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January 21, 2010 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-01-21

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The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

8A - Thursday, January 21, 2010

Michigan surrenders
late lead to Badgers in
must-win road game

'A'must learn to forget in ,
order to salvage season

Loss means 11
straight years of
defeat for 'M'
at Kohl Center
By NICOLE AUERBACH
Daily Sports Editor
MADISON - The Michigan
men's basketball team entered
yesterday's game against Wiscon-
sin with its eye on a few streaks.
The Wolverines looked to add a
third-
straight WISCONSIN 54
win and MICHIGAN 48
turn their
recent stretch into an official win
streak. They wanted to break the
Badgers' decade-long win streak
in the Kohl Center, which would
mean Michigan's first victory in
Madison since 1999. And perhaps
most important, the Wolverines
wanted to keep No. 18 Wisconsin
on a cold streak, especially after
the Badgers couldn't score in the
first five minutes of the game.
But Michigan's last five minutes
mirrored Wisconsin's icy start, and
the Badgers rode a 15-5 run in the
game's final stretch to beatthe Wol-
verines 54-48. Suddenly, Michi-
gan's potential win streak morphed
into a gut-wrenching loss.
At the end of the night, it didn't
matter that Michigan had an
11-point lead over Wisconsin twice
during the game. It didn't mat-
ter that senior forward DeShawn
Sims had a monster 23-point,
13-rebound performance. And it
didn't matter that the Wolver-
ines outplayed a tough, talented,
nationally-ranked Badger squad
for 35 minutes.
"We've been here before, on
the road and hanging with a good
team," freshman guard Darius
Morris said after the game. "Really,
we're over the moral victories. We
need to get these wins. That's basi-
cally it."
In other words, victories - even
those that coaches call "moral" vic-
tories - don't end with players sit-

ting still in a silent postgame locker
room with their heads in their
hands.
"With four minutes to go, we're
leading the game and we can win
the game," Michigan coach John
Beilein said.
And that's perhaps the most
painful part for the Wolverines (3-3
Big Ten, 10-8 overall). They led the
Badgers (5-2, 15-4) from the first
moments of the game until Wiscon-
sin took its first lead with just 3:07
remaining in the contest.
But that was all the Badgers
needed.
"They slowly chipped away at
the lead," Morris said. "We had
control, but slowly they took it their
way. By the time they took it their
way, it just was too late for us to do
anything about it."
The Wolverines certainly tried,
though. Beilein called a couple of
timeouts late in the game to calm
down his squad. He attempted to
relax a team that appeared to tense
up as the Kohl Center crowd roared
itself back to life. His message was
simple.
"One timeout was, 'This is
where we really have to hunker
down and play defense,' " Beilein
said. "Then, I'm looking them in
the eyes and saying, 'When are you
going to step up and make an open
shot now?' Because all of the sud-
den, we went dry, and it just never
happened."
Basketball is a streaky sport, and
Michigan's ice-cold stretch came at
the worst time. During the game's
final five minutes, the Wolverines
made just one basket, and missed
nine.
"In every game, there are those
spells," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan
said after the game.
He was lucky his team's spell
came early, and he was lucky his
team knew how to get out of its
funk. Ryan's teams are good at that
- they're 131-10 at the Kohl Center
during his tenure.
"They don't beat themselves, and
they didn't beat themselves today,"
Beilein said.
Teams like that keep streaks
alive.

After the game last night in 40
Madison, I found myself double-
checking that the maize jerseys
were Michigan, and the white ones
were Wis-
consin.
The Wol-
verines were
the ones tak-
ing advan-
tage of their
opponent's
missed shots.
They were JOE
the ones STAPLETON
grabbing
rebounds.
They were the ones playing suf-
focating defense and jumping out to
an early lead.
See, usually, it's the other way
around.
And if Wisconsin was Michigan,
the Badgers would have gotten
down on themselves after falling
behind, let their offense affecttheir
defense, and they would have lost.
But Wisconsin wasn't Michigan.
Wisconsin was Wisconsin, and the
Badgers played the final eight min-
utes of the game as if theytold them-
selves- "Dammit,we'reWisconsin!"
The Badgers woke up after a
3-pointer by Rob Wilson and from
there, they imposed their will on
the Wolverines. They decided that,
since they were having a bad shoot-
ing night, they would take it to the
post, which they did with alarming
success.
By the 4:04 mark, after two Bad-
ger layups and a tip-in, Wisconsin
had tied the game, and Michigan
had lost all momentum. The Wol-
verines became timid and settled
for outside jumpers instead of going senior DeSh
to the post, which had been work- Madison yes
ing all game.
That's the difference between letting its
teams like Wisconsin, which in the way
doesn't lose many Big Ten games That probl
at home, and teams like Michi- heads, and
gan, which has already lost one to shot the bal
Northwestern. last night, i
Mental toughness. ness came1
While Wisconsin was never rat- or so mint
tied by its bricks and failed oppor- the Wolver
tunities last night, Michigan has I still thi
been many times this season, often to take aw

01

ANDYMANIS/AP
awn Sims dominated the post for the Wolverines, notching 23 points and 13 rebounds in Michigan's 54-48 loss in
terday. In the waning minutes of the game, Sims fouled out as the Wolverines went 1-10 in the final five minutes.

Kohl Centi
est placest
and Michig
game. Seni:
great game
13 boards.'
day's loss a
ing.
But, as
Darius Mor
moral victo
dow a longt

offensive struggles get
of how it plays defense.
em is all in the players'
even though Michigan
ll better than Wisconsin
ts lack of mental tough-
through in the last five
tes of the game, when
ines went ice cold.
nk there are good things
ay from this loss. The
er is one of the tough-
to play in the country,
gan led for most of the
or DeShawn Sims had a
going for 23 points and
These aspects of yester-
re both very encourag-
freshman point guard
rris said after the game,
ories went out the win-
time ago.

How
their hi
here's I
remain
br
te
y
John B
all but
with at
Forg
about t
better,'
has hai

do the Wolverines get season. Hire a brainwashing team
eads right? I don't know. But shrink if you have to. Just go out and
how I would approach every play basketball. Basketball is sup-
ing game if I were coach posed to be fun, but it has to become
a chore when you're laboring under
the weight of failed expectations
Hire a and a disappointed fanbase.
Sure, this is easier said than done,
ainwashing and I don't know how these play-
ers' minds work. But here's what-I
am shrink if do know: even though this season
probably won't lead to an NCAA
rou have to. Tournament berth, good things can
still come from it if the players can
find a way to forget about every-
' thing that's happened so far.
eilein, with the season's fate So to all of the Wolverines: Don't
sealed. (Hint: it's not ending listen to the pundits, the writers or '
n NCAA Tournament berth.) anyone else who would talk about
et about the Tourney, forget the disappointment this year, for
he fans who thought you'd be the rest of the season, if you have
forget about everything that at all.
ppened up to this point in the Justgo out on the court and play.

TApCO
BEL

"pt

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