The TSX Files: Michigan Midweek

As the Wolverines try to build some momentum moving into the next round of Big Ten play, they will need guard Tim Hardaway Jr. to be a consistent part of the plan.

Wolverines expect Hardaway to solve his shooting woes

As the Wolverines try to build some momentum moving into the next round of Big Ten play, they will need guard Tim Hardaway Jr. to be a consistent part of the plan.

Hardaway, the son of former NBA star Tim Hardaway, has experienced some shooting woes this season that have left him and his coach baffled.

The sophomore shot just 2-for-9 in a road loss to Virginia before the start of Big Ten play, then was a dreadful 2-for-14 in a home win over Minnesota. Hardaway did hit a jump shot with 35 seconds to play in that game to help the Wolverines earn a 61-56 victory.

Hardaway had his issues in a road loss to Indiana, making seven of 19 shots from the field but missing all seven of his shots from outside the arc. Things got even worse when the Wolverines traveled to Iowa recently, as he was a miserable 2-for-13 in the loss, 0-for-8 from 3-point range.

In Michigan's 60-59 home win over Michigan State on Tuesday, Hardaway went 3-for-9 from the field and missed all four of his shots from outside the arc.

Coach John Beilein said Hardaway is under intense scrutiny, due to his famous father, and with that notoriety comes the additional pressure of expectations.

"Tim's not going to be the last guy that comes in here with a high profile that they pay a lot of attention to that has to make tough shots," Beilein said. "He's going to bounce back."

The Wolverines desperately need Hardaway to snap out of the shooting funk beginning with Saturday's nonconference game against Arkansas. Hardaway and freshman point guard Trey Burke are the top two offensive threats on the team, and success won't come without big contributions from both of them.

When Hardaway has had off nights, he has missed wide-open looks, shots where the defense is on him, a few layups and even free throws. He contends that the troubles he's had from the field in recent weeks won't inhibit his confidence or force him to hesitate before pulling the trigger.

"You have to have that mentality if you're a shooter or any type of player," Hardaway said. "If you're open, you have to take it."

TRENDING: When freshman point guard Trey Burke entered Big Ten play, the skeptics were expecting him to come back down to earth after the impressive first two months of his college career. Against tougher competition in Big Ten games, they saw Burke regressing. Not so fast, the Columbus, Ohio, native appears to be saying. Burke was steady and solid in the 60-59 Big Ten win over rival Michigan State, playing 37 minutes, hitting eight of 11 shots from the field for a game-high 20 points, and adding four rebounds, three assists and two steals.

January a very busy month for Wolverines

--By now the members of the young Michigan team have heard all the talk about the rigors of the Big Ten schedule, and how the grind and the pace of the games simply wears some teams out prior to the conference tournament.

If they were skeptical or non-believers before, a couple weeks of conference games might have convinced them otherwise. The separating of the men from the boys is taking place in earnest.

During January, the Wolverines play nine games in a 29-day stretch. Locked inside that tough segment of the schedule in one period where six games are lined up over just 17 days.

Just to add some spice to the already tangy layout in front of the Wolverines, a road trip to face explosive and dangerous Arkansas is tucked in the middle of the month.

"It's not an NBA schedule, especially the one they have right now, but this probably gets as close as it can be to it during the middle of January," Michigan coach John Beilein said."We're full go."

The veteran coach hopes the difficult stretch will toughen his team as opposed to breaking it down. If the Wolverines can weather the challenges of such an arduous period, they will emerge as a much better team going forward in the final month of Big Ten play, and into the challenges that lie beyond.

"It's a great prep for us for if we are going to make a run in the Big Ten Tournament," Beilein said.

"You have to be able to be resilient through both victory and defeat. Same thing goes if you were ever in a situation in the

NCAA Tournament, where you're traveling all over the place. So hopefully this is good prep if we're going to get to that point in March." Beilein knows the Big Ten can be an especially unforgiving place when you play on the road, and with three sophomores and a freshman in his starting lineup, he expects the challenges to be many. Beilein sees winning on the road in the Big Ten as a true gauge of where his team stands moving forward.

"You have to win one and just find a way, and then it can get to be contagious," he said about conference road games. "But the fact is that it's a hard thing to do and we have to look at ourselves and say we have to be special. If you're going to win on the road in conference play, you have to play your top game. If you're having an off night, it's probably not going to happen."

--G Zack Novak had 14 points in the recent loss at Iowa, reaching double figures for the seventh time this season. Novak also led the Wolverines in rebounds with eight. He hit 4-of-8 from 3-point range in the game.

--Sophomore F Evan Smotrycz, who had been a consistent contributor and legitimate 3-point threat for the Wolverines through the first two months of the season, went scoreless in the loss at Iowa. Smotrycz missed all six of his shots from the field, including a 0-of-4 performance from outside the arc. He played 22 minutes and was part of the reason the Wolverines went a dreadful 8-of-31 from long range in the loss.

--In the Big Ten road matchup with Iowa, Michigan went with the same lineup for a 16th straight game. PG Trey Burke, G Zack Novak, G Tim Hardaway Jr., F Evan Smotrycz and F Jordan Morgan have been on the floor to start every game since the Wolverines opened play in the Maui Invitational.

BY THE NUMBERS: 33 percent -- In a 66-64 overtime win against Northwestern in Big Ten play, the Wolverines shot a dismal 33 percent from the field -- a season-low -- but managed to escape with the victory. Michigan made just 9-of-32 shots in the first half against the Wildcats.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Today you're in Spanish, tomorrow you're in French, then you're back to Portuguese because it looks like Spanish, but it's not quite Spanish." -- Michigan coach John Beilein, describing what it's like for his backup players that form the scout team, preparing the Michigan starters for a variety of looks from the opposition

--at Arkansas, Jan. 21

KEY MATCHUPS: The Razorbacks are explosive offensively, averaging around 80 points per game, and one of the primary concerns for the Wolverines will be reining in sophomore G Mardracus Wade and junior G Julysses Nobles. The two are the ignition men for the scoring spurts that have powered Arkansas to recent wins over LSU and Mississippi State. Michigan's backcourt duo of PG Trey Burke and G Zack Novak will likely match up with Wade and Nobles, while sophomore G Tim Hardaway Jr. should also figure in the picture.

FUTURES MARKET: The Wolverines are feeling more confident every day that their offensive operation will be in good hands for years to come, since freshman PG Trey Burke has been so consistent in his first season in Ann Arbor. Burke scored 19 points and went a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line in the recent overtime win against Wisconsin, and then led Michigan with 19 points on 7-of-13 (54 percent) shooting in a road loss to Iowa. Burke had scored in double figures in all but two Michigan games this season.


--Sophomore F Jon Horford continues to improve after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot that at first was feared to be a season-ending injury. Horford has missed nine games but has started working out and shooting. Once Horford's condition is reassessed mid-week, coach John Beilein will have a tough call to make before the Wolverines travel to face Arkansas on Saturday. He can either shelve Horford until 2012-13 or give up a year of eligibility to have him return. "We'll have to make a decision. One more game, one more minute and he burns his redshirt," Beilein said.

--Senior G Stu Douglass hit a layup with 36.5 seconds left Tuesday to help the Wolverines slip past rival Michigan State 60-59 in a meeting in Ann Arbor between two top 20 teams. Designated from the preseason as the sixth man for Michigan, Douglass was making just his second start in 19 games this season. He scored nine points, going 3-of-6 from the field, and he had four rebounds, two assists and a steal.

--Freshman F Max Bielfeldt is still targeted for a redshirt this season and has not played for the Wolverines more than midway through the season.

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