Michigan rolls past Iowa

January 11, 2009

gradyiowa1Kelvin Grady got things going for Michigan by draining a three ball on their first possession and he gave Michigan a lead they would never surrender the rest of the game. In the first 7 minutes of the game Michigan took a 12-4 lead. Laval Lucas-Perry scored 5 points in that run.

Michigan was executing their offense with precision in the opening half. Stu Douglass found Zack Gibson cutting to the basket for a lay up. Moments later Zack Novak found Douglass cutting to the hoop for an easy basket. After that play Iowa coach Todd Lickliter burned his 3rd time out of the half and there were still over 8 minutes left to play in the half. All of the timeouts didn’t help slow down the Wolverine stampede.

DeShawn Sims was pulling down one handed rebounds with Hawkeyes draped all over him. Manny Harris was knocking down threes and swiping the ball away from Iowa. Zack Novak did not score in the first half but he was making plays on both ends of the court and grabbing rebounds. Michigan’s defense stifled Iowa in the first half to the tune of 27% shooting and 8 turnovers. Michigan had a hefty 32-16 lead at the half. The 16 points was the lowest for Iowa in a first half this year.

Things didn’t start much better for Iowa in the second half. The Hawkeyes turned the ball over on their first possession. Michigan continued to execute on both ends of the court to open the second half. Iowa was so out of synch that they had a streak of 10 possessions in which they turned the ball over 7 times. Hawkeyes were dropping passes out of bounds and dribbling the ball off their foot for turnovers.

The final score was 64-49. Michigan’s biggest lead was 28 points in the second half. Michigan played their best game of the season since the Duke game.

Kelvin Grady played a superb game running the offense. He scored 8 points, dished out 4 assists and did not turn the ball over in 28 minutes. Manny Harris did what he does as he scored 18 points, grabbed 8 boards, dished out 5 assists and picked up 4 steals. Zack Novak scored 5 points to go with 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Those numbers don’t tell the story on how well he played. He was 1-6 from the field but was playing tough Big Ten basketball. Laval Lucas-Perry was solid with 8 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. 

Inside the numbers: Michigan had 16 assists on 24 field goals. Michigan turned the ball over 11 times, Iowa 18 times. Michigan out rebounded Iowa 31-29. Michigan was 7-22 on three pointers. Michigan had a season high 12 steals. 

Notes: CJ Lee entered the game in the second half and provided a nice spark as he was hustling and diving all over the court.
Eric Puls drained a three and is now 2-2 on three point shooting this season. 








Michigan defeats Illinois 74-64

January 4, 2009

2009-0104-ad-umbball237For the second game in a row Coach Beilein tweaked the starting line up. Against Wisconsin Zack Novak was added to the lineup in place of Jevohn Shepherd. Against Illinois Laval Lucas-Perry made his first career start in place of Stu Douglass.

This was a critical game for Michigan since they were coming off a home loss to Wisconsin and Illinois was coming in riding a 7 game winning streak and fresh off a road win at Purdue.

DeShawn Sims got things started for Michigan with a 3 pointer and that kicked off a barrage of Michigan 3 pointers in the first half. Michigan was up 16-9 early and had already nailed 4 triples (Sims twice, Lucas-Perry, and Novak).

Illinois responded by going on a 13-2 run and taking a 22-18 lead. Kelvin Grady ended the Illini run by draining a 3 pointer and moments later he found Zack Gibson for a lay up.

Illinois stretched the lead out to 29-23 and 31-26 and they were making just about every shot they threw up.

Zack Novak ended the first half with an 8 point flurry including two 3 pointers.

The hot shooting Illini led 39-38 at the half thanks to shooting 59% from the field. Michigan kept it close by drilling 8 of 18 on 3 pointers.

Michigan came out in the second half with some fire and Manny Harris stoked the flames when he blocked a Mike Davis dunk attempt.

Michigan finally took the lead back at 48-46 courtesy of a Laval Lucas-Perry triple. The two teams slugged it out for the next several minutes with the lead changing hands numerous times.

gibsonill1Zack Gibson entered the game when Zack Novak was bloodied after he banged heads with Alex Legion (the cut required 6 stitches). Gibson sparked a game closing run for Michigan when he drilled a 3 pointer and followed it up with a block on the other end. Laval Lucas-Perry made a key lay up for Michigan with the shot clock expiring that gave Michigan a 64-62 lead they would not relinquish. In fact Michigan closed out the game with a 12-2 run and some clutch free throw shooting. Michigan won the game 74-64 and had 5 players score in double digits lead by Manny Harris who scored 16 to go along with 6 boards, 5 assists, and 3 steals. Sims added 13 points and 9 rebounds. Lucas-Perry scored 13 and dished out 5 assists. Zack Novak scored 11 and Zack Gibson 10.

Inside the numbers: Michigan had 18 assists on 26 made field goals and only 8 turnovers. Michigan had 6 steals and 3 blocks in the game. Michigan shot 11-27 on three pointers. Illinois edged Michigan on the boards 33-30.

Road to 21 wins:  This was a game I had marked as a win. Michigan has yet to lose one of the games I projected them to win and they have won 2 games that I did not project them to win.

Notes: Laval Lucas-Perry has scored double digits in all 5 of his games. 
Zack Novak did return to the game after getting stitched up. He was wearing the #11 jersey because his #0 jersey was blood stained. 

Quotes: John Beilein: “I mentioned to the team, one of the biggest plays might have happened at halftime as DeShawn Sims really showed some great leadership. He wanted to win that ball game and his passion was terrific.”

Zack Novak:  “My job is to hit the threes and my teammates are finding me open. They’re driving the ball and I just move to the open spot. They find me and I knock them down.”

Bruce Weber: “They’ve got a good group and he’s got his system in,” He’s spreading you, playing small ball, and he puts you in a bind. He’s done a nice job here.”

Michigan defeats NCCU 77-57

December 29, 2008

novak11Michigan started the game with a quick 7-0 run. Manny Harris started things off on the opening possession by draining a three. On the next possession Manny missed a three then he stole the ball on the defensive end and lobbed an alley oop to DeShawn Sims and that is how the 7-0 run started. After a North Carolina Central free throw made the score 7-1 DeShawn Sims hit a three to put Michigan up 10-1.

Michigan was up 13-5 when we all got a scare as DeShawn Sims rolled his ankle and limped off into the tunnel. Thankfully he returned to the court a few minutes later.

The Eagles had trimmed Michigan’s early lead to 13-9 when Laval Lucas-Perry checked in and promptly nailed back to back triples to open the lead up to 19-9.

Moments later Lucas-Perry would hit another triple to put Michigan up 24-9. After back to back lay ups from Zack Gibson and DeShawn Sims Michigan was up 28-12 and seemed ready to roll. The North Carolina Central went on a nice run to cut the lead down to 36-31 at one point and 38-31 at the half. Jamar Briscoe keyed the Eagles run while doing his best Earl Boykins impression.

Michigan came out of the locker room with a purpose and 4 minutes into the second half opened the lead back up to 55-35. Stu Douglass scored Michigan’s first 5 points of the half.

Michigan had another lull and allowed the Eagles to creep back to within 8 points at 59-51.

North Carolina Central would only score 6 points in the final 9 minutes of the game. While that was happening Kelvin Grady pushed the tempo for Michigan and the Wovlerines pulled away to secure a 77-57 victory and improve to 10-2.

Manny Harris had another monster night scoring 29 points, grabbing a career high 16 rebounds to go along with 7 assists and 1 turnover. DeShawn Sims scored 17 points and hauled down 9 boards to go along with 3 steals.  Laval Lucas-Perry scored 10 points and was 3-4 on three pointers. Kelvin Grady did not score but in 27 minutes he dished out 4 assists and did not turn the ball over. 

Inside the numbers: Michigan had 17 assists on 24 field goals and turned the ball over 11 times. Michigan was 9-30 on three pointers. 

Notes: Sims didn’t play the final few minutes and appeared to be limping a bit as he ran down the tunnel. 

Michigan Pummels Eastern 91-60

December 13, 2008

shepherdemuMichigan played this game without Coach John Beilein who was out sick. This was also the first game they had played since the Duke win a week ago. Considering those two factors I guess it is not that surprising that Michigan came out a little flat and/or out of synch. Eastern Michigan controlled the game for the first 16 minutes of the half and enjoyed leads of 18-11, 19-13, and 26-19.

During that 16 minute span Jevohn Shepherd kept Michigan in the game by scoring 9 points. Kelvin Grady chipped in 3 three pointers as well to keep Michigan close.

Michigan took a 32-30 lead after two DeShawn Sims free throws with a little over three minutes left in the half. Michigan would not trail again in the game.

Following the free throws David Merritt hit a 3 ball. Jevohn Shepherd scored on back to back possessions. David Merritt ended the half by hitting a 3 at the buzzer and Michigan had a 44-34 lead at the break.

Manny Harris had 2 points and 2 fouls in 5 minutes of play in the half. Jevohn Shepherd had 13 points and Kelvin Grady 11 points to pace Michigan in the first half. The Wolverines started the half hitting just one of 7 from downtown. However, they ended the half by hitting 7 of 10 from three point land.

I noticed acting head coach Jerry Dunn started Zack Novak in the second half over Stu Douglass. DeShawn Sims scored the first 4 points of the second half for Michigan. With about 17 minutes remaining in the game Manny Harris was 1-6 from the field for 2 points. Then Manny went on a rampage of three point plays. If he was not knocking down a triple he was converting three point plays at the line. The Manny rampage came quick and hit Eastern hard. He started it by hitting 3 consecutive three pointers. Then on a feed from Zack Novak he scored and completed the 3 point play at the line. Just like that Manny had ripped off 12 points.

Following the Manny rampage Sims and Douglass knocked down three point shots and in between that Manny added another 3 point play on drive, score, and foul. Manny continued his rampage by grabbing rebounds and swiping the ball from Eastern and Michigan poured it on down the stretch. Eric Puls even got into the mix by knocking down a good looking 3 pointer and Michigan won 91-60 and improved to 7-2 on the season.

gradyemu1Manny Harris finished with 22 points on 8-16 from the field including 4-7 from deep to go along with 7 boards, 5 assists, and 2 steals. DeShawn Sims scored 18 points grabbed 5 rebounds and picked up 2 steals. Kelvin Grady continues to run this team very efficiently. In 23 minutes Grady scored 11 points on 4-5 shooting (3-4 on 3 pointers). Grady had 3 assists and 0 turnovers. This is the second straight game that Grady has not turned the ball over. 

Inside the numbers: Michigan only had 5 turnovers in the game compared to 17 for Eastern. Eastern out rebounded Michigan 42-27 including 14 offensive rebounds. Michigan had 24 assists on 35 field goals and was 16-33 from three point range.  The 16 three pointers set a school record for one game.

The road to 21 wins: This was a game Michigan had to win and they did so in convincing fashion. Now they have a week to get ready for Oakland. Laval Lucas-Perry will make his highly anticipated Michigan debut against Oakland.

Eastern Michigan Preview

December 10, 2008

gibson11Michigan (6-2) will face Eastern Michigan (2-6) on Saturday, December 13th at 4pm. They game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

Eastern Michigan last played on December 8th when they beat Wayne State 67-47 and snapped a six game losing streak.

The leading scorers for the Eagles are Sophomore Brandon Bowdry 14.4 points per game and Junior Justin Dobbins 11.4 points per game.

Michigan has not played since the rousing win against Duke. This will be the last game they play before Laval Lucas-Perry is eligible.

Manny Harris leads Michigan averaging 20.8 points per game. Harris is also averaging 7.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Harris is shooting 50% from the field and 88.5% from the free throw line.

DeShawn Sims is averaging 16.4 points per game to go along with 8.4 boards per game. 

Michigan is 25-2 all time against Eastern Michigan.

Post Duke Thoughts

December 7, 2008

simsduke21I was widely ridiculed for projecting Michigan to get to 21 wins. One person even said the prediction put my credibility in doubt. I cited as one of my reasons why I thought they could get to 21 wins was because of what a tremendous coach John Beilein is. The guy is a proven winner and teacher. His players actually improve each year and they develop as players both mentally and physically. 

Take DeShawn Sims for example. He has developed his game by leaps and bounds since John Beilein took over at Michigan. Coach Beilein has described Sims as a warrior and commented on how hard he has worked. Sims took over the game in the win against Duke and scored 28 points and hauled down 12 boards. He helped lead Michigan to its biggest win in at least the last 10 years.

Listen to what Sims has to say about his coach, who by the way many said when Beilein was hired that Sims would not “fit his system”, “Coach Beilein believed in me. He’s building a foundation and I’m glad I’m a part of it. He puts the c, the o, the a, the c and the h in coach. And he coaches you on an interpersonal level. It’s amazing. I’m a better player than I’ve ever been and I know more than I’ve ever known.” 

I remember earlier this season John Beilein said, “You can win against anybody if you just believe in what you do”. I have said it before and will say it again, this team believes. They believe in what they are doing, they believe in their coach and they believe in each other. 

So here we are 8 games into the season. Michigan is 6-2 and they have defeated the #4 ranked team in the country twice (UCLA and Duke). The loses were to Duke at a neutral site and one at Maryland. Sure this is the same team that was down 20 at the half, at home, against Savannah State. But they came back to win that game in overtime. Michigan has displayed some real mental toughness in the early part of the season. The players have played with desire and have been executing the offense and defense. 

We know all about Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims. These guys are playing so well that people are wondering aloud if they will jump to the NBA after the season. I have heard Hubert Davis and Jay Bilas mention that on the air. 

novakdukedThe emergence of Zack Novak has been really impressive. Besides Michigan his only other major offer was from Valparaiso. Some even wondered if he was athletic enough to play in the Big Ten. But there he was playing against Duke knocking down 4 clutch triples, including back to back bombs midway through the second half to tie the game and give Michigan a lead they would never surrender. This is the same guy who made a game saving steal with 3 seconds left against Savannah State and almost converted it into a game winning dunk at the buzzer. He has played with toughness and determination. 

How about the development of Kelvin Grady? He has made great strides in his game and is becoming a real floor General. His speed was a definite factor in the Duke game. Against the aggressive and long Duke defense Grady played 28 minutes and scored 9 points, dished out 4 assists, and turned the ball over zero times. 

shepherddukeDid anybody notice that Jevohn Shepherd not only started the Duke game but he was on the court for the final minutes of the game? Shepherd even dribbled out the clock after Duke decided to stop fouling. This is the same Jevohn Shepherd who struggled to find his role on the team, who in seasons past seemed to be a turnover waiting to happen. Now as the lone senior on this team he is making valuable contributions that are helping this team win. Is there anybody out there who still wants to question what John Beilein is doing? 

Maryland edges Michigan 75-70

December 3, 2008

Michigan Maryland BasketballMichigan had a tough assignment in their first road game of the season playing Maryland. Coming into the game Maryland was 56-4 in non conference games at the Comcast Center.

John Beilein made his first change to the starting line up this year by inserting DeShawn Sims into the starting five and moving Zack Gibson to the bench. Michigan was able to avoid another slow start in this game. The Wolverines took a 5-4 lead at the 17:07 mark and did not trail again until the second half. DeShawn Peedi Sims was a force in the first half scoring 10 points, including 2-2 on 3 pointers, and grabbing 4 rebounds.

In addition to the two 3 pointers that Sims hit in the first half, Michigan also got three pointers from Kelvin Grady (2), Zack Novak, and Stu Douglass. Jevohn Shepherd chipped in with 7 first half points. Michigan took a 35-29 lead into the half. The numbers were looking good with Michigan shooting 48%, including 6-14 on three point shots. Michigan was out rebounding Maryland 20-12 and Michigan’s bench outscored Maryland’s bench 16-5.

Maryland looked pretty flat in the first half but came out with some energy in the second half. Greivis Vasquez got things going early with a 3 pointer. Thanks to a 16-3 run Maryland took a 45-38 lead.

Michigan went on a pair of second half runs one was an 8-0 run the other 13-4. Zack Novak helped spark those runs by hitting some deep 3 pointers, I am talking way beyond NBA range deep. Novak also converted a 4 point play when he was fouled on a made three pointer. Michigan battled back to within 1 point at 60-59. However, the Terrapins promptly answered by going on an 8-2 run to put the game out of reach. A couple of Anthony Wright three pointers drew Michigan within 73-70 but the Wolverines ran out of time and fell just short of winning a big road game.

Maryland did a good job of stopping Manny Harris from establishing any rhythm in this game. Manny finished with 15 points on 5-15 shooting. After scoring 10 first half points DeShawn Sims only scored two points in the second half. Zack Novak finished with 12 points and was 3-5 on three point shots.


Inside the numbers: Maryland shoot 20 free throws going 18-20 and Michigan only made 6 trips to the free throw line going 6-6. That is the difference in the game. Maryland out rebounded Michigan 35-24, including a 23-4 margin in the second half. Michigan had 14 assists and 10 turnovers.

Michigan did shoot 41% on three point shots going 12-29. In the last two games Zack Novak has gone 6-12 on three pointers.


The road to 21 wins: This was a game I had counted as a loss. It would have been nice to get this win but it should not derail the 21 win plan.