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November 08, 2006 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-11-08

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2B - Wednesday, November 8, 2006


The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


Wednesday, November 8, 2006 -7B


Daniel Levy sorts out the contenders and
the pretenders in his Big Ten preview.
Seniors Courtney Sims and Dion Harris
try to finally fulfill high expectations.
Captain Lester Abram looks to bounce
back after two injury-riddled seasons.
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H. Jose Bosch
Daniel Bromwich
Mark Giannotto
Daniel Levy Basketball Writers
Donn M. Fresard Editor in Chief
Jack Herman Managing Sports Editor
Jeffrey Bloomer Managing Editor
Alex Dziadosz
Mike Hulsebus Managing Photo Editors
Lisa Gentile Cover
Zachary Meisner Cover Photo
Peter Schottenfels Photo Editing
Alexis Floyd Business Manager
Robert Chin Display Sales Manager
Ben Schrotenboer Assoc. Display Sales Manager
David Dai Special Project Manager
Special thanks to: Kellyn Jackson, Lindsey Unger
and John Lowe

No. Name Pos. Wt. Ht. Yr. Hometown
1 Jerret Smith PG 195 6-3 So. Romulus
2 C.J. Lee G 180 6-0 Jr. Pittsford, N.Y.
3 K'Len Morris G 185 6-4 Fr. Grand Blanc
4 DeShawn Sims PF 225 6-8 Fr. Detroit
5 Dion Harris G 205 6-3 Sr. Detroit
10 Reed Baker PG 175 6-1 Fr. Fort Myers, Fla.
12 Anthony Wright F 235 6-6 Fr. Sterling, Va.
15 Jevohn Shepherd G/F 210 6-5 So. Toronto, Ontarino
21 Kendric Price PF 205 6-8 So. Boston, Mass.
22 Ekpe Udoh F 240 6-10 Fr. Edmond, Okla.
23 Brent Petway PF 210 6-8 Sr. McDonough, Ga.
24 Ron Coleman G/F 210 6-6 Jr. Romulus
25 Zack Gibson C 220 6-10 Fr. Grand Blanc
30 David Merritt PG 170 5-10 Jr. West Bloomtield
32 Lester Abram (c) G/F 200 6-6 Sr. PontiacJ
40 Phil DeVries F 225 6-10 So. Shelby Township.
44 Courtney Sims C 245 6-11 Sr. Boston, Mass. JuniorRonColemanwill looks
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From page 5B
be a successful Big Ten center. With
a new eating program, Sims put on 25
But the extra poundage has hurt
Sims, causing him to be unable to play
for an extended amount of time or go
after rebounds aggressively. He played
more than 30 minutes on just five occa-
sions last year. His shooting percent-
age was very good (63 percent), but he
often did not put up enough shots to
be effective - perhaps a result of tir-
ing quickly and not having the energy
to create them. And Sims certainly
wasn't aggressive going after offen-
sive rebounds. He managed more than
three offensive rebounds just once
during conference play, and he finished
with one or zero offensive boards in 15
Big Ten games.
Losing pounds, gaining passion
So this summer, the Wolverine
coaching staff decided that Sims's big-
gest task would be to lose weight. The
coaches wanted Sims to drop at least
13 pounds from the 258-pound frame
with which he entered the summer.
Sims succeeded in bringing his weight
down, and his coaches are looking to
take advantage of his new condition.
"We need Courtney to have a consis-
tent senior year," Amaker said. "He's
capable of doing that. We talked about
him shedding a few pounds and try-
ing to be a little lighter to be a little bit
more active, agile and quick, to get up
and down the floor a little better and
to be in better shape. That's one of the
things that we talked about for our
team. Courtney is a guy that's attacked
that very well so I've been pleased
with that."
It's important for Sims to be able
to keep up with the up-tempo style of
play that Michigan hopes to employ
this year. But necessary to that style of
play is a point guard who can direct the
team and control the pace of the game.
With Horton gone, it's up to Harris
to be that type of leader. This summer,
he worked on developing his game as a
point guard.
"The last time I played (pointguard)
was in my sophomore year when I had
to really come in and play (due to Hor-
ton's knee injury and legal trouble),"
Harris said. "It was unexpected and
kind of just got thrown on me. Now,
I'm really comfortable with the ball in
my hands. I worked on it all summer
and really had it in my hands a lot."
Harris committed himself to bas-
ketball during the offseason, working
in the gym even when the other guys
took days off. That's a switch from the
approach he took in previous years.
"In the past, I really got away from
having a passion for the game," Harris
For a natural scorer like Harris, it
might be tough to evolve into a point
guard that sets his teammates up
before looking for his own shot. For
help with that, he turned to an assis-
tant coach who has known the guard
since he was 9 years old.
"He is a very cerebral player, he has

really good skills and he has really
Jackson said. "So we talked about him
playing the lead guard and not putting
so much pressure on himself to score,
because that will take care of itself. He
needs to work on running our team,
making good decisions and creating
plays for our team."
Harris lost weight this summer as
well, reducing his body fat to 7 per-
cent, and he and Sims were not alone.
The football team tried to get smaller
and faster, and the two squads saw a
lot of each other during the summer.
With the football team 10-0 and head-
ing toward a possible National Cham-
pionship game, Sims and Harris can
see their hard work paying off in the
future, as well.
"We look at the football team doing
well now and that drives us," Sims
said. "Dion and I look at that and see
the opportunity. They went through
struggles last year, and we can do the
same thing that they are doing right
now. A lot of them tried to lose weight,
and that's basically what I did. And
they always have high expectations
and they have to deal with that, so
seeing what they went through, that
drives us."
Their final (four) chance?
Both Sims and Harris entered Mich-
igan with lofty individual expecta-
tions. They have yet to live up to their
highly touted resumes.
Harris even says as much: "I don't
think I've done enough up to this point
in my career."
But fulfilling individual expecta-
tions isn't remotely as important as the
bigger goals these two players have for
the Michigan basketball team. Both
expect to get over the hump and make
the NCAA Tournament this year. Both
would consider this season - and their
careers - disappointments if they do
not make the tournament. But Sims
explains that his goals are even larger
than that.
"I remember one time I heard (Duke)
coach (Mike Krzyzewski) talking about
coach Amaker, and saying how he was
probably one of the most important
players of coach K's career because
they made it to the Final Four when he
was there," Sims said. "They didn't win
a National Championship when he was
there, but he brought the program back.
And five years from now, I want to be
known as somebody who brought the
program back and put itback on its feet,
and maybe assisted to eventually win-
ning a national championship.
"Hopefully we can even do it this
year, make it to the Final Four. People
don't really talk about that with us,
but we talk about it - especially Brent
(Petway), since it's in Atlanta (his
hometown). So we talk about that all
the time and I think we have the talent
to do it."
For the Wolverines to get anywhere
close to the Final Four, Harris and Sims
will have to expel their unwelcome
houseguest. Maybe send him down the
same road as Sims's extra weight. Or
shove him to the same corner where
Harris's lack of passion now resides.
After all, the house is only big enough
for two: Sims No. 1 and Harris No. 1.

+' . .- - -s T > : .. .: :.: : .: : i W a.. .. ':h..


Seniors Dion Harris and Courtney Sims battled with inconsistency last season, but with newfound focus, dedication
and determination, they hope to lead the Wolverines to an NCAA Tournament berth this year,

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