Nearly midway through the second half, sophomore Brent Petway
used his jaw-dropping vertical leap to block two Michigan Tech
shots in one possession. It was a moment of fire in a game marked
by a level pace and unsurprising Michigan dominance. The Wolverines
prevailed 60-43 over their Upper Peninsula opponent.

“That’s the type of player I try to be,” said
Petway of his spark-off-the-bench reputation. “I want to do
anything I can do to help the team, to energize the team — to
block a shot or take a charge here or there.”

Prior to yesterday’s matchup, one of the Wolverines’
primary concerns was neutralizing Division II preseason Player of
the Year Josh Buettner in the paint. Michigan junior Graham Brown
played relatively clean defense, and, with his significant size
advantage, the Wolverines were able to hold Buettner to just eight
points — a stark contrast to the Husky’s 22.3
points-per-game average last season.

Michigan Tech coach Kevin Luke was enthusiastic about having the
chance for his team to play against Michigan, despite receiving a
sound thumping. He was also impressed by the Wolverines’
ability to shut down his most threatening players.

“They really defended us,” Luke said. “We have
two very good basketball players for our level in Jason Marcotte
and Josh Buettner, and they just bottled those guys right up
— and that’s a credit to their defense.”

Michigan’s evenly spread scoring was its predominant means
of keeping the game under control, and of keeping the diehard fans
off the edges of their seats. Junior Daniel Horton and sophomore
Courtney Sims led the Wolverines with 13 points apiece, while
junior captain Lester Abram followed close behind with 12.

Within the first few moments of the second half, the Huskies
were within nine points, one of two times since the start of the
game when the Wolverines held just a single-digit lead. But Horton
quickly heaved a shot from behind the arc and put Michigan up by a
more comfortable 12 points. Horton notched three triples in the
game, a number that tied his all-time high in the category.

Sims flourished with his recently added weight. The big man had
his first chance to use his new bulk to his advantage, and was able
to follow through with shots despite getting knocked around by the
Huskies’ aggressive defense. Even though Michigan Tech
primarily shot from the perimeter, Sims still managed a game-high
three blocks.

“I’m just trying to be a consistent threat down
low,” Sims said.

While Sims performed well in the scoring department, he had zero
defensive boards on the game. The team’s four total offensive
rebounds also left something to be desired. Michigan coach Tommy
Amaker attributed this low number to an early-season assumption
that he hopes will dissipate in upcoming weeks.

“I think you get into a mode of thinking the shots are
going to fall, and so you’re not really making the effort to
get there,” Amaker said. “But we need to get there. We
need to be more active on the offensive glass. I hope that
we’ll see improvement with that in Wednesday night’s
game.”

Amaker noted that another area in which the Wolverines could
stand to improve is in their physical and psychological
preparedness for their games.

“One of the things we talked about is that I think we need
to get into better game shape,” Amaker said. “That will
be another stage for us. You go from preseason to practice, and
we’ve had strength and conditioning programs… so you
know we’re in pretty good condition. But then when we started
practicing, we had to get in basketball shape. Now we need to go
from being in pretty good practice shape to being in good game
shape. That’s just going to be a function of playing more
games.”

Although the Wolverines have quite a bit of work to do during
the first few games of the season, the most important part of this
matchup was that it gave them a starting point from which to set a
benchmark.

“It was good to finally play another team,” Sims
said. “I was getting kind of sick of playing our team, so it
was kind of good to go against somebody else.”

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