Hoops Squad Holds on Against GVSU

The Michigan basketball team kicked off the 2005/06 season with a 77-69 victory over the Grand Valley State Lakers in exhibition play Saturday afternoon. The contest marked the return of Daniel Horton to the line-up, and the Texas native made his presence felt.

The home team got on the board first, scoring four quick points behind a lay-up from Graham Brown and two free throws from Lester Abram. The visitors soon erased that deficit and gained an early 9-8 advantage, but that lead was short-lived. Daniel Horton nailed a three pointer and assisted on two other baskets to spur a 12-2 run that put the Maize and Blue up 20-11 at the 10:53 mark. The Wolverines continued to build on that lead and went up by 17 when Horton notched his 12th point of the night on yet another three-pointer with 2:51 left in the stanza. The Lakers were in danger of being blown out before the halftime buzzer sounded, but they mounted a small rally prior to the break and went into the locker room down 41-28.

The Wolverines came out of the intermission on fire, and Daniel Horton was again the spark. The senior floor general had a hand in the first eight points of the half, scoring five and assisting on Chris Hunter's three-pointer to key a 16-5 run that put Michigan up 57-33 with 12:08 left in the game. The home team maintained that lead over the next four minutes, but when they went to their bench late in the contest, the Lakers made things interesting.

With a backcourt lineup of Jerret Smith, Jevohn Shepherd and Sherrod Harrell at the guard and wing positions, the Lakers went on 16-0 run that cut the lead to eight (68-60) with less than five minutes to go. Laker guard Jason Jimmerson was on fire in the second half and hit eight of his team's points on the run, including two of his six three pointers on the night. Michigan coach Tommy Amaker finally subbed Horton, Abram, and Harris back in the game at the 5:45 mark to curb the visitors' momentum. Had this been a regular season contest, the starting trio would have been back in a lot sooner.

"We are trying different combinations and that is what these games are for," Amaker said. "Playing some of the freshman you could see where they did some nice things for us and then in the second half where they hit the wall a little bit. As we learn more about our young players and how they fit in, we'll get a better semblance of our rotation and what they can do in a game situation."

Horton stabilized the Wolverines down the stretch, going 4/4 from the free throw line and assisting on a Chris Hunter lay-up to seal the 77-69 victory. When it was all over, Amaker was pleased with the final result, but saw a lot of room for improvement. "Obviously we have a long way to go," Michigan's fifth year headman said. "I felt we did some really good things in stretches. I was very impressed with Grand Valley State. Their quickness really bothered us on the perimeter. We didn't want to change as much because we needed to work against their kind of quickness. I think we need to get better at having help-side defense even though ordinarily we would have pulled back and tried to change defenses. I was trying to see what we could do against them. I thought there were some really good stretches. At the start of the second half we did some good things extending the lead to over 20 points. I was really pleased with Chris Hunter's production. I thought he really gave us some solid minutes. Obviously we turned the ball over way too many times. Some of those they forced and others I was just scratching my head wondering what we were thinking. All in all, I thought it was what we were going to get out of this opportunity to go against a really good program that was going to fight and scrap and come at us really hard. It was a really good opportunity for us to learn and get better before our game next Friday."

On the game Horton led the Wolverines with 23 points on 10/17 from the field (4/7 from three-point land) and five assists. Chris Hunter also turned in a strong effort with 15 points on 5/9 shooting (2/3 from three point land), six rebounds, and two blocks. GVSU's Jason Jimmerson led all scorers with 31 points. For more on the game, click the following links. (Boxscore, Notes, Quotes).

Michigan wraps up the exhibition schedule in a home match up next Friday night at 7pm vs. Northern Michigan

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