KALAMAZOO Can a team have more than one sixth man?
In Michigan”s case, two freshmen shooting guard Dommanic Ingerson and forward Chuck Bailey could make strong claims for the label.
Both bring much-needed energy and instant intensity off a Michigan bench that has already proven successful in the Wolverines” three games this season outscoring opponents” benches, 106-31. On Friday, Michigan”s reserves held a 32-6 advantage, and 26 of those points came from Ingerson and Bailey.
It didn”t take long for their presence to be felt.
With the Wolverines down 15-2 six minutes into the game and the scorching Broncos riding the enthusiasm of a sellout crowd, Michigan coach Tommy Amaker needed to stop the bleeding quickly. He immediately inserted Ingerson and Bailey for struggling starters Gavin Groninger and LaVell Blanchard.
Ingerson answered the call by attacking the basket and executing a 3-point play that silenced the crowd, even if just for a minute.
Bailey came in seconds later and inherited Blanchard”s task of shutting down sharpshooter Steve Reynolds, who already had nine points on three treys. Bailey forced a turnover and hit a layup in transition to help pull the Wolverines within eight.
“They came in and were able to step up big time and make some big shots and big plays on the defensive end,” said sophomore Bernard Robinson. “And that”s the type of stuff we need.”
Each chipped in 13 points, and Amaker said they were the main reason why Michigan trimmed the 19-point halftime deficit to just three in the final minutes.
Serving as one of the only Wolverines to consistently crash the offensive glass, Bailey grabbed five of Michigan”s 10 offensive rebounds. Instead of merely spelling Blanchard, Bailey started the second half in his place, after Blanchard”s poor performance.
Another dimension: It was a good thing that Michigan”s bench came to the rescue as its starters remained inconsistent, especially in the low post. Senior tri-captain Chris Young who hasn”t reached double figures yet and Blanchard combined for just 14 points and eight rebounds.
The lack of an inside presence, along with a lack of penetration by Michigan”s guards, forced the Wolverines to be a one-dimensional team that relied on outside shots. Groninger said that the Wolverines rushed many of those outside opportunities as Western Michigan jumped out to a double-digit lead early, and it reflected in their 9-of-29 shooting in the first half.
“That”s going to happen on some nights,” said Amaker, who suffered his first loss as Michigan coach Friday night. “We”re not always going to make our shots.”
Tri-fecta: The Broncos didn”t to have any trouble shooting, as they broke a school record with 12 treys. In the first half, Western Michigan shot a daunting 77 percent from behind the arc. Groninger said that the Wolverines were too often forced to help out after middle penetration by Western Michigan, leading to open looks.
But Young said that most times, the Wolverines “closed out on them but wouldn”t necessarily get our hand in their face as fast as we should of, saying “Maybe they”ll miss this one.” ”
Michigan man: Western Michigan standout freshman Ben Reed played as a 13-year old on the same AAU team as Blanchard. Reed said that the two friends trash-talked a couple times over the two weeks leading up to Friday night”s game.
Reed sparked the Broncos with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting and said it felt especially good since he was a Michigan fan all his life.
“Even my dad came here with a Michigan hat on,” said a smiling Reed. “I”m going to pound (my dad) when I get home. He tried turning (the hat) over to make it a “W” but it didn”t turn out too well.”
Notes: Injured senior tri-captain Leon Jones said that he plans to return for the showdown with Duke a week from Saturday … Western Michigan has won three of the past five meetings with the Wolverines … Michigan shot 89 percent from the foul line (16-18). Josh Moore, who shot 24 percent from the line last year, made 3-of-4 attempts and is now 75 percent for the season (9-12.)