- Welcome to The Only Colors
The SpartansWeblog Rebirth. KJ has moved to SB Nation and added a couple other bloggers to the project.
- PITTSBURGH JAM FEST: PART II
NBE Basketball breaks down Zeigler and McCallum’s games. They like Michigan’s chances but there is definitely a long way to go.
- Gabriel Richard’s Eso Akunne named 2009 Ann Arbor News Player of the Year
Profile piece, Eso put up great numbers this year. The question is just how his game translates to the next level.
- Wing Command ($)
UNC making a move for Prather
As I mentioned Friday, this was a big weekend on the AAU circuit with two big tournaments. There was understandably plenty of eyes pointed in Evan Smotrycz’ direction. This was after all, his first big tournament since making his Michigan commitment. The early returns on Evan’s play are definitely positive. Scout.com’s Evan Daniels was impressed ($) with Smotrycz’ play and ESPN’s Reggie Rankin echoed his sentiments:
Smotrycz was a pleasant surprise but more of a standout player this weekend. This super skilled combination forward has all the tools on the offense end of the floor. He is a perfect fit for the offensive system he will play in at Michigan. Smotrycz is a terrific 3-point shooter with NBA range. He has a quick trigger and the size to shoot over smaller defenders with ease. Smotrycz runs the lane in transition and does a great job of stretching the defense with his ability to make shots. Making plays off the dribble is also strength of Smotrycz’s. He is a very good ball handler and does a great job of creating space with scoring dribble moves that include a step back pull up jumper going to his left. He would be perfect in pick and pop situations as well. His skill set doesn’t stop with his scoring he is also a very good passer. He can drive, draw and kick in transition or in the half court where he has the ability to pass with either hand. Smotrycz is a good area rebounder but must add strength to prepare for the physical Big Ten but his upside is tremendous.
Most scouts point to the same qualities: a skilled ball handler who can shoot the ball. Beilein preaches skill and length, at 6-foot-9 Smotrycz appears to be the perfect “four man” for this offense.
- Mass Rivals Turn Heads at Pittsburgh Jam Fest
6’9″ New Hampton Prep Junior Evan Smotrycz showed why he is Michigan bound as he made several big threes, and was able to get the basket off the dribble with ease. Smotrycz like Brown has a great weekend as he mixed it up with some of the best in the country.
- New England Men’s Rankings
Smotrycz moves up to fifth in the latest NERR 2010 rankings
Evan Daniels caught Team Detroit in action in Pittsburgh. Daniels was impressed with not only Trey Zeigler and Ray McCallum but Detroit Southeastern power forward (2011) Percy Gibson as well.
We only caught a half, but it was enough time to know that he deserved some print. A 6-foot-7, 215-pound sophomore, Gibson is a guy that has a nice set of hands, soft touch inside and the ability to maneuver on the block to score.
Scout also posted an updated school list for Trey Zeigler:
Trey Zeigler claimed scholarship offers from Michigan, Michigan State, LSU, Miami, Arizona State, Providence and Dayton. Kansas and Texas are showing interest as well.
I don’t think there is a scout in the country that doesn’t love Ray McCallum. The issue for Michigan is that when you’re that good, every school wants a piece. Michigan is showing Ray the love but the odds aren’t great in that recruitment to say the least. For more on McCallum, here is a recent Rivals update ($).
- Meet our 2009 boys basketball dream team
Appling, Maurice Jones, McCallum, Ben Simons, and Zeigler
- Team USA dominates Team Florida during Senior Showcase all-star game
Morris with 13 points for Team USA
- Grand Rapids Storm Classic Results
The Michigan Mustangs rolled through the GRSC on the back of MSU bound Keith Appling and Michigan target Devin Oliver.
- Real Deal: Day Two, Part B ($)
Casey Prather was dominated by Harrison Barnes. Before you panic, Barnes is one of the best, if not the best, prospects in the country.
- Game-raising Regan a major player
Some updates on Will Regan
The basketball banquet was tonight and there weren’t many surprises in terms of who brought home hardware.
Manny Harris took down his second MVP award (guess he was deserving of the ‘A’ I gave him on his report card) and DeShawn Sims won most improved player. Good luck finding anyone to argue with the leadership award being given to CJ Lee and David Merritt. Frankly, there isn’t much to argue over with any of the winners.
According to the Michigan basketball twitter page, every player on the team also received a “special watch” in honor of making the NCAA tournament. They are tweeting live from the event so it’s worth a follow.
Here is the full list of award winners:
|Bill Buntin Most Valuable Player||Manny Harris|
|Thad Garner Leadership Award||C.J. Lee and David Merritt|
|Rudy Tomjanovich Most Improved Player||DeShawn Sims|
|Steve Grote Hustle Award||David Merritt|
|Travis Conlan Sportsmanship Award||Jevohn Shepherd|
|Wayman Britt Outstanding Defensive Player||C.J. Lee|
|Sixth Man Award||Zack Gibson|
|Iron Man Award||Zack Novak|
|Bodnar Award for Academic Achievement||Zack Novak|
|Gary Grant Award for Most Assists||Manny Harris|
|Loy Vaught Rebounding Award||DeShawn Sims|
|Award for Outstanding Free Throw Shooting||Manny Harris|
Manny uses a lot of possessions, 31.8%, but he is still surprisingly efficient with a rating of 106.9. This is a vast improvement from last year when he posted an offensive rating of only 94.8. Only Manny Harris and Evan Turner used more than 28% of their teams’ possessions and their ratings were very close. Manny isn’t a shooter either, he’s just a scorer. He knows how to get to the line, he draws the most fouls per 40 minutes in the conference, and he just knows how to score.
Manny Harris become a force on the glass this year. It was clear that we were going to struggle on the glass without Ekpe, and Manny stepped up and increased his rebounded average by over 2 and a half boards per game. I would say without hesitation that he is the best rebounder on the team and he should only get better with his sheer athletic ability.
This is another area where Manny made huge progress in his sophomore campaign. Last year he was a scorer and nothing more. This year he learned how valuable he can be when he distributes the ball. Averaging almost two more assists per game (2.7 to 4.4) and doubling his assist to turnover ratio (0.7 to 1.4) it became clear that Manny has the ability to set up his teammates. It is one thing to score the ball but it’s another to make the team better even when your shot isn’t falling.
- Shot Selection
There are still times when Manny leaves fans scratching their heads. He is plagued by mini bouts of frustration that lead to poor decision making. His shot has improved dramatically since his high school days but when he shoots pull-up threes out of the flow of the offense it’s enough to make me scream. Learning what is a good shot, when to pass, or when to drive is a process and I have no doubt that Manny will continue to improve in this aspect but this is definitely the next step. Of course it also must be mentioned that some of Michigan’s biggest wins came because those threes were falling.
- Ball Handling
The turnovers are still frustrating. Manny has the ball in his hands extensively so some turnovers are to be expected but there is definitely room for improvement. His dribbling is still a bit high and if he wants to be an NBA two-guard he’s going to have to continue to improve here.
When Manny drives the lane it’s essentially an all or nothing proposition — he’s going to take it all the way to the hole or kick it out. Developing a pull-up jumper would prevent defenses from packing the lane and cheating on the defensive side of the ball. This is never going to be Manny’s bread and butter but the threat of the pull-up jumper will go a long ways toward keeping defenses honest.
Manny improved in essentially every statistical category on the board between his freshman and sophomore years. It might be unfair to expect the same but with his ability it’s hard to expect anything less. With a little more depth I wouldn’t be surprised to see his scoring average drop a bit but he needs to continue to improve with his shooting, efficiency, and ball handling.
Manny’s role should remain about the same. I think the move to the wing did him good and that is definitely his natural college position. Adding more shooters and a point guard to the roster should help alleviate some of the pressure put on Harris as well.
Big Ten Player of the Year is certainly not out of the question for next season if Manny continues to improve. I also want to see him get a triple double, the closest he has come is 26-10-8.
- Clemson - 23 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 7 of 15 (3-6 3pt) shooting
There were no season highs or anything that remarkable statistically but this was a night when Manny brought his ‘A’ game. When the three ball is falling Manny is almost impossible to guard and that was the case in Kansas City. Manny carried Michigan through the first half while the rest of the team looked a bit shell shocked before finishing the game down the stretch. Of course the biggest play of the game was Manny’s driving layup that essentially iced the game.
- Purdue – 27 points, 8-15 (3-5 3pt) shooting, 8 rebounds, 4 assists
He may not have even been the player of the game but this was as motivated and focused as I have seen Manny play throughout his career. Manny hit some huge three pointers in this one and got a little bit of revenge after his ejection in the first match-up with Purdue. It was tough to settle on two “shining moments” for Manny so I also put together an honorable mention list as well.
- Honorable Mention: Penn State (28-6-7), at Northwestern (25 pts in 2nd half & OT), Oakland (13 assists, 1 turnover), Northeastern (26-10-8), Duke
Final Grade: A
There is no one more deserving of an ‘A’ than Manny. He was first team All-Big Ten and will likely be named the team MVP at tonight’s banquet. And while the season was not without a few black eyes, including the Iowa debacle, the Purdue ejection, a frustrating performance at Penn State, and a couple other no-shows. I think the only acceptable grade for Manny is an A when you consider that he led Michigan in minutes, points, rebounds (tied), assists, and steals this year.