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Michigan vs Bradley preview

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

#3 Michigan v. Bradley
Saturday, Dec. 1
4pm ET
6-0 Record 5-1
Slippery Rock 100-62
IUPUI 91-54
Cleveland State 77-47
Pittsburgh 67-62
Kansas State 71-57
NC State 79-72
Wins E. Illinois 76-53
UTPA 78-61
IUPUI 79-72
Tenn-Martin 80-57
C. Michigan 82-65
Losses USF 63-82
80.8 Points Per Game 76.3
59.0 Scoring Defense 65.0
180-for-340 (52.9%) Field Goal % 169-for-359 (47.1%)
141-for-353 (39.9%) Def. Field Goal % 131-for-336 (39.0%)
50-for-117 (42.7%) 3-point % 23-for-87 (26.4%)
34-for-114 (29.8%) Def. 3-point % 47-for-125 (37.6%)
75-for-102 (73.5%) Free Throw % 97-for-127 (76.4%)
12.5 FT Made/Game 16.2
38.8 Rebounds Per Game 37.2
28.2 Opp. Reb. Per Game 34.7
14.5 Assists Per Game 16.5
9.3 Turnovers Per Game 11.5
3.5 Steals Per Game 9.7
2.7 Blocks Per Game 4.0
G – Tim Hardaway (17.8)
G – Trey Burke (16.7)
Leading Scorer G – Walt Lemon, Jr. (13.2)
F – Tyshon Pickett (12.8)
F – Glenn Robinson (7.5)
G – Tim Hardaway (6.2)
Leading Rebounder F – Tyshon Pickett (7.2)
F/C – Will Egolf (6.2)

Michigan takes to the road for the first time this season for an unusual road trip to a much smaller school, Bradley University. Michigan will be the highest-rated team ever to visit the school in Peoria, Ill and lost its only other trip there, back in 1997.

Bradley enters at 5-1 in its second season under Geno Ford. In his first, the Braves went just 7-25, including a 77-66 loss at Michigan. But this year, the team is much improve with five wins already compared to just one loss. However, those five wins have been to lesser opponents, Eastern Illinois, Texas-Pan American, IUPUI, Tennessee-Martin, and Central Michigan. The one loss was against the one major conference school they played, USF.

IUPUI is the common opponent between the two teams. Bradley beat them 79-72, while Michigan thumped them 91-54.

Averaging 76.3 points per game and a 47.1 field goal percentage, Bradley ranks 55th nationally in both categories. Ford runs an up-tempo offense that creates a lot of assists, but has resulted in a poor three-point shooting percentage at just 26.4.

Walt Lemon, Jr is the top scorer for the Braves, averaging 13.2 points per game to go along with 4.2 assists. He scored 19 against IUPUI. He’s very quick, but has made just 3-of-16 from three-point range so far this season. His backcourt mate is senior Dyricus Simms-Edwards who averages 10 points and 3.7 assists per game. He scored 14 against Central Michigan, just was held to just four against USF. His quick hands have forced an average of nearly three turnovers per game. Swingman Jake Eastman is probably the best shooter, having made 56.3 percent of his shots and 37.5 percent of his threes thus far.

Forward Tyshon Pickett ranks second on the team in scoring at 12.8 and leads the team with 7.2 rebounds per game. He picked up a double-double against IUPUI with 18 points and 10 boards. He’s shooting nearly 54 percent from the field and will be a tough matchup for Glenn Robinson III.

Center Will Egolf is scoring 10 points per game and bringing in 6.2 rebounds. He has also shown the ability to step out and shoot the three, having connected on 6-of-14 so far this season. He has 10 blocks through six games, five of which came against IUPUI.

As you can see, all five starters average double digit points, but the Braves also have a couple of other capable scorers in backup big man Jordan Prosser and sophomore guard Jalen Crawford, who is the younger brother of former Xavier and current Washington Wizards guard Jordan as well as former Kentucky guard Joe.

Bradley won’t present the toughest matchup Michigan has faced this season, but it will be the first chance for the freshmen to experience adversity on an opposing court. Madison Square Garden was one thing, but it was a fairly pro-Michigan crowd. It will be interesting to see how Robinson, Mitch McGary, Nik Stauskas, and Spike Albrecht perform on the road. Even though teams rated as high as Michigan don’t typically visit schools like Bradley, it’s a good early-season test to get their feet wet before hitting the road for tougher opponents once the Big Ten schedule begins.

Michigan should win this one, but I wouldn’t expect it to be the blowout we saw in the first few games of the season. Still, it should be a fairly comfortable win for Beilein’s crew.

MICHIGAN BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Novak and Douglass Lead Wolverine Youth Movement

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Every year, I find mid-November to be an odd juncture in the world of sports. Baseball, the sport that kept us going through the football off-season, just came to climax a few weeks ago, and now football season is in full swing with teams gearing up for the conference title. But just as teams are trying to position themselves for bowl season, basketball throws its hat back into the ring as if to say, “I’m back. Remember me?”

Zack Novak (left) and Stu Douglass (right) are the elder statesmen of John Beilein's squad

Now we have the Tip-Off Marathon to get us through the week until the next football game, but until football season is over, basketball seems to remain just that: something to get us through until Saturday.

We’ve poured our fandom into the men of the gridiron since August, and now, just as it’s getting interesting with the Ohio State game looming, we’re required to shift our focus to the hardwood every now and then.

For me, it’s hard to get into basketball until after The Game signals the culmination of the football regular season. But tomorrow I’ll turn my gaze to the Big Ten Network as Michigan basketball hosts Bowling Green.

It’s not the official season opener. That was Saturday when Michigan throttled South Carolina Upstate 66-35. But in many ways it is since it’s played mid-week instead of right after a Michigan football game, and it’s the first televised game of the season. So what can we expect from Michigan this year?

Unfortunately, in many ways, it looks like it’s going to resemble this year’s football team: exciting to watch at times, but it has to depend so much on youth that we’ll be left thinking “can’t wait ’til next year.”

The heart and soul of last year’s team is gone, Manny Harris to the Cleveland Cavaliers and DeShawn Sims to graduation. And while Zack Gibson, Anthony Wright, and Lavell Lucas Perry were never mistaken for the trio down in South Beach, their experience will be missed as well. The roster now looks much like the football team’s secondary: a lot of “So.”s and “Fr.”s.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s still a lot of talent there. Zack Novak and Stu Douglass are now the leaders – the current juniors who electrified Ann Arbor with their gritty play and long-range shooting, helping Michigan break its decade-long tournament drought as freshmen, but suffered through a sophomore slump last season. Then there’s point guard Darius Morris who started 19 games as a freshman a year ago, averaging 4.4 points, 2.6 assists, and 1.8 rebounds a game, and giving Michigan its first true point guard with size in quite a while. And there’s also the three sons of former NBA players, Jordan Dumars, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Jon Horford.

While there’s room for optimism, we also must remember that Novak and Douglass struggled to find the net last season, shooting a combined 31.8 percent from three-point land. And we must remember that Morris was prone to turnovers and got too far ahead of himself at times. And we also must realize that, pedigree or not, Dumars, Hardaway, and Horford are all in their first season of collegiate action*.

One thing is certain: it’s officially John Beilein’s team. With Harris and Sims gone, every player on the roster is a Beilein recruit and will aim to run his system the way West Virginia did with a team of scrappy no-names. It’s a system predicated on shooting and last year that was a struggle. I would never call the departure of Harris and Sims a good thing, but perhaps the team will epitomize the word team with no go-to guy to rely on. Perhaps Novak and Douglass will have no second thoughts about whether to jack up a three or dish it off to Manny, and that, in turn, will make them better shooters.

They’ll have help on the inside with Jordan Morgan and Blake McLimans. Morgan redshirted last season after dominating high school basketball in Detroit and is a athletic, thick body in the middle. McLimans also redshirted last season and is the tallest player on the team at 6’10”. He used the redshirt season to add 25 pounds of weight to his previously thin frame and should be ready to man up underneath this season while occasionally stepping out to hit the outside shot.

Sophomore guard Matt Vogrich, who got some playing time last season, will also be asked to contribute. Against Northern Michigan last season, he scored 15 points, all on three-pointers, and shot 39.3 percent from three-point range for the year.

The Newcomers
Tim Hardaway Jr. Jon Horford Evan Smotrycz
Colton Christian
10 15 23 45
6’5″ 6’9″ 6’9″ 6’6″
185 lbs. 220 lbs. 225 lbs. 215 lbs.
Miami, Fla. Grand Ledge, Mich. Reading, Mass. Bellevue, Wash.
Palmetto Senior H.S. Grand Ledge H.S. New Hampton Prep (N.H.) Hargrave Military Academy

The season officially started last Saturday as Michigan handled South Carolina Upstate and Novak and Douglass went a combined three-for-six from long range, but it was Morris and Hardaway who stepped up.

Hardaway led all scorers in the first game of his career, scoring 19 points in 25 minutes, including three threes. Morris made seven-of-ten shots for 17 points. If Michigan can get that kind of production from those two all season, it will win plenty of games.

The non-conference portion of the schedule has a mix of cupcakes and quality opponents. Two should-win games are up next, Bowling Green tomorrow and Gardner-Webb on Sunday, before the first big test of the season, Syracuse, next Friday in Atlantic City, N.J. The Wolverines travel to Clemson for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Nov. 30 and host Utah on Dec. 10. Michigan also hosts Kansas on Jan. 9 after three Big Ten games and before closing out the season with the rest of the conference slate.

Including the Kansas game, I’d say an 8-5 non-conference record is likely, meaning Michigan will have to have a winning record in conference in order to make it to the Big Dance this season. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen this year with Ohio State and Michigan State on the schedule twice, as well as Illinois, Purdue, and the always tough Wisconsin. The Big Ten may not be as tough as it has been the past few years, but it will still be solid from top to bottom, and with such a young team, Michigan is a year away from really challenging for a title.

As much as it pains me to say it, this looks to be a season similar to last year’s, although it won’t feel as much of a letdown this year as it was after coming off a trip to the tournament prior to last season. I predict a 15-16 regular season record (7-11 in the Big Ten), but let’s hope I’m wrong. Go Blue!

*Dumars played in six games last season for South Florida before transferring to Michigan and sitting out the rest of the season.