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A college sports blog from The Oakland Press, dedicated to covering Michigan and Michigan State athletics as well as former Oakland County athletes at other schools.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Michigan's Beilein shows optimism as season approaches

Expectations for the University of Michigan men's basketball program are the highest they've been since 2009, when Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims returned for their final seasons in Ann Arbor. That Michigan team failed, finishing 15-17 in a dysfunctional season. The Wolverines expect a different outcome this year.
Michigan, ranked No. 18 in the USA Today preseason poll, not only won an NCAA Tournament game for the second straight year, but also nearly knocked off eventual champion Duke in the third round. Coach John Beilein, now in his sixth year at U-M, talked about the high expectations for his team this season at Thursday's Big Ten media day.
"The expectations for us in that season were very high, but Manny (Harris) never got to 100 percent (from an early-season injury), we felt. And we were probably too dependent on him and DeShawn (Sims)," Beilein said. "This team, I think, has a few more pieces and we've got great team chemistry."
Beilein also addressed the issue of replacing point guard Darius Morris, who left early to go to the NBA.
"We've got a scrimmage coming up and we've got an exhibition coming up. That will be a good time for us to figure out (who will replace Morris)," Beilein said. "Probably three or four days before our first game with Ferris State, we'll have made a decision."
Beilein also added: "We have an incredible team-first attitude that's been very healthy so far. I like the progress so far... we love the young men on this team."
The Wolverines return their second leading scorer from last season in Tim Hardaway Jr. (13.9 PPG) along with experienced guards Zack Novak and Stu Douglass. Without a lot of front court depth, Michigan will likely be a guard-oriented team. Freshman Carlton Brundidge (Southfield) could also get an opportunity to make an impact this season, as the Wolverines lack a true point guard.
Michigan's first test of the season will be Nov. 21, when it faces No. 9 Memphis in the Maui Invitational.
Beilein added about Crisler Arena, "The improvements are striking. You just feel like it's an entirely new arena when you walk into it."
Michigan is also two weeks or so away from the completion of a new practice facility and other basketball-specific facility improvements, which, combined with another good season, will greatly help recruiting.

Here's some more Michigan hoops coverage from around the web:
Beilein, Wolverines will rely on chemistry --
No. 2 prospect Mitch McGary on verge of making decision, Michigan a possibility --
Big Ten watching conference expansion closely, but content to stay put for now: Detroit Free Press


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