The Wolverine

November 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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2011-12 basketball preview Replacing The Legends Replacing departed sophomore point guard Darius Morris will be no easy task, but Michigan has had to replace other outstanding point guards over the last few decades. Here are some of the better performances by predecessors in the ���big shoes to fill��� category: Rickey Green (left after 1977) ��� Dave Baxter Green averaged 19.5 points per game in 1977 and led the Wolverines to a national championship game appearance (1976) and an Elite Eight and Big Ten championship in his two years at Michigan. Veteran senior Dave Baxter handled most of the point guard duties the following year, but a catastrophic injury to All-American big man Phil Hubbard (19.6 points per game in 1977) slowed the Wolverines. Baxter still played well, averaging 13.5 points and 6.6 assists per game to earn honorable mention All-Big Ten honors, but the Wolverines finished 16-11 and fourth in the Big Ten. Eric Turner (1984) ��� Gary Grant Turner co-captained the Wolverines to a 24-9 record and NIT championship, averaging 10.8 points and 4.3 assists per game, before leaving a year early for a shot at the NBA. True freshman Gary Grant stepped in the following year to lead the Wolverines to a 26-4 record and a Big Ten title in his first year at the helm, averaging 12.9 points per game and finishing second on the team with 140 assists. Grant left U-M as the school���s all-time assists leader (731) and became a consensus All-American. Gary Grant (1988) ��� Rumeal Robinson Robinson spent a year learning from Grant (1987-88) before taking the reins in 1988-89 and leading Michigan to its first-ever national championship, knocking down two free throws in the waning seconds of the title game to beat Seton Hall in overtime. Robinson averaged 14.9 points and dished a whopping 233 assists in his junior year and also led the team with 70 steals. He was a consensus All-American and Team MVP in 1990. ��� Chris Balas percent from three-point range as a freshman while averaging 6.3 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. He also showed some low-post skills later in the season, and should be even better in the paint with the added weight. ���Rebounding will be a point of accountability we���ll have with the wings. They need to do a better job of being at the basket when the ball is shot,��� Meyer said. ���With Evan, too, it���s about continuing to improve his assist to turnover ratio. Tim Hardaway Jr. was one of the Big Ten���s top freshmen last year, averaging 13.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game to earn honorable mention all-conference honors. Photo by Lon horwedel ���We recruited Evan to be a high aptitude guy with great court vision, one who finds the open guy and can even kind of thread the needle. With his experience this past year, that area of his game will also continue to improve and expand.��� He���ll get his opportunities around the basket, too. ���He shot 38 percent from three. That���s outstanding as a freshman,��� Meyer said. ���We���d take that again this year. But we���re trying to improve him inside the arc when he has opportunities in and around the basket in terms of efficiency. I think he���s ready to go. He had a good summer. He���s bigger, stronger, faster and has got experiences to draw upon.��� Junior Matt Vogrich (6-4, 190) provided a much-needed spark off the bench at times last year following a tough transition year as a freshman. He���s added 10 pounds and more aggressiveness to the rim to bolster his game, but he���ll still be asked to do what he does best ��� knock down shots from long range. Vogrich averaged only 3.2 points per game as a sophomore, but he shot 38.7 percent from three-point range. He provided a key spark in an NCAA Tournament win over Tennessee with 11 points off the bench. ���With Matt, early on in his career it was defensively, where does he match up? I think he���s added strength so he will be better equipped as a perimeter defender,��� Meyer said. ���He���s always been a guy with kind of a nose for the ball. It���s not like he doesn���t rebound, but I anticipate him being a little more productive as a rebounder. ���But he���s a core player. He���s our guy that when things aren���t going well and we need somebody to step up and make a shots, we know Matt will make shots.��� Early practice rumblings indicate he���s been more lethal than ever. Finally, the guy who will be asked to contribute from beyond the arc when Vogrich isn���t on the floor is the same one who has been doing it for three years. Senior Novak (6-4, 210) will be all over the floor and spend time at shooting guard and power forward, but he���ll also see action on the wing. He averaged 8.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game and won UM���s hustle and rebounding awards, among others, last year. ���He���s the ultimate team player. We know we have in our back pocket a veteran, our captain, a leader we will rely upon wherever we need him,��� Meyer said. ���He���s really improved his midrange game, and everybody knows him as a shooter. He���s really a big-game shot-maker, what he���s done here. He had a really good summer and he���s shooting the ball really well right now, but he really worked hard on his midrange game. ���As a guard, that���s probably where we���ll need him to be more efficient. We know he���s tough, he competes and he���ll rebound. For us, he���s like a coach on the floor. He knows what we do, knows what it means to be successful in this league. It���s an advantage to have. He���s like a playercoach out there.��� The combination of experience and youth, along with impressive depth, should provide the Wolverines a formidable backcourt. ��� November 2011��� ������ the wolverine��� 59

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