When sophomore DeShawn Sims and freshman Manny Harris first arrived on campus, both were considered the prize pieces of their respective recruiting classes.
By donning the maize and blue, they became a beacon of hope in ending the Michigan men’s basketball team’s nine-year NCAA Tournament drought.
The duo hasn’t saved the program just yet – the Wolverines are off to their worst start since 1981-82 – but Sims and Harris have shown more than a few glimpses of achieving the potential that made both highly-sought after out of high school.
Against Indiana last night, Sims and Harris were at it again, combining for 35 points in the Wolverines’ 78-64 loss.
Through 15 games, the pair has accounted for more than 46 percent of the team’s total points.
Harris is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 16.5 points per contest, and Sims is right behind with almost 14 per game.
Their play has not gone unnoticed by Michigan coach John Beilein. With a young squad struggling mightily to make baskets, he is adjusting his offense to fit the two talents he inherited.
“We’re trying to push the buttons to get them open as much as we can,” Beilein said.
Both have produced offensively, thanks to a wide array of skills.
Harris has shown he can consistently drive to the basket and draw fouls. His dribble drive is hard to contain because opponents must also respect his mid-range and 3-point shooting abilities.
Sims is adjusting well to his new perimeter role after battling in the paint much of his freshman campaign. Although he didn’t make a single 3-pointer last year, the Detroit native has emerged as one of Michigan’s best threats from the outside and leads the team with 21 trifectas.
That doesn’t mean he’s abandoned his post moves, though.
The multi-talented Sims can still score on the interior, and a smooth mid-range jump shot rounds out his game well.
“There’s some other things that I have to work on, but I feel I can always score.,” Sims said.
But with so many points and so few victories this season, both Harris and Sims realize their stats may have to suffer for the Wolverines to eventually succeed. The Hoosiers are a perfect example of a team with two stars complemented by those around them.
Senior All-American D.J. White and freshman sensation Eric Gordon combined for 44 points last night. But unlike Michigan, they got help from guards Jordan Crawford and Jamarcus Ellis, who had 11 and seven points, respectively.
“If it takes me cutting down some points with extra passes, and everybody knocking their shots down, I’ll do it,” Harris said. “I just want to win.”
Coleman injured: For a team that’s already been ravaged by suspensions, defections and dismissals, the last thing Michigan needed was an in injury.
But with 16:55 remaining in the second half, senior Ron Coleman dropped to the floor in pain, with what Beilein described afterwards as a “low ankle sprain.” The Romulus native did not return and his status is uncertain for Saturday’s contest at Northwestern.
“Although he hasn’t shot the ball great, (Coleman) has been a staple influence out there as far as leadership,” Beilein said. “We’ll miss that, but we’ll just adjust.”
If Coleman is unavailable Saturday, Beilein indicated the team would switch to a three-guard starting lineup, making freshman Kelvin Grady the likely candidate to fill that role.
Paint Punishment: The Wolverines’ woes on the interior continued last night. White dominated with a career-high 22 rebounds, helping to give the Hoosiers a 51-33 advantage on the glass.
Many of those rebounds led to Indiana’s 34 points in the paint. Michigan had just 16.