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November 08, 2007 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-11-08

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2 C Thursday, November 8, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, November 8, 2007 "7
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Date Opponent Time Date Opponent Time
11/09 Radford 7:00 1/22 Wisconsin 6:00
10/11 Brown Noon 1/27 Michigan State Noon
11/15 Georgetown 7:30 1/31 Minnesota 7:00-
Great Alaska Shootout 2/05 Ohio State 7:00
10/21 Butler 7:30 2/09 Penn State 4:00
11/23 E. Wash or Va. Tech TBA 2/14 Iowa 8:00
11/24 Championship Round TBA 2/17 Ohio State 1:00
11/28 Boston College 7:15 2/21 Minnesota 8:00
12/1 Harvard 5:30 2/23-24 Illinois TBA
12/8 Duke 2:00 2/26 Northwestern 9:00
12/12 Oakland 7:00 3/1 Penn State 8:00
12/15 Central Michigan 2:00 3/8-9 Purdue TBA
12/22 UCLA 2:00 Big Ten Tournamen
1/02 Wisconsin 7:00 3/13 First Round TBA
1/05 Purdue 2:00 3/14 Quarterfinal TBA
1/08 Indiana 7:00 3/15 Semifinal TBA
1/12 Northwestern 5:30 3/16 Championship 3:30
1/16 Illinois 8:00 3/20 NCAA Tournament TBA
1/19 Iowa 7:00 *Homegamesinbold

Pos. I Wt. Ht. Yr.

Hometown

Indiana is slated to lead the way in the Big Ten this season. We
break down each of Michigan's conference opponents.
With so little returning from last season, Beilein must turn to
unheralded returners for production. Jevohn Shepherd, K'len
Morris and Zack Gibson are poised to step up. r
Sophomore DeShawn Sims has had many trials and tribula-
tions in his young life. But his experiences have put him on the
cusp of being Michigan's next great player.
We predict the season, from Michigan to the Big Ten and
beyond. We also try our hand at Michigan fantasy basketball.
" "" "III(IIII """"""""Ii "1111 """'"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""IIII IIIII "IIIII II IIIIII 111 II III lli 101 III11IIIIIIIIII III~II I IIII I III 1111IIII IIII il1111i l IIIIII

1 Jerret Smith G 195 6-3 Jr. Romulus
2 C.J. Lee G 180 6-0 Jr. Pittsford, N.Y.
3 Manny Harris G 170 6-5 Fr. Detroit
5 K'Len Morris W 185 6-4 Fr. Grand Blanc
11 David Merritt G 170 5-10 Sr. West Bloomfield
12 Anthony Wright F 235 6-6 Fr. Sterling, Va.
L 15 Jevohn Shepherd W 210 6-5 Jr. Toronto
20 Adam Block G 180 6-1 Fr. Allentown, Pa.
O 22 Ekpe Udoh F 240 6-10 So. Edmond, Okla.
24 Ron Coleman W 210 6-6 Sr. Romulus
o 30 Eric Puls F 205 6-10 Fr. Alpena
32 Zach Gibson F .220 6-10 So. Grand Blanc

Senior leadership'
The dynamics of last year's basketball team made matters
worse for Sims, who was already battlingthe emotional bur-
den of his younger brother's death.
With a senior-laden squad, Sims was already fighting an
uphill battle for playing time. Receiving a cold shoulder from
the upperclassmen didn't help.
On Dec. 28 against Army, former Michigan coach Tommy
Amaker benched his starting five in favor of Sims, fellow
freshmen Ekpe Udoh and Reed Baker and then-sophomores
Jevohn Shephard and Jerret Smith. Once he checked the
starters back into the game, Sims says the upperclassman
didn't even acknowledge the younger players.
The tension between the new and old players was made
worse by Amaker's unwillingness to give less-experienced
players more time on the court. Sims says he sat angrily on
the bench, wondering why the coach wouldn't play him and
his younger teammates more often.
"(The upperclassmen) didn't really want to play and our
coach felt that he had to play them anyway," Sims said. "Even
though we were young, we were getting mad on the sideline
(thinking) 'Put us back in.' "
He wanted to win. More important, he wanted to win
immediately.
With Sims playing sparingly, the Wolverines suffered
through another mediocre season, finishing with another
National Invitational Tournament berth.
But the year didn't end on a dim note for Sims. While many
of his older and experienced teammates mailed it in follow-
ing the final regular-season game, Sims improved his play.
In his final four games, he averaged seven points and four
rebounds, up from his season averages of three and two,
respectively.
"He probably didn't have the kind of freshman year he
wanted on the court," Canada said. "But character-wise and
as far as mental fortitude, it's one of those things that God
put a test in front of him, and he did a pretty good job dealing
with it."
Stepping up
Sims's ability to push through his freshman season can be
understood through his past.
"Peedi," as his friends and family call him, grew up on
Detroit's east side.
"When I needed him to do something it was never, 'Why
Ma?' like my other kids did," Pruitt said. "It wasn't a problem
with him. I asked him to do something, and he'd do it with
no problems."
That quick maturation stems partly from his youth. When
Sims was just t1 years old, his father was arrested and impris-
oned on drug charges.
As the eldest of three brothers (he also has an older sister),
Sims stepped up to be the man of the house. His quiet tem-
perament and humble demeanor made him the perfect fathe-
figure for his siblings.
"He really looked out for them," Pruitt said. "(He) made
sure they did the right things and everything when I wasn't
around."
But Sims's maturity was evident even before his father's
arrest. By the third grade, he already knew he didn't want to
continue going to the schools in his neighborhood. It became
a personal mission to separate himself from bad influences.
Yet, as far away as he could get from the neighborhood he
grew up in, Sims has never been too far away from home. He
was always willingto sacrifice for his family.
Once, when Sims was in junior high, his mother had to
work the same day he had a tournament game. There wasn't
much of a choice for the junior high student. As Pruitt told
him that day, "The bills have to be paid so I need you to stay
home and watch your little brothers."
But Sims didn't complain. He accepted his responsibility,
"with a smile."
As he grew older, basketball became Sims's life. But his

family was and continues to be the blood that keeps him
going.
Grand finale
Sims worked hard to become the player he was during his
senior season in high school, one recruited by both Michigan
and Michigan State.
"He had that internal drive and developed some fortitude
about himself," Canada said. "He learned to intrinsically push
himselfratherthanhave external forces, whether itbe coach,
family or friends pushing him.-He could push himself."
That drive became so intense, Sims became indifferent to
the competition he faced in his high school league.
Why dominate smaller players, when everyone else expect-
ed him to do it, he wondered.
Sims wanted to measure up against the top competition.
He wanted to play against the best.
So according to Sims, high school games weren't about
dominating the competition. But his final game was much
different.
In the Class A State Regional semifinals, Sims's Pershing
High School was squaring off against Redford (Detroit) High
School.
Redford had beaten Sims's squad two of the last three
games the two played, including a 65-47 win in the PSL
championship.
"I just couldn't let it happen again and I figured that if I
could do everything in my power to prevent it, I was goingto
do (it)," Sims said.
With Pershing trailing by 10 points and fewer than two
minutes remaining, Sims led a comeback that tied the game
and prolonged his high school career.
The contest went into double overtime.
Pershing lost 73-65.
Sims had 35 points.
"He wasn't complaining. He wasn't crying or asking for
help from anyone else," Canada said. "He just took it upon
himself. He put the team on his back."
It wasn't Sims's last stand that convinced Amaker to
recruit him (Sims's had already signed a National Letter of
Intent on Nov. 5, 2005), but it was a moment that indicated
a bright future for Michigan basketball's top recruit in the
class of 2010.
The Michigan basketball team had gone through its sev-
enth straight NCAA Tournament-less season; its fifth straight
under the direction of Amaker.
But there was reason to be excited about Sims.
He was third in Michigan's Mr. Basketball voting.
He averaged a double-double during his senior year of high
school.
And even if the fans didn't know it, those who recruited
him were happy to have a great character player.
"He's a guy that the guys really like and they really take to
him," said assistant coach Mike Jackson, who recruited Sims.
"He has a personality where people love to be around him
and those are obviously the kind of teammate that guys want
to have when they're playing college basketball."
A new era
Soon after the players came back from their summer vaca-
tions, Sims and his teammates had just completed new Mich-
igan coach John Beilein's track workout at Ferry Field. Sims
says that following the entire set, he thought to himself the
workouts were going to be easy. He didn't know Beilein was
going to make the players do everything again that day.
"I saw the gate going out of the track, and I was just con-
templating on running home," Sims joked. "ButI didn't want
to deal with those consequences."
While Beilein's first workout was a shock, each successive
one, coupled with the practices and the film work, are help
tog.
At one time, he expected to be a banger in the paint. Not

the 6-foot-8 Sims's new role on the team will require him
to play more out on the wings - in addition to crashing the
boards and posting up on the blocks.
Jackson said this new role requires Sims to come off and
read screens, shoot 3-pointers and guard the other team's
perimeter guys. Senior Ron Coleman sounded excited about
the kind of player Sims will become.
"That's great for his game," Coleman said. "That comple-
ments his game,because with him cominginnow on the wing,
he can play inside-out. He's going to be a versatile player."
Both coaches and teammates agree Sims is picking up
Beilein's new offensive system the quickest. Sims himself
said he loves learning about the gae and adding to what he
already knows is making him a much better player.
According to Beilein, Sims still has a long way to go, but
he believes it will be "pretty sight" once he reaches his full
potential.
Jackson agreed: "I think he can be as good a player as there
is in our league."
If his performance against Ferris State is any indication of
what is to come, teammates, coaches and players alike have a
lot to look forward to.
Sims was second in scoring with 14 points and collected
two rebounds. He finished 3-for-6 from beyond the arc.
"He did a great job coming out and just attacking; going to
the rim and shooting his outside shot and just putting it all
together," Coleman said.
Which brings his story back to the scene unfolding at
Crisler Arena last Thursday evening. Sims has already taken
his shot and the ball sails toward the net. The Michigan bas-
ketball team's season had just tipped off and Sims was at the
forefront, taking the first salvo of what fans hope is a barrage
of good things to come.
He makes the basket.

-A

C
h

DeShawn Sims

F

225 6-8 So.

Detroit
Grand Rapids

S:170 5-1i Fr.

Kelvin Grady

G

170 15-11 1Fr.

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