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November 10, 2009 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-11-10

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8 - Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Highly touted freshman
gets first taste of Crisler
in exhibition win vs. WSU

Beilein impressed
by Maize Rage's
strong attendance at
Friday's game
By CHRIS MESZAROS
Daily Sports Writer
Though Michigan fans got
their first glimpse of this season's
basketball team on Friday, most
eyes were focused on one player
- freshman Darius Morris.
After the season tipped off
inside Crisler Arena, the fresh-
man jitters quickly evaporated for
Morris, who is projected to be the
team's starting
point guard. NOTEBOOK
"Before the -- --
tipoff (I felt the jitters)," Morris
said. "But as soon as I got the ball
in my hands, it was cool. It felt just
like in practice or any other kind
of game. Basketball is a simple
sport. People try to make it com-
plicated, but if you can block all
those other thoughts out, you'll
be fine."
While Morris had little impact
on the stat sheet - posting just
four points and three assists - he
excelled on the defensive end.
Morris plays at the top of Mich-
igan coach John Beilein's 1-3-1
zone, where he used his length to
disrupt the opposing offense and
his speed to lead Michigan on the
resulting fast breaks.
"I think because of his length
and how active he is and once he
learns that he is a finisher ... you
want a guy on top that's going
to finish on the break, as well,"

Beilein said. "I've really been
impressed with how quickly he
picks things up. He's long enough
to do that and really quick."
Morris, a Los Angeles native,
was recognized yesterday by Fox-
sports.com columnist Jeff Good-
man in his national "65 things to
watch during the 2009-10 season"
preview.
And one of the keys for Morris
is whether he can quickly pick up
Beilein's offense.
"I thought he did a good job,"
Beilein said. "He's learning the
offense and now hopefully he'll
find the spots and just drive it.
Don't run any plays just drive the
ball when they give it to you. He's
sorting this out. A really high IQ
player, hopefully he'll find the
sweet spot."
STRONG TURNOUT: With
the Maize Rage extended into
the southeast corner of Crisler
Arena this season, the question
remained - how many students
would actually show up for an
exhibition game?
On Friday, students made up the
bulk of the crowd and impressed
Beilein, who remembers some of
the not-so-enthusiastic crowds of
past exhibition games.
"It was tremendous," Beilein
said. "I do remember, I think, the
first exhibition game of going out
and saying, 'I thought this was
Michigan.' There was this small
crowd. It was real neat to see
everyone come out like that."
The official attendance was
9,657, but well over 1,000 were in
the Maize Rage alone.
One reason for the added sup-
port is the stipulation that stu-
dents who attend the most games

will get seating priority for the
Michigan State and Connecticut
games later this season.
Either way, the team looks to
feed off the raucousness of fans.
"Man, that was great," sopho-
more Zack Novak said. "The
Maize Rage was out there today
and I think we really fed off them
at times, and if we can have them
all year, that's like having a sixth
man on the floor."
"As soon as I
got the ball in
my hands, it
was cool."
WARMING UP: With an
upcoming schedule featuring
bottom-dweller teams like Hous-
ton Baptist and Northern Michi-
gan, the merits in favor of holding
exhibition games are question-
able.
But Beilein said these games
are key to get the team in game
shape.
"I really liked the competition
that we got today," Beilein said.
"You can't even simulate that in
practice with that kind of game
speed, especially the start of the
game.
"They hit us with a screen here
and a screen there and our kids
are thinking and trying to sort
everything out. That's why these
exhibition games are terrific for
us to start the year."

O0
SAIDALSALAH/Daily
Freshman quarterback Tate Forcier went a month and four days without throwing a touchdown pass before Saturday's game.
Forcier looks to finish
strong for senior class,

Is.'! FsrgstI
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10am-Opm
Bring this coupon with you and get
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Schedule your portrait online:
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Location: Sophia B. Jones Room, Union

By RUTH LINCOLN
Daily Sports Editor
The Michigan Stadium tunnel is
never short of emotion.
Following a Michigan win, it's
the center of constant commotion,
endless cheers and a likely rendi-
tion of "The Victors." After a Wol-
verine loss, sorrow and frustration
radiate through the ageless tunnel.
Following Michigan's 38-36 loss
to Purdue, Tate Forcier couldn't
escape that emotion.
Encouraging fans shouted his
name like all was well, but Forcier
looked stoically at the ground and
kept walking. On his way to the
Michigan locker room, the fresh-
man quarterback forcibly ripped
off his wristbands, one by one, and
threw all four to the ground.
His frustration was understand-
able. Although he finished 15-of-24
and tossed his firstctouchdown pass
in more than a month, Forcier's
third-quarter fumble on an option
pitch led to a quick 19-yard touch-
down score for the Boilermakers.
During the Wolverines' 4-0
start, any "freshman mistakes"
were masked by Forcier's late,
game-winning touchdown drives
against Notre Dame and Indiana. It
seemed fair, then, to expect Forci-
er to be more mature than his age
would suggest.
But during Michigan's five
straight conference losses, it's been
easy to find faults with the 19-year-
old freshman under center. During
his four-game touchdown-throw-

ing drought, which started in Iowa
on Oct. 10, Forcier completed just
47.3 percent of his passes, fumbled
five times and threw two intercep-
tions.
"That's my fault a little bit -
making the little freshman mis-
takes that you don't want to make,"
Forcier said yesterday. "Turnovers
happen, and you've just got to put
it behind you. Especially these next
two games, you can't have any."
With just two games remaining,
on the road at Wisconsin and at
home against Ohio State, Forcier is
taking it upon himself to make sure
nothingslips through the cracks.
For Michigan to garner the
all-important sixth victory and
become bowl eligible, Forcier
will have to show the resiliency,
strength and accuracy he displayed
in the Wolverines' early-season
wins.
"You can never send your seniors
out empty-handed," Forcier said.
"That's something I don't want to
do. A lot of it's on me and how I play,
how I motivate these guys."
If coming back from an injury
is a motivational factor, Forcier
has done his share this season.
His injuries have piled on quickly
- wrist, shoulder and concussion
- and now include his left knee,
which he twisted Saturday during
the third quarter. Forcier said the
knee injury would require him to
wear a sleeve.
But even as he has battled inju-
ries, Forcier says he has become
more comfortable with the pace of

the game. On Saturday, he looked
more at ease in the pocket and
showed less of the "happy feet" he's
been known for. Yesterday, Forcier
said he has noticed the game has
slowed down forhim since theWol-
verines lost to Illinois on Oct. 31.
"I told him this last week, ... 'I've
got to ask you to perform and act
and be older than what you are,' "
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez
said. "If he's 19 years old, you have
to act and play and behave like a 21,
22-year-old. That's easier said than
done."
In the Wolverines' upcoming
games, many are expecting Forcier
to hold the keys to potential upsets
against Wisconsin or Ohio State.
But according to him, that means
reverting backto his old ways.
"I'm trying to do what I was
doing at the beginning of the sea-
son - getting the athletes the ball,
let them be athletes," Forcier said.
"I did a great job last week, getting
Roy(Roundtree)the ballandlethim
play. It's hard when things aren't
going right. You want to be the guy
to answer that question."
NOTES AND INJURY UPDATES:
The Big Ten announced today the
Nov. 21 Michigan-Ohio State game
will be at noon on ABC. ... Rodri-
guez said yesterdaythatsenior tail-
back Brandon Minor has a bruised
shoulder and continues to battle
his ankle injury. Sophomore slot
receiver Martavious Odoms (knee)
is still day-tp-day, and redshirt
sophomore wide receiver Junior
Hemingway is battling back pain.

After being swept by Miami, how
good is this team?

ast weekend's games
started with the Michigan
student section lookingup
at the top rows of Yost Ice Arena,
chanting at the small Miami con-
tingent in attendance. And after
the Wolverines' subsequent on-ice
play, Michigan will be looking up
to Miami for a
long time. MIKE
A 5-1 loss FLOREK
to Miami on
Saturday com- On ice hockey
pleted the road
sweep for the top-ranked Red-
Hawks, who were 3-43-1 at Yost
all-time coming into the weekend.
But the Wolverines' defeat is more
telling of the young season than
just abad loss.
All four of the Wolverines'
losses have come against currently
ranked opponents. The teams they
have beaten are a combined 9-17-3.,
For an average team, that may
be tolerable. For the fourth-ranked
team in the country - ateam with
the best defensive unit in four
years and a returning Hobey Baker
finalist - it's unacceptable.
If it isn't time for concern yet, a
bad series against No.17 Michigan
State next weekend should turn
the fan base rightfully into crisis
mode.
"We're a pretty good team, but
maybe we're notgood as we think
we are, and maybe we're not as
good as (the media) thinks we are,"
Michigan coach Red Berenson

said. "We'll find that out as the
year goes on, butright now that's a
lowpoint."
There is still time to figure out
how "pretty good" they really are,
but it isn't as early in the season
as you might think. Michigan is
just about a fourth of the way into
the season, and already has lost as
many games against ranked teams
as it did when it went to the Frozen
Four in 2008. Last season, which
culminated ina first-round upset
loss to Air Force, the Wolverines
went 5-6-0 against ranked oppo-
nents.
To get to the Frozen Four,
Michigan has to beat teams they
aren't necessarily supposed to
beat. If the Wolverines can't beat
them in the regular season, how
can they expect to beat them in
the postseason? Being over .500
against ranked teams in 2008 had
to playa role in the confidence the
Wolverines had heading into the
NCAA Tournament. They knew
they could beat the best.
These types of series, especially
against top-ranked teams, can
build that confidence and define
your season. When you get out-
scored 8-2 on the weekend, the
definition of your team isn't what
you want.
Now, Michigan must respond,
something it failed to do during
this weekend series. Once the
RedHawks took the lead in both
games, the Wolverines never ven

threatened to pry the game back
open. Against No. 3 Boston Univer-
sitytheybattled back from a 2-0
deficit but a mental error eventu-
ally doomed them in the end. They
took on now-No. 13 Alaska-Fair-
banks in the season opener, and
they got down early and couldn't
break the Nanooks'trap despite
outshooting them.
"I think agood team, a char-
acter team, is goingto respond,"
senior captain Chris Summers
said. "I think we showed glimpses
of it against BU, but it's a tough
game."
It's also hard to respond when
you don't play the team again.
With Miami out of Michigan's
cluster this year, the earliest the
two have a chance to meet again
will be in early March during the
CCHA Tournament.
"How are you goingto catch a
team that gets six points on you?"
Berenson said. "So there's no way
you're going to catch that team
unless you do better than they
do against the rest of the league.
schedule."
Fourteen more games against
currently ranked teams provide
time for Michigan to performup
to the preseason expectations of
both the team and the Wolverines
themselves.
But if Michigan doesn't start to
beat the good teams soon, it will be
looking up to more teams than just
Miami.

01

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