U-M Blows Up PSU's Zone, 77-57

During the early portion of the 06/07 season, zone defenses often stymied Michigan's offensive attack. The Wolverines had begun to handle them a bit better in recent weeks, but Wednesday night's game against an exclusive zone team in Penn State would test just how far they'd come. Tommy Amaker's bunch passed with flying colors, knifing through the Nittany Lion defense for the 77-57 victory.

It didn't take long for the Maize & Blue to take advantage of the openings from the perimeter, as Ronald Coleman and Dion Harris both knocked down early three's to help the home team sprint out to an 8-2 lead.  Ed DeChellis' squad fought back, though, and trailed by only one (13-12) at the 11:35 mark.  That's when the Wolverines began to attack the interior of the Nittany Lions' zone by flashing to the seams in the middle of the floor for open looks.  Jerret Smith found Lester Abram and Coleman for mid-range baskets on consecutive trips to get the offense clicking again.  With the visitors off balance, Michigan began to attack from outside again.  This time Coleman contributed two more three-pointers and Reed Baker added another off of a double screen.  Those buckets fueled a 22-8 run that put the home team up by 15 before they headed into the locker room still holding a 38-25 lead.

"I thought we were really what I call 'hunting the hole," Amaker said referring to his team's effectiveness against the zone.  "That's our phrase we use. In the middle of the zone is the area that we really want to attack and we had guys flashing in and out of there the whole possession on every possession that they were in zone, which was all game until maybe the last two possessions of the ballgame. But I thought our guys did a great job of finding those seams – those holes. We got the ball there, we were good with the ball there being strong with it (and with) ball fakes. Then we made the right decisions from that spot on the floor, which is the sweet spot or the key spot, in the zone. But once we get it there can we make the play from there? We went high-low sometimes, we kicked it out for threes, we drove it, we got fouled, and we took advantage of that area on the floor."

After the intermission the Wolverines continued their offensive efficiency and also maintained a tenaciousness on defense that had smothered the Nittany Lions before the break.  The visitors never got the lead below double figures for the rest of the night and the Wolverines went on to win in blowout fashion, 77-57.  After the game Amaker was just as pleased with his squad's defense as he was its offense.

"I just mentioned to our players, I was really proud with how hard they played defensively," he said.  "I thought we got after it, I thought we got out in the passing lanes; I thought we were disruptive somewhat and I thought we frustrated their team. They're a very good basketball team as we knew coming into this and I thought we would take them out of things and I was just really pleased how hard our kids played defensively. We used a lot of bodies to rotate people in and I thought that was the factor in wearing them down a little bit."

On the game, Ron Coleman, Dion Harris, and Lester Abram paced the wolverines with 13 points apiece.  Jamelle Cornley led the way for the Nittany Lions with 15.  For more on the game, click the following links: Boxscore, Notes, Quotes.

The Wolverines will continue their quest to protect their home floor Saturday when they face Purdue for the second time in one week.  Tip-off is scheduled for 12:17 PM EST.

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