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DeShawn Sims too much for the Hawks to handle

BY CHARLIE KAUTZ | MARCH 13, 2009 7:30 AM

INDIANAPOLIS — Michigan head coach John Beilein would’ve been well-suited to arrange a massage and a king-sized hotel mattress for forward DeShawn Sims on Thursday night in Indianapolis.

If Sims was just getting comfortable during a 27-point onslaught on Iowa’s interior structure in the Wolverines’ blowout win, a night of luxury could make for another royal mess against Illinois in today’s second round of the Big Ten Tournament.

“After his first bucket, it seemed like he had all the confidence he needed to keep going,” said Iowa sophomore Jarryd Cole, the first to face Sims’ ambush in Iowa’s 28-point loss. “We’re usually very team-oriented, and [Thursday], we were exposed individually.”

Quite simply, Iowa’s one-game postseason was over when Sims established the post, which took all of about three minutes inside Conseco Field House. After the game, Sims was hard-pressed to remember a start in his basketball career that matched Thursday’s — he began 8-9 from the field and scored Michigan’s first 14 points.

Sheepishly thinking for a few seconds, he couldn’t.

“I’ve played a lot of basketball,” he said. “I can’t remember … Nah, I haven’t.”

Iowa’s initial strategy of shifting starting forwards Aaron Fuller and Cole flopped when each picked up a foul in the game’s first three minutes.

Sims played a total of 30 minutes Thursday, and the ensuing 27 saw Iowa switch guards on screens and hope senior Cyrus Tate could counteract Sims’ size, strength, and awareness around the basket.
Neither strategy proved affective as the game wore on, Michigan’s confidence growing and Iowa defenders increasingly invisible against the low-post monster.

“He’s been playing great the whole year,” said Michigan teammate Manny Harris, who finished with 18 points. “You feel like when you give it to him, he’s going to score.

“You sometimes don’t even go rebound.”

Indeed, Michigan was on the losing end of Thursday’s rebounding battle, 28-23. But as Harris explained, there isn’t much reason to attack the glass when the Wolverines finish shooting 59.2 percent (29-49) from the field.

Alone, Sims accounted for just three fewer field goals (12) than the entire Hawkeye roster (15) in the one-sided opening round contest.

“Whatever it took as far as me amping myself up, I’ve done it,” Sims said.

The junior from Detroit attributed his effectiveness to a unique awareness for interior defenders and ability to overcome Iowa’s body-focused physicality.

“They got two physical bigs and they definitely tried to get into my body and be very strong with me,” he said. “I have a great feel for when someone’s pressuring me as far as putting their body on me, how to spin off and find open seams.

“And I was able to do that today because of the big guys.”

Sims’ game-high 27 points tied the most allowed by Iowa to an individual opponent this season and set the tone in a game that saw few competitive moments late in the second half. In a mirror image of the teams’ first meeting on Jan. 11, the Hawkeyes lame output in the opening half — 19 points, the fewest since the first loss to Michigan — equated to another sizable defeat.

“I think we let Michigan get comfortable early in the beginning of the game,” Tate said. “They kind of got a roll going and comfortable. At that point, the game got out of hand and we tried to fight back.”

A 21-point halftime deficit, Iowa’s largest of the season, would’ve made a comeback arduous enough. Sims’ effort, unstoppable from start to finish, made complete nonsense of such a task on Thursday afternoon.


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