The tipoff of the Michigan women’s basketball game against
Western Michigan on Friday was earlier than usual.

Janna Hutz
Junior Niki Reams had 12 rebounds and six assists. (RYAN WEINER/Daily)

As a part of the “Maize and Blue 101” promotion, the
University treated all area fourth and fifth-graders to the game
against the Broncos.

To accommodate the students, the game began at 2 p.m.

Michigan didn’t begin playing until 2:30.

The Wolverines shook off a sluggish start in a 66-53 win, due in
part to the constant support from the young crowd.

“I want to congratulate our marketing and promotion group
because having elementary school kids really created a very nice
environment that we needed today,” coach Cheryl Burnett
said.

Burnett understands the impact that high attendance has on team
performance, making it a point to actively recruit fans since she
was named head coach.

So far this season, the Wolverines are 3-0 at Crisler Arena. Two
of those victories came against 2003 NCAA tournament teams.

“We want to establish a home-court advantage, and it comes
with our success on the court,” said Burnett after last
week’s second round preseason WNIT victory over
Cincinnati.

In the Nik of time: Michigan starter Kelly Helvey suffered a
hip-pointer after colliding with a Bronco early in the first half.
The injury caused her to sit out the rest of the contest.
Helvey’s status is uncertain heading into tonight’s
game against Alabama.

Her replacement at forward, junior Niki Reams, may have been the
difference-maker for the Wolverines.

Reams did it all on Friday, grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out
six assists.

“You know you can talk about Jen Smith every time, but you
better recognize Niki Reams and what she did today,” Western
Michigan coach Ron Stewart said.

Burnett echoed Stewart’s evaluation of Ream’s
play.

“Get the ball into Niki’s hands because she makes
such great decisions with the basketball,” she said.
“We needed to get some more offensive rebounds, and her
effort to do that was just spectacular.”

Dierdorf at home with Burnett: With all of the hoopla
surrounding the University this past weekend, several high-profile
athletes were in attendance at the women’s basketball game at
Crisler Arena on Friday afternoon.

Michigan alum and NFL Hall of Famer Dan Dierdorf scouted the
future team of his daughter, Katie, one of Michigan’s
recruits for next season.

“She was indoctrinated early,” Dierdorf said about
his daughter’s decision to attend Michigan. “We must
have 100 pictures of Katie since she was born in different Michigan
sweatshirts, baseball hats and t-shits.”

Dierdorf, a resident of Missouri, was familiar with Burnett
during her days as coach of Southwest Missouri State, and was
excited when Burnett accepted the head coaching position at
Michigan.

“I’ve been a big fan of hers for a long time,”
Dierdorf said.

“When the Michigan job came open, instantly I thought
she’d be the perfect candidate.

“I think it’s a marriage made in heaven.”

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