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December 10, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-12-10

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, December 10, 2009 - 5A

SALT IN THE WOUND

Despite Harris's 25
points, Michigan
can't keep up in
68-52 loss at Utah
By NICOLE AUERBACH
Daily Sports Editor
SALT LAKE CITY - It couldn't
have been clearer last night. Or
in any of the Michigan basketball
team's losses this season, for that
matter.
The Wolverines need someone
not named Manny Harris to step
up.
Harris led the team in points
(25), rebounds (six) and steals
(four). He hit shots from beyond
the arc, an area that Michigan has
struggled with most this season.
And he hardly saw the bench.
But his heroics weren't enough.
The Wolverines (4-4) suffered a
very frustrating 68-52 defeat to
Utah (5-4) at the Huntsman Cen-
ter.
"Manny's played so many min- rPJPHOTO
utes, he needs a rest," Michigan Sophomore JaceTavita and the Utes dowsed Mchigan lost nitht in Salt Lake City.
coach John Beilein said. "We're In Michigan's four losses, just the Wolverines' loss to Alabama on
looking for something else off one player besides Harris has post- Nov. 29.
the bench, (something other than ed more than 12 points. That was Is 13 points from one of his
what) we've been getting." senior forward DeShawn Sims, in teammates too much to ask? It
Novak's absence leaves
too large a void for Blue

apparently was, especially on
a night where all of Michigan's
weaknesses were exposed.
Rebounding was the most glar-
ing. Utah, thanks in large part to
the play of massive 7-foot-3 center
David Foster, owned the boards.
The Utes outrebounded the Wol-
verines 41-25, but perhaps most
importantly, they collected 10
offensive rebounds in the first half
alone. Utah capitalized on its sec-
ond - and in many cases, third or
fourth - chances to build an eight-
point lead at the half.
The Utes also exploited another
Michiganweakness, its size, rather
easily. The Wolverines have played
a small lineup for much of the sea-
son, but due to the illness of soph-
omore guard Zack Novak and the
size of the Utes' frontcourt, they
were forced to go big last night.
Novak missed the game with a
case of gastrointestinal flu. Senior
forward DeShawn Sims, who fin-
ished the game with 10 points,
didn't talk to the media after the
game because he said he didn't
feel well. Beilein said he was con-
cerned Sims may have the same ill-
ness as Novak.
With Novak ill, Michigan devi-

senior forward Zack Gibson.
"In the first half, when we
played both big guys together,
it did not work very well," Beil-
ein said. "We didn't know Zack
(Novak) wasn't going to play until
(Tuesday) night. We made a few
adjustments to playing big going
into this game, but we were really
out of sync with our defense."
And that defense - both inte-
rior and along the perimeter -
couldn't keep up with the dynamic
Utah offense.
The Utes penetrated the paint
at will, and when they felt a little
resistance, they passed the ball
out to the 3-point line and a Utah
guard launched a three. Many
times, that shot would fall - and
each time, it felt like a dagger for
the Wolverines.
Michigan's 3-point attempts, on
the other hand, clanged off the rim
for most of the night.
Excluding Harris' 3-of-5 night
from beyond the arc, the rest of
the team shot a miserable 4-of-17
(23.5%). That, coupled with some
bobbled passes and lethargic play,
provoked Beilein to criticize his
guards' performance.

"Right now, the guard play is
not real good, and we just keep
working at it, just keep working
at it," he said. "It's not the biggest
evil right now. There (are) a lot of
issues right now we need to get
better at."
"We've got a lot
of the season left
and we just got
to pick it Up."
And that's precisely what last
night's loss clearly explained.
Michigan has struggled defen-
sively, on the boards and with its
shooting. But until last night, all of
those struggles hadn't coincided
so dramatically.
"It's frustrating, but the bad
thing is we're 4-4, and the good
thing is we've got a lot of the sea-
son left and wejust got to pick itup
now," Harris said.

I

ated trom the starting lineup it had
used through its first seven games,
and Beilein started both Sims and S U 2

By NICOLE AUERBACH
Daily Sports Editor
SALT LAKE CITY - Last night,
there was a glaring, gaping hole in
the Michigan basketball team.
Its heart was missing.
Or rather, sophomore guard Zack
Novak was missing.
He hasn't been the go-to guy in
the Wolverines' offense, or even the
key to the their 1-3-1 zone defense.
But when Michigan needs someone
to dive across the floor for a loose
ball or bleed for the team, he's the
guy.
Two nights ago, Novak came
down with gastrointestinal flu. He
felt fine until the Wolverines' prac-
tice Tuesday night in Salt Lake City.
There, he began feelingill and start-
ed to vomit.
Michigan coach John Beilein
said that Novak had trouble "keep-
ing anything down" until last night.
The sophomore didn't leave the
team's hotel to come to the game
against Utah.
"We miss him a lot, we absolutely
miss him a lot," Beilein said after
Michigan's 68-52 loss. "That is one
guy we can always depend on. He's
always going to block his man out.
He's always going to hustle. He's
always going to do some pretty good
things."
With Novak out of the lineup,
players like senior forward Zack

Gibson, sophomore guard Stu Doug-
lass and freshman Eso Akunne saw
increased playing time.
Gibson started in Novak's
place, giving Michigan a chance
to showcase a big lineup with Gib-
son and senior forward DeShawn
Sims simultaneously on the court.
According to Beilein and evidenced
by Utah's eight-point halftime lead,
the strategy didn't work.
Beilein also put Douglass and
Akunne on the court in an attempt
to get the Wolverines' guard play
to click. Douglass saw his time
increase to 27 minutes, and Akunne
17. Though that additional time on
court didn't translate to points -
Douglass led the pair with just five
- it still helped Michigan gain one
thing it can't in practice: experi-
ence.
"Our guards are just so young,
(and) we're playing very young,"
Beilein said. "We just got to contin-
ue to get more experience and keep
teaching them."
That word "young" came up
multiple times last night, and it
was always with the same message,
With a young team, the cure is usu-
ally in upperclassman leadership.
But on this team, Novak, a second-
year player, is expected to be one
of the team's on- and off-the-court
leaders this season.
"We missed him a lot - just his
hard work, aggressiveness, his

offense, everything," junior guard
Manny Harris said. "No excuses.
Our team should have still found a
way to pull out the win."
Harris is another player Michi-
gan has looked to for guidance, and
the junior successfully led by exam-
ple last night by scoring 25 points.
The next steps, though, are tougher.
He needs to become a more vocal
leader, and then it's time to get the
team on the same page mentally.
"It's not good right now," Harris
said. "We've got a find a way to get
everyone's confidence back up, get
everybody mentally into it. It's not
good right now, but I know it'll get
there."
NOTES: In the waning minutes
and with the game's outcome all but
decided, the Utah student section
began chanting, "Just like football."
For Michigan fans, it's a painful
reference to last fall's football game,
in which Utah beat Michigan 25-23
in Ann Arbor. That was the first
shock of the Rich Rodriguez era,
and the win jumpstarted the Utes'
undefeated season. Their 2008 cam-
paign ended with a Sugar Bowl win
over Alabama.
Accordingto Utah's athletic web-
site, the Utes received $800,000 to
play in the football contest, and the
deal included an agreement for' a
home-and-home basketball series.
Utah will come to Crisler Arena
next season to complete the deal.

Phillips stepping up for Wolverines

By AMY SCARANO
Daily Sports Writer
Krista Phillips has found her
groove - and it's no surprise that,
as the tallest player on the team,
she has built that momentum
smack in the middle of the paint.
Despite Iowa's physicality and
tall lineup (six players above six
feet tall), the senior scored 15
points, the majority in the paint,
and was the Michigan women's
basketball team's top scorer in the
its first Big Ten test of the season.
Phillips has now scored in dou-
ble digits in Michigan's last three
games and is almost doubling her
point-per-game average from last
year. She is emerging as a consis-
tent weapon for the Wolverines
- a much-needed one after last
season's offensive woes.
After an injury early last season,
Phillips averaged just six points
per game. She continually strug-
gles with her footwork, and while
it is not yet perfect, she has figured
out a way to get around that.
"She understands what we are
trying to do, she totally gets that
picture," Michigan coach Kevin
Borseth said. "The footwork is the
part she is probably challenged
most with and that's the area we're
really trying to deal with."
While the Wolverines (1-0 Big
Ten, 6-2 overall) haven't shot well
frombehind the arctheyhave made
a habit of feeding the ball to Phillips
under the basket, and the 6-foot-6
center is producing.
But it will become much more

Senior Krista Phillips scored 15 points in an upset of Iowa last Saturday.

difficult for Phillips to camp out
down low as the Wolverines get
into conference play. She will need
to adjust to the bigger players and
a more physical style of play oth-
erwise, opponents will push her
out from the post, as New Mexico
State did in its win over Michigan
two weeks ago.
That strategy eliminated her
chances to score in the game's
waning moments.
"When she plays against those
big Big Ten kids, they are going to
move her four feet off that lane,"
Borseth said. "She's going to have
to get craftier or we're going to have
to get craftier in how we use her,
because scoring in that paint is very
important."
Another advantage to Phillips'
size is that it attracts attention.

which opens up the perimeter for
her teammates. In three of her four
highest-scoring games in the paint,
her teammates took advantage of
the open shots an hit 50 percent or
better.
"They might double her, or even
just pulling her defender closer
to her helps us," freshman guard
Jenny Ryan said. "So if we get
the ball moving, it opens it up so
much."
Staying in her lane will be an
ongoing battle as the season pro-
gresses, but Phillips looked prom-
ising in Sunday's win over the
HIawkeyes (0-1, 5-4).
.Now she just needs to stand
her ground in tomorrow's game
against Boston College (5-3) if
the Wolverines hope to snap the
Eagles' five-game winning streak.

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