Game 5: Norfolk State at Michigan Post Game

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan avoided a let down Tuesday night and handled Norfolk State at home. Norfolk State is not a good team but Michigan took care of business with a 34 point win. Michigan might have been a little too fired up early in the game and it showed with their brutal 0-10 shooting to start. The game was only 2-0 Norfolk State at the first TV time out after a pair of free throws. Luckily Michigan settled in after a Stu Douglass three pointer and rolled from there. Highlights!

Michigan played fast and looked to run from the opening tip, Michigan had 75 possessions compared to their season average of 62. You often hear that transition threes aren’t good shots but I don’t think Beilein has a problem with them. Michigan shot 33% for the game from long range and took 27 treys. I thought most of the shots were good looks, there are only one or two questionable shots that come to mind (Stu took a really deep triple).

Overall there were plenty of sloppy moments that had Beilein pulling his hair out, but you can’t really complain that much over a 34 point win.  5 players managed double figures: Manny Harris (16), Anthony Wright (12), Zack Novak (10), Jevohn Shepherd (11), and DeShawn Sims (11). The defense also was very good throughout the night. Holding Norfolk State to 49 points on 75 possessions is impressive.

A couple highlights on an individual basis:

Jevohn Shepherd: Best game he has played at Michigan, Jevohn did a little bit of everything. He hit a three, drove the lane, had some rebounds, didn’t turn it over, and stepped up when Gibson went down. His final stat line: 17 minutes, 11 points (5-9), 3 assist, 0 TO, 4 rebs

Manny Harris: I was a big fan of moving Manny to the wing and he seems a lot more comfortable there. Manny had 16 points on 7-13 shooting, 15 rebounds, and 4 assists in only 26 minutes. Manny didn’t force it either, his shots weren’t there early in the first half but he didn’t force things. Norfolk State wasn’t necessarily

“I am just more comfortable and I am stronger. Over the summer I worked on ball-handling, shooting and getting stronger. Now I feel like I am more of a complete player.”

I think Manny wraps it up pretty well, last year he could score, this year he’s doing it all.

Kelvin Grady: Kelvin didn’t shoot it well but had 5 assists to 1 turnover. He looked pretty good running the break at times but he still had some of those “Grady moments”. The one that comes to mind is a pass into Cronin in the high post with less than 15 seconds left in the half that went the other way for an easy layup. A solid game from Grady though and he is definitely starting to get more comfortable.

Stu Douglass: Stu can play, he’s not going to jump out of the gym but he can shoot it and pass it just as well as anyone on this team. I’m still waiting for a game when he really gets hot to see him do some real damage. He just looks really comfortable in the offense and his shoot is a thing of beauty when it goes up.

Zack Novak: Novak struggled a bit in New York City but he looked to be getting back on the right track tonight. Zack had 10 points (4-7) and 4 rebounds in 16 minutes. The highlight of Zack’s game was when he took it coast to coast, splitting two defenders for a lay up. I think it’s too early to count Zack out from being a contributor on this team, he missed a week or so of practice before the season and is still catching up a bit.

Anthony Wright: I think it might be time to end this experiment. Anthony missed 5 shots during Michigan’s 0-10 start. I think a lot of the time Anthony just tries to do too much out there, 10 shots in a game is too much for Anthony at this stage in his career. He settled down a bit later in the game and hit some shots but it was not his finest night.

Laval Lucas-Perry: The hype builds… Apparently Tim McCormick anointed Laval Lucas-Perry as the best Michigan point guard since Rumeal Robinson. I didn’t hear the quote but I saw it mentioned in various places. I think this might be a little bit of a stretch for a guy that might not even be a pure point guard but I really do think Laval will make a big difference on this team.

Zack Gibson: Gibson went down hard early on a layup where he got fouled. He landed hard and it’s apparently a tailbone injury. Here’s what Beilein had to say:

“He fell right on his tailbone on the little step across move under the basket. He just fell right on it. He tried to give it a go and he was really in a lot of pain. Usually a tailbone bruise is a matter of a few days we hope, so we have to treat it with ice right now. If it had been a closer game, I think that we could have done a few more things with him, but it as a shame he got hurt, he was having a good night.”

His “good night” included 1 basket, a missed free throw, and 3 boards in 6 minutes. Hopefully Zack is ok but it was nice to see Jevohn get some minutes.

Overall it was a fun game to watch and the crowd was actually not bad for an 8:30 tip against Norfolk. The student section was packed for a game against a team like Norfolk State and it’s safe to say that a little (just a little) bit of excitement is surrounding Michigan basketball.

There were some fun plays, some dunks, and we even outrebounded them 53-37! Fun night at Crisler and Michigan has to keep the momentum rolling. A win over Norfolk State doesn’t really say much (I would guess they will have an RPI of 300+ when all is said and done) but a win is a win.

  • Kenny

    Your comments on the Wright experiment has to stop is right on. He is not the shooter on the team and should not take those wild threes to start the game, same applies to Gibson.

  • Voice of Reason

    Wright is what you call a practice player who disappears during the game. He simply is not as good as he thinks he is, (bless his heart) and Beilein needs to change how he uses him. Maybe more of a defensive physical presence but not on offense.

    If you remember, Wright was the last of his high school’s five starters to get a major scholarship and really Amaker was (if I’m not mistaken) the only real major to pick him up. Michigan can’t continue to sacrifice their offense using Wright who is not a shooter.

  • The team’s confidence is soaring right now.

    Playing with emotion, having fun, laughing…all things we did not see last season.

  • Mike

    What’s your take on Ben Cronin? I thought he looked really slow, but has potential.

  • I still think Cronin will redshirt. He clearly has potential with his size but he clearly isn’t healthy at this point. Another year of conditioning and getting him into basketball shape while rehabbing the hip could be good for him.

  • HH

    Good writeup, but wasn’t that a 34 point win and not 32? 83-49 = 34

  • Good call HH. I need to stop writing at 2 in the morning :-)

  • BJ

    Fun game last night, really enjoyed the pregame when the team went through the student section.

    Ant Wright definitely needs to take a seat. Of course Peedi brings a spark off the bench; he’s the second best player on the team. I’d rather have a spark at tip and get off to some quick starts.

    Cronin is slow and goofy but seems to have pretty decent hands. All of us in the Rage also appreciate his grins and headnods to the students during huddles (hilarious).

    Good crowd last night (due to food drive??, hopefully not), the buzz is definitely growing for these guys and they have a swagger I have never seen from them before. Excited for Maryland game, we’ll see how they do against Spartina.

  • JBlo

    What is the first game that LLP is available to play?

  • December 20th, vs Oakland at the Palace.

  • Ken in Vegas

    I actually have a more favorable review for Cronin’s play. He may have looked a little slow, but you have to remember that we were really running our asses off during this game. I can’t remember seeing Michigan on that many fast breaks since the fab five days. I thought he actually kept up pretty well for his first real game action at that tempo. I also thought he brought a presence that gave Norfolk problems. He of course can set mammoth screens, and he was really easy to feed the ball to inside due to his size. He was in great position to score every time he had the ball and once he builds some confidence and strength, should be throwing it down regularly.

    Great to see some alley oops and dunks, even though John frowned upon them. Again, it just reminded me of the fab five when they would play a bad team and embarrasss them by 30+ with plenty of up-tempo action.

    Knowingly, I shouldn’t get too hyped up, because Norfolk looked absolutely awful, but very entertaining stuff.

  • Ken in Vegas

    Oh, and I am really excited to see LLP after all this Dicky V and Tim Mcormick hype. They act like he is easily the second best player on the team and get visably excited when they talk about him. I already think we’re pretty good, so this could put us over the top. I feel like dancin….

  • Jimmy

    Wright isn’t a great player, but he isn’t awful. I don’t like him in the starting lineup but he’s worthy of PT. Made some nice plays and can contribute some threes, even if he’s not exactly a sniper.

  • Kevin In GR

    What about replacing Wright with Shephard?

  • Forty

    If Beilein doesn’t want Wright chucking, you’d think he’d stop right? I’m guessing he has the green light. I know he has the green light to throw sweet backdoor passes to deshawn!

    Also what is this peedi nickname?

  • Old Style

    It was nice to just “out talent” a team for once. Michigan knew it was better and just got out there and showed it. A sloppy game, but fun to watch.

  • JBlo

    Thanks Dylan, love what you’re doing w/ the blog.

    I’m also eager to see how LLP plays w/ all this hype. I forget which game I was watching (maybe Northeastern?) and the play-by-play guy said that Beilein called LLP the hardest player to stop in practice, and the color guy goes, “Well unless Manny Harris doesn’t practice that is some high praise.”

    Hopefully he transitions in smoothly. Do you think he’d start? I think inserting LLP in the starting lineup would enable Beilein to keep bringing Deshawn off the bench because we’d have another offensive spark in the starting lineup. Peedi could keep bringing his scoring and energy 5 minutes into a game. I suppose this is all speculation until we see LLP’s ability.

  • gpsimms

    The main thing is this: Wright shoots without conscience, and is a career below 30% shooter. IMO, if Shep continues to play as he has this year, Wright should never see the floor again. Shep can match anything Wright brings in terms of D, rebounding, and athleticism, and is at least a “0” instead of a negative on offense. (And actually, to be honest, Shep was certainly a positive contributer on offense in his spot duty this year…but I’m still going to call him a “0” until he plays like this against a team with guys who can actually run and jump like he can).

  • Giddings

    You guys need to take a step back and look again at what Ant has done for this team.

    Sure, he is a streaky shooter. He has some nights where he can’t miss, some nights where he can’t buy a bucket, and some nights (like last night) where he makes some and misses some. Some may yell at the screen when he takes threes from 4 feet beyond the NBA line, but the reality is that is perfectly capable of making those and has made several (think back to the BTT last year).

    But the thing that impresses me about Ant (and probably Beilein too, since he continues to get PT) is that he’s not as one-dimensional as you think. Despite giving up 4 inches in height, he’s averaging 2 more rebounds/game than Zack Gibson. And then there’s his passing – how quickly everyone forgets that BOTH of the backdoor plays in the UCLA game (to Dave and Peedi) were perfect feeds from Anthony.

    Peedi is more deserving of a starting spot, yes, but Anthony should be getting plenty of minutes as well. And to those who say he is not a shooter – ask Beilein.

  • Yes, Laval Lucas-Perry will start. They might give him a couple games off the bench to get back into the swing of things but he will be a starter. I think the question is more whether he starts at the 1 or 2.

    With Wright, I don’t think he shouldn’t play at all. But he should learn when to shoot… He took 5 shots in the first 5 minutes of the game and missed them all. I think he is the perfect streaky shooter to bring off the bench that could give you a boost. The only issue is whether DeShawn starting would have a negative effect on him but I don’t think that would be the case.

  • Jason G

    McCormick compared to LLP to Rumeal Robinson. But then he destroyed all credibility by giving his list of the last 7 strong Michigan point guards. He had Dugan Fife but didn’t have Jalen Rose. When his co-commentator brought up Jalen Rose, McCormick insisted that Dugan Fife was the point guard, and not Rose. So, McCormick was not familiar with the two years of the Fab Five?

  • gpsimms

    giddings hate to disagree, but, are we talking about the same antwright? I remember no games that he “could not miss.” OK, I couldn’t believe that statement so I went back and looked. last year, he shot 28% from three!!!

    Then, I decided to look up his b10 tourney run in which you said he “could not miss.” In two games, he shot 6/17. Slightly above 1/3. 1/3 is solid. 1/3 is good enough. If he shot 1/3, I would say play him all day. BUT he shot 1/3 in his BEST two game stretch of the season!!!

    If Shep can score ever, then Wright should not play more than him. I was overreacting when I said “he shouldn’t see the floor.” In fact, Dylan is right that he is the type of guy you want off the bench. Let him come in and shoot a three. If he misses, yank him; if he makes, let him shoot another.

    Re: passing and rebounding. I know he rebounds better than Gibson. I didn’t say put him out there for Gibson, they don’t play the same position. I bet if shep had as many minutes, he would get just as many assists, rebounds, and points on less shots.

  • gpsimms

    man, giddings you got me going: on top of all that above, even if he did have good streaks, streaky is not a starter. He goes 0-5 to start against duke and that translates to a L. We just lose to good team. We beat Norfolk because they’re not good. But if ant takes 5 of our first 10 shots, and misses all of them, we will lose to a good team. We can’t give him that many looks to start a game. If he can’t stop shooting that much, then he needs to be benched.

  • Kevin In GR
  • Giddings

    Haha ok, it is fun to have a spirited discussion with actual stats to back up our arguments (thank you!) so I’ll keep going.

    Here are some of the games I’m referring to where Ant “couldn’t miss”: (all from last year)
    3-6 from 3-pt against Brown (also 8 rebounds)
    5-8 from 3-pt at Illinois
    3-5 from 3-pt against Penn St

    As for this year, 2-5 against Michigan Tech is at least solid, and even last night he went 2-6 which is not that bad. You won’t really see any 2-2 or 3-3 or 4-5 nights for him because when he starts making threes he will keep shooting until he misses (which Coach B is fine with).

    His numbers in the BTT weren’t great percentage-wise (both of those games were quite ugly offensively) but if you remember back to the Iowa game it was Ant who hit the looooooong three to break our 10-minute scoring drought and give us the momentum to finish the game.

    His career 3-point percentage is quite low (29%?) but I think part of that is him forcing shots when we were trailing by big numbers last year. Beilein ran lots of plays for him and there were several times where he shouldn’t have pulled the trigger but had to based on the score and the fact that we weren’t generating offense any other ways.

    He’s not the best shooter on the team but I would still call him a “shooter” (streaky). Here’s how I would rank the “shooters” this year:
    1) Stu
    2) Zack Novak / LLP
    3) Ant / Kelvin
    4) Peedi / Manny / CJ / Merritt
    5) Zack Gibson
    6) Shep
    7) Cronin / Puls

    One more thing on Ant… I’ve seen him play in at least 3 practice scrimmages now, and his shooting is consistently one of the “buzz” items afterwards. At the “Garden Party” he must have gone 6-8 or so from 3-pt range. I know, I know… as AI would say, “We talkin bout PRACTICE?” but still it just shows that he is capable.

    Again, my opinion is that Ant should come off the bench as a spark, but deserves the amount of minutes he’s been getting (20-25).

  • He must be doing something right in practice because Beilein and company keep drawing up plays for him to shoot it and keep starting him. It just seems like we have been waiting since last year for him to have a couple good shooting games in a row…

  • Voice of Reason

    IMO, Wright is just like AI (Allen Iverson), he will take 100 shots in order to get his 20 points, and the teams that Iverson is on usually never go very far for very long. He’s a selfish player. I wouldn’t bring Wright off of the bench, I would glue him to the bench. Wrights “best games” seems to have been against weak teams if we’re talking Brown, Illinois (last year) and Penn State and now Norfolk State.

    You need to be able to shoot well when you have quality players in your face, and Wright can’t seem to do that. Any gym rat will light it up in practice every now and then, and shine against weak competition. Keep it up and he will be the key factor in why Michigan will lose a close game to Northwestern or Iowa or some other dribble they face this year.

    I would go so far as to say, that if Beilein had his choice, he would not have even recruited Wright for his team. Wright should be playing for a MAC team or for a Norfolk State and not Michigan.

  • Voice of Reason: I think that’s way too harsh. I don’t think Ant is anything like AI. First AI is a great player and a leader and has taken teams far (NBA Finals by himself).

    Ant Wright is still young and I don’t think you would find anyone on the team that says he is a selfish player. Beilein wants the kids taking open shots and thats what he does.

  • Voice of Reason

    Dylan: I realized how it read after I had posted it. That is not what I intended at all. Plus I live in a city where AI played and I fully know what he has done for his teams and the Olympics. He didn’t do it all by himself…trust me, I’ve watched the team play every night. Plus as you know no 5′ 10″ guard can do it by themselves.

    I didn’t mean to imply that “ANT” was a selfish player. I’m sure he is a great young man who has outstanding character, and a pleasure to coach and be around. I just don’t think that he is a good enough player to be starting for a D-1 school. I believe there was a reason why he wasn’t offered by another major school.

    I can understand the arguement of a player being a perfect fit for a system in spite of ratings but I just don’t see it here. But I hope you’re right and that he works out because he’s currently starting for us. I do wish him well.

  • Giddings

    Anthony was never expected to do much… seemed more like a last minute move by Tommy to simply fill a roster spot at the time. When he arrived in Fall ’06 he must have weighed at least 270 or 280 lbs and Tommy had no idea what to do with him (he had a shooter’s reputation in HS but Tommy didn’t want to play him as a guard due to his weight and slowness).

    Since then, the kid has worked his butt off to lose more than 30 lbs, improve his agility, and become a better rebounder and passer. Not to mention he’s one of the best students on the team. Last year Beilein’s opinion was that Ant was the best catch-and-shoot guy we had… if you want to question Beilein’s assessment of shooting go ahead.

    As for recruiting… I think JB stayed away from him at WV mainly because of his weight issues. There’s just no way that Ant could have played in Beilein’s system at his HS weight. And we’re witnessing first-hand with Stu and Zack why it doesn’t mean so much if they aren’t offered by more “major” schools.

    We’ll see… I think against better teams Ant will be a little more selective with his shooting. Obviously we can’t have him taking and missing 50% of the team’s shots, but I do think we need him in our front court rotation. With Peedi, Gibson, Shep, and Ant we will still be undersized but all of those guys are capable of scoring and rebounding (well, except for Zack maybe). Cronin is a backup plan in the worst case scenario of some injuries.

  • Kevin

    Has anybody else noticed that Stu appears to be almost scared to finish near the hoop. A couple times at MSG and last night once or twice too. Hasn’t really hurt us too bad (seems able to make the pass), but it seems like he should be finishing when he gets that close.

  • Ky Fox

    I think Ant just needs to round out his game a little bit more. He is indeed a threat from deep so if he is tightly guarded on a shot he needs to pump fake and either drive if its open or dribble in and dish it off. He should take shots when he is open and im sure JB has given him the green light to do so…but on the flip side it should be a little bit more controlled, and in saying that I think a lot of that has to come from Ant. He knows when he is feeling it or not…you just know…anyone who has played basketball at a organized level knows when they are in the zone, and when your not you should pass it off for one of your teammates or another way to get on track as a shooter is to take higher % shots…meaning driving in or getting some putbacks and going to the line…and thats what I think Ant needs to do to become even more of an asset to the squad. When does Ant ever really turn the ball over? the answer is not very much at all…he is a superb passer…he rebounds… he is only a sophomore for goodness sakes. He needs to continue getting better at his weaknesses and become a better judge of his own shot selection..meaning he needs to realize that after 2 or 3 miss fires in a row he should find other ways he can become a threat..he will get better, mark my words. I agree that he should come off the bench…he is a good guy to put in there because he is a threat, but there must be a reason that JB starts him…theres an old saying “dont fix it if it aint broken” and so far its been working…and JB should ride it until it seems its not. Its what we have to work with right now. Bottom line is we need a bit more athletic ability in that position.