8 - Tuesday, February 5, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
ILLINOIS 66, MICHIGAN 61
m Once again,'M'
fails to close
Junior Jessica Minnfield hit just one 3-pointer in last night's loss to Illinois. It was Michigan's first home loss of the season.
HOMJL\E, BUT NOT SAF
After hot start,'M'
drops third straight
By ALEX PROSPERI
Daily Sports Writer
Flash back to Jan. 24.
The Michigan women's bas-
ketball team was riding high
at 12-6, tied for second place in
the Big Ten. It had already won
more conference gamesthan last
season. Last Tuesday, they were
even sniffing ESPN's bracketol-
Flash forward to today.
game, succumbing to Illinois,
ZACHARY MEISNER/Daily 66-61, last night. The last trio of
games has been nightmarish for
All three were winnable, with
the biggest margin of defeat just
five. Each game featured similar
problems - the failure to create
turnovers, inability to find shots
ide game, led by and poor execution in crunch
Smith, who had a time.
its. "We're playing really well in
t (to guard her)," spurts right now," sophomore
a Phillips said. center Krista Phillips said.
it was going to "When it comes to the end of the
felt that we did a game, we just lose focus. We're
e's going to score trying to get there, and we're
trying to get that win. We have
Skrba came off to play the last five minutes like
the team in scor- we do the first five minutes of
d straight game, every half."
Against Iowa on Jan. 27,
ast night's con- Michigan was down three with
nes had dropped 30 seconds remaining. Shock-
on the road but ingly, the Wolverines didn't
or the two-game realize the situation and failed
eek. to foul until just one second
is was not in the remained.
gan has another In East Lansingon Jan. 31, the
gainst Penn State Wolverines had an eight-point
lead with nearly seven minutes
at home," Skrba to go. After allowing the Spar-
ve to stay confi- tans to take the lead with a 10-
ack Thursday." 0 run, Michigan senior Janelle
Cooper missed a last-second 3-
pointer that could have tied the
And last night, in a game
that featured 11 ties and 17 lead
changes, the Wolverines failed
to execute under pressure again.
Down 62-61 with 58 seconds
left, Michigan was called for a
shot clock violation. A layup by
Illinois center Jenna Smith, who
had a game-high 16 points and
8 rebounds, put Illinois up by
The Wolverines called a time-
out with 33 seconds left, but
didn't get up a shot for 16 sec-
onds. Two Illinois free throws
later, the game was over.
Failing to finish may have its
After the game, Michigan
coach Kevin Borseth said his
team has trouble beating teams
off the dribble, which has lim-
ited the team's opportunities.
And, as the game nears its end,
the opposing defense tightens
the pressure, making it harder
for Michigan to find open jump-
ers - one reason Michigan
has taken 26 fewer shots than
its opponent in the last three
"We can't beat people off the
dribble," Borseth said. "Can we
get any better at it? We're try-
ing. We work everyday at drib-
ble penetration, trying to get by
The Wolverines have also
struggled to create turnovers.
Michigan forced just nine
against Iowa and just six against
Illinois. Over the past three
games, Michigan has commit-
ted 17 more turnovers than the
"We've been at the bottom,"
Phillips said. "We're fighting to
try and maintain what we got
going on right now. We just have
to get past this three-game los-
By JASON KOHLER
Daily Sports Writer
Last night, Illinois was able to
do what no other Big Ten team has
done this season - beat Michigan
in Crisler Arena.
Entering the contest, the Wol-
verines were 8-0 at home.
The Fighting Illini beat Michi-
gan, 66-61. Last Thursday, they
snapped a four-game losing streak,
upsettingthe Big Ten's only ranked
team, Ohio State, 68-64.
"Obviously we were hoping to
come out with a win and go 9-0 at
home," junior Stephany Skrba said.
"It just sucks."
Winning on the road is an irreg-
ular occurrence for Illinois. Com-
ing into last night's game, the Illini
had won just one conference road
game, and that was against North-
western, a team that has yet to win
a Big Ten game.
In the first half of the game,
Michigan and Illinois played unin-
spired basketball. The Wolverines
(5-6 Big Ten, 12-9 overall) inched
into halftime with a 32-29 lead.
But in the second half, both
teams went back and forth - there
were nine lead changes and seven
ties in the second half.
Whatever Michigan did, Illinois
"We stopped them, and they'd
pull up a jump shot in our face,"
Michigan coach Kevin Borseth
said. "And when we didn't, they
would end up with the offensive
Illinois (5-6, 13-9) outshot the
Wolverines by 11 in the second half.
Michigan couldn't shut down the
Illini, forcing just six turnovers.
"If a team has six turnovers
against you, you ain't beating
them," Borseth said. "Good players
can score. Great players stop good
players from scoring."
By Borseth's reasoning, his team
played well but not great, because
Michigan had its best shooting
night in conference play (51.2 per-
But in the final eight and a half
minutes, the Wolverines made just
one basket - a turn-around jumper
Meanwhile, Michigan blew a
five-point lead, allowing the Illini's
crew of over-six-foot shooters to
heat up from the perimeter.
"We needed to play really well
to beat these people," Borseth said.
"And things didn't bounce our
The Illini made 10 3-pointers,
including a stretch where they
scored from beyond the arc on
three straight possessions. Junior
Lori Bjork connected on four of the
eight 3-point shots she took.
Illinois' outside shooting helped
it establish an ins
game-high 16 poin
"It was difficul
"I knew going in
be a battle, but If
decent job. But sh(
the bench and led
ing for the secon
putting up 14.
Coming into 1
test, the Wolverir
two close games
had high hopes fi
homestand this wi
Losing to Illino
plans. But Michij
chance at home ap
"We play well
said. "We just ha
dent. We'll get it b
Ties show conference's parity
Looking for spark against Ohio State,
Harris calls players-only meeting
By ANDY REID tional weekend against Michigan
Daily Sports Writer State and a marquee matchup with
Top to bottom in the CCHA, any "How do you get ready for this
team can beat any other on any team when you've got Miami next
given night. week?" Berenson said. "You say it
It's a sentiment reiterated time enough, and pretty soon the play-
and time again by Michigan coach ers are believing it. I don't think
Red Berenson, they were as respectful as they
especially when NOTEBOOK should've been."
Michigan upcom- Nowhere was the Wolverines'
ing opponent is statistically lower lack of respect for the Wildcats
on the conference totem pole. more apparent than Friday night's
The nation's top-ranked team, first period. Michigan turned in
Miami (Ohio), was upset by con- an uninspired 20 minutes, falling
ference bottom-dweller. Alaska in behind 1-0 and taking the usu-
December. Notre Dame suffered ally spirited Yost crowd out of the
an embarrassing conference loss game.
when it fell to Ferris State in Octo- Although Michigan fought back
ber. to take a short-lived lead in the
Thisweekend, it was the Wolver- second frame, it never truly gained
ines' turn to underperform against momentum. The Wildcats' rough-
a less-than-stellar conference foe, 'em-up style - 85 combined pen-
tying Northern Michigan, 3-3, in alty minutes were called over two
both games of last weekend's series games - kept the flow of the game
at Yost Ice Arena. choppy, preventing the Wolverines
The Wildcats, the ninth-place from finding an offensive rhythm.
team in the CCHA standings, came "I think we were more disap-
into the weekend having won just pointed with the effort we put
one conference series all season. out," freshman Max Pacioretty
They had nothing to lose. said of Friday's tie. "We came out
On the other hand, Michigan slow, and it really showed that we
had to focus on not looking past weren't prepared to play after a
Northern Michigan - a series hard weekend like last weekend."
sandwiched between an emo- NET GAMES: Junior goaltender
Billy Sauer sat for the third time
this season Saturday. Taking his
place between the pipes was fresh-
man Bryan Hogan, who turned in
his first non-winning performance
of the season. Hogan had wins over
Ohio State and Bowling Green in
Hogan looked solid at times, but
couldn't rotate quick enough on
two Wildcat slapshot goals. In the
second period, Northern Michi-
gan forward Ray Kaunisto took a
slapshot from behind the Michigan
blueline. Hogan appeared to save
it with his leg pad, but a bad angle
allowed the puck to deflect off his
body and into the net.
"He battled," Berenson said.
"That was a tough goal to give up
that early. Both these games were
tough games for our goalies to play
because they didn't see a lot of
DOWN THE STRETCH: With
just eight games remaining in the
regular season, the CCHA Tour-
nament bracket is starting to come
into focus. The Wolverines need
just four points in their final four
weeks to clinch a first-round bye.
Four points is more than pos-
sible with weekend series against
Lake Superior State and Ferris
State still to come.
By DAN FELDMAN
Daily Sports Editor
After losing to Minnesota
Thursday, sophomore center Ekpe
enthusiasm on Michigan at
the court. Ohio State
how the Michi- Matchup:
gan men's bas- Michigan
ketball team 5-16; Ohio
could duplicate State 15-7
that, he didn't When:
have a concrete Tonight
"I don't Where: Value
know," he said. City Arena
"We've just got TV ISPN
to come togeth-
er as a team."
guard Manny Harris, in the past
week, took a step to reach Udoh's
vague goal, calling a players-only
meeting while Michigan coach
John Beilein was on a recruiting
trip. Beilein, who learned about
the meeting from one of his assis-
tants, called it "absolutely ter-
"It's a step in the ownership of
the team that we have been em-
bracing all year long," Beilein
These are dire times for Michi-
gan (1-8 Big Ten, 5-16 overall),
which has lost five straight games
and 10 of its last 11. Effort has been
lacking, andthere are few signs of
improvement from the beginning
of the season.
But it was no surprise to Beilein
that Harris was the player to step
up in an attempt to reverse the
Wolverines' fortunes. Before yes-
terday's practice, Beilein recalled
watching a game at Harris's high
school, Detroit Redford.
Instead of playing, Harris was
coaching a group of seniors, who
weren't on the basketball team,
against the faculty. That was
Beilein's first sign Harris might
be a future locker room leader for
Initially, Harris felt uneasy
about challenging his mostly
older teammates in Ann Arbor
because he felt he was making the
same mistakes as everyone else,
unlike in high school, where he
"What I told myself is that you
can't get into people for mak-
ing mistakes," Harris said. "But
effort, or something like that, you
can get into people for that."
If the Wolverines show more
effort against Ohio State tonight,
it would likely be a morale boost,
but a win seems almost out of the
The Buckeyes (6-3, 15-7) have a
six-game winning streak against
Michigan, the longest of any con-
ference foe over the Wolverines.
Although Michigan leads the
Big Ten in 3-point attempts, its
.316 percentage from beyond the
arc is second worst in the confer-
The Buckeyes are best in the
league in defending the 3-pointer.
Going against that stellar
perimeter defense, the Wolver-
ines will likely have to look inside
for offensive success.
If Michigan has any chance
at the upset, it will need to fol-
low Harris's cue, who frequently
drives to the basket, on the court.
Andy Reid contributed
to this report.
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