Take 5 With David Merritt: Looking Ahead to Northwestern

Dylan Burkhardt

It was a busy week but David Merritt managed to find time to answer a couple quick questions about Michigan’s last two wins as well as what the Wolverines will face versus Northwestern.

You have played in comeback games similar to Thursday’s Penn State
game, how much of that momentum can Michigan take from that game and
will they be able to parlay that momentum into future success?

I can’t predict Michigan’s momentum. They won’t let me. (laughs) You would
figure that the momentum they were able to create in the Ohio State
game would transfer right into the first half of the Penn State game:
wrong. And after that dismal first half at Penn State, you would
figure that Michigan had no chance in winning that game: wrong. So, I
have no answers for you Dylan but I hope they realize why they were
able to come back in that second half versus Penn State and parlay that
momentum into future success. They played with a lot more energy, a
lot more focus on defense, and played inside out.

shurnaLooking ahead to Northwestern, how do you think Michigan matches up?

I think this will be a pretty close game, but again, what do I know?
The main reason this game could be difficult is the fact that Michigan
only gets two days to prepare. And it’s not really two days because I
don’t believe they did much work on the court on Friday, coming off
the game on Thursday night. Northwestern runs a TON of stuff on
offense and defense, which is hard to prepare for in such short time.
If Michigan can be patient enough on offense, find the middle of
Northwestern’s zone schemes while not turning the ball over, I think
they have a chance to put up a good number of points. On the other
end, they have to really focus and play good, solid defense. For
guys like me and C.J., playing defense against Northwestern wasn’t
always a great matchup because we wanted to get out and pressure.
Pressure just sets up their backdoor and they will have a field day.


What do you think of Darius Morris’ play lately? It appears that he is
developing slowly but surely and while he might not be an offensive
threat, he seems to be learning some of the intricacies of the college
game and giving good effort on defense.

I think Darius has played pretty well lately, especially late game.
Coach trusts his judgment when the game is on the line and that’s why
he has been in at the end of the last 3 or 4 games. His defense on
Talor Battle in the second half was outstanding and he really makes
great decisions on the fastbreak. It’s going to take him some time to
be more effective on the offensive end but I love the fact that he can
really get to the hoop when he drives.

Matt Vogrich came out of nowhere and gave Michigan a huge boost versus
Ohio State. As someone that has come off the bench for portions of
your career, what does your attitude and mentality have to be entering
the game? Are there certain things that Coach Beilein is looking for
out of a bench player?

You have got to provide a spark and it’s not always about scoring.
When you come off the bench, you have to make sure the momentum does
not shift in a bad way. Matt Vogrich changed the entire second half
against Ohio State in one minute. The difference was simply his
energy. He was all over the place and as a result, had two offensive
rebounds, a put back, and a block. Coach Beilein will take about
anything from a bench player because he is struggling to get much of
anything right now.

Sticking with the bench theme, Michigan got 0 points and only 29
minutes from its bench versus Penn State. How can Beilein get more out
of his bench in conference play?

This is a concern. You cannot play your starting lineup 40 minutes a
game and last in the Big Ten Conference. I don’t know what Coach
Beilein can do. The players have to start doing something. And again,
it’s not all about points. However, the other night, besides Darius,
there were no rebounds, steals, charges, hustle plays, or assists even
from the bench.

  • gpsimms

    I wonder if David could answer:

    Last year, we noticed a trend where MI played really well when coming off longer breaks, and suffered some setbacks when there was less time to practice between games. I don’t remember the records exactly, but I remember the contrast was pretty stark. Would nearly every team be like that if we looked into it? Or is it something about Beilein really does a great job preparing the team when he has enough time?

  • gpsimms

    p.s. this feature has been great. Thanks, guys.

  • JB

    gp –
    i think it has more to do with stamina, legs, rest time, and an unreliable bench (that forces the starters, especially manny and deshawn, to play a ton of minutes).

  • gpsimms

    our bench logged a fair amount of minutes last year, though…

  • JB

    yeah that’s true. but there still wasn’t much production coming off the bench. we had no sub who could spell manny without the team falling apart. deshawn had no option other than logging too many minutes as well, he would get dog tired most games. i think these problems continue this season although not as much. in my opinion, that has the most to do with why we tend to play better with breaks. just my thoughts. i’m sure there are multiple factors.