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December 11, 2009 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-12-11

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8 - Friday, December 11, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

'M' has serious problems to fix Icers need a'W'

By GJON.JUNCAJ
Daily Sports Writer
It has been easy to trace the deteri-
oration in John Beilein's outlook over
the past three weeks.
He said the Michigan basketball
team's loss to Marquette on Nov. 27
was a wakeup call. He seemed to feel
the last-second defeat to Alabama as
unfortunate luck. But after the Wol-
verines were thrashed by Boston Col-
lege's flex-motion offense last week,
Beilein and histeam seemed discour-
aged and confused why they had not
showed signs of improvement.
Now with Wednesday's 68-52 loss
at Utah, the Wolverines' coaching
staff has to grapple with a question
that seems preposterous to ask just
eight games into the season:
Is this a talented (but flawed)team
in a slump, or just a bad team alto-
gether?
The Wolverines have repeatedly
said they must approach this season
with the same "hunter's mentality"
they adopted after upset victories
against UCLA and Duke last season
thrust them onto the national scene.
But even with two NBA-caliber play-
ers injunior Manny Harris and senior
DeShawn Sims, it's become brutally

obvious that Michigan still has no
consistent third weapon on offense.
The struggles of sophomore Stu
Douglass (whose shootinghas dipped
from 37 percent last year to 24 per-
cent this season) is well-documented,
while sophomore Zack Novak and
redshirt sophomore Laval Lucas-
Perry have yet to show significant
improvement fromlast winter. Mean-
while, freshmen guards Darius Mor-
ris and Matt Vogrich have attempted
just a combined seven shots per game
as they gradually adjust to Division I
basketball.
Although the schedule has been
tough - with the Old Spice Classic
in Orlando on Thanksgiving and the
trip to Utah this week - Michigan
still shouldn't have done so poorly.
None of the Wolverines' four losses
have come against ranked competi-
tion, and Michigan still must travel
to top-ranked Kansas and face
No. 14 Connecticut in the next six
weeks.
What's most discouraging is how
handily the Wolverines seem to have
been beaten this fall.
Opponents are shooting a whop-
ping 52.4 percent inside the arc
against Michigan, thanks to con-
sistent guard penetration and big-
ger frontcourts that can easily grab

offensive rebounds andscoregarbage
buckets. The Wolverines are also
dead last in the Big Ten in rebound-
ing margin, at -5.1. Northwestern is
next highestwith -1.7.
Although Beilein will likely keep
his four-guard lineup - especially
after Sims and fifth-year senior cen-
ter Zach Gibson combined for just
4-of-14 shooting and six rebounds
Wednesday -he appears to be hoping
the perimeter shooting deficiencies
even out over the next month before
conference play begins.
"Our guards are just so young,"
Beilein said Wednesday. "We just got
to continue to get more experience
and keep teaching them.
"What do you do? We just got to
continue to play people and see who
needs to improve the most. Right
now, the guard play is not real good,
and we just keep working at it. It's not
the biggest evil right now. There's a
lot of issues right now we need to get
better at."
Michigan has an elite dribble-
drive slasher in Harris, one of the,
more skilled post players in the con-
ference in Sims, and players who
all have well-earned reputations as
sharpshooters. Still, that has resulted
in an offense that is just eighth in the
Big Ten in scoring (70.6 points per

game) and last in field goal percent-
age (41.3) and three-point shooting
percentage (29.3).
Beilein is right to encourage his
perimeter shooters to fire their way
out of their slump. But until that
happens, defenses will have no issue
clogging the paint to try to take away
Sims and discourage dribble pen-
etration. The Wolverines also aren't
doing a very good job off the ball -
either the team has no one who can
set hard picks to free up the guards
off curls for open looks, or the back-
court players aren't moving with
enough discipline. Either way, with
the Wolverines cold from the perim-
eter, theyare not difficult to defend.
This is a group that, at its current
level of play, seems destined for the
National Invitational Tournament
right now. Considering the team
narrowly made last season's NCAA
Tournament with 12 regular-season
losses, four defeats before the win-
ter break gives the team virtually no
margin for error in a conference that
features four top-20 teams.
And with Sunday's game against
Detroit the lone tune-up before Kan-
sas, Beilein may not have to wait very
long to see if this slump turns into
something much more disappoint-
ing.

By RYAN KARTJE
Daily Sports Writer
A.J. Treais knows how to keep
his friends close.
His best friend on the U.S.
National Development Program
Under-18 Team, Kyle Palmieri,
lived next door to him last year.
The two were nearly inseparable.
But with Treais, a freshman
forward on
the Michi- Notre Dame
gan hockey
team, now in at Michigan
Ann Arbor, N
and Palmieri Matchup: ND 7-7-
playing for 4; Michigan 4-6
Notre Dame, *When: 7:30 p.m.
Treais may Where: Yost
just learn to Ice Arena
keep his ene-
mies closer Twitter:
when the two @michdailysports
face off for the
first time this weekend.
Treais said the two "chirped" at
each other on the phone all week
about the upcoming series.
"Him playing on the other side
is going to be different," Treais
said. "But it's not like we're going
to be friends on the ice. ... I just
have to approach him like another
player this week."
With both the Wolverines (4-6
CCHA, 8-8 overall) and Fighting
Irish (4-4-4-2, 7-7-4) limping into
this weekend's series with .500
records, there's a lot to gain in this
home-and-home series - the last
series for both teams this semester.
"It'sa big game no matter what
the stakes," sophomore forward
Luke Glendening said. "And right
now, we're two .500 teams fighting
for better position. These games
are as big as any in the season."
The teams' records aren't where
the similarities end, either.
They boast two of the best penal-
ty-kill units in college hockey, with
Michigan holding the top spot (91.7
percent success rate). The Fighting
Irish are only one percentage point
behind the Wolverines.
With two teams who are domi-
nant against the man advantage,
Michigan coach Red Berenson
knows that if Michigan doesn't
capitalize on the few chances it
is given, it could be another long
weekend.
"We know there's not going to
be much opportunity for points,"
Berenson *said. "We have to be

really sharp on the power play. If
you're lucky, you score one. It's
another game within a game for
us."
As part of the nation's top pen-
alty kill, Glendening reflects the
same sentiment.
"If it comes down to a spe-
cial teams battle, it's going to be
tough," Glendening said. "Hope-
fully we just play five-on-five-most
of the night."
Since both teams are so adept at
limiting opponents' opportunities,
it's a surprise to find that neither
has turned that proficiency on the
penalty kill into their own scoring
chances.
Michigan's offense has
improved lately, inching up to 27th
in the country in scoring after win-
ning four out of its last five games
and notching 18 goals in that span.
But Notre Dame's offense hasn't
been so lucky.
Ranked seventh-worst in Divi-
sion-I college hockey, the Fight-
ing Irish managed just one goal
against No. 1 Miami (Ohio) and
were swept by the RedHawks in
convincing fashion.
If Michigan can capitalize on
the few scoring chances it will get
against Notre Dame, the Wolver-
ines could head into their 16-day
break with a plus-.500 record for
the first time since sweeping Lake
Superior State at the end of Octo-
ber.
A series sweep would give the
Wolverines much-needed momen-
tum heading into the break with
the Great Lakes Invitational loom-
ing atcthe end of December.
Last year; that's when Michigan
exploded. After last year's GLI, the
Wolverines lost just three regular
season games.
"We have sixteen long days of
break," junior defenseman Tristin
Llewellyn said. "You don't want
to be thinking you could have,
we should have. We want to leave
thinking, 'We did our job, we did
everything we could, and we're
setting ourselves up for the next
half'"
And that's exactly what Treais
hopes to prove to his longtime
friend when he comes to Yost Ice
Arenaon Friday.
"He told me to be ready. I told
him to be ready," Treais said, refer-
encing the friends' phone conver-
sation this week. "And that's all it
comes to."

Blue outlasts opponent for third consecutive win on the road

By ALEX HERMANN
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan women's basketball
team continues to astonish its doubt-
ers, surprise its critics and defy the
odds.
The Wolverines, picked last in the
Big Ten preseason by both the media
and the coaches, won their third
consecutive road game last night, all
over major-conference opponents.
The statement-making, 76-70
victory at Boston College is the
first time Michigan has won three
straight road games in Michigan
coach Kevin Borseth's three-year
tenure. In fact, the Wolverines have
done it just three times this decade,
the last coming in 2006.
In last night's win, Michigan (1-0
Big Ten, 7-2 overall) once again fea-
tured a balanced scoring attack. And
for the second time this season, five
players scored in double-figures.

Junior guard Veronica Hicks led
the teamwith14 points, and although
foul trouble relegated senior cen-
ter Krista Phillips to the bench for
much of the game, she still managed
to score 11 points. While the 6-foot-6
senior was on the bench, Michigan's
guard play
dictated MICHIGAN 76
the tempo BOSTON COLLEGE 70
of the
game, reeling in 31 fast-break points
off of 21 Eagle turnovers.
"They were our savior I think,"
Borseth said regarding the turn-
overs. "Our offense didn't look very
good in my opinion. I thought we
were very scattered, very disorga-
nized at times. I think the fact that
we had turnovers and got some
steals, and got some easy baskets, it
really helped us. We put 76 points
on the board, and I'm not really sure
how we did it."
Michigan's two starting freshman

guards, Jenny Ryan and Dayeesha
Hollins, continued their poised and
assertive playin the sixth game of an
eight-game road stretch. The back-
court duo combined for 25 points,
seven assists, eight rebounds and
seven steals. Both also contributed
a pair of free throws with under a
minute remaining to help solidify the
Michigan lead, which is an encour-
aging sign of their ongoing adjust-
ment to the college level.
"Right after the game I commend-
ed both of them on that, because
those were very important plays
for us." Hicks said. "The freshmen,
you know, they're ripe. And they do
understand that it's just basketball in.
the end and it's just putting the ball
in the hoop."
Sophomore guard Courtney
Boylan came offthe bench to score 12
points in 10 minutes on perfect 5-of-
5 shooting. Boylan's 3-pointer gave
the Wolverines their first lead of the

game with just over three minutes
to go in the first half. From there,
the Wolverines would relinquish the
lead just twice before building an
11-point margin midway through the
second half
Michigan then withstood a late
rally by Boston College (5-4) as the
Eagles pulled within a basket on sev-
eral occasions inside the four-minute
mark.
The close matchup marks the
second consecutive road game the
young Wolverines have won in the
waningminutes.
But as difficult as winning three
consecutive road games was for the
Wolverines, winning the fourth will
be a much greater challenge. No. 8
Xavier is Michigan's next test on
Monday.
"They're by and far the best team
we've played so far, without ques-
tion," Borseth said. "We have got
our hands full."

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