Laval Lucas-Perry lived up to the hype in his debut. Laval was 4 of 6 on three pointers for 14 points in only 16 minutes. “LL Cool P” had plenty of help, Stu Douglass set the tone by nailing three straight triples in the early going and DeShawn Sims scored a team high 20 points. Not to mention Manny Harris who set a career high with 13 assists and no turnovers to go with his 15 points. It was a team effort but Manny Harris was the catalyst as he shredded Oakland’s zone defense by driving and kicking all night long.
Oakland stuck around even after Michigan opened up a 17 point lead and they managed to cut the lead to 4 points late in the 2nd half. Yet again Michigan held tough and put the game away with an 10-2 run that included a Harris layup followed by Novak and Grady triples. I was disappointed to see the lead disappear but I was proud of how this team stuck in there. We can look at individual improvements (and there are plenty of them) but the biggest difference in this year’s team is their chemistry and composure.
There is plenty to digest regarding the rotation today. The starters remained the same: Merritt, Douglass, Harris, Shepherd, and Sims. Merritt (18 min) and Grady (22) got all of the minutes at point guard while Douglass and Lucas-Perry got most of the minutes at the two. Harris (36) and Lee (4) handled the three but Novak made his debut at the 4. Novak played 25 minutes and a lot of them were on the wing at the expense of Jevohn Shepherd, who only played 10 minutes, and Anthony Wright who didn’t get off the bench. The small line up makes rebounding an even bigger liability but it also lets Michigan extend opposing defenses even further.
I’m sure the line up will continue to be tweaked but right now it doesn’t seem like Lucas-Perry is ready to run the one. There were a couple times we had Grady, LLP, Harris, Novak, Sims out there and that’s a little worrisome in terms of size but this roster is so guard-centric that I don’t know what else Beilein can do. It will also be interesting to see whether this was a product of Oakland’s tricky zone defense or whether it will be used going forward. Here is what Stu had to say on spreading the floor with him and Zack out there at the same time:
“I liked it a lot. With the addition of Lava (Lucas-Perry), we can mix it up more and have Novak and I on the court at the same time. Zack and I can really spread the floor. We have been spreading the floor for Manny (Harris) and he has gotten a lot of points from it. Today, he had 13 assists because they were doubling him. It’s really how we complement his game.”
Three of the four factors were basically a wash but Michigan shot the ball better than the Golden Grizzlies. Michigan shot an eFG% of 59.8% to Oakland’s 50%. It’s also remarkable that Michigan has only turned it over 5 times in each of their last two games, tonight they had a turnover rate of only 8.1% and managed 24 assists.
Defensively Michigan stayed in mostly man to man and abandoned the 1-3-1 pretty early on. This is the second game they have thrown out the 1-3-1 and I would guess it had to do with Kangas being such a threat from deep as well as Oakland being a very solid offensive team.
- Laval Lucas-Perry: LLP came out shooting the ball and really found a rhythm. In the little ammount of 1-3-1 defense that Michigan played I believe LLP was on the wing. He didn’t look to have the best lateral quickness but looked solid on defense. He played off guard but boy is his shot pretty. 14 points and 2 boards in 16 minutes is not too shabby for a debut.
- Manny Harris: Manny had a goose-egg at the break but ended up with 15 points when all was said and done. Manny’s scoring wasn’t what he brought to the game today though. Manny’s 13 assists were 1 assist short of tying Gary Grant’s school record. 13 assists is impressive but I think Manny playing 36 minutes and not turning it over once is remarkable as well. Manny continues to let the game come to him and not force the issue.
- DeShawn Sims: A quiet 20 points for Peedi tonight to go with his 9 boards. Peedi is falling in love with the baseline jumper but he also got it done around the rim. My only beef with Peedi’s game is that Keith Benson had 23 points and 11 boards.
- Stu Douglass: Great to see Stu get off on the right foot. He had been struggling with his jump shot and hitting the first three threes of a game is going to get his confidence back up. Competition is a beautiful thing and all of these guards are going to force guys to elevate their games.
- Zack Novak: Not the best day shooting but Novak hit a huge three late in the game when Oakland was coming back. The kid is a competitor and even though he’s a freshman I trust him hitting the big shots.
- Zack Gibson: A good game for Zack’s confidence. Gibson only played 13 minutes but he had 6 points on 2-3 shooting as well as 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks. Michigan is going to need him this season so hopefully he can bring a solid effort from here on out.
- Kelvin Grady: Grady posted another solid effort. He is great at pushing the ball and can stick the open three. He had one questionable shot but hit two three pointers and also pulled down 6 boards.
Overall a solid effort against a scrappy Oakland team who can fill it up. Michigan should move in to the top 25 this week after losses by Memphis, Davidson, and Marquette. This was also a great day for the Big Ten, Michigan State knocked off Texas, Minnesota beat Louisville, and Purdue handled Davidson. The conference is going to be a dogfight but these non-conference wins could give the Big Ten an extra bid or two in March (#1 conference RPI *fell to #2 overnight). There are two more cupcakes on the schedule but the Wisconsin game on December 31st looms large. If Michigan can continue to shoot the three ball like this (fourth game of the row over 40%) I think they can compete with anyone in the country.
One other note: I saw Trey Zeigler at the game (his dad’s CMU team played before) and he went and shook Mike Jackson’s hand but I’m not sure where he went after that.