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March 17, 2006 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-03-17

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March 17, 2006
sports@michigandaily. com

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. . .W....g.i..nice,



Throwdown! Blue
defeats the Miners

Winning is nice,
but it's way too late

By Scott Bell
Daily Sports Editor
With its opponent sporting throw-
back uniforms, the Michigan men's
basketball team decided to do a little
throwback of its own.
Last night against UTEP, the Wolver-
ines extended their season thanks to a
return to the inspired play that propelled
them to a 16-3 record to start the season.
Balanced scoring and an assist-to-turn-
over ratio near two helped Michigan
cruise to an 82-67 victory against the
Miners in the first-round NIT game.
"I was very pleased and happy for
our kids because they showed a lot of
character (last night)," Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker said. "I think so many
people were asking, predicting and
wondering whether or not they were
even going to have some spirit or life to
play ... I think our kids deserve a lot of
credit (for showing up last night)."
The Wolverines will next face Notre
Dame in the third round of the NIT.
They defeated the Fighting Irish 71-67 at
South Bend earlier in the season.
Two games after the backcourt trio
of Daniel Horton, Dion Harris and Jer-
ret Smith combined for one assist and
13 turnovers against Indiana, the group
made a complete 180-degree turn. They
dished out 20 assists compared to just
three turnovers. In all, Michigan tallied
23 assists against 13 turnovers.
"I thought our kids shared the basket-
ball very well, and we certainly tried to
take care of it," Amaker said. "I thought

that, for us, that was the difference
Said senior Chris Hunter: "That's
something we wanted to emphasize, just
sharing the ball. I think we're a much
better team when we share the ball and
just look for an open shot."
The 3-point shooting that was non-
existent during the majority of Mich-
igan's late-season losing streak also
reappeared in the Wolverines' return to
Crisler Arena. Four Wolverines scored
in double figures, thanks in large part
to their shooting from beyond the arc.
Harris made four treys, and Horton and
Hunter made three and two, respectively.
All three scored in double figures. Hunt-
er led the team with 20 points.
What was the inspiration for this turn-
around? The media and many fans - as
evident by a season-low 4,400 figure
- thought that this team had packed it
in for the year.
But the Wolverines wanted to extend
their season, especially for the seniors.
"Coach was really on us about that,
just going out and giving it all you have
for the seniors, and we did that (last
night)," Harris said.
With nearly a week off following its
four-point loss to Minnesota in the first
round of the Big Ten Tournament that
ended up bursting its NCAA Tourna-
ment bubble, Michigan had a lot of time
to worry about the basics at practice.
"As soon as practice started, the inten-
sity really picked up," Harris said.
Said junior Courtney Sims: "We want-
ed to basically emphasize energy because
a lot of people in our situation who didn't
make the (NCAA) Tournament would
normally put their heads down, but we
are looking past that. We're not even
thinking about the (NCAA) Tournament
anymore, and we're trying to make the
best out of this opportunity."
Apparently seizing this opportunity
included returning to the swagger that
became synonymous with the team dur-
ing its solid start to the season.
The team that looked tight and tenta-
tive in games past finally disappeared. A
much looser team came out of the tunnel

As I sat in press row watching the
seconds tick away in another
Michigan victory, only one
thought came to mind:
Where was this kind of effort the last
three games?
Five weeks ago, the Wolverines were
sitting pretty. They had just defeated then-
No. 8 Illinois and seemed like a
lock to make the Tournament.
Then Michigan decided to
mail in the next three games.
The Wolverines blew a chance to
knock off Ohio State in Colum-
bus, lost by one to Indiana to end
the regular season and then forgot
to play the second half against
Minnesota in the first round of
the Big Ten Tournament.j
Ask anyone affiliated with the
team about the apparent lack of
effort, and they'll tell you that the The'
intensity was there. Unfortunate-
ly, the outcome doesn't mirror their belief.
After Michigan rightfully received the
snub from the NCAA Tournament last
Sunday, nobody thought that this team
would show up last night against UTEP.
But this Wolverine team likes to surprise.
Michigan came out with the defensive
intensity necessary to pull out a victory.
The Miners committed 19 turnovers,
mainly due to the Wolverines' pressure.
Michigan got the ball toto the post play-
ers early in the game, which opened up the
perimeter to the tune of 1l-for-21 shooting
from behind the arc.
The Wolverines cut down on turnovers
and took care of the ball. Daniel Horton
had nine assists next to just one turnover,
and Jerret Smith dished out six without
turning the ball over once.
Unfortunately, this complete effort
came a little too late. Because instead of
playing on a court in San Diego, Greens-
boro, N.C., or Salt Lake City in the first
round of the NCAA Tournament, the Wol-
verines played in front of a sparse Crisler
Arena crowd.
If Bill Martin had decided to remove
the upper bowl of Crisler before the game,
the arena would have looked half full.
That's probably because no one wants
to see this team in the NIT. For many Wol-
verine fans, a Michigan NIT run would be
like a nightmare that just won't end. Every
game the Wolverines advance in the NIT


would just reinforce the incomprehensible
late-season collapse.
Michigan picked up the extra win it
needed to make the NCAA Tournament.
Only it came a week too late. Had Michi-
gan showed the effort and desire displayed
last night against Minnesota or Indiana,
the Wolverines wouldn't need to keep
answering questions about
what they have to do in these
upcoming NIT games.
Sure, Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker and his
Wolverines have continu-
ally stressed that they're
focused on the NIT and
want to win it. He had
hoped that his players
EVIIN would show the heart to
RIGHT come out and end the sea-
'xth Man son on a high note.
But, what does an NIT
title do for this program?
Absolutely nothing.
Hanging an NIT championship ban-
ner in the Crisler Arena rafters next year
would just add insult to injury. This team
came so close to making the NCAA
Tournament, and they know it. Now, an
NIT championship wouldn't come close
to compensating for that empty feeling
the players had when the field of 65 was
announced, and they weren't included.
Even if the players don't feel that way,
the 4,400 fans at the game proved that.
Talk circled around campus to boycott the
NIT and not buy tickets.
Michigan fans don't want to see another
NIT banner alongside the 1989 NCAA
National Championship, 1986 Big Ten
Championship and the Final Four banners.
With a little more than a minute left
in the game, a chant started in the Maize
Rage. Some students shouted "season's
over" to the UTEP team.
But that phrase could just as easily be
turned around to the Wolverines.
For all intents and purposes, Michigan
had its chance to continue its season in the
NCAA Tournament, but it failed.
Now, the Wolverines are playing in their
second NIT in the last three years.
As far as I'm concerned the season's
- Wright can be reached
at kpwr@umich.edu


Brent Petway slams one of his electrifying dunks during last night's game.


for its return to the NIT, and junior Brent
Petway became the biggest benefactor of
the team's revived swagger. The forward
went 4-for-4 on the night and added two
free throws to be the fourth Wolverine
in double figures. All four of his field
goals were the result of him being on the
receiving end of alley-oops.
"It might be the most alley-oops I've
had (in one game) here at Michigan,"
Petway said. "It was fun; they were look-
ing for me tonight."




The following students will be among those recognized during the Honors Convocation program on Sunday, March 19, 2006.
These individuals have demonstrated the highest level of undergraduate academic success by achieving seven or more consecutive
terms of all A's and earning the designation of Angell Scholar. The University of Michigan congratulates these students on their
superior scholastic achievement and wishes them continued success.


Mark David Buckles*

School of Music


Bishr A. Al-Dabagh*

College ofArts and Sciences--
UM Flint


Ola A. Al-Dabagh
Aviva Rachel Morady*
Erik Wright Schomburg *
Susan Yiwen Wang*

School of Education and
Human Services-UM Flint
College of Literature, Science,
and the Arts
College of Engineering
School of Music

Ariez Manek Dustoor*
Daniel B. Edelman*
Allison Mileo Gorsuch
Carrie Marie Guernsey
Kendal Elizabeth Harlan
Julie Ellyn Heringhausen*
Lauren Renae Hirt.
Manda Emeline Lai
Diana Beth Lawrence*
Jun Li
Julia Christine Malette
Michael Sean McDonald
Kristen Michelle Pelachyk*
Jeffrey David Roslund*
Courtney Hanson Rowley
Robert Morton Schabinger*

College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Stephen M Ross School of Business
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
School of Dentistry
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
School of Nursing
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Stephen M. Ross School of Business
School of Music
College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters--
UM Dearborn
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
College of Engineering
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
College of Engineering
School of Music
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts


Kathleen Amanda Bowerman

School of Music




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