Coaches' timeouts are worse. Basketball teams should get one, full stop.
Michigan 83, Creighton 76. Michigan 3-0
Bullets only, since it's a holiday. Hell, I'll even make them holiday-themed.
I'm Thankful For:
- The win. It seemed like it wasn't going to happen for a while there, as I was tearing my hair out in frustration. It would not have been a happy holiday if Michigan hadn't pulled this one out.
- Manny Harris. Just one rebound away from another triple-double. At the end of the game, I wanted Michigan to chuck up a bad shot, just so he could get the offensive rebound and acheev dream. It looks like he and Evan Turner are going to battle all year to see who can finish with more triple-doubles. At least Harris isn't likely to get the quadruple-double by turning it over all the time.
- Zack Novak. Dude. Novak rules. End of discussion.
- A talented rotation. Michigan only played 6 guys extensively, bringing Stu Douglass off the bench. However, Morris is a talent upgrade over last year's walkons, and it probably helped Michigan win this game.
I'm Not Thankful For:
- The officials. I'm not going to idiotically accuse them of actively conspiring against Michigan, but they missed a ton of calls, and it seemed like most of the big ones went against the Wolverines. If the NCAA wants to hire me as their referee czar, I'm available. Couldn't possibly be any worse than the guy doing it now.
- Creighton's hot shooting. The Blue Jays, despite all their turnovers, managed to stay in the game ecause they shot the ball very well, particularly in the second half. They're a damn good team, and don't be surprised to see them in the NCAA tourney.
- Lack of substitution. After the 6-man rotation, there was very little playing time for backups. That won't fly later in the year, and Michigan needs to get some of these guys game-ready.
- Zack Gibson. He made his requisite gumpy plays, but didn't play enough to have the opportunity for his requisite awesomely athletic play to make you forgive him.
- Free throw shooting. What the hell? Michigan was awesome at the line last year. Hopefully most of the struggles can be attributed to not getting a lot of games in early in the year. If not, expect free throws to cost the Wolverines at least one game this year.
- Away-game atmosphere. AnnArbor.com's Michael Rothstein told me that there were approximately equal numbers of Michigan and Creighton fans in The Milk House, but it definitely sounded like Creighton was the home team. Michigan fans at the next two games (and in general, but that's a story for another day) need to step up the intensity and support their team.
The winner of the Marquette-Xavier game will face our Wolverines tomorrow at noon. Preview upcoming when we know who the winner is (at the time of publishing, Marquette leads Xavier in the first half).
The men's hoops teams heads to Orlando this week to participate in the Old Spice Classic. The bracket looks as such:
Here's a brief look at the teams in the tournament field.
So Far: Creighton fell to Dayton in their opening game this season, and came back with a big win over Florida A&M. On Sunday, they beat Arkansas-Little Rock by 15.
Profile: Creighton is slightly above average on both offense and defense. They're certainly not a team that likes to bang in the post, as they've hardly gotten to the line, and haven't sent their opponents to the line much either.
Matchup: Creighton is the only team that Michigan is guaranteed to play, and they seem to just average. As uncomfortable as it is to say that Michigan basketball should be able to take care of opponents that are simply average, that's the new reality I guess. They shouldn't be an easy out, but Michigan should emerge victorious. UMHoops talked with a Creighton blogger about the Bluejays.
So Far: The Eagles have feasted on an easy schedule so far, knocking off Centenary, Maryland-Eastern Shore, and Grambling by at least 20 points a pop. All three games have been at home so far.
Profile: It's hard to determine a team profile based solely on the tempo-free statistics from games against opponents that are so overmatched. Marquette has been very good rebounding the ball on both ends of the floor so far, and is shooting the ball very well. They don't foul a whole lot, nor do they draw a lot of fouls from the opposition.
Matchup: One area that might hold Michigan back should they face Marquette is turnovers. Marquette gets a lot of steals, and the Wolverines start a freshman point guard. Still, it remains to be seen what this Big East squad can do when they aren't operating at a significant talent advantage.
So Far: The Musketeers are 3-0 so far this year, with the wins coming against Younsgtown State, Bowling Green, and Sacred Heart. They have yet to play anywhere other than their home arena.
Profile: Xavier currently leads the nation in effective field goal percentage, though it's unclear how much of that is a product of the competition they've played. They're great shooting from behind the arc, and have done a decent job of getting to the free throw line so far this season.
Matchup: For all that they're good at, Xavier is seriously deficient in one area, and that's forcing the opponent into turnovers. That plays somewhat into Michigan's strengths. However, they also haven't been letting opponents rebound their own misses, which Michigan, as a Perimeter-Oriented Team, should be susceptible to.
So Far: The Tide lost at home to Cornell, and rebounded to beat Jackson State. Most recently, they beat Providence 84-75 on Friday.
Profile: Alabama is below average in offensive efficiency (despite being above average in the four factors.; figure that one out), and above average in defensive efficiency.
Matchup: It's too bad Michigan is unlikely to face Alabama, because they'd be a good matchup. They've allowed opponents to make a bunch of threes, and although they've blocked a bunch of shots, that was against far inferior opposition, and a perimeter-oriented team that still has some height in the middle should be able to shred them.
So Far: The Bears are 4-0, having knocked off Norfolk State, Hartford, and Southern. They also pounded D-3 side Hardin-Simmons, which isn't a very relevant data point.
Profile: Baylor is a very efficient team offensively, coming in 29th per Ken Pomeroy. They're a below-average defensive team, however. They get a ton of offensive rebounds, and block a bunch of shots, both of which are at least partially attributable to erstwhile Michigan Wolverine Ekpe Udoh. They've also held opponents to bad shooting numbers, but not so much with the three-pointers.
Matchup: I'm sure a lot of Michigan's players would like the opportunity to play against their former teammate Ekpe Udoh. The Bears look like a pretty good team on paper, though the numbers have all come at home against questionable competition. The one area that Baylor struggles with is three-point defense, which plays to Michigan's strength.
Note: written before Florida beat the hell out of Florida State last night. That certainly rounds things down for the Seminoles.
So Far: Florida State has beaten the hell out of far inferior opposition, with a comfortable victory over Jacksonville and an 80-38 pounding of Stetson. They also dismantled Mercer on Saturday.
Profile: With only three games against bad teams as evidence, it's hard to judge Florida State's style. They seem to be above average in just about everthing, especially two-point shooting on offense and defense. They're also #1 in the nation in blocking opponents field goals.
Matchup: The oddsmakers say Michigan will meet up with the Seminoles in the finals of the tournament, and they look like a formidable opponent from the evidence we have so far. Still, the areas in which they're least excellent are strengths for Michigan. They turn over the ball a bit, and don't guard the three-point line that well. They also haven't stolen the ball a lot, despite the vastly inferior opposition. That could help Michigan, who will play young point guards.
So Far: Iona has notched wins against Boston University, Hampton, and most recently Norfolk State on Saturday. The game against Hampton was their only away contest so far.
Profile: Iona is a physical team. They are near the top of the nation in drawing opponent fouls, but near the bottom in not returning the favor on the other end of the floor. For all the fouls they draw, you'd think they wouldn't be so bad at making the freebies, but they're shooting just 61% from the stripe.
Matchup: Though it's unlikely that Michigan sees the Gaels during this tournament, they would probably be a good matchup for the Wolverines. They don't stand out in any significant way other than their ability to get fouled, and MIchigan would be one of the taller, quicker teams they'd face, which would neutralize much of that.
Yes, there's an OSU preview coming.
|WHAT||#15/16 Michigan v. Houston Baptist|
November 20th, 2009
|THE LINE||No line, junkie|
Michigan will probably come out with the same lineup they played last game: Darius Morris at the point, Laval Lucas-Perry at guard, Manny Harris and Zack Novak at forward, and DeShawn Sims in the middle. Stu Douglass will replace LLP at the first substitution.
With the quality of team HBU appears to be (more on that in a moment), Michigan will probably be able to get lots of subs into the game. It may not mean multiple minutes for Eso Akunne and Josh Bartelstein, but Beilein has a big tournament coming up next weekend, and should try to build a bit of depth.
Matt Vogrich, Stu Douglass, and Zack Gibson will probably get a bunch of time. If Ben Cronin is healthy, he can be the biggest guy on the court by 3 inches. Anthony Wright will probably get some time for a 10-man rotation, but he hasn't played well so far.
For the Wolverines, this should be little more than a tuneup for the Old Spice Classic next weekend.
It's hard to know exactly how good teams are this early in the season, but early returns on Houston Baptist say they're pretty bad. The Huskies have only played South Alabama, Sacramento State, and Rice, and have lost all three games (two on their home court).
The majority of their problems have been on offense, where they're 300th in efficiency (again, don't read tooooo much into the rankings this early in the season). They turn the ball over on more than a quarter of their possessions, and they can't shoot the ball, especially from long range, where they've made fewer than 9% of their shots(!). They also have 13.1% of their attempts blocked.
Defensively, they've been good defending the three-point line, holding opponents to 19% shooting. They've also been above-average in holding opponents from making 2-point buckets.
So, with three games under their belts, Houston Baptist has looked like a very bad offensive team, and a decent defensive team. The Wolverines will be the most talented team they've seen yet by far.
This is definitely a team that won't give Michigan matchup trouble with size. The Huskies' most used players have been post Mario Flaherty (their tallest player at 6-9), 6-6 forward Andrew Gonzales, 5th-year senior guard Wendell Preadom, and guard Michael Moss. Those guys have played more than 3/4 of available minutes, and nobody else has played more than a third.
Ach: this one is late for no reason other than I forgot to post it yesterday. In keeping with our "you can't have one with the other" theme of late, Jamiemac of Just Cover appears but we forgo an Ohio State blogger on the premise that even if they tried really hard they couldn't be anything other than annoyingly condescending given the state of things.
Long, and mostly concerned with 2010 and basketball so timeliness is not a huge issue.
Links of use:
Michigan (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
When a college basketball player scores a triple-double, it's likely his team had a pretty good game. When he does it after 29 minutes of play, and is able to take to the bench for significant garbage time, it's guaranteed. Manny Harris did just that, recording only the second triple-double in Michigan basketball history last night in the Wolverines' 97-50 romp over D-2 Northern Michigan. He finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists. Just about the only thing that made Wolverine fans unhappy was Beilein's decision not to go for the century mark in the final minute.
For much of the game, it seemed like the offense wasn't running that smoothly, and the majority of Michigan's points were coming in fast break situations (or only shortly thereafter). There are a number of things that probably factor into this: freshmen getting used to the pace of an actual game in college, including one at point guard; overmatched opponent didn't require running too much of the offense; early season jitters. I think the jitters may have played a role, as the team started sketchy from the line, with Manny Harris missing one, and LLP and Anthony Wright each having a bad miss. They settled down from the stripe as the game went on, and the team missed just one freebie in the second half.
Freshman Matt Vogrich showed he can shoot the hell out of the ball, making all 5 of his shot attempts, each of them from behind the arc. Zack Novak, on the other hand, was unable to continue his hot streak from the last game, missing on both of his 3-balls. DeShawn Sims led all scorers with 22 points. Zack Gibson is still good for a couple really athletic plays per game and a couple awkward ones, including having a guard rip a rebound out of his hands. I still don't like Anthony Wright as a useful piece of this team. He misses 100% of the shots he doesn't take... and nearly all the ones that he does take. Sure, he can get hot at times (see: NCAA Tournament game against Oklahoma), but that's the exception, not the rule.
Other personnel notes: Laval Lucas-Perry didn't score a lot, but did a pretty good job running the point when he was asked to do so. A host of walkons got in at the end of the game (Akunne, Bartelstein, Puls, and Person), and they played with Ben Cronin. After the game, Beilein said that he would have liked Cronin to get a bit more time, but he has a hand injury (his right hand was heavily taped during the game) that limits him from shooting or catching the ball. That injury should be fine by Friday.
The defensive intensity looked really good to start the game, and the players were being really aggressive in the zone. I can see why it's so helpful to have a 6-4 guy at the top of the zone, rather than somebody who's generously listed at 6-0. There were instances where the team was able to trap Northern's players, but they didn't actually record too many turnovers. As the game wore on and it became apparent that the Wildcats wouldn't be posing a serious threat, the intensity cooled off a bit, and I think there might have even been more reliance on man defenses, though I haven't re-watched the game to confirm.
- "They told me I had three assists to get [the triple double] and that's when I knew and I kinda counted from there." Manny Harris, on whether he knew he was approaching the triple-double.
- "I think anybody could get 10 assists, because we shoot the ball so well." Manny Harris.
- "He'll probably miss one or two [in practice], but we know he can shoot." Manny Harris on Matt Vogrich's shooting performance. "Class of 2013 right there. I was real happy for him. He's a shooter and I think he proved that out there today. I think you guys will be seeing a lot more of that from him." Darius Morris on Vogrich's performance.
- "For Manny to go out there and make plays, that's what he does: he's a playmaker." Darius Morris on Manny Harris's triple-double.
- "He trusts these shooters, and he relishes the assists as much as he does the points." John Beilein on Manny Harris's performance.
- "I like Stu coming in at that 13-minutes mark, because he's got that arm warmed up and ready to roll." John Beilein on bringing Stu Douglass off the bench.
- "I think he'll be fine by next weekend but he can't shoot right now and catch right now because his right hand still bothers him." John Beilein on Ben Cronin's injury.
- "Our defense has to improve, and I thought this was a good start today. Tomorrow when we watch film, there will be 50 or 60 cuts, and we'll spend an hour in there telling them what we gotta do better." John Beilein on the team's defense.
Michigan takes on Houston Baptist (0-2) Friday at 7 in Crisler Arena, available online at BigTenNetwork.com. The Huskies have another game before they head to Ann Arbor, taking on Rice tonight. Full preview of the game as it approaches.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Northern Michigan|
November 13th, 2009
|THE LINE||No line, junkie|
|TELEVISION||Big Ten Network|
Year 3 of the John Beilein era gets off to its official start Saturday at 7 as Michigan takes on the Wildcats of Northern Michigan in Crisler Arena. Though he's been a coach for over three decades, Beilein still feels butterflies heading into the year. "My gut feels the same... You're excited about it, and at the same time there's nervous energy."
If everything goes according to plan, the Wildcats will provide little competition. Instead, it should be an opportunity to get the kinks worked out, and a rotation established, before Houston Baptist comes to town next Friday—and hopefully even that is just a tune-up for the Old Spice Classic. The game against Northern will count as a win in the record books, but doesn't have an effect on Michigan's final RPI.
Manny Harris is still not 100%, though he's finally practicing in full with the team. Jordan Morgan has yet to hit the court with his teammates, though it should come soon. He and Blake McLimans will be kept on a redshirt track until the team absolutely needs them, in hopes that it never does.
A number of players are looking to improve their versatility. "I'm here to do what Coach Beilein needs me to do," says Laval Lucas-Perry, "I think I'm a little bit of both: point guard and a shooting guard." Darius Morris needs to learn when to simply go to the bucket, instead of setting up an offensive play (he also needs a winter coat). "As a point guard, you have to know when it's your opportunity to go out there and be a scorer... when you have to make that extra pass or go straight to the basket," Morris said. Stu Douglass is learning that sometimes it's OK to just trust his shot, even when running the point.
The rebounding and three-point defense continue to be issues, as they probably will be throughout the John Beilein era, though not to the extent they were last year. "The zone, at times, will give up a higher percentage than we'd like to, but it also creates turnovers," says Beilein. The team size will improve over last year, hopefully fixing some of those issues.
This team is still very much a work in progress. But isn't it fun to be able to enjoy the process?
As discussed in yesterday's non-conference roundup, Northern is, like, not very good. Against D-2 competition, they were below .500. They split the season series with Wayne State, a team that gave Michigan a comfortable victory in their exhibition last week. This is the Wildcats' first game of the season, in the largest arena they'll visit all year. They placed nobody on the pre-season all-conference squads.
Their players to watch are guards Marc Renelique and Raymont McElroy. They were atop last year's squad in scoring, and McElroy is the three-point shooter. The Northern Michigan roster from their website has some differences from ESPN's website, so take any personnel notes with a grain of salt. Hopefully, it shouldn't be too relevant for this game.
No tempo-free breakdown for this game, as it's the first game of the year against a D-2 opponent. We'll see about Houston Baptist getting the statistical preview, but it should make its permanent debut for the Old Spice Classic.
UMHoops has a little more on the Wildcats and six questions going into the season, which makes Rothstein's five questions seem very sad and small and alone. AnnArbor.com has plenty of coverage; Morris and LLP are the point guards with Douglass a third option. Jay Bilas has gone from emotional problems to crazy Michigan homer. Also Dick Vitale said something I'm betting was annoying.