In its game against Marquette on Friday, the Michigan men’s basketball team was searching for someone — anyone– who could provide a spark on offense.
Over and over again, the Wolverines’ best option was junior Manny Harris.
And while Harris did notch 22 points, he continued to struggle from outside, missing all four of his 3-point shots. When Harris is not hitting his outside shots, his job becomes much harder since it’s more difficult to drive to the basket on a defender who isn’t preoccupied with stopping the outside shot.
The problem was, Michigan needed to go to someone who can create his own offense, since the Golden Eagles were stopping it at every turn.
Next game, the Wolverines may want to turn to a slightly less likely source: freshman point guard Darius Morris.
While Morris tallied a mere five points in Friday’s loss to Marquette, he got to the hole with relative ease and was just unable to finish.
“He’s learning every day, he’s got to finish more plays,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “He’s a penetrating guard we have to work with because we don’t got a whole lot of that right now.”
It was evident against Marquette he has the moves, but if Morris can find a way to finish at the rim, he could turn into a key offensive weapon this season.
Struggling at the free throw line: Last year, Michigan shot about 76 percent from the free throw line as a team, first in the Big Ten.
It’s a good thing, too. Both Harris and senior DeShawn Sims find themselves in the paint often, which lends itself to shooting a lot of free throws. Sims shot 71 percent from the line, Harris 85 percent last year.
But in their past three games, the Wolverines have shot a combined 63 percent from the charity stripe. The reason for the dropoff seems to be unknown.
When asked about it yesterday, Sims paused for a while, eventually concluding that it was a matter of focus.
Even Harris has been off, going 12-19 over the two tournament games.
“He’s an outstanding foul shooter, too,” Beilein said. “Rarely does that happen.”
Alabama to bring pressure: The Wolverines are set to play Alabama today at 5 p.m. in the Old Spice Classic’s third-place game, and they will have their hands full.
The Crimson Tide edged Baylor in their first game, and then they fell to Florida State on Friday. Alabama came with a pressure defense against FSU, forcing 10 turnovers in the first half. They also tallied 16 points off turnovers.
The Tide will most likely attempt to overwhelm Michigan in the same way and try to use their quickness on offense to score on the Wolverines. That was the strategy against FSU.
“We really wanted to get out there and pressure them,” senior guard Mikhail Torrance said after the loss to FSU.
Alabama coach Anthony Grant said he has not gotten to see Michigan, but his team will be prepared.
“We’ll watch film,” he said. “Get as prepared as we can.”