Saturday, December 16, 2006

Live-Blog: Basketball vs. NIU

NIU has lost to such luminaries as Georgia Southern and Troy. They should be another MACrifice (TM Joe), but who knows with such an untested team we're fielding. Here we go...

Shockingly, NIU almost makes the first turnover of the game, but save it.

A Michigan miss on the other end gives the Huskies an easy, easy 2-on-1 to make it 0-4

Sims misses the dunk, NIU can't convert their second break. Michigan puts themselves on the board quickly, making it 2-4, feeding Sims again for a jump-hook two.

Eesh. Sims seems to have a finger problem. This could be bad. Despite NIU picking up two fouls, M comes away with no points. Amaker yanks all the starters.

Reed Baker's on the floor, and the ESPN+ crew like his pressure defense, which yields a turnover. 4-4.

Another block from Udoh, who eventually gets it back to make it 6-4, Michigan.

NIU has three fouls within the first five minutes.

Someone throws up a prayer from three, NIU comes back the other way.

NIU's getting nothing inside. Another strip ends with bodies everywhere. Possession arrow favors NIU. It does them no good, as they pick up an offensive foul.

DeShawn Sims has acres to himself and knocks down a long two. 8-4.

NIU gets two down on the block. 8-6. Michigan three, 11-6.

Udoh SMASH. Nice shot block, but it comes back to NIU. Michigan comes back to put a pair up. 13-8. They really want to push the tempo. NIU's getting back, but a little work with the half-court offense keeps finding an open man.

Starters come back in, yet somehow look way too spread out. 24 can't get low, and a bounce pass goes right by him to hit an open forward, yielding an automatic foul. 15-11.

Abram turnaround. 15-11.

NIU guard does that stupid illegal turn-your-hand-over dribble and gets called for it. TV time-out.

Abram seems to have done a little to recover his touch. 17-11.

Husky airball. Dion Harris has yet to take a shot until now, but a dying shot clock makes him loft a three off the front of the iron.

Fourth shot block, then fifth by Michigan. Wild three on the other end. NIU recovers, pushes the ball up, gets one near the edge of the free-throw line. Courtney Sims comes back the other way and airballs a wide-open three from the top of the arc. Confusingly, it's Petway who sits down on the substitution.

NIU does nothing, ball goes out on the rebound. Michigan comes back. Turnover, as a guard jumps the route. NIU obliges by turning it right back over out of bounds. Again, ball goes out of bounds, but M keeps it. Still 17-13.

Do you think there are cameramen out there who make their entire living by collecting stock footage of fat people walking around? It looks like there's a market for that stuff. News programs, commercials... Tons of fat people video.

Two stupid passes lead to one stupid turnover, but again NIU can't actually corral it. M still can't score, as Reed Baker's three isn't close.

Another steal. Here we go... The crew points out that we're 1/13 on our last 14 shots from the floor, as we miss another. NIU isn't exactly playing clean ball themselves, as they travel under the rim.

Man. Baker gets completely blocked and falls over as he goes up close to the rim. Ball's loose, and Smith finally sinks one. NIU goes right back down the court and sinks a jumper to make it 19-15. It's a battle of who wants it less so far, with 5:00 to go in the first half.

Good thing Petway can jump, as a shot goes straight up off the iron. Air Georgia skies like crazy, catches the rebound, jumps right back up and makes the short shot. 21-15.

ANOTHER block, but we can't get the rebound. 21-17.

Yikes. Baker should've been whistled for a walk, as he hopped with the ball stopped, but he gets away with it and gets it low. I think it's Courtney Sims who gets the bucket. He'll shoot the foul shot when we're done talking about enchiphobia. My enchiphobia has more to do with E. Coli than runny sauce.

We hit the +1. 24-17.

Short NIU possession. On the other end, Petway picks up the foul. This should be interesting. A little loud on the first one, as it rattles out with AUTHORITA. He hits the second. 25-17.

Turnover-fest '06 continues on both ends. Dion Harris rifles one out of bounds as C. Sims looks confused. NIU makes the most of it, hitting a three. M goes right back down and Sims throws it down to make it 27-20.

Turnover by NIU after a foul on the floor. Harris throws the alley-oop, basically, and Air Georgia does what he do. Awesome. 29-20.

Block! by C. Sims, goes back to NIU. Abram picks up another foul on the floor. 7 blocks by M, 4 by NIU. Shot won't go. Harris pushes it down the floor and draws the foul. Hits the two freebies for his first points of the night. 31-20.

Long three for NIU. Defense looked decent, but sometimes those just go down. 31-23.

On the other end, Sims scores to make it a 33-23 lead again. NIU misses, giving Michigan just enough time to try a reasonable three by Reed Baker, who misses. Halftime: 33-23.

Samantha Findlay just told her Big Ten story, about hitting that 10th-inning home run to win the Women's College World Series last year. Other than maybe this year's BEAT DOWN, that's got to be the best Michigan sports moment in some years. I don't care how you feel about softball, that was frickin' awesome.

We're hammering them on the boards. NIU is -12 in rebounds in the first half alone.

NIU brings it up the floor. We're tight on defense, getting good pressure on the ball. C. Sims gets called for a push. NIU is hemmed in down low and walks with it on the block.

Harris makes a nice pass to Petway, who just misses what should've been an easier bucket. Sims takes the rebound and some terrible force keeps it from falling. NIU finally gets the rebound and, as they start to go upcourt, Sims takes an unnecessary foul and sits down on the bench. Further up the floor, NIU draws a shooting foul. 33-25.

Open three doesn't go down. Coleman (I think) gets a late break on the rebound, saves it to NIU. Dion Harris, foul on the floor on he other end. No one can pull in a rebound. Harris takes another foul, again on the floor, his third. NIU's Hughes makes it 33-27.

Abram makes a cut, puts it down for a 35-27 lead. NIU miss. Nice feed from Harris to a loping Abram. Back to a ten-point lead.

NIU does nothing. Petway gets it low, but too low and too far from the basket. The ball comes back past the top of the arc. Petway follows it to commit the offensive foul with a bad screen.

Udoh creates the turnover, but Abram's sorta toughish layup (yeah) doesn't go down. Somehow he saves it and draws a foul. TV timeout.

Abram hits both. 39-27. They who in the what? Why did we foul on that three attempt? Oh, elsewhere on the floor. NIU's guard McKinney misses the front half of the one-and-one.

Sims draws a foul on the other end and hits both. 41-27. He almost has a double-double, but it's been kind of an ugly one. 15:19 remaining, as NIU gives it away again with a walk under the hoop. Michigan keeps feeding Sims, and he keeps drawing fouls. Misses both, ugly-like.

Defense a little slack inside, and McKinney makes us pay when he finishes. 41-29.

NIU keeps trying to get the ball inside, but Sims is holding up and forcing walks. Amaker wants a time-out when we come back down the court.

Quick basket by Dion Harris after the break, so I guess the timeout was worth it.

Scramble at the other end, Michigan yoinks the rebound. They feed Sims to make it 45-29. He's starting to go to town, just maybe. The crew wants to see Greg Oden vs. Courtney Sims. I do not.

You know NIU gets the ball sometimes watching this game, but it's just a prelude to Sims getting the ball back with a short shot to make. 47-29.

Variation: Harris pulls down the rebound, comes back the other way. A three does not go down. They exchange possessions again, another M shot won't go; Petway can't control a rebound. NIU comes up the court and Jerret Smith goes diving over a table after it gets poked away. TV time-out.

NIU white guy runs around and makes it 47-31. We don't do anything with the ball on the other end, but NIU commits their 17th turnover. Harris comes up-court, bounces it off an NIU leg. Rand hits a jumper, 47-33. Udoh gets it low, draws the foul and gets the bucket. 49-33, after the +1 misses.

THe defense is a little looser and they make it 49-35. Udoh demolishes his man on the block, backing him down with a WHOMP. We get the finish; 51-35.

Foul on the shot, they hit both. On the other end, Sims jam, 53-37.

They try a Rip Hamilton Special from the foul line, but it's an airball. A quick shot on the other half misses for the maize and blue. They draw the foul on an arcing jumper they make. 53-40.

We're playing like this game is over, but it's only a 13-point lead. We turn the ball over, looking lackadaisical, but NIU carries the ball AGAIN. TV time-out.

NIU's starting point guard has missed four games with an unknown/undisclosed illness. "Almost mono-like symptoms". Best of wishes to Ryan Paradise on his recovery.

After a pair of offensive rebounds, C. Sims just knocks over his man to give himself the open shot, but he's called for the offensive foul. A Michigan steal lets D. Sims give Jevohn Shepherd a pretty-looking alley-oop that he converts, Petway-style. Nice. 55-40.

D. Sims is getting involved down low on the defense, swiping a pass out of bounds. Baseline, Petway is late shifting over and can't get a hand on the shot. 55-42. Exchange of steals. NIU throws it down the court, but they miss the layup. Back down the court under the basket to D. Sims, who finds Abram coming in for a lay-up. He misses the first attempt, but collects his own miss. 57-42.

Foul on the other end, they hit 1/2. Baker and Coleman are back in. Kicked ball by Pancratz. Baker doesn't get the benefit of the doubt when he goes up through traffic and misses. McKinney on the other end gets blanketed under the basket and is called for three seconds. Sims skies and makes it look easy. 59-43.

McKinney can't get it to go, and Michigan sets up the half-court. Petway is on the block, hits the shot, and draws the foul.

Air Georgia hits, making it 62-43. NIU misses the shot and goes out of bounds trying to collect the rebound. Our three-point shooting has been unfailingly ugly, and the Huskies turn it into a quick two with a runner off the glass on the other end.

Why we're not trying to bleed clock is beyond me, but a quick shot turns into a quick two and it's 62-47 with 1:54 left. NOW we slow it up, letting the shot clock tick down to nothing, even though we come away with nothing. The rebound comes back long, so the Huskies push it up and knock down a nice three. 62-50.

The crew mentions how our FG % defense is magnificent, but it takes a while to get to the TERRIBLE COMPETITION we've played. The students are singing "The Victors". Reed Baker hits a nice, wide-open three as the shot clock draws to nothing. 65-50.

Michigan gets the ball back quickly. With 18.7 seconds left, the Huskies foul Lester Abram, who hits both from the charity stripe. NIU hits a long, meaningless two to make the final 67-52.

The ESPN crew is painting a rosy picture for Michigan this season, but I'm not as convinced just yet. The start of the game was ugly, ugly, ugly until the subs came in. That might be a result of the level of competition we were playing, but we didn't blow them off the court. NIU isn't tournament-level competition, and they were able to hang around for a long time. Without the absolute gifts we received in the turnover column, it could've been bad. On the plus side, Abram seemed to have a better touch with the ball, and Courtney Sims got going pretty well in the second half. DeShawn Sims and Ekpe Udoh both looked like they'll be real building blocks for the future and they can give us quality minutes today. We'll know what kind of a team we really have when they go to UCLA next weekend.

UPDATE:   Holy bejeebus. OSU is just absolutely taking Cincy behind the woodshed. 42-14 at the half? Remember when the Bearcats were contenders for the NCAA title and the Buckeyes just kind of sucked? Yeah. Good times.

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