Last year, two keys to the 2-6 Michigan basketball team knocking
off a 6-2 Vanderbilt squad were stopping Matt Freije and
controlling the glass.
Unfortunatly for the Wolverines, the things that they did well
in last year’s win were the same things that they struggled
with this weekend.
The story of both Vanderbilt games was rebounding — in
both cases, the team that won the battle on the boards also won the
battle on the scoreboard. Last year, Michigan controlled the glass
by a 36 to 28 margin in a 70-66 win at Crisler Arena.
But Saturday, the Wolverines were dominated inside by a 42-24
margin en route to an 83-63 loss in Nashville.
“That is the most telling statistic of the game,”
Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “(Michigan is) an
athletic team, and I was just hoping that we’d be able to
outrebound them. That really attests to our effort.”
Michigan was also unable to control Freije, whom they had kept
in check in last year’s victory.
The senior struggled on Dec. 22, 2002, in Ann Arbor, connecting
on just 3-of-9 field-goal attempts to finish with a lackluster nine
points and four rebounds.
This year, things were different for the 6-foot-10, 249-pound
senior. Freije struggled with his jumper in the first half on
Saturday, but he managed to hit all four of his field goals in the
second half en route to 22 points. The SEC Preseason Player of the
Year, Freije was able to get to the free-throw line 10 times,
hitting on seven.
“He’s a great player, but great players are going to
miss shots sometimes,” said Michigan center Graham Brown of
Frieje’s first-half struggle. “We were trying to get
there on defense, but he got open looks off screens, and he knocked
them down in the second half.”
Pet-way above the rim: Michigan freshman Brent Petway exhibited
his amazing, jump-straight-out-of-the-gym leaping skills again in
Nashville, Tenn. But this time, it was Petway’s shot
blocking, not his dunking, that caught everyone’s
Petway was credited with three blocked shots in the game,
including a stuff of 5-foot-10 guard Mario Moore’s driving
layup in the first half. Petway — who had previously recorded
four blocks on the season — got up so high on the play that
he almost hit his head on the backboard in the process.
Then, late in the second half, the high-flying freshman sent
back 7-foot-2 Vanderbilt center Dawid Przybyszewski’s dunk
attempt. Off an inbounds play, the Commodores passed the ball to
guard Russell Lakey just outside the 3-point line. Michigan guard
Dion Harris was guarding the ball, and forward J.C. Mathis ran out
to the perimeter to set up a double team, leaving Przybyszewski
open to slip to the hoop. Lakey dropped the ball off down low,
where Przybszewski had what looked to be an open layup, but Petway
came from the weakside to come up with an impressive stuff.
As a player who usually uses his dunking to get his team fired
up, Petway said he was trying to do the same with his blocks.
“That’s what I’m here to do: bring some energy
to the court,” he said. “I was just trying to get our
team energized to help us play harder.”