About Michigan: In A Slump

Like Minnesota, the Wolverines were just hoping to qualify for the NCAA tournament, but they are falling on hard times. Guard Daniel Horton was suspended after he was charged with a misdemeanor count of domestic violence last week, and Michigan ranks near the bottom of the conference in several categories.

The goal for Michigan has been quite simple all season:

Win enough games to qualify for the NCAA tournament for the first time since the 1997-98 season.

After winning their first three conference games despite a number of injuries, all appeared on track for Tommy Amaker's team. But just a couple of weeks after that hot start, the Wolverines have lost four in a row and appear to be in a downward spiral.

The last loss of the group was the worst. After losing at Michigan State on Jan. 27, the Wolverines appeared to have a respite with a game against Purdue. The Boilermakers were alone in the Big Ten cellar, in search of their first conference win.

The Wolverines fell apart in their trip to West Lafayette, dropping an 84-55 decision. The enormity of the blowout left Amaker without explanation.

"We were completely beaten," Amaker said. "You can search for a lot of things and reasons, and I don't have an answer. As a coach, sometimes, you find yourself in that situation where you scratch your head and wonder what's the reason for this occurring the way it is."

Prior to the Michigan State game, Amaker suspended guard Daniel Horton after he was charged with a misdemeanor count of domestic violence. Junior Dani Wohl took his spot in the lineup and was held scoreless in the loss to the Boilermakers.

But don't blame Wohl for the humiliation at Purdue. The team simply did not put in the requisite effort. "We stopped trying," junior Ashtyn Bell told the Ann Arbor News. "When they were hitting their shots, everybody would hang their heads and it would get the team down."

With nine games to go in the regular season, the Wolverines still control their own destiny as far as the tournament is concerned. But Amaker's team is in pieces right now and the coach might not have enough time to glue everything back together in time to make a difference.



NOTES, QUOTES
— Michigan is averaging 65.6 points per game, ranking eighth in the Big Ten.

— Despite giving up 84 points to Purdue on Jan. 30, the Wolverines rank third in the Big Ten in scoring defense as they allow 61.9 ppg.

— Michigan ranks ninth in the Big Ten in turnovers with 14.9 per game.

— The Wolverines are shooting 31.2 percent from beyond the arc — that ranks 10th in the Big Ten.

PROBABLE LINEUP: Guard Ron Coleman, shooting guard Dion Harris, forward-center Courtney Sims, guard Dani Wohl, power forward Graham Brown.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The point differential and the way the game was played out — we were just completely beaten, there's no other way of saying it. It's a tough loss. All of them are tough, but certainly losing on the road in this manner is very difficult." — Tommy Amaker after his team was bludgeoned by 84-55 by Purdue Jan. 30. Prior to the win over the Wolverines, the Boilermakers had been winless in the conference.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
UPCOMING GAMES: vs. Minnesota, Feb. 2; at Ohio State, Feb. 5

KEYS: The Wolverines started the Big Ten season with three straight wins as they seemed determined to get back to the NCAA tournament. Four losses later, those dreams are on the back burner. The 84-55 loss to Purdue Jan. 30 was embarrassing and the games with the Gophers and the Buckeyes could bring more pain. Tommy Amaker has to get this team turned around, but there is no simple answer as to what is needed to get the situation turned around.

ROSTER REPORT: Guard Daniel Horton was suspended by Amaker after he was charged with a misdemeanor count of domestic violence last week. Junior Dani Wohl has replaced Horton in the starting lineup. Wohl was scoreless in the loss to Purdue.

— Shooting guard Dion Harris is leading the Wolverines with an average of 13.7 ppg — but he is shooting just 35.7 percent from the floor. He made just 3-of-14 from the floor in the loss to Purdue.

— Forward Graham Brown leads the Wolverines with an average of 6.7 rebounds per game.


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