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February 22, 2013 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-02-22

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8 - Friday, February 22, 2013

Sports

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

_

0

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
Shoddy shooting,
dismal defense
in a lopsided loss

N IC HOL A S W IL L IAMS/Daily
Senior guard Jenny Ryan followed up a career-high 24 points against Michigan State with just six points against a lockdown Cornhusker defense.
21-0 run leads todemise

Two stretches total
36 unanswered
points for Nebraska
to topple Michigan
By ALEXA DETTELBACH
Daily Sports Writer
In a clash of the Big Ten's hot-
test teams, the Michigan wom-
en's basketball team came out
fast against No. 24 Nebraska. In
the first half, at least.
The Wolverines - riding a
three-game win streak, includ-
ing a huge
win against NEBRASKA 57
Michigan MICHIGAN 39
State on
Saturday - forced three Corn-
husker turnovers in the opening
two minutes and relied on the
strong play of senior forward Nya
Jordan, who had six of the team's
first 10 points. But two extensive
stretches without a basket -
Nebraska had runs of 15 and 21
unanswered points - were too
much for Michigan to overcome
in a 57-39 loss to Nebraska on
Thursday night. Michigan scored
its lowest point total of the sea-
son in its second-to-last home
game.
"It was just one of those nights
where we couldn't get out of it,"
said Michigan coach Kim Barnes
Arico. "In the first half we really
struggled offensively, but they

struggled as well
went back and for
struggles.
"Then in the
continued with t
hopefully it was
can move on."
The Wolverine
19-7 overall) kept
ers' offense cold f
minutes, but Neb
scorers - senior
Moore and junio
dan Hooper -
helped build a
five-point lead
after sparking
a 15-0 run half-
way through
the first.
Michi-
gan's offense,
which started
out 5-for-9
from the field,
missed its next
11 shots and wen
minutes without
ing the Cornhusk
momentum. Afti
timeout, senior
Sheffer hit a lay
Wolverines' sco
The rest of the ha
a back-and-forth
Jordan's 10 poi
rebounds helping
take a 22-18 lead a
"We ran a lotc
the game to (Jo
Arico said. "Early
straight plays for:

, so we kind of a tremendous job, (but) she got a
rth through the little bit tired in the second half.
"Overall, though, Nya is doing
second half we everything for us, I'm really
he struggle, so grateful that she turned iton."
a fluke and we Nebraska (10-3, 20-6) opened
the second half scoring 21
s (8-5 Big Ten, straight points to gain a com-
the Cornhusk- manding 17-point lead. Michi-
or the first eight gan's first points of the second
raska's leading half didn't come until Sheffer hit
guard Lindsey a 3-pointer with 11:26 remain-
r forward Jor- ing in the game. A quick jumper
by sophomore
guard Brenae
Harris cut the
"It was one of deficit to 12,
.forcing the
those nmghts Cornhuskers to
take a timeout.
where we "They came
y y, out way more
COuldn't get out." aggrssiveo
than we did,
and we kind
of got a little
t more than six bit rattled because they scored,"
a point, allow- Jordan said. "They went on a run,
lers to gain the and we weren't able to answer."
er a Michigan After both teams traded bas-
center Rachel kets, senior guard Kate Thomp-
up to end the son hit her first 3-pointer of the
ring drought. game with 6:54 remaining, chip-
alf proved to be ping Nebraska's lead to 10 - the
struggle with closest Michigan gotto the Corn-
nts and eight huskers before eventually falling
the Wolverines by 18 points.
at halftime. After having back-to-back
of stuff early in strong offensive games, Thomp-
rdan)," Barnes son couldn't find her shot, going
on we ran three 2-for-17 with five points, but she
her and she did still added eight rebounds. Ryan,

who won Big Ten Player of the
Week on Monday, was also quiet
compared to her 24-point effort
against Michigan State but con-
tributed just six points and only
one assist.
Jordan ended the game with
12 points and a career-high 16
rebounds. It was her fifthstraight
game scoring in double figures, a
career best. Sheffer added nine
points and seven rebounds.
The downfall for the Wolver-
ines was their second-half per-
formance - they were outscored
39-17 in the period. Michigan
shot 27.7 percent on the game,
including13 percent from beyond
the arc. Meanwhile, Nebraska
shot 39.6 percent on the game
including 53.8 percent in the
second half In addition, the
Cornhuskers went 7-for-12 from
downtown in the second half.
"The second half we came out
dead," Sheffer said. "We didn't
have any energy. The biggest
thing was that we weren't hitting
shots, but we were going on the
defensive shots and letting them
hit shots. When we're not hit-
ting shots we have to step up our
defensive game especially."
Added Barnes Arico: "In the
second half I really thought that
we looked fatigued, (and) they
really beat us in transition. We
lost our fire a little bit, and I think
sometimes not being able to score
takes the wind out of your sails,
and (that's) what happened to
us."

By GLENN MILLER JR.
Daily Sports Writer
The game of basketball boils
down to two fundamentals -
making baskets and playing
defense. On Thursday, the Mich-
igan women's basketball team
failed in both areas, leading to
a 57-39 rout by No. 24 Nebraska.
Both the Wolverines and
Cornhuskers struggled to find a
rhythm on offense, exchanging
leads throughout the first half.
Michigan started the game in a
man-to-man defense, containing
Nebraska's leading scorer, junior
guard Jordan Hooper, to two
points at the break. The Husk-
ers allowed a 10-2 run out of
the gates, but tightened up their
defense to let only senior guard
Nya Jordan score in double dig-
its with 10 points in the first half.
Nebraska shot a paltry 25.9
percent from the field in the first
half, but Michigan wasn't much
better at 32.4 percent. Still, the
Wolverines took advantage of a
struggling Husker team to take a
slim lead at the break, 22-18.
The second half was a differ-
ent story. As Michigan sank into
a 2-3 zone, Nebraska went on a
21-0 run while the Wolverines'
offense seemed to vanish. With-
in an instant, a game that Michi-
gan seemed to control became
too much to handle.
"The second half we came out
dead - we didn't have any ener-
gy," said senior forward Rachel
Sheffer. "The biggest thing was
that we weren'thittingshots,but
we were going on the defensive
end and letting them hit shots.
When we're not hitting shots,
we have to step up our defensive
game especially."
The Wolverines couldn't find
an answer for Huskers' senior
guard Lindsey Moore, who fin-
ished the game with 15 points
and eight assists. Moore not
only controlled her team's tempo
on offense, but she also locked
down Michigan senior guard
Jenny Ryan on defense. Ryan,
who earned this week's Big Ten
Player of the Week Honors, fol-
lowed up a career-high 24 points
against Michigan State with just
six points against Nebraska.
"I thought tonight Nebraska
did agreat job of wearing(Jenny)
out and they guarded her," said
Michigan coach Kim Barnes
Arico. "She played 39 minutes,
so I mean they exhausted her
and did a tremendous job on her
defensively, and she seemed a
little bit tired."
The leading scorer for the
Wolverines this season, senior
guard Kate Thompson, shot an
abysmal 2-for-17 from the field
and finished with five points.
Thompson was guarded tightly
off of screens, and while she saw

a fair share of opportunities, she
was never able to find a rhythm,
shooting a mere 10 percent
from behind the arc. The Husk-
ers effectively double-teamed
Thompson to contain her dan-
gerous 3-point shot, forcing
Michigan's offense to find the
open player.
"They left the people coming
off the bench wide open, and I
think we were kind of shocked
by that," Sheffer said. "We
weren't really sure what to do.
We had wide-open looks but we
just didn't knock them down."
While the Wolverines con-
tinued to allow Nebraska to
shoot through their zone, no
one stepped up for Michigan on
offense. Several times in the sec-
ond half, the Huskers doubled
Thompson and Sheffer, leaving
sophomore guard Nicole Elm-
blad wide open. Elmblad, who
isn't known for her offensive
abilities, missed all three of her
attempts shooting.
"For a lot of us, we were never
wide open in the season," Jordan
said. "I think for the most part
we had to think what we wanted
to do and that took us out of our
routine and rhythm."
Senior guard Sam Arnold
came off the bench in an attempt-
ed relief role, but the Wolverines
couldn't handle the pressure.
Michigan found itself constantly
battling the shot clock as Ryan
continued to force the ball to
Thompson and Sheffer.
"Obviously they did a great
job of doubling our other kids
and getting kids open," Barnes
Arico said. "We need some other
kids to come in and make some
plays for us in order for us to be
successful."
This isn't the firstsighting of a
stagnant Wolverines offense. In
its first game against Michigan
State in East Lansing, Michigan
struggled to find a rhythm in the
second half and settled for last-
second shots. The Wolverines'
panic on Thursday resembled
the offensive production that
contributed to their four-game
conference skid.
But if there is anything Michi-
gan has learned fromits mid-sea-
son slide, it's how to bounce back
against tough teams. After losing
four out of five games in the Big
Ten, the Wolverines responded
by defeating three consecutive
top-tier Big Ten teams. Michi-
gan now has the opportunity to
make a monumental rebound on
Sunday at No. 8 Penn State and
prove that Thursday's game was
simply a hiccup.
"We've been in this position
before - ina little slump," Sheffer
said."Itwas just abadnighttoplay
basketball for us. We just need to
make sure tomorrow we come in
and get ready for Penn State."

After welcomed rest, 'M' faces streaking Illini

0

Struggling bigs
should receive
boost from a
recovering Morgan
By COLLEEN THOMAS
Daily Sports Editor
The last time the Michigan
men's basketball team held an
opponent's
big man to Mlindsat
less than 10
points was Michigan
Jan. 27 when Matchup:
the Wolver- Illinois 17-7;
ines traveled to Michigan 22-4
Champaign. When: Sun-
Then-No. 2 day 1 P.M.
Michigan held Where: Crisier
Illinois' 6-foot- Center
11 center Nnan- TV/Radio:
na Egwu to ISPN
just six points
in a convinc-
ing 74-60 road win, but ever
since, the Wolverines haven't
been able to stop the opponents'
interior game, especially with
the absence of redshirt junior

forward Jordan Morgan due to
a persistent ankle injury - their
defensive rock.
Thankfully for Michigan (9-4
Big Ten, 22-4 overall), it hosts
the Fighting Illini (6-7, 19-8) on
Sunday with Morgan's health
improving. The redshirt junior
started in the seventh-ranked
Wolverines' latest contest
against Penn State, and with him
continuing to show improve-
ment combined with Illinois'
weak frontcourt coming to Ann
Arbor, Michigan will be able to
focus its defense on the perim-
eter.
But it won't be an easy task to
defend one ofthe best backcourts
in the Big Ten. Seniors Brandon
Paul and D.J. Richardson and
sophomore Tracy Abrams com-
bine for 40 points per game - 56
percent of the Fighting Illini's
offense - while Paul is fourth in
the conference in scoring, aver-
aging 16.4 points per game.
Though Paul didn't have as
explosive of a game against
Northwestern on Feb. 17 as
he's capable of - he scored just
eight points - Illinois coach
John Groce has seen immense

improvement in the captain's
all-around game and hopes he'll
continue the trend.
"I thought (Sunday's game)
was as good a performance as
he's had all year in all areas,"
said Groce in a teleconference on
Monday. "He rebounded the ball
well, I thought his shot selec-
tion was excellent, he shared
the ball, he made our team bet-
ter. He (also) defended well, he
made a couple of hustle, extra-
effort plays. I thought he played
as well-rounded a game as he has
all year, I think his mind is in the
right place."
And Paul's improvement has
contributed to the Fighting Illi-
ni's five-game win streak. After
struggling early in the confer-
ence slate - going 2-7 in the
first nine games of Big Ten play
- Illinois responded with upsets
over Indiana and Minnesota and
thrashings of Purdue and North-
western.
But while Illinois has been on
a late-season surge, Michigan
has been faltering. After drop-
ping three of their four games in
a 10-day stretch, the Wolverines
struggled to fend off Penn State

last Sunday, which is winless in
the Big Ten.
Michigan has recently shown
signs of the wear associated with
the brutal conference sched-
ule, and the tough stretch has
exposed several weaknesses in
the Wolverines' game, especial-
ly on defense. Michigan coach
John Beilein recognized his
team's exhaustion and adjusted
this week's practice schedule
accordingly, though he's still
adamant that the squad will con-
tinue to improve with the right
regiment.
"It takes a long process (to
adjust physically), and that's
just being in the weight room,"
Beilein said in a teleconference
on Monday. "We find that the
more you're in the weight room,
the more that you're work-
ing out, the stronger you get. It
doesn't hurt to be tough (and) it
doesn't hurt to be physical.
"(There's also) your whole
attitude in practice, about what
you're going to stand for. There's
just all kind of motivating ways
you'll do to make sure they
understand it is urgent that you
play at a higher level, you play

really hard, and you play smart
- that's the toughest thing to do.
There's a lot of ways (of motiva-
tion), whether it's extra running,
raise your voice, (or) make prac-
tice go longer."
And while sophomore guard
Trey Burke and junior guard
Tim Hardaway Jr. have had no
trouble handling the physicality
of conference play, the freshmen
- most notably guard Nik Staus-
kas and forward Glenn Robinson
III - have struggled greatly dur-
ing the Big Ten slate.
Though the offense was hot
for Michigan with Robinson and
Stauskas having breakout games
against the Nittany Lions offen-
sively, the whole team's defense
lacked motivation. Beilein is
hoping that the week off will
allow the team to focus indi-
vidually in auldition to the team's
larger needs.
"Instead of having 15 guys at
practice, we may have several
sessions with five guys for an
hour ... and then have an hour
practice," Beilein said. "There's
some different things we can do
to give individual attention to
the strengths and weaknesses

6

PAUL SHERMAN/Daily
Michigan coach Jon Beilein must
address defensive play in the paint.
we have individually."
Even without a stellar defen-
sive performance, chances are
Michigan will be able to scrap
a win against Illinois behind
Burke and Hardaway's continu-
ing tear. But if the Wolverines
hope to compete against the
Big Ten's best - they still have
remaining games against Michi-
gan State and Indiana - they will
need a big difference on defense.

i

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