Calling the Arkansas-Pine Bluff basketball team “road warriors”— as Michigan coach John Beilein did Friday afternoon — hardly seems to do its schedule justice.
Michigan’s opponent on Saturday plays its first 13 games of the season on the road. It doesn’t play on its home court until Jan. 16. And despite the Golden Lions coming into the game with an 0-5 record, Beilein doesn’t see this as a ‘gimme.’
“When I look at this team, I don’t see one of those teams (that is a pushover),” Beilein said. “They’ve got everyone back on a team that won 13 games (last year). I think it’s good that we’re playing someone who can walk into this building and beat us.”
Still, this game could act as a tune-up for a team in desperate need of one before what has become a crucial road game against Utah on Dec. 9.
Michigan has lost three in a row, part of which is undoubtedly due to the intense travel schedule the Wolverines have faced since the Old Spice Classic in Orlando.
But still, it was nothing like what Arkansas-Pine Bluff is going through. And Beilein said he’s seen schedules like Pine Bluff’s on a few occasions.
“That’s the route that a lot of teams who are in Division I just getting into the league and don’t get a lot of T.V. money have to take to support other programs,” he said.
Sims struggling: Against Boston College on Wednesday, senior DeShawn Sims ended up with his worst stat line of this young season: four points, three rebounds and 0-2 from beyond the arc.
There were a lot of things he could have done better. And while junior Manny Harris didn’t ask him specifically about them, he’s pretty sure Sims knows what those areas include.
“We didn’t get a chance to talk about that part yet,” Harris said. “I think he pretty much knows, but my job is to remind him, I know coach does a good job with that, too. But I know he knows he’s got to pick it up.”
Beilein also acknowledged that Sims needs to step up, adding that he tries to run plays through him during games. But he said, as is so often the case in coaching, it is a balance between nature and nurture.
“We continue to coach him and teach him and love him and help him,” Beilein said. “He needs to be scolded on occasion as well, but what you don’t do is give him any sense that he can’t do it.”
In the last game, in which he played only 23 minutes because of early foul trouble, Sims seemed to be hanging out a lot on the perimeter instead of inside, where Michigan is sorely lacking in size anyway.
Beilein mentioned that they were trying to keep Sims on the block more, but he also wants the senior to display another part of his game.
“We’d like him to drive it a little bit more as well,” Beilein said. “He started the game with a couple drives and then settled a couple times.”
Harris hamstring issues: Saying Manny Harris has been cold from behind the 3-point line this season is like saying Tiger Woods didn’t have a great thanksgiving holiday. It’s an understatment.
The junior is shooting a scant 13 percent from long range, and the game against Boston College didn’t help — he went 1-6.
But it could be more than just a few bad shooting nights. Remember that pesky hamstring injury that was bothering him entering the season? It’s not exactly a non-issue.
“It’s just still bending-wise and stuff like that. I can still run on it. I can do things like that, but it’s still irritating,” Harris said Tuesday. “It forces my other leg to do so much. Like, when I shoot, I kick it out and turn and twist.”
Beilein said the coaching staff was under the impression that Harris was getting to be 100 percent, but said the three games in a row in Orlando seems to have caused the hamstring to “flare up a little.”