Mailbag question: Hoops question about Wright and Shepherd


Hey guys,

I have a basketball question for you: What do you think of Anthony Wright and Jevohn Shepherd not playing, sitting the bench while Stu Douglass, David Merritt and C.J. Lee play ahead of them?




Thanks for the hoops question.

First off, we all knew that Coach Beilein was going to shorten up his bench once the Big Ten schedule started, because he said he was going to do it. He stated that he likes to use about an eight- or nine-man rotation during the regular season, while in the non-conference games he likes to use a ten- or eleven-man rotation. Personally, I would like to see more players getting minutes, but then people would be complaining that DeShawn, LLP, Gibson and Novak were not getting as much playing time like earlier when Merritt was starting ahead of Grady, even though Grady was getting more minutes.

You have to look at it as if you are Coach Beilein. He is playing the people he thinks can win him games while giving his best players the most time. Quick fact: Merritt, Stu, and Lee, do not take away those guys’ minutes because they do not really play the roles Wright and Shepherd play in this rotation. Not really sure I would want both those guys in at the three and four spots while making Novak and LLP sit or get less minutes.

Wright and Shepherd both do certain things very well, but also do some poor things that drive the coach nuts. The only way I could see either one getting more minutes is if DeShawn or Novak gets into foul trouble, something that could happen during Big Ten play. Novak at this time might actually be getting more minutes than he probably should be right now, but that is not my call. Not a knock on him, but he is getting an ample share of playing time.

Wright is a shooter, but not a good shooter. People remember the shots he hit when the game did not matter at the end of the Duke game, but forget the five straight shots he missed that gave Duke the opportunity to open the game up. In addition, Wright is a liability on the defensive end because he does not move his feet quickly enough, nor is he aggressive enough, on defense.

Shepherd has had his moments this year: When they needed him to step up, he did, making up for others whoe were not bringing it at the beginning of the year. So I feel bad for him not getting more minutes now, especially since it seems like he’s finally learned to be a basketball player and not just an athlete. He has had problems handling the ball, shooting, and playing defense. He is not big and strong enough to take on the other teams’ power forwards and is lacking on the offensive side of the ball.

It looks like Coach Beilein does not care if he goes against bigger teams in the Big Ten. He probably thinks if his team comes out aggressive on defense, uses their quickness, and shoots the ball well, then those teams will have to adjust to Michigan not the other way around.

People have ripped on Lee and Merritt, but frankly, those two kids might not be as athletic as others are on the floor, but again, they bring to this team something that has been lacking in years past — leadership and heart. They both have shown they can hit shots on the offensive side of the ball, while being aggressive and giving the team a spark on the defensive side of the floor.

The team is 13-3 right now. It is fun to watch Michigan Basketball again. It’s also kind of funny that we’re talking about who should or should not be playing when several years ago we were playing so many walk-ons because there weren’t a lot of recuits who wanted to play for Michigan that worked out. Nice to have this program back on track to where it should be battling in the Big Ten title and contending for a spot in the “Big Dance” — knock on wood! This team has many games that they should outright win, many games they’ll battle and probably squeak out (or not), and some that they will outright lose, but this team can be competitive with anybody in the Big Ten on any given night.

The game against Indiana showed that this team is far from being a superior team that can just walk into a gym certain to beat their opponents. They need to bring it every night, which usually starts by focusing on the defensive side of the floor with aggressive play: playing with hustle and heart, creating turnovers, executing the system coolly yet with emotion, to spark easy baskets on offene and create the confidence and consistency necessary to become a top-tier team.

Written by ErocWolverine