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Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013


#BEATOHIO

Saturday, November 24th, 2012


That is all.

2012-13 Michigan basketball player preview: Glenn Robinson III

Sunday, October 21st, 2012


As we close out our individual previews on the incoming freshmen class, today we preview the highest-rated player and the first commit of the praised quintet, Glenn Robinson III.

#1 – Glenn Robinson III

Measurements:

6’6″, 210 pounds

Hometown: St. John, Ind.
High School: Lake Central High School
High School Stats (2011-12): 21.7 points, 7.5 reb, 4.1 assists, 2.1 steals per game
AAU: SYF Players
Projected Position(s): Small Forward, Power Forward (wing)
Committed: September 14, 2010
Major Suitors: Colorado, Valparaiso, Indiana State, Missouri State
Chances of Redshirt: 0 percent (barring injury)
Recruiting Rankings:
Rivals: 5-star – Overall: 11, position: 2
Scout: 4-star – Overall: 29, position: 8
ESPN: 5-star – Overall: 18, Grade: 97, position: 5, state: 2

Background: The similarities and differences between the recruiting roller coasters of eventual Michigan commits Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III are absolutely fascinating to recap, having intertwined at times and been polar opposites at other times. As we saw a couple days back, Mitch McGary started out as a virtual unknown big man in a small northern Indiana town that found its place on the map thanks in large part to Zack Novak. He quickly evolved and expanded his game to become one of the most coveted players in the country, garnering interest and offers from the who’s who of college basketball programs around the country. His commitment to Michigan was cause for great fanfare in Ann Arbor and for Michigan fans around the country. McGary’s last season of basketball on the high school level, however, saw him slip in the rankings from the consensus second-rated recruit to an average rank around 30th in his class – still exciting indeed, but perhaps not reason to throw a block party.

GRIII is already the best athlete on the team

Glenn “Tre” Robinson’s path was quite similar early on. He was regarded as a good high school player that would probably end up as an average contributor on a Missouri Valley Conference team. John Beilein saw something that no one else did, though, and offered Tre a scholarship at some point before his junior season began at Lake Forest. He committed shortly thereafter, probably for a combination of reasons that included him wanting to make a name for himself apart from his dad’s, a sense of belonging in Ann Arbor, and a chance to play on the Big Ten stage. Quite frankly, Michigan was by far Robinson’s most prestigious offer and he saw no reason to wait on pulling the trigger. At the time of his commitment, many questioned what Beilein was thinking, and I must even admit that I was on the wrong side of a debate with my roommate about whether or not offering Robinson was a smart move at the time.

Robinson’s sophomore season saw him average 16 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, good numbers undoubtedly, but certainly not the kind of numbers that blow you away when considering the competition level. He found himself generally regarded as a high 3-star, but he continued to grow and work on his game. As junior year rolled around and Robinson showed off his improved athleticism on his way to scoring 22 points and grabbing six rebounds per game, his stock started to climb. He grew a couple inches and measured in as one of the best athletes in his class at an offseason Under Armor event, showing off a 36-inch vertical.

Senior year arrived and Robinson continued to shoot up the boards, making it pretty easy to imagine what coaches at other big-time programs were thinking. “How did I miss this kid?” was certainly asked aloud many times while Beilein sat back watching his diamond in the rough flourish, leading his Lake Central team to its first-ever Indiana sectional title by noticeably improving all of his stats but scoring, which dropped less than half a point per game.

So while Mitch McGary turned heads on the AAU circuit playing alongside Tre under coach Wayne Brumm for SYF Players, it was Robinson who shone brightly in the last organized basketball of their high school careers, often throwing down highlight-reel dunks on unassuming opponents.

And even though Tre has now made a name for himself in high school, he still has gigantic shoes to fill in college. Many have already penciled him into the first round of next year’s NBA Draft, but Little Dog is certainly focused on setting himself apart in the Big Ten. Big Dog, Tre’s dad, was a phenomenal player at Purdue, where he averaged 30.3 points and 11.2 rebounds per game, leading the Big Ten in both categories, in his second and final season (as a junior) before being selected first overall in the 1994 Draft, the year Tre was born. He was awarded the Naismith and Wooden Awards and became the first Big Ten player to score 1,000 points in a season that year. The point is, Glenn Robinson was out of this world. And the truth is, Little Glenn is a completely different player.

In the end, Glenn Robinson III arrives at Michigan as the most heralded player since perhaps Lavell Blanchard moved across the street from Pioneer High School in 1999. He’s not his dad, but he’s out to prove that that doesn’t matter. Beilein saw something two years before anyone else did. This year, we all get the chance to see what he must have foreseen. The fanfare may have been delayed, but no more. Glenn Robinson III is a Michigan Wolverine.

Video:

What He Will Provide:

  1. 1. Athleticism: Tim Hardaway Jr., also the son of a former NBA All Star, is a good-to-very good athlete, but Glenn Robinson III will be the best athlete on this team without a doubt. The way he throws down power dunks with ease on his highlight videos is impressive to say the least, but I think his athleticism will cause the most excitement for John Beilein in the rebounding game. Robinson has been a good rebounder throughout his high school career and will be expected to be a Manny Harris-like wing who can grab a rebound above the rim and then lead the fast break. For the average fan though, Tre’s monster slams will be plenty enough.
  2. 2. Scoring: Sense a trend with this freshmen class and the scoring they can bring to the table? Tre will probably be the best of the high-powered bunch in the scoring column with his ability to drive, shoot, dunk, and get put-backs. You can also see in a couple highlights above a nice knack that Glenn has for playing the screen and reading the defender. When the defender goes over the screen and chases from behind, Robinson can put the ball on the floor and get to the rim to throw down, but when the defender goes under, he is also more than comfortable shooting the mid-range jumper off the dribble.

    Like McGary, GRIII already looks natural in the Maize and Blue

  3. 3. Versatility: This is another asset that this freshmen class should be able to provide Beilein with. Whenever a team adds five brand new players, those players should bring a variety of talents that lend their coach the ability to play in a couple different ways. This class meets the criteria, as Beilein could conceivably throw out all five at once and ably fill each position. Most of the freshmen, including Robinson, also have the ability to play a couple different positions. When Michigan wants to go smaller, Tre can play the four and stretch the defense, providing mismatches with his athleticism against bigger and slower players, but he should also be able to keep up on the defensive end with his cut 6’6”, 210-pound frame. When Beilein chooses to go big, Robinson can slide to the three and Hardaway to the two to create a lineup with four guys 6’6” or taller. Those are two vastly different looks that will both be used to exploit opponents in a multitude of ways.

What He Will Have to Work On:

  1. 1. Learning the Offense: I’m probably picking at straws here, because Robinson really does have an impressively complete game for being 18 years old, but he will have some learning to do. Everyone knows that Beilein’s offense is very complex, and even though Robinson will not be asked to handle the ball often and make the decisions that Trey Burke is tasked with, he will be asked to learn his position so that he can use his athleticism for the benefit of the team. If he struggles to learn the offense and finds himself in the wrong places, his scoring ability and athleticism will be largely wasted because Beilein’s offense relies so much on team work to succeed.
  2. 2. Handles: As I just pointed out, Tre (not to be confused with Trey I should add at some point) will not be the primary ball-handler on this team, but he will need to get his handles down so as not to get his pocket picked at the college level. We have seen Hardaway struggle at times in putting the ball on the floor, which sometimes forces him to become a one-dimensional shooter. Robinson would be wise to practice his ball-handling as often as possible so as to make himself as dynamic as possible on the offensive end of the floor.  
  3. 3. Gelling with the Vets: This is another aspect that each of the five freshmen, and to an extent all the players, will have to work on, but I think it might be most important for Robinson. Because he will be asked to probably be the third scorer on this team, he will have to mesh with Trey Burke and three other teammates on the offensive end of the court so he is getting the ball in the right places on the floor. On defense, Michigan will play mostly man, but Robinson will still need to communicate switches and helps. Right now he is the only freshman that is almost guaranteed to start from Day 1, so his chemistry with the rest of the team will be crucial to the team’s success.

Burning Question: How good is Glenn Robinson III’s shot and where will the majority of his points come from?

There is no question that Tre Robinson is a very highly-skilled player with a diverse skill set on offense. He’s going to score plenty of points, but how will those points come? He’s certainly a capable shooter, but no one is quite sure how good. We also know he can fill it up from mid-range and will be deadly around the rim, but I’ll be interested to see how his overall offensive game develops and where the majority of his shots come from.

Stat Predictions: 11.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.2 steals in 28 minutes per game.

Big Ten Champions!

Sunday, March 4th, 2012



Yes, it’s a co-championship, shared with the two rivals, but it’s a championship. It means a banner in the rafters of the Crisler Center. It means a place in the Michigan and Big Ten record books. It means Novak, Douglass, Hardaway, Burke, and Morgan accomplished something Rose, Webber, Howard, King, and Jackson never did.

Not a player on this team was alive the last time Michigan won a Big Ten basketball title and John Beilein was at the helm of Division II LeMoyne College. Yet this gritty group of misfits and underdogs earned a piece of the regular season championship in the toughest conference in college basketball this season.

The Big Ten Tournament is on deck and the Big Dance will follow, but now is the time to celebrate. Congratulations to the 2011-12 Michigan basketball team. The Big Ten champions.

Michigan Man 5-Spot Week 1 Results

Sunday, September 4th, 2011


Congratulations to umichfan1 for winning Week 1 of the Michigan Man 5-Spot Challenge! For his efforts, he will receive a commemorative Under the Light Game pint glass. See below for the full results. For future weeks, the leaderboard will not appear on the front page. We will announce the winner on the front page, but the weekly results will live here and overall leaderboard will live here throughout the season (over on the right sidebar).

Michigan Man 5-Spot Week 1 Results
User Name
Total Deviation Points Earned
umichfan1 129
21
Hazel Parker 173
20
the1tab 212
19
MaizeandGoBlue 236
18
Jim Mackiewicz 267
17
Skysdad 268
16
JBBond0077 268
16
myrick55 273
14
JustJeepGear.com 297
13
BringBack#1Jersey 303
12
BoMoHo 309
11
chris12qb 319
10
goblue897 319
10
collins1188 327 8
bluwolf77 350 7
TrueBlue88 350 7
mjwiersum 356 5
uniquenam 360 4
KevinWestMGoBlue 419 3
# 1 MICHIGAN 423 2
jnickp12 538 1

Umichfan1 was one of only three contestants to be within 100 of the correct result for each of the five questions. His largest deviation was 35 (total Michigan rushing yards – he guessed 225 and the actual result was 190).

Every single entrant overestimated Junior Hemingway’s output. Once again, umichfan1 was the closest at 21 away (he guessed 58 and the result was 37 yards). Everybody also overestimated Denard’s passing yards, but umichfan1 was only 28 away (guessed 126 and the result was 98 yards).

Users myrick55 and collins1188 were each just one away on the total number of points scored (they both guessed 45 and the result was 44).

Of course, the game was only two-and-a-half quarters long, which nobody could have predicted, so the actual results are lower than they would have been had it been a full game.

Check back on Monday for the Week 2 questions and another chance to win a great prize and build towards the grand prize at season’s end! Make sure to use the same username and email so your points will be counted together.

Lion Kim at The Masters – Round 1

Thursday, April 7th, 2011


The Masters – Round 1
Hole 1
2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Out 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In Total
Par 4 5 4 3 4 3 4 5 4 36 4 4 3 5 4 5 3 4 4 36 72
Lion Kim 3 5 4 4 4 4 4 6 3 37 5 6 3 4 4 5 3 5 4 39 76
Share

GIVING THANKS: What I’m thankful for this season, poem style

Thursday, November 25th, 2010


One week in mid-November makes us obsess a little bit more than all the others: Ohio State week, or Buckeye week, or Hate week. Whatever you want to call it, we spend more time during the week longing for Saturday to come, more time ragging on our family, friends, and coworkers who have the unfortunate quality of being Ohio State fans, and more time telling “a Michigan fan and Ohio State fan walked into a bar…” jokes.

 

So I’ll spend a little more time this week writing about all things Michigan and Ohio State related. Thank goodness for Thanksgiving making this a two-day work week! I’ll publish an article every day this week, the schedule as follows:

 

Monday: Wisconsin recap and Ohio State preview

Tuesday: What The Game means to me

Wednesday: Why Michigan has a chance on Saturday
(Note: I apologize for not getting this up today. Our drive from New York to Tennessee for Thanskgiving  took a lot longer than expected and I haven’t yet mastered typing while driving. I’ll try to get it up either today or Friday, but the rest is still on schedule)

Thursday: What I’m thankful for this season

Friday: Michigan-Ohio State game preview

_____________________________________________________________________________________

A Thanksgiving poem of all of the reasons
I’m thankful for Michigan this Twenty-ten season.

For a refurbished Big House with club seats
back to the biggest including new suites.

For keeping The Game at season’s end
when next year Nebraska joins the Big Ten.

For the NCAA ruling Rich didn’t lose control
as was claimed in allegations from those Free Press fools.

For a new AD coming from Dominos, 
a Michigan Man and disciple of Bo.

For Brock Mealer walking against all odds,
beating one percent and giving glory to God.

For Denard against UConn and his long flowing dreads,
his human Heisman pose turning all of our heads.

For 200-yard rushing and passing games
and making Shoelace a household name.

For Tate not quitting through adversity
and remaining loyal to our university.

For coming in and leading touchdown drives
and cheering on Denard and giving high fives.

For Vincent returning from an ACL tear
to be our best back with his dreadlocked hair.

For Junior finally playing an entire year
without getting injured like we all feared.

For his Braylon-like grabs and catch-and-runs
and making the Illinois game really fun.

For Roy and his impressions of Donald Duck
and proving our passing game does not suck.

For Stonum wearing his press conference glasses
and teaming up with Denard to catch lots of passes.

For 65 against the Bowling Green boys
and topping that score against Illinois.

For becoming bowl-eligible once again
and those who have stayed are true Michigan Men.

For another comeback against Notre Dame,
and Weis or Kelly…it’s all the same.

For Devin getting his feet wet for a few plays
and a QB position that’s stocked if he stays.

For David Molk anchoring the offensive line
and fighting through injuries all the time.

For Lewan looking like a young Jake Long
and for The Victors, the greatest fight song.

For Mike Martin, the incredible hulk
clogging the middle like spackle and caulk.

For youth on defense getting experience this year
to help bring us back to a defense that’s feared.

For Woolfolk’s ankle that’s healing so he can come back
next year to put our defense back on track.

For seven wins, which is more than our losses
and all of our offense’s long touchdown tosses.

So on this Thanksgiving while we eat lots of food,
let’s give thanks to our boys in the Maize and Blue.

And will them to win over Ohio State,
the team that we’re all thankful to hate.

Meet Your 2010 Recruiting Class: The Safeties

Sunday, February 28th, 2010


National Signing Day came and went with Michigan making a huge late-minute splash, adding four-star safety Demar Dorsey from Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. The 6’1″, 175lb. star originally committed to Florida before backing out and eventually choosing the Wolverines, giving Michigan a very solid safety class.

Who are the rest of the high school seniors that round out the class? Here’s a breakdown by position of the defensive side of the ball. Due to the size of the defensive class, this will be broken into four posts: the defensive line, the linebackers, the cornerbacks, and the safeties.

Safeties (4)

Safety/Cornerback Demar Dorsey

Safety/Cornerback Demar Dorsey

DEMAR DORSEY
Height: 6-1
Weight: 175
Hometown: Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. (Boyd Anderson)
Rivals Rank: #13 S (4-star)
Scout Rank: #19 S (4-star)
ESPN Rank: #2 S (5-star)
Chose Michigan Over: Florida State, USC, Tennessee, Florida, Miami, North Carolina, West Virginia, Wisconsin.
How He Fits In: Dorsey was perhaps Michigan’s biggest commitment of the class, going blue on Signing Day. The cousin of current Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson had originally committed to Florida, but whether they backed off of him, or he dropped them is up for debate. Regardless, he was well sought after and is a huge coup for Rodriguez. Dorsey will probably see immediate playing time, either at safety or corner. His size, athleticism, and upside give Michigan an impact defensive player to build around. If he can stay out of trouble (some have questioned his recruitment given his background) he should be a star for the next few years.

Safety Marvin Robinson

Safety Marvin Robinson

MARVIN ROBINSON
Height: 6-1
Weight: 190
Hometown: Eagle Lake, Fla. (Lake Region)
Rivals Rank: #20 OLB (4-star)
Scout Rank: #18 S (4-star)
ESPN Rank: #21 OLB (4-star)
Chose Michigan Over: Florida, Ohio State, South Florida, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, USC, Tennessee, Boston College, UCLA.
How He Fits In: Robinson is a huge addition to Michigan’s secondary, and like Dorsey, should see time immediately. He has great size and good speed for a safety, but needs to develop better cover skills. There is a slight chance he could move to linebacker, but Rodriguez likes his prospects at safety, especially given the lack of talent at the position currently. Inserting him immediately would be an upgrade from walk-on Jordan Kovacs.

Safety Carvin Johnson

Safety Carvin Johnson

CARVIN JOHNSON
Height: 6-0
Weight: 185
Hometown: Metairie, La. (Rummel)
Rivals Rank: #33 S (3-star)
Scout Rank: #79 S (3-star)
ESPN Rank: #73 S (3-star)
Chose Michigan Over: Minnesota, Colorado, Tulane, Utah, Tulsa.
How He Fits In: Johnson is a talented safety against both the pass and the run. At this piont, he could stand to gain some strength on his tall and lean frame, and would do well to redshirt in 2010 to improve his footwork and technique. He has good upside and will most likely contribute on special teams for the next couple of years while he develops.
Safety Ray Vinopal

Safety Ray Vinopal

RAY VINOPAL
Height: 5-10
Weight: 178
Hometown: Youngstown, Ohio (Cardinal Mooney)
Rivals Rank: NR (2-star)
Scout Rank: #103 S (3-star)
ESPN Rank: #270 Athlete (2-star)
Chose Michigan Over: Bowling Green, Kent State, Air Force.
How He Fits In: Vinopal is the lowest-rated player in the class and is a definite project, but at this point, any body at the safety position is a welcome one. He has the work ethic and the drive to prove the doubters wrong and is a smart and instinctual player who puts himself in position to make plays. He will definitely redshirt in 2010 and spend a couple of years on special teams.

Meet Your 2010 Recruiting Class: The Cornerbacks

Sunday, February 28th, 2010


National Signing Day came and went with Michigan making a huge late-minute splash, adding four-star safety Demar Dorsey from Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. The 6’1″, 175lb. star originally committed to Florida before backing out and eventually choosing the Wolverines, giving Michigan a very solid safety class.

Who are the rest of the high school seniors that round out the class? Here’s a breakdown by position of the defensive side of the ball. Due to the size of the defensive class, this will be broken into four posts: the defensive line, the linebackers, the cornerbacks, and the safeties.

Cornerbacks (3)

Cornerback Cullen Christian

Cornerback Cullen Christian

CULLEN CHRISTIAN
Height: 6-0
Weight: 180
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Penn. (Penn Hills)
Rivals Rank: #8 CB (4-star)
Scout Rank: #3 CB (4-star)
ESPN Rank: #18 CB (4-star)
Chose Michigan Over: West Virginia, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, UCLA, Illinois, Purdue, Cincinnati, Colorado, Minnesota, Boston College.
How He Fits In: Christian is an elite cover corner with great hands, good size, and solid fluidity. He has the ability to become Michigan’s next great corner and is exactly what Michigan needs immediately due to the lack of depth at the position. The only thing he lacks is elite speed, but that’s something he can work on, and his lockdown ability can make up for it. He could play right away if the coaches feel he’s ready come fall camp. Probably the best comparison is Marlin Jackson, and if Christian can live up to that comparison, good things are in store for Michigan.

Cornerback Courtney Avery

Cornerback Courtney Avery

COURTNEY AVERY
Height: 5-10
Weight: 165
Hometown: Lexington, Ohio (Lexington)
Rivals Rank: NR (3-star)
Scout Rank: #35 CB (3-star)
ESPN Rank: #94 CB (2-star)
Chose Michigan Over: Stanford, Indiana, Louisville, Vanderbilt, Bowling Green.
How He Fits In: Avery is somewhat of a wild card. He is very quick and athletic, but lacks ideal size for a corner, and played mostly quarterback in high school, where he earned first-team all-state honors. He adds depth to the position, but won’t play right away. If he can develop his cover skills, he could see playing time in a couple of years.

Cornerback Terrence Talbot

Cornerback Terrence Talbot

TERRENCE TALBOTT
Height: 5-10
Weight: 172
Hometown: Huber Heights, Ohio (Wayne)
Rivals Rank: NR (3-star)
Scout Rank: #108 CB (3-star)
ESPN Rank: #33 CB (3-star)
Chose Michigan Over: Cincinnati, Illinois, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Connecticut, North Carolina.
How He Fits In: Talbott is the brother of defensive tackle commit Terry Talbott. Like Avery, he lacks ideal size, but he makes up for that with his cover skills and vertical jumping ability. He has goos speed, plays physical for his size, and has fluid hips, which is important for a good corner. A year of redshirting should prepare him well to see the field in a couple of years and he could become a solid contributor.

Michigan Struggles to Find Its Rhythm; Is It Time to Panic Yet

Sunday, December 6th, 2009


After two straight losses in the Old Spice Classic and a four-point loss to Boston College in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, is it time for Michigan fans to recalibrate their expectations for this season?

*Michigan has struggled to a 4-3 start, photo by the Ann Arbor News

*Michigan has struggled to a 4-3 start, photo by the Ann Arbor News

Michigan entered the season ranked 15th in the nation, fresh off its first trip to the NCAA tournament in 10 years, and looking to make a run at the Big Ten title.

Seven games later, Michigan is out of the Top 25 and needed a good second half on Saturday against Arkansas-Pine Bluff to move its record back above .500.

Is it too early to write off the season? Absolutely not. John Beilein is a great coach who can turn things around.

But, although these early-season struggles raise some concerns, they aren’t as surprising as they seem.

This is still a very young team. Yes, it’s led by senior DeShawn Sims and junior Manny Harris, but 75 percent of the team is underclassmen.

Aside from Sims and Harris, only redshirt senior Zack Gibson and redshirt junior Anthony Wright have more than a year of playing experience, and the two combine for just 20 minutes of playing time per game.

So it should come as no surprise that the team’s main problem is its shooting so far this season. Michigan seems to be struggling with its confidence.

Through seven games, Michigan is shooting just 29 percent from three-point range, though even that number is inflated from the first three games against weak competition.

Against Northern Michigan, Houston Baptist and Creighton, Michigan shot 36.2 percent from long range.

In the three subsequent losses, Michigan shot just 21.8 percent from downtown, including a miserable 3-for-20 outing against Marquette and 9-for-34 against Boston College.

Talk about living and dying by the three.

*UM coach John Beilein certainly isn't happy about the team's poor shooting, photo by John T. Greilick / The Detroit News

*UM coach John Beilein certainly isn't happy about the team's poor shooting, photo by John T. Greilick / The Detroit News

No one has looked comfortable shooting the ball the past four games (including Saturday’s 67-53 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff).

Michigan’s best three-point shooter so far this season (percentage-wise) is true freshman Matt Vogrich, though he is just 6-for-11.

Sharp-shooting sophomores Zach Novak and Stu Douglass are just 31 and 22.6 percent, respectively, while Harris has made just 7-of-33 attempts from long range.

For a team that relies heavily on guard play and three-point shooting, that’s certainly not a recipe for success.

But that’s also why I’m hopeful that the season is not lost. Surely the team will gain its confidence and the shooting will improve.

Douglass, Novak and Harris each shot about 34 percent last season from three-point range and will eventually find their shot this year. And when that happens, Michigan will be a dangerous team capable of beating anybody.

So far, Harris has been every bit of the pre-season co-Big Ten player of the year, averaging 21.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, despite his poor shooting.

He had just the second triple-double in school history in Michigan’s season-opening win over Northern Michigan, and was a rebound away from another against Creighton.

Sims has also played well, averaging 15.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, and had his best game of the season on Saturday against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. He scored 15 points in the first half on his way to a 19-point, 10-rebound performance.

The surrounding cast hasn’t given Harris and Sims much help and Michigan needs a third scoring threat to emerge in order to live up to the preseason expectations.

It makes me wonder if the losses of guards David Merritt and C.J. Lee to graduation really did affect this team more than I thought it would.

Merritt and Lee averaged just 4.7 points per game combined, but they were the leaders. They played tough defense, dove for loose balls, and held the team together.

Early this season, Michigan has lacked those qualities. Novak vowed to fill that role, but hasn’t been a consistent scoring option so far.

True freshman Darius Morris took over the point guard duties, but has just as many turnovers as assists and doesn’t look to shoot enough.

Douglass is a defensive liability when he’s on the court, which is acceptable when he’s hitting threes, but he hasn’t found his shot yet this year.

As the season progresses, Michigan will grow to fill that void, but it’s running out of time.

With non-conference games at Utah and Kansas remaining, as well as a January match-up with Connecticut, Michigan probably has to win two of those three to have a shot at postseason play.

Utah certainly looks beatable, having losses to Idaho, Seattle, and Weber State on its resume, but it did beat Illinois, and the game is in Salt Lake, so it’s not a given.

Michigan ended its three game losing streak by beating Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday and seemed to find its rhythm in the second half.

If it can carry over that confidence into Wednesday’s game at Utah, Michigan will be on track to enter the Big Ten schedule.

It’s not time to panic yet, but Utah could be the game that makes or breaks the season. A loss will probably mean Michigan needs to beat Kansas and UConn or fare far better in the Big Ten than expected.

I expect the shooting will turn around, but it better do so on Wednesday in Salt Lake City.