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November 28, 2006 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-11-28

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8 - Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Streak
snapped as
Cagers fall

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Sans leader,
Wolfpack grab
momentum

By MARK GIANNOTTO
Daily Sports Writer
RALEIGH - Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker said his team had
to do things differently this year.
He said it was going to show a
killer instinct
and finish MICHIGAN 67
strong whenit NC STATE 74
had a team on
the ropes.
He said it had to play better
defense.
He said that senior Courtney
Sims had to be more consistent.
He said that the Wolverines
would only go as far as their seniors
took them.
But it looked like the same old
Michigan last night, as it suffered
its first defeat of the season, losing
to North Carolina State 74-67 in
the openingcontest of the ACC/Big
Ten Challenge.
For the first six minutes, the
game went according to plan. In
their first road game of the year,
the Wolverines opened on a 16-4
run, which saw the Wolfpack lose
its second-leading scorer and lone
senior, point guard Engin Atsur to
a hamstring injury.
But it was the Wolverines who
seemed to panic after that point.
Once Atsur left the floor, the
Wolfpackoutscored Michigan31-12
to close outthe first half, grabbing a
35-28 lead it never surrendered.
"We came out on a way higher
level than (North Carolina) State,"
guard Dion Harris said. "We let
them come back ... and let the
crowd back involved. ... Being that

we are a veteran team, we need
to have the ability to close things
out."
A major reason for the collapse
was the Wolfpack's ability to coun-
ter Michigan's pressure defense.
North Carolina State exploited
Michigan's defenders, using its
superior quickness and well-
timed backdoor cuts to create easy
layups.
"(Michigan defenders) were
out on the perimeter denying (the
ball), so if you could get by your
man, it's pretty much one on none,"
said Wolfpack guard Gavin Grant,
who scored 15 points and dished
out seven assists.
Sims, who was averaging 17
points and seven rebounds per
game heading into last night,
played dreadfully. After perform-
ing well during Michigan's seven-
game win streak, the Boston native
reverted back to his inconsistent
form of 2005-06.
The forward scored just seven
points and was regularly beaten on
defense by North Carolina State's
big men. Amaker even benched
him during crunch time in favor of
freshman Ekpe Udoh.
Michigan's other seniors didn't
play much better, either.
Forward Brent Petway and wing
Lester Abram were held to just six
and four points, respectively. Har-
ris scored 24 points, but shot just
8-for-20 from the field, including
4-for-14 from 3-point range. For
the game, the Wolverines shot an
abysmal 38 percent from the field.
"I felt we were going to shoot
the basketball better than we have

By DANIEL BROMWICH
Daily Sports Writer
RALEIGH - Trailing 12-2 with
14:26 left in the first half of last
night's game against Michigan,
North Carolina State saw its sec-
ond-leading scorer, most expe-
rienced player and undisputed
leader suffer an injury.
Senior Engin Atsur, who aver-
ages 17 points, five assists and five
rebounds per game, is on pace to
become the Wolfpack's all-time
leader in games started. So when
he left the contest with a pulled
hamstring and his team down 10
points early, the game should have
been over.
It was.
But not the favoring the side you
would expect.
After Atsur's departure, the
Wolfpack chipped away at the
Wolverines' lead, and with 4:26
remaining in the half, held a 24-21
advantage. They entered the half-
time break ahead by seven. And
midway through the second half,
the Wolfpack held a 21-point edge.
Leading scorer Gavin Grant
stepped in for Atsur, and the Wolf-
pack didn't lose a step as the junior
contributed 15 points and seven
assists.
"Those guys never looked back,
never flinched," North Carolina
State coach Sidney Lowe said.
"They knew they had to do more.
Gavin did atremendous job atcpoint
guard and kept things together. It
was a great team effort after losing
one of our top guys."
The Wolfpack, featuring just
five scholarship players on their

roster after Atsur's exit, used a
zone defense to try and slow down
the game and the Wolverines.
It did the job.
Michigan did not attempt a
single first-half free throw and
converted on just 2-of-9 first-
half 3-point attempts. The output
didn't improve in the second half,
either, as the Wolverines missed
their first six shots, and finished
the game 38 percent from the field
and 8-of-27 from downtown.
"Atsur got hurt, and that caused
them to adjust a little bit and play a
little more zone," Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker said. "And that's
something that we haven't fared as
well against so far this season."
The Wolfpack feature a seven-
man rotation, and with Atsur's
injury, its bench shrunk to one.
But Michigan didn't exploit the
situation. Amaker gave just seven
guys more than a minute of play-
ing time, and the team failed to
attack the Wolfpack on both sides
of the court.
The Wolverines attempted just
five free throws in the contest, and
laid back in zone defense during
the majority of the second half.
"We weren't able to force things
and go up and down (the court),"
Amaker said. "Their big guys are
very skilled, very tough to guard.
They were just too skilled for
our pressure defense to force the
tempo."
As a result, North Carolina State
played at a slow pace, and its play-
ers kept up their energy. Michigan
didn't test the Wolfpack's short
bench, as Lowe played five players
for more than 30 minutes each.

North Carolina State handed the Wolverines their first lost of the season powered
by Gavin Grant's 15 points. Michigan was unable to hold an early lead.
previously this season," Amaker wreaked havoc on the defensive
said. "We certainly continued that end. He finished with 10 points and
trend of not being able to hit open four blocks.
shots, and I think it's frustrating to But ultimately, the burden of
our ballclub right now." winning games can't fall on a
Udoh was Michigan'slone bright freshman's shoulders.
spot. He played significant minutes It's up to the veterans to prac-
because of Sims's ineffectiveness. tice what they've been preaching,
The Edmund, Okla., native showed and getraway from simply being the
off a wide array of post moves and same old Michigan.

Tripped by Gophers a second
time, Sauer focused on future

By JAMES V. DOWD
Daily Sports Writer
Humility. Disappointment. Resil-
ience.
These are the words Michigan
hockey coach Red Berenson used
to describe his team's attitude
after yesterday's practice - the
first since No. 1 Minnesota's 8-2
drubbing of the now-sixth-ranked
Wolverines in Minneapolis on Sat-
urday night.
And, two days after the most try-
ing performance of his young career,
perhaps no player is feeling all three
words more than goaltender Billy
Sauer.
Looking back on this weekend's
games, Sauer experienced one of his
highest highs followed immediately
by his lowest low.
After saving 34 shots en route
to a 4-3 victory against defending
national champion Wisconsin on
Friday, the sophomore was humbled
after allowing a career-high eight
goals against the Gophers on Sat-
urday. The onslaught included five
third-period goals and a handful
that Sauer wishes he had back.
But disappointed as he is, Sauer
knows all he can do is put the last
game behind him and move on to the
next challenge.
"As much as you want to dwell

on it, as much as you want to watch
the video, as much as you want to
say I shoulda, coulda, woulda, you
can't change a damn thing you
did," Sauer said. "So this week, I'm
coming out here with a new atti-
tude for the games we have this
weekend, because I can't change
the outcomes of the games from
last week."
Over the next two weeks, Michi-
gan will have to rely on Sauer's
resilience.
The Wolverines face off in home-
and-home series with Western
Michigan and No. 5 Notre Dame to
close out the first half of the season.
Sitting in a first-place tie with
Miami (Ohio) in the CCHA stand-
ings, winning these conference
games will be critical considering
Michigan's road-heavy schedule in
the second half.
Beyond those contests, Sauer's
ability to bounce back from his
struggles will help determine where
the Wolverines finish in the hunt for
the CCHA title.
Last season - when Michigan fin-
ished third in the league - the team
was just a half game out of first place
heading into the College Hockey
Showcase. But after Sauer gave up
a then-career-high six goals against
Minnesota, then-senior goalie Noah
Ruden got the nod for the Wisconsin

game, and Sauer never recovered.
"Ithink one oflBilly's challengesif
he's going to be the starting goalie, is
to be able to put a good game behind
him and move on, or put a bad game
behind him," Berenson said. "Part of
being a goalie is how long you reflect
on or enjoy or suffer from your last
game."
Sauer struggled to earn starts
and minutes while competing with
Ruden as his goals against average
rose from 2.35 going into the Show-
case to 3.04 by the end of last season.
His save percentage also took a hit,
dropping by almost 2 percent. But
Sauer feels that this time around, he
will do abetter job moving past Min-
nesota.
"(Minnesota) has been my down-
fall both years," Sauer said. "Bounc-
ing back from a game last year was
tough for me. But this year, I can
handle it more. Any night, I feel like
I can hop in and play my best."
While moving on from his dis-
appointment, Sauer is taking a few
lessons from the game, including
defending breakaways. The Golden
Gophers had an inordinate number
in Saturday's game, and Berenson
knows no goalie can stop them all.
But Sauer and his coach think added
aggression might help Sauer fend off
odd-man rushes in the future.
"I kind of backed up into my net

more than I wanted to (on break-
aways)," Sauer said. "It's a mental
mistake. We had played five games in
nine days - maybe it had to do with
fatigue or a mental error. It's not the
way I wanted to playthem."
Sauer also struggled with perfect-
ing the angles at which he positions
to protect his net. Playing on larger
ice surfaces than Yost Ice Arena at
bothvenues this past weekend, Sauer
never appeared as confident withhis
positioning. This issue dates back to
his first collegiate experiences on
Olympic ice in Fairbanks and Mar-
quette last season.
"I think on Wisconsin's second
goal, I definitely gave the guy way
too much on the far side," Sauer
said. "I kind of thought I was on my
angle, but it's really tough to get a
feel for where you are when you're
out there."
Obviously, playing at home will
eliminate the issues with angles,
but Sauer's maturity in recognizing
his faults should help him overcome
similar problems in the future.
"I think he's a mature kid," Beren-
son said of Sauer. "But I think his
game management maturity is the
question. Watching him evolve as
a player, I think he's more mature
than a year ago, but he's not there
yet. I don't know if you ever get there
when you're only 18 years old."

0
I

ANGELA CESERE/Da
Michigan goalie Billy Sauerhad his second bad game against Minnesota in his
career. He gave up a career-high six goals in Saturday's loss to the Gophers and
allowed the Gophers four goals at last season's College Showcase.

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