Page 10 -The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, January 23, 1991
by Phil Green
Daily Basketball Writer
Billy Douglass set. up Wisconsin's offense from the top of the key. He
drove left. Michael Talley shadowed his every move.
Douglass forced a pass inside to Willie Simms. Simms spun toward the
baseline, but Kirk Taylor stood firmly in his path.
Simms swung a pass cross-court toward Patrick Tompkins, but Eric
Riley's long arms picked it off.
Michigan had just completed a successful stint of team defense.
Team defense - all the good teams play it: Georgetown, Duke, Indiana,
It's been quite some time since the Wolverines actually won a game
because of their defense. In past seasons, the team's explosive offensive
capabilities and awesome individual talents often overcame a lacking team
defense. However, this year's players can't rely on individual ability to
create opportunities. They need as many easy baskets as possible in order to
Tough defense leads to turnovers which create fast breaks, and that
normally equals two points - except of course for the occasional missed
Saturday, due to an exceptional defensive second half, minus the
miscues, that's exactly what the Wolverines did.
As ususal, Saturday's first half saw Michigan give up too many easy
lay-ups and open jumpers. Every time one of the Badgers blew past a
Wolverine. defender (which happened frequently), nobody rotated over toj
Sometimes, a second player would arrive, but it was usually too late.
The result: a foul, the potential for a three-point play, and an exuberant
cheer from the Badger faithful.
During the second half, the defense tightened, creating easy baskets for
There are two main reasons for the improvement.
The first is somewhat obvious: walk-on junior Freddie Hunter, while not
much of an offensive threat, lives defense.
"I look to the Pistons," Hunter said, "and my favorite player, 'The
Worm,' (Dennis Rodman). I try to do what he does, just not the hand
Unlike Mike Griffin, Michigan's most recent defensive specialist, Hunter
is a super athlete. Although a little shorter than his listed height, 6-foot-5,
he's been able to use quickness, desire and court savvy to make up for a lack
of strength and size.
His efforts don't always show up in the box score, but on defense, he
always seems to appear in the right place at the right time.
Secondly, and probably more importantly, this team finally appears to be
learning its capabilities and is beginning to gel. The players are talking and
playing help defense better than before.
And during Saturday's second half, they utilized this team concept over
the entire floor with a tenacious full-court press.
A successful press needs quickness and a shot blocker serving as a last
line of defense - the Wolverines' two greatest assets.
Michigan's strength is its guards. Talley and Demetrius Calip create a
formidable back-court tandem while the rotation of Taylor, Hunter, and
Tony Tolbert provide the perfect compliment to patrol mid-court and
And Riley is the shot blocker.
His presence at the back of the press allows the guards a little extra
freedom to gamble - because if they're beat, he can wipe out the mistake
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Blue reaps benefits
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Big Ten squads long
for home, sweet home
with a rejection, or force the opponent to slow its pace and establish its
And during the second half Saturday, getting into the half-court offense
didn't prove very beneficial for the Badgers.
The Wolverines have shown flashes of solid defense earlier in the season,
but none were as prolonged or successful as in Madison. To continue
winning, Michigan must sustain the same defensive intensity for forty
minutes every game.
by Phil Green
Daily Basketball Writer
Big Ten basketball has always
been known for its physical nature,
but it's also developing a reputation
as a conference where it's extremely
tough to win on the road.
Ohio State's 93-85 victory over
Indiana in Bloomington marked only
the eighth conference road victory
out of 27 games for any Big Ten
,teams this season. And the Buck-
eyes, who won only three on the
road all of last season, already own
two others with impressive victories
in Ann Arbor and Evanston.
"One of our goals this year was
to be a better road team," Ohio State
coach Randy Ayers said. "I think
we're starting to learn from
experience. In this conference it
never gets easier. Next is Minne-
apolis, and Williams Arena has
never been an easy place for Ohio
State to play."
Wisconsin's Steve Yoder, whose
teams have traditionally performed
better at home, feels that he is not
alone in his difficulties.
"Most teams struggle more on
the road than they do at home unless
they're a great basketball team," he
This kind of thinking agrees
completely with Michigan State's
Jud Heathcote: "It's the old adage: if
you win your games at home and
steal a few on the road, you win the
At this point, Ohio State remains
the only team to have proven itself
away from home. Following
Heathcote's reasoning, they appear
to be the conference's obvious
leaders. However, with much of the
season still remaining, none of the
coaches are ready to hand the
Buckeyes the title quite yet.
The Lions Are Coming: Penn
State won't officially join the Big
Ten in men's and women's basket-
ball for two more years, but the Nit-
tany Lions may appear on schedules
as early as next season.
"We've talked to Bruce Parkhill
(Penn State's coach) about playing,"
Ayers said. "And if things can be
worked out, we would play them
before the Big Ten schedule. I think
he's doing everything he can do
about getting Big Ten teams on his
However, Penn State is already
pretty busy and it might be a little*
difficult for Big Ten teams to get on
the Lions' schedule.
"I approached them to play in our
tournament, but they declined;"
Purdue coach Gene Keady said.
"Maybe next year."
A New Rivalry: When Iowa
visits Illinois Monday, tempers
could run a little high. An Iowa
assistant coach helped begin the
famed investigation of Illinois' Deon
Thomas which resulted in probation
for the Illini.
"After what has taken place over
the last year, you can't help but have
hard feelings," Illinois coach Lou
Henson said. "The hard feelings
between the Illinois and Iowa fans
will take a long, long time to heal."
Back-to-Back: Last week
Michigan State's Mike Peplowski@
garnered Big Ten Player-Of-The-
Week honors. This week, fellow
Spartan Steve Smith earned the
honor. Smith averaged 34 points in
Michigan State's two wins and
connected on all 23 of his free
Big Ten Through Jan. 22,1991
Men's Basketball Standings
Michigan's Demetrius Calip (13) and Freddie Hunter battle Wisconsin's
Damon Harrell for the rebound Saturday.
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