Just as quickly as it began, the exhibition season for the
men’s basketball team draws to a close tonight.

With the start of the regular season — in the form of the
preseason NIT — on Monday, there isn’t much time before
Binghamton comes to town. Tonight’s game against Wayne State
is the last chance to work out the offseason kinks.

During the first half of Michigan’s 60-43 exhibition win
over Michigan Tech on Sunday, the Wolverines came out looking
sharp, shooting a scorching 60 percent. But the wheels quickly came
off the wagon, as Michigan made just 11 of its last 30 attempts
from the floor.

On several occasions, Michigan was able to find good shots from
the floor, but couldn’t find the stroke. Add that to the fact
that the Wolverines were able to pull down just four offensive
rebounds and the conclusion is that the offense looked shaky in its
first time out.

“We’ve just got to try and finish,” junior
Daniel Horton said. “We got the type of shots we wanted. We
just need to continue playing like we did today.”

Said Michigan coach Tommy Amaker: “We didn’t
(execute) as well as we wanted to. But for our first time out, I
thought we did pretty well.”

Against Wayne State tonight, execution will also be important in
slowing down the Warriors’ offense, which averaged 70.4
point-per-game last year. Senior guard Morris Hall is the top
returning scorer, averaging more than 10 points per game last
season. Whereas Michigan Tech had a prolific forward in Josh
Buettner, Wayne State features a solid backcourt of Hall and
Darrell Evans (7.4 point per game).

“We want to see carryover from practices into the game and
see players do the things we’ve been coaching,” Amaker
said. “We need to go from being in good basketball shape to
being in game shape.”

Perhaps the person who looked to be in the best “game
shape” on Sunday was sophomore Courtney Sims, who bulked up
during the offseason. Adding this muscle allowed Sims to gain
confidence in himself, as well as his game. With the improved
physique and confidence, Michigan is looking to Sims to carry more
responsibility.

“I need to continue to be a consistent threat from the
floor,” Sims said. “I have a lot more confidence this
year, and I’ll need to be one of the main scorers.”

Amaker believes that exhibitions are invaluable for his team to
bridge the gap from offseason training and practice to game
situations. This season, the discrepancy between offseason and
regular season is exacerbated, as the team jumps right into the
preseason NIT, which features national powers Arizona and Wake
Forest. In order to be ready, Amaker wants to face solid exhibition
teams.

“We want to set the tone for where we’re going with
our team,” Amaker said. “We want to do some things
against quality opponents right now. We want to have a good feeling
when we leave the floor.”

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