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Posted on Sun, Jan 3, 2010 : 10:29 p.m.

A confident Michigan basketball team inspires expectations again

By Pete Bigelow


Michigan senior DeShawn Sims dribbles around Ohio State junior Dallas Lauderdale in the first half of the Wolverines' 73-64 win against Ohio State. (Photo: Melanie Maxwell |

In the locker room following a big win over Ohio State on Sunday, a lot of questions were asked about what the victory meant to the Michigan basketball program and its teetering postseason chances.

DeShawn Sims wasn’t about to get ahead of himself.

Asked if the 73-64 victory kept the Wolverines chances of a NCAA Tournament appearance alive, the senior forward drew conclusions that were much more modest.

“It was a must-win, just to prove we’re a good team,” Sims said.

Early January is a poor time to heap an irrational amount of importance on one win. Alone, it won’t come close to getting the Wolverines into the postseason.

Sunday’s win over the No. 15 Buckeyes, though, is the Wolverines signature win to date.

With the win, they restored a sense of hope. They displayed cohesiveness and intensity, two traits that have been absent while stumbling to a 7-6 record.

Most importantly, they showed some hints of being the team they were last season: Manny Harris and Sims led the way, while an opportunistic supporting cast filled in the rest.

To date, all traces of that team had seemingly vanished despite the fact core players returned. They emerged Sunday.

On offense, Sims looked dominant, hitting 13 of 18 shots for a game-high 28 points and. On defense, he made Ohio State big man Dallas Lauderdale look irrelevant.

Harris delivered when it mattered most.

When Michigan briefly lost the lead, 39-38, early in the second half he popped two 3-point buckets that kept the Wolverines afloat and ahead.

When they faltered again with 6:40 left in the game, allowing Ohio State to close to within a point, he zig-zagged his way through a thicket of Buckeye defenders on a 1-on-3 break.

As he tripped over the foot of Ohio State’s David Lighty and fell to the floor, Harris somehow flicked the ball over the defenders into the basket, drew the foul and completed a 3-point play that iced the game.

“He’s the only guy that we’ve got who can really go through a jungle like that,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “He can go through all those trees and swamps and put something in there. He did a great job fighting his way to the basket.”

Then there was freshman guard Matt Vogrich, who made the most of his three minutes of game action.

He scored four points, grabbed three offensive rebounds and gnashed with Lighty on the defensive end to force a jump ball.

His performance wasn’t so much a spark as it was a three-minute, five-alarm fire for the befuddled Buckeyes.

The Wolverines were more than a sum of their sturdy parts Sunday.

Overall, they played with poise, thwarting Ohio State surges three times. The Wolverines never trailed by more than a point after halftime.

They played with confidence. In the final minutes, they enjoyed an 11-0 run that turned a one-point deficit into a solid win. They looked like the team ranked 15th, not the Buckeyes.

Funny, because that’s exactly where Michigan began the season. For one night, they reminded everyone why they once inspired such expectations.

For one night, they inspired hope that they might somehow find a way to still meet them.

Pete Bigelow is the sports producer for He can be reached at



Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 10:39 p.m.

Keep telling yourself that,no bowl,NIT bound,NCAA ivestigation.Hey, you always have girls volleyball. Those who stay will win one or two games.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 10:47 a.m.

Even after Rich Rodriguez and John Belein left WVU they still are reaping the benefits of the foundation they built. Still bodes well for Michigan, so thanks for noticing that. It's still great to be a Michigan Wolverine over a lil sparty any day, any year.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 10:09 a.m.

wersch213, MSU doesn't have a good win this year,maybe u should look again.No head coach is better than no players.Your Fball and Bball team were ranked were are they now? Same ol overated teams. WV no.16 in football, WV no. 6 in basketball, hows that working out for u? All in for michigan, what a joke.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 9:08 a.m.

Good, solid win. Players are embracing their roles, the defense is swarming to the ball and clogging up the middle, and the 3 ball is dropping with consistency. As far as walmart goes...Terrell Pryor was hitting slants, and screens for most of the game. He still has A LOT of work to do in the passing game and I'm fine without him. Dominating Northwestern is a joke. MSU still doesn't have a good win this year. Northwestern has been "up and coming" for over a decade now, they still have never made the NCAA tourney and their star player is out for the season, but "great win". MSU football is just imploding. They can't beat a team without a head coach/they couldn't beat a defensive coordinator with no head coaching experience. Cousins stunk it up as usual, and Dantonia can't coach up the defensive side of the ball. Although he has turned into quite the gimmicky, pop warner, coach on the offensive side of the ball. To sum it up Walmart...Same Ole Sparty, lol


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 7:15 a.m.

walverine, how is osu frauds? because they were ranked highly with the big ten's best overall player and then he broke his back and has missed time? I'm sorry but when Turner gets back I hope your sparty's get to play him so he can school your overrated squad