Michigan Basketball: Ranking the 5 Best Wolverines Defenders in the Past Decade

Daniel StackContributor IIJuly 21, 2014

Michigan Basketball: Ranking the 5 Best Wolverines Defenders in the Past Decade

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    While the Michigan Wolverines basketball program has been known for some of its scorers (Manny Harris, Daniel Horton, Tim Hardaway Jr., Nik Stauskas, etc.), in the past decade, it has had its fair share of lockdown defenders, too.

    Although they don't get as much glory as they do for their scoring, these five fiery defenders have a special place in Michigan lore for their ability to man up on defense. Defense is half of the game after all, and as they say, defense wins championships. Heck, Michigan's stifling defense almost resulted in it winning the 2013 NCAA championship.

    Listed in this slideshow are Michigan's five best defenders (ranked in order of effectiveness) of the past decade.

5. Caris LeVert

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    Playing behind the likes of Nik Stauskas, Glen Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr. in his first two years at Michigan, Caris LeVert has had to take on a supporting role, and he has done so admirably, with defense being at the forefront.

    At 6'7”, 200 pounds, LeVert has great length and reach to disrupt passing lanes. He racked up 44 steals last season, and with his minutes set to increase, expect those numbers to go way up this year.

    LeVert is not only the main offensive threat (12.9 points a game last season) for the Wolverines, as he is the best on-ball defender on the team as well. As he enters his junior year, LeVert should only see his legend grow.

4. Manny Harris

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Manny Harris was, obviously, well known for his offense, but he was a game-changer on defense as well.

    His 144 career steals rank seventh in the Michigan record book, while his 1.46 steal average is good for fifth of all time. Harris had a tremendous wingspan and used it to the max while being a disruptive force on defense.

    When you combine his defense with his offensive exploits, Harris will go down as one of the better and more underrated players in Michigan history.

3. Brent Petway

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    The uber-athletic Brent Petway was a highlight reel waiting to happen, and his ability to block shots was one of his biggest assets.

    He was a gifted rim-rattler, but Petway was also great at locking down his defender while patrolling the lane. His 1.23 career block average is fifth all time in the Michigan record book.

    Simply put, Petway was always in the lane and blocked or altered a lot of shots and intimidated opposing teams with his in-your-face defense.

2. Courtney Sims

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    At 6'11, 245 pounds, Courtney Sims had the requisite height and weight to intimidate in the post, and his stats back up that claim.

    Sims will go down as one of the Wolverines' better shot-block artists, as his 213 career blocks rank second in Michigan basketball history. For good measure, his 728 rebounds are tied (with the other well-known Sims, DeShawn Sims) for 13th in Michigan history.

    Although he did not last long in the NBA, Sims gets kudos here for being one of the preeminent defensive big men of the last decade for the Wolverines.

1. Daniel Horton

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    More known for his scoring (his 39 points against Illinois on February 21, 2006 is tops for a single game in the past decade), Daniel Horton also could cause havoc with his defense.

    His 1.70 career steal average ranks second in Michigan history, as does his total of 187 steals (tied with Jimmy King). Horton prowled the passing lanes and was one of Michigan's better on-ball defenders.

    While he hasn't enjoyed NBA success, Horton gave Michigan fans plenty of thrills on both offense and defense and will go down as a fan favorite.

    All stats courtesy of MGoBlue.com

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