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January 13, 2011 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-01-13

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.cam

Thursday, January 13, 2011 --7A

drops close game
to.No.2 Ohio State

Michigan coach John Bellein reacts from the bench during the Wolverines' close 68-64 loss to Ohio State on Wednesday,
1 "
Six possessions
decide tree games

By LUKE PASCH
Daily Sports Writer
Freshman forward Evan
Smotrycz must have sensed some-
one had just entered in the build-
ing.
A few seconds after newly
crowned Michigan football coach
Brady
Hoke OHIO STATE 68
stepped MICHIGAN 64
into
Crisler Arena during Wednesday's
men's basketball game against No.
2 Ohio State, Smotrycz nailed a
3-pointer from the top of the key,
giving the Wolverines their first
points of the night.
Moments after the Michigan
faithful gave Hoke a warm stand-
ing ovation, junior guard Zack
Novak provided fans with an
encore of sorts, nailing triples on
each of the Wolverines' next two
possessions.
But in the end, Michigan
couldn't give Hoke the welcome
he deserved, as the Buckeyes out-
lasted the Wolverines in a nail-
biter, 68-64.
With 18.6 ticks on the clock,
Ohio State junior guard William
Buford went to the free-throw line,
hitting both of his shots and put-
ting the Buckeyes up, 66-62. Soph-
omore point guard Darius Morris
took the in bound pass and pushed
up the court, scoring quickly on a
drive to the hoop to bring the Wol-
verines back within two.
But it was too little, too late.
Michigan fouled freshman
guard Aaron Craft on Ohio State's
next possession, and he also
drained both of his shots, putting
the game out of reach.
"I can't even describe it," a
frustrated Novak said after the
game. "Right there - once we get
it, we're going to be good. We'll be
really good. But there's something
missing right now.
"If I knew (what it is), we
would've won the game."
Michigan (1-3 Big Ten, 11-6
overall) dug a hole for itself early
in the second half when redshirt
freshman center Jordan Morgan
picked up his third foul of the
night just three minutes into the
frame.
Morgan hit the bench, and
instead of replacing him with
his typical backup - freshman
Jon Horford - Beilein opted to
shift the relatively undersized
Smotrycz to center.
By the time Morgan re-entered
the game, the Wolverines, found
themselves at a nine-point deficit.
But between Morgan and

Freshman forward Evan Smotrcyz scored 11 points in the first half of Michigan's loss.

There are 345 teams in
NCAA Division-I basket-
ball. Most people only pay
attention to 25.
Last weekend, fans poured out
of the cracks of
Ann Arbor and
came to Crisler
Arena to watch
No. 3 Kansas
take on Michi-
gan. (There's
a reason why
Kansas is listed
first.) CHANTEL
FeWex ret- JEN1N$
ed Michigan to
lead the third-
best team in the country. Yes, third
best. That means that technically
there are 342 teams that are less
skillful than the Jayhawks. And the
Wolverines, who fall somewhere
in the middle of the pack, were
leading Kansas. And after a game
of hard-fought, nail-biting, make-
you-wish-you-were-a-fan-rather-
than-a-reporter kind of basketball,
people only cared about one thing.
Michigan lost.
So yesterday, the No. 2 team in
the country came to Crisler Arena
and itwas the same story. The
Wolverines stuck with a team that
features two centers who look like
heavyweight boxers and shooting
guards who put up astronomical
field-goal percentages. But eventu-
ally, they lost.
And today, that's all people will
care about.
They say the ball doesn't lie.
They never said anything about a
record.
In the past week, the Wolverines
are 0-2. In Big Ten play, they're 1-3.
But the problem with just look-
ing at those numbers is that they're
numbers. Wins and losses are
measured by fractions, and at the
COME TO
THE
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MASS
MEETINGS
TODAY,
MON. JAN 17,
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7:30PM AT
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BUILDING
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end of the day it doesn't matter if
No.1 Duke beats a no-name school
by 100 or No. 2 Ohio State beats
unranked Michigan by three.
Because when you just look at
wins and losses, that equalizes
Michigan and no-name school. And
that's dangerous.
In the past week, the Wolverines
played 80 minutes of basketball,
and all it amounts to on paper is
0-2. Four quarters of not just stick-
ing with, but playing with, the best
f the best, and all people will see is
that Michigan lost.
In fact, Michigan hasn't beaten a
ranked opponent all season.
Michigan played then-No. 9
Syracuse in just its fourth game of
the season. It lost by three points
to a team that ranks among the top
55 of all Division-I teams in points,
rebounds and assists per game. The
Wolverines played the orange as
closely as they've been played this
year, but it came down to three
points.
That's one single possession.
Then, last Sunday, Michigan
played No. 3 Kansas, which ranks
in the top 20 of all Division-I teams
in points, rebounds and assists per
game. The Wolverines took the Jay-
hawks to overtime before falling to
Kansas by seven.
That's a three-possession game.
So last night, when unranked,
overlooked Michigan was leading
No. 2 Ohio State, it came as no sur-
prise to me that the Buckeyes are
also ranked in the top 20 nationally
in points, rebounds and assists per
game.
And Michigan lost by four. That's
a two-possession game.
So that means the Wolverines'
three major losses this season come
down to just six possessions - a
half dozen of possessions against
teams that will most likely make it

to the NCAA Tournament.
Three teams that could very
likely make a deep run in the tour-
nament.
And we're talking about just six
possessions.
Six times where the Wolverines
didn't score, where they turned the
ball over, where someone made a
mistake.
In anygiven game, Michigan
will have about 75 possessions.
Michigan assistant coach LaVall
Jordan told the players before the
game thatthey can't take a single
play off, because those are the plays
that will come back to haunt them.
"Control what you can control,"
Jordan said on Wednesday. "You
can't do anything about the past or
the future, you've just got to stay
in the present and concentrate on
that. And I think the really good
teams in any sport, at any level have
the ability to do that ... It's what any
team that wins does."
So when you reduce the Wolver-
ines to their record, just realize the
numbers that compile the wins and
losses are much more complicated.
And at the end of the day, those big
things like wins and losses come
down to the little things like pos-
sessions.
Suddenly six sounds like a big
number.
"We're playing tough teams, and
I think we're competing," Michigan
coach John-Beilein said on Wednes-
day. "I sense that people see that
this young team has a chance to be
good one day - nobody wants it to
be sooner than us, but we just have
to stay with it."
Well, it all comes down to six
possessions against Final Four con-
tenders. I'd saythat's competing.
Jennings can be reached
at chanjen@umich.edu

Smotrycz, Ohio State forward
Jared Sullinger was still not much.
of a factor. The freshman sensa-
tion was limited to 12 points and
seven boards in his first game at
Crisler Arena, and he fouled out
with a little more than a min-
ute left in regulation. And at one
point in the second half, Sullinger
vented his frustration by starting a
little scuffle with Morris.
The Maize Rage was infuriated
that Sullinger wasn't given a tech-
nical foul.
And Michigan could have used
that foul - the team went to the
free throw line just seven times
allh'ight,f tpared tnWSirhetfor
Ohio State (4-0, 17-0). The Buck-
eyes soIed 17 points from the
charity stripe.
Beilein was hoping nobody
would ask about the fouls.
"You want to go there, don't
you?" Beilein asked. "I'd rather
not address it at all, publicly. It's
just tough - they do a good job
of drawing fouls, and Sullinger
does draw fouls, and Lighty. The
seniors know how to draw fouls a
little bit."
In the end, free throws were

the difference, as both teams were
neck-and-neck from the field. Ohio
State finished 22-of-42 shooting
(52.4 percent), and Michigan was
24-of-46 (52.2 percent).
Smotrycz and Novak paced
Michigan's scoring effort from
beyond the arc, going 4-of-6 and
4-of-5 from 3-point range, respec-
tively. Morris led the team in scor-
ing with 18.
And as impressively as the Wol-
verines shot, they really shined
on the defensive end, holding an
offense that averages more than
80 points per game to just 68.
Beilein employed the usual mix
of 1-3-1 and 2-3 iondi, varied witfi
a lot of man coverage, and all of
thn seemedlati efe ve.
For the most part, flein was
more comfortable with man-to-
man, as he was unwilling to give
up open shots from the perimeter.
"To hold them to that many
points is a good day," Beilein said.
"We had that four-minute span
there in the second half that was
just killer.
"We had two or three turn-
overs, missed a couple shots ... that
was a big difference in the game."

'M' Note: Liewellyn, Fallon
suspended for entire season

By MICHAEL FLOREK
Daily Sports Editor
Freshman forward Jacob Fal-
lon and seniordefenseman Tristin
Llewellyn
are no lon-
ger part of First seen on
the Michi- -the game
gan hockey
team.
After practice Wednesday Red

Berenson announced the sus-
pension of the two players for
"violating team expectations."
Fallon struggled to find the
lineup consistently, playing in 13
of the team's 23 games, register-
ing three points and 14 penalty
minutes.
Berenson made it clear that
Fallon had the opportunity to
return next year provided his
behavior improves.

Llewellyn will miss the final
half of his senior season. The Ann
Arbor native played in 18 games
this season making his- career
total 126.
He will end his career with
three goals and 18 points.
"I hope he stays in school and
graduates," Berenson said of
Llewellyn. "We'll give him that
support, but we can't keep him on
the team."

DIRECTED BY UM GRAD
SULTAN StIARREf
Based on a true str' o vf
a yotnrg man's batti o
bfeak free of his Detroit
family busiress so that he-
can offend UM.

f

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