February 10, 2006
sports. michigandaily. com
POe 3R TSiigttily
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Harris, cagers fall to rival
Ghost of booster past haunts
Michigan basketball team
By Kevin Wright
Daily Sports Editor
All eyes in Crisler Arena were fixed on
a crumpled figure lying at the base of the
With less than nine minutes to play
in last night's game, Ohio State's Jamar
Butler drove to the basket and finished a
lay-up to cut Michigan's lead to one. But
it wasn't the basket that deflated the Wol-
verines. It was the
familiar sight of one
of their teammates°
lying on the floor in pain.
Junior Dion Harris fell hard to the
ground after he slid from the baseline to
try to step in front of Butler, with the Wol-
verines up 73-72.
As Harris limped to the locker room
with the assistance of his teammates, so
did Michigan's chances of winning the
game. When the Detroit native left with
8:29 remaining in the second half, No. 19
Ohio State surged ahead to steal a 94-85
victory last night.
"You never want to see one of your best
players go down," Michigan senior Chris
Hunter said. "It was tough, but it was no
excuse. We needed to come out and exe-
No. 22 Michigan (6-4 Big Ten, 16-5
overall) seemed disoriented without Har-
ris on the floor. The Buckeyes (6-3, 17-3)
converted five Wolverine turnovers into
"We turned the ball over a couple of
times unnecessarily," senior Graham
Brown said. "We were just a little loose
with it for a stretch, and that really made
(the momentum) sway towards their
And just like that, the Buckeyes were
up 76-73 and would never look back.
The Wolverines continued to be flus-
tered, struggling to find many open looks.
Without Harris on the court, the Buckeyes
shrunk their perimeter defense to limit
Sims finished with 26 points on 13-for-
16 shooting. But after Harris went to the
locker room with a sprained ankle - he's
officially listed as day-to-day - Sims
didn't find the bottom of the net the rest
of the night.
"We didn't have the (outside) threat out
there, and they started playing off some of
our guards," Sims said. "It was tough for
our guards to get me the ball."
ere are coincidences. And then there are curses.
For the past four years, this Michigan team has done
its best to handle the barrage of garbage that fate has
tossed its way.
But the ghost of Eddie L. Martin still haunts the Michigan
Three seasons ago, there were the sanctions - the direct
legacy of Martin's gift-giving shenanigans during the 1990s.
The Wolverines jumped out to a 6-0 record in the
Big Ten that year, but could never dream of a trip
to the Big Dance.
Two seasons ago, the Big Ten received just
three NCAA Tournament bids, forcing the young ;
Michigan team to settle for an NIT Champion-
And then there was last season. You know the
story. Abram's injury, Horton's injury, Brown's
injury, Petway's injury, Hunter's injury. Even A
Dani WohI's injury. And, of course, there were M
Horton's legal troubles and resulting suspension.
For the entire Wolverine squad, the 2003-04 sea- SIN
son was incredibly unfortunate. But there was no Spittin
way history would repeat itself. Right?
Wrong. Just a few weeks ago, I was marveling at
Michigan's outstanding depth. The Wolverines had so
much backcourt talent that Ron Coleman, who proved to
be a legitimate scoring threat during his freshman year,
struggled to find his way on the court. Why? Because
Michigan's backcourt wasn't just one of the best in the
Big Ten - it could compete with any in the entire nation.
With Daniel Horton, Dion Harris and Lester Abram, the
Wolverines boasted three excellent all-around players,
each with the capability of dominating any given game.
Now, just one member of that trio remains. Even freshman
point guard Jerret Smith, who provided some key minutes off the
bench, is out of action indefinitely, thanks to a case of mono.
When the Buckeyes shot the lights out last night, I wondered
if the Wolverines would feel sorry for themselves. For the second
consecutive game, Michigan found itself staring down a team that
just wouldn't be denied from beyond the arc. In last Saturday's
game against Iowa, the Hawkeyes came out and went 7-for-9 from
beyond the arc in the first half. Last night, Ohio State drilled 14 of
its first 18 treys. Watching the Buckeyes draining threes from all
over the court, I thought running into two consecutive hot-shoot-
ing teams was really bad luck for Michigan.
Then, as Dion Harris crumpled to the ground with 8:29 to
go, I suddenly realized that the sharp shooting was just the
tip of the bad-luck iceberg. Watching Harris writhing in pain
and holding his right foot, I formulated my Ed Martin's ghost
The Wolverines looked shell-shocked after Harris went
down and were outscored 22-12 the rest of the way. And I can't
blame them. After all, this team suffered through last year,
after seeing Abram deal with injury after injury, Michigan had
to be profoundly affected by the loss of yet another key player.
It was impossible to watch the last eight minutes of last
night's game and not flash back to last season. Just before the
four-minute mark, the Wolverines were desperately struggling
to keep the game within reach, and Tommy Amaker pulled
out Horton for a quick breather. Michigan's lineup
featured Coleman, erratic freshman Jevohn Shep-
herd and senior Hayes Grooms, who averaged less
than two points a game ... at Lamar. With all due
respect to those guys, that's not a lineup capable of
hanging with a ranked team like Ohio State.
If Harris had stayed healthy, I honestly believe
that the Wolverines would have pulled out the
victory. With Ohio State blazing the nets early, I
half expected Michigan to fold like it had in Iowa
City. But the Wolverines responded in kind. Their
TT offense looked as good as I've seen it, with Court-
XER ney Sims and Chris Hunter using their length to
3 Fire kill the Buckeyes inside and score 39 combined
points. The game was an absolute shootout, and
with 8:29 to go, Michigan held a one-point advantage.
But the loss of Harris was a death blow. Horton had an off
day, and without the threat of a sharpshooting Harris, the Buck-
eyes collapsed in the post. As a result, Michigan's post players
were held scoreless for the last 7:20, putting the onus on the Wol-
verines' beleaguered guards.
To beat the Buckeyes without Harris, the Wolverines needed
a few lucky breaks. And these days, luck is simply not a word
in Michigan's lexicon.
When will Harris come back? We'll see. Harris was on
crutches after the game, so it's hard to imagine he'll be ready
to play against Purdue less than 40 hours after sustaining his
And based on recent Michigan history, I'm not optimistic
about his return anytime soon. Abram has been "day-to-day"
since he sprained his ankle against Minnesota three weeksago,
and he seems to be getting worse, not better. A week ago, Abram
played a few minutes in the Penn State game. Last night, he
showed up to Crisler Arena wearing a boot on his right ankle.
Now, the fifth-place Wolverines might face the season's
stretch run without two of their three best players. If that's the
case, Michigan's virtually assured NCAA Tournament bid is
certainly in doubt.
Who's to blame?
Michigan's most infamous booster is as good a guess as
- MattSinger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dion Harris injured himself in last night's 94-85 loss to Ohio State.
On the other side, Ohio State routinely
found someone streaking to the basket for
a lay-up or dunk. Dials, who the Wolver-
ines limited to just one point in the first
half, found himself open along the base-
line numerous times. He finished the night
with nine points on 4-for-10 shooting.
In the first half, the Wolverines came
out the aggressor and jumped out to an
early 21-8 lead. Harris and Sims carried
Michigan. Harris hit his first three shots
- all of them from beyond the arc - and
Sims dominated Dials in the low post. The
duo scored 17 of the Wolverines' first 21
"Our emphasis in the beginning of
the game was to get me the ball," Sims
said. "We knew that Dials couldn't foul
because there was no one under him. He
had to back off and not play as aggressive
defense as he wanted to."
But the Buckeyes fought back and trot-
ted into the locker room with a six-point
lead. Ohio State did most of its damage
from downtown, where it hit 14-of-16 at
one point after missing its first two.
The Buckeyes ran their guards off
screens to free them on the wing, in the
corner and on the top of the key. And But-
ler, J.J. Sullinger and Je'kel Foster didn't
miss any of those open looks. The trio
finished the first half shooting a perfect 8-
for-8 from beyond the arc.
"Our defense was something that really
hurt us today," Brown said. "That's some-
thing that we haven't had in (the) past, and
it's something that we have to improve on.
The last couple of games, we just haven't
had it on defense. I don't really know what
The Wolverines entered the game
already down two men. Lester Abram
remained sidelined with a severe high
ankle sprain, and freshman Jerret Smith
didn't suit up after he was diagnosed with
mono. Smith is out indefinitely, while
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said
Abram would not play on Saturday.
Although Michigan suffered a devas-
tating blow when Harris went down with
an ankle sprain, the team knows that they
still have five more conference games to
"This is like a slap in the face, real-
izing that we aren't as good as we
thought we were," Sims said. "We need
to get back to the way we were playing,
Spikers to fill in hoops' shortroster
By David Murray
Daily Sports Writer
They were shorthanded. Now they're
Junior Kelly Helvey's injury was a big
hit in early December, but now two more
injuries have forced the Michigan wom-
en's basketball team into a roster with just
seven active players and into calling anoth-
er Michigan squad for roster help.
The Wolverines, who had just nine
active players on the roster coming into
Sunday's game against Minnesota, are in
this predicament due to the loss of both
sophomore forward Katie Dierdorf and
leading scorer Ta'shia Walker.
Dierdorf has been hampered by a lin-
gering hip injury and will sit out the rest
of the season. Walker, on the other hand,
is out indefinitely due to surgery. Dierdorf
and Walker accounted for 31 percent of
the team's scoring output. In their absence, T
the other Wolverines must fill that void. JUSTIN BASS/I
Dierdorf, who has the eighth-highest Volleyball players Mara Martin and Lyndsay Miller will suit up for the basketball team.
field-goal percentage in the Big Ten, was Volleyball coach Mark Rosen have similar body-type players, that are1
the Wolverines' second leading scorer in allowed starting setter Mara Martin, physical kids and jumping is a big pri
conference play, and she scored in double- sophomore captain Lyndsay Miller and ity."
digits in six of the last eight games. junior middle blocker Megan Bowman He isn't worried about their transitio
"Katie has just been so
consistent offensively" Bur-
nett said. "She is so athletic
for her position. So we will
lose her athleticism running
the floor well."
The Michigan roster has
become so lean that the
coaches have welcomed the
idea of adding players from
another Michigan team into
to give their services to
the women's basketball
No. 7 Ohio State at
"I was approached by
a couple of people in our
department, saying I know
that you have volleyball
players that also have
some experience with bas-
ketball in the past," Rosen
said. "They wondered if
"Obviously, shooting touch and ball
control are the main differences between
the two games," Rosen said. "But all three
of those kids had a pretty good playing
background in high school."
The mounting injuries have also caused
position shifts. Freshman forward Ashley
Jones will rotate from small forward to
"I always like to post people up, so it's
nothing new," Jones said. "My coaches
needed me down there. I played post in
high school, so I'm familiar with both the
three and the four"
Tonight against No. 7 Ohio State,
Michigan will try out its revamped roster
for the first time.
"We're activating some of the volley-
ball kids" Burnett said. "Michigan is an
unbelievable place, in that, with our injury
situation, we've had other sports ask us if
we needed help, and volleyball has come
we would be interested, and certainly, we
want to help out any we can."
Rosen thinks that his players' attributes
as volleyball players are similar to those of
"I think they are similar sports because
size is a factor" Rosen said. "We tend to
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