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February 03, 2010 - Image 8

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8A - Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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Second-half meltdown
dooms 'M' in Evanston

ARIEL BOND/Daily
Junior Manny Harris said in a Facebook status he was "forced" to talk about his plans.
Harris says he
wi1l return for
senior season

By CHRIS MESZAROS
Daily SportsEditor
EVANSTON - After Michigan's
decisive 67-52 loss to Northwest-
ern last night, a bit of positive news
came out of the locker room for the
Wolverines.
Pressed by reporters about his
intentions, junior guard Manny
Harris said after the game that he
would return to the team for his
senior season.
But a post on Harris's Facebook
profile from later in the night casts
doubt on the legitimacy of that
statement.
"The media is crazy," Harris
wrote in his status. "They force me
to talk about stuff then take what
they want out of it!!!!"
Harris had been widely expect-
ed to declare for the NBA Draft at
the end of the season, forgoing his
last year of eligibility.
"A lot of these guys gotta come
back, you know what I'm saying,
like myself, gotta come back and
play next year," Harris said.
He, said it was important to
contribute as a leader on a team
that is losing one of its best play-
ers in senior DeShawn Sims after
this year. When pressed for more
details, Harris declined to com-
ment, saying only that he was confi-
dent that he would come back next
season.
Harris leads the Big Ten in over-
all scoring, averaging 18.7 points
through Michigan's 22 games. But
due to the team's overall troubles,
Harris compared this year to his
freshman campaign, in which the
Wolverines won just10 games.
"It was definitely disappoint-

ing to go through a year like that,"
Harris said. "We've won one more
game right now than we did back
then, but it's still the same feeling
right now. I've just got to try my
best to shake off that feeling by
coming in and working hard and
making sure the team's working
hard to still get more wins."
Many experts believe that with
the Wolverines' drop-off after their
surprising NCAA Tournament run
last season, Harris' draft stock has
plummeted as well.
Some mock drafts have lowered
his projections from a potential
first-round pick to a second-round
selection, while others project him
out of the draft altogether.
One of the reasons for this drop
has been his inconsistent play.
Last night, Harris scored just 11
points against the Wildcats, well
off his average. His poor shooting
percentage, particularly for his
jump shots and 3-point attempts,
has been a concern for NBA scouts.
Yesterday, Harris finished the
game just 4-for-14 from the court
and 2-for-7 from behind the are.
While his skills as a slasher are
unquestioned, the NBA requires
a more refined jump shot since
defenses are much quicker and the
players are more athletic.
While one of the reasons for this
season's disappointing record is a
lack of leadership after the loss of
C.J. Lee and David Merritt, Harris
said that by returning next year he
can provide that senior leadership
that would be expected of him.
"We've only got two real seniors
so everybody else on the team has
got to come back and keep working
hard," Harris said.

By GJON JUNCAJ
Daily Sports Editor
EVANSTON - Entering the
second contest of what players
have called a "10-game season,"
the Michigan men's basketball
team brought with it renewed
hope - thanks in large part to its
improved
defense NORTHWESTERN 67
and reli- MICHIGAN 52
ance on senior forward DeShawn
Sims.
And in a stretch of just nine
minutes, Michigan's "second sea-
son" was thrown into a tailspin.
The Wolverines were outscored
17-4 in the first 10 minutes of the
second half at Northwestern last
night, letting a four-point deficit
swell to 17 as the Wildcats ran
away toward a 67-52 victory. The
defeat gave Northwestern a sea-
son sweep - its first against the
Wolverines since the 1966-67 sea-
son - erased whatever momen-
tum Michigan hoped to sustain
heading into the final stretch of
the regular season.
"We didn't have any jump,"
junior forward Manny Harris
said. "We weren't making shots.
We lost focus on defense and they
made shots. That's basically all."
Northwestern forward John
Shurna helped Northwestern
grab firm control of the contest
five minutes into the seond half,
knocking down a pretty turn-
around jumper over Michigan
(4-6 Big Ten, 11-11 overall) for-
ward Zack Novak, then slapping
a missed shot off the glass and
through the net two possessions'
later.
With the Wildcats (4-6, 15-7)
up 11 and the crowd at Welsh-
Ryan Arena ready for the kill-
shot, freshman Drew Crawford
once again became a one-man
highlight reel.
Crawford knocked down two
triples and a short jumper on
three straight possessions, effec-
tively putting the game out of
reach and closing the door on
Michigan's third consecutive
road loss.
"Crawford continues to just
amaze me," Michigan coach John
Beilein said. "Just absolutely
amaze me. For a freshman to play
with the skill and the strength, at
the level that he's playing at, he's a
great player."
It wasn't the first time Craw-
ford's sharpshooting hurt the
Wolverines. The Wildcats' swing-
man tallied 25 points against the
Wolverines in Ann Arbor on Jan.

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Senior DeShawn Sims struggled against the Wildcats, missing seven of his nine shots and finishing with four points.

10 in a game in which North-
western pulled the rug out from
underneath Michigan.
But the Wildcats took all the
drama out of the rematch, shoot-
ing 54 percent while nailing 10
3-pointers, including five triples
on five consecutive possessions in
the first half.
Hot perimeter shooting, crisp
ball movement and effective drib-
ble penetration from the likes of
Crawford and pointguard Michael
Thompson created a nightmare
for the Wolverines, both when
they stuck with man-to-man and
when they went to their 1-3-1 zone
defense.
"They just run everything
hard," Harris said. "They run
everything to perfection. They
don't seem like they have any
breakdowns in their offense. You
just have to be prepared to guard
them for 35 seconds.
"You just have to be mentally

tough with them."
Harris struggled mightily
throughout the night, hitting just
4-of-14 from the field while being
swallowed up by the Wildcats'
second and third defenders when-
ever he drove through the lane.
Though the Wolverines held
onto the ball fairly well and creat-
ed a lot of open 3-pointers against
the Wildcats' zone defense, the
bricks piled up before the game
finally slipped away in the final 15
minutes.
Michigan took more than half
of its shots from behind the arc
Tuesday, making just 8-of-28
attempts.
With the shooters once again
ice cold - the Wolverines made
just six field goals after halftime
- Michigan couldn't find any-
thing in the paint to keep within
striking distance.
Sims was harassed in the post
all night, missing 7-of-9 shots as

the long arms of 6-foot-11 Luka
Mirkovic (along with the Wild-
cats' help defenders) disrupted
his timing and his touch.
"(Sims) had a rough night,"
Beilein said. "Mirkovic is really
improved, and he really plays
great post defense. ... He's not a
great shot-blocker, but he plays
great position defense in the post,
and (Northwestern) always had
another helper in there."
Though the players were clear-
ly deflated after letting the sec-
ond half spiral completely out of
control, some were still thinking
in terms of the team's second sea-
son.
"You still got eight games left,"
freshman point guard Darius
Morris said. "There's no time to
mope around. You just try to get
better every day. I know it sounds
a little repetitive, but that's just
what we've got to do - keep our
heads up."

Tough 10-day stretch
will show Blue's worth

Pruitt proves his strength
in Michigan's field events

By MICHAEL FLOREK
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan hockey team has
already played Boston University,
Lake Superior State, Miami (Ohio)
and Michigan
State, all teams in NOTEBOOK
consideration for
the NCAA Tournament, on succes-
sive weekends. But their toughest
stretch is still to come.
Oddly enough, it features just
one ranked team as well as the
eighth and 11th placed teams in the
CCHA.
In a stretch of 10 days, the Wol-
verines will play five games. This
includes a pair of weekday games
against Bowling Green sandwich-
ing their outdoor game against
Wisconsin at the Camp Randall
Classic on Saturday.
"The game is just as mentally
draining as it is physically," junior
forward Matt Rust said. "Playing
five games in 10 days is tough on
the body, but it's going to drain you
mentally and with school as well.
We're going to have to be focused to
be ready for it."
After playing in two World
Junior Championships, in which
seven games are routinely played
in eleven days, Rust is a veteran at
playing successive games. But it
has been a year since his last World
Junior appearance.
"It's been a while since I've
played a schedule like that," Rust
said. "I'm familiar with it, person-
ally I knowhow to get ready myself.
I know a bunch of guys on the team
have played in similar tournaments
and similar atmospheres. I think it
all comes down to the individual
player and him knowing what he
needs to do."
Senior captain Chris Sum-

Desp
in h
thr

ite no experience bested by Ohio State's Max May's
in the weight toss by a tenth of a
ammer or weight meter in part one of this season's
- ri excels "The Dual." But most fans were
OW, Prui ex unaware that Pruitt threw just a
with training couple meters short of his person-
al best with a partially torn liga-
ment in his shoulder. And Mays
By LUKE PASCH needed to beat his previous best
Daily Sports Writer by a meter and a half just to com-
pete.

JAKE FROMM/Daily
Junior Matt Rust has experience with playing multiple games in a short time span.

mers has also played in the World
Junior Championships, and nearly
everyone else on the team played
in junior leagues before coming to
Ann Arbor that demanded multiple
games in a short amount of time.
Because many of the Wolverines
are far removed from their junior
days, Michigan coach Red Berenson
does plan to make some changes.
"I don't think fatigue will be
an issue because we'll shorten up
practices," Berenson said. "We may
even have a day off where normally
we wouldn't. I think this will bring
the best out in our team rather than
a big change. I think the change is
good."
The change, and the competition
may be coming at the right time for
Michigan, as it sits currently sits on
the outside of the NCAA tourna-
ment picture.
COACHING AGAINST THE ELE-
MENTS: When Michigan takes the
ice in the Camp Randall Classic Sat-
urday to take on No. 3 Wisconsin, it
will still be hockey, but there will be
a lot more unknowns heading into
the game.
It's the unknowns that Berenson

may have to account for, more so
than anybody who steps on the ice.
The coaching staff will be the only
carryovers from the "Cold War,"
Michigan's first outdoor game in
2001. These coaches will have to
make the adjustments necessary for
the outdoors.
"We might have to make some
adjustments, like don't stickhandle
the puck, for example," Berenson
said. "If you can't see it, just get it
at the net, or whatever. Who knows
what the lighting will be like. We'll
just have to take everything and
see what strategy, if any, we'll have
to change, but I'm not overly con-
cerned about that."
Goaltending coach Josh Black-
burn, who played in the "Cold War,"
said the puck moved a lot faster
in his outdoor game. Berenson
expects that to be the case again.
"The ice is going to be a lot bet-
ter than all the ice I played on out-
side," Berenson said. "It's not like
it's hosed down over a bunch of
bumps with snow out there. But it
will be different. It might be windy,
it might be snowing out, it will be
different."

Anyone who's ever been to a
track and field event knows where
to find the guys with big guns.
They're not the pole vaulters,
who exhibit tremendous upper
body strength, or the sprinters
with generally perfect all-around
musculature. They're the guys
that are built like the Incred-
ible Hulk (but with a more stable
psyche)-the throwers.
Picture a 6-foot-4 inch, 300-
pound athlete, slap a mohawk
on his head and a sizeable beard
on his face, and you get the most
intimidating human specimen of
Big Ten track and field. His name
is Sean Pruitt, a redshirt senior
for the Wolverines.
More intimidating than his
appearance is his performance
inside the oval.
As the only big name in Michi-
gan's throwing events, Pruitt was
forced to become a jack-of-all-
trades. He's had no difficulty doing
so, as he's excelled in the shot put,
the 35-lb. weight throw, the ham-
mer throw and the discus throw.
In fact, he was a Big Ten Cham-
pion in the weight throw last sea-
son, and he has become a national
force in each of the events.
And don't get any false notions
from his slightly sub-par perfor-
mance early this season. He was

"I'm just trying to aggravate my
shoulder as little as possible, and I
have no worries right now." Pruitt
said.
Apparently, sending a 35-pound
ball soaring through the air for
over 60 feet is what Pruitt does
when he's not trying to aggravate
a nagging shoulder injury.
'We knew we
could teach
him those (events)
from scratch'
Throwing coach David Kaiser
prescribes this treatment - the
same coach that was enamored
with Pruitt when he was. a senior
in high school. Almost imme-
diately, Kaiser knew that Pruitt
had not only the size, but also the
technique to be a star at the col-
legiate level.
"Sean was pretty much a self-
taught rotational thrower," Kai-
ser said. "In high school Sean had
never thrown the hammer or the
weight, but we knew we could
teach him those from scratch."
And Kaiser's coaching has paid
off - Pruitt posted school records

in both the hammer and weight
throw last season for a storied
Michigan track and field program
that dates back to the turn of the
20th century.
Yet possibly the most intrigu-
ing aspect of Pruitt's game is
his potential. According to both
him and Kaiser, his ceiling is far
beyond his personal records. They
say the only feasible impediment
between Pruitt and his Olympic
aspirations in the future is his
versatility.
That's right, Pruitt may be too
talented for his own good.
The team knows him as "the
kid" who drives himself to work
harder and achieve more in every
event he competes in. The prob-
lem is that Olympian track and
field athletes are specialists that
tend to only thrive at one event.
And Pruitt knows he will even-
tually have to choose among the
four he's grown to love.
"You can ask anyone in the Ath-
letic Department - they've prob-
ably seen him out throwing in the
snow and the ice," Kaiser said.
"But it'll help Sean when he can
get to a point where he can focus
on one event."
As of now, it's too early to tell
which event Pruitt will choose. In
high school, he was the top discus
thrower in the nation. Last sea-
son, he proved he could beat some
of the best weight-throwers in
the NCAA. And Kaiser thinks he
couldbecome a tremendously suc-
cessful shot putter.
Whatever path he chooses,
keep an eye out for him when he
departs from Ann Arbor.
And with his size, one shouldn't
have to look too hard.

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