The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - January 9, 2006 - 5B
MICHIGAN 68 - PURDUE 65
Smith impresses in his starting lineup debut
By Kevin Wright
Daily Sports Writer
The butterflies were fluttering around in
But when the referee lofted the ball on the
tipoff of Saturday's game, the butterflies disap-
peared for freshman Jerret Smith.
In his first collegiate start, Smith made a
quick impact. The guard stepped in front of a
Purdue pass at the top of the key and finished on
the other end with an easy lay-up and the first
two points of the game.
With junior Lester Abram still sidelined
with a toe injury, Michigan coach Tommy
Amaker paired Smith with the starters at
Friday's practice and afterward went to
Smith to make sure that he could handle
"You just have to step up when Coach needs
you," Smith said. "And I'm the type of player
that wants to do whatever Coach wants me to"
And Smith took advantage of the oppor-
tunity. The Romulus native played a career-
high 27 minutes and assumed the point
guard responsibilities for senior Daniel
Horton, who shifted to Abram's vacated
When Michigan trailed by three with less
than 14 minutes remaining in the second half,
Smith demonstrated his ability to see the court
on the fast break during a key run.
After the freshman rebounded a Purdue
miss, he pushed the ball up court. As he neared
the basket, he glanced to his left to look off the
defender. Then he bounced a pass to a streaking
Horton on his right.
Horton rose for the lay-up, and Purdue's
Bryant Dillon fouled him. The basket count-
ed because Purdue was called for goaltend-
ing, and Horton made the free throw to tie
the game at 48.
During the game, Smith collected seven points
with three assists and a career-high three steals.
"(The seniors) put their confidence in me,"
Continued from page 11B
pumped-up Boilermaker squad in a
raucous Mackey Arena, I'd be more
forgiving - even the best teams can
be tripped up away from their home
courts (look at Illinois' near-loss
against an outmanned Michigan team
last year). But there's no way the
Wolverines should let an inferior and
injury-riddled squad compete with
them in Crisler Arena.
What really worries me is that Mich-
igan's lackluster performance was the
result of more than just a simple off-day.
Instead, many of the Wolverines' trou-
bles appear to be chronic. If Michigan
wants to compete in the Big Ten, the
team must start by solving the following '
Who's down low?
In the paint, the Wolverines' attack
begins with junior Courtney Sims. Prior
to the Big Ten season, Sims led Michi-
gan in scoring, but he's attempted just
seven field goals in the team's first two
conference games. He has shown noth-
ing to suggest he possesses the ability to
handle the double-team, so opponents
will continue to exploit his weakness by
swarming him in the post. Great centers
use collapsing defenses to their advan-
tage by finding open teammates for Juni
jumpshots and dribble-drives. But Sims
hasn't been able to parlay double-teams time
into open looks for his teammates - 13 late
games into the season, he's picked up play
just nine assists, compared to 38 turn- prob
overs, second-worst on the team. optic
Sims does deserve credit for he's
one crucial play on Saturday. With ther
three-and-a-half minutes to go, Hor
Sims jumped out of bounds to save ute o
a loose ball, got back into the play, isola
took the pass from Daniel Horton him
and threw down a thunderous slam rece
to give Michigan a two-point lead. tive
But if Sims showed anything offen- Th
sively for the first 36 minutes of seaso
the game, the Wolverines would not Notr
have found themselves in such a pre- optic
carious situation. remn
Clearly, Sims isn't the only talented can
player in the Michigan frontcourt. But
no one else down low has shown any I
offensive consistency either. Graham at th
Brown has a limited offensive reper- figur
toire, so he's forced to pick and choose posit
his spots. Chris Hunter has skill, but Smil
he doesn't have the body to play with But
his back to the basket. And Brent Pet- Shej
way is the master of the alley-oop and O
putback slam, but takes too many ill- year
advised shots. got a
The Michael Jordan effect the a
Remember when No. 23 would take a tru
over a game, and the rest of the Bulls to m
would stand and watch in awe? Well, at mor
Smith said. "They told me to run the team, and
that's what I tried to do. I was just trying to start
out there and keep my conditioning. I was just
trying to run the team."
THE GOOSE EGG: If you looked at the scorer's
sheet alone after the Wolverines' game against
Purdue, you may not have known that junior
guard Dion Harris had played at all.
In 28 minutes, Harris hoisted seven shots
from the field - including four from behind the
arc - but couldn't connect on a single one.
After exhibiting his ability to hit the outside
shot with 19 points against Indiana last Tuesday,
Harris couldn't continue his hot shooting.
"Dion didn't play very well offensively,"
Amaker said. "I didn't know that he didn't score,
but I knew that we needed him in a lot of other
The junior picked up two fouls early in the
first half, which limited him to just 10 minutes
on the court in that frame. Because Harris was
forced to watch from the bench, his offensive
rhythm - crucial to his aggressive mindset on
offense - was disrupted.
Even though Harris couldn't find the bottom
of the net, he found other ways to contribute.
He crashed the defensive boards to collect four
rebounds and distributed the ball on the offense,
registering four assists.
DISPLACED LIONS FANS: As the Wolverines
shuffled into the locker room at halftime trail-
ing by five to the Boilermakers, a noise spat-
tered through Crisler Arena.
Not heard yet this season, the crowd of 10947
let Michigan know its disappointing effort was
not appreciated, sprinkling the Wolverines with
Michigan trailed a Purdue team that was
missing its three best players going into the sec-
ond half. And the fans let the Wolverines know
that the losing wouldn't be tolerated.
"I don't think that's appropriate for college
athletics," Amaker said. "I always thought that,
regardless of what sport. ... Maybe they were
booing me, and that's OK."
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Horton scored a game-high 24
points on Saturday, with 16 of
those coming in the second half.
The senior also hit five 3-pointers.
For every big 3-pointer or slam
dunk by the Wolverines, Kiefer
had an answer. He finished
the game with a team-high
21 points, along with eight
rebounds and six assists.
WHAT DID YOU SAY?
"We have a lot to work on - we knew
- Michigan coach Tommy Amaker on
his team's overall performance.
2 The number of points scored by Purdue
in the game's final six minutes.
Freshman Jerret Smith made strides on the defensive end of the court after recent struggles.
W?'i ht takes lead in wins while
Bel maintains overall point lead.
(Last game's points, overall points, single-game wins)
Dillon 28 1-3 0-0 1-1 2 4 2
Ware 23 3-8 0-1 5-10 0 3 6
Kiefer 39 8-12 2-2 3-8 6 3 21
Lutz 28 2-7 0-0 0-3 1 2 4
Green 19 2-4 0-0 0-1 2 3 6
Hartley 33 0-2 0-0 0-2 2 1 0
Spates 30 6-15 2-2 0-3 3 2 17
White 11 1-6 5-5 2-7 0 3 7
Carroll 1 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 2 2
FG%: 41.4 FT%: 90.0 3-point FG: 8-19, .421 (Kiefer 3-5,
Spates 3-5, Green 2-4, Hartley 0-2, Lutz 0-3). Blocks: 6
(Ware 3, Kiefer 2, White). Steals: 2 (Green, Spates). Turn-
overs: 20 (White 5, Lutz 4, Dillon 3, Ware 3, Kiefer 2, White,
Green, Team). Technical fouls: None.
(D. Horton, J. Shepherd,
B. Petway, T. Sanchez,
(34, 241, 4)
or Courtney Sims has seen his production drop drastically in Big Ten play.
(L. Abram, R. Coleman,
J. Smith, K. Price)
(15, 224, 3)
s, that's what Michigan looks like
in a game, with senior Daniel Horton
ing Jordan's role. I don't have any
lem with Horton being the primary
on in critical late-game situations -
the team's star, without question. But
e should be other looks available if
on's covered. Twice in the last min-
of Saturday's game, the Wolverines
ted Horton, Purdue's defender locked
down, and no one else popped out to
ive a pass. The result: two consecu-
ugly misses by Horton.
he team's biggest basket of the
on- Dion Harris' jumper against
e Dame - came as the secondary
on on a Horton drive. The team must
ember that players other than Horton
make critical late-game shots.
bet Amaker wishes the researchers
e Michigan Medical School could
re out a way to splice together the
tive aspects of freshmen Jerret
th and Jevohn Shepherd's games.
as individuals, both Smith and
pherd have major weaknesses.
ffensively, Smith is wise beyond his
s. His court vision is evident, he's
a quick first step, and he's shown
ability to drill the open jumper. As
ae point guard, Smith allows Horton
ove over to the wing and provide a
e potent scoring threat. But Smith
always seems a step behind defensively,
and quick point guards give him fits on
the perimeter. Obviously, there's little
that Amaker can do to improve Smith's
D in the short term. But Amaker can
protect him by using zone defenses and
matching Smith up with the opponents'
least threatening backcourt player.
Shepherd is, in many ways, Smith's
opposite. His quick feet and aggressive-
ness make him an excellent on-the-ball
defender, but his offensive game is raw.
Shepherd often appears out of con-
trol, to the tune of a 7-to-13 assist-to-
turnover ratio, and he's made just 34
percent of his shots. Especially with
Lester Abram out of the lineup, Shep-
herd can be an asset with his defensive
intensity. But he must let the game
come to him on offense.
Going forward, the road is only going
to get harder for the Wolverines - they
have just three more games against con-
ference bottom-dwellers Purdue, Penn
State and Northwestern. And although
Michigan survived on Saturday, perfor-
mances like that just won't cut it in the
future. With a week off before playing
Illinois, it's clear Amaker's boys have a
lot to work on.
- Matt Singer can be reached
When Jevohn Shepherd hit a
lay-up and then converted the
and-one opportunity, I knew I
had the win in the bag.
Horton once again saved Michi-
gan from a crushing loss. He had 24
points including five key 3-pointers.
After struggling in the first half, he
led the way in the second frame
Unfortunately, I actually had to
do some math when I counted up
my total. A definite change from
the past weeks.
Although Lester Abram didn't
play this weekend, all signs point
to him returning soon. Michigan
coach Tommy Amaker said that
Abram could have played, but the
staff decided holding him out one
more game couldn't hurt. Abram
says he'll be ready play this Satur-
day at Illinois.
Ron Coleman rebounded nicely
yesterday, bucketing eight points.
This was a nice turn-around from
the loss to Indiana, when he started
but did not score a point.
There's been a disappearing act
for Courtney Sims during four of
Michigan's biggest games this sea-
son (Boston on the road, UCLA and
the two conference games).
In those games, Sims has made
a total of five field goals. It's not as
if he's missing hundreds of shots;
he just can't get shots off when he's
Ever since UCLA began double-
teaming him, it's become obvious
how to stop him. I keep waiting for
him to adjust, but maybe he can't.
I think I'm going to leave Ann
While I was relaxing over break,
my team was kicking it into high
gear, coming up with two wins and
closing the overall-points gap. Harris
and Hunter were cruising, and Ba and
Grooms also found their way into the
Then, I returned to Michigan, only
to watch my team completely collapse
against Purdue. Zero points for Har-
ris, and a no-show from Hunter, equal
tough times for my team.
Brown 26 4-6 3-6 6-10 0 2 11
Grooms 3 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Sims 27 1-3 4-4 3-8 1 4 4
Horton 37 7-20 5-5 0-1 4 2 24
Harris 28 0-7 0-0 1-5 4 2 0
Smith 26 3-6 0-1 0-3 3 0 7
Petway 10 2-6 3-4 2-3 0 2 7
Shepherd 7 1-3 1-1 0-0 1 1 5
coleman 16 2-3 3-4 1-2 0 1 8
Hunter 13 1-2 0-1 0-0 0 2 2
FG%: 37.5 FT%: 73.1 3-point FG: 7-18, .389 (Horton
5-9, Coleman 1-2, Smith 1-2, Hunter 0-1). Blocks: 5
(Sims 3, Hunter 2). Steals: 9 (Smith 3, Horton 2, Har-
ris, Sims, Shepherd, Hunter). Turnovers: 15 (Horton 4,
Sims 3, Harris 2, Shepherd 2, Brown, Smith, Coleman,
Hunter). Technical fouls: None.
38 27 - 65
33 35 -68
At: Crisler Arena
Sims 13 26.6 15.8 7.4 0.7
Horton 13 34.2 15.8 2.7 5.7
Abram 11 30.5 12.6 3.5 1.3
Harris 13 30.5 10.2 3.7 3.0
Hunter 13 16.5 6.0 3.5 0.5
Brown 13 24.4 5.4 8.0 1.0
Petway 2 11.0 4.5 2.0 0
coleman 13 14.5 4.2 2.6 0.5
Smith 11 14.8 2.7 1.0 2.5
Shepherd 12 10.6 2.3 1.3 0.6
Grooms 7 3.0 0.7 0.1 0.3
Ba 7 2.1 0.4 0.3 0
(C. Sims, G. Brown,
S. Harrell, A. Brzozowicz)
(17, 261, 3)
(D. Harris, C. Hunter,
A. Ba, H. Grooms)
(2, 218, 3)
Wisconsin 2-0 12-2
Indiana 2-0 10-2
Northwestern 2-0 9-4
Illinois 1-1 15-1
Ohio State 1-1 11-1
Michigan 1-1 11-2
Iowa 1-1 12-4
Minnesota 0-1 9-3
Penn State 0-1 8-4
Mich. State 0-2 12-4
Michigan State 63;
Ohio State 79;
THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE
Brown which cut the Boilermaker lead to four,
and after passing it to fellow guard Dion Harris,
drew a crowd to him when he dribbled toward