2009-2010 Michigan Wolverines Basketball Preview
The Michigan Wolverines (21- 14 overall, 9- 9 Big Ten) finished eighth in the league last season. Still, they were good enough to earn an invite to the NCAA Tournament where they lost to Oklahoma 73- 63 in the second round. This season, the Wolverines look to be one of the top four team’s in the Big Ten. For head coach John Beilein being a conference contender is fine, but he is always thinking NCAA Tournament and National Championship.
Improvements are needed this year in rebounding, threes and field goals. Last season, with a rebounding margin of minus-3.3 (10th), a three-point success rate of 33% (10th) and a field goal completion percentage of 43% (11th), Michigan was doomed to an early exit in the tournament. They were exceptional from the charity stripe, hitting 76% (1st) of their attempts and their 66.9 PPG on offense earned them a ranking of fourth in their conference. Improvement on defense, which allowed 63.2 PPG (9th), is certainly needed.
Senior forward DeShawn Sims (15.4 PPG. 6.8 RPG, 0.7 APG) is a one-man wrecking crew, ably hitting his shots and snatching rebounds. This season, he should have some help. Ben Cronin (4.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 0.0 APG), who became a redshirted freshman last season after injuring his hip, looked good in the two games he played. He can block shots, score inside and grab rebbies. Freshman forward Blake McLimans may start if another frosh, Jordan Morgan, who had knee surgery, can’t.
Junior guard Manny Harris (16.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 4.4 APG), an 86% foul shooter, is an excellent three-point shooter. He could end up averaging more than 20 PPG this season. If he does show such potential, he’ll draw double teams, which will open up the other guard spot. There’s a trio of sophomores who can hit from downtown. Zack Novak (6.7 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.4 APG), Stu Douglas (6.1 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 2.1 APG) and Laval Lucas-Perry (6.5 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.2 APG) can all hurl the ball accurately from the three-point stripe.
Beilein, who came to Michigan in 2007, got the Wolverines to the Big Dance in 2009 for the first time in 11 years. He should do the same this season. And although Michigan has improved a lot since last season, they are still a year or so away from being a Final Four team. However, these Wolverines do have a shot at the Sweet 16. If they can take the Big Ten title that will be a signal that Beilein’s Wolverines have arrived.