If he can find the shooting stroke like Douglass did, this season can get a lot better.
Prescription: Coppin State
Michigan 76 Coppin State 46, Michigan 6-5 (0-0 Big Ten)
Make no mistake about it, Coppin State is a horrible team. But for the first time since the very beginning of the year, Michigan did what they were supposed to do to an overmatched opponent, and completely ran them off the court. For a basketball team that had (and, in all fairness, probably still has) a lot of ills, the Eagles definitely treated most of the symptoms at the very least.
The shooting woes were dramatically improved, and although making a third of 3-point baskets is nothing to stop the presses over, it's a hell of a lot better than Michigan had been doing. Stu Douglass, in particular, was finally able to get going from beyond the arc, nailing 6 of 10 from long range. Zack Novak, on the other hand, struggled to the tune of 1-7 from 3-point land. If he can get into the same rhythm as Douglass, this team will get a lot better very quickly.
At times, the team seemed to be overly deliberate in running the offense, as they made passes instead of taking marginal looks, and got the shot clock well below 15 on most trips down the court. It didn't make for an exciting game of basketball most of the time, but it resulted in 25 assists on 30 made shots - and a 30-point win.
As good as Michigan looked last night, it's hard to take too much away from the performance. This was basically the basketball edition of Baby Seal U. But if the basketball team can do what the football team didn't, and regain some confidence and polish their game, it certainly looks a whole lot bright for the future.
- Manny Harris ended the game with 5 points. That's a tie for his second-worst scoring output since he's been at Michigan. He still had 7 assists, and would have had more if Michigan's shooters would have made a couple good looks. With more than a week to rest the hamstrings, this performance isn't too discouraging, right?
- In a 2-game sample size against teams at the opposite end of the "quality" spectrum, it appears safe to say that Michigan is better with Darius Morris coming off the bench. He had another solid performance in limited minutes.
- Speaking of Morris's minutes, I was a little disappointed to not see some of the bench guys get a little more time. The game was out of hand within a few minutes, so I would have liked to see Manny and the starters play less than 32 minutes, and get Gibson, Wright, Vogrich, and the depth players that will be needed during Big Ten play to get a little more comfortable on the court.
- It's nice that DeShawn Sims scored 18 points, and that's not even notable enough that I wouldn't have mentioned him except in this bullet, right?
- In a similar vein, it was nice to get a couple walkons and Cronin some playing time at the end. It was not nice, however, to see that Cronin is still very, very hurt.
- Sam Coleman for the Eagles played very well. He also received chants of "A-va-tar!" from the student section, because he looks like a character from the movie.
- The student section was tiny, by the way, and even those who were there were only half-hearted. It's hard to complain too much during Christmas Break, but it was a poor showing.
- The rest of the fans, however, showed up in strong numbers considering the timing and the opponent. There seemed to be at least as many people as were at the Detroit game.
"All I can say is it felt good, and basically everything that was going up I thought was going in." Stu Douglass, on his shooting performance.
"They were playing the zone, and I kinda felt bad sometimes I was so wide open up top. I didn't wanna shoot, I wanted to get the clock going a little bit. It was going in if I was gonna shoot it that wide open though." Stu Douglass, on his shooting.
"Kansas definitely helped. We kinda got our edge back and we kept it going here. It's huge for our confidence going into the Big Ten." Stu Douglass, on being prepared for conference play.
"I think it's more mental. I just gotta step up and shoot it and not think about it." Zack Novak on his shooting troubles.
"This is the right time for us to be shooting the ball a little better. We shot 33%, and it's sad to say that's improvement, but it's a big improvement" Zack Novak.
"I've got a lot of friends that go to school there, and it's almost like a high school game again for me, having all my friends in the stands. It'll be cool." Zack Novak, on travelling to Indiana next week.
"I come in every game trying to get guys involved... guys like Stu and DeShawn was making shots, so I just was driving and trying to set them up in good position to keep making shots." Manny Harris, on his distributor role.
"The main thing is I'm just happy that our defense was there tonight, and I know that's going to carry oer into the game with Indiana." Manny Harris.
"As far as our shooting woes, I don't think 33% answers the question, but it's double what we did at Kansas, so it's a step in the right direction." John Beilein.
"I still think he's a little slow trying to get by people, and they really packed it in on him, so one of his things was to make that extra pass. If we make a few more shots, he's got 10 assists a game." John Beilein, on Manny Harris.
"They just need to make these shots in games over and over and over again to get used to it again." John Beilein, on team shooting.
The Wolverines have a nice long break to rest and get healthy before they kick off Big Ten play. They'll head to Bloomington on New Year's Eve to face the Hoosiers. Indiana is improved from last year (when they nearly beat the Wolverines in Assembly Hall), but lost to Loyola Maryland last night, and trailed by 18 points at half. They are definitely a beatable squad.
Hell is coming to breakfast next week.
High Noon, 12/31
Last night was a set up, lulling the rest of the Big 10 into thinking IU was still down. Next step: Pounce.
Should be an interesting opener. I think if UM wins, it might spark a run to start Big 10 play. Already cant wait.
Until then, Merry Christmas Everyone!!
team than last year.
If Michigan doesn't find a way to slow down Maurice Creeks from scoring, they could be in for a long day.
Last night, I think, was a clear indication that Beilein is not going to be going deep on his bench come Big Ten play.
This was our last game before conference season starts and Beilein apparently played who he thought he needed to play to get ready for conference play. Darius Morris got play in the first half, Matt Vogrich got it in the second half. Other than that, this game was for the starters to get in a rhythm and get ready for the conference play.
It's painfully obvious that this is not a deep team. So much so that I think if Beilein played with this lineup early on, we would have beat the likes of Alabama and Boston College.
Unfortunately, Matt Vogrich belongs nowhere near the court. And Darius bogs down the offense with the lack of correct decision making. Darius, however, does provide a spark and clearly he should have been coming off the bench to start the season.
Stu and LLP starting at guard is also obviously the right way to go (why wasn't this obvious from the get go? I was a proponent of it, as were others). Stu is a great passer and between him and LLP they can handle a press.
Good, needed game before B10 starts. Zach is still broke as hell (the biggest cheer of the night was when he hit his one three), and we need that to change. Otherwise, a win at IU then a big game home to the Buckeyes is a crucial start to the conference season.
"Other than that, this game was for the starters to get in a rhythm and get ready for the conference play."
I agree with your assessment of depth and the rotations we're likely to see in conference play. I also agree with your take on our most effective starting backcourt - Stu obviously had the flashiest line, but I was really impressed with how LLP got after things defensively and on the glass last night. I do think Darius can be a really effective 6th man with his length and relative quickness on defense and his ability to create off the dribble (especially important when Manny's getting a breather). I also think that Gibson can be effective in limited doses, but after that...it's a good thing this team stays out of foul trouble.
They almost lost at IU last year because they couldn't hit a three to save their lives in the first half; they won because shooting fortunes reversed in the second half. All I want for Christmas is a game in which Michigan hits threes at a non-disastrous rate for the entire game.
well.. I wish they'd "almost lose" their way out of every game..
now, but look for Morris to fill that role by year end (and we will be a much stronger team when he does).
I had such high hopes for our post game with the addition of Cronin and Morgan, but it looks like that isn't going to work out for this year.
First five games of the BT season are all winnable (all losable too, NW is no pushover)
IU twice, @Penn State, home vs. OSU and NW
At worst need to be 4-1 because next two BT games are on road vs. Wiscy and Purdue
Gonna be tough getting to 11 wins in BT play, but if Mich wants to go dancing they're gonna have to pull it off (not to mention winning a game or two in BT tourney to solidify berth)