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February 04, 2014 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 - 7

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, February 4, 2014- 7

In weekend wins, goal-
scoring slumps broken

TERESA MATHEW/Daily
Redshirt junior Jon Horford saw just eight minutes and went scoreless as the Wolverines dropped their first Big Ten game.
Frontcourt lacks presence

By DANIEL WASSERMAN
Daily Sports Editor
On Saturday, when Indiana
handed the Michigan men's bas-
ketball team its first Big Ten loss,
much of the attention fell on the
Hoosiers'victory in the backcourt.
But lost in the fanfare
surrounding Yogi Ferrell's big day
- the Indiana guard had a game-
leading 27 points while holding
sophomore guard Nik Stauskas
to just six points - was an
ineffective outing from what has
been a surprisingly productive
Wolverine frontcourt.
By now, the storyline sur-
rounding Michigan's unexpected
surge following sophomore for-
ward Mitch McGary's back sur-
gery and ensuing absence has
been beaten to death. And while
Stauskas, averaging 17.2 points in
conference play, has drawn much
of the credit for the Wolverines'
10-game win streak that was
snapped by the Hoosiers, Michi-
gan's under-the-radar frontcourt
tandem has filled in well.
After just two regular-season
starts last season, McGary
exploded onto the scene in the
NCAA Tournament, averaging
14.3 points per game and 10.6
rebounds per game. Those
numbers alone were enough
to land him on nearly every
preseason All-American list.
But over that same six-game
span, forwards Jordan Morgan

and Jon Horford combined to
contribute less than three points
and rebounds per game.
Despite the experience of the
fifth-year senior Morgan, who
started all but two games last
year, and redshirt junior Horford,
filling in McGary's void was
thought to be a difficult task, if not
impossible.
But heading into Sunday's
game in Bloomington, the pair's
contributions had been surpris-
ingly sound. A quick glimpse
at either of the players' indi-
vidual statistics reveals nothing
astounding - Morgan was aver-
aging 8.4 points per game and 5.3
rebounds per game, while Hor-
ford posted 6.3 points per game
and 5.1 rebounds per game - but
combined, their 14.7 points per
game and 10.4 rebounds per game
mirror McGary's tournament
numbers almost exactly.
So what went wrong against
Indiana?
Well, Michigan (8-1 Big Ten,
16-5 overall) will be hard-pressed
towinanygameswhenitconnects
on just three 3-pointers or posts a
23.3-percent mark from beyond
the arc, and is in poor shape when
Stauskas is held to a double-digit
scoring output, as evidenced in
losses to Duke in December and
the Hoosiers on Sunday.
But Stauskas wasn't alone in
his ineffective outing. Horford
was held scoreless and didn't
collect a single rebound in just

eight minutes. Morgan scored five
points, but was just 1-for-5 from
the charity stripe, including a
couple key front-end misses with
the Wolverines trailing down the
stretch. Though his 10 rebounds
were a respectable figure,
someone had to grab rebounds for
Michigan, which was otherwise
outrebounded 31-22 - eight
below its season average and just
two short of a season low.
Combined, the frontcourt duo's
five-point, 10-rebound outing,
was the lowest-scoring out-
put in nine conference games
to date. On an afternoon with
Stauskas stifled from the open-
ing tip, the lack of scoring in the
post resulted in a 63-52 loss,
the Wolverines' lowest-scoring
total of the season.
"I don't have all the answers,"
saidMichigan coach JohnBeilein.
"Obviously if I had answers, we
wouldn't have scored 52 points."
Through the struggles,
though, Beilein saw positives.
Noting that he never expected to
remain undefeated throughout
conference play, Beilein was quick
to note that more growth comes
out of losses than wins.
"We'll address the issues we
think we need to improve on," he
said on Monday's Big Ten telecon-
ference. "We expect them to get
back on the horse and keep learn-
ing. I think our staff does a great
job at just framing up these games
so we can grow from them."

By ERIN LENNON
Daily Sports Writer
For the No. 10 Michigan
hockey team, returning to
Yost Ice Arena to defeat No. 12
Wisconsin was less about shat-
tering sticks and more about
snapping streaks.
With a win Friday, the
Wolverines ended a four-game
losing streak to the Badgers
that dated back to November
2009. Just as important,
though, were the individual
slumps that ended.
The first by freshman for-
ward Tyler Motte, who accu-
mulated 10 points in the first
half of the season, and regis-
tered his first point since Jan.
10 in Madison. It was his first
goal since Nov. 22, ending an
11-week, nine-game dryspell.
And Saturday, Motte began a
new streak, finding twine for
the second-straight day.
But when one freshman
forward heated up, another
cooled down. After a four-point
outburst against Michigan
State, JT Compher ended his
hot streak Friday.
Still, Motte's two tallies,
combined with an assist from
freshman defenseman Michael
Downing, extended yet another
important streak - a Michigan
freshman has registered a
point in 20 of the Wolverines'
22 games this season.
"It was good for (Motte) to
get out of his slump, because
he is a player who the puck fol-
lows," said Michigan coach Red
Berenson. "He's a smart player,
so it's been strange for him to
have a drought like that."
Minutes after Motte's tally,
junior forward Alex Guptill
added his seventh goal of the
season. His last goal had come
at Yost, when Michigan fin-
ished up a homestand against
Ferris State on Dec.11- 51 days
before Friday's contest.
After Friday's game, Guptill
spoke about getting his
swagger back.
"I think I've been a little

snake-bitten lately, but I feel
like I've been getting my chanc-
es and I got one tonight, which
was nice," he said on Friday. "I
think all the credit goes to my
linemates. They are making me
look good out there."
Berenson had been waiting
for Guptill to have a breakout
game and was pleased with his
performance. Now, though, it's
about continuing that streak of
strong performances.
Junior forward Zach Hyman
also got himself back on the
board. Hyman - who created
several scoring chances on his
new line with senior forward
Luke Moffatt and junior Phil
Di Giuseppe against Michigan
State - found twine for the
first time since Dec. 1 against
Ohio State before adding an
assist Saturday.
With more experience under
its belt than any other trio,
Michigan's

would have ended his months-
long scoreless streak. Though
his play has improved since
being moved to the wing posi-
tion, Nieves hasn't tallied a goal
since Oct. 12 against Rochester
Institute of Technology.
The offense is gaining
confidence, he said, which
will be key as the Wolverines
turn scoreless slumps into
scoring streaks.
Of course, not everyone
scored against a strong shot-
blocking Badger defense. The
power play went 0-for-8 and
some of Michigan's top scorers
were left off the stat sheet.
During the waning minutes
of overtime play Saturday,
sophomore forward Andrew
Copp broke away from a
defender. For a moment, it
looked as if he would secure
his third extra-frame goal
this season. He wound up and
fired, but his

third line was
the differ-
ence against
Wisconsin,
accounting
for four even-
strength
goals.
"Motte's
goal was a
tribute to his
line, too,"
Berenson said. "I
was working. Th
weekend."
Moffatt notch
tying goal in the
to give the senio
including fourg
career games
Badgers. He also
lone shootout gc
two points for the
"I told Luke it'
Berenson said.
trouble being c
I hope he can ge
groove right no
linemates he like
playing hard."
Sophomore f
Nieves's nearly
find the back of t

shot went no
further than
"The more Wisconsin
goaltender
people that are JoelRumpel's
glove.
scoring, the Copp was
held without
better. a point
against the
Badgers this
weekend.
His whole line The alternate captain was
ey had a good largely the only offense when
the Wolverines slumped
ed the game- through December, scoring
third period eight points - six goals and
r five points, two assists - in seven games,
goals, in five including a goal in Madison
against the and an assist in each game
recorded the against the Spartans.
oal to secure Still, Copp's weekend is
Wolverines. less of an indication that the
s about time," Hobey Baker Award finalist is
"He's had slumping than it is of a revived
onsistent, so offense - one that need not rely
t into a good on one player.
)w. He's got "I guess the more people that
s, and they're are scoring, the better," Copp
said. "I think I need to pick up
orward Boo my play a little bit right now,
saw his shot but it's good. We need everyone
he net, which chipping in."

For Wolverines, a fall back to reality

I's hard to decide which
fact is more surprising:
that the Michigan women's
basketball team is 14-8, or that
only one month ago, predicting a
14-8 record Feb. 3 would've been
pessimistic.
Michigan coach Kim Barnes
Arico doesn't claim to have
seen the
Wolverines'
success
coming -
anything but,
as a matter
of fact. In
the weeks
leading up to LEV
their season- F
opening FACHER
exhibition
against
Wayne State, the second-year
coach was dropping the phrase
"transition year" and citing
the her team's relative lack of
experience as a reason it might
have trouble staying competitive
in Big Ten play. Missing out on
the NCAA Tournament felt like
a foregone conclusion.
Making the NCAA Tourna-
ment doesn't seem likely now,
either. But it did, at one point,
and it's the emotional parabola
that transpired between the
beginning of the season and now
that's remarkable.
Barnes Arico's jump to a
"transition year" mentality was
hardly unwarranted. The start-
ing lineup she put on the floor
for that early November tune-up
featured junior forward Nicole
Elmblad alongside two players
who'd never made an appear-
ance in a Michigan uniform
and two more who averaged
a respective 1.1 and 2.7 points
per game last season. Elmblad,
too, averaged just 4.3 points last
year, on a team that relied heav-
ily on five seniors who took 90

percent of Michigan's scoring
with them as they accepted their
diplomas in May.
An 11-point loss to Bowling
Green in the Wolverines'
regular-season opener seemed
to confirm the prevailingtheory
that Michigan might have to
wait until next year to make any
postseason noise.
It took a buzzer-beating
turnaround jumper from junior
forward Cyesha Goree to force
overtime against Arizona, and to
keep a glimmer of hope alive. It
took four days for that newfound
sense of optimism to be dashed
by a disappointing overtime loss
to Xavier in Michigan's home
opener. It took another month
after that for the Wolverines to
go on 6-1 tear that included an
impressive win over Texas Tech.
The lone loss was a 64-62
nail-biter against No. 15 LSU
that saw the Wolverines, playing
without junior guard Shannon
Smith - the team's leading
scorer at the time - stand
their ground against one of the
nation's best teams.
This much was clear - "tran-
sition year" no longer applied.
When asked after Michigan's
Jan. 18 win over Illinois if she
had seen any of her team's
success coming, Barnes Arico
could only laugh.
"Oh my goodness, no," she
said. "No, but ... it's the kids.
They're just unbelievable. They
have great chemistry. They're so
unselfish. They buy into working
hard."
It wasn't just a coach
mindlessly glowing about her
hard-working team to the
media, either. The prospect of
being unsuccessful seems not to
have occurred to Barnes Arico's
players.
Sure enough, Goree didn't
blink before calmly responding,

TRACY KO/Daily
Michigan women's basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico has managed to take her team from an expected transition year to a bubble team in the NCAA Tournament.

"yes" to the same question. If
they worked hard enough, she
said, there was no doubt in
their minds that they'd be as
successful as they'd been.
The same spirit of innocence,
coupled with the attitude that
hard work has no equal, is
prevalent throughout the roster.
Before this winter, freshman
guard Siera Thompson had
never seen snow, and hasn't seen
her family for more than a week
since arriving at Michigan in
June. Despite the drastic chang-
es, she's leading the Wolverines
in scoring and has established
herself as one of the nation's
best 3-point shooters. Over the
offseason, Goree dropped 20
pounds, and the results showed

- she's playing 10 times as many
minutes as she did last year,
and has turned into a beast on
the boards. Smith, for her part,
waits in the wings until her
teammates have trouble scoring,
then unveils an absurd display
of ballhandling and near-impos-
sible shots that sometimes leave
defenses gaping.
For a few weeks, it seemed
like Barnes Arico's transition
year was actually a transition
month, and that November was
far in the past.
But at some point, things
had to come back to reality. No
matter how good Thompson
and sophomore guard Madison
Ristovski were from beyond
the arc, and no matter how

scrappy Elmblad and Goree
were on the inside, and no
matter how dominant Smith
can be when she decides to take
over, Michigan still has to work
within the constraints of a team
relying on three or four regular
starters. All depending on the
night, for players who've never
seen serious college minutes.
The Wolverines' four losses
in their past seven games have
given them the perspective
they've been missing. An at-
large bid to the NCAA tourna-
ment seems unlikely after a
pair of painful home losses to
Ohio State and Minnesota and
an 84-51 drubbing at Nebraska.
Michigan isn't quite there - yet.
But without ruling out any

surprise runs at the Big Ten
Tournament in early March, this
much can be said: The Wolver-
ines' run at next year's Big Ten
Tournament probably won't be
a surprise at all. It wouldn't be
surprising, either, to see Michi-
gan appear in next year's top-25
polls within the season's first
few weeks, or for Thompson to
work her way onto a preseason
Wade Trophy Watch List, or for
crowds next year at Crisler Cen-
ter to resemble, well, crowds.
Whether or not Barnes Ari-
co's team surprises everyone yet
again with a late-season push for
the Big Dance is inconsequen-
tial. If this year is a transition,
no coach in the Big Ten wants to
see the continuation.

I

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