It’s always something. In its second game of the Paradise Jam Tournament, the Michigan basketball team limited its turnovers – which had been its undoing in its season opener and in the preseason – to just nine, but struggled from the field. The Wolverines were probably the coldest thing in the Caribbean last night, shooting 27 percent from the field in its 65-53 loss to Virginia Tech.

The beginning of the game was characterized by poor shooting by both teams. Michigan (0-2) struggled from the opening tip, connecting on just one of its first six shots, while the Hokies (1-1) fared even worse, hitting just one of their first nine. Despite the Wolverines’ inability to score, they actually led at the half, 31-30, over the equally poor shooting Hokies.

But while Virginia Tech was able to shake off its slow start in the first half and come out firing after halftime, the Wolverines were never able to find their touch.

“But I am going to be hard fought to find difficulty with a lot of the shots we had tonight, especially for the guys that have to score for us to be successful,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said.

Senior LaVell Blanchard shot a dismal 1-for-12 from the field, including missing all six of his shots from behind the arc. Blanchard’s performance was indicative of the whole team, which connected on just three of its 18 attempts from 3-point land – all hit by freshman point guard Daniel Horton.

Before the season started, Amaker tabbed Blanchard as the team’s best worker and best player. So as Blanchard goes, Michigan goes, and last night neither went well at all.

“We’re not going to be competitive or have a chance to win if we can’t get solid play and offensive production from (Blanchard),” Amaker said. “Not to put it all on his shoulders, and I’m not blaming him, but just being absolutely honest. We can’t be a team that is going to expect to win if we can’t get him to score.”

One of the few bright spots of the evening was the play of Graham Brown. The freshman center led the team with 14 points and added six rebounds in the losing effort. Daniel Horton and Bernard Robinson both contributed 12 points against the Hokies, but even they suffered the woes of a cold shooting night. Robinson scored eight of his points from the line and Horton shot just 4-for-12 from the floor.

In the Wolverines’ season opener on Saturday night, St. Bonaventure dominated Michigan in a 89-68 loss where the game was never in question. Blanchard dropped in 21 points, but the Wolverines were outmatched early on and could never get back into the game after trailing 54-34 at the half.

Michigan will face Kansas State in the final round of the tournament today to try and salvage something from the weekend in the Virgin Islands.

“I’ll be anxious to see if we are going to have anything left in our tank, not necessarily physically, but the emotional tank of our team right now,” Amaker said.

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