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February 10, 2011 - Image 7

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Thursday February.10,2011 - 7A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Thursday, February 10, 2011 - 7A

Morgan explodes for career-high
By BEN ESTES
Daily Sports Writer

Burns comments on
Saad's departure to
European pro league

It was only fitting that Jor-
dan Morgan snatched the final
rebound of Wednesday night's
game against Northwestern.
And it was only fitting that the
redshirt freshman forward did it
with authority.
The same player that came into
the matchup averaging 7.3 points
in Big Ten contests - the same
player who Michigan coach John
Beilein said was spending too
much time acting like an assis-
tant coach, since he was so often
relegated to the bench with bouts
of foul trouble - had the perfor-
mance of a lifetime in the Wolver-
ines' 75-66 victory.
Morgan busted out for a
career-high 27 points, topping
his previous totals of 20 and 23
points recorded earlier this sea-
son. Those performances came
against Gardner Webb and NAIA
squad Concordia, respectively
- this one came against a tough
Wildcat team that blew Michigan
out just three weeks ago.
"He did a marvelous job of fin-
ishing," assistant coach Bacari
Alexander said. "You knew that
day would come, you just didn't
know when it would come. I'm
really happy for Jordan's success
today."
All season long, Beilein and
Alexander have talked about how
Morgan is learning and develop-
ing into the physical post pres-
ence the Wolverines sorely need
and have lacked for several years.
On Wednesday night, the
Detroit native finally validated
his coaches' faith.
"It kind of just got rolling,"
Morgan said. "A couple things fell
my way ... It's not so much wait-
ing (to break out) as realizing
that (the ability's) there, and just
pushing myself to do the best that
I can on every possession, defen-
sively and offensively.

Redshirt freshman Jordan Morgan scored a career-high 27 points in last night's win over Northwestern.

"(I) just (want to) show people
that I can play."
Morgan thrived all nightwork-
ing the pick-and-roll with sopho-
more point guard Darius Morris.
On defense, Northwestern typi-
cally switches, letting screeners
slip off their picks.
And the Wildcats - like Michi-
gan's last two opponents - put
more of an emphasis on locking
down the Wolverines' shooters.
As a result, Morgan constantly
found himself open rolling to the
basket or slipping past defenders
while cuttingto the hoop. Morris
consistently found him, and the
big man finished.
"Darius is a great passer, and
lot's of times, he's a passer first,"
Morgan said. "He's just recogniz-
ing (on) switches that I was going
to be under the basket. He trusted
me to finish them, and I came
through for him."
The Wolverines rarely look

inside for offense this season, but
the team's first points on Wednes-
day came from agive to Morgan.
"After we ran a couple of our
normal plays, once I got to the
lane, it was like two people or
three people (collapsing) on me,"
Morris said. "The right play was
(to) Jordan Morgan.
"They didn't adjust, and he just
kept making layups."
And the forward closed the
first half with a flourish. After
receiving a pass from freshman
guard Tim Hardaway Jr., Morgan
accidentally hit the ball off the
backboard.
But it came right back to him
- just another indication it was
Morgan's night - and he put it
back to give him his 17th point
and Michigan the 34-19 halftime
lead.
Northwestern slowed him
down slightly in the second half,
but only by fouling him on all his

strong takes to the basket and
sending him to the line for five
free throw attempts.
When the Wolverines need-
ed him again, though, Morgan
responded. With the deficit down
to three points late in the game,
he blocked JerShon Cobb's layup,
hit his own shot on the other end,
finished an alley-oop and then
stunted Michael Thompson's
3-point attempt with a powerful
hedge off a screen.
"Tonight he was just feeling
it," freshman forward Jon Hor-
ford said.
"He was doing great, no matter
where you threw him the ball. He
was just taking his time, pivoting,
getting open buckets ... He defi-
nitely earned his points."
Beilein cautioned that the
young big man has plenty more
developing to do. Still, for one
night, Jordan Morgan had his
moment.

Former Wolverine
forward led team
to first-ever
College Cup berth
By BRIAN MECHANICK
Daily Sports Writer
Two months ago, the Michi-
gan men's soccer team reached
its greatest heights and the
future looked bright. Today,
one decision has shaken the
team to its core.
Soony Saad, the Wolverines'
star freshman forward, left the
University after the fall term in
pursuit of a professional career
in Europe.
Michigan coach Steve Burns,
who has led the program since
its inception in 2000, saw
Saad set record numbers never
before seen in Ann Arbor, lest
by a freshman.
His first public response to
his star player leaving was short
and sweet.
"Soony feels that now is the
right time for him to pursue
his lifelong dream of playing
professionally overseas," Burns
said. "We wish him the best in
all of his future endeavors."
Burns has said he will not
comment on Saad's departure
again, per team policy. But the
messageis clear.
When Saad did not show
interest in going to the MLS
after the season, Burns, the
Michigan Ultras and many
followers of college soccer
assumed Saad would be back
for a sophomore campaign.

Early rankings had Michigan
among the favorites to push for
the NCAA title.
Saad's departure has thrown
that all into flux. Along with
senior forward Justin Meram's
move to the MLS's Columbus
Crew, the Wolverines -are now
without ,36 of their 53 goals
from last season.
Michigan is in the hunt for
strikers, but with none listed in
the incoming freshman class,
sophomores-to-be Ezekiel Har-
ris and Malcolm Miller will
have to step up.
For Burns, Europe has
become a poacher of his talents.
Not only is Saad being looked
at by clubs in Germany and
Belgium, but top 2011 signee
Sean Cunningham, a left back,
passed over the Wolverines for
Norwegian side Molde FK.
Saad enters the pro rank try-
ing to beat a miserable Michi-
gan soccer alumni tradition.
Before 2011, six players had
been drafted into MLS, with
none achieving regular starting
jobs.
Perhaps the most sobering
example for Saad is that of for-
ward Peri Marosevic. Drafted
No. 5 overall by FC Dallas
in 2009, Marosevic has only
played four times in league play
for Dallas.
Saad is undoubtedly a hot
commodity among some of
Europe's elite clubs.
He may be the first national
star to come out of Burns's pro-
gram or he could go the way his
Wolverine predecessors. Either
way, his Michigan teammates
and club supporters will miss
No. 8up top next fall.

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