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April 04, 2013 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, April 4, 2013 - 7A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Thursday, April 4, 2013 - 7A

Freshman guard Nik Stauskas looked like his old self against Florida, when he went 6-for-6 from beyond the 3-point line in Michigan's Elite Eight victory.
M iga n reurnin

By COLLEEN THOMAS
Daily Sports Editor
Trey Burke's game-tying shot
against Kansas, Nik Stauskas'
6-for-6 day from beyond the arc
against Florida, Mitch McGary
averaging a double-double in
the NCAA Tournament - the
Michigan men's basketball team
is finally hitting its stride.
After struggling through
the Big Ten slate and suffering
an early exit in the conference
tournament, the Wolverines
weren't expected to be the last
Big Ten team standing in late
March. Michigan finished the
regular season 6-6 after starting
out 18-0.
But in the NCAA Tourna-
ment, Michigan plowed through
tough second- and third-round
draws in South Dakota State and
Virginia Commonwealth and
advanced to its first Sweet Six-
teen appearance since 1994. A
late rally against the Jayhawks
and a drubbing of the Gators
propelled the Wolverines to
their first Final Four since 1993.
So why is Michigan finally
hot?
"Just coming into the (NCAA)
Tournament, we wanted to
make a statement our first cou-
ple of games," said sophomore
guard Trey Burke. "We just
tried to stay in the moment.
After the loss to Wisconsin (in
the Big Ten Tournament), we

as well as we should've played.
Coming into the NCAA Tourna-
ment, we wanted to come in and
make a statement from day one.
"Once we got past South
Dakota State, we focused on
VCU - we never really looked
ahead. We all did a really good
job focusing on everybody's
scouting report. That definitely
helped us out to this point."
The Wolverines have been
playing up to the potential that
was expected at the beginning
of the season, and a lot of it has
been because they've been able
to get back to playing their fast-
paced offense.
After Michigan cruised past
South Dakota State, it was faced
with slowing down a physical,
lanky VCU squad with a noto-
riously tough defense that likes
to force turnovers. As the top
team in the nation at forcing
turnovers, the Rams trouble
opposing teams' guards and shut
down passing lanes.
But the Wolverines didn't
have trouble handling the ball.
Though Burke was quiet offen-
sively, freshman forward Glenn
Robinson III and junior guard
Tim Hardaway Jr. took control,
and VCU was unable to defend
Michigan's multitude of ball
handlers.
Though the Wolverines didn't
have an issue dispatching the
Jackrabbits and the Rams, both
styles of olav were very differ-

team runs. It might be daunting
to have to scout teams with such
a quick turnaround, but Burke
and Michigan didn't think it
was a weakness of theirs head-
ing into the tournament.
"We try to use our conference
as strength going into this tour-
nament," Burke said. "Seeing
different defenses and offenses
- things that we're not famil-
iar with - allows us to get more
stops, get out in transition, play
our game."
That's exactly how Michigan
got to the Final Four. Against
Kansas, the Wolverines were
able to get out in transition by
forcing turnovers, helping fresh-
man forward Mitch McGary
control the boards.
The Wolverines duplicated
that against Florida in the Elite
Eight by jumping out to an early
13-0 lead and shutting down the
Gators defensively. Michigan's
defense held Florida to a 41-per-
cent clip and many one-and-
done possessions, which helped'
get its offense rolling.
The Wolverines scored 21
points in transition and forced
13 turnovers in the game, and
Burke found the shooters -
freshman guard Nik Stauskas
and Hardaway - early and
often.
"What helped us was getting
stops and running," Hardaway
said. "We really wanted to come
out there and be aggressive. he

We did that. Everybody was
on attack mode going into the
game. We really wanted to do
a good job on the defensive end
because they're a great 3-point
shooting team."
Now, Michigan is faced with
running its fast-paced offense
against Syracuse's seemingly
unbeatable 2-3 zone that held
Marquette to 39 points and
Indiana to 50. The zone's weak-
nesses haven't been exploited in
the tournament, but that doesn't
mean there aren't weak spots.
"There's some gaps in the
defense, high-low, low post,"_
McGary said. "If our guards
penetrate into those gaps in the
lane, it'll be easy kick-outs or
drop-offs for threes or layups."
And Michigan has confidence
in its shooters, especially with
Stauskas, who was left open
on the left-side baseline and
was automatic from the corner
against Florida.
Stauskas said Michigan coach
John Beilein has been preparing
the players to shoot long jump-
ers from anywhere on the floor
with a half-court drill. When-
ever a coach blows a whistle, the
player at the top of the key has
to take a deep 3-pointer - a way
to help prepare for Syracuse's
defense that can close out well
and stretch the floor.
"We have a lot of guys who
can shoot it from real deep, but,
coach Beilein made it a point: not
all of the threes we're gonna get
are right on the line," Stauskas
said. "But this week we're going
to spend a lot of time working on
threes maybe two, three, four
feet outside the line, knocking
down with confidence."

BASEBALL
'M' gets 'greedy' win
against Chippewas
By SHANNON LYNCH freshman pitcher Jacob Cronen-
Daily Sports Writer worth each scored a pair of runs,
and Zott, Cronenworth and
In its last two games, the Mich- O'Neill picked up two hits apiece.
iganbaseballteam's offense has 16 "We've explored a few leadoff
hits and nine runs, and base run- hitters and two-hole and three-
ners have stolen five bases. Mean- hole and mixed that part of it up
while, the Wolverines' pitching just to find the right combina-
staff has fanned 15 batters and tion, and we're looking forward
hasn't allowed a single run in 20 to Pat (Biondi) rejoining the
innings of play. lineup because he brings so much
On Wednesday, Michigan was to the table and to our offense,"
on a roll offensively for eight Bakich said. "Even though some
innings at guys may not always be a regular
Ray Fisher CENTRAL MI. 0 starter, when they do get their
Stadium, MICHIGAN 7 opportunities, we're confident
earning a and they're confident that they
7-0 victory against the Chippewas are going have a quality at-bat and
and putting up at least one run in help the team win."
six frames. Many of the opportu- Central Michigan's offense
nities for runs came from aggres- couldn't find its rhythm against
sive base running and getting the a myriad of Michigan pitchers.
leadoff hitters on base. Bourque pitched the first three
Sophomore right fielder Kevin innings and tied a season high
White, who went 1-for-2 with a with five strikeouts. Four reliev-
double, two walks and two runs ers followed, including sopho-
scored, gave a short and argu- more right-hander Jay Perry, who
ably seamless answer to describe struck out two, and fifth-year
Michigan's current style of play. senior right-hander Chad Jasman,
"Playing greedy has worked who preserved the shutout in the
better for us." ninth with a strikeout.
On Wednes- "We're feel-
day afternoon, ing really good
the Wolverines " a nright now -
got off to a hot our pitching
start early. reedy s staff has really
During the d hstepped up,"
first inning, worked better White said.
sophomore J5.LI.I "We're just
right-hander f u going to try to
James Bourque for us* ride these two
struck out two wins into the
batters without weekend, stick
allowing a hit, while sophomore to the routines, execute the fun-
outfielder Zach Zott hit a bomb damentals this weekend and take
into right-center, earning a triple care of business."
and bringing junior outfielder Bakich expects the same
Michael O'Neill home. aggressiveness on offense and
"Any time we can get the lead- defense from his team this week-
off hitter on base, they've got a end. The Wolverines travel to East
great chance of scoring," said Lansing on Friday and Sunday to
Michigan coach Erik Bakich. take on Michigan State and will
"Our team can bunt, it can run, it play a game on their home turf
can get guys in motion, it can put against the Spartans on Saturday.
pressure on the defense and we "Of course it'sgoing to be big-
have alot of weapons once we get ger because it's Michigan State,"
the leadoff guy on to get him into Bakich said. "But that doesn't
scoring position." mean that we can execute any dif(
Recently, the Wolverine ferently than what we did these
offense has had to operate with- last two games."
out senior outfielder and team Part of that execution strategy
captain Patrick Biondi, who has relies on producing solid at-bats
been out of the starting lineup every inning. Another part relies
with an injury since early March. on the base runners' ability to put
While his presence has been pressure on the other team and
missed, the Wolverines have been force errors. And the Wolverines
producing at the plate. will rely heavily on their pitchers'
In its 7-0victory over the Chip- ability to throw strikeouts and
pewas, Michigan (1-2 Big Ten, pitch to contact. Keeping with the
13-14 overall) batters capitalized aggressive and "greedy" style of
in crucial situations. The Wol- play against the Chippewas is key
verines had three sacrifice flies to Michigan's success this coming
before the fifth inning. White and weekend.

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