Saginaw Valley Thoughts

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan 81 – Saginaw Valley State 55 (Box score & quotes)

Michigan had a bumpy first half but pulled away from an unspectacular Saginaw Valley State team in the second. I’m just going to go through some quick thoughts on each player. There were two negatives across the board in my opinion: free throws and rebounding. With free throws, 22-37 (59.5%) just won’t get it done, I’m going to say it now and not mention it for every player. Getting out rebounded by Saginaw Valley 39-34 is troubling and this is probably going to be a problem all year. Beyond that I’ll run through player by player with some quick thoughts.

A couple Beilein quotes first – more here from DeShawn, Stu and Dave:

On Stu Douglass’ confidence shooting the ball… “He’ll probably drive me crazy with that confidence. My son drove me crazy, but I have a rule, as long as it goes in I say it’s okay. But we want it to go in.”

On the lineup… “I’ve always been a big guy with making sure that we have people coming off the bench. We’re in some transition now with doing some things with DeShawn (Sims) and Zack (Gibson) that we’re not really sure of a lot of things. So we just said let’s bring some people off the bench, it’s an exhibition game, let’s have the right mixes on the floor and then try to figure out during the game what is going to work best during the real games.”

  • DeShawn Sims: Even though he didn’t get the start, Peedi looked great on the floor. Gibson got into foul trouble and DeShawn actually played a lot of five throughout the game. DeShawn posted 19 points and 9 rebounds in 27 minutes of action. Saginaw wasn’t a huge team so it’s hard to take much from Peedi’s performance but I liked that he only took 2 three point shots and tried to establish the inside game.
  • Stu Douglass: I think we found our starting shooting guard for the time being. Stu looked surprisingly comfortable with the ball in his first college game. Stu shot 3-5 from long range and his range is as advertised — we don’t need to worry about the extended three point line. I was most impressed with Stu’s passing, he led the team with 6 assists. Stu has that shooters mentality though, I swear he took a couple threes when he couldn’t even see the basket. He will be fun to watch if when he gets hot.
  • David Merritt: Merritt is not a flashy player, but he was just solid throughout the night. He hit open threes, made the right pass.  Only 3 assists with 2 turnovers but I felt the most comfortable with him at the point.
  • Zack Gibson: This is what I expect a “good game” for Gibson to look like this year. 3 for 6 shooting (2-3 3pt) for 11 points with 3 rebounds and 2 assists in 19 minutes. The issues with Zack are rebounding and staying away from cheap fouls.
  • Manny Harris: We all know Manny is talented, and he showed it in flashes tonight. I just didn’t feel like Manny was going hard the whole night. He shot just under 50% but there were a lot of “Manny moments” that left me frustrated. I think Manny might have taken the night off a little bit however he definitely turned it up a notch in the second half.
  • Anthony Wright: Wright got the start over DeShawn and I am not quite sure why. He came out firing in the first half but wasn’t hitting. He played a little better in the second half and had some strong rebounds and finally knocked down a three. I think Wright’s role on this team is providing a spark off the bench, not starting.
  • Zack Novak: Zack has dropped some weight but he is still a step slow on the court. He was 2 of 4 (all from long range) but looked a little unsure of himself. He just didn’t have the same confidence with the ball that I saw with Stu. It’s only his first game and his stroke looked pretty good (although a little flat) so I’ll give him time.
  • Kelvin Grady: Troubling game from Kelvin, he only had 2 turnovers but I would swear he had a couple more. They were most forced passes that really never had a chance. I think until Kelvin stops forcing the issue when nothing is there he will find himself behind Dave Merritt. Kelvin also didn’t really look for his shot at all, the only shot he took was a bad hot in transition.
  • CJ Lee: The leader without a role. CJ is not afraid to talk and seems to know the system like the back of his hand. However he appears to be behind Merritt and actually seemed to get most of his 6 minutes at the 2-guard. The issue is that he just isn’t a 2-guard. He can definitely come into the game and give you a burst of energy with his effort.
  • Jevohn Shepherd: Jevohn has found a niche as a four-man on this team, he won’t get major minutes but he gives Beilein an option when he slides DeShawn over to the five and some combination of Wright, Gibson and Sims are in foul trouble. He didn’t look look as uncomfortable as usual but didn’t register a point, steal, rebound, shot or anything else in 9 minutes. He is athletic and strong enough that he can be a duct tape solution for those foul trouble games.
  • Ben Cronin: Huge. Don’t think he looks healthy and wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a medical red shirt this year. Yes he is big but he isn’t going to contribute when he’s hobbling around out there.
  • Eric Puls and Corey Person won’t be factors this year.
  • Laval Lucas-Perry: Throughout the first half all I could think of was what a difference he would make as a third scoring option out of the back court. December 20th can’t come soon enough.

Overall this is a tune up and Michigan used it as one. The defense wasn’t great overall but was improved in the second half. I thought the 1-3-1 looked better than the man to man and if I am not mistaken we played very little 1-3-1 in the first half.   Next week against Michigan Tech should be more of the same even though it’s a real game. The real test will be Northeastern on Wednesday.

One other note: Daniel Horton, Brent Petway, and Chris Hunter were all in the house. The Beilein Bunch didn’t show up.

  • The Oracle

    Loved Novak’s stroke. It hope eventually his role is to back up the 3, so he’s not out top so much. That will hide his lack of quick a little more.

    Overall, it is what it is, an exhibition game to see what we got. Not going to read into it anymore than should be. Positives and negatives.

  • Yup, I tried to stress that in the pre-game. It’s only an exhibition but fun to see the freshman play for sure.

  • Giddings

    I think it’s already evident that Stu will be the fan favorite. Those threes he was knocking down were ridiculous… I’m also guessing that he’ll be hated on by opposing crowds much like JJ Reddick.

    Cronin also got a big response from the fans, probably because everyone realizes how desperately we need size with Ep gone. Definitely obvious that the hip is bothering him, and I would expect a redshirt.

  • The Oracle

    On that note, and I posted this somewhere else, with Morgan and McLimans coming next year. We’ll have Gibson, Sims, Cronin, Morgan and McLimans. We’re not going to use 5 bigs. Do we have the luxury of RS McLimans? That would be nice to have him be a potential major contributor as a RS frosh.

  • snoopblue


  • Giddings

    Good point snoopblue, the blue didn’t match the uniforms at all really, and there was way too much silver going on.

  • Brick

    Cronin can’t redshirt unless Beilein is giving up on the NCAA tournament. We do not have the size on this team to handle any games where Gibson or Sims is in foul trouble. What happens if there is a sprained ankle or the flu? If Gibson or Sims can’t go, will we play Wright as a backup center? That is a joke for a D1 squad.

    Cronin doesn’t even need to get healthier than tonight to contribute. As long as he doesn’t get worse he should play this year. Ben can pretty much stand in the key and alter shots because he is so huge. He had 2 blocks in 4 minutes and he seriously can rebound better than most of team without jumping. He is going to draw a double team often due to the size mismatch with most other players and we have actual shooters he can play inside/outside with.

    I’m not saying Cronin will be a superstar this year but his presence adds a dimension that no one else on the team can provide. He will provide rebounding and shot blocking as well as the ability to have Gibson and Sims on the floor more at the same time. This team’s best lineup is with Gibson and Sims playing together and without having another available big man, they will need to split too much time at the 5. Cronin can come in for 3 minute spurts 3-4 times a game and provide flexibility for the rest of the rotation.

    Think about it, who had more impact in the game tonight Jevohn or Ben? No doubt in my mind I would rather see Ben on the floor. In four minutes he had 4 points, 2 blocks, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 0 fouls. In 9 minutes Jevohn had 3 fouls. What’s a better option when Gibson sits, Jevohn at the 4 and Sims at 5 or keep Sims at 4 with Cronin at the 5? Easy answer.

    Oh yeah, the other 2 freshmen can play. Ratings be damned, Stu is a solid D1 player. I might be more impressed by his 6 assists than his three point shooting.

    I think Merritt will get most of the minutes at point until LLP is ready.

  • Jay

    Thats the Kelvin I know sad to say, but I knew he just couldnt get any better…maybe we should redshirt him! Or he can go back to playing football, he might work in the spread..because on the court the guy is terrible. I notice alot of you guys on here refuse to admit that he is a bum, but how long before you admit the truth?
    Another PG to add to the underachiers that Michael Talley started, Bobby Crawford solidified and Avery Queen embodied and now Grady holds the torch..Lets just roll with Merritt and Lee..Cant wait for LLP to be cleared.

  • Ryan

    I really liked the 3 pt shooting aspect that Beilein’s first recruiting class brought to the offense. It was a dimension that was much needed this year, and although the game was only against SVSU, you can see how the defense having to respect every player jacking one up from beyond the arc created bigger lanes for Manny to penetrate and get to the rim. I am really excited to see the roles taken on by Douglass and Novak, and am curious to see how they fare once we reach league play. The B10 has a deserved reputation for physical play, and to be honest, these shooters looked like HS Sophomores out there. It will be interesting to see how they adjust to more physical play and if they can hold their own. If they succeed, we will be a solid team this season.

  • Sid

    So what’s up with Manny? Not to read too much into it, but this is the second mention of a rather lackadaisical game/scrimmage.

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  • umdcbball

    I agree, Ryan, the freshman look so young. Maybe it’s just the old man in me, but Zach looks like he is 12.

    Jay, I may start to lean in your direction when it comes to Grady. I don’t want to believe it, so I’ll give him some more time, but you may be right.

    Brick, I agree with you regarding Cronin. Unless he is too injured to play (and by that I mean more hurt than he looked last night), then he has to play. We need him.

  • Steele

    It was disappointing to see the way Grady played last night. I was expecting him to make some big strides during the off season, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It looks like the starting PG spot is Merritt’s to lose (until late Dec, anyway).

    Brick, I agree that Cronin would be a huge asset to this team, but I don’t think an NCAA berth is realistic for this squad regardless of whether he’s on the floor. After what I saw last night, I’m still expecting an NIT appearance this year and NCAA next. But we’ll see…

  • a2rfg

    highlights anywhere?

  • Haven’t seen any. I suspect they will be on this page eventually:

    I’ll post em if I see em. Anyone else feel free to chip in as well.

  • Kenny

    Agree with you Jay, Grady very likely will look somewhere else after this season, maybe RR will love to have him as a slot receiver. Maybe there will be a scholarship for Brandt in March.

  • BBall

    The transition is taking shape and it is really exciting to me. This team will be so much fun to watch, and next year is going to be awesome.

    As an example six differnt guys made threes! I can remember back to a few painful Amaker teams where Dion was the only one who was even allowed to take a three. I hope the style of play brings some excitement and starts filling up the arena. Can’t wait for the game that like 4 people are all hot at the same time and we just bomb a good team out of the gym. weeee!

    I don’t like it when people rip teenagers who are working their asses off and doing their best. It is just misplaced anger imho. Grady can definitely have a positive impact on this team, he just needs a solidified role, which I think will happen once LLP comes back. Remember this was the first game of his sophmore year. In an ideal world, he probably would have redshirted his freshman year. His strengths are his quickness, speed and ballhandling, and he is not a terrible shooter. If he can improve a little on his defense and driving ability he can be a solid asset as a change of pace if the half court gets stagnant and could also create turnovers on the defensive end with pressure and push the ball like crazy. His speed will be really important in the 1-3-1 zone getting back and forth under the basket to each wing. He could also do some damage if he could take it hard to the rim and get fouls (he’s a really good free throw shooter too).

  • tbliggins

    Rebounding is going to be a huge factor all year. Luckily, this should be a much better shooting team than last year to offset this disadvantage.

    @The Oracle – think next year you will see Sims bounce out to the wing some if Morgan and McLimans are ready to contribute right away down low. I think that may be a big if, though.

  • KG’s

    yup, like i said i would be, i’m disappointed. merritt can handle the speed of an svsu game, but i dont know he can against b10 competition.

    i’m still holding on to hope grady gets it ‘figured out’ but i don’t know that it happens.

  • I’m not giving up on Grady yet. But I don’t think people should scoff at Merritt. LLP will be a HUGE boost for the Big Ten season too.

    Also in terms of pg depth down the line Grady is important. Merritt and Lee are gone after this year. Darius and LLP (combo) would be the only pgs left.

  • Steve

    highlights, as always, are on

  • The look of UM basketball is not what it could be. Bring back the cool black shoes, thats a no brainer. Why can they not paint the paint maize???? Its very boring looking. The shorts do not even have a colored waistband, there for no contrast between the shorts and the jerseys?? One last thing, the Maize Raige shirts do not even have white in the the design, are you kidding me, how lame these look! Who is in charge of these things?

  • Chuck

    This is a sarcastic comment, right, Go Blue? At least, I hope it is.

  • Chuck, im serious. I know it seems petty but asthetics can have impact on perception and therefore recruiting.

    I would like to be more positve though, so I will tell ya that I was very impressed with Stu and to a lesser degree Novak. If these two can just consistently hit threes the whole dynamic of the offense changes and I think we can compete with most teams on our schedule. Another positive, Cronin is huge and actually coordinated, I agree with the other posters that he must play, even if he isnt 100%.

  • Honestly, I think the court looks good. The inside the three point line shading could be more intense but the M is bigger and looks good.

    The jerseys look fine as long as we still have those classic maize jerseys for big games.

  • BBall

    Agreed – understated class has always been the look at Michigan and should always be going forward. Classic jerseys and floor is the way to go.

  • Wolverine, you are passionate! There is a reason they call it the “paint” this might bring back some fond memeories for the faithful.

  • BBall

    “Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

  • The Truth

    well said BBall!