Thursday, November 13, 2008

UM beats Huskies (again), Bruins Up Next

Tonight’s 76-56 Michigan win over the Northeastern Huskies sends the Wolverines to MSG next week in a match-up against UCLA and a possible finals match-up against Duke.  The margin of victory was big and Manny Harris took home tournament MVP honors.  Things were great for the Maize and Blue.  That said… I can’t believe Michigan won this game.  I kept looking up at the scoreboard just to make sure the score I had was correct because I could believe what I had in front of me.  Northeastern was ice cold (FG 29% for the game) and their go-to player Matt Janning decided to mail-in the first half.  This game could have easily gone a different direction had the Huskies not played so poorly.


But, that’s why they play the game.  Here’s more on tonight’s flattening of the Huskies:


Board Wars:  Michigan won the rebounding battle tonight by a 33-31 margin, but allowed 20 Offensive Rebounds in the game.  20 OFFENSIVE REBOUNDS?!? If Tom Izzo was Michigan's coach, he would have taken a timeout just so he could beat Anthony Wright senseless with his white board for refusing to block-out. Michigan has not rebounded well this season and things seemed to have hit rock bottom in this category.  Harris led all Wolverines with 8 rebs, but Michigan struggled to secure the ball and gave up too many deflections and tips that went for easy buckets.  Give up 20 offensive boards at MSG in front of a national TV audience and Michigan can forget about the NCAA Tournament.


Lessons from LeBron:  Manny Harris was everywhere this week. He dropped 30 on Michigan Tech and comes back to put up 26 points, 10 rebs, and 8 assists on Northeastern…just to make sure you didn’t think he was one-dimensional.  Harris would have the triple double had it not been for a missed dunk and lay-up from Sims.


It looks like LeBron’s advice at summer camp has taken root.  


Harris is scary good, will only get better, and is benefiting from open lanes created by his teammates hitting their threes. He is driving to the hoop at will and can probably set another record for trips to the foul line this year. The only thing I worry about is whether or not they start to lean more than they should.  Harris has a tendency to be passive/defer in certain games, but a steady contribution from him will be what this team needs while the young guns (Novak and Douglass) get acclimated.


Microwave off the Bench:  DeShawn Sims had himself another great game, putting up 19 points to go along with 7 boards off the bench. He looked comfortable at the 5 spot, moving to the 4 at times, and seemed to do well in clogging the lane and altering a good number of NU’s put-back attempts.  If he remains on the bench to start, he’ll do exactly what Vinny “The Microwave” Johnson did for the Detroit Pistons in the Bad Boys era: Give them solid point production off the bench and make smart choices with the ball down the stretch. While he doesn’t need 19 pts a night, his presence on the boards needs to be felt in games like tonight where his front court teammates disappear on the glass.  Speaking of which…..

The Gibson ‘wagon has stalled: Zach Gibson faced his first legitimate post-up opponent in NU’s Ojougboh and was not up to the task.  Gibson was in foul trouble for much of the game, finishing with 4 points and 4 rebs in 15 minutes.  He took only two shots and really looked flustered trying to get open.  I’m not expecting him to be Kevin Love, but is 8 points and 7 boards a night too much too ask? I hope not. Otherwise the “Gibson Bandwagon” will be dismantled for parts.


The Crisler Crowd was decent for a 8pm Wednesday tip-off.  Listed attendance was at 6200 (the lower bowl was pretty crowded) with the Maize Rage just about full for the first time this year.  It would only take one win at MSG to see that attendance spike even higher when the Wolverines return from their road trip, even for a game vs. Norfolk State.  


It’ll be interesting to see the reaction Michigan receives from the national media in its first national appearance this year.  A good review is exactly what this team needs to plant the seed of a possible post-season bid for the Big Dance.  ESPN’s Joe Lundardi is giving the Big Ten five bids (at most) for the tournament, so it is crucial to get the post-season campaigning started in the next week.  That said….


Yes, We Can.

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