NEW YORK — To be a starter every game one season and come off the bench the next would be a tough transition for most.
For junior forward DeShawn Sims, it has been a welcome change. He views it as an opportunity more than a hindrance.
“Sometimes when you start, you get lax,” Sims said last Tuesday. “It’s the same process, You know you’re going to start every game. So it’s kind of like getting into the game. The game’s already going when you’re on the bench. So you have to come in ready.”
His numbers this year may be overshadowed by sophomore Manny Harris’s 24 points per game, but Sims has been one of the Wolverines’ most consistent contributors on offense and defense.
Even if he’s not starting, the Detroit native is almost always the first player to sub in each game, As a key piece of Michigan coach John Beilein’s rotation, Sims is second behind Harris for minutes (27.8) and points (14.3) per game. He’s also averaging seven rebounds per game, the most on the team.
But after this weekend, Beilein may have to rethink his starting lineup. The Wolverines were held without a field goal in the first four-plus minutes against both Duke and UCLA.
“We got off to another bad start in (against Duke),” Beilein said. “And we just felt we couldn’t come out and be down again.”
Because he’s been so good off the bench, Beilein decided that Sims would start the second half against the Blue Devils. His presence prevented a blowout loss.
If the energy and skill Sims brought to the court in New York is any indication, could start tomorrow against Norfolk State.
Manny Fresh: In a tournament full of college basketball all-stars, including UCLA’s Darren Collison and Duke’s Greg Paulus, Harris made the biggest splash.
He scored 96 total points in the four games the 2K Sports Classic, setting a tournament record. The record was previously held by Chris Douglas-Roberts, who scored 92 for Memphis last year.
“They have one of the best players,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said of Michigan. “Harris is a really good player for them.”
After Saturday’s loss to the Blue Devils, in which he tallied 25 points, Harris was selected for the All-Tournament team along with UCLA’s Darren Collison, Duke’s Kyle Singler and Gerald Henderson and Southern Illinois’s Kevin Dillard.
Duke 2.0: The Wolverines haven’t seen the last of the Blue Devils.
On Dec. 6, Duke will travel to Ann Arbor.
“We got them at home, and I think we know (Crisler Arena) and little bit better than (Madison Square Garden),” fifth-year senior David Merrit said. “So, hopefully that will help, and we’ll have more preparation time than one day.”
The game is already sold out, which is quite a surprise, considering the trouble Michigan had of selling student tickets before the season.
“Playing up there in their environment will be a heck of an environment,” Krzyzewski said. “Michigan’s got a chance to have a very good year.”