Saturday, January 31, 2009

Notes from Michigan/Purdue


Anyone who didn't understand Manny Harris' importance to the Michigan basketball team got to see just how much he means to the Wolverines on national TV Saturday afternoon. Although Harris struggled in his 18 minutes of play, scoring only five points on 2-7 shooting, Michigan led the 17th-ranked Purdue Boilermakers 29-27 with 18:28 to go in the second half. That's when Harris caught the ball on the wing, faced up, and swung his elbow into Purdue's Chris Kramer, knocking him to the ground and drawing blood. Exit Manny, and with him the Wolverine's chances of a huge road upset. Purdue outscored Michigan 40-20 after Harris' ejection as U-M's offense looked completely lost without its leading scorer and distributor.

Some more thoughts on the 67-49 loss:
  • 18 turnovers on the road just isn't going to cut it in the Big Ten. I could've sworn this team was supposed to be tremendous at taking care of the ball.
  • Speaking of turnovers, can we stop playing David Merritt please? I know we were shorthanded this game, but the guy still averages 14 minutes a game. What has he contributed? 1.9 points on 39% shooting, 1.5 personal fouls, and an ugly 1.36 assist/turnover ratio. He turned the ball over three times today and generally looked uncomfortable handling the ball. This is a point guard, ladies and gentlemen.
  • To Stu Douglass, if you're reading this: please, please, please stop taking 30-footers, no matter how open they are. Unless that shot is coming with three seconds or less on the shot clock, there is just no reason to take it. Trust me, nobody is going to cover you out there. There's a reason it's always open.
  • The biggest bright spot: Jevohn Shepherd. He tied for the team lead with 10 points, was 4-7 from the field, and was the most aggressive player on offense once Manny was ejected. He had several good drives to the basket, and with a couple luckier bounces (and whistles) could've ended up with a few more points. Expect to see more of Air Canada as the season goes on.
  • Despite finishing with only two points and no field goals, I liked how Kelvin Grady played. He's starting to look to take it to the basket more, and created a few opportunities for his teammates just by getting penetration and dishing once he drew the defense. It looks like Grady is learning how to take advantage of his ridiculous quickness.
Michigan's next game is February 5th against Penn State at home. Consider that one a must-win if you're still holding on to the NCAA pipe dream. Meanwhile, check out the Michigan hockey team tonight against No. 1 Notre Dame at 7:30 on FSN Detroit. The Wolverines snapped the Irish's 20-game win streak last night with a 2-1 victory, and a weekend sweep would be huge for both the team's confidence and their potential NCAA Tourney seed.

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