Michigan survives Savannah State

November 29, 2008

simsssWhat a great game this turned out to be. Michigan went up 7-4 early in the game and that was the last lead they would have until the 2:23 mark of the second half when DeShawn Sims hit a free throw to put Michigan up 52-51.

After the game Coach John Beilein said, “Some nights you can have all kinds of things go wrong.” In the first half of the game Michigan did have all kinds of things go wrong.

Savannah State came out playing full court pressure defense and hitting just about every shot they threw up. In fact they made the first 9 shots they took and during that span Michigan turned the ball over 9 times. Savannah State went on a 20-0 run in the 1st half and lead by 20 at halftime. For the half Savannah State shot an outrageous 71% from the field. Perhaps the best example of the crazy shots the Tigers were hitting is this, Michigan had played a really good defensive sequence and as the shot clock was winding down Savannah State’s Raye Bailey launched a wild three pointer that banked in off the glass and just beat the shot clock.

As coach Beilein said after the game, the players were rattled. His message to the team at half time was, “I don’t know if Michigan’s ever had a team come back from 20 down buts lets be the first to do it”.

DeShawn Sims, who played a phenomenal game, opened the second half by hitting a 3 pointer and Michigan begin chipping away at that 20 point lead. Savannah State did not score the first 7 minutes of the half and Michigan had cut the lead down to 5.

From then on it was a dogfight with both teams making some big shots. DeShawn Sims hit a couple of big ones; one was a nice jump hook off the glass, another on an alley oop from Manny Harris. Jevohn Shepherd hit a big shot as well during the final stretch of the second half.

Manny Harris had 4 points at halftime but came out in the second half playing hard, creating turnovers on defense, grabbing some big rebounds and going a perfect 12-12 from the free throw line in the second half (he was 14-14 overall).

With score tied at 56 and less then 4 seconds to play Savannah State was working for the last shot when Zack Novak came up with a huge steal and took it all the way to the rim for a potential game winning dunk at the buzzer. The only bad part was that the dunk rattled out. That fact should not overshadow the monumental steal that Novak had to thwart Savannah State’s attempt to win the game.

The overtime period was much like the final 10 minutes of regulation with both teams battling hard; Savannah State trying not to let their huge upset slip away and Michigan trying to finish off the huge comeback.

In the overtime Zack Novak nailed a critical three pointer that put Michigan up 61-60. Savannah State’s Arnold Louis came right back and hit a big shot of his own to put the Tigers up 62-61. On the other end Manny Harris drove the baseline and hit a tough shot and was fouled. He finished off the 3 point play and Michigan was up 64-62. With 5 seconds to play Jovonni Shuler tied the game. Manny Harris took the inbounds pass and made a tough pass to DeShawn Sims who then brought savannahstatethe house down with a long two point field goal at the buzzer.

I asked Zack Novak after the game what Coach Beilein thought about the missed dunk he said Coach told him that’s what he would have wanted him to do (dunk instead of a lay up). I did follow up by asking him if hitting that 3 point shot in overtime felt pretty good and he said it did. Novak played a great game down the stretch and made some big shots including 3 clutch three pointers. He also played hard on the defensive end and came up with a game saving steal at the end of regulation.

DeShawn Sims was a force in this game. He hauled down 12 rebounds and scored 23 points. After the game Coach Beilein said Sims has become a warrior and that he has worked really, really hard.

Coach also said this when asked about the unexpected tight game they found themselves in, “We are growing”. Certainly there will be some things for the team to work on but they showed great resiliency by fighting back from 20 down to win the game.


Inside the numbers: Michigan was 4-22 on three point field goals and if you take away Zack Novak’s 3-7 the rest of the team was 1-15. They had some good looks at threes and a couple that were down and popped out.

Michigan out rebounded Savannah State 31-19. In addition to Sims 12 boards Manny Harris had 9 rebounds.

Michigan had 19 turnovers against 12 assists. However, in the second half and overtime Michigan had 9 assists against 7 turnovers.


Quotes: After the game I asked Patrick Beilein if they were surprised by the officiating, which was awful. He said it seemed like a road game because they were not getting any calls.

I also asked Laval Lucas-Perry if he was ready to go. He said, without hesitating, “Yep Maryland, Duke, and Eastern, then I can play.” This guy is chomping at the bit to get out there and help his teammates.



Matt Vogrich Update

November 29, 2008

Michigan Basketball commit Matt Vogrich and his Lake Forest team kicked off the 2008-09 season in the Niles West Thanksgiving Tournament. The Lake Forest Scouts advanced to the tournament finals by beating Niles West 63-55 and Rich South 61-48. Vogrich scored 29 points against Niles West and 20 against Rich South.

Lake Forest lost in overtime to Glenbrook North 67-62 in the finals. Vogrich scored 8 points in the final three minutes including a steal and two free throws to tie the game at 54 and send it to overtime. Vogrich was double teamed just about every time he touched the ball. Vogrich was named to the all tournament team.


Next on the schedule: Lake Forest will play at Libertyville High School on Friday December 5th.


Darius Morris will kick off his season on December 2nd.

Blake McLimans will kick off his season on December 3rd.

Jordan Morgan will kick off his season on December 8th.

Savannah State Preview

November 27, 2008

beileinharris2Michigan (4-1) will play the Savannah State Tigers (4-1) on Saturday, November 29th at 2pm. The game will be played at Crisler arena and will be televised on BigTenNetwork.com.

Savannah State started 4-0 by beating Brewton Parker 38-22, North Florida 34-22, Coastal Carolina 66-65, and New Orleans 54-44. On Tuesday the Tigers traveled to Clemson and lost 81-49.

Savannah State is a Division I independent. Their top scorers are freshmen forward Rashad Hassan and senior forward Chris Linton.

Michigan will have to be careful here to not overlook the Tigers with two big games looming next week, at Maryland and home against Duke.

Michigan Hammers Norfolk State

November 25, 2008

novaknf11Let me start out by saying I love the chemistry on this team. These guys are really functioning as a unit on the court. They are playing hard and they are playing together. Coach Beilein said you can beat anybody when you believe in what you are doing. These guys believe.

Michigan had to win this game and preferably in convincing fashion and that is exactly what they did with an 81-49 victory over an outmatched Norfolk State team.

Michigan actually started the game 0-10 from the field and did not score until Stuart Douglass hit a three pointer at the 15:21 mark. Zack Novak provided a huge spark in the first half with 10 points.

Manny Harris continued his incredible start to the season by scoring 16 points, hauling down a career high 15 rebounds, dishing out 4 assists, and picking up a steal.

shepherdnfJevohn Shepherd had the best game of his career scoring 11 points to go along with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block and 0 turnovers.

Anthony Wright started the game 0-5 but finished 4-5 good for 12 points and he had 5 rebounds

Michigan was really pushing the tempo especially when Kelvin Grady was in at the point. Grady was playing very fast and under control. Grady only scored 3 points but had 5 assists against 2 turnovers.

Coach John Beilein said in the post game that Michigan’s offensive transition game was “exceptional tonight”. He said he wants to run on every rebound and every turnover at full speed, just go.

He also mentioned that Manny Harris had 10 defensive rebounds and “that is the greatest face break you can have because everyone has to go at his (Harris’) speed, which is very fast”.

The Wolverines had some very good ball movement as they played very unselfish basketball. They really seem to be coming together as a team and that great chemistry that Coach Beilein said this team has is becoming very apparent.  


Tim McCormick did the color commentary. Being a Clarkston native I have always respected McCormick and I have noticed that he is not afraid to tell it as it is. When things don’t look good he will say that and not try to serve any maize and blue Kool-Aid. On this night McCormick had a lot of good things to say, which I take as a good sign about the team. Here are some of his comments:   

On Laval Lucas-Perry: He said that Lucas-Perry has a unique ability to separate and he said “this guy gets it”. He also said that LLP will be the best point guard Michigan has had since Rumeal Robinson. 

 On Zack Novak: Novak understands the offense at the level of a junior or senior. 

On Manny Harris: Manny reminds him of former Michigan great Mike McGee. He also said Manny is the best scorer in the Big Ten and that he can score in many different ways. 

McCormick also said what I have heard several other basketball people say about Michigan, “they play hard”.  

Inside the numbers: After starting the game 0-10 Michigan shot 32-61 good for 54% from the field. The Wolverines had 21 assists on 32 made field goals. Michigan had 14 turnovers, 7 steals, and 5 blocked shots. Michigan did out rebound the Spartans 49-35 and had 16 offensive rebounds. Michigan was 9-27 on three pointers and had 6 different players make a three pointer.

Notes: Ben Cronin played 8 minutes and scored 6 points to go along with 2 rebounds.
Zack Gibson tweaked his back in the first half and did not return.


Norfolk State Preview

November 23, 2008

Michigan’s next game is Tuesday, November 25th against Norfolk State (1-1). The game will be televised on The Big Ten Network, tip off is 8:30pm.

Michigan UCLA BasketballNorfolk state is from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). They were picked to finish 4th in the MEAC. Their best players are senior wing Corey Lyons, who was a pre season All MEAC first team selection, and senior guard Michael Deloach, who was a pre season All MEAC second team selection. Deloach is coming off a career high 32 points in a loss to William & Mary and is averaging 25.5 points per game.

Norfolk State opened the season with an 81-74 win over Longwood and then lost 74-58 against William & Mary. This is not meant to take anything away from the Spartans but, this will be a nice break in the schedule after facing UCLA and Duke on back to back nights in New York.

Michigan enters the game with a 3-1 record and ahead of the pace for the 21 wins I predicted. Now, this is a game they have to win.  I do expect that they will come out looking sharp and build off all the positives that came out of playing in the 2K Sports Classic.

This is one of 5 games they have left before Laval Lucas-Perry will make his highly anticipated Michigan debut.

Michigan comes up short against Duke

November 21, 2008

Michigan lost the championship game of the 2K Sports Classic to Duke 71-56. It was certainly a tough assignment for Michigan having to play #4 ranked UCLA and #5 ranked Duke on back to back nights. This loss should not dampen the enthusiasm about the season.


Michigan Duke BasketballThe differences between tonight and last night were obvious. First of all Duke was much more cohesive then UCLA was last night. They played very tough defensively and executed their offense very well.

Michigan shot 35% from the field and a miserable 6-22 on three pointers. Last night DeShawn Sims and Stu Douglass stepped up and helped take some of the load off of Manny Harris. Tonight nobody really was able to chip in and help out.

Manny Harris scored 25 points on 6-13 shooting with 2 rebounds and 5 assists. The only other player in double figures was Sims with 10 points on 5-13 shooting. Beyond that Zack Gibson scored 6 points and Kelvin Grady 5 points for the Wolverines.


Manny Harris did set a 2K Sports Classic record by scoring 96 points in the tournament, breaking Chris Douglas-Roberts previous mark of 92 points in the 2007 tournament.


At the half Michigan was down 38-31 and Coach Beilein said they were getting some good looks on three pointers but they were hitting back rim. Duke pulled away early in the second half and held Michigan off the rest of the way. Michigan did mount a few rallies but Duke always had the answer.

For Michigan to come out of this tournament with a 3-1 record is great. It puts them ahead of schedule for the 21 wins I predicted and the UCLA game is a huge win for the resume.


Quotes: During the end of the UCLA vs. SIU game Bob Knight said John Beilein was the best zone defensive coach in the country.


Steve Lavin said Michigan would be the most improved team in the Big Ten and also referred to Michigan as a sleeper. Lavin said, “they are going to be a dangerous team in the Big Ten”.

Dick Vitale made no secret about his obsession with Duke basketball. At one point he actually recited the names of all 14 Duke players who are currently in the NBA.


Inside the numbers: Michigan was out rebounded 32-25. Michigan had 14 assists against 12 turnovers and forced Duke into 17 turnovers. Michigan also notched 10 steals in the game compared to 6 for Duke.


UCLA thumped SIU 77-60 in the consolation game.


Michigan will play Duke on December 6th at Crisler.

Another Look at the UCLA game

November 21, 2008

I like how ESPNs Andy Katz said it in this article, It was just one game, but it was against one of the most famous programs on one of the most famous stages.


83742129NL028_2K_SPORTS_CLAThe first half was a bit rough. Coach Beilein said this about the first half,

“The first half to me looked a lot like last year’s team,” said Beilein, who watched his team fall behind by as many as eight points in the opening half. “We’d act like there’s a grenade in our hands and think the ball’s going to blow up if we didn’t do anything with it.”

They were down but not out. UCLA coach Ben Howland said, “When they got down 10 it didn’t rattle them”.

I think back to what Coach Beilein said last week, that this team has great chemistry. I am a big believer in team chemistry. I could see evidence of great chemistry on this team last night.

One of the most dramatic plays of the game was proof of that. With :34 seconds left in the game Anthony Wright hit DeShawn Sims on a back door cut for a dunk and a 4 point lead. Here is what Sims said about that play, “I knew Anthony was going to make that pass”.

How did he know that?

With less than a minute left, Beilein let Anthony Wright know in a time-out huddle that the Bruins, who were over-pressuring Sims in the five position, were leaving themselves open to a backdoor cut to the basket.


When I was taking a lot of heat for my 21 wins prediction one of my reasons for that prediction was John Beilein. The guy is a great coach and you cannot discount that. We have not seen a coach like this in my lifetime at Michigan.

I remember when Beilein was hired that Tim McCormick said John Beilein will be the best coach Michigan Basketball has ever had.


These guys trust each other and they trust their coach. Their coach believes in them and they believe in their coach. Coach Beilein said, “You can win against anybody if you just believe in what you do.” I think they believe.



Inside the numbers: Michigan was out rebounded 38-25. Michigan had 15 assists against 10 turnovers and forced UCLA into 17 turnovers. I think that is the difference in the game right there. Michigan’s execution of the 1-3-1 forced UCLA into those turnovers and the Wolverines converted those into easy baskets on numerous fast breaks.

In the final 6:50 of the game UCLA scored 9 points. In the final 2:30 of the game UCLA scored 2 points.


This was Michigan’s first win against a top-five ranked opponent since the 1997-98 season when U-M beat No. 1 Duke 81-73 on Dec. 3, 1997, at Crisler Arena.


83742129NL035_2K_SPORTS_CLAFreshmen Stuart Douglass had a break out game and showed off his quick release and unlimited range last night. He also continued to show the ability to set up his teammates as a playmaker.