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Michigan Notes

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A pretty big game for the Ben Ball warriors this weekend (early tip off at 11:00 am PST), when they take on the Michigan Wolverines. It is always exciting when two schools such as Michigan and UCLA go head-to-head in any sport. But this game will have a little added luster, at least on the surface, given that Michigan is coming in with a 11-1 record.

Here is a quick look at the numbers via Mid Majority Report:

UCLA v. Michigan (Numbers via MMR)

Team Record BRPP RPI Streak Last 10 PF PA FG% FT%
UCLA 10-0 3 2 W10 10-0 77.2 59.9 50.6 61.9
Michigan 11-1 79 81 W4 9-1 70.5 54.3 48.3 68.0

Michigan certainly has a decent record but they have taken on only one decent opponent in NC State, a game which they lost during the ACC-Big-10 challenge. Michigan blogosphere is not all that excited about Amaker?s hoops team. From Dave over at Maize n Brew:

As it stands, Michigan is 11-1 early in the season. Unfortunately, that 11-1 mark is deceiving. Michigan hasn't beaten a single team with anything remotely resembling a pulse. The "marquee" win so far this season was a 66-59 win over the the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, one of last year's NCAA tournament teams. The Panthers aren't exactly tearing it up this year. They're 2-10 on the season.

Michigan's flunked its first true test, falling to North Carolina State 67-74, in a game where Michigan trailed by 21 eight minutes into the second half. Unfortunately, life does not get easier for the Wolverines. Following their UCLA trip, they play host to 2006 Sweet 16 member Georgetown who is currently 7-3. Though G-Town hasn't played the toughest schedule in the world, they have bumped heads with Oregon and Duke already this year. Following that, Michigan opens its Big Ten Season at home against Illinois on January 3rd.

The schedule was designed to give Michigan some casual observer points in building toward a NCAA tournament berth. For the non-observant, 11-1 looks great. However, so did 10-1 last year. Michigan's lack of a true test, and their failure to even guess at an answer during their warm up against NC State does not instill confidence.

Hopefully we'll have a better gauge on this team on Saturday. Don't get your hopes up.
Pretty much the same points are made in Sportsline?s scouting report. The Wolverines have no shortage of talent, with 6-11 250lb senior C Courtney Sims who is leading the team in scoring with 16.7 points a game. He is going to have to be a handful. I'd imagine we will see some doubling down every now and then on Saturday with Mata, Luc, and AA1. But this game could also be a great opportunity for Ryan Wright to make another impression. He had the best game of his freshman year in front of his folks against these Wolverines last season. Saturday would be a great time for Ryan to make some solid contributions like he did in this game last season.

The Wolverines have some more athletes beyond Sims. Here is Sportsline?s blurb on key Wolverines in addition to Sims:
Dion Harris has had a hot hand of late, but Courtney Sims' play in the post has also given the Wolverines a boost. An inside-outside combo with F Lester Abram and quality role players is the recipe needed for a surge into the Big Ten schedule.

Usual Starters -- F Lester Abram, F Brent Petway, C Courtney Sims, G Dion Harris, G Ron Coleman. Key Subs -- G Jerret Smith, F Ekpe Udoh, F Jevohn Shepherd.
Sims and Harris have been leading the Wolverines attack as they are the only two players averaging in double figures for Amaker?s squad.

Just like us, the Wolverines' fans have their worries about their team?s offense. Brian jotted down some of those worries on MGoBlog:
Our inability to get dribble penetration against such a weak team is worrying. I don't know what our offense would have looked like if NIU had the ability to push Sims out from the block, but it probably would have been ugly. That's an issue that's been discussed ad nauseum, but probably the oddest thing about our offense is that we hardly ever screen, instead preferring to use our big men as pressure outlets whenever our passing around the perimeter gets too hectic.

Sometime early in the first half Jevohn Shepherd made that cut where he flashes in front of a guy in the post and presents himself near the elbow, having used the two guys battling for the position as an inadvertent screen. The result was an uncontested layup, and I thought to myself "Richard Hamilton does that all the time," and then my mind wandered to the Pistons offense and the NBA's general obsession with the screen and roll (or pop). Why don't we use our big men to get Abram or Dion Harris either a favorable matchup or a driving lane? This I don't understand, but I also don't pretend to have all the answers here. 1) Is this a figment of my imagination? 2) If not, why don't we do this? 3) With our next two post starters capable shooters might this change in the future?
Well, I hope they don?t figure out the answers before this Saturday. Sure, Michigan is not ranked. But a win over talented and athletic Wolverines squad will be a nice boost for the Ben Ball warriors before heading into the conference season. Something tells me that Pauley and rest of the Bruins Nation will be fired up to take on Michigan Blue this weekend. Let?s hope for a wire-to-wire inspired effort setting a perfect tone for the holidays.

And, speaking of the Holidays, I will be leaving town for the Holidays today. So my posting is going to be sporadic till next Tuesday night. I have written up couple of things which I am hoping the other guys will put up. Look out for a great post from M tomorrow. And we will probably have an open thread starting Saturday. You, of course, are welcome to keep this place rocking in the comment sections and in the diaries. I will try to sneak back in here if I can.

But, if I can't come back here before Sunday, I want to wish all of you a very Merry-Xmas and Happy Holidays.

Thank you so much again for making this little blue and gold painted world so much fun.