No matter what he does, Michigan coach John Beilein just can’t seem to win.
With his team struggling through slow starts all season, Beilein adjusted his starting lineup once again to get a spark.
Freshman point guard Kelvin Grady returned to the starting five, replacing redshirt junior C.J. Lee because Beilein thinks Lee plays better off the bench.
It didn’t work. Minnesota jumped out to an 11-2 advantage, and the Wolverines never led.
Grady had two points, two assists and two turnovers in 26 minutes. Senior guard David Merritt subbed in for Grady and was his primary backup (15 minutes). Lee didn’t play until midway through the second half.
Grady started Michigan’s first 13 games, but Lee started the next six. Still, Grady has seen pretty consistent minutes, playing 23 minutes per game in starts and 20 per game off the bench.
“He’s just continued to play hard,” Merritt said. “A lot of people, when they lose their starting spot, they kind of lose their confidence, and it kind of affects their play. But he accepted it and just kept working hard.”
Finally playing healthy: Sophomore center Ekpe Udoh caught a glimpse of senior Ron Coleman’s eyes before last night’s game and knew the forward was ready to go.
Coleman sprained his ankle against Indiana Jan. 8. He missed games at Northwestern and Wisconsin, but played against Illinois and Iowa, albeit just for a combined 11 minutes. He scored just three points at Michigan State Sunday, when he said he was fully healthy.
Coleman came off the bench last night for his first double-digit scoring game in a month and a half, scoring 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Although the Wolverines shot just 38.7 percent from the field last night, Merritt hopes Coleman will help turn around their shooting woes – with his ability and leadership.
“You have more impact when you’re on the court than when you’re sitting in dress clothes,” said Merritt, who, in his second year with the team, called Coleman the team’s only true senior.
Coleman scored eight straight Michigan points midway through the first half. Back-to-back 3-pointers started the run.
The house that Cazzie built: Michigan celebrated Crisler Arena’s 40th anniversary last night.
Several members of the first team to play at the arena, along with Cazzie Russell, were honored during halftime. Russell, whose No. 33 jersey hangs from the rafters, was introduced last night drawing a standing ovation.
Although Crisler Arena is called the “House that Cazzie Built,” Russell never played there as a Wolverine. Originally planned to open for his senior year, construction was behind schedule, and Crisler Arena didn’t open until the next year. Russell played there once – as a member of the New York Knicks, which picked him first overall in 1966, in an exhibition against the Detroit Pistons.
Russell, in his 12th year of coaching the basketball team at the Savannah (Ga.) College of Art and Design, addressed the Wolverines before the game and talked to them about staying together as a team and learning to win together.