As the final buzzer went off last night at Crisler Arena, putting the Michigan basketball team’s 85-78 loss to Central Michigan in the books, it marked a new record in Michigan basketball history. At 0-5, this year’s Wolverines have gotten off of to the worst start in the history of the program.
“We need to get a win,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “There is no other way to say it .”
The play of Central Michigan senior Mike Manciel, along with the dominance of Central Michigan center Chris Kaman, who Amaker said was the difference in the game, was too much for the Wolverines. Manciel finished with 28 points and nine rebounds, while Kaman had his way inside all night and finished with 30 points and 21 rebounds. Michigan’s big man tandem of freshmen Chris Hunter and Graham Brown were helpless to against him. The Chippewas also shot 56 percent for the game to Michigan’s 41 percent.
“I was able to run the floor and get a lot of open layups, dunks and even an alley-oop in the first half,” said Kaman, who picked up just two fouls in 38 minutes. “It just seemed to be going our way tonight.”
Kaman was a rebounding vacuum, sucking up anything and everything that came nearby. His 21 boards came close to Michigan’s team total of 29. Central Michigan finished with 41 as a team.
Sloppy play, poor shooting and lackluster ball-handling summed up Michigan’s first half. Freshman Daniel Horton, who finished with a team-high 22 points, fumbled the ball numerous times coming up the court, throwing the offense out of sync and creating many battles for loose balls. Michigan finished with 10 first half turnovers, but with just two in the second, its total of 12 was the lowest of the season thus far.
The one bright spot was the play of senior LaVell Blanchard, who shot 5-of-7 from the field in the first half for 15 points. Blanchard finished with 21 for the game.
Central Michigan also racked up 24 turnovers in all, but its high shooting percentage allowed it to take a 39-33 lead into halftime. Manciel led all scorers with 16 points going into the break.
“We certainly didn’t aniticipate Manciel making the kind of shots from the perimeter that he made,” Amaker said.
In the second half, Michigan finally began to generate offense, and it seemed as though it was on its way to ending the losing streak. With just under 15 minutes to play, freshman Lester Abram caught fire, scoring six straight points and igniting his teammates. Sophomore Chuck Bailey added four during the stretch, in which the Wolverines went on a 12-2 run to erase the six-point halftime deficit and take a marginal lead.
But with 10 minutes remaining, the momentum vanished into thin air, as Kaman and Manciel led Central Michigan back to regain a sizable lead.
“We had to do a better job of preserving the lead when we got it and taking care of the basketball,” Horton said.
Michigan was able to cut the lead to three with less than a minute to play, but their last ditch effort came up short.
Michigan will play No. 4 Duke this Saturday, making it nearly impossible to put an end to this streak this weekend.