Game 12: North Carolina Central at Michigan Post Game

Dylan Burkhardt

It took Michigan until March 13th to win their 10th game last season. This year they have already reached the 10 win mark before the conference season has tipped off. Last year’s struggles against teams like Central Michigan and Harvard are nightmares of the past and now it appears that Michigan is poised to make a run at the NCAA tournament.

Tonight’s game felt like one that everyone knew we just had to get out of the way before Wednesday’s Big Ten opener. Michigan came out and got an early lead before falling asleep at the wheel. North Carolina Central gave them something to think about at halftime and Michigan responded as the lead ballooned to 20 points before falling asleep again. It’s frustrating to let teams hang around and I think this can come back and bite us but in the end a win is a win and North Carolina Central never really had a chance to win.

Manny Harris had another dominating performance with 29 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists, and only 1 turnover. He definitely forced the issue a couple times early in the game but I loved to see him get in the lane in the second half. I think Manny had been settling for jumpers rather than taking it to the hole in recent games and Michigan is going to need his production at the free throw line in conference play.

The rotation still seems up in the air, especially at the power forward position. Shepherd started the game at the four but wasn’t very productive in the first half and Novak started the 2nd half. Jevohn did come in and give Michigan a boost with 2 put backs when Michigan was in a bit of a funk. Anthony Wright got a stint off the bench when Novak picked up his third foul but it seems pretty clear that he is getting cut out of the rotation. Novak, Gibson, Shepherd, and Wright are going to play the minutes at the four and Michigan really needs that second guy to step up and be a contributor.

Michigan had a poor day shooting the ball but held North Carolina Central to an even lower percentage. Rebounding was a wash. Michigan won the game by holding onto the ball and getting to the free throw line 25 more times than the Eagles. Michigan shot well below their season average of 80% at the stripe as well and only made 20 of their 30 attempts.

The final thing that’s frustrating about tonight’s game was that our RPI fell from the mid teens all the way to 37th. Our strength of schedule also took a huge fall down to 87. The Big Ten season will help the numbers but a game like this shows why it is so important to play teams that are going to fall in the 100-200 RPI range rather than the 300+.

Player Bullets:

  • DeShawn Sims: Peedi tweaked his ankle in the first half and went to the locker room to get taped up. He came back and still played most of the game although he was definitely gimpy in half time warmups. Peedi had a solid game with 17 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals. Peedi had 6 turnovers though and a lot of them were pretty rough and led directly to NCC points or were blown easy opportunities.
  • Laval Lucas-Perry: Laval is a 2 guard. I was always skeptical of all the talk that LLP would be a point guard on this team and thus far he has played strictly 2-guard and has zero assists through 3 games. LLP can definitely shoot it though and hit his first three triples today. I’m not sure what happened on his late botched layup on the dime from Manny, he must have been surprised to have the ball land in his lap.
  • Stu Douglass: 17 minutes, 7 points on 3-8 shooting (1-5 3pt), 1 rebound, 1 assist, 0 turnovers. I was surprised to see that Stu took 8 shots but I think he looks more confident on his shot than he did when he went through a bit of a drought earlier this year.
  • Zack Novak: Novak picked up some cheap fouls and was limited to only 17 minutes. If Zack is going to play the 4 he is going to need more than 1 rebound in a game though.
  • Kelvin Grady: Kelvin shot 0-4 but this is becoming his team. He is getting a lot more minutes than Merritt and this time and is doing a great job holding onto the ball and finding open teammates. Kelvin had 4 assists and 0 turnovers in 27 minutes. Kelvin has only 9 turnovers in 12 games.
  • Dave Merritt: Dave is seeing his minutes dwindle and was pulled less than a minute into the second half. Merritt is able to run the team but Grady is going to play more and more. I still don’t have a problem with Dave starting as long as Kelvin is playing more minutes.
  • Zack Gibson: Zack needs to start hitting wide open three pointers. He had three of them today and didn’t hit any of them. If he can be a little more of an offensive threat it will help make up for his liabilities on the glass.
  • Jevohn Shepherd: Shep was playing really well for a couple of games but has seemed to regress a bit. He doesn’t look as comfortable on his jump shot and at the stripe but he still brings some energy with athleticism on the glass.
  • Merlin

    The attendance was good today. There was a good walkup and there should be a reasonable crowd on Wednesday though not a sellout. There is suspense as to what will happen on Wednesday. Will they play Beilein “solid” or loose like today. I predict a strong performance much better than today.

  • Aaron

    Nice recap.

    I was thinking that we should have tried to get LLP the ball even more this game. For a guy who can shoot it from deep, he should get more than 6 shots. In the future, it can open the game up more for Manny and Peedi if they know our 3rd option can drain it when called upon.

  • Yup, I was impressed by the crowd. Listed at over 10,000. It sucks that there are no students but people are starting to come out to see these guys.

  • Also guys I tried to clean up the schedule page.

    What do you guys think?

  • Giddings

    Looks a lot better Dylan, although you may want to check some of the TV stuff… the Wisco game is on ESPN2, not BTN, for example.

  • BJ

    I’m going to go ahead and give Wright the thumbs up on the headband.

  • BJ

    haha, didn’t even notice this:

    U-M Sophomore Guard Manny Harris
    On not wearing his shirt underneath his jersey… “I’m going to go back to the shirt. I was actually sick and I got tired too fast with the shirt and it made me tired. I like the shirt; I’m going to go back to the shirt.”

    love that it’s first on his list of quotes. Imagine the endurance he has just playing skins! haha

    sorry for back2back fashion posts

  • JimC

    This game was about what I expected. Good enough.
    My only concern watching it is I get the feeling that, with the exception of the point guards, every player on this team thinks he MUST SCORE. The evidence is guys rushing shots or not dishing the ball when a teammate is open. Even Manny did it at least once. It would help if one or two of them (hello Gibson) just focused on rebounding or some other aspect.

    Dylan, I always go to mgoblue for the schedule. That site is good at raw information.
    I come here for the important stuff.

  • ryan

    I am nervous for the Wisconsin game. They haven’t played since the texas loss. That was 8 days ago. I would rather have that time to prepare for the big ten season then to play 2 more games.
    It will be a godo game, lets hope like dylan said, some students come out.

  • Evan

    I agree with JimC – good enough. Concerns for me were Sims getting stripped of the ball three times after rebounds. I assume coaching can fix that. I remember Fisher freaking out because Traylor would rebound the ball and then bring it low instead of just bouncing back up and dunking. I would think Sims carrying 100 fewer pounds than Traylor would make it easier for him to just pogo back up there.

    Another concern was that Gibson’s confidence doesn’t seem to be there. If he is supposed to shoot the three, then he needs to believe he can hit it. His last three attempt was wide open but it looked like he hated to take the shot. Yeah, I can read player’s minds when I’m hundreds of miles away watching on TV. I think we need Gibson on defense in the Big Ten and if he can’t contribute some shots on the offensive end, then that is going to be a real problem.

    LLP was not scoring close to the basket. Grady wasn’t hitting shots. Those are the types of issues that crop up in an individual game and are amplified if we’re in a close game.

    All those concerns are outwieghed by a generally solid performance by the team with great stuff from Harris and Sims. If the two of them can play like that in the Big Ten, we will get wins. Lots and lots of wins. The rest of the cast has to hit their three pointers because you have to believe Big Ten teams will be completely focused on those two.

    Going into the Big Ten season, I am expecting 3-1 in the first four games (ecstatic if we’re 4-0, disappointed if we’re 2-2). We need to be set for those last four games, which will be tough. I don’t want to finish the season with a 1-3 stretch and feel we need a Big Ten tournament win to get off the bubble.

    I am really looking forward to the Big Ten season. I’m interested in all the games, which hasn’t happened for a few years.


  • BJ: If you noticed Wright has a big bandage underneath the headband. He’s still wearing it because of stitches on his head.

  • KurtD

    It’s not like LLP isn’t trying to get assists. I can think of 3 times last night he kicked to open shooters who couldn’t hit the shot. He’s definitely a 2 guard, tho.

  • jmblue

    Yes, the crowd was noticeably larger than the one against FGCU. The return of the alumni band and its awesome conductor was greatly welcome, too – the atmosphere was a lot better.

    Was it me, or did NC Central not seem THAT bad for a winless team? They seemed to have a couple of guards who could penetrate a bit, hit the boards fairly well, and didn’t give up too many baskets. Or maybe it was a function of us being a little lethargic. I don’t know.

  • jmblue

    Whoops, meant to say “didn’t give up too many easy baskets.”

  • Merlin

    Their guard Ayala had been injured. This was his second game back. He averaged 12 points last year so he was probably a big loss for them.

    I think Sims getting stripped was definitely related to his ankle, He was just the slightest bit tentative after the injury. He is the ONE guy we cannot afford to be hurt.

    By the way 23 pts for Darius Morris yesterday at the Macpreps tourney (Stover 2 pts-they won on the consolation side) and 15 pts for Vogrich at the State Farm Holiday Classic (but his team lost-they only scored 38 pts).

  • Giddings

    Agree that NC Central didn’t look all that bad. I would say that they looked better than FGCU but they actually played and lost to FGCU earlier this year. Good point about Ayala though, this was only his second game this year. Hopefully they can get a couple wins to help out the dreadful RPI.

    Also, anyone notice that Savannah State is still in the Top 90 of the RPI? Besides the blowout loss to Georgetown they’ve been quite a surprise.

  • jmblue

    Good catch. I looked up Ayala’s numbers – he seems like a quality player. It’s too bad he was out for all those games. They’d probably have a few wins otherwise, and their RPI wouldn’t be so terrible.

  • Made my day!!!