The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - February 13, 2006 - 5B
PURDUE 84 - NO. 22 MICHIGAN 70
Defensive woes haunt
By Matt Singer
Daily Sports Editor
WEST LAFAYETTE - If defense really wins champi-
onships, the Michigan basketball team shouldn't expect to
earn any hardware in the near future.
On Saturday, Purdue became the third consecutive
team to benefit from Michigan's defensive woes. Com-
ing into the game as the Big Ten's second-lowest scoring
team, the Boilermakers netted 84 points against the hap-
less Wolverine defense.
"We couldn't really stop them." Michigan center Court-
ney Sims said. "I didn't think our offense was that bad. We
couldn't play defense for the third straight game.:
With two of Michigan's best perimeter defenders
- Lester Abram and Dion Harris - out with injuries,
Purdue looked to exploit the Wolverines' backup guards.
"The last couple of games, they were having problems
with penetration," Purdue guard Bryant Dillon said. "So
the coaches told us to be in attack mode."
The Boilermakers' strategy paid off. Against man-
to-man defense, Purdue's guards consistently blew
past their defenders with quick first steps, forcing a
Michigan post player to rotate over and help. More
often than not, this left a Boilermaker forward wide
open for an easy lay-up or a crowd-pleasing dunk.
But the drive-and-dish wasn't Michigan's sole defensive
weakness. In the first half, Purdue caught fire against the
Wolverines' zone. The Boilermakers patiently worked the
ball around the perimeter, eventually finding open looks
from beyond the arc. They drilled 6-of-10 first-half 3-point
attempts, which helped them build a commanding 20-point
The Boilermakers' offense also dominated the Wolver-
ines in the paint. Wide-bodied forward Gary Ware had
control down low, backing in Michigan's post players and
setting himself up for easy buckets. Ware's physical play
allowed him to score 14 points in just 21 minutes.
Junior Brent Petway played just eight minutes In Saturday's
Continued from page 1B
With the ball, the Wolverines struggled. Certain
lineups included zero players who wanted to shoot. T
Michigan offensive strategy looked like a game of hol
Amaker mentioned that his team's struggle to sco
might be carrying over to the defensive end. On a
veteran-laden squad, this lack of focus simply can't
At times, Horton plays like he wants to earn the
nickname "Mr. Second Half". In Boston, he scored
16 of the Wolverines' 25 second-half points to lead
his team to its first road victory of the still-early sea-
son. In Champaign, Horton nearly single-handedly
propelled Michigan to a comeback victory. And when
Michigan earned its first victory over a ranked team,
Horton was right there to score a game-high 23 point
against the Spartans. A movement could have been
started among Michigan basketball fans to mint coin
emblazoned with the motto: "In Horton We Trust."
So Horton's 2-for-14 performance in West Lafayett
simply can't happen, especially with Abram and Harr
And, in a year when you have your last shot at the
Continued from page 113
"We just need to have some pride on defense," Sims
said. "It seems like we have no pride - we're just trying to
go back down the court and score"
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said, the Wolverines'
defensive woes were rooted in their first-half offensive
struggles. While Purdue took advantage of nearly every
open opportunity early on, Michigan couldn't convert its
"It's demoralizing," Amaker said. "If you've ever played
or coached, it's very difficult to maintain your energy and
focus on the defensive end when you're not scoring." -
But even when Michigan's shots started falling in
the second half, the Wolverines failed to pick up any
momentum defensively. Every time a couple Michigan
shots fell, the Boilermakers stormed right back with
a bucket. In the second half, Purdue scored a solid 37
points, and its lead never fell below 12.
The Wolverines' recent defensive struggles have
come as an unpleasant surprise for a team that jumped
out to a 16-3 record thanks largely to its defensive pres-
ence. Coming into the game against Iowa on Feb. 4,
the Wolverines' opponents averaged 62.8 points per
game - a solid total for a team that likes to run the
fast break. Michigan had never given up more than 80
points in a game.
But the Iowa contest triggered a monumental defensive
collapse, and the Hawkeyes scored 94 points on 65-per-
cent shooting. Against Ohio State five days later, Michi-
gan once again gave up 94 points. And on Saturday, the
Wolverines let Purdue's anemic offense put up 84 points
on 61.2-percent shooting. Not surprisingly, Michigan lost
all three games.
"We have to play with a little more energy on (defense),
a little more intensity," guard Daniel Horton said. "That's
something I never thought I'd say about our team. Play-
ing for coach Amaker, I think we've always had a passion
about playing defense. But it seems like we've been lack-
ing that lately."
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
The sophomore guard scored a
team-high 18 points. In a Wolverine
lineup missing two starters, Cole-
man did his best to boost Michigan,
going 4-for-8 from behind the arc.
The Subway Super Sub of the game
carried the Boilermakers in the first
half. The freshman had 18 points in
the opening frame and finished with
a game-high 23.£
WHAT DID YOU SAY?
"Playing for coach Amaker, I think
we've always had a passion for playing
defense. But It seems like we've been
lacking that lately."
- Senior point guard Daniel Horton on the team's recent
struggles on the defensive end of the court.
The number of minutes walk-on senior
guard Hayes Grooms played on Saturday.
Senior Chris Hunter goes for a block attempt against Purdue center Matt Kiefer.
Singer inches closer in overall
points while Wright wins again
(Last game's points, overall points, single-game wins)
coleman 35 6-12 2-2 4-7 0 3 18
Brown 19 0-1 1-2 2-5 1 3 1
Sims 23 1-2 5-8 1-3 2 3 7
Horton 27 2-10 4-4 0-0 2 1 8
Grooms 28 0-2 4-5 0-0 3 1 4
Shepherd 25 2-6 4-5 4-6 2 3 9
Harrell 8 0-0 2-2 0-2 0 0 2
Petway 8 1-3 3-4 1-1 0 2 5
Hunter 27 6-15 1-2 1-4 1 4 16
TEAM TOTALS 200
(D. Horton, J. Shepherd,
B. Petway, T. Sanchez,
(22, 444, 9)
(L. Abram, R. Coleman,
J. Smith, K. Price)
(18, 339, 4)
Never in my wildest dreams did
I ever imagine a scenario where my
leading scorer was Jevohn Shepherd
- and I still won.
Saturday, in a game that was basi-
cally over from the start, Shepherd
had nine points, and I won.
Meanwhile, Daniel Horton strug-
gled to find an open look in the first
half and sat out most of the second
frame due to a thigh bruise.
But in a game brimming with
mop-up time, my second and third
contributors came through to carry
Well, once again, I had just one
active player, with two injuries
and a redshirt limiting my team
to Ron Coleman. Luckily, the way
he played, I almost eked out the
Coleman led the team in points,
and, once again, showed he has
no problem hitting one from way
- and I mean way - downtown.
Unfortunately, I think there's
only so long I can go with just one
player. I hope you're reading this,
Courtney Sims could have gone
0-for-20 on Saturday, killed my dog
and insulted my mother, and I still
couldn't say anything bad about him
That's because on Wednes-
day, Sims did all he could to keep
Michigan in the game against a hot-
shooting Buckeye team. He went
13-for-16 for 26 points and also col-
lected a season-high 16 rebounds.
But once Dion Harris went out
with an injury, Sims has seen nothing
but double teams and will keep see-
ing them until the team gets healthy.
With Dion Harris out with an ankle
sprain, Chris Hunter's production is
critical, both for the Wolverines and my
Against Purdue, Hunter was one of
the few Wolverines who showed any
offensive ability at all. Although I doubt
he called his first banked-in 3-pointer,
Hunter generally looked sharp. The
whole team could learn a lesson from
Harris's absence also allowed Hayes
Grooms to get significant minutes. But
he won't put up many points.
ware 21 7-11 0-2 0-1 2 3 14
Kiefer 23 2-6 3-5 0-3 2 4 7
Hartley 21 0-2 2-2 0-2 0 2 2
Lutz 35 4-6 5-6 0-2 1 2 14
Dillon 32 3-4 0-0 0-3 5 4 7
Riddell 11 0-0 0-0 0-2 2 1 0
Green 26 9-13 1-1 1-2 0 1 23
white 22 4-6 7-8 2-4 2 5 15
carroll 9 1-1 0-0 0-2 0 3 2
TEAM TOTALS 200 30-49 18-24 4-24 14 25 84
FG%: 61.2 FT%: 75.0 3-point FG: 6-14, .429 (Green 4-
6, Dillon 1-2, Lutz 1-3, Kiefer 0-1, Hartley 0-2) Blocks:
3 (Ware, Kiefer, Dillon). Steals: 8 (Dillon 2, Riddell 2,
Hartley, Kiefer, Lutz, Ware). Turnovers: 12 (Kiefer 4,
White 4, Lutz 2, Dillon, Riddell). Technical fouls: None.
FG%: 35.3 FT%: 76.5 3-point FG: 8-22, .364 (Coleman 4-8,
Hunter 3-7, Shepherd 1-2, Grooms 0-2, Horton 0-3). Blocks:
None Steals: 4 (Grooms 2, Hunter, Petway). Turnovers: 15
(Hunter 4, Grooms 3, Horton 3, Harrell 2, Coleman 2, Sims).
Technical fouls: None.
43 - 70
37 - 84
At: Mackey Arena
game. He has been nursing sore ribs since Michigan played Iowa.
Big Dance, the collapse that seems to be imminent sim-
ply can't happen.
But this final five-game finish is where the older
players can redeem themselves. They've been to the
'he NIT before and, as you know, they've won it. But
t presumably, the thrill of being crowned the 66th best
team in the nation doesn't quite compare to earning
re your first - and, for the seniors, only - NCAA Tour-
Two more regular-season wins and one in the Big Ten
Tournament should be enough to get the Wolverines
in. Purdue seemed liked one easy one, but Michigan
let that train pass on Saturday. This Wednesday's home
game against Minnesota seemed like another, until the
I- Gophers toppled Michigan State this weekend. Next
Saturday, the Spartans will be looking for revenge, and
n they'll have the Breslin Center crowd behind them.
After that, the Wolverines play Illinois, Indiana and
s Ohio State, all teams that have already beaten them.
These five games are the most important this current
s crop of seniors will play in their college careers.
Because, as they're about to learn, time is running
-Jack Herman can be reached
a season high.
While Coleman and Hunter turned in solid perfor-
mances, Michigan's leading scorer, Daniel Horton, was
(C. Sims, G. Brown,
S. Harrell, A. Brzozowicz)
(10, 397 3)
Horton 22 33.5 16.0 2.6 5.7
Sims 22 24.3 12.7 6.5 0.8
Harris 21 31.5 12.1 3.3 2.8
Abram 15 27.5 11.5 2.9 1.3
Hunter 22 17.3 7.1 3.3 0.4
coleman 22 18.7 5.6 2.8 0.7
Brown 22 24.2 5.1 7.4 1.4
Petway 11 14.3 4.8 2.5 0.4
Smith 17 15.8 2.5 1.2 2.3
Shepherd 20 9.5 2.0 1.3 0.6
Grooms 12 5.8 1.0 0.3 0.8
Harrell 10 2.6 0.6 0.6 0.1
Ba 9 1.9 0.3 0.2 0
BIG TEN STANDINGS
I Big Ten Overall SATURAYS RESULTS:
Inw 7n IM~ F,7'
(D. Harris, C. Hunter,
A. Ba, H. Grooms)
(20, 426, 6)
Iowa 8-3 19-6
Ohio State 7-3 21-3
Wisconsin 7-4 17-7
Illinois 6-4 20-4
Mich. State 6-4 18-6
Michigan 6-5 16-6
Indiana 5-5 13-8
Northwestern 4-6 12-10
Minnesota 3-7 12-9
Penn State 3-8 11-11
Purdue 3-9 9-14
-IOWa , /UNDIANAt0 / z
PURDUE 84, Michigan 70;
NORTHWESTERN 73, IPFW 49
Michigan State 55;
PENN STATE 62;
_OHIO STATE 69, Illinois 53;
season, getting kneed in the thigh. But it always happens
in practice. This time it just happened in the game, so I'll
be all right."