February 23, 2006
sports. michigandaily. com
B -Kevin Wright
Daily Sports Editor
PRle IdCQgaTS Fil
'M' can't prepare
too much for State
By David Murray
Daily Sports Writer
Eeyore can sympathize with them.
With their most recent loss to Iowa
on Sunday, the Michigan's women's
basketball team has dropped 14 con-
secutive Big Ten games. If that isn't
disheartening enough, dating back to
last year, the Wolverines have just one
Something was missing from Michigan's line-
up on Tuesday night.
Tep pounds to be exact.
Freshman Jerret Smith returned for his first
home game since the.Wolverines defeated Wis-
consin on Jan. 28 after dropping 10 pounds from
his battle with mono.
"I feel a lot better now that my weight's back
down," Smith said. "It (helps) my confidence a
lot more. This is my typical weight."
The freshman sat out four straight games due
to a concussion and then for mono. Then, last
Saturday, Smith suited up for the Wolverines'
contest against Michigan State. But he was still
regaining his game conditioning. Smith played
18 minutes and recorded two points on 1-for-4
shooting from the field.
But Tuesday night against Illinois, Smith
looked like the floor leader off the bench that
Michigan sorely missed.
"Jerret Smith gave us a tremendous game,"
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. "I com-
plimented him in the locker room in front of the
whole team. I thought his minutes off the bench
were sensational. He really played with poise
beyond his years."
Smith contributed nine points in 15 minutes of
pla.y, but his court vision had the greatest impact
in the Wolverines' victory.
With Michigan clinging to a three-point lead
midway through the second half, Smith pushed
the ball to halfcourt. From there, he zipped a pass
toa .wide-open Brent Petway under the basket,
whofinished the play with an emphatic dunk.
He gave us big minutes, especially just han-
dki the ball, passing to guys and penetrating,"
Petway said. "He gave us big minutes off the
Smiith struck again after Illinois' James
Augustine hit a free throw, cutting the Michi-
gan°jlead to one with four minutes left in the
game. As the shot clock dipped below 10 sec-
onds, the freshman took the ball at the top of
the key and drove to the lane. At the block, he
win in their last 30 Big Ten
games. And the Wolver-
ines are so desperate for SAT'
players to fill their injury-
stricken roster they have.
added volleyball .playersM
and walk-ons just to field
a full team. 7
Now, to add insult to all Crisi
of its injuries, Michigan.
hosts Big Ten powerhouse
No. 14 Michigan State tonight. In the
Wolverines' last outing against the
Green and White, the Spartans' full-
court pressure bullied the Wolverines
into 29 turnovers and a 33-point road
"We practiced against (pressure)
a lot at practice," sophomore captain
Krista Clement said. "I think that
(game) was early on in the Big Ten
season, where people might not have
wanted to come and catch the ball.
We were really timid. We've changed
The Wolverines are accustomed to
change. Michigan has had six differ-
ent starting lineups since it last faced
Michigan State. In fact, every player
on the roster, excluding the recent
additions, has started at least one
On the other hand, Michigan State
seniors Liz Shimek and Lindsey
Bowen have been the epitome of con-
sistency during this Big Ten this sea-
son. They have started in all 28 games
for the Spartans. For Michigan to halt
its Big Ten struggles Thursday, it must
contain the two All-American candi-
dates. Together, the duo averages just
1.4 points less than the entire Wolver-
ines current starting five.
"Their starting lineup is pretty
lethal, with them having two very spe-
;l r a
cial seniors," Michigan coach Cherryl
Burnett said. "We have to be able to
guard them, and I think their whole
starting lineup. You can't have too
much of a gameplan to stop somebody,
because they can all score."
While Michigan State ranks third
in points per game in the Big Ten
(68.7), and the Wolverines are last
(57.9). Although Michigan has had
difficulty scoring as a
team, individual players
1RDAY have stepped up to carry
the scoring burden each
.htgt, State game. During Michi-
gan's last game, a 67-55
loss to Iowa, freshman
pm 11point guard Jessica Min-
Arena nfield poured in a career-
high 20 points. In the
previous game, against
Purdue, sophomore shooting guard
Janelle Cooper recorded a career-high
Career-highs are nice, but a notch in
the win column would be better.
With just one player shouldering the
offensive load, opposing defenses have
forced that one player to try to single-
handedly win the game, while shutting
down Michigan's other players.
"We've been talking about team
chemistry the past couple of days,"
Minnfield said. "We said earlier that
we can't have just one person stepping
up and having 15 or 20 points a game.
It's all about team chemistry, and we
have to work hard in each game."
The Spartans are headed to the
NCAA Tournament in March, but the
Wolverines will need a miraculous run
at the Big Ten Tournament to claim a
spot in the "Big Dance." This doesn't,
mean that the game against Michigan
State will have no effect on their sea-'
son. The Wolverines want to prove
that they are a different team than the
one that was embarrassed in East Lan-
sing on Jan. 1.
"(Thursday's game) is our opportunity
to perform better at the things that when
we were so young, so long ago, at the
beginning of the Big Ten season (we did
poorly)," Burnett said. "We need to now
show the maturity of our execution."
Ten pounds lighter after battling a case of mono, Jerret Smith looked sharp against Illinois.
changed his shot into a pass right to the hands
of junior Courtney Sims.
Sims, who was positioned for the rebound,
took the ball, slammed it home and drew a foul
on Brian Randle. He made the ensuing free throw
to give Michigan a four-point lead.
"I was trying to get rebounding position just
in case he shot it," Sims said. "I just looked
before I turned because Jerret's a real good
passer. Sometimes, he makes tricky passes, and
you won't even expect it."
During Smith's absence from the court, his
weight dropped from the 200-pounds he started
the season with to his new weight of 190 pounds.
"I want to get back down to 185 because I feel
a lot better," Smith said. "My legs feel there, my
explosiveness feels there. I feel so much better.
I'm happy I'm losing all that weight."
NOTES: Before the game Tuesday night, the
team announced that reserve center Amadou Ba
would be suspended for one and a half games
following a confrontation with a Michigan State
fan in East Lansing on Saturday.
"It's unfortunate that the incident before the
game happened," Ba said. "I'm really sorry about
it, but we just have to move on right now."