When you are attempting to sculpt a basketball program that you hope will be able to press for supremacy in the Big Ten in a short period of time, it pays to start with the best of ingredients.
In Michigan's case, the Wolverines and head coach John Beilein figured good genes are worth as much as a good jump shot or a good cross-over move. The current Michigan team, while being the youngest in the Big Ten, also possesses the deepest NBA pedigree.
Three current members of the Michigan team can trace their father's roots to the NBA.
Sophomore forward Jordan Dumars, who transferred in from South Florida and became eligible late in December, is the son of former Detroit Pistons great Joe Dumars, a six-time All-Star.
Freshman guard Tim Hardaway Jr. is the son of five-time NBA All-Star guard Tim Hardaway Sr., who spent 14 years in the NBA with six different teams.
Freshman forward Jon Horford is the son of Tito Horford, the first player in the NBA who was born in the Dominican Republic.
The Wolverines' pool of NBA offspring will grow by one in the future since Glenn Robinson Jr., the son of the former Purdue star of the same name who was the first pick in the 1994 NBA draft and an All-Star in the league, has given Beilein an oral commitment to join the program once he completes high school in 2012.
Michigan's use of its NBA heirs is still developing. Hardaway has started every game this season and is the team's second-leading scorer, while Horford has been a steady contributor off the bench, Dumars has not yet seen action since becoming eligible at the recent start of the Big Ten season.
Recruiting the sons of former NBA stars won't guarantee Michigan anything, but few can argue that it's not a good way to start assembling a team. If Beilein finds a means to mesh all of these players into his system, that can only translate into good things for the Wolverines in the future.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: The Wolverines lost a fifth straight game when they came up on the short end of a 74-60 score at Northwestern. The inconsistent contributions that have haunted this team in its recent rash of down moments continued to plague the Wolverines. While sophomore G Darius Morris went 6-of-13 from the field for 16 points and junior G Stu Douglass hit 7-of-9 from the field for 17 points, the rest of the Wolverines were dreadful. Michigan shot just 23-of-58 from the field (39.7 percent) as a team. As Michigan is learning, the better teams in the Big Ten thrive on balance and scoring from numerous players. Michigan (11-8, 1-5 Big Ten) has yet to demonstrate the maturity to be able to call on that resource on a regular basis.
--The Wolverines shot just 28 percent from outside the arc (6-21) in their 14-point loss at Northwestern, a defeat that dropped Michigan to 1-5 in the Big Ten.
--Michigan continued its meticulous care of the basketball despite coming up on the losing end on the road at Northwestern. The Wolverines committed just seven turnovers. The Wolverines had only six turnovers in a recent road loss to Indiana.
--In Big Ten play, Michigan was on a tear through games played Jan. 15, shooting an impressive 89 percent from the foul line (33-of-37, and is at 73 percent overall on the season).
--Michigan's lack of a potent post presence was very evident in the Big Ten loss at Indiana as the Wolverines had a season-low of just 18 rebounds, and did not block a single shot. It marked the second Big Ten game this season where the Wolverines went without a block.
--Michigan has started a lineup of three freshmen, one sophomore and one junior in the majority of its games this season.
BY THE NUMBERS: 73 -- With 11 freshmen and sophomores, Michigan has 73 percent of its roster made up of underclassmen. The Wolverines have four juniors and no seniors.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It is part of playing on the road. It's a tough game on the road. When you get in to these situations and things don't go your way, it can just roll on you so quick and get you down by eight, 10, 12. I feel, we'll go in, we'll practice, and we have another road game on Tuesday. We will be as ready as we can be, given the travel, etc." -- Michigan coach John Beilein on the rigors of playing on the road in the Big Ten.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME:
--vs. Minnesota, Jan. 22
KEY MATCHUPS: Minnesota has the size, strength and athleticism to go head-to-head with many of the Big Ten's best, but when senior G Blake Hoffarber lights it up, the scales tip significantly in the Golden Gophers' favor. Hoffarber scored 26 points in a recent win over No. 8 Purdue, hitting 10-of-15 from the field. Michigan's junior G/F Zack Novak will likely be matched up with Hoffarber for periods of this game, and the Wolverines will need every bit of defense they can get from Novak to keep Hoffarber from deciding the outcome.
FUTURES MARKET: The growing pains would be many on this, the Big Ten's youngest team, but Michigan has been surprisingly mature in some aspects of the game, thanks in large part to the steady hand of sophomore PG Darius Morris. The Los Angeles product has been one of the Big Ten's leaders in assists, and has helped Michigan to be one of the leaders nationally in protecting the ball. The Wolverines average just 11 turnovers per game through Jan. 16. With Morris running the show for the next two-and-a-half seasons, things are looking much brighter, and sooner than expected, for Michigan.
--Junior G/F Zack Novak had 16 points in the narrow loss to No. 2 Ohio State, hitting double figures for the ninth time this season. Novak went 4-of-5 from outside the 3-point arc.
--Junior G Stu Douglass has played in every game in his Michigan career (85), and set a personal-best with 10 rebounds in the recent loss to Kansas.
--Sophomore PG Darius Morris is tied for the Big Ten lead with 7.3 assists per game, and is fourth nationally in assists. He had seven assists in the overtime loss to No. 3 Kansas, playing 43 minutes.
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