Game 2: Houston Baptist at Michigan Preview

Dylan Burkhardt


Who: Michigan (1-0) vs. Houston Baptist (0-3)
: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
When: Friday, November 20th, 7 PM
: MGoBlue, WTKA-AM (1050), Sirius Ch. 130

HBU Logo

Houston Baptist is a member of the new Great West conference. You know, the one who’s tournament champion gets an automatic bid to the Postseason Tournament (CIT).

Still fresh to Division 1 basketball, Houston Baptist was not a good team last year. They went 5-25 last year with only one win over a team with an RPI better than 300, a 7 point win over Utah Valley.

Judging by early season play, it doesn’t look like they have gotten much better. The Huskies are off to an 0-3 start with losses to South Alabama, Sacramento St., and Rice. Of their six players who started more than 10 games, only one returns to the team this year.

Their offensive statistics aren’t pretty. They are shooting a meager 8.5% from three point range and only 45% from inside the arc for an effective FG% of only 36%. They are also turning the ball over on a whopping 27.3% of their possessions.

Their defense has been a little better. They are allowing an almost respectable .94 points per possession and holding opponents to an eFG% of 42.3%. The interesting news for Michigan is that they are doing a great job of defending the three point shot, allowing opponents to shoot only 18.9% from long range.

Mario Flaherty, the lone returning starter, is the leading scorer for the Huskies. The 6-foot-9 big man averages 13 points and 9 rebounds per game. Andrew Gonzalez provides the scoring punch on the wing. The 6-foot-6 scorer averages 11 points and 4 rebounds per game.

Unlike Northern Michigan, who was content to sit back in a zone, the Huskies love to push the tempo. They averaged 72 possessions per game last year (compared to Michigan’s 64 last year) and are right around that mark through three games this year as well. Mike Rothstein’s article compares the Huskies style of play to Nolan Richardson’s 40 minutes of hell:

“We’re modifying it to some degree,” Cottrell said. “We’ve always been a very up-tempo team, led the nation in scoring on the NAIA level for three years out of 10 and we’re in the top 10 all the other years.

The last time I wrote a preview this negative was probably last year’s Savannah State game, and we all know how that one turned out. Interestingly enough, both Savannah State and Houston Baptist play an up-tempo pressing style of defense. These games count and none of them can be taken for granted.

That being said, Houston Baptist shouldn’t provide much more of a challenge than Northern Michigan. This is the last cupcake before Michigan heads down to Orlando and dives headfirst into the tough part of their non-conference schedule.

The game is streaming online at Early returns on their feed have been overwhelmingly negative.If you are in the area, you can get into Crisler for 2 cans of food and a dollar. Not a bad deal at all. As always, predictions and discussion belongs in the comments.

Pregame Reading

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  • JayRich

    I think something being missed here is the role that the football team plays in bball recruiting. When you bring a recruit in and can take him to the big house and see a good team on the field, it puts an image in the player’s head about what UM is and what he could be a part of. I don’t think by any means it is the most important part of recruiting by any means but it for sure plays a factor.

    Another thing I am curious about is whether Beilein turns UM into white boy U, like he did at WV. Problem with that is that many top 25 players are not of the Caucasian Persuasion.

  • Gary

    Moving away from ridiculous speculation about recruiting and back to last night’s game:

    What troubled me was the terrible defense and poor free throw shooting. HBU scored too easily in transition and got too many chances inside. I really hate to see that many missed free throws. Most of all, I hate to see a good team play down to a weaker opponent (a regular feature of Ammaker, Ellerbie, and Fisher teams). I hope they get out of that mode quickly.

  • UMIndy

    I hear what you are saying, Gary. In my mind, this game is a huge step up from last year. Last year we would have been down by 15-20 points early and would have struggled the whole game. This year, we were down, but not by as much and then took control of the game (even though we still played sloppy).

    I’ll worry about sub-par games against crappy teams early in the season when someone can demonstrate empirically that teams that go on to win titles never have off nights.

  • michigan4204

    The last time Mich had top 25 recruits was the class with LaVell Blachard, Jamal Crawford, and Kevin Gaines. They didn’t have the ranking system, (4 star 5 star etc.) but they did have a top 100 and Blanchard was #2,Crawford #6, and Gaines was #20. That team was no where close to as good as last years team. The point I’m trying to make is that talent is what you make of it. What good is it to have a bunch of 5 star guys if they don’t gel together? This is why I think this years Kentucky team will underachieve. Another thing with the top recruits is that most of them are one and done. It takes time to learn the college game, especially in a system like Beilein’s. I think we are a program on the rise and I don’t think we’re going anywhere soon. Now if the f’ball team could get a great coach…I’ll leave that alone.

  • Adam

    Obviously I, along with most of you, are not pleased with the majority of last night’s game but I want to throw out a few things that have not been mentioned yet. This was Houston baptist, who the hell cares about HBU? We won and that, much like Savannah State last year, is all that matters. Games like this are not resume builders, they are an opportunity to have the freshmen mesh with the upperclassmen and vice-versa.

    If you are Manny Harris or Matt Vogrich, how the heck can you get pumped up for this game? An opponent located over a thousand miles away, just before a huge tournament and whatever class issues they have before the Thanksgiving Break.

    I hate excuses but a win is a win and no one should be concerned about a game that ended in a 22 point cushion.

  • Kenny

    Ellerbe’s first class was indeed very good. Ellerbe was NOT most qualified for the job, but he definitely got screwed by NCAA big time. Had Crawford been allowed to play, it would have been a good team, and he might’ve had better luck and had controls over his team.

    Did not watch the game. I was complaining laud about BTN broadcasting games stream only even with 5 channels they have. Anyway, no reason to be over-optimistic after one game and over-pessimistic after another game. A good example is the up and down of Syracuse in this very short season.

  • Erik

    Ellerbe was screwed by the NCAA but he was still a horrible coach. I remember when Amaker was hired there were player quotes in the media and some said they didn’t even know how to run basic layup drills.

  • AG2

    For the record, I knew Tyrelle Pryor’s ability to commit unforced errors would keep Michigan in the game.

  • Tyler

    What’s all this about a big man like Cronin stepping up? Just Watching him I don’t see the potential everyone Is talking about. He’s slow and only good for blocking and picks. Gibson will be the 2nd big man to step up this year

  • “White Boy U” … didn’t Duke win 30 games last year and Tyler Hansbrough lead UNC to a national championship? Nice take, dude.

  • JayRich

    I didn’t say you can’t win with “white boy u” i’m just saying Beilein seems to recruit them.

    Don’t even bring up Hansboruogh, he was the only main contributer who was white. Now duke has a couple and so does msu, it was more of a point of who beilein recruits. Look so far, Cronin, Douglas, Novak, Vogrich, McLimans, Smotrckz, then Morris, Morgan, Hardaway. That is very disproportionate compared to the college scene. Just saying.

  • Matt

    Darris Nichols, Frank Young, Tyrone Sally, Wellington Smith, D’or Fischer, Joe Mazzulla, John Flowers, JD Collins, DeSean Butler, Carlton Brundidge, Darius Morris, Tim Hardaway Jr, Trey Zeigler (?)

    What do all those players have in common?

  • JayRich

    Only Morris attends Michigan?

    You guys are reading into this too far…..I was merely trying to state that Beilein disproportionately recruits white shooters over black athletes. Take that as racist if you must but I think most can generalize it to be more true than false. If you don’t agree with me, talk to Brian at who has similar feelings. Some things in the universe just happen to be true. Of course their are exceptions to the rules. I am not looking up WVU’s recruiting classes to find this information but I bet the number of white recruits is proportionately higher to other “major” programs

  • steve

    as well as tim hardaway jr jayrich. but it really doesn’t matter a whole lot. he’s only had two recruiting classes and he clearly recruits white shooters. but he also tries to recruit black players as well. whatever beilein does i think he knows what he is doing.

  • Matt

    Okay you’re stating the obvious. What exactly IS your point?

  • JayRich

    I didn’t include Tim Hardaway because he isn’t there yet, same with carlton. My point is… WVU, your recruiting is limited because well….it’s West Virginia but at Michigan there are a lot more athletes available and I was more talking about will Beilein continue to go for the shooters or push for more of the athletes.

    And sorry Matt for wasting your quality time…lol

  • Matt

    It seems to me like he’s going for a mix of both. As we go from the classes of ’08-’11, it seems to me like he’s getting more athletes on board. First you have Douglass and Novak, pure shooters. Morris in ’09 is a little better athlete than those two. Hardaway and possibly Zeigler will be decent athletes. Brundidge is pretty quick, so chalk one up for another “athlete”.

    Then you have guys like Smote, McLimans, Morgan who look to be big guys who can shoot. (Smote with a little handle)

  • JayRich

    That’s kind of what I’m hoping for. I would like at least two players in the Manny mold (not saying they have to be as talented but the slashing, get the rim, create their own shots sort of guys) and two pure shooters to prevent defenses from collapsing too much. Also, a big guy, that can shoot from 12-15 feet would be ideal so that, the slashers can dive to the basket and kick to the elbow and wing for jumpers. Hopefully, Evan S. can get some big man help from wither McLimans, Cronin, or Morgan because I don’t think we want him playing “center” like Sims has to now.

  • JRose

    Great debate going on. On a different tangent….here is a nice SI link that involves Manny.

  • Matt

    From what I hear, Smote is sort of in the same mold as Joe Alexander. Probably not as athletic or close to the upside, but a guy who can put the ball on the floor. He’s a better long-range shooter than Joe is. Hopefully Cronin is 100% by B10 season or at the latest next year. With him, McLimans, and Morgan… we’ll have 3 guys that can compete for the 5 spot.

  • JayRich

    I would like to see UM add Amir Williams so we have a legit big man in the future. I am hoping Cronin is the guy that steps up since he has so much size comparatively.

    I think Evan S. will be a small Sims, I like your comparison to Joe Alexander. Like you said, not as athletic but my guess is he will be a better shooter. Anyone know how well he rebounds? I am wondering if he goes to the 3 spot (which doesn’t mean too much in Beilein’s system, since we are 4 out 1 in) since he can handle the ball a little. I guess it probably depends on if we get Zeigler. All speculation..

  • maxwell’s demon

    how bad will our post play be next year…

  • ZRL

    Sorry, but Evan Smote is nothing like Joe Alexander. Alexander is an athletic freak who could jump out of the building but was very raw heading into college. Evan, on the other hand, has okay athleticism but is highly skilled and has great ball-handling, passing, and shooting for a big man. The only thing Alexander and Smote have in common is their height, the coach they committed to, and their skin color, and any comparison of the two is based solely on these three factors.

  • Hey guys, sorry for the delay on the post-game. OSU Weekend… I’ll have something up today sometime.

  • Matt

    Well ZRL, you know more than I do. I’m gonna throw names out there and you tell me if these are good comparisons skill-wise. Curtis Sumpter, Robbie Hummel, Tyler Smith, Gordon Hayward, a young Tayshaun Prince.

  • Erik

    I think it’s unfair to say beilein only recruits white guys. That is basically implying that he’s racist which is untrue. I think the more accurate thing to say is that Beilein values tall lanky shooters. It just happens that most of these tall shooters are white. It’s not his fault that this seems to be the trend. But those are the guys for his system. If vogrich or smotz were black thereis no doubt in my mind Beilein would sign them too.

  • ToBlav

    Who cares what skin color the players have? Nine players on scholarships right now were brought into the program without Tommy Amakers influence. Five are white four are black. Two of three verbal commitments for the next two years are black. Totals six and six. With a population that’s only what? maybe 12% black it seems he must flavor the blacks. The true is he doesn’t care, niether do I and niether should anyone else.

  • JayRich

    lol…this just turned comical…In my opinion. no one implied racism by beilein. More of the skill set of some players can be generalized to a race. If that’s racist, so be it…it’s also true. I don’t think the population black players at high levels of basketball is 12% either….lol. Some people just will never understand this conversation because they automatically assume when race is brought up….everybody involved is racist or non-racist. Never should have brought it up…my bad

  • Erik

    JayRich Im looking specifically at your post where you said Beilein prefers “white shooters to black athletes”. I am sorry but race does not belong in that statement unless you are trying to imply Beilein is racist. It really is the ONLY way you can take your comment. As I said, Beilein prefers SHOOTERS with good basketball IQ. Race is irrelevant. Note I’m not calling anyone racist, just trying to get you to understand that your comment implies something about Beilein that is untrue, whether it was intentional or not. Maybe you just need to word it differently.

  • This race, recruiting, talent, athleticism, basketball IQ, white, black, argument has been played out. Not to mention it’s basically been eliminated by Beilein’s recruiting.

    Let’s let it die guys.

  • JayRich

    Dylan, I agree. Sorry to anyone I offended or who simply didn’t understand the point of the comments. Go Blue!