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November 26, 2012 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-11-26

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2B - November 26, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.cam

2B - November 26, 2012 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

They are who we
COLUMBUS - a combined 40-56 record. The
T o be the best, beat the Wolverines were favored in all
best. of their victories, they were the
The Michigan football underdog in every loss.
team's 2012 schedule was averi- So, simply put, Michigan per-
table gauntlet, slated as one of the formed to expectations. But that
toughest in all of college football doesn't leave anyone feeling bet-
this fall. The Wolverines went ter. Team 133 had four chances to
undefeated at Michigan Stadium, make a statement. They couldn't
but it was on the road where the make a single one; they couldn't
true challengers awaited.
lost to four.
teams with
a combined
45-3 record:'
Notre Dame
and Ohio
State, 11-1
Alabama and STEPHEN J.
10-2 Nebraska NESBITT
- all away_
from home.
When the Week 12 iteration of
the BCS standingswere released
on Sunday, it was littered with
familiar foes: No. 1 Notre Dame,
No. 2 Alabama, No.12 Nebraska.
(The postseason-ineligible Buck-
eyes finished No. 4 in the AP
Oh boy, where to start on
Michigan'sbest loss argument?
How about we start with looking
for its best win instead.
That's not so hard. Michigan;
defeated then-No. 24 Northwest-
ern in a 38-31 overtime thrillerw
two weeks ago thanks to a mira-
cle finger-tip Hail Mary catch by
Roy Roundtree. Northwestern Senior quarterback Denard Robinson
finished the season 9-3. Not bad.
Let's move on to the second-best beat any team worth its salt, save
win. the miracle victory over North-
Wait for it. western.
Still looking. Things could have gone much
Ah, there it is. The Wolverines differently. Two plays either way
beat Air Force, Purdue, Michi- - could have seen Michigan fin-
gan State and Minnesota, who ish at 10-2 or 6-6. Last-second
each ended the season ata per- victories over Michigan State and
fectly bowl-eligible 6-6; Yes, my Northwestern could just as easily
friends, the Wolverines defeated have been losses.
only one team that ended the And then there were inju-
season with a winning record. ries. Standout cornerback Blake
I won't tell anyone that minor Countess was knocked out of the
detail if you don't. season opener wth a knee injury
Michigan's eight victories and never returned. Redshirt
came against teams who posted junior tailback Fitzgerald Tous-

thought they were

Balanced attack key
inwin over Boston U

saint missed the lastgame of the
season after injuring his left leg
against Iowa. Senior quarterback
Denard Robinson sustained
an ulnar-nerve injury against
Nebraska and never threw
another pass. He scampered for a
67-yard touchdown in Columbus
on Saturday, his first touchdown
in 355 minutes of game time - to

bechler Hall will agree with that.
But look at this. Alabama's
offensive line and entire defen-
sive corps is NFL-bound. Notre
Dame has future top-20 draft
picks like Heisman Trophy-
candidate Manti Te'o. Ohio State,
Nebraska? They're simply more
talented from top to bottom,
though there certainly are outli-
Who from Michigan's senior
class will hear his name called in
the NFL draft? Robinson, surely,
though who knows when or at
what position. Jordan Kovacs?
Will Campbell? Roy Roundtree?
Kenny Demens?
There are plenty of guys who
might well get a tryout with an
NFL team next summer, but the
only surefire draft pick in this
senior class is a quarterback who
certainly won't play quarterback
at the next level.
That's not to take anything
away from the talent on Michi-
gan's roster, it's to emphasize the
caliber of opponents the Wolver-
ines battled against - and lost to.
In two years, the talent level
on the Wolverine sideline will be
different, vastly different. Though
Michigan coach Brady Hoke's
metric for success - a Big Ten
championship - won't necessar-
ily change, performing to expec-
tations willlook different. Then
we'll be able to adequately judge
the Michigan coaching staff for
how it has shaped the team.
If Michigan lost these same
four games two years from now,
then there would be reason to
panic. Not now. Not yet.
Is 8-4 a disappointing record?
Sure it is. It always will be at
Michigan. But each loss was a
legitimate loss. Michigan didn't
give away any game, per se, it just
didn't steal any banner matchups
They had every opportunity to
beat the best, but they're not quite
Not yet.
- Nesbitt can be reached
at stnesbit@umich.edu.

Daily Sports Writer
Sandwiched between Michi-
gan's football and hockey game on
Saturday, the Michigan women's
basketball team took on Boston
University (3-3) in its second
game of a back-to-back - it's only
one of the regular season.
"It's a
good expe- BOSTON 58
rience MICHIGAN 67
to have,"
senior forward Rachel Sheffer
said. "We know the other team
had to travel a lot more and we
had to capitalize on that."
After senior guard Kate
Thompson led the Wolverines
(5-1) to a tough victory over Har-
vard on Friday with a career-high
24 points - tying a school-record
with six 3-pointers - Sheffer took
over the scoring reins against
the Terriers, scoring 13 first-half
points and 18 total in the 67-58
With the teams trading baskets
for most of the first half, .Michi-
gan gradually started to take con-
trol of the game with an 8-0 run
to end the first stanza. Thompson
sparked the Wolverines' run by
scoring seven consecutive points,
including a jumper to tie the game
and a 3-pointer to give Michigan a
28-25 lead.
The Wolverines extended
their lead to six on a 3-point play
by senior forward Nya Jordan
right before halftime. Jordan
produced a solid game off the
bench, chipping in seven points,
four rebounds and a team-high
four assists. Boston kept the game
close by relying on the 3-pointer,
before goingscoreless for the final
3:27 of the first half. Out of its 29
first-half field goal attempts, 16
came from beyond the arc. Led
by senior guard Kristen Sims,
who made three of the team's six
3-pointers and finished with a
game-high 19 points, the Terriers
managed to hang around, despite

zero points in the paint during the
first 20 minutes of the game.
"In the first half, most of their
points were on threes," Sheffer
said in regard to how the team
adjusted at halftime. "So we talk-
ed about extending our zone."
Michigan, however, had a more
balanced approach in the first
stanza, shooting 10-23 from the
field, including 3-8 from 3-point
The second half seemed to
resemble the first as Boston and
Michigan remained six points
apart as a timeout was called five
minutes into the half.
After being limited to just two
points in the first half, senior
guard Jenny Ryan scored seven
of Michigan's first nine points to
start the half, including five in a
row to push its lead to eight. The
Terriers answered, going on an
11-2 run to take a 43-42 lead.
"That kind of got us off guard,"
said Sheffer. "But then we found
our rhythm."
The lead would not last long
as freshman Madison Ristovski
answered with a basket to regain
the lead and Ryan connected
from straightaway on a 3-pointer
to stretch the lead to four. Ryan
continued her hot shooting, mak-
ing her third 3-pointer of the half
to push the lead back to eight
with 6:37 remaining. Playing all
40 minutes, Ryan finished with
15 points to go along with eight
"I wasn't really trying to be
an offensive threat (in the first
half)," said Ryan. "So in the sec-
ond half to open up other scoring
options, I needed to really start
looking for my shot."
Sophomore guard Nicole Elm-
blad added the dagger with 2:36
remaining, hitting a midrange
jumper to give the Wolverines an
11 point lead - their biggest lead
before adding free throws in the
final minute. Elmblad would fin-
ish the game with a career-high,
and game-high nine rebounds.

and Michigan finished at 8-4.
recap, Robinson, whose 91 touch-
downs are a Michigan record,
went just eight minutes short of
not scoring for half a season.
But maybe performing to
expectations wasn't so bad.
What if Michigan just isn't built
yet to compete with the nation's
elite? Perhaps the Wolverines,
by coming within a touchdown
of beatingteams like Ohio State
and Notre Dame - and even
Nebraska, with a healthy Robin-
son - were outperforming their
talent level.
Now, no one inside Schem-

Hardaway revives his career


Jay-Z blared inside the
Michigan locker room as
the team celebrated its
NIT Season Tip-Off champion-
ship in the depths of Madison
Square Gar-
The Most
ing Player of
the tourna-
ment walked
in with
confidence. NEAL
hour earlier
writhed on
the floor clutching his noggin
and had to be taken for a medical
examination was feeling good
again. A bump on his head, noth-
ing serious. A mere flesh wound.
The lyrics continued to pump.
From the mouth of the man who
rules the cityto another just vis-
iting for the first time.
"For real, it don't get no bigger,
man," Jay-Z rapped.
That was Tim Hardaway Jr.'s
performance this week.
For a player who feeds on ener-
gy, Hardaway was in the right
place. It was the venue where his
father was booed, but he found
himself cheered by the throngs of
Michigan fans that overwhelmed
the Garden.
Friday wasn't a 3-point shoot-
ing night for Hardaway; but
something much more convinc-
ing. The Miami native pounded
the ball onto the floor and
sprinted to the basket. He soared
over defenders, always got where .
he wanted to go on the floor. He
glided past overmatched Kansas
State players for rebounds.
Hardaway scored a game high
23 points on 10-for-15 shooting
and pulled down seven rebounds,
a shoo-in as the tournament's top
He roared and barked after big
shots, doled out chest bumps and
spirited high-fives - the energy
of the city having invigorated
him from a season ago.
"Once he getsgoing, we've
got to feed him," said sophomore
point guard Trey Burke.
A season ago, you wouldn't
recognize the player from Friday.


Junior guard Tim HardawayJr. was named the Most Outstanding Player.

Last year's iteration of Tim Hard-
away involved moping and bad
body language. Head shaking and
impulsive shooting.
Had he peaked as a freshman?
The lights may have been on
in the gym, but not upstairs. In
New York, both were on, brighter
than ever.
"I don't know if the pressure
or what happened last year," said
Kansas State coach Bruce Weber,
who was at Illinois last year. "But
he's a different player."
For Hardaway it's always
been about seizing control of his
life. First he had to emerge from
the overbearing influence of his
hyper-competitive father, a for-
mer NBA star. He had to figure
out how to play not to please
everyone else, but to please him-
self. Once considered to be an
NBA talent, Hardaway fell out of
favor after last season's struggles.
This year was about regaining
control of his basketball future.
He wasn't about to become a
mere complement to an offense
centered on the freshmen and
Burke. He regained control by his
own volition.
"The biggest thing is his work
ethic," said Michigan coach
John Beilein. "That doesn't just
happen. He's got great DNA, but
DNA doesn't get you there alone.
The young man is in the gym all
the time." .

He continued to seize control
this weekend. Not about to put
the fate of his tournament, and
the team's, in the fickle nature of
the long jump shot, he attacked.
He pursued the rim relentlessly
and was never satisfied. With the
3-pointer, a too-strong flick of the
wrist could mean a miss off the
heel of the rim. When he takes it
to the basket, it's all in his con-
trol. Sheer will.
So, he made two of 10 3-point-
ers this week, no matter. He made
14 of 18 shots from within the arc.
He grabbed the reins and made
sure things worked out how he
He scored 11 points down the
stretch on Wednesday as the
Wolverines came back to take
down Pittsburgh, 67-62, in the
semifinals and he remained
relentless in Michigan's 71-57
pounding of the Wildcats on
Hardaway leaves The Empire
State and the self-proclaimed
World's Most Famous-Arena with
a few things. He has a trophy for
the tournament title, and another
for being the week's top player.
Also, most likely, a headache.
But more importantly, he also
leaves with control - over his
game, his team, and his future.
- Rothschild can be reached
at nealroth@umich.edu.



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