While the Michigan basketball team returned to Crisler Arena with a plethora of problems to solve, it looks like one of the major issues might have been corrected.

After struggling to find his touch throughout the first 10 games of the season, sophomore guard
Stu Douglass finally had the breakout game that the Wolverines were looking for.

The sophomore scored 20 points in the game, including 6-for-10 from downtown to lead Michigan in scoring as the Wolverines defeated Coppin State 76-46.

Douglass scored 14 of his points in the first half, when he kept knocking down open looks, helping the team take control of the game with a 41-18 lead at the break.

“It was back to the point where every time he shot, it was like, alright, money,” sophomore Zack Novak said about Douglass. “And you get that feeling and then, you just let that roll. You get a feeling like that and you’re good. Hopefully I can get one of my own.”

Both Douglass and Novak have struggled in finding their shots this year. Combined, the two have shot just 24 percent from deep this season. While Douglass might have finally had a breakout game, Novak continued to struggle, making just one of his one of his seven attempts from beyond the arc.

While the Wolverines (6-5) need both of them to be effective in Big Ten play, which starts on Dec. 31 at Indiana, Douglass said it was just a matter of time before the shots started to fall.

“I feel like this was coming on a little bit,” Douglass said. “I’ve been working on my shot and the mechanics have been feeling really good. So I’ve been waiting for it, so if I keep working on my shot, I don’t see how I can lose it.”

More important, Douglass and the Wolverines started hitting their open shots, which killed them in previous losses particularly against Kansas. All four of Douglass’s threes in the first half were wide-open attempts.

Michigan’s success was largely due to their ball movement. The Wolverines had assists on 25 of their 30 baskets and consistently set up their offense to take advantage of their ball movement by winding down the shot clock and settling only for open shots.

“This is the right time for us to be shooting the ball a little bit,” Novak said. “I mean, we shot 33 percent (from 3-point range), it’s sad to say that’s an improvement, but that’s a big improvement. And it probably would have been a lot better if I would have hit some more.”

Added Michigan coach John Beilein: “As far as our shooting woes, I don’t think 33 percent answers the question, but it’s double what we did in Kansas.”

The scoring effort that came from junior forward Manny Harris was more surprising. Harris had a quiet game compared to his usual standards, scoring just five points, but the junior helped to get his teammates going, by adding seven assists.

While the Wolverines’ shooting improved, perhaps just as impressive was the defensive effort.

True to form, Michigan forced 19 turnovers and forced the Eagles (5-5) to just 33 percent shooting.
While the Wolverines are still looking for solutions to solve their shooting problems, they hope that both Douglass and the defense have finally found a rhythm heading into Big Ten season.

“It was kind of a relief to get it out of the way just shooting wise,” Douglass said. “And its huge for me going into Christmas and Indiana.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.