“In Beilein We Trust”
The sign rings true and I’m not quite sure how I will doubt anything John Beilein does again. Since Beilein has arrived all we have heard was that his 1-3-1 wouldn’t work in the Big Ten, he wouldn’t recruit Detroit, we need to offer Justin Watts instead of Zack Novak, and who knows what else. Well tonight two kids from the city of Detroit led Michigan past a Duke team full of All Americans with the help of a 2 star shooting guard from Chesterton, Indiana.
I am now a believer. I wrote in the pregame that on paper there is no way Michigan could win this game, but I must have overlooked TGCICB (Beilein has been mocked by Spartan fans since his arrival as “The Greatest Coach in College Basketball”) in my analysis. He has a plan and it’s starting to unfold before our eyes. I received several emails telling me I was wrong about this being an NIT team and I have to give you guys credit. This team can compete night in and night out with anyone in this conference. There are still plenty of games left to play this year but this is a win to remember.
The thing that stands out for me today is how much mental toughness and poise this team shows. Duke went up 53-50 with 8:36 remaining and this team didn’t fold. Michigan came back with back to back Zack Novak triples (both assists by Kelvin Grady). 1 minute later the score was 56-53 Michigan and they didn’t look back. I can’t even count the number of times in the last 10 years a Michigan team has crumbled under pressure but this team is different. It took a year but John Beilein has instilled confidence in this team and they have forged an identity.
It’s impossible to overlook Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims for sticking with this program. They both have had multiple chances to bail on this program but they both kept with it. They were the difference tonight and deserve all the credit they will get from this game and anything that happens to this team over their careers.
Michigan controlled all four of the “four factors” in this game with a better eFG%, offensive rebounding percentage, turnover percentage, and free throw rate.
I’m sure many people will blame Duke’s cold shooting from three point range for their loss but that was a product of Michigan’s defense. Duke attempted 33 threes, almost double their season average of 18 per game. They settled for jump shots all night long and played right into Michigan’s hands. Michigan rebounded extremely well after a subpar performance in College Park and they were outsized at just about every position.
- DeShawn Sims – DeShawn Sims is a new man, he was forced to play the 5 out of necessity at the start of this year and he has embraced it. DeShawn put up 28 points, 12 boards, 3 assists, and a steal. He hit shots from inside and out and dominated the game. Last year I criticized DeShawn for his effort on defense, his rebounding and disappearing in games but he is showing us that he is a changed man.
- Zack Novak - Warrior. Zack Novak was probably the least athletic kid on the court but he kept fighting all night. Without Novak’s back to back threes this is a Duke win. Novak posted 14 points or 4-8 shooting and added 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal.
- Manny Harris – DeShawn will take all the glory but Manny posted the kind of solid game we needed without forcing things. 35 minutes, 8-15 shooting for 17 points and 5 rebounds, 2 assists, only 2 turnovers. This is the game that we need from Manny night in and night out.
- Kelvin Grady – 28 minutes, 9 points, 4 assists, no turnovers. Kelvin played a complete floor game today. He handled Duke’s pressure and didn’t have any “Grady moments”. Grady’s speed was a game changer all night and he was blowing by Nolan Smith and Greg Paulus. Now if he can just learn to finish those layups he’ll be a very complete player.
- Jevohn Shepherd – I am just happy for Jevohn, I think most people had given up on him before this year but he has stepped up and we have needed it. He didn’t shoot the ball well besides a nice drive and layup but he just played solid defense on the wing all day against guys like Kyle Singler and Gerald Henderson. 32 minutes, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 1 block. The Beilein mantra on Shepherd has been “do more by doing less” and that’s what he’s done.
- Stu Douglass – Stu is starting to force it a little bit and had 2 very frustrating turnovers but it will come. I think both Stu and Zack will have their ups and downs this year.
- David Merritt and CJ Lee – Neither of this kids are going to be stars but they both play hard and are leaders. CJ Lee got a huge rebound down the stretch and hit his first two free throws of the year. I give them both credit for playing hard and they deserve a little playing time in every game, even when Laval Lucas-Perry returns.
- Anthony Wright – Anthony didn’t play a lot of minutes but he made a couple huge plays including a steal and a tip out on a missed free throw. He just isn’t athletic enough to rebounds in there against a team like Duke and he picked up a cheap foul trying to tip another one out. He didn’t chuck a lot of shots though and gave us what we needed.
- Laval Lucas-Perry – Nice suit, see you at the Palace in 2 weeks.
- Crowd – Credit to the crowd, they were in the game all day and the Maize Rage was there early. Crisler was rocking and I especially liked how Michigan went to the “hot timeout” with the piped in music after big plays. Hopefully everyone that was checking this team out for the first time comes back and keeps supporting this team.
- Recruits – I saw Kearney and Hardaway Jr. there as well as 2011 Hartland shooting guard Matt Poches. I assume Allen Payne made it up from Cinci as well but didn’t see Trey Zeigler.