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Ben Ball Gamenight Roundup: Warriors In The Big Apple

The Ben Ball warriors are in the Big Apple tonight, returning to Madison Square Garden for the first time since 2005-06 with a team that featured a developing team which was working to gel upperclassmen CB and RH with underclassmen nucleus of AA, JF, LRMAM, DC and MR. That team lost to Memphis in the first round, clearly looking like a squad needing time to grow through an entire season.

Coach Howland finds himself in a similar situation once again with a team with a mix of seniors and five highly touted freshmen. From the Daily Bruin:

 "With this current team, I’d rather play (the tournament) a little later; I’d rather be doing it in a few weeks from now,” Howland said.

But the Bruins will have to find some quick answers to beat Michigan tonight.

The Wolverines run an unorthodox system, designed by coach John Beilein. On offense, the team will employ lots of cuts and perimeter shooting. Defensively, the team runs an unusual, 1-3-1 zone.

“You can’t just break down,” Shipp said. “You have to be on top of your defensive game.”

JS need to watch out because the Wolverines run a spread offense, which gave the Bruins a lot of trouble when they took on Beilien’s well drilled West Virginia teams from few years ago (remember we lost both of our matchups against them in Westwood and then in Morgantown). Bruin Basketball Report gives us a glimpse on how Beilein runs his offense:

On offense, Beilein’s teams like to spread the court and utilize a combination of crisp backdoor cuts and kick-out precision three-point shooting, a combination that usually gives Howland’s help-defense type teams problems.

Last year the Wolverines struggled to learn the offense, and its too early to tell whether they have the right talent to make this offensive system effective in Michigan this season.

In the first two games, Michigan has attempted 38 three-point shots per contest making them at a 34.2% clip, however, if you remove Harris’s shooting then the rest of the team has shot just a mere 29% from beyond the arc.

Nonetheless, the Michigan starting line-up is littered with players who can and will make the three-point shot a weapon.

As for defense, BBR has more on their vaunted 1-3-1 zone:

Beilein has installed the same 1-3-1 zone defense at Michigan that he used at West Virginia. Its a zone that has been problematic for Howland to solve. Its not the type of defense that a UCLA team sees often and the lack of experience against it has shown up with usually Bruin players either getting trapped on the sidelines or attempting long soft lobs over the zone that allows the defense to easily recover and defend.

At times Howland has tried stationing a guard at the high-post to attack the 1-3-1 but it hasn’t been very fruitful. The most effective Bruin offense against this zone has been by attacking the zone at the seams by dribble penetration, exactly what Darren Collison did successfully last season against Michigan. The Wolverines didn’t have the quickness in the backcourt to stop Collison. But this year may be different as the Wolverines have added quality and speed to its line-up as well as the return of its two best players from last season.

We talked about their two best players – Harris and Sims – last night. BBR has more on other key Wolverines contributors who will present a challenge for our warriors tonight.

For us to win tonight, seniors will have to step up in crunch time, just like they did against the Red Hawks our last game:

 [W]hen it mattered, in the tense final minutes of the win over Miami for the right to go to New York, UCLA was anything but young.

Check out the replay. Find a freshman on the floor the last 6 minutes and 7 seconds? No way.

Find a freshman scoring in the final 13 minutes? Nope. In fact, of UCLA's last 16 scoring possessions, only one involved a freshman, Drew Gordon, who scored on a putback at 13:19.

This was almost exclusively a Darren Collison-Shipp show, with one or the other scoring on 11 of those possessions. Juniors Michael Roll and James Keefe converted on the other four.

But Howland said he isn't discouraged with his freshmen, who totaled just 40 minutes and 10 points in the game.

"Holiday's going to be a great player," he said, of the 6-foot-4 guard many think will be the nation's top freshman. "It'll take time. But not a lot of time. ... He's much farther along than Russell (Westbrook, a first-round NBA draft pick as a sophomore a year ago) was at this stage of his career. I don't know what people expect."

Then there's Malcolm Lee, from Riverside North: "Long and athletic and can play defense," Howland said.

Howland is going to count on JH, ML and rest of their freshman classmates in a huge way. There is a reason they have been put through grueling film sessions early in the season, which will continue rest of the year. Hopefully those guys will keep taking forward steps from previous game and fill in their roles tonight. They sure sound ready:

"We've got three seniors so we just need to play our roles," Lee said. "Come in and be like the Energizer Bunny and get the game going."

Can’t wait to see them for the first time tonight. The tip off is around 6:30 pm PST on the Deuce. We will have our game thread up about an hour before tip off. See you then.