Dre's Blog: Positive Hardwood Signs

GoBlueWolverine's Andre Barthwell looks back on the surprise players that have come to the surface after two games, some of the areas of improvement that the team will focus on moving ahead, and some behind the scenes observations that further demonstrate some of the progress that is being made within the program.

Things to work on

Sunday’s win over Brown was pretty good, but from the standpoint of looking for areas of improvement, the turnovers had to stand out. Taking better care of the basketball this year will be one of the keys to this team’s success. One of the problems that the Wolverines need to work on came into focus when they were pressed full court. They had a hard time bringing the ball up at times. Manny Harris, in particular, had problems (he is better ball handler then he showed Sunday). The guys have to learn that the ball movement they use for their offense should also be used when they are being pressed. I’m sure that this can and will be worked on.

I noticed when Brown made a run, they began to foul the Wolverines and send them to the line to shoot free throws. As Brown got closer, the Maize & Blue missed a few. However, the home team later bounced back and made their free throws when presented with the opportunity. Michigan headman John Beilein was pleased that his young squad experienced that kind of hurdle early in the season.

“I think we needed Brown to make a run,” he said. “We haven’t been in a game where we had to make a foul shot. It was very important that we went through that Kelvin and Manny both made tough foul shots”.

Players Notes

Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims are the guys who will be the top scorers but there are others that seem ready to chip in. One likely candidate for the role of providing a boost off of the bench is redshirt freshman forward Anthony Wright. “That is something we have always had (going back to his days at West Virginia and prior)… this pick me up off the bench.” So far this season Wright has been a pleasant surprise. Sunday he came off the bench and really gave the team a spark to help out with scoring and rebounding.

Speaking of Harris… he continues to impress but he has to slow down because sometimes he gets caught in the air while trying to pass the ball out to a teammate. “I need to learn to come down on two feet sometimes,” admitted Harris. “I get caught but I am learning everyday and it will get better.” Even though he is still a work in progress, Beilein certainly gets a glow in his eye when talking about his star freshman. I believe that is because Manny has a thirst for learning. Beilein frequently mentions how Harris is so inquisitive about the system and how he is always in the gym. To hear that about a kid with the kind of accolades Harris came in with is refreshing that.

C.J. Lee is another player that has caught my attention. He has gotten more minutes than many thought he would thus far in the season, but he doesn’t want to talk about that. He wants to talk about his teammates instead. Here is snippet of a recent conversation I had with him:

Dre - Coach gave you some extended minutes tonight?

C.J. Lee - Yeah I did but you know what, everyone played well, especially our guards. I mean Manny and Kelvin didn’t look like freshmen out there. They ran the team and played well. It was a good Brown team we played and it was a good team win for us I was pleased.”

I really like what this kid gives Michigan he is the one guy to me that knows the offense better then anyone else on the team. He is always aware of where his teammates should be and what is going on during the game. At the end of the first half the clock was winding down and Manny kick the ball to Anthony Wright for the three and Wright hit the shot. Well, both teams were running off the court except for C.J. Lee he was pointing at the clock telling the referees that there was 0.02. He is always aware of what is going on, he is the guy that the others guys can look to for leadership and direction. “I think they listen to me because they know that I have their best interest in mind,” he said. "We are all trying to accomplish the same goals.”

Jerret Smith - Coach Beilein clarified Smith’s ankle injury/suspension situation in the following way. “When Jerret can go full speed in practice for a full two hours without stopping he will sit out the next game.”

So my understanding is with his ankle being injured and his resulting limitation in practice, the suspension does not start until he is able to play in a game. When he is healthy enough to play, then he will sit out the next game for his suspension. So, if practices well this week he will sit out the Georgetown game and then be eligible for the Alaska Shootout.

Parting Observations

  • Didn’t you enjoy watching Michigan get up on a team and pretty much stay on top of that team? I never felt like Brown was going to come back even when they made the aforementioned run. Even so, Michigan is a team that’s continuing to find its identity. They are young and will undoubtedly hit bumps in the road, but they determined to fight through whatever comes their way.

  • Did you know that Michigan is shooting over 60% from the three point line? That’s clearly a reflection of all of those three’s the players shot in workouts and have been shooting practice. DeShawn Sims is now comfortable shooting them from all over and he attributes his success to the off season workouts. “I work on all types of shots,” said Sims. “I was working out with some of my guys in Detroit that can shoot it and getting tips from them to help me shoot it better. My shot was falling today because I was letting the shot come to me and I was not looking for the shot.”

  • Jimmy King seems to have Bill Martin’s ear. The two had a long conversation in the tunnel before Michigan ran out (Do you think Jimmy was asking Bill about a Fab Five reunion...Hmmm just a thought. Okay… just a dream!) The two also sat together during the game on the front row by the tunnel. Jimmy also gave mad love to the players before they ran out of the tunnel and they seemed to really appreciate it.

  • I must say that the lighting in Crisler Arena is just outstanding. I know everyone wants a new arena and practice facility but for right now those lights add so much to the place. It is now more basketball arena than opera house. I also like how they do the introductions by turning the lights out and jazzing it up when they bring the players out. I will say this it feels better to watch a game in Crisler. It’s not the Breslin. It’s not even close. As a matter of fact, it is not even on the same block as the Breslin. You get the point. Still, it’s better than it used to be.

  • The locker room is now very open since they removed the wall that separated the lounge from the dress area. Now the room seems to be huge. It is a start.

  • We’ve all heard a great deal about how Coach Beilein put the whole team on a conditioning program to make sure they all are in shape. Well, Tom Wyrot SID (sports information director) must have gotten the memo as well he has trimmed down quite a bit and seems to be moving through out the arena with so much quickness. Good job Tom.

  • After the game it is always great to see the players with their families. Sometimes we forget that these student athletes have dads, moms and siblings that care for them. Just the looks on the faces of the parents is worth the price of admission. It doesn’t matter if there child scored 21 points or 0 points they are happy to see their kids doing something they love.

  • Next up Georgetown and the Hoya Paranoia. This should be a real test for Michigan and I am anxious to see how they do against a high caliber team. After that, the Alaska Shootout should as Coach Beilein said, “a bonding experience” to bring the team a little closer together. Michigan’s next game at home will be Wednesday, November 28 against Boston College in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

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