TSX Report on UM Hoops going into "Care Game"

The Sports Xchange goes inside U-M hoops going into tonight's game versus Minnesota at Crisler Arena (it's the "Care Package Game" for Afgan-theater troops)

(Note: here's MGoBlue.com on details of bringing a Care Package with you to Crisler tonight.)

-- Despite losing three straight games to fall almost completely out of postseason contention, Michigan coach John Beilein has seen some positives from his team in recent weeks.
-- The Wolverines had one of their best defensive efforts of the year in a 51-44 home loss to Illinois last week. They held the Illini to 37-percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers, but eventually succumbed to their own poor shooting.
-- Four days later against Ohio State, Michigan got its most balanced offensive effort of the season with five players in double figures. Freshman point guard Darius Morris was among that game's standout performers with 11 points and three assists.
-- "With the exception of maybe the Wisconsin game at home, we've been right there with every team," Beilein said. "We're not as far away as probably naysayers would say, but we can't get it done right now so we just got to keep working at it."
-- Still, with only two regular-season games left and presumably a short stay in the Big Ten tournament -- Michigan appears ticketed for the 8-9 game it would be nice to generate some positive momentum in the form of a win.
-- Beilein said his he hasn't seen anything to indicate players have given up on the season.
"It looks like it's Oct. 18 again," he said, referring to the first day of practice. "We're working now. Nobody on this team is running for the bus."

-- F DeShawn Sims has gone quiet since back-to-back 27-point games in wins over Minnesota and Iowa. Sims, Michigan's leading scorer and rebounder in Big Ten play, is averaging just 9.3 points over the last three games and shooting 34 percent from the field. Opponents have started to double-team him more recently, and he struggled to find open shots against Illinois' big frontcourt.
-- After finishing 10th in the Big Ten in rebound margin in John Beilein's first two seasons, Michigan ranks dead last this year. The Wolverines, minus-3.7 on the season, have been outrebounded in seven straight games, the last two by 15 or more.
-- ON THE SPOT: Michigan's bench has been a sore spot all year, and it doesn't help that streaky guard Laval Lucas-Perry has been cold as ice lately. Lucas-Perry, who lost his starting job to Darius Morris last month, hasn't scored in three straight games and half of Michigan's 16 Big Ten contests this year. It's about time freshman Matt Vogrich took some of Lucas-Perry's minutes. Vogrich will be part of any Michigan revival in the next few years, Lucas-Perry will not.
-- QUOTE TO NOTE: "We had some breakdowns just in timing and what we were trying to do that we didn't seem to have the first half. Very typical of this team being in situations where adversity hits a little bit and we go into tape delay a little bit. That's what's been the frustrating part of the year." -- Michigan coach John Beilein after his team blew a first-half lead against Ohio State.

-- SEASON RECAP: Poor shooting, little depth and leadership problems have derailed a season that began with Michigan ranked in the top 15. The Wolverines scheduled aggressively, but lost nearly every big non-conference game they played. In Big Ten action, they squandered double-digit leads at Wisconsin and home against Northwestern, and couldn't take advantage of a favorable schedule with one game each against the Badgers and Purdue. At 13-15, Michigan is a long shot to even make the NIT.
-- PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- G Manny Harris, G Darius Morris, G Zach Novak, G Stu Douglas, F DeShawn Sims. Key Subs -- G Laval Lucas-Perry, G Matt Vogrich, C Zack Gibson.
Penn State 55, Michigan 51
Illinois 51, Michigan 44
Ohio State 66, Michigan 55
vs. Minnesota, Tuesday, March 2
at Michigan State, Sunday, March 7
Big Ten tournament, March 11-14
-- IN FOCUS: Michigan has fared better against Minnesota than any other team in the Big Ten in recent years. The Wolverines have won seven of 10 against the Gophers, including a 71-63 win at Williams Arena in February. A win Tuesday in Ann Arbor could help Minnesota reach the NCAA Tournament, much like Michigan got a boost from a March win at Minnesota last season.
---- Anthony Wright has fallen out of Michigan's playing rotation. Wright has played a total of one minute in Michigan's last four games and hasn't scored a point in more than a month, since a Jan. 26 win over Michigan State. Freshman Matt Vogrich has replaced Wright as the second guard off Michigan's thin bench.
---- Zack Gibson has been Michigan's top reserve of late. The 6-foot-10 Gibson had a career-high four steals in last week's loss to Illinois and has played 31 minutes the last two games, his most extensive playing time since early December.
---- Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims continue to climb Michigan's all-time scoring and rebounding lists. Harris, a junior, is six points shy of becoming the 13th player in Michigan history to reach 1,600 career points. Sims, a senior, is one of seven Wolverines with 1,500 points and 700 rebounds. He's seventh on Michigan's all-time rebounding list, one spot ahead of Chris Webber.

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