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March 07, 2008 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-03-07

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8 - Friday, March 7, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

BIG TEN TOURNAMENT 2008
Fel lie1rst
tL. I ke S itme

Last tourney win
came in 2004

Energy at halftime
makes the differ-

A4

By CHRIS MESZAROS
Daily Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS - When
you haven't won a Big Ten Tour-
nament game in four years, it's
easy to get a little nervous.
Michigan coach Kevin Bors-
eth, in his first year as coach
of the Wolverines, felt so anx-
ious before yesterday's game
against Penn State he couldn't
even eat.
"You just get that feeling in
that belly that you don't know
exactly how you're going to do,"
Borseth said.
Though the Wolverines strug-
gled early, Borseth's anticipation
paid off late when Michigan ral-
lied with a 17-0 second-half run
to defeat the Nittany Lions, 64-
54, in the first round of the Big
Ten Tournament.
But Michigan didn't get its
fuel from the usual sources.
Freshman Veronica Hicks,
sophomore Stephany Skrba and
junior Ashley Jones all came
off the bench after halftime
to ignite a stagnant Michigan
offense.
With the Wolverines (10-9
Big Ten, 17-12 overall) trailing
43-37, senior Krista Clement
cut the lead to four with an easy
layup. It didn't seem like much,
with both teams trading baskets
at the time.
But then the reserves stepped
up their defensive intensity. The
Wolverines had two consecutive
stops to go along with three free
throws on the next two posses-
sions.
Then Hicks took matters into
her own hands, blocking a Penn
State layup and making her
own layup in transition to give
Michigan a lead it would never
relinquish.
"They gave us some good,
fresh sets of legs, they energized
us and got us back in the game,"
Borseth said.
From there, the starters
returned to the court, ignited
by the spark from the bench.
Junior Carly Benson scored
six of her 15 points during the
run and senior Janelle Cooper

scored four.
"In the second half we did a
really good job of coming back
when things weren't going our
way," Benson said.
Foul trouble in the first half
kept sophomore Krista Phillips
on the bench and allowed Penn
State to dominate the offen-
sive glass with seven rebounds.
When Phillips returned in the
second half, the Nittany Lions
(4-14, 13-18) were held to three
offensive rebounds.
"After halftime we were
more cognizant of the fact that
we gave up a lot of offensive
rebounds," Phillips said. "We
talked about it and we made the
adjustment."
Phillips notched her fourth
career double-double with her
team-leading 15 points and 10
rebounds.
The middle of the game
proved to be a test for Michi-
gan.
After taking a five-point lead
midway through the first half,
the Wolverines limped through
the remainder of the first and
the start of the second before
making the late run. Penn State's
explosive transition offense and
costly Wolverine turnovers set
the team back before the bench
responded.
Yesterday's win was Michi-
gan's first in the Big Ten Tour-
nament since it beat Illinois in
2004. More importantly, it was
the first win in the tournament
for any player on the Michigan
roster.
"We want the kids to do well,"
Borseth said. "They've worked
so doggone hard, they really
have ... they want it to be a spe-
cial year."
Michigan will play second-
seeded Iowa tomorrow at 11:30
a.m. - a challenge, given the
depth of Iowa's roster. The
Hawkeyes have three players
that average more than 10 points
per game.
But after the game, when
Borseth was no longer too ner-
vous to eat, he was just glad his
postgame pulled pork sandwich
came with a win.

By ALEX PROSPERI Jones connected on three of
Daily Sports Writer four shots in the first half and
ended the stanza with eight
INDIANAPOLIS - Michi- points. More importantly, her
gan went into the locker room 10 minutes filled the void left
after 20 minutes trailing Penn by sophomore Krista Phillips,
State 31-28. Many times during who was stuck on the bench
the first half, the team failed for the final 11 minutes of the
to rotate or didn't hustle back half after picking up two fouls.
on defense. To his surprise, Skrba harassed the Nittany
though, Borseth didn't need to Lions, especially in the post,
tell his team that. and also recorded a steal and
"I came into the locker room four rebounds.
at halftime and one of them But Hicks was the spark after
is diagramming things on the halftime.
board," Borseth said. "I feel Soon after entering the game
bad when I walk into the locker in the second half, the freshman
room at halftime and there's no blocked a jump shot from Penn
chatter and I feel good when State's Brianne O'Rourke. Then
there is chatter. They're trying she found herself open after a
to figure things out on their own post screen and scored on an
because they have to be able to easy layup toput the Wolverines
do that on the floor." up for good with 11 minutes left
And given what happened of the half.
when the team took the court Since the start of the year,
again, the diagramming Michigan coach Kevin Borseth
worked. has stressed the importance of
Penn State went from shoot- the entire team - not just the
ing 34 percent in the first half starting five. Yesterday it was
to just 29 percent in the sec- the off-the-bench trio of Hicks,
ond. The Wolverines also out- Jones and Skrba that helped
rebounded the Nittany Lions by Michigan overcome a six-point
eight. deficit and start a 17-0 run to put
"Over the course of time you'll the game out of reach.
be surprised if you'll give the "We were down at the time
players some latitude to make and they made some things hap-
some decisions on their own," pen," Borseth said. "They just
Borseth said. "Because they do gave us a good, fresh set of legs.
ultimately on the floor, and as They energized us and got us
a result, they've got to accept back into the game. That energy
some responsibility for it." really helped us."
When asked who drew the NOTES: This year's team is
diagrams that made the differ- the first to reach 17 wins since
ence, Borseth smiled. the 2001-02 Michigan squad
"(Senior) Krista Clement," finished 17-13. ... The Wolver-
he said "Why not? She's a true ines often struggled to hold
leader." onto the ball, box out and main-
BENEFICIAL BENCH: On tain late leads this season. But
paper, Michigan's bench wasn't they tied their season-low of
the key to its 64-54 victory over 12 turnovers, outrebounded
Penn State in the first round of Penn State by five and held
the Big Ten Tournament yester- onto a 11-point second-half lead
day. against the Nittany Lions. ... If
But to any onlooker, the bench Michigan wants to advance to
made the difference in the Wol- the semifinals for the first time
verines' first postseason win since 2001, it will have to defeat
since 2004. second-seeded Iowa at 11:30
Juniors Stephany Skrba and a.m. Michigan beat the Hawk-
Ashley Jones, along with fresh- eyes at home Dec. 30, 63-46,
man Veronica Hicks, played a and lost in Iowa City Jan. 27,
crucial role in Thursday's game. 66-61.

Sophomore Krista Phillips goes up for a shot in Michigan's Big Ten Tournament win over
PennS State yesterday. It was Michigan's first win since 2004, the season before Michigan's
current class of seniors arrived.

MEN'S BASKETBALL ,.
Youth won't be excuse in
rematch against Purdue

What's next for Blue?

By MARK GIANNOTTO
Daily Sports Editor
Twenty-nine games into one of the worst sea-
sons in program history, one would think the
Michigan men's basketball team had a better grasp
of itself by now.
Anybody who has watched
the Wolverines over the course Purdue at
of the season knows the team Michigan
relies entirelytoo muchon fresh-
man Manny Harris, doesn't have Patchu2-7
enough playmakers or shooters Michigan 9-20
and hasn't played with enough When:Sun
intensity on the defensive end. Wayn: P.n.
And yet, when asked to day 4 P.M.
explainlastSaturday's 69-61 loss Where:
at Penn State, redshirt freshman Crisler Arena
Anthony Wright didn't mention TV/Radio:
any of those things. Instead the CBS
Sterling, Va., native went with
the same tired refrain of youth and inexperience.
"We are a young team," Wright said. "We got
stuck with a hard schedule to start off with, and
we just never got to learn certain things."
But how can Wright and his teammates say that
when the Wolverines step on the floor for their
final regular-season game of the year with No. 15
Purdue Sunday?
The Boilermakers' top five scorers are all either
freshmen or sophomores. The same goes for Mich-
igan, so there will be plenty of youth and inexperi-
ence to go around.
And while Purdue (14-3 Big Ten, 23-7 overall)
went through some growing pains early in the
year - losing games against Missouri, Wofford
and Iowa State - it has rebounded to put itself in
position for a Big Ten regular-season title and an
NCAA Tournament berth.
What makes Purdue more impressive is its lack
of a true star player. No one on the team averages

more than 12.2 points per game.
Even with a loss to Ohio State Tuesday night,
the Boilermakers have won 16 of their last 19
games and have proven youth and inexperience
don't matter much if you play great defense and
control the tempo of games.
The same cannot be said for Michigan (9-20, 5-
12). The team has taken a step back since winning
four of five games from Feb. 9-23. In the last week,
the Wolverines have dropped games to lowly
Northwestern and Penn State.
Part of the problem is the lack of contributions
from anyone not named Manny Harris. Sopho-
more DeShawn Sims has struggled mightily,
shooting an atrocious 10-for-49 in his last four out-
ings, and the team's defense has routinely allowed
opponents to have record-setting nights. Against
the Nittany Lions, Michigan gave up 12 3-pointers,
including seven from freshman Talor Battle.
"It's not because the defense is hard," Harris
said after scoring a career-high 29 points in the
defeat. "It's bad communication on our part."
But Purdue coach Matt Painter doesn't care
much about that considering his Boilermakers
are still fighting for higher seeds in the Big Ten
and NCAA Tournaments. A win over Michigan,
coupled with a Wisconsin loss to Northwestern
on Saturday, would give Purdue a share of the Big
Ten Title.
"I think (Michigan) is a dangerous team,"
Painter said. "We're goingto prepare for them like
it's the Super Bowl or the World Series."
The last time these two teams met, the Wolver-
ines nearly upset the Boilermakers in West Lafay-
ette, losing 65-58. In that contest, Michigan's
youth got the best of it and the team got off to an
awful start in front of a raucous Mackey Arena
crowd.
More than two months later, the Wolverines
have a golden opportunity to finally show their
growth and end a season to forget on a high note.

ByANDYREID
Daily Sports Writer
Goinginto the postseason, the Michigan hockey teamis
just an innocent bystander.
Well, at least for one week.
The Wolverines head into the CCHA Tournament with
a first-round bye after clinching their first conference reg-
ular-season championship since 2005. And the extra time
off couldn't have come at a better time.
With senior alternate captain Chad Kolarik still rehab-
bing a hamstring injury, a need for a defensive reexamina-
tion and various other kinks to work out, the Wolverines
desperately needed a free week to prepare for tournament
play.
The week off will give Michigan a chance to check out
what teams it might see in the quarterfinal round. So, as
the Wolverines break down their p6tpntial second-round
opponents, so will we.
No.8 seed Nebraska-Omaha (11-13-4 CCHA, 15-16-4
overall)
The CCHA Tournament reseeds after each round, so
the Mavericks are the highest seed Michigan can possibly
face in the next round, and this team could definitely give
the Wolverines problems.
Nebraska-Omahais an opportunistic team that has con-
verted 25 percent of its power play chances this season. If
the Mavericks watch the tape of Michigan's split weekend
with Ferris State, they could exploit the deficiencies in the
Wolverine penalty kill. The Bulldogs, who score far less
frequently than Nebraska-Omaha with the man-advan-
tage, used crisp passing and quick puck movement to notch
five power-play goals in two games.
The only way the Mavericks will square off with Michi-
gan is if the home team wins every first-round series.
No. 9 seed Alaska (8-16-4, 8-19-5)
Despite the usual adjustment period that comes with a
new coach and lengthy trips all year, the Nanooks come
into this year's CCHA Tournament two seeds higher than
last year.

4

The Michigan hockey team is undefeated against Nebraska-
Omaha (top) and Alaska (bottom) this season.
Alaska must be pleased with a No. 9 seed after its dismal
start to the season. Nanook coach Doc DelCastillo had to
wait nine games to record his first win, with tough losses to
rival Alaska-Anchorage, Michigan and Michigan State. But
once the schedule lightened up a bit, the Nanooks gelled.
While the majority of Alaska's wins have come against
conference bottom-dwellers Ohio State and Western
Michigan, it has upset some middle-of-the-pack teams like
Ferris State and Northern Michigan. If Nebraska-Omaha
is too complacent going into its first-round matchup with
the Nanooks, Alaska could be the team moving on to the
quarterfinals.

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