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March 09, 2007 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-03-09

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8 - Friday, March 9, 2007

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Low score enough for Cagers at Big Tens

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By DANIEL BROMWICH
Daily Sports Editor
CHICAGO - Michigan and
Minnesota put on an absolutely
stunning, awe-inspiring, record-
breaking
perfor- MINNESOTA 40
mance. MICHIGAN 49
But
neither team is likely to frame this
particular stat sheet, the one that
explains the Wolverines' 49-40
win over the Golden Gophers.
Records of futility were every-
where.
Minnesota's 40-point total is
the lowest ever in a Big Ten Tour-
nament game, while the 49 points
that Michigan managed were the
lowest winning total in Tourna-
ment history.
Simple math dictates that the 89
points the two teams combined for
were therefore the lowest cumula-
tive total ever recorded in the con-
ference tournament.
"I think (the reason for the
offensive struggles is that) it's the
first game with new rims and in
a new gym," senior Dion Harris
said. "It's the first time you have a
chance to play, and you don't really
have a chance to practice and shoot
around on the court."
Harris led the Wolverines with
14 points, but shot just 3-of-10
from the field, with many of his
points coming from the free-throw
line. Minnesota center Spencer
Tollackson scored a game-high 15
points, and he was the lone starter
on either team to convert on more
than 50 percent of his field goal
attempts.
Senior Lester Abram continued
his late-season spiral with one of
his worst games yet. The Michi-
gan captain fouled out late in the
game, finishing 1-of-10 from the
field for just three points in 30
minutes. His best moment came
with almost three minutes gone in
the first half when he converted a
layup while being fouled to open
the scoring for both teams.
But after sinking the ensuing
free throw, Abram and his team-
mates struggled the rest of the
half. They finished the opening
stanza still leading 20-16, but their
20 points were the least that Mich-
igan has ever scored in a half of a
conference tournament game.
The one bright spot for Michi-
gan in the period was the play of

6
6

LEFT: Freshman Ekpe Udoh went 0-for-3 from the field in16 minutes of play. RIGHT: Senior captain Lester Abram fouled out late in the game, but still walked away with a win.

freshman forward DeShawn Sims.
The Detroit native had been a
disappointment throughout the
season, but had his best game
yesterday. He finished with eight
points and seven rebounds in 14
minutes. During one stretch in the
middle of the first half, he scored
five straight points to tie the game
at 12.
Asked about his newfound effec-
tiveness, Sims answered simply.
"Not pressing so much," Sims

said. "For 30-some games in the
season, I pressed a lot. Being a
highly recruited high school play-
er, you come in with the pressure
on, trying to get to the NBA and
hurry up and do things. I think
that was my mentality, hurrying
up and getting out of college."
Sims wasn't pressing, but both
teams were definitely pressed for
points. Michigan coach Tommy
Amaker stressed to his team that
whichever team made a scoring

run in the second half would be in
good position to win the game.
The Wolverines listened, open-
ing the second stanza with a rela-
tive scoring spree, going for 15
points in just five minutes and
opening up a 14-point lead. That
margin was enough to carry Mich-
igan through what ended up being
a pathetic offensive performance.
After the run, the Wolver-
ines made just 2-of-19 shots from
the field, leading to a 24-percent

shooting period. It was Michigan's
worst-ever shooting half in the Big
Ten Tournament, and contributed
to another team-worst for the Big
Ten Tournament (shooting per-
centage for the game: 27 percent).
"A win is a win to me," senior
Courtney Sims said. "I'll take it.
It's Tournament time; we're trying
to win a championship, so I don't
care how we get it. I don't care
if (the score is) 1-0, as long as we
get a win in the Tournament, it's

good."
Michigan faces No. 1 Ohio State
at the United Center at noon today
in the second round of the Big Ten
Tournament.
A win over the Buckeyes might
sway the NCAA Selection Com-
mittee in the Wolverines' favor,
and Courtney Sims and the Wol-
verines are fully aware:
"Winning against the No. 1 team
in the country, I think that would
basically putus in for sure."

Icers to enter playoffs

By IAN ROBINSON
Daily Sports Writer
Now, it matters.
After more than five months of
regular-season games, Michigan
starts the postseason tonight in
the best-of-three
CCHA quarterfi-
nals - two weeks Northern
removed from its M h n
last game. nlC.igafl
For its oppo- Michigan
nent, Northern
Michigan, the When:
games started to Tonight.
matter last week- 7:35 p.m.
end. The Wild- Where: Yost
cats bounced Ice Arena
back from a Fri-
day-night loss to
Ohio State with wins Saturday and
Sunday to advance, while the Wol-
verines had a bye.
The matchup raises the clas-
sic sports debate of who has the
advantage: the well-rested team or
the team with momentum?
For sophomore Travis Turn-
bull, he hopes that this debate is
handled on a case-by-case basis.
In the World Series, the Chester-
field, Mo., native's St. Louis Car-

dinals carried momentum against
a fresh Detroit Tigers squad and
triumphed in the end.
Now, his team is in the opposite
position.
The Wolverines haven't played
since splitting a two-game series
with Ohio State two weeks ago,
but Turnbull believes his team
will be ready.
"We have had a lot of time to
prepare," Turnbull said. "We have
had a lot of good practices. I think
the coaches have done a great job
of preparing us for this weekend."
Before last weekend, North-
ern Michigan hadn't won a game
in Columbus since 1981. On Fri-
day night, it didn't look like that
streak would end anytime soon.
Starting goalie Bill Zaniboni was
pulled after giving up three goals
in 27 minutes, in favor of fresh-
man Brian Stewart, who stepped
between the pipes and allowed
just four goals in the next two
nights to propel the Wildcats past
the Buckeyes.
Northern Michigan coach Walt
Kyle will probably stick with the
hot hand and play Stewart tonight.
But that decision won't affect
Michigan's preparation.

"We don't focus on the other
team's goalie," Michigan coach
Red Berenson said. "You play the
game to get scoring chances. You
play the game to not give up scor-
ing chances."
Playoff hockey can be a com-
pletely different game than regu-
lar-season hockey. The intensity
ratchets up, and the effect of every
mistake is magnified.
Berenson said he worries his
team won't adjust to that intensity
quickly enough.
"They're right up to par in terms
of playoff hockey," Berenson said.
"We've got to get caught up real
quick. The first the shift, the first
period, the first game are going to
be important."
Some of the team's freshmen,
who will get their first taste of
playoff hockey, are going through
extra preparations ahead of
tonight's contest.
"It means that much more," said
freshman Brian Lebler, who is
healthy for the first time since Feb.
12. "That extra skate or that extra
bike ride, you just do it because it's
crunch time."
The winner of this weekend's
series will advance to the semifi-

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0

BENJI DELL/Daily
Sophomore Travis Turnbull and the Wolverines look to come out flying in the CCHA Playoffs after two weeks of rest.

nals at Joe Louis Arena next week-
end. The Wolverines have reached
Detroit every season since 1989,
and Northern Michigan has done
the same for the past five seasons.
Notes: The CCHA announced

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www.umich.edulinfol 764-INFO

its all-conference teams Wednes-
day afternoon. As expected, the
squads were full of Wolverines.
Sophomore defenseman Jack
Johnson, senior defenseman Matt
Hunwick and senior forward T.J.
Hensick garnered All-CCHA First
Team recognition. Junior forward
Kevin Porter made the second
team, while sophomore forward
Andrew Cogliano received honor-
able mention. Hensick is the first
four-time All-CCHA forward....
The CCHA announced the three

finalists for its end-of-season
awards yesterday, and Wolverines
are in the running for all but one
trophy, rookie of the year. Hensick,
the league leader in scoring, is a
finalist for the player of the year
award; Berenson for the coach of
the year; senior forward David
Rohlfs for best defensive forward.
Johnson is up for the conference's
best offensive defensemen. His
defensive partner, Hunwick, is a
candidate for the best defensive
defenseman.

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