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November 18, 2011 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, November 18, 2011 -- 7

The ichgan ail - ichiandilycm Fida, Noembr18,201 -

Morgan shines, rest of post
play continues to be erratic

Sophomore forward Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half against Western Illinois.
Blue barely escapes
Western Illinois scare

By NEAL ROTHSCHILD
Daily SportsEditor
Once the No. 17 Michigan
basketball team figured out
that knocking down foul shots
was easier
than mak- W. ILLINOIS 55
ing 3-point MICHIGAN 59
shots, it
was able to overcome a pesky
Western Illinois and salvage a
59-55 win.
The Wolverines (3-0)
launched 12 3-pointers in the
first half and went into the break
tied 28-28.
But in the second half, Michi-
gan started to get into the paint
and the Fighting Leathernecks
could do nothing but foul for
much of the half. Western Illi-
nois put Michigan in the 1-and-
1 bonus with 13:14 remaining in
the period and the Wolverines
took advantage. Sophomore for-
ward Tim Hardaway Jr. attacked
the rim and tallied 12 of his team-
high 16 points in the second half.
"We got them in foul trouble
early," said senior guard Zack
Novak. "And then we figured
we'd just keep going at them,
attacking them, we'll get on the
line and good things will hap-
pen."
But Michigan could not get
Western Illinois out of its hair.
The Leathernecks (0-2) made
timely shots and never let the
Wolverines' lead see double dig-
its.

Guard Ceola Clark tormented
Michigan all game and finished
with 22 points. Clark was out
last season with a toe injury
and missed the Leathernecks
first game this season. But his
presence, along with Western
Illinois' 48.8-percent shooting,
keyed the upset threat.
"Clark just controlled the
pace of that game," said Michi-
gan coach John Beilein. "And we
played hard, but we did not make
shots and we had some times that
we really had some blunders."
With three minutes remaining
in the game, Leatherneck for-
ward Obi Emegano made a jump
shot, drew a foul, but missed the
free throw to keep the deficit
at 51-46. Michigan came right
down the floor, Hardaway put
in a bank shot from the left side
of the basket and the Wolverines
held off the Leathernecks the
rest of the way.
"We're leaving early in the
morning (for Maui), it's the
third of a back-to-back-to-back,
the team came in, they shot the
lights out," Novak said. "That's a
recipe for an upset but we Wer
tough and stayed with it."
When the Wolverines pen-
etrated in the second half, they
were able to get a combination of
points in the paint, free throws
and kick-outs for jump shots to
keep Western Illinois off the
lead. They scored 14 points in the
paint and made 9-of-14 foul shots
in the frame. Redshirt sopho-

more center Jordan Morgan
gave Michigan its best low-post
game of the year, finishing with
11 points on 5-for-5 shooting and
five rebounds.
Freshman point guard Trey
Burke had the hot hand early on,
draining his first three 3-point-
ers, but Western Illinois was
also knocking down its shots.
Michigan struggled to stop the
Leatherneck shooters, who went
6-for-9 on 3-pointers in the first
half.
Though the Wolverines took
advantage of Western Illinois'
carelessness with the ball and
forced 20 turnovers, they only
got 2 points off of them. Michi-
gan drew fouls, took the ball
from the Leathernecks and saw
strong post play from Morgan,
yet still was unable to notch a
convincing win.
Michigan's offense has strug-
gled in the early going, failing to
top 64 points in its easy early-
season schedule. The compe-
tition will heighten when the
Wolverines head to Hawaii for
the Maui Invitational next week.
No. 10 Memphis will be their
first test on Monday.
"We are trying to put together
a team, but we have a different
experience factor than we had
last year at the end of the year,"
Beilein said. "We just got to get
integrated, but if we don't shoot
the ball well we've never been
very good. We've got to do simple
things like that."

By DANIEL WASSERMAN
Daily Sports Writer
Usually when a player or team
is described as magical, it's a
good thing.
But not when there appears
to be a magician turning Michi-
gan's post players into disappear-
ing acts.
Redshirt sophomore forward
Jordan Morgan has been up and
down. Sophomore forward Evan
Smotrycz's first two games sug-
gested he'd turned a corner, until
playing one of his worst games as
a Wolverine in Thursday's win
over Western Illinois, 59-55.
And then there's sophomore
Jon Horford, whose invisibility
continued Thursday. Horford,
whoenteredtheseasonas astart-
er, was pulled from the starting
lineup and came off the bench to
play just six minutes against the
Fighting Leathernecks.
Coming off an offseason that
saw him gain more than 30
pounds, Horford was expected
to be Michigan's go-to post play-
er. But Horford has scored just
six points in three games. Michi-
gan coach John Beilein blames it
on his lack of experience.
In his limited minutes against
Western Illinois, Horford didn't
attempt a field goal - the second
time in three games - and was
held without a rebound.
"He's just trying to work right
now and he's going through some
of the growing pains," Beilein
said. "Gettingoutthere and play-
ing smart and hard with all these
things happeningin front of him,
defensively, that's the big issue.
All these things are happening in
front of him."
Morgan, whose playing time
has increased because of Hor-
ford's absence, put together his
best performance of the young
season. He scored 11points while
making all five of his field-goal
attemps.
"That was a big step for him,"
Beilein said. "I've just seen these
last 10 days, these glimpses of
what we saw last year several
times. You've just got to keep
working on it. (Last night, we)
were going to try to do - if he got
off to a good start, to give him a
few more minutes and I thought
he responded well."
After coming off the bench
in the season opener, Morgan
has started the last two games.

While Morgan's play was domi-
nant at times last year, most of
his points came off the pick-and-
roll from former guard Darius
Morris.
This season, the Wolverines
are breaking in a freshman point
guard, Trey Burke, and Morgan
reiterated that the expectations
for the big men must be relaxed
in the early going.
"I would kind of say we're still
feeling out the offense - seeing
where we can improve," Morgan
said. "This is the third game, you
know, I wouldn't say our pick-
and-roll was a serious threat (in)
the third game last year.
"I knew I would get opportu-
nities."
With Michigan leading by just
three points five minutes into the
second half, Morgan flashed his
ability to take over agame.
He cut into the paint, sealed
his opponent and presented
senior guard Zack Novak with a
wide-open passing lane, which
Morgan finished with an easy
layup. Moments later, Morgan
blocked a would-be dunk, ignit-
ingthe crowd.
But he didn't stop there: He
hustled up the floor, beating his
man, and scored another open
layup to put the Wolverines up

seven. That set the tone for the
rest of the half.
"It was just kind of the energy
we needed at that point," Mor-
gan said. "The opportunity pre-
sented itself and we kind of just
capitalized on it. That comes
with practicing everyday hard
and being ready for that kind of
stuff when the time comes in the
game,"
Meanwhile, Smotrycz missed
his first four shots and was held
to just three points off 1-for-8
shooting. After back-to-back
double-digit scoring games,
Smotrycz went cold while again
finding himself in foul trouble.
The Wolverines have survived
the inconsistent post play against
weaker opponents like Western
Illinois early on, but come Mon-
day in Maui against No.10 Mem-
phis, the big men need to find a
way to flash their magic.
"Step up?" Morgan asked. "I
think no matter what the situa-
tion is, it's important to give the
best effort that you have, regard-
less of what you're teammates
are doing.
"Whether you're playing,
starting, orcomingoffthebench,
it kind of gets blown out of pro-
portion - it's not really impor-
tant."

Lane penetration, defense propel Blue

Thompson expands her
game, plays aggressively

By COLLEEN THOMAS
Daily Sports Writer
As deemed by Michigan
women's basketball coach Kevin
Borseth, Thursday night was a
"slugfest." UTAH 50
Michi- MICHIGAN 55
gan (3-0)
shot just
33 percent from the field and 14
percent from behind the arc but
squeaked out a 55-50 win over
Utah (2-1).
In the first half, the Wolver-
ines came out flat. Michigan
missed layups and went 1-for-11
on 3-point attempts. Michigan
fed the ball into the paint to try
to get the offense rolling, but
shots just weren't falling. Junior
center Rachel Sheffer and senior
forward Carmen Reynolds com-
bined for 5-for-21 from the floor,
which stalled the post play for
the Wolverines.
The biggest struggle for Mich-
igan was overcoming Utah's
height. Three of the Utes' five
starters stood at 6-foot-4, and
Michigan had a hard time adjust-
ing to their size and physicality in
the paint. Utah put up 32 points
in the paint and outrebounded
Michigan 42-31, resulting in 10
second-chance points.
"We had a tough time," Bors-
eth said. "Our post players
couldn't score on that block. It
was extremely physical down
inside there, and we knew that
coming in."
Michigan countered Utah's
height advantage by consistent-
ly driving into the lane. Junior
guard Nya Jordan and senior
guard Courtney Boylan were
both successful penetrating into
the lane, relieving pressure on
Reynolds and Sheffer.
After strugglin offensively all

low.
"Coach told us to go at them,
to go into the paint because Nya
and Courtney are very explo-
sive," Thompson said. "They did
a great job, Courtney is so crafty
in there - she can finish it going
to the rim."
The penetration from the
guards earned the Wolverines
numerous trips to the free throw
line, which was a key factor in
the game.
Michigan was perfect from
the charity stripe deep into the
second half, and ended up 16-for-
19.
The Wolverines shot most of
their free throws in the bonus,
and Thompson and Boylan con-
verted key free throws down
the stretch to secure the win.
Since Michigan couldn't con-
vert their shots down low, Bors-
eth said their game plan in the
second half was to penetrate
and draw fouls since the Wol-
verines were hitting their free
throws.
"Rebounds and free throws
win games, especially in the
last three minutes of the game,"
Borseth said.
"We tried to get to the free-
throw line."
Though Michigan's record is
better than it was at this time
last year (1-2 overall), there still
are things to work on.
The Wolverines have his-
torically struggled scoring in
the paint, but they have shown
improvement this season. Reyn-
olds believes the team can do
better.
"We need to make shots and
continue to get the ball in the
paint," Reynolds said. "We do
want to continue getting in the
paint by penetration or by pass-
ing it in and posting it up."

By MATT SPELICH
Daily Sports Writer
Junior guard Kate Thompson
came offthe bench at the 10-min-
ute mark to give senior guard
Carmen Reynolds a break in the
game against Utah on Thursday
night. The jumper Thompson
hit early on looked like her usual
one-and-done move of the night.
Within seconds, Michigan coach
Kevin Borseth motioned to a
well-rested Reynolds to check in
at the scorer's table.
The next moment Thompson
- the 6-foot-4 lanky standstill
shooter - took a hard dribble
left, got her defender off balance
and then spun right to draw the
foul at the basket. The ball left
her hands, rattled around the
rim and dropped threw the bot-
tom of the net - the crowd went
nuts. Borseth called Reynolds
back to the bench.
Thompson never looked back.
Showing off her newfound
confidence driving to the rim,
Thompson earned herself four
layups, two three-point plays,
and six free-throws for a game
high of 17 points and a victory
over the Utes. Her performance
was the culmination of hours of
hard work, trying to step out of
her confined role.
"I'm not the quickest player
on the team," Thompson said.
"But in practice I work really
hard on driving into the lane.
Tonight, (Utah) really keyed on
Carmen and our other shoot-
ers, and that really opened up
the lane for me. I've been work-
ing hard with (associate head)
coach Dawn (Plitzuweit) outside
of practice for when my time
J

comes. Tonight it came."
Though Thompson's field
goals and free throws were
effective in putting the Wolver-
ines ahead, her 3-point percent-
age was less-than desirable.
Thompson went 1-for-5
beyond the arc, but she was not
alone. Senior guard Carmen
Reynolds went 1-for-7 and junior
center Rachel Sheffer went
0-for-4. Michigan finished 3-of-
22 from 3-point range.
"It's rough when the three's
aren't falling," Reynolds said.
"It says a lot for us to shoot that
poorly and still be able to beat
a good team like (Utah). Just
imagine what it's going to be
like when we start hitting those.
When your outside shots aren't
falling you have to get it inside,
be aggressive and get to the free-
throw line. I think we did that
very well this game."
Another key to the game was
free throws. Michigan earned
16 points off of fouls and shot an
impressive 84.2 percent from the
charity stripe. Senior Courtney
Boylan had the second most free
throws behind Thompson - she
nailed 5-of-6. In truth, Utah's
wall-like post defenders gave the
Wolverines few scoring options
aside from drawing fouls. Luck-
ily for Borseth, his team found a
way to capitalize. The Wolver-
ines needed those 16 points.
"Rebounds and free throws
win games," Boseth said. "This
was especially true in the last
three minutes of this game. We
hit a couple of free throws down
the stretch that kept us going,
especially when (Utah) started
hitting threes to try to get back
in the game."

Junior forward Kate Thompson led Michigan with 17 points in last night's win.

night, the Wolverines attributed
the win to their solid defensive
effort, forcing 18 turnovers and
pressuring Utah into missing 12
of 15 shots from downtown.
Michigan's speed and quick-
ness ignited its defense. Reynolds
noted that the team's strategy
was to speed up the game to
gain an advantage over Utah's
forwards - and it worked well.
Junior guard Jenny Ryan led
the team with five steals, which
came from strong man-to-man
defense and pressure on Utah's
guards. In the second half, Ryan
helped convert back-to-back
steals into layups to give Michi-
gan some breaching room.

"We played extremely well
defensively," Borseth said. "I
thought we had a great game
defensively. We obviously didn't
shoot very well, but we beat a
very good team."
Though shots weren't falling
for the Wolverines, junior for-
ward Kate Thompson had a stel-
lar night.
She led the team with 17 points
through numerous drives to the
basket, and Reynolds and Boylan
also broke double digits with 12
points and 11 points, respectively.
Though Michigan's post was
inefficient, the penetration by
Boylan and Jordan was success-
ful in sparking the offense down

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