and physi-
cal in the post. It seemed every Michigan
State jumpers was falling. Honestly, I
didn't think Michigan had a chance.
So give Tommy Amaker credit. In the
face of the Spartan onslaught, he kept
the Wolverines believing, and he'found
the right combination of players to spur
Michigan's remarkable comeback.
It's hard to underestimate the impor-
tance of this win. After a couple years of
getting smacked around by the Spartans,
Michigan reasserted itself last night.
The Wolverines will likely return to the
top-25 for the first time since 1998, and
they finally have a statement victory to
tack onto their resum6.
But Michigan knows that one win -
even against the hated Spartans - does
not make a season. In the locker room
last night, the mood was surprisingly
businesslike. Sure, the Wolverines were
happy. But Michigan has bigger fish to fry.
A win over Wisconsin on Saturday would
give the Wolverines at least a share of first
place in the Big Ten.
And now, there are no excuses.
Because after last night, Michigan
knows it can beat the best.

1 i U" IU I A
JASON COOPER/Daily
Senior Chris Hunter's 13 second half points were key in Michigan's comeback win

ond time this season that Crisler Arena
has sold out. The Wolverines previ-
ously sold out Crisler when they hosted

I I

UCLA on Dec. 17.... With an 8-for-8
performance from the free-throw line,
Daniel Horton remained perfect from
the line in Big Ten conference play.
... Michigan's 4-2 record places it in a
five-way tie for second place in the Big
Ten. ... Wing Lester Abram dressed
for the game but did not play. He is still
listed as day-to-day while recovering
from a severe ankle sprain.

Boxesandall W
Tour Registration Now Open
Date/Time: Jan. 19th -- Jan. 27th, 2006
Monday - Friday: 7pm, 8pm, 9pm
Saturday: 1pm, 2pm, 3pm
Location: Video & Performance Studio (Inside Duderstadt Center) North
Campus
Go to www.umich.edu/~umboxes to register for a tour.

- Matt Singer appreciates the

Icers try to shake
off State demons

By Daniel Levy
Daily Sports Writer

Soulstic
died hobrnedvenR68

V

.A

Nov. 20,2004.
Besides the sick feeling in their
stomachs from watching the Michi-
gan football team collapse against
archrival Ohio State, most students
probably don't remember too much
about that date - with the possible
exception of T.J. Hensick. Hensick -
currently the alternate captain of the
No. 8 Michigan hockey team - had
two goals and one assist in a 5-4 vic-
tory over Michigan State.
That was the last time Michigan
beat its in-state rival.
Since then, the Wolverines (9-6-1
CCHA, 14-9-1 overall)
are 0-2-3 against the
Spartans, including a 0-
1-1 record this season. THIS
No. 16 Michigan State No.8T
(8-6-4, 14-9-5) enters No. 15 M
Friday night's matchup 7:
on a two-game skid,
but the it should still Munn I
be a confident with the Joe Lou
contest being played
on its home ice, where
it defeated the Wolver-
ines 2-0 on Jan. 17. In that game, the

lot of our players, and we might have
gotten a little rattled."
Due to injuries, Michigan might be
forced to juggle its lineup this week-
end. The coaches have been toying
with a few ideas, and it wouldn't be
a shock if defenseman David Rohlfs,
moves up to forward, his natural posi-
tion. If that happens, sophomore Jon
Montville will fill in on defense.
Another plus for the Wolverines is
that senior forward Brandon Kalen-
iecki should be back in the lineup.
But with him coming off a slew of
injuries, it is hard to tell just how
effective he'll be.
One final change for the Wolverines
could be who mans the pipes. Senior

4

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Newsmaker
Premier Motawn partg band

WEEKEND
Michigan vs.
Michigan State
30 p.m.
ce Arena, Fri.
is Arena, Sat.
being pulled

Noah Ruden has been
solid in net recently,
despite allowing five
goals in last Satur-
day's loss to Bowling
Green. But Berenson
might use this as an
opportunity to give
freshman Billy Sauer
some more game
experience. Sauer
hasn't been in net for
the Wolverines since
in the middle of their

See the SAME anIVY
Happi Hour prices!
;104" 6 ou P440w4 l
Rear View Mirror
WS-78's Dance Music

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Spartan defense completely shut down
Michigan. This time around, the Wol-
verines are hoping that better execu-
tion will produce a different result.
"We thought we had a good plan
(last time) and I think we did have

exhibition game against the U.S.
NTDP Under-18 team.
"It's good for Billy that Noah played
the game at Michigan State" Berenson
said. "Billy got to see the environment
and got to see what to expect."

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