The Purple Reign Pregame Intel Report

The Wolverines started out 0-6 and it seemed they couldn't get out of their own way. <br> <br> Then the winning started and it hasn't stopped yet.

OK, we all remember the [now disgraced] Fab 5 Freshmen. They led Michigan to the NCAAs and before they left Ann Arbor, they beat just about everyone in sight.
But at the beginning of this season, the Wolverines were just defeated...after going 0-6 to teams like Duke, Kansas State and Virginia Tech at the start the season, their coach Tommy Amaker, told them the season was starting over - they were 0-0 and the rest is history.
I think just attitude," forward Chris Hunter said [in the Free Press]. We're coming in with the attitude that no one is going to play harder than us, and we're going to play smarter than everybody else.
Attitude and Freshman Point Guard, Daniel Horton. [#4 - right]

He's one of the reasons Michigan is playing so well. This season, he's averaging 15.6 ppg, with over 4 assists, and is a .385 [40-104] 3 point shoorter. But since the Big 10 season started, Horton is averaging 18.3 points a game with 16 assists.

Bill Carmody has taken note of his play, and so has Amaker. Carmody lists Horton among the top freshmen playing in the Big 10.

Joining Horton on the scoring binge has been Senior Wing LaVell Blanchard [17.1 ppg] and  Junior Wing Bernard Robinson [12.7 ppg]. These three players combine for 63 percent of Michigan's scoring.

The Coach
Michigan has been coached by former Duke star Tommy Amaker since March 2001.

Charged with reviving Michigan basketball after scandals decimated the Wolverines, Amaker brought his enthusiastic style to Ann Arbor after 5 years at Seton Hall. The Cats know him well, having lost to Amaker's Pirates a few years back.

He's described as having teams that are tough, enthusiastic and hard nosed. Just the kind of team you'd expect from this former Duke Point Guard and assistant coach. He has his degree from Duke in Economics, and more than one NCAA Championship ring.
The Starters
Wing: 6-6 Junior Bernard Robinson Jr [#21-right 12.7 ppg/6.3 rpg] and 6-7 Senior LaVell Blanchard [#30 17.1/6.9]
Center: 6-9 Freshman Graham Brown [#25 5.7/4.7]
Guard: 6-3 Freshman PG Daniel Horton [# 4 15.6/4.5 assists per game] and 6-6 Freshman Lester Abram [#2 9.4/3.8]

Only one other Wolverine has started since the run began - 6-5 Senior Guard Gavin Groninger got the nod against Central Michigan.

The Big Gun(s)
The big man under the Glass and from the floor is 6-7 Senior Wing, #30  Lavell Blanchard. [#30-left] He's shooting 91-209 [.435] from the floor,  31-77 [.403] from the arc, and leads the team in rebounding with 6.9 per game. He has a 71-40 defensive to offensive board ratio. But he's also prone to getting fouls, something the Cats might exploit.

From the Arc: its that 6-3 Freshman Guard Daniel Horton.  Since  the Big 10 started he's shot 8-19 from the arc [.421] second best on the team after Blanchard. He and Blanchard have to qualify as the Wolverines' bombers.
The Rest of the Team
Tommy Amaker plays 9 in almost every game. 6-11 FR Center Chris Hunter [#31 4.3 ppg] plays about 24 minutes a game in relief of Brown.

6-7 So Forward Chuck Bailey  [#32 3.2 ppg] was playing about 6 minutes a game as the Wing off the bench. Guards 6-5 Sr  Gavin Groninger [#23 - 12 mins] and 6-3 Fr Sherrod Harrell [#22 - 3 mins] share backcourt duties.

Forward Bernard Robinson fills in at the point when Horton isn't playing.
The Challenges
  • Stop Horton from scoring.
  • Stop Blanchard [Not necessarily in that order].
  • Get Blanchard in foul trouble early
  • Play the NU Motion offense and start making the 3s.
  • while you're at it stop Robinson too.
  • NU coach Bill Carmody has been stressing to the Cats they they need to take care of things they can control - the team needs to play as a team, make the shots and give the Wild Bunch something to cheer about.

ESPN Plus will have the game, along with many local TV outlets in the midwest. Shon Morris will be the Color man on the TV Broadcast
The game will be on the Radio - WGN 720 AM and WGN.com, WNUR 89.3 will also have it in Evanston.

Go Cats - Beat 'em All!
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