Dribbles and Drives from Inside the House that Cazzie Built
SATURDAY, JAN. 10 -- Unlikely Hero Breaks Bloomington Curse
Averaging 7.4 minutes per game this season, C.J. Lee isn't always called upon to play an on-court role during crunch time. But the experienced co-captain of the Wolverines knows that at any moment he could be thrust into a major on-court role in a critical game, just as he was last Wednesday against Indiana in Bloomington.
"We're prepared because we practice for that every day; we know what is expected of us on the court," said Lee. "It's really just a mindset more than anything; you have to know that when you are going into the game your team is calling on you to do something. When the opportunity is presented to you, you have to be ready and, more so, be mentally prepared for it. I was ready last game and I try to approach every game with the mindset that you never know what is going to happen, so you have to be prepared because your number could be called when you least expect it."
Having already contributed on the offensive end during Michigan's second half comeback against the Hoosiers, connecting on a pair of three-pointers, Lee found himself in the difficult position of defending a two-on-one, trailing by three, with 33 seconds remaining in regulation.
"I was setting up to take a charge, and it looked like he was going to drive in so I just set up," said Lee. "As I was falling, I just reached out and got the ball, it worked out for us and Kelvin (Grady) was able to get the ball."
Following Lee's defensive play, Laval Lucas-Perry got a friendly bounce from the Assembly Hall rim on three-pointer to tie the game and force overtime. It was the second time this season the Maize and Blue have trailed by 20, only to force overtime and win in the extra session.
"We've been down 20 at halftime before, this season, and came back to win the game in overtime, so we were very comfortable making the game longer," said Lee. "That being said, you never like being in a hole like that, but we were confident that if we stuck to the script we could come back and win."
As if winning a game where they trailed by 20 wasn't enough, the victory also snapped U-M's 14-year drought against Indiana in Bloomington and was just the third victory for the Wolverines in the last 18 tries against the Hoosiers, something that made the win a little bit more special.
"I think the guys are aware of the history of the program, I don't think guys are aware that it was exactly 14 years since we had won there," said Lee. "We knew it had been a long time. I think Peedi (DeShawn Sims) and Jevohn (Shepherd) were the only players that had ever played their previously. That was my first trip, and my only trip, to Bloomington, so obviously we were happy to get a victory. We know who we play for, we know the history of the program, but we didn't know it was exactly 14 years."
Snapping streaks and pulling off improbable comebacks may be nice but, most importantly, Wednesday's victory was a conference road win, something that is always a precious commodity, no matter what the circumstances.
"It's big, but it's just one of many (road games)," said Lee. "We are going to have nine road games so it's certainly nice to start with a road win in conference. It's hard to win away from your own building so it's very important to get any road wins that you can. Hopefully we can get a few more."