Take 5 with David Merritt: Looking Ahead to Iowa

Dylan Burkhardt

lumberjack_m_1First an update from David Merritt’s company, IMU:

 IMU is RECLAIMING plaid. We are taking what was once worn primarily by blue-collar workers, lumberjacks, and farmers, and making it our own. Identifying the deep sense of work ethic behind those professions, IMU brings you IMUGrind, from our Mostest Collection, encouraging you to rock these shirts as a symbol of passion for your craft.



Let’s talk about Darius Morris. His game in Minneapolis on Thursday night appeared to be his best game to date. Do you think the light has finally turned on for the freshman point guard? What are you seeing out of him?

I really feel Darius will be a major impact player before his time at U of M is all said and done. Does he have the stellar outside game at the moment? No. However, as evident over the last 4 games, Darius is a true point guard that knows how to run the fast break, find teammates, and can get to the hoop when need be. I think the game is starting to slow down a bit for him and he looks a lot more comfortable out there as his swagger is developing. He’s still a freshman and will probably go through some more ups and downs this year, but  I think he will be leading this team at the point guard position for the next three years. If he can improve and find some consistency from the outside, watch out.

What happened versus Minnesota? Michigan looked worlds better, on the road no less. What worked for Michigan in Minneapolis that hadn’t been working before?

It all starts on the defensive end. Practice habits influence game habits and Coach Beilein did a wonderful job in practice leading up to the game, getting these guys to play inspired ball on the defensive end. All the defensive rotations were there and thus, Michigan forced 15 turnovers and turned that into 21 points. They also held Minnesota’s guards in check, holding Joseph and Westbrook to 11 points collectively. Versus Wisconsin, I couldn’t keep track of all the defensive break downs. At Minnesota, besides the first defensive possession and a few Hoffaber three’s, I can’t remember any break downs besides that.

Somehow it seems that Michigan has played some memorable games versus the Hawkeyes, despite their lackluster record. Everything from the debacle in Iowa City last year to the NCAA-clinching win in the NCAA tournament. What are the keys for Michigan versus Iowa?

Michigan has got to start putting a string of games together and this Iowa game is a must win. Carrying over the same defensive effort that they showcased against Minnesota will be important. Iowa’s sagging defense will force Michigan’s guards to shoot from the outside. Michigan only shot 36% from the field against Iowa in Ann Arbor, so hopefully they can build upon their offensive performance at Minnesota. It’s crazy to think how many extra wins Michigan would have if they were just shooting 34% from 3 on the year.

Has this team improved defensively? It looks like they are playing better defense at most positions but every time it seems like they have turned a corner defensively they lay an egg (@NW or Wisconsin for example).

Yes they have improved, however, their biggest issue this year has been consistency. To be a good defensive team, you have to bring it on that end every single night out. That has not been the case this year. At times, they look good, and then at times, you shake your head. lol. Bad offensive nights are expected, but bad defensive nights concerning effort and desire should not happen.

With their NCAA tournament hopes likely squashed, how does Michigan stay motivated for the final month of the season?

I think they still have a chance and that’s how they have to approach every new day. Let’s get better today. You never know what could happen if you start gaining some momentum going into the Big Ten Tournament.

  • Alex

    Awesome words and pieces of advice. I hope your business is working out. As a fan I also need to take it one game at a time.

    Thanks for the one-on-one with Merritt Dylan. As usual great blog.

    Go Blue, Beat Iowa.

  • michigan hoops 4eva

    Good stuff, I’ve always loved Merritt..he’s right too, we’d be a completely different team if we shot 34%.

  • The ts are, dare I say it, mer(r)itorious.

    ? for Dave next time: In what ways is John Beilein reshaping his offensive and defensive strategies to meet the demands of play in a bruising B10? Followup: What has worked so far, in yr. eyes, what has not?

  • ChrisG

    Agreed. Great insite from Merritt. I think Morris will be a very solid point guard next year. Would love to hear his take on the progress of Vogrich and whether he’ll be able to compete in the Big10 next year.

  • Erik

    I’d like to ask Dave about officiating. As fans I think we tend to say “uh oh, X is officiating this game, he has it out for us”. Or we point to key plays in a game where we as fans feel we didn’t get the call, or maybe a call was a make up call.

    I just wondered how players feel about stuff like this. I imagine they develop a bit of a relationship with the officials over their four years. Do they ever walk out of the tunnel and say “Oh crap, Burr is officiating tonight” (or Hightower, etc etc). Do certain officiating crews change your mentality in how you approach a game?

  • bones