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February 02, 2009 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

February 2, 2009 - 3B

iClfgan must step up on the roau From pageE

ifit wants to make tournament

WEST LAFAYETTE -
A Manny Harris exited
the Mackey Arena floor
follow-
ing his ejection
early in the
second half, the
crowd inside
the old, rickety
venue was deaf-
ening.
Boilermark-
er fans seemed RUTH
ready to jump LINCOLN
outoftheir seats
to hold a towel
to Purdue guard Chris Kramer's
bloody nose and, um, "escort" Har-
ris to the locker room.
I thought that might not be all
that bad.
The Wolverines' leading scorer
hadn't had a stellar game in awhile.
And in such a hostile environment,
maybe that could have been a spark
for Michigan.
"I gathered the team that was
there at the time," Michigan coach
John Beilein said. "I just said it was
a great opportunity for the guys
that had been waiting for time to
actually step up."
Maybe junior forward DeShawn
Sims would use his agility in the
post, or redshirt freshman Laval
Lucas-Perry's 3-point shot would
resurrect itself.
Even without Harris, maybe the
Wolverines would play solid team
defense like they did to upset Duke
last December.
Clearly, none of that happened,
and Michigan's then-two-point
lead turned into a 67-49 loss.
There was adversity on the
table, and the Wolverines didn't
respond.
As hundreds of fans stormed the
Crisler Arena floor after Michi-

gan's upset win over Duke on Dec.
6, Michigan looked like it might be
the real deal.
Then came the expectations, the
national rankings and the Big Ten
schedule - things haven't been the
same since.
Since the Duke game, the Wol-
verines haven't beaten anyone they
weren't supposed to, and more
importantly, they're 1-4 in confer-
ence road games. Let's be honest.
No one really expected an upset in
West Lafayette, but a clutch road
victory is a necessity for the team's
NCAA Tournament resum6.
And for this team to make the
Big Dance for the first time since
1998, something needs to change
in opposing gyms.
Of the 34 at-large bids in last
year's Tournament, not a single
one had fewer that two conference
road wins.
The Wolverines don't have to
be perfect in their four final Big
Ten road games, but they can't let
games unravel like Saturday.
Michigan matched the Bolil-
ermakers' intensity until Harris's
ejection. The Wolverines can usu-
ally count on Harris to take control
of a game, but when he was gone,
someone needed to make a play
and it was obvious no one did.
"Winningon the road, especially
in this conference, is pretty tough,"
fifth-year senior guard David Mer-
ritt said. "When you have a chance
to get one, you've got to get it....
(We need) to focus. Every single
person has to be willing to give it,
give it all for 40 minutes. You can't
have mental lapses."
And if the Wolverines are going
to erase their mental lapses, they
need a mental leader.
Harris, Sims and Lucas-Perry
have shown their ability in oppos-

Purdue held Harris to just two
points in the first half, but he
started the second with a quick
three points before being ejected.
With Harris out of the game,
the Wolverines (4-6 Big Ten, 14-8
overall) were forced to play with-
out two of their top four scorers.
Freshman guard Zack Novak rode
the bench, serving a suspension
for elbowing Ohio State's P.J. Hill
in the face in Michigan's 72-54
loss Wednesday.
With flagrant fouls in back-to-
back games, Michigan is receiving
criticism from basketball analysts
like Jay Bilas and Clark Kellogg
for playing dirty.
"Obviously, we can't be elbow-
ing each other in the face," Michi-
gan coach John Beilein said. "(The
foul by Harris) was just an unfor-
tunate accident."
Fifth-year senior guard C.J.
Lee filled Novak's spot in the
starting lineup, and he wasn't the
only Wolverine to see increased
playing time. Every player except
redshirt freshman forward Eric
Puls played significant minutes,
and even Puls clocked in a few
garbage minutes. Senior forward
Jevohn Shepherd filled in for
Harris and led Michigan with 10
points.
The Boilermakers (6-2, 17-4)
dominated the last 18 minutes
of the contest, and the fans that
were held at bay in the first half
went into a frenzy. The crowd hit
a high pitch-when Kramer, blood
HOOSIERS
From page 1B
pin him soit is a little frustrating,
but you just have to keep grind-
ing in the match and try to break
him."
With underclassmen occupy-

covering his face, popped off the
floor and pumped his arms to the
student section. The penalty gave
the Boilermakers what they had
failed to establish all game - the
momentum.
Following Harris's ejection,
Purdue outscored Michigan
40-20.
"There was some slippage in
our defense in the second half,"
Lee said. "To their credit, they
got out in transition and got some
threes and layups. We didn't com-
bat those or make any of our own.
Any time you're not getting stops
or not scoring, the scoreboard is
going to get out of hand."
Michigan shot 32 percent from
the field and was just 2-of-12 from
behind the arc in the second half.
On the other end, Purdue hit 46.2
percent of its shots in the second
frame.
"Obviously, without Harris
and Novak, you take away two
big options," Purdue coach Matt
Painter said. "Especially Harris -
he's such a talented guy, you have
to know where he is at all times.
They don't have the same type of
options."
Michigan was a team basking
in the glory of college basket-
ball a few months ago after wins
over Duke and UCLA. But now,
its NCAA Tournament hopes are
starting to fade.
"It's getting to that break-
ing point where we'll have to do
something," Lee said. "But there's
still time, we still have time right
now. We're not going to waste
time thinking about that and hav-
ing a negative attitude."
ingoseven of the 10 starting spots,
the encouraging opening week-
end is a confidence boost for the
young Wolverines. They will
have to continue growing up pro-
cess as Michigan will be on the
road next weekend in dual meets
against Minnesota and Michigan
State.

SAID ALSALAH/Daily
Redshirt freshmanguard Laval Lucas-Perry has struggled away from Crisler Arena.

ing venues. Combined, they're
averaging just 0.2 points less on
the road than at home in confer-
ence play, but their effort needs to
be timely.
Someone needed to take control
of Saturday's debacle. The Wol-
verines must have a leader on the
road, whether it's Harris, Sims or
someone off the bench.
And what's Beilein's role in
this? His system emphasizes team
offense, but in these situations, he
needs spark. His plays should allow
his star players to shine.

Michigan has Northwestern,
Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota
on its remaining conference road
schedule. Trips to Evanston and
Iowa City looked like easy wins at
the beginning of the season, but
now nothing seems guaranteed.
Every road game needs to be
treated like a must-win. The Wol-
verines needs someone to step up
away from home and can't make
the NCAA Tournament without it.
- Lincoln can be reached
at lincolnr@umich.edu

Pruitt sets school record in shot
put for second time in two weeks

Michigan earns five
wins in Bloomington
By ROGER SAUERHAFT
Daily Sports Writer
Redshirt junior thrower Sean
Pruitt might as well just pour
White-Out all over the Michigan
men's track and field record book.
On Saturday, the second day of
the non-scoring Indiana Relays
in Bloomington, Pruitt won the
weight throw and set a new school
mark for the second time in just
two weeks.
Pruitt's 69.4-foot throw was
nearly three feet longer than his
NCAA provisional performance at
"The Dual" on Jan. 17. Which was
nearly three feet longer than his
previous school record set in Feb-
ruary 2007.
But Pruitt wasn't completely
satisfied with any of the throws.
"I'm getting a lot closer to being
able to finish it properly,". Pruitt
said Saturday. "On that (69.4-foot)
throw, I got in a little late. My left
leg kind of sunk down, so I defi-
nitely sacrificed some distance."
His throw wasn't the only posi-
tive experience of the weekend.
The 15th-ranked Wolverines
competed against several teams,
including Indiana and Notre
Dame, and won five total events.

Two Michigan runners set NCAA
provisional marks Friday night.
Senior Justin Switzer and red-
shirt junior Sean McNamara both
achieved provisional times and per-
sonal bests in the one-mile invita-
tional event.
The Wolverines also received a big
boost over the weekend with the sea-
son debuts of seniors Lex Williams

and Andre Barnes, an All-American.
"(Barnes) still isn't 100 percent,
as far as his fitness goes," head
coach Fred LaPlante said. "He's not
hobbling around the track, so he's
got four weeks to get as good as he
can get and it's really encouraging
for us."
The same can be said for Wil-
liams. After seeing him run a 4:11

mile Saturday, associate head coach
Ron Warhurst expressed hope that
his distance runner could get close
to four minutes flat.
LaPlante said that Michigan's all-
around success, and the experience
of running on a banked track for the
first time this season will help the
Wolverines prepare for the Big Ten
Championships later this month.

I

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May 19-August 14, 2009 617-353-0556
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