Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Free Fallin'

I was so distraught after seeing the Wolverines lose in Happy Valley last night that I decided not to post a "post game report." Thank God for the Inauguration festivities because I don't think this game was watched by as many viewers as a normal Tuesday night game. The fewer people who witness that game, the better. Michigan, for the second straight game, came out flat in the second half and pounded the self-destruct button. The Wolverines are on a slide, losing their last three in convincing fashion. Penn State was supposed to be a game the Wolverines could use to build some momentum. Well, that didn't happen... but at least they have Northwestern coming up right?

Wait....NU just beat MSU in East Lansing for the first time since 1984. Granted, the Wildcats got a little lucky on a night F Kevin Coble couldn't miss, banked in three pointers, and went for 31 points. Two of the Wildcat starters had NO POINTS. I can't decide what kind of team MSU is going to put on the floor week to week, but give credit to the Wildcats for playing well. I'm going to go out on a limb and say the Wolverines are catching NU at the wrong time.

The Wolverines are sliding but here are a few things I feel like they could do to right the ship:

Play Jevohn Shepherd: Or at least tell fans why this kid continues to ride the pine in favor of two freshman when you need a stop. Granted, Novak has really come on lately with his rebounding and Douglass found his touch against OSU. But not giving Shepherd meaningful minutes will only hamper this team defensively. A guy with his athletic ability should not be riding the bench when your team has struggled to play good on-the-ball defense.  His length would help in the zone as well.

Go to the rack:  More points in the paint is what this team needs.  Steve Lavin did a great job in last nights OSU-UI game of illustrating the importance of hitting the "sweet spot" in the zone in order to get points in the point.  Michigan didn't do that against OSU and it cost them a potential win.  Even against PSU, Michigan has relied too much on the jump shot and not enough on working the ball inside/getting to the rim.  Manny Harris did plenty of this early in the season and its time we see more of this heading into NU and OSU next week.

Find an identity or rotation:  I'm not sure this is exactly the root of the problem, but it is now January, and the Wolverines still don't seem to have a sense of a set rotation.  This might be due to John Beilein's preference to not have one, and he might believe in not having one, but it seems like this team hasn't found what works well for them.  Championship teams (or in this case just good teams) usually have the ability to do one or two things far better than their opponent in order to win.  With the Wolverines, it has been 3-point shooting so far this season.  But if the long  shots aren't falling, the Wolverines seem to lose focus and not have a real solid back-up plan.

Quick hits: This is kind of old but Michigan announced their new practice facility that we had reported last April (Props to Stu).  I initially doubted this, but give all the credit to AD Bill Martin for following through on this and doing it quickly.  The press release said private donations accounted for some of the funding.  I haven't been able to find out if Jalen Rose's name is on that list, but hopefully more to come on this later.

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