In a contest that appeared to be a tune-up for the game against the UCLA Bruins on Saturday, the Wolverines had their hands full with the Delaware State Hornets and had to fight to hold on to victory once again, 55-50.
Amaker tells his team to get
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Sometimes the better team loses…or so the saying goes. While that statement
might sound cliché’, it describes what happened last night at Crisler
arena. There isn’t any question that the Wolverines were far more talented
than the visitors from Delaware were. However, when the final few minutes began
to tick off the clock, the Hornets were right within striking distance of Amaker’s
bunch. It’s hard to pinpoint what the single overriding factor in Michigan
poor floor game was. Was it poor shooting (17/44 from the field and 5/20 from
behind the arc)? Was it the careless turnovers (16 in all)? Was it the continued
struggles of their floor leader Daniel Horton
(2/6 from the field, 0/3 from three-point
range, 2 assists, 3 turnovers, and 4 fouls)? Were they playing down to the level
of their opponent? The truth of the matter is, it’s probably a combination
of factors. Whatever the case may be, Coach Amaker readily admitted that his team
was extremely fortunate to walk away with the W. “Sometimes you win the
games you don't deserve to win,” Amaker said. “I certainly thought
Delaware State deserved to win tonight. We were fortunate to come out with a victory.
We are disappointed with the way that we played tonight. I have to give Coach
(Greg) Jackson and his team credit; they had a tremendous game plan to shorten
the game. I thought that we definitely did not deserve to win this game tonight.”
The game started off well enough for the Maize and Blue. Lester Abram
right where he left off against Central Michigan
, netting the Wolverines first
four points. Pretty soon after that, backcourt mate Dion Harris followed him up
with two straight threes to put Michigan up 12-4 with 13:40 remaining. The Hornets
would get the deficit down to 6 points, but the Wolverines, despite going relatively
cold from the field, went on a 16-6 run to close the half. They went into the
locker room with a comfortable 30-14 lead. One would think that the letdown against
CMU (which allowed the Chips to come back from a huge deficit) would have left
Michigan prepared to fend off any such attempts by the Hornets. That, however,
did not prove to be the case.
After turning the ball over only six times in the first half, Michigan threw
several ill advised passes that resulted in 10 turnovers in the second half.
Many of those turnovers led to easy buckets for Delaware State, who upped their
shooting percentage form 33% (on 7/21) in the first half to 55% (on 11/20) shooting
in the second half. Conversely, Michigan shot the same percentage both halves
(about 39%) and hit threes at a far lower rate (4/11 in the first half vs. 1/9
in the second). Luckily, Bernard Robinson Jr. hit 4/5 from the line in the second
stanza and Graham Brown
asserted himself a bit more in the post (for 6 of his
8 points). The home team was also aided by the awakening of Daniel Horton in
the final minutes. After going scoreless the entire game, Horton answered the
bell once the Hornets whittled the lead to 3. He drove into the lane and nailed
a running rainbow jumper to make the score 47-42 with 4:20 remaining. However
Delaware State wouldn’t let up. They had a few opportunities to tie the
score late in the game, but they helped Michigan out with mishap after mishap.
- With 1:50 left and down 2 (49-47), DSU’s Aaron Williams missed two
free throws and then compounded his gaff by committing a foul at mid-court
(UM converted 1/2 free throws).
- With 1:30 left and down 3 (50-47), DSU’s Aaron Matthews hit a layup
and was fouled in the act of shooting, but he missed the free throw that would
have tied the game.
- After Daniel Horton hit a huge lay-up to put Michigan up 52-49 with 50 seconds
to go, DSU got fouled on offense, but only converted 1/2 from the free throw
line. They then inexplicably commited an intentional foul on the man in-bounding
the ball. Michigan converted one of the free throws. Michigan retained possession
and Daniel Horton iced the game with a couple of free throws after he was
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On the night Michigan was led by Lester Abram (with 12 points and 2 assists),
Dion Harris (with 11 points and 2 assists), and Bernard Robinson Jr. (with 10
points and 3 assists). J.C. Mathis
spearheaded Michigan’s 37-20 rebounding
advantage by pulling down 7 boards. The Hornets were led by 6-7 225 lbs. Jr forward
Terrence Hunter who had 22 points (7/10 from the field, 6/6 from the line), 8
rebounds, and 2 steals. For the boxscore, more quotes, and game notes, click the
following links: (boxscore
The silver lining to the last two games is they were victories. As ugly as
they might have been, the still team found a way to win. It’s important
not to lose sight of this teams relative youth. They are going to go through
some growing pains. That said, Coach Amaker certainly isn’t allowing the
victories to obscure the way Michigan has played the last few games. “I
am worried about our team,” Amaker said. “We are not a very good
basketball team right now. I told that to our kids. The season is a long season
and you always have to be honest where your team is at that point and time.
At this point and time we set a goal of being 3-0 heading into the holiday break
and we did that. We accomplished that goal, but I am not confident that we are
a very good team right now."
A lot will be learned about this team this weekend versus the Bruins. Game
time is Saturday at 5pm (EST) at Crisler Arena. The contest will be nationally
televised by CBS.