Michigan Basketball: Put the Baby to Bed and Look Ahead


Posted at 6:00am — 4/6/2010

Michigan Basketball: Put the Baby to Bed and Look Ahead

The title spells it out perfectly. There is little left to do now that the NCAA 2009-2010 season is history regarding Michigan Men’s Basketball except put the baby to bed and look ahead.

Putting the Baby to Bed
The season started out with team projection’s that were quite frankly:
a) emotional and not based on logic or fact;
b) opium-based:
c) written by and for creative dreamers, or
d) all of the above.

Eleventh, with only one inside player, this is not a typical prediction.

Picking this team to win 25 games, go to the elite eight, and start a new UM dynasty was more than hyperbole and overkill. There are numerous reasons one can point to as to why the team did not even finish above 500 overall: a very challenging pre-season schedule, injuries to two potential big men, a continued lack of physical toughness and the associated lack of rebounding, unexpected poor shooting, or the final hypothesis offered in the last few weeks- team chemistry.

These were all contributors, but the basic truth is the team was just not that good. This UM team was good enough to play even with good teams at home, on a good day, but nothing more. There were limitations that were abundant and obvious.

The 2009-2010 version of the Wolverines had only two consistent scorers, Manny and Deshawn. The team had one re-bounder it could count on game after game, Deshawn. The team had one inside scorer it could count on if the need dictated, Deshawn.

There was a litany of other shortcomings that plagued the Wolverines, none of which were improved upon much throughout the season, excepting team defense, which did improve as the Big Ten wound down.

First, was the inability to hit the three’s, as documented by others, this was perhaps a Coach Beilein career worst effort. And Coach Beilein was not taking the shots and most certainly he knew that this offense must shoot and not become hesitant. Still, there are times to shoot it and times to pass up the shot. Opening up the inside could give two or three guys the space needed to crank up the percentages. On other hand, plenty of good looks did not go down. The benchmark for teams that are not good inside is 35%. Going by this formula, Michigan gave the opposition a six points per game cushion. Two more hits and many games become closer or even have a different outcome.

Second, the team never obtained a second presence down low in the paint; Novak and Gibson tried to some avail.

Third, this team came out in a few games and dispatched passes crisply and effectively around the perimeter. This clearly was the plan, but this did not happen often enough. When it did, good things happened. When it did not, guys fired quick threes or crashed the middle and offensive inefficiency reared up and bit the good guys.

Fourth, it is nice to have a team that does not commit unnecessary fouls and dooms a team to watch the opposition shoot 25 or so shots a game. But there are times that everyone can sacrifice one foul a game to insure the opposition does not have too easy of a life on the court.

There are many other obvious items that could go under number five, but enough, put the baby to bed.

A Look to the Future

If you are a die-hard Michigan basketball fan, then by all means enjoy and watch next year’s group. But it will be a developing story, not an ongoing one. If you are faint of heart, then 2011-2012 might be for you.

This team (2011-2012) will be small, raw, and young (yes, still young). The shooters will have to come through to cover other deficiencies. If there is no real improvement in shooting, look out, the year will be rough. The shooters are on the roster in the name of Vogrich, Douglass, and Novak. Recruits Evan Smotrycz and Tim Hardaway should be fine college shooters, sometime in the future.

But all of these guys, excepting Novak need more pounds. I assume everyone saw the physical specimens that Michigan State put on the floor this year, and Purdue’s guys are no longer skinny.

Not only will next year’s team be very thin, but also short. Smotrycz may be the biggest guy on the floor at times and he loves playing the transition and outside games. By committee, Morgan and Horford may have to fight for the team’s inside game survival, along with the willing Novak.

Morris certainly came on the second half of the Big Ten season. At 6’ 4” he is not the ideal size for today’s point guard, whose job is to beat the opponent with dribble penetration and then dish or score. His size will provide pluses and minuses, but Darius is a very smart player and has demonstrated very good court awareness. I can see Coach Beilein relying on him more and more throughout his career.

Darius may score in double figures, but no one on the team will be putting up 20 a game or 10 rebounds a game like Harris and Sims. To succeed this team will need to be a team, in every collective way. This of course begs the age-old question: is this a blessing or a curse? There is no quick answer to this question, tune in next year.

Will Çoach Beilein take one more recruit, and will that recruit be significant? The next few weeks should tell the answer to this inquiry.

Will Coach Beilein play a preseason schedule that is modified down to his team’s anticipated level, or will he again play an ambitious high-end schedule, one that might impress a recruit but cause some ugly losses?

Finally, who will the biggest surprise be next season, and who will grab the opportunity and run with it? Someone will now that most of the scoring is gone.

Thank all of you for reading our coverage of basketball on GBMWolverine this year.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu

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