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February 15, 2013 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-02-15

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8 - Friday, February 15, 2013 Sr

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

In second year, a regression
for Penn State's Chambers

Redshirt junior forwardJordan Morgan said the team must stay together: "Things like this happen, so you can't stay down"
After rough stretch, PSU

By DANIEL WASSERMAN
Daily SportsEditor
If it's true that winning cures
all, Sunday can't come soon
enough for the Michigan men's
basketball team.
The fourth-ranked Wolver-
ines, who are embroiled in a
sense of nega-
tivity for the Michigan vs.
first time this
season, have Penn State
lost three of Matchup:
their past Michigan
four games. 21-4; Penn
In fact, the State 8-15
back-to-back When: Sun-
losses against day,12P.M.
Wisconsin Where:
and Michigan Crisler Arena
State in the
past week mark TV/Radio: Big
the first time Ten Netmork
Michigan has
lost consecu-
tive regular-season games since
it lost six consecutive games in
the middle of the 2011 season.
But this weekend, the Wolver-
ines (8-4 Big Ten, 21-4 overall)
welcome a team to the Crisler
Center that knows a thing or two
about mounting losses. Big Ten
bottom feeder Penn State has lost
each of its 11 conference games
and has yet to win a game on the
road this season. The Nittany
Lions (0-11, 8-15) haven't beaten
a BCS conference opponent all
year, and their last Big Ten win
came on Feb. 16, 2012.
After Tuesday night's embar-
rassing 75-52 loss at Michigan
State, the Wolverines should

have plenty of motivation.
"We just preached the impor-
tance of staying together," said
redshirt junior Jordan Morgan.
"Things like this happen, so you
can't stay down on it. ... You get
all these numbers, all these rank-
ings, but at the end of the day,
that doesn't really mean much
when we step out there. Other
teams don'treally care about that
stuff."
With the regular season finale
less than a month away, junior
guard Tim Hardaway Jr., who
said Tuesday night was a reality
check, found another cause to
rally around.
"We've got to play for the
guys next to us, because it's our
seniors' last year here, and right
now, we're not playing for them
these last few games," Hardaway
said.
Sunday's game has been
tabbed as the Crisler Center
Rededication. In its honor, the
team will wear retro jerseys,
commemorating the 1968 team
that played in the arena's inau-
gural season. Though the white
retro uniforms won't include the
belt or short shorts of the origi-
nals, a press release called the
jerseys "identical."
The athletic department has
planned a ribbon-cutting cere-
mony outside Crisler prior to the
game, and inside, the University
is hoping for a "Stripe Out," with
alternating sections donning
either maize or blue.
Sophomore point guard Trey
Burke, who struggled with foul
trouble against the Spartans,

should have hisway against Penn
State. The All-American, who
once verbally committed to the
Nittany Lions, averaged 16 points
against Penn State last year. But
last season, Burke was matched
up against All-Big Ten defender
Tim Frazier. Frazier was lost for
the year earlierthis season with a
ruptured Achilles tendon. Guard
D.J. Newbill, who transferred to
Penn State this year, leads the
team in scoring at 15.8 points
per game but turns the ball over
nearly four times per game.
Out of 345 Division-I basket-
ball teams, the Nittany Lions
rank 343rd in assists (nine per
game), 339th in field goal per-
centage (.381) and 316th in points
per game (60.3).
Even if Sunday's game turns
into a blowout, there are two
major storylines to pay attention
to.
Morgan, who sprained his
ankle at Illinois on Jan. 27, has
yet to play more than nine min-
utes in a game since.
"It's better," Morgan said on
Tuesday. "I'm pretty close (to 100
percent), I'm right there."
Second, even though forward
Glenn Robinson III's minutes
haven't taken a hit, the forward's
production has - significantly
diminished. Robinson has aver-
aged just 4.5 points in his last
four games and has appeared
afraid to shoot.
"All our guys need to get back
to some basics ... to improve their
own game, and he's not alone in
that," said Michigan coach John
Beilein.

By DANIEL WASSERMAN
Daily Sports Editor
On Sunday, Michigan will
play host to Penn State, which
has yet to win a conference
game this season. In fact, the
Nittany Lions haven't won since
Dec. 29.
Second-year head coach
Pat Chambers, one of the Big
Ten's most
energetic *
es, has
struggled
to find
offense
after los-
ing senior point guard Tim Fra-
zier to a season-ending injury
during non-conference play.
The preseason-All Big Ten first
team guard wasn't just the focal
point of the offense, he was also
one of the conference's best
perimeter defenders.
The Daily chatted with
Chambers in October at Big Ten
media day, when the coach had
just as many wins in conference
play as he does now.
The Michigan Daily: After
winning12 games last year, how
do you manage expectations?
Pat Chambers: What I told
them, we've just got to be the
best team we can be. Wheth-
er that's 20 wins, 18 wins, 16
wins or 12, be the best team we
can be, come out and compete
every day, continue to work
hard on developing great hab-
its to give us an opportunity to
win. I don't think many people
thought we were going to win
12 games (last season), let alone
four in the Big Ten. I think we
surprised a lot of people, and I
think that's a tribute to these
kids. They didn't know they
were supposed to lose by 40.
They had a different midnset
and wanted to give us a chance.
It says a lot about them.
TMD: Obviously the foot-
ball program is facing an
uphill battle with its sanctions.
Does that open a void for you,
maybe, where even Penn State
fans might not have otherwise
looked at Penn State basketball?
PC: What I would say to that
question is that we can help
during the process. But I don't
know if void is the right word
because of what (Penn State

I
I

0

Penn State coach Pat Chambers had as many Big Ten min in October as now.

football coach) Bill O'Brien is
doing - it's amazing what he's
doing.
TMD: Have you had a lot of
communication with Bill?
PC: Yeah, absolutely. We
text, I'll sit with him. I try to
leave him alone because it's
the season and I want to be left
alone during my season. We're
coaches, we understand that,
but as often as two head coach-
es talk, we probably communi-
cate at least once a week.
TMD: We all talk about how
tough it is to win on the road in
the Big Ten. You coached in the
Big East. How do the two con-
ferences compare?
PC: There were some empty
gyms (in the Big East). Not
here; not here. It doesn't matter
wher vnt ar - - nn hntt+-

it's packed.
TMD: You're known as a
high-energy coach. (Guard D.J.
Newbill) said you had a dance-
off in practice the other day. Is
that something you like to do to
create energy and keep it fun?
PC: Yeah, you know what,
when you practice 12-straight
days, it can be a grind for these
kids, especially the younger
kids - we kind of lose them.
They're kind of like, 'Oh my
God, when am I goingto play?'
That's the preseason, but
I had a little dance-off, we
played music in the beginning
to get the energy going, plus
I like it nice and loud. If I can
hear them over the music, that
means we're communicating,
we're talking. We started that
l +-enr

0
0
0

Michigan's disappearing act

GOING
TO THE

adies and gentlemen,
boys and girls, children
of all ages, gather 'round
and get your tickets because
traveling to an arena near you is
the Michigan men's basketball
team - performers of the best
magic show in the Midwest.
That's what I feel like I've been
watching, as the Wolverines have
dropped three of their past four
games during the last 11 days - a
great, big magic show.
The performance is quite sim-
ple: The Wol- _
verines get up
on a bigstage,
run around,
wave their
arms around
for awhile,
and then,
voila - just STEVEN
like that, the BRAID
Wolverines
are gone.
Sometimes they make them-
selves disappear for the first five
or 10 minutes of the show. And
at other times, you'll even get to
see them disappear for a full 20
minutes of game time. But on
Tuesday, they performed their
best magic show yet, vahishing
for a full game against Michigan
State. They disappeared so quick-
ly that I'm not even sure that they
showed up to the Breslin Center
in the first place.
What's the trick? Two words:
Passive play. F
An inability to draw fouls and
get to the free-throw line has
plagued the Wolverines and has
been one of the biggest reasons
for their midseason mini-swoon.
And unless they start looking for
contact and playing with more

aggression, the losses will keep
coming, especially on the road.
Michigan is the worst team in
the Big Ten at gettingto the foul
line. Its 378 attempts from the
line place it dead last. Go ahead
and digest that for a moment.
The Wolverines shoot fewer
free throws than Penn State, a
team winless in the Big Ten, and
Nebraska, ateam that doesn't
even average 60 points a game.
But forget about the Big Ten,
Michigan ranks as one of the
worst teams in the country in
that category. According to
TeamRankings.com - a site that
computes stats for games involv-
ing two NCAA Division I schools
- the Wolverines are one of the
least-fouled teams in the country.
Of 347 Division I schools, the
Wolverines rank 342nd in draw-
ing fouls. Their 14.7 fouls drawn
per game place them squarely
between Troy and Louisiana-
Monroe. Their 15 free-throw
attempts per game place them in
the bottom 15 in the nation, and
their lack of aggression has really
caught up with them during the
past three road games.
In the first 21 games of the sea-
son, the Wolverines attempted
over 16 free throws a game. In
the current three-game road los-
ing streak, the Wolverines have
attempted a combined total of 15
shots from the charity stripe.
You'll say that's nonsense, that
those stats don't mean anything.
That the reason the Wolverines
have lost three of their last four
games is because they play in the
toughest conference and when
you play on the road in three of
the toughest arenas in the coun-
try, you're going to lose, espe-

cially when you play four games
in 11 days.
And I'll still say, just look at
the numbers. I'll point to an
eight-point loss to Indiana 11 days
ago, in which Michigan shot just
seven free throws; the Hoosiers
took 25. I'll direct you to the
three-point overtime loss against
Wisconsin on Saturday, during
which the Wolverines attempted
two free throws for the entire
game. I repeat, they took two free
throws the entire game (the Bad-
gers attempted 10 free throws).
And then I'll show you Tues-
day night. While Michigan State
dominated the contest, Michigan
attempted six free throws - half
of which came in the final 90 sec-
onds of the game by players who
normally never seea minute of
game time.
You'll ask how the heck can a
few morefree throws change the
'ourse of a 23-point blowout. I'd
partially agree with you. At face
value, a few more free throws
wouldn't have made much of a
dent in the deficit, but the lack of
free-throw attempts was indica-
tive of Michigan's passive play.
The mere fact of creating fouls
and getting to the foul line early
in the contest would've estab-
lished a physical presence for
the Wolverines, and could've put
Michigan State in foul trouble -
potential altering the outcome.
Not one Spartan accumulated
more than three fouls on Tues-
day. In fact, no opposing player
has racked up more than three
fouls against the Wolverines
since Illinois' center Nnanna
Egwu on Jan. 27 - a stretch of
six games.
You'll say Michigan needs to

get Glenn Robinson III more
involved, he's only scored eight
points in those three games. I'll
say Robinson needs to get him-
self more involved, he's not being
aggressive enough. Total number
of foul shots attempted in those
three road games: zero. But he's
not alone, Tim Hardaway Jr. and
Mitch McGary have combined
for zero free-throw attempts dur-
ing that stretch, aswell.
Yes, the case can be made
that Michigan is playing tougher
competition and that it's a finesse
team. That it's not built to shoot
20-plus free throws every game.
But the Wolverines are also not
designed to win attempting just
five free throws a contest, either.
They can create high totals from
the charity stripe, as they've
demonstrated in quality wins
against Kansas State (13), North
Carolina State (20), Arkansas (18)
-and Minnesota (25),
Before its loss to Indiana,
Michigan had attempted single-
digit free throws in a game just
once - a 28-point victory against
Binghamton in December.
Since then, the Wolverines have
attempted fewer than 10 free
throws just three times, and it's
no coincidence that they've all
come in the past three losses.
There's an old adage that says
you can afford to shoot 3-pointers
at home, but you've got to shoot
free throws if you want to win on
the road.
Michigan should heed the
advice, or else its next magic
trick will be an earlyexit in the
postseason.
Steven Braid can be reached
at sgbraid@umich.edu

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