Wolverines having no problems on the boards
One of the primary concerns of Michigan coach John Beilein as he assessed this team and its strengths and deficiencies heading into Big Ten play was offensive rebounding.
The Wolverines go relatively small, with a three-guard arrangement and 6-8 forward Jordan Morgan in the middle. Forward Evan Smotrycz is 6-9, but he tends to float more on the perimeter, where he is a very effective three-point shooter.
The issue as Beilein saw it was that as he sacrificed size for versatility and shooting ability, the Wolverines could suffer on the offensive glass. He was worried that it might be too high a price to pay, especially in the physical Big Ten where every offensive rebound is treasured.
The results to date have allowed Beilein to focus his concerns elsewhere. As the Wolverines headed into their third week of Big Ten play, they had 150 offensive rebounds and were just about even with their opponents in that category.
"I think we're doing a better job of offensive rebounding here now then we've ever done," Beilein said, after noting that Morgan had 39 offensive boards and Smotrycz had 29 through the first 16 games.
Senior guard Zack Novak, who led this team in rebounding 17 times last season, had nearly 70 total rebounds in those first 16 games this year. Beilein was hoping 6-5 sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr. would soon join in the fun.
"It has to do with Jordan being a year older, Evan is giving us some great stuff, and Zack has always gotten the ones that any 6-foot-3-inch power forward can get, and now Tim has to continue to do that and get at least two a game. That would be huge for us."
The results from Michigan's most recent 66-64 overtime win against Northwestern should give Beilein more relief. Michigan had 14 offensive rebounds to just three for Northwestern.
Horford still unsure of return date
--Sophomore F Jon Horford remained in medical limbo as the Wolverines moved through their second week of Big Ten games. Out with a stress fracture in his foot, the 6-10 Horford missed his sixth straight game when the Wolverines hosted Northwestern, but Michigan coach John Beilein was trying to be optimistic about Horford returning to the playing rotation, where he was the primary backup for F Jordan Morgan. Beilein said there had been some improvement in Horford's condition and that the Michigan staff would give Horford another week to rest and heal before having him back at practice to test the injured foot. "After one more week we'll see how he does, and then we have a pretty big decision to make," Beilein said.
--Michigan sophomore G Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 19 points in the Wolverines' overtime win against Northwestern that pushed Michigan to its fourth win in its first five Big Ten games. Hardaway hit 7-of-13 from the field and 5-of-9 from outside the arc. He added six rebounds, and three of them were on the offensive glass. Hardaway has been especially effective in Big Ten play, scoring a season-best 26 points in a win over Penn State, a game in which Hardaway went 11-of-18 from the field and 10-of-11 on two-point shots. Hardaway had the second double-double of his career with 17 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Wisconsin.
BY THE NUMBERS: 7 -- About 10 games into the current season, Michigan G Matt Vogrich was shooting a miserable 7 percent from 3-point range after leading the team in long-distance shooting last year with 39 percent accuracy.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's going to see great defenses all the time. He's a great scorer and a great shooter. The only thing that would disappoint me is if he backed off at all." -- Michigan coach John Beilein on sophomore G Tim Hardaway Jr. recovering from a dreadful 2-of-14 shooting performance against Minnesota.
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at Iowa, Jan. 14
KEY MATCHUPS: The Hawkeyes are brimming with confidence after notching two Big Ten road wins in the first three conference games of the season. Senior G Matt Gatens presents a physical backcourt presence and will likely square off with Michigan senior G Zack Novak. Gatens threw in 19 points in Iowa's recent road win over Minnesota. Iowa freshman F Aaron White is an emerging force inside for the Hawkeyes, and when White is on the floor, Michigan will likely counter with F Jordan Morgan guarding White.
STAR WATCH: PG Trey Burke scored 19 points, including the final eight for Michigan in overtime, as the Wolverines held on to beat Northwestern 66-64. The performance will only add to Burke's rapid rise to his current status as a crowd favorite in the packed and raucous Crisler Arena when the Wolverines play their home games. The freshman from Columbus has been tested in some pressure situations and some very tough environments in the early stretch of Big Ten play, but seems unflappable. Michigan coach John Beilein said Burke's steady play and competitive demeanor make the Michigan coach confident his freshman can handle what the Big Ten throws his way. It's all part of the growth," Beilein said as the Wolverines prepared to face Northwestern. "Every one of our games and practices is prep for everyone. He would have to play very poorly for me to have to worry about that. I don't worry about things that haven't happened."
FUTURES MARKET: The Wolverines got to work early on 6-foot-9 high school F Mark Donnal from Ohio, and Donnal ended the recruiting efforts of Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Butler and Purdue by announcing he was heading to Michigan in the fall of 2013. Donnal, who is expected to reach 6-11 before he stops growing, was all-conference last season as a sophomore when he averaged 14.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Donnal, who plays in the offseason for an AAU team based in Indiana and coached by former Hoosier player and coach Dan Dakich, has a nice shooting touch and exceptional scoring skills around the basket.
--F Jon Horford has missed eight straight games with a foot injury that has been diagnosed as a stress fracture. If he does not return to the lineup and takes the rest of the season to heal, Horford would be eligible for a medical redshirt. The 6-foot-10, 250-pounder has played in nine games as a backup post player, averaging 2.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.
--Senior G Stu Douglass has not missed a game in his four-year Michigan career. Douglass goes into the next contests against Northwestern and Iowa with 118 consecutive appearances for the Wolverines. He is chasing Michigan's all-time record of 135 games played, held by F Loy Vaught (1986-90).
--F Max Bielfeldt is a big, strong inside force that is learning the Michigan system in his first year in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines have adequate depth inside at this point in the season and will likely consider redshirting Bielfeldt.
The TSX Files: UM having no problems w/boards
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