Once upon a time, Michigan was 3-1 in the Big Ten, and I was thinking NCAA Tournament.
Now I'm thinking first round exit in the NIT.
Since that start, Michigan has lost three in a row, punctuated by a heartless, emotionless blowout loss at Penn State.
Have we seen the low point of Michigan's season, or have we already seen Michigan's best?
Answer: We've already seen Michigan's best this year.
Outside of two small-town players from Indiana and a transfer of a back-up point guard from Arizona, we have the same team that won 10 games last year.
It seems that everyone is coming back to reality.
Michigan's three-point shooting has been abysmal in the three-game losing streak. Opposing teams have learned to guard the perimeter and attack the basket when they have the ball.
DeShawn Sims was invisible in two of the three losses, and against Penn State when he was playing great, Michigan wouldn't give him the ball on the low post.
They just kept throwing up the threes that weren't going in. Early in the season, Kelvin Grady was pushing the ball in transition and driving into the lane, getting easy baskets or open three-pointers for his shooters. Those threes were going in.
Now, Grady dribbles around the perimeter, looking for his own shot with two hands in his face, and the rest of his team has followed suit.
There are ways that Michigan could get back to winning basketball. Whether they do or not remains to be seen.
1. Post Up Manny Harris
Putting Manny on the low block will give him a height advantage against his defender, and will force the opposition to guard the low post instead of guarding only the perimeter.
2. Take Advantage of Sims
When he's on, that is. It seems that DeShawn is either a man among boys, or a boy among men.
Against Penn State, he was a man. They couldn't stop him on the low block.
Michigan must get him the ball when he is playing like that.
3. Post Up Zack Gibson
This worries me as much as the rest of you.
Gibson is not much of an offensive threat. He is a decent outside shooter, a hustler, and a solid rebounder. On the block, his lack of athleticism really shows.
However, doing this will make the opposition worry about the low post (seeing a pattern here?). What it may do as well is get Gibson to the free throw line, possibly getting the other team into foul trouble.
Gibson being on the floor will help with Michigan's horrid rebounding numbers as well.
4. Kelvin Grady
He must be more aggressive, and must get into the lane.
The last few games he has acted like there is a barbed wire fence around the three-point line. Grady driving into the lane will open up other teammates for open shots, and open shots are something Michigan hasn't seen in awhile.
Those are just a few things Michigan can do.
John Beilien has a system that employs the three-point ball. I get it. But Michigan must do other things to make sure that the three-point ball is a good possibility, not just throwing up a prayer.
That includes getting the ball in the lane and on the low block.
Michigan has time to salvage thier season, but they are going to have to win a few games on the road that they're not supposed to win. They have the talent to do it.
Their non-conference resume will help them tremendously on selection Sunday. Losing to Michigan is Duke's only loss, and Michigan is one of UCLA's three losses. Those wins will carry huge weight down the road.
But Michigan needs to keep driving down the road to get there.
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