Friday, November 7, 2008

18 Wins? "Yes, We Can!"

After watching Michigan play in their only exhibition of the season, I came away with two main thoughts.  The first was that I never should have tried to eat two of the hot dogs the Crisler staff set out for the media.  These things looked like they had been saved and reheated from last season.  I had been warned by a friend not to try these, but I did not eat dinner.  I’ll just say the second half of the game was tough to get through.  But if the University is going to give a new wardrobe to every student that attends a game, can they at least make a “scarce” press core a little more comfortable in the food and beverage department?

The second (and more important) thought I was left with is that your Michigan Wolverines will win 18 games this season.

 ...and I swear to you, I am writing this sober.

Yes, I know it’s early and we have seen ONE game (an exhibition against a bottom-feeder in the GLIAC), but I am confident in this prediction. Here’s why:

Stu Douglass is for real:  Big Ten coaches will look back 2 years from now and wonder why they hadn’t come after this kid harder when he was a high school senior.  He is that good.  On multiple possessions, Douglass directed traffic like a seasoned veteran and let the offense come to him.  He made one or two bad passes, but the poise he showed in transition was well beyond his years.  He hit threes from the parking lot and has a sniper’s touch.  Crisler Arena’s “Ssstttttuuuuuuu…” chant will be heard early and often in his career.


Zach Gibson:  I know you’ve hated on him. I’ve hated on him. And as much as this may shock people…and I never thought I'd say this... Zach Gibson can play!!!


I know that was jolting so I’ll give you a moment…


Gibson looked good running the floor, was 2 for 3 from behind the arch, and added two blocks to his 11 points.  He looked for his shot with no signs of hesitation. In a conference where quality centers are few and far between ( MSU’s Sutton and OSU’s Mullens are the only C’s of note), it won't take much for Gibson to give consistent contribution to this team.


Manny Being Manny: Harris deferred to his teammates for much of the first half, making sure to work through the offensive sets.  Because Harris (and his teammates, for that matter) were so focused on running the play all the way through, they passed up open shot after open shot and were eventually left with an empty play clock.  In the second half, Beilein turned the offense loose and Manny was able to create off the dribble and in transition.  If Douglass gets hot during the season, defenses will part like the Red Sea and Harris will slash his way to 17-19 points per game.


The Zone:  Last year, Michigan looked lost and confused when trying to figure out the spacing of John Beilein’s specialized 1-3-1 defense. Not anymore. While it was SVSU as the opponent, the spacing looked much better and they did a better job playing as a unit.  Rebounding was an issue, but look for that to change once a line-up is established


The Road Home:  The Wolverines have a tough schedule, but can get to Jan 1st with at least 8 wins if you give them loses to Duke, Maryland, and a Coaches Vs Cancer opponent.  That means they would need to win 10 games in the Big Ten after winning only 6 conference games with a much weaker team last season. It will be close, but I have them winning 6 games at home (assuming for at least one win against a top tier team), with wins at Iowa, Minnesota, PSU, and Northwestern on the road.  This is very achievable.  The home crowd tonight proved that 1) College kids will watch basketball in exchange for free stuff and 2) This team has the capability of filling most of Crisler’s upper bowl for Big Ten play if they get off to a good start…and keep the free stuff coming.


Will Kerridge said...

what were they giving out for free and what do they plan on doing for the rest of the season? I feel like I should get something for free as I got student tickets from '03-'07 which included the dreaded year of the walk-on backcourt

Matt Boyer said...

The giveaways vary for different games, but the season long deal is that you get a points for every game you attend. This is done by getting your MCard swiped at the door. The more points you get, the more prizes you are eligible for receiving (Adidas gear, M Den gift cards, free food, etc etc).

Also, if you bought tickets a few weeks ago, you were entered into a drawing for free books for school, OSU/UM football tickets, and gift cards to Outback Steakhouse.