"What (Michigan coaches) told me is that they're focusing on point guards right now, but if anything opens up, they'll definitely come back on and recruit me as hard as they were," said Towns
Apologies for the delay, technical difficulties
Michigan struggled early against Houston Baptists's size and changing defense, but a barrage of three pointers led by DeShawn Sims started a 22-9 point run for Michigan to end the half up 12. The HBU starting big men, 6'11" Damian Lewis and 6'9" Mario Flaherty, used their length and size to slow down the Michigan offensive attack as well as get second chance opportunities for themselves. Flaherty, matched up early on with Zack Novak, had offensive rebounds in the game. Novak fought hard, but did not have the size or strength to defend Flaherty in the post or seal him on the shot.
Early on, Michigan appeared confused with the defense and struggled to get quality shots. Even when they got a good shot, they were not shooting well, having a lot of shots rattle out. HBU regularly switched up their defense at one point using a version of the 1-3-1 that Beilein had never seen before. LLP loosened the lid on the rim with Michigan's first 3pt FG, which started a quick spurt. All within 4 minutes of gameplay, DeShawn Sims hit four 3pt FGs from the exact same spot on the floor. Both Harris and Novak added a three as well to help Michigan run out to a big halftime lead. Just before halftime with only 4 seconds on the clock, Manny stole the inbound pass and made the layup as the buzzer sounded.
The second half saw Michigan play better on defense and play with a good mix of patience and opportunism. The rotation has sort of come together with Stu Douglass coming in for Morris at the 13 minute mark and Vogrich and Gibson coming in to spell LLP and Novak respectively. Wright subs almost exclusively for Harris.
- Cronin played the last 2:11 of the game. Beilein said he doesn't have 100% of his bounce back from his injury. Also, with how well Gibson is playing, it would be tough to take away minutes to give to Cronin.
- Beilein seemed more excited than usual to break down the film. He was glad that they had a challenge and had to fight through. Beilein said this was challenge since the team lost from Oklahoma last year.
- Stu Douglass is getting used to coming off the
bedbench. He likes coming in and making plays for his teammates.
- The 1 and 2 on the team are basically interchangeable on offense. Douglass said that gives a lot of flexibility coming up the court against pressure.
- DeShawn Sims tallied his 500th rebound this game. He's hoping to get up to at least 700 for his career.
- Beilein said every practice they work with DeShawn Sims on his individual skills in order to allow him to play basketball professionally. It is very important to Beilein to have his players succeed after their college careers are over.
- Manny Harris missed 3 FTs this game. The team as a whole only shot 68% from the FT line on 22 shots. So far both games have featured poor FT shooting for a team that was one of the best in country last year.
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.
Michigan (0-0) 73, Wayne State 54.
It was an exhibition game against a D-2 team. It's meaningless in the grand scheme of things, and counts toward nothing. Yet it still felt good to be back in Crisler Arena, and perhaps even better to emerge with a win, be it over Duke, Michigan State... or Wayne State.
In the grand scheme of things, nothing is more important than junior Manny Harris's hamstring injury. Though it has been hampering him throughout fall practices, there was no noticeable effect on the floor. "I think it got a lot better," Manny said following the game. He led all scorers with 25 points,tied senior DeShawn Sims for the team lead in rebounds (5), and even came away with three steals to lead all players. Manny said he wasn't sure how much he was going to play, but coach JOhn Beilein Beilein explained, "I wanted to make sure he got enough touches and just felt good before the real thing starts."
The fast break was a good source of offense for Michigan, as well. "This year, we're trying to be faster, and just really anticipating that. We've got more people athletic on the wing, so there's no reason why we shouldn't be running," said freshman Darius Morris. The three ball wasn't quite as consistent, except from sophomore Zack Novak, who went 5/8 from behind the arc.
I was somewhat surprised that Michigan's athleticism wasn't able to simply overpower the Warriors for the entire game. Basketball is a more skill-oriented sport than football in some respects, so the difference between the divisions may be there and in size, rather than raw athletic ability. Wayne did have a couple guys who could really shoot the ball, but Michigan's defense made it difficult to get a lot of open looks.
The Crisler atmosphere was pretty good, with 9,657 fans in the house. "It's blessing, with all those Maize Rage fans are out there, calling your name. It was just a great atmosphere," said Darius Morris. "It was great," Novak said, "The Maize Rage was awesome, and we had a really good turnout, I thought." A good turnout indeed: That's within a thousand of last year's season average. It's not guaranteed to continue though, according to Beilein: "We certainly have to win to keep them coming back, but it's really neat to have that type of student support."
- Your starters were Darius Morris, Laval Lucas-Perry, Manny Harris, Zack Novak, and DeShawn Sims.
- Coach Beilein mentioned that he would like to get DeShawn Sims on the court with another bigman more often. He couldn't tonight because of Sims's foul trouble, but look for that in the future.
- I was surprised at how little Matt Vogrich played. You'd think a good outside shooter like him would get more run in Beilein's system. He was unable to get into a rhythm in his 11 minutes and was 0/2 from the floor.
- Michigan was able to empty the bench at the end of the game. You can see that those guys aren't as talented as those who will get more regular playing time, but there are a couple guys who could be contributors in the future.
- Zack Gibson is still good for at least one play per game that makes you think "he can do that?".
- It's touched on above, but I was shocked at the fan turnout for a weekend exhibition game. Good work, Michigan fans (or is this a sign we're just waiting to transition from football to basketball?).
- Area for improvement: Free throw shooting. The sample size is small (and Michigan was an excellent free throw shooting team last year), so hopefully the 60% number is just an anomaly.
Basketball Exhibition v. Wayne State. 7PM ET, Crisler Arena. BigTenNetwork.com
After the Wolverines did in John Beilein's second year what they couldn't do in six under Tommy Amaker, expectations for the Michigan basketball team went through the roof. Suddenly, this is a tournament team. Suddenly, it's the #15 team in the country.
At his latest press conference Beilein joked about not being on the wall mural in the Junge Family Champions Center like Rodriguez is. Maybe he should be. If last year's scrappy group started 2 different walk-ons during the year, and made it to the second round, what can this year's edition pull off?
Though Laval Lucas-Perry, Stu Douglass, and Zack Novak are no longer freshmen, the team still will rely on first year players. Freshman Darius Morris may start at point guard. "His head's swimming like any other freshman," Beilein said, "It would be, I'm sure, what you go through in football when it's a quarterback that's a freshman. Boy, it's really hard."
"He's a good passer and he can score," said junior forward Manny Harris. He also likes defending—maybe a little too much, as he can get into foul trouble.
Classmate Matt Vogrich is known as a shooter, but he has to adjust to the athleticism and size of college defenders. "Being open in high school is a whole lot different than being open in college," he said. Sophomore forward Zack Novak praises his young teammate, saying "Yeah, he can shoot it. There's definitely no question about it. He can really shoot."
Forward Blake McLimans will add some serious size to the frontcourt, at 6-10. As the 11th or 12th player on the bench, he doesn't get as many practice reps as the rest of the team and will probably redshirt.
The other scholarship member of the recruiting class, Jordan Morgan, won't even be able to run full-court as he's coming off a knee surgery. He may not hit the court for Michigan this fall. "If there's any question in my mind, we will redshirt until we burn it," Beilein said, "You can't go the other way now." If Morgan can get healthy by the time the season begins in earnest, he may be a contributor.
Laval Lucas-Perry, Stu Douglass, Zack Novak, Anthony Wright, and Zack Gibson are all back in the maize-and-blue jerseys. The first three are only sophomores, and are expected to take a big leap forward in year 2. "You just feel so much more comfortable, knowing what to expect," says Novak. Novak, by the way, looks like a completely different player, replacing extra weight on his body with muscle.
This team will look different than last year's. There are more talented—though not as gritty—options at point guard, and DeShawn Sims won't have to spend the entire season toiling away against the Dallas Lauderdales of the world with Ben Cronin and Zack Gibson around to take some of the burden at center. In what is probably the last season for both Sims and Manny Harris in Ann Arbor, they are the team's leaders. "I mean everyone talks and helps," says Harris, "It ain't like we're the two biggest talkers on the team." Like many great leaders, they prefer to lead by example.
(One grim note: Harris is struggling with a hamstring injury. He doesn't participate in team sprints, and doesn't quite have the explosive moves that he's become known for.)
The season kicks off tonight against Wayne State in an exhibition game at Crisler Arena. It's not unheard of for Division 2 squads to pull off the big upset. Just this week, Lemoyne College knocked off Syracuse. Beilein, a former Dolphins coach, received a text that read "Finally Lemoyne has a good coach."
Joking aside, the Wolverines aren't taking Wayne State lightly. "We do not want to lose this game now," said Beilein, "We're trying to get 9 or 10 guys ready for our first game, which is in a week, so we'll be treating this like a game-like situation, as will Wayne State."
"My expectation for the team is that we're better than a lot of people think we are," says DeShawn Sims, "It's all about winning right now. Everything is about winning." Every great journey starts with a first step. For the 2009-10 Wolverine basketball team, that step comes tonight.
Somewhat less than timely, but still good. Michigan softball player Bree Evans, who suffered a scary injury at the beginning of the month, is out of the hospital. She's been out for a good long while…
Evans was released from the hospital two weeks ago, according to Michigan sports information director Leah Howard. Howard declined to comment on details of Evans’ injury.
…but better to know late than never, I guess.
Well, let's be explicit about it. Deshawn Sims and Mann Harris talking to Fox Sports's Jeff Goodman for a Beilein fluff bit before the season:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - DeShawn Sims had just finished up his freshman season at Michigan when he heard the news that John Beilein had been hired to replace Tommy Amaker. At the time, Manny Harris was the Wolverines' top signee, and the word quickly swirled that he would explore other options.
"People were saying Beilein's system was for white boys," Sims said.
"I heard he didn't even like players that dunk," added the athletic Harris.
Elsewhere in basketball, perhaps the most newsworthy thing to come out of Big Ten Media Day was Illinois coach Bruce Weber suggesting that the Big Ten will "probably" move to a full round robin "down the road." I got so excited about it that I retweeted it, so, yes, I am enthusiastic about the hypothetical change. It just makes sense, and now with the Big Ten Network it makes financial sense—in conversations I've had with them they have a strong preference for intraconference matchups.
And here's a Tim Hardaway Jr fluffy bit from ESPN, courtesy reader Woodson2Heisman:
Michigan checks in at #15 in both preseason polls, but this is slightly terrifying:
Junior guard Manny Harris - an All-Big Ten team selection Thursday - has battled pulled hamstrings since the start of practice and Beilein, himself a victim of the consistently tight hammys, has been extra cautious. …
“Now that it’s happened, it’s got to be a season-long therapy thing,” Beilein said. “We can’t let down. He’s always been tight in his hamstrings. I have tight hamstrings so I know what it’s like. It can lead to back problems.
“Stretching is not my favorite thing to do, it’s not his. Therapy isn’t, but he has to do it. “
Ugh. Season-long nagging injury for the unquestioned star of the team. This is not so good.
Because you're still on a Quest for Toronto. Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician, the fantastic Syracuse blog, asks "why isn't anyone talking about Scott Shafer?" Insert snark here. But then TNIAAM drops some year-to-year numbers that are a little bothersome since Michigan and Syracuse have essentially swapped defensive coordinators:
Syracuse Defense Rankings 2008 vs 2009 (through seven games)
|Statistic||2008 Defense||2009 Defense|
|Tackles For Loss||106th||49th|
|Opp. 3rd Down Conv.||117th||38th|
That's across-the-board improvement except in pass defense. So, okay, there's a lot of noise in these numbers and they'll probably fall with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh the next two games on the schedule. And Syracuse apparently returned a lot of people on defense, including all the good players. But it's at least an indication that Scott Shafer isn't a total git who lucked his way into the Michigan job and blew it all by himself.
On the other hand: the last time I offered a small complaint about Robinson, one of the guys from The Only Colors who does their version of UFR emailed me about a post he'd put up highlighting Robinson's halftime adjustments. That's pretty noisy, too, but in the offseason we'll take a thorough look at the two defenses.
Early signing. Don't know why this came up just now but Rodriguez is in favor of a couple changes to recruiting. One is an early signing day that this site has advocated before:
“I would be in favor of having an early signing day around the third week in December, when the junior-college signing date is, and then have another signing date like we do now on the first Wednesday in February," Rodriguez said on Tuesday's Big Ten coaches teleconference.
The other item he's mentioned is the past is allowing schools to offer official visits over the summer, something that makes sense for schools fairly distant from talent sources in Florida.
Adios, Ufer. Bob Ufer died this week in 1981, and a guy emailed me to let me know he'd been putting up some Ufer retrospective videos on the tubes:
I haven't spent a lot of time scouring youtube to confirm this, but I bet Michigan dominates it, what with Wolverine Historian and this poster ("Ghosts of Michigan") and now a zillion individual plays from UFR.
CONSPIRACY These are the items I was talking about Monday when I mentioned a number of questionable calls that went against Michigan. The illegal formation is on the right tackle here:
There was also the too-many-men call on the Robinson interception, or lack thereof:
You can see the ball has already been snapped.
Rodriguez is not happy about this stuff, nor is he happy about the ridiculous Schilling holding call—the second time in two Big Ten games that Schillling's crushed a guy and gotten a hold for his troubles. RR:
"Some of them I understand, when you twist and turn a guy, whatever," Rodriguez said. "But if you've got your hands inside in great position, you're drive blocking a guy and he falls down, because, one, he loses his balance or something, I don't think it should be called holding.
"There is more of a gray area, and there's more frustration, I think, in seeing some of the calls."
No doubt some Penn State fan will run back to his message board going "lol we won 35-10" so let's just be clear: this did not have an impact on the outcome of the game.
While I'm at it, here's Holly Rowe, Hoth Edition:
Etc.: College presidents complaining about how coaches' salaries are excessive. Adrian Witty is still planning to enroll in January. Beilein's top priority for AD is a guy who will renovate Crisler for serious. A package of reforms designed to make the money trail from shady college coaches to shady AAU coaches more illegal has passed in its entirety.
YEAH WE ARE VIRILE BY PROXY WOO
Stuck in. You know, Nick Sheridan's taken a lot of stick—some of it from this blog—for being the guy who was holding the hot potato when the quarterback carousel stopped and that's one hell of a mixed metaphor but there you go. And he's been discarded as a viable starting option this year by everyone—including this blog. Despite this, he keeps on working:
"Because I wasn't heavily recruited, because I wasn't given a scholarship out of high school, they assume I just stumbled into this opportunity," Sheridan said, his voice rising as he defended his position on the team. "People said that all the time, 'You just want to be a coach, right? So football isn't that important to you.'
"Being the quarterback here is the most important thing to me. Going through an experience here with the Michigan program will serve me well in the future, when I want to be a coach. It's not an ulterior motive for me to want to be on the team."
That's from an excellent Chengelis article on Sheridan that paints him as CJ Lee in pads.
(But, no, I still don't see him as a viable starting option.)
Yeah, nevermind that. Remember a few weeks ago when Leonardo Dicaprio sported a Michigan hat whilst courtside at a Lakers game? Did it mean anything? Is Dicaprio a Michigan fan? Does he even know he's wearing a Michigan hat?
No, no, and no, given the West Virginia hat he's sporting now and the… er… discontent between the two fanbases. Further evidence of Dicaprio's indifference: before the Michigan/West Virginia swing he was rocking an FAU Owls hat, which… really?
Also: yes, that's the lunkhead brother from My Name Is Earl.
It could be big. Manny Harris came away from the That Guy Dunks On LeBron Academy hauling a sack of effusive praise behind him. One evaluation:
One of the most athletic players in attendance, Manny Harris showed a lightning quick first step and terrific leaping ability. While Harris’ narrow frame and poor wingspan aren’t going to help him out much on the defensive side of the ball, he did show the ability to make tough shots, which he seems to settle for quite often. An extremely talented scorer regardless, Harris is likely to emerge as one of the top players in the Big 10 this year, even if his NBA potential is still a matter of debate.
-DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris both look really good this week. No doubt Michigan fans would like to see them look really good a little more consistently. Having seen their squad on both side of 20-point spreads against my Nittany Lions last year, I can vouch for the inconsistency.
If Zach Gibson can take the Graham Brown/Chris Young memorial Gumpy White Post Senior Leap and Darius Morris can provide a secondary threat to create and score, Michigan will be in business next year. Challenge for the Big Ten title business? Maybe if they're lucky and healthy.
Coyotes of the distant, distant future. Phoenix loves them some Michigan players, having drafted Chad Kolarik, Kevin Porter, Chris Summers, and incoming freshman Chris Brown and traded for goalie Al Montoya. They also love leaving their kids in school, which you go 'Yotes. They recently had a prospects camp attended by both Summers and Brown. The Coyotes' GM on Summers:
Maloney said he thinks at least six of the defensemen at the camp will reach the NHL some day, including Chris Summers, who will return to the University of Michigan for his senior season in the fall.
“He may be the best skating defenseman in college hockey and he plays with an edge,” Maloney said. “He’ll be with us at the end of this year for sure. He’s a guy that we’ll be excited to add.”
"With us"? As in "with us in Phoenix?" Eh… probably not unless the Coyotes are eliminated from playoff contention and just playing out the string. Nevertheless, commendation for his talent.
Maloney on Brown—the article is a profile so there's considerably more at the link:
“Chris comes to us as advertised,” Maloney said last week. “You know you watch him and when you first see him he looks a little rough skill-wise, but then you see him play and he’s very strong with the stick and has a heavy shot. What impresses me is he just goes to the net. He’s run over the goalies four or five times here and I think that’s just Chris. He charges the net and we really don’t have anybody like him in our prospect system, you know, a guy that just charges the net hard and then might stay around and have a conversation about it if anybody wants to talk about it… he’s still young and he’s evolving, but I’ve really liked what I’ve seen of Chris at this camp.”
Brown sounds like a fan favorite in the making, and a guy that opponents love to hate. Think Ryznar or Nystrom, but hopefully with a little more offensive pop.