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January 08, 2007 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, January 8, 2007 - 3B

CRASHING THE BOARDS

PLAYER OF THE GAME
Reed Baker
GUARD
Baker was unheralded when Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker snatched him from the
depths of Div. IlIl basketball. But following his
game-high 11 points against the Wildcats,
fans will be saying much more than "Who?"
when they hear Reed Baker's name.

NOTABLE QUOTABLE
"(Michigan fans) were deep today.
They were real good. I thought
there wouldn't be so many.... If we
could get that every game it, would
be on and poppin'.
- Freshman EKPE UDOH on the presence of Michigan
fans in Evanston.

The Dance Meter
Each week, the Michigan basketball writers will take
the team's temperature and determine how close or
how far it is from making the NCAA Tournament.
Start booking your
flights because they're
in the tournament!
There's a good chance. ESPN
will be contacting Tommy
Amaker to videotape the team's
reaction on Selection Sunday.
The Wolverines' bubble is on
the verge of bursting, but a
string of quality wins could save
their tournament chances.
Conference tournament
winners automatically
make the tournament. So
Michigan still has a shot.
Tommy Amaker will have
to host a March Madness
- party at his house because
this team isn't dancing.
SATURDAY'S GAME
MICHIGAN 58

Saturday's game
MICHIGAN 58 - NORTHWESTERN 46
Access denied
Wolverines top conference in blocked shots

By DANIEL BROMWICH
Daily Sports Writer
EVANSTON - Right back at you,
Northwestern.
With 10:07 remaining in the first
half of Saturday's game in Evanston,
Michigan leading 11-9, Northwestern
junior Jason Okrzesik beat the Wol-
verine defense for what looked like
a game-tying lay-up. But freshman
DeShawn Sims, jumping so high in
the air that his forearm touched the
ball, swatted the attempt far into the
Wildcat student section.
"I think I blocked it with my wrist,
because I swung hard at it," Sims said.
"If I didn't get the ball, and if I had got
him, I think I would have got ejected."
Freshman Ekpe Udoh had a differ-
ent take on the block:
"He must have got that from me."
While it might seem surprising for
a freshman to claim credit for teach-
ing a fellow freshman how to block
shots, in this case it's easy to believe.
Udoh seems to ,have surpassed
senior Brent Petway as the team's
best swatter. Udoh ranks second
in the conference (Indiana's D.J.
White), averaging 2.44 blocks per
game. Udoh's average was helped by
his performance against Army, when
he recorded nine rejections (second
all-time for Michigan basketball).
"I've been doing it all my life, real-
ly," Udoh said. "It's just natural (to
block shots) now."
Petway and fellow senior Courtney
Sims are not far behind Udoh, rank-
ing fifth and sixth in the conference,
respectively.
With four big men contributing to
the team's rejection infatuation, it's
no surprise that Michigan currently
leads the Big Ten in blocked shots.
It doesn't have much competition,
either. Minnesota averages fewer
than six blocks per game to take sec-
ond place. Greg Oden's Ohio State

squad is third. And even when Michigan wasn't
At Central Street on the Northwest- FedEx-ing the Wildcat attempts right
ern campus, the Wolverines held yet back to them, the threat of rejection
another block party this past Saturday. still proved costly. Northwestern
Michigan recorded six swats of missed three easy lay-ups in the final
Wildcat shots, just one short of its four minutes of a game that was with-
conference-leading average of seven in reach until the closing seconds.
per contest. "Getting those blocks early, it put
"They blocked a bunch of shots it in their heads that they have to
that were lay-ups, that were executed get (their shots) off quicker," Pet-
pretty well," Northwestern coach way said. "Sometimes when you rush
Bruce Carmody said. "It's major. Five shots, you leave it short, and I think
or six times in the second half we had that's what happened."
lay-ups, and they took them away Michigan's guards like to pressure
from us, and that's huge." the opposing ball-handler, and hav-

Player

MN M A_ I M A O- _AIF PTS

Petway 29 2-3 3-4 4-8 0 1 7
Coleman 20 3-7 0-0 2-7 2 1 6
Abram 32 4-8 0-0 0-4 0 4 9
Sims, c. 19 3-3 3-4 2-6 0 4 9
Harris 37 2-10 2-3 0-2 8 2 6
Smith 8 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 0 0
Baker 26 3-8 2-2 0-2 0 0 11
Udoh 21 4-5 0-3 3-7 2 0 8
Sims,D. 8 1-2 0-1 1-1 0 3 2
TEAM TOTALS 200 22-47 10-17 12-37 13 15 58
FG%:46.8 FT%: 58.83-pointFG: 4-19 ,211(Baker3-7, Abram 1-4,
Harris 0-5, Smith 0-1, Coleman 0-2)Blocks: 6 (Udoh2, Abram,
Petway, C. Sims, D. Sims)Steals: 2 (Abram, Petway). Turnovers:
11 (Baker4, Coleman 2, Abram, Petway, C. Sims 2, D. Sims, Smith)
Technical fouls: Nose
Northwestern 46
Player MIN FG FT REB A F PTS
M-A M-A o-T
Doyle 37 5-8 3-4 4-5 5 4 13
Coble 28 3-13 3-3 2-5 2 0 10
Scott 40 3-8 2-3 0-3 3 2 8
Moore 37 2-9 0-0 1-5 1 2 5
Williams 13 0-1 0-0 0-2 0 2 0
Okrzesik 19 2-5 0-0 0-0 1 3 6
Nash 13 1-5 0-0 0-1 0 1 3
Ryan 13 0-1 1-2 0-1 1 0 1

TEAM TOTALS

200 16-50 9-12 7-22 113 14

46

Senior Dion Harris and the Wolverines are now 2-0 in
conference play.
BIG TEN STANDINGS

WILDCATS
From page 1B
from the field in the second half
and 32 percent for the game.
Michigan had to deal with a
very deliberate Wildcat attack.
Northwestern (0-2, 10-5) tried
to use up all 35 seconds of the
shot clock on each possession.
The Wolverines wanted to use
their superior athleticism and
get out on the fast break.
Northwestern's strategy won
out - Michigan failed to eclipse
30 points in either half. The first
half ended withbothteams dead-
locked at 28, and the 5,793 fans in
attendance anticipating an upset.
"That's where, you have to
show poise and patience, know-
ing that you aren't going to get
as many fast-break opportuni-
ties," Harris said.
With its usual firepower on
the offensive end blunted, the
Wolverines instead persevered
on defense.
"We came in saying we had to
stay more disciplined than we
had been," senior Brent Petway
said. "Against (Northwestern),
you have to stay disciplined
for the entire 35 seconds; and I
thought we did an excellent job
of that."
BROMWICH
From page 1B
long way toward helping the
team make the tournament
(Amaker's stated expectation).
Winning two of the games is
absolutely necessary.
One reason is because of the
caliber of these upcoming oppo-
nents.
Purdue beat ACC-power Vir-
ginia at home and almost toppled
current No. 13 Butler on the road, ix
but has dropped a game at Min-
nesota and suffered a 19-point
loss to Indiana State.
Penn State fell just four points
short of upsetting then-No. 24
Georgia Tech on the road, but
has lost home games to Southeast
Louisiana and Stony Brook.
These are inconsistent teams,
both of which have the potential
to beat or lose to anybody on any
night. These are the teams that
Michigan must beat at home, and

With the game crawling at
a snail's pace, Michigan had to
create extra opportunities for
themselves. The Wolverines
pounded the glass, grabbing 12
offensive rebounds, including
nine in the second half. Petway
led the team with eight boards.
"They just killed us on the
backboards," Northwestern
coach Bill Carmody said. "We
would stop them two or three
times in a row, and they would
get second shots."
Unlike Wednesday's confer-
ence opener against Illinois, inr
which seniors Harris and Les-
ter Abram led the Wolverines to
victory, Saturday was freshman
Reed Baker's time to shine.
The Fort Myers, Fla., native
hadateam-highilpoints,includ-.
ing three 3-pointers against
Northwestern's zone defense.
And after altering his lineup
for games against Army and
Georgetown, Michigan coach
Tommy Amaker stuck with the
lineup he used in the win over
the Illini and in the season's
first 13 games. Seniors Harris,
Petway, Abram and Courtney
Sims started alongside junior
wing Ron Coleman.
But in the end, the game
wasn't decided on a certain line-
up or a big shot. The Wolverines
didn't pull away in the second
needs to find ways to defeat on
the road in order tobe consid-
ered a contender in the Big Ten.
The other, perhaps more
important reason the Wolverines
must win two, if not all, of their
upcoming three games is because
of the schedule that follows.
After the home game against
Purdue, Michigan travels to No.
4 Wisconsin. Three days later,
the Wolverines head to Bloom-
ington to face Indiana (where
they have not won since 1995).
After a home game against Iowa,
Michigan hits the road again,
this time on its way to Columbus
to face current-No. 6 Ohio State.
That's at least three games that
will be incredibly tough for the
Wolverines to win.
If Michigan hopes to present
itself to the Tournament com-
mittee as a viable selection, it
needs to finish at least .500 in the
Big Ten.
Two wins over Purdue and
one against Penn State (the

shot-blockers behind them allows
m to be even more aggressive and
:e more turnovers.
It gives us more room for error, so
can get up and pressure the ball,"
ior guard Dion Harris said. "If a
happens to blow by us, then we
>w we have those guys on the back
to erase our mistake. I get more
fidence in guarding the ball when
now I have my guys back there,
I they're talking to me, they're
ing 'Send him down here."'
o the Michigan big men can send
ight back.
half until they found their old,
reliable friend: defense.
"We talked about how the sec-
ond half was going to be a game
for the taking, and whatever
team would dig in a little more
could muster out a victory, and
I thought we played tremendous
defensively," Amaker said. "I
liked the energy we played with
defensively, and we mixed up
our defenses a little bit to see if
we could take away some of their
rhythm on the offensive end. We
wanted to disjoint them."
The win was the Wolverines'
second on the road this season,
and puts them in a tie atop the
Big Ten standings with Ohio
State, Wisconsin and Iowa.
"I think everybody is on the
same page right now, from top
to bottom," Harris said. "And I
think we're back to the normal
way that we've been playing."
Notes: Freshman guard
K'Len Morris will have sea-
son-ending surgery to repair an
injuredshoulder. The procedure
will likely take place in the next
two weeks.
Morris has been out of the
Michiganlineupsinceheinjured
the shoulder in practice on Nov.
28 when he fell awkwardly on a
dunk attempt. The team is hop-
ing he will be granted a medical
redshirt by the NCAA.
Wolverines won't travelto State
College this season) would give
them five conference wins, and
virtually assure that Michigan
finishes no worse than .500 in
the Big Ten.
Should the Wolverines win
just three of their final five home
games, they would have eight
conference wins, which they fin-
ished with last season.
If Michigan can win even one
road game (they travel to Minne-
sota late in the year), that would
give them nine conference wins,
a mark that should be enough to
convince the selection commit-
tee that the Wolverines deserve
to dance.
If so, then this would be the
year that Amaker's squad fulfills
its potential.
And, yes, reaches expectations.
- Bromwich hopes he is the first
Daily writer in nine years toncover an
NCAA Tournament game. He can be
reached at dabromwi@umic.edu.

FG%: 32 FT%: 75 3-point FG: 5-24, .208 (Okrzesik 2-4,
Nash 1-3, Coble 1-5, Moore 1-7, Ryan 0-1, Williams 0-1, Scott
0-3). Blocks: 1 (Williams). Steals: 8 (Moore 3, Nash 2, Coble,
Doyle, Williams). Turnovers: 10 (Doyle 4, Coble 2, Okrzesik
2, Moore, Williams ). Technical fouls: None.
Michigan...........28 30 - 58 At: Welsh-Ryan Arena
Northwestern....28 18 - 46 Attendance: 5, 793

Team
Ohio State
Michigan
Wisconsin
Iowa
Purdue
Penn State
Minnesota
Michigan State
Indiana
Illinois
Northwestern

Big Ten
2 0
2 0
1 0
1 0
1 1
1 1
1 1
0 1
0 1
0 2
0 2

Overall
13 2
14 3
15 1
9 6
12 4
10 5
7 9
13 3
9 4
12 5
10 5

Player

GP

Min

Pts R j1A

Sims, C. 17 23.7 13.1 6.7 0.4
Harris 17 30.8 12.5 2.4 4.5
Coleman 17 25.3 6.7 3.4 1.4
Petway 17 23.7 7.2 6.6 1.4
Abram 17 26.9 9.3 4.4 2.4
Udoh 17 19.9 5.2 4.5 0.8
Smith 17 20.4 3.9 2.1 2.8
Sims, D. 15 9.9 3.8 1.9 0.4
Shepherd 14 10.4 2.5 1.9 0.5
Price 4 4.0 2.3 1.5 0.3
Baker 14 10.4 3.6 0.6 0.4
Morris 7 5.3 1.0 0.3 0.1
Merritt 2 2.0 0.0 0.0 0.5
DeVries 1 3.0 0.0 1.0 0.0

THIS WEEK'S PAST GAMES
Tuesday's games
No. 6 OHIo STATE 74-Indiana 67
Wednesday's games
MicHIGAN 71-Illinois 61
MINNESOTA 65-Purdue59
Thursday's games
lWoWA 62-No. 24 Michigan State 60
Saturday's games
No. 4 WscoNSIN 68, Minnesota 45
No. 6 Ohio State 62, ILLINoIS 44
PURDUE 64, Penn State 60
Michigan 58, NoRTHwESTERN 46
Sunday's games
INDIANA 73-No. 24 Michigan State 51

A

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