If anything was made clear during the Michigan basketball
team’s lackluster 73-61 exhibition win over Michigan Tech
Saturday, it’s that the Wolverines have a lot to work on
before the regular season starts Nov. 14 against Oakland.
And no issue is more pressing for Michigan coach Tommy Amaker
than getting all of his players healthy.
The banged-up Wolverines were forced to play without sophomore
Graham Brown (ankle), senior Bernard Robinson (foot) and freshman
Brent Petway (shoulder), leaving them unexpectedly thin.
“Brent wanted to try it out and the same thing with
Bernard,” Amaker said. “But we felt like it would be in
our best interest to hold them out.
“It’s something we didn’t anticipate. We were
talking about how deep we could be, but as I mentioned before,
it’s very fragile and things can change in a heartbeat and,
certainly, looking at our club, that was very evident.”
The shorthanded Wolverines came out flat in the first half, and
the Huskies exploited that, grabbing a surprising 35-34 halftime
lead. Michigan Tech was able to dictate the tempo, using a solid
mix of its inside and outside games to send the Wolverines into the
break feeling less than pleased.
“It was embarrassing,” Michigan forward Lester Abram
said. “(Amaker) said that we should have been embarrassed
with the way we played in the first half, like we were taking the
team lightly, that we thought they were going to lay down for us.
But that team had a tradition of winning, and they weren’t
going to back down.”
The Wolverines responded to Amaker’s halftime speech by
overcoming the one-point deficit and grabbing control of the
Michigan’s turnaround came thanks, in no small part, to
the play of freshman Dion Harris. In the starting lineup because of
the injury to Robinson, Harris responded by displaying a potent mix
of offensive and defensive abilities, posting 17 points and forcing
numerous turnovers, leading the team with three steals.
“He was the player of the game,” Amaker said.
“I thought his poise and his defense were really the
difference in how he helped our team. He showed the signs that he
could be a great player in the Big Ten.”
Michigan Tech coach Kevin Luke was also impressed with what
Harris brings to the table.
“He came out and banged a couple shots, got a little
confidence going and he played that way the rest of the day,”
Luke said. “Harris made a difference.”
Michigan sophomore point guard Daniel Horton was also in
midseason form, hitting on 8-of-14 shots en route to 23 points,
eight rebounds and six assists.
“What can you say about Daniel Horton,” said Luke,
whose team finished the 2002-03 regular season 28-2 and ranked No.
1 in Division II last year. “He’s the best there is. I
thought we did as well as we could on him, but we knew that him one
on one with any of our kids, if we didn’t have proper help,
he’d shoot right over top and he made a lot of
While Harris and Horton carried the scoring load for the
Wolverines, the injuries to Brown, Robinson and Petway allowed
Amaker to explore some other options on his bench.
Freshman Courtney Sims pitched in 10 points and seven rebounds,
while Sherrod Harrell and Dani Wohl each saw time spelling Horton
at point guard.
But Amaker was most impressed by redshirt freshman Amadou Ba,
who made his first appearance in a Michigan uniform, finishing with
three rebounds in 13 minutes of action.
“I want to give credit to Amadou Ba,” Amaker said.
“He was a spark for our team. I think Amadou is going to be
the player to give us the emotional lift when we need
Despite his efforts, Ba’s playing time might take a hit
when Michigan concludes its exhibition schedule against
Fayetteville of the NBDL next Friday. That’s because the
Wolverines are hopeful that Brown, Robinson and Petway will be back
on the court.
Regardless of who’s healthy, though, the Wolverines know
that their play must improve.
Said Horton: “We did not play how we are capable of