Michigan Basketball: Arkansas vs. Michigan — Preview — Hog Heaven for Hoops Fans
Last year Michigan traveled to Arkansas and fell victim to the forty minutes of hell approach that Arkansas utilizes. After playing Michigan State, the Wolverines were not prepared and got run off the court in the first half, almost embarrassingly so.
The Razorback philosophy is simple: press, pressure, intimidate, get plenty of shots and cause chaos. For teams to succeed against this style there must be poise and preparation. Teams can score easy baskets if the pressure of the Razorbacks backfires. Michigan is better at getting the ball up the court against the press this year, but the team has had late game lapses against trapping pressure. There are two ways to beat pressure, by the dribble and going over the top to stay one pass ahead of the defense and get some scoring opportunities by outnumbering the back defense.
No doubt Michigan has used these three days to prepare against this onslaught, and on the surface it would seem that Michigan’s players would welcome a fast paced up and down game. So, let the track meet begin.
Not so fast, Michigan must not let Arkansas totally dominate the pace and turn it into a Wolverine turnover fest, allowing Arkansas to play at a pace and with a style most advantageous for its chances to win in Ann Arbor.
Last year’s prize Hog freshman guard B. J. Young returns and his production has been splendid so far this year. B. J. is averaging nearly 20 points per game and doing everything quite well, including strong rebounding for a guard. Last year, B. J. took it to Trey Burke, and he will likely be one of Burke’s biggest challenges of the year.
Forward Marshawn Powell is another big inside player that seems to give Michigan’s defense fits. He is averaging over 16 points per game. He can shoot outside and hurt an opponent underneath.
While Young and Powell are the big name scorers, it needs to be pointed out that nine Hogs average over 4 points a game and ten players average 9 minutes and above of floor time. This fits the Arkansas philosophy of sending wave after wave at the opposition. Coach Beilein has recently played plenty of players and plenty of combinations, perhaps to get Michigan ready for the onslaught of fast pace and fast substitutions on Saturday.Michigan has played the foul line and out defense a little weird lately (to me at least) by doubling high and giving up easy inside buckets with no support after the pass from the doubled area. Michigan has also failed to stop the simple dribble penetration down the middle.
Michigan will probably play a little more measured than Arkansas, but both teams take pretty good care of the ball considering the pace of play. Arkansas is one of the best in the country at playing fast and minimizing turnovers.
The view here is Arkansas will be selective as to who will be pressured from Michigan and how the pressure will be applied. The most likely candidates are freshmen Robinson III and Nik Stauskas. Michigan may not be able to afford to play 30 minutes of good basketball this time around the floor. Michigan needs to get off to a good start and attempt to make hay by forcing Arkansas to double down on the pressure, a move that could go either way success wise.
If you are coming for exciting basketball on Saturday, Crisler is the place. Well soon know which hog gets to eat the cabbage.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
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