Michigan ‘Banged Up,’ Lineup Change Possible

Michigan coach John Beilein is nursing a young and physically unhealthy Wolverines’ team following Saturday’s loss at home to Wisconsin. Ready to welcome in Nebraska Tuesday night, Beilein said some changes could occur with the starting five.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Big Ten conference play doesn’t allow for much rest and recovery time come the end of January and Michigan is doing it’s best to deal with that fact right now.

Fresh off a closer than expected fight against No. 6 Wisconsin -- a game Michigan (12-8, 5-3) forced into overtime before losing 69-64 -- the Wolverines are hitting the cold tubs, looking to rebound with Nebraska (12-7, 4-3) arriving at Crisler Center Tuesday night.

“Coming back on two days rest is not as easy as you would think,” Michigan coach John Beilein said Monday. “We did very little yesterday and we’ll have hopefully a very short night at practice today, watch some video and try to visualize what we have to do as opposed to most practices we are usually all into it and then we bounce back.

“But we’re a tired group right now and we’re just going to have to find a way to just find energy in this game against Nebraska.”

Michigan certainly took the floor with great energy Saturday night against the Badgers, sound defensively to force difficult shots while feeding off an excitable home crowd.

The Wolverines could certainly use an atmosphere with the same intensity Tuesday as Beilein continues to tinker with his lineup, eager to find the right unit.

“I’m getting stats on both of those, what was our most productive five in that first half and what was the plus/minus on individuals, as well as the five together,” Beilein said. “We’re trying to figure that out and it’s not an exact science cause anything could’ve happened.

“You could ‘ve had a couple tough turnovers, a bad call, a ball go in and out but overtime it should be the truth so we’re trying to get there but the lineup keeps changing so it’s tough to say these are the five we want on the court.”

Who exactly will be in that starting five against Nebraska is anyone’s guess at this point, though Michigan does appear to be healthier this week as opposed to last.

Either way, Beilein wouldn’t tip his hand at any new injuries or illnesses keeping others out of practice or the tilt with the Cornhuskers.

“I don’t want to make excuses and I don’t want to give our opponents any advantage of knowing who could play, who might not play,” Beilein said. “But we’re pretty banged up right now so we’ll see what happens. Everybody will have to wait until tomorrow at seven o’clock.”

Asked if changes to the first five are possible, Beilein simply stated, “There could be, yes.”

One area Beilein hopes translates from Saturday’s gritty performance into Tuesday is Michigan’s efficiency offensively.

The Wolverines turned the ball over just nine times against the Badgers, also shooting 7-for-20 (35-percent) on three-point attempts, something Nebraska will look to dispel.

“It looks like right now the best, maybe the best defensive team in the league right now if you look at their numbers,” Beilein said.

“They’re staggering what they’ve done with their field goal percentage both at the three-point line and defensive field goal percentage.”


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