John Beilein was made available to the media today and here’s what he had to say about Crisler renovations, playing faster, Bowling Green, and more.
Darius Morris and Zack Novak met with the media today to talk about Thursday’s game versus Bowling Green.
With so many questions surrounding Michigan’s ability to replace the production of Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims on the offensive end, there has been very little talk about the defensive end of the floor. With one relatively meaningless cupcake game under our belts, here are five thoughts about Michigan’s defense before we make it further into the non-conference season.
1. Michigan’s defense has improved every year under John Beilein
Despite the confounding results on the court, on a per possession basis, Michigan’s defense has improved every year that John Beilein has been in Ann Arbor. The numbers don’t lie:
|PPP Def Rank||2008||2009||2010|
|Big Ten Rank||9||6||6|
Despite Michigan’s improvement, they continue to lag far behind the top dogs of the conference. Last season Wisconsin, Purdue, Ohio State, and Michigan State gave up anywhere from .04 to .07 points per possession less than Michigan — a pretty wide margin. Michigan is stuck in that middle ground where their defense is better than other teams in the middle to bottom half of the conference but is far behind the elite defensive teams of the league.
It will be interesting to see whether Michigan’s defense can continue improve but, with so many freshman in the mix, it will be a struggle.
2. Will we see more 1-3-1 zone?
Beilein’s West Virginia teams were widely known for the 1-3-1 defense that they used consistently after made field goals, however in recent years Beilein’s teams have used the zone sparingly — even making a point to abandon it late last season.
We have seen very little of the 1-3-1 so far this year, as it’s still being implemented, but it looks like the roster is beginning to have the personnel to run more of it. A potential lineup of Darius Morris, Zack Novak, Tim Hardaway Jr., Evan Smotrycz, and Blake McLimans provides the length that makes the zone dangerous. Smotrycz gives you a 6-foot-9 guy on the wing (even with his below average wingspan) joined by Hardaway, who looks to be pushing 6-foot-6. Morris is a good fit to run the baseline because he has decent size at 6-foot-4 and is quick enough to run sideline to sideline. Novak might not be quite as long or athletic as you would want to play the top of the zone, but he has had some success there (notably versus Duke during his freshman year). In the middle, McLimans is intriguing with his length and shot blocking ability.
The problem with the 1-3-1, as we’ve learned over the last several years, is that it’s very unstable. Sometimes it works perfectly and others, for sometimes inexplicable reason, it doesn’t work at all. The biggest worry with so many underclassmen is that little mistakes are critical and almost always lead to easy layups or wide open threes.
2012 Pershing guard recruit Sherron Dorsey-Walker was at Michigan’s 66-35 win against South Carolina Upstate this weekend, and I was able to catch up with him this afternoon for a quick recap and a brief update on his recruitment.
The visit was pretty basic. Dorsey-Walker watched the game and met with the coaches afterward, where they introduced him to the newest member of staff, CJ Lee. Dorsey-Walker had this to say about Lee:
He’s a great person. He was just telling me about how coach Beilein is and all the other coaches. He said they’re great people and that it would be a great place to play if I was there.
Dorsey-Walker was impressed with the game, and afterward he said the coaches talked to him about where he would fit into the offensive system.
They said I could either play the wing or play point guard, and it would just depend on what kind of team we were playing.
Dorsey-Walker has offers from Michigan, Baylor, Indiana, Dayton, Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Oakland and Fairview. Like when I talked to him last, he said he has no list and he has no timeframe for commitment. As for future visits, he won’t be visiting other schools any time soon but said he’ll probably be at a few more Michigan home games.
Pershing kicks off its basketball season on December 11th, and Dorsey-Walker said he’s been working on taking a leadership role on the team and working on his defense to prepare.
The wait is over, Carlton Brundidge is officially a Michigan Wolverine. Brundidge faxed his letter of intent to the Michigan basketball offices this morning, making his commitment official. Here’s Brundidge’s statement on his signing and explanation of the delay (per Detroit Free Press):
“It means a lot,” Brundidge told the Free Press. “My sister went to the school, and I like going to a program that’s improving. I want to build up Michigan. I want to be the person who helps build it up.”
He said when his father got home during the weekend, they discussed the letter, made certain it was the right decision and moved forward.
“He said, ‘Carlton, are you ready to do this?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I was waiting for you,’” Brundidge recalled.
Here’s John Beilein’s statement on Carlton:
“Carlton is a physically strong, attacking combo guard that will add toughness and offensive punch to our lineup,” said Beilein. “He is a leader and a winner that loves to compete. We love the fact that we have added another outstanding in-state player to our program, and value the loyalty Carlton has demonstrated throughout his recruiting process. We are thrilled with his decision to become a Michigan Wolverine.”
In other news, Detroit Country Day big man Amir Williams has narrowed his list to Florida and Ohio State and will announce his college decision Wednesday afternoon. Michigan will very likely continue to evaluate prospects in the class of 2011 but, unless something very intriguing comes up, they will likely bank the one remaining scholarship for the class of 2012. (Scholarship Breakdown)
In our final Big Ten preview we look at the Purdue Boilermakers. We’ve watched the “Baby Boilers” of three years ago grow up and they continue to be snakebitten by injury. This year is no different, as Robbie Hummel went down with a knee injury during the first week of practice in West Lafayette. We called on T-Mill, from Hammer and Rails, to help us preview our final Big Ten squad. I’ll have a wrap up post summarizing and comparing all the previews c0ming up shortly.
Robbie Hummel’s injury was obviously devastating for Purdue. How does it change your expectations for the season?
After going through the initial mourning period (and yes, it was a mourning period) I discovered that the goal is still the same: a National Championship. Achieving it now is just more difficult. Purdue has more depth in the low post than at any other time during Matt Painter’s tenure. In nearly every loss last year that lack of depth was exploited. Sandi Marcius, Travis Carroll, and an improved Patrick bade will take the heat off of JaJuan Johnson. and will greatly improve our rebounding ability.
As far as replacing Hummel’s scoring, I saw how that can be done last night. D.J. Byrd and John Hart were 8 of 10 from 3-point land last night, while Ryne Smith is also a long range shooter. Freshman Terone Johnson can also contribute scoring off the bench and may be starting by the Big Ten season. We also had 15 assists on 25 made field goals yesterday, so we’re sharing the ball very well too.