The Wolverine

November 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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2011-12 basketball preview ���We did an individual skill development workout where Evan Smotrycz drove the baseline, was able to take a bump, and was able to complete the play on the other side of the basket,��� Alexander said proudly. ���That���s something he hasn���t been able to do before. If you want to grab something for Evan this season, he has the ability to take bumps and still function.��� Colton Christian, a 6-6, 215-pound forward, gave the Wolverines 36 rebounds in his 27 game appearances and also connected on a big bucket in the win at Michigan State. Christian insists he���s more comfortable now, and that will turn into the aggression Michigan���s coaches seek. ���I always joke with him about looking for permission to play,��� Alexander said. ���Colton has proven himself in certain situations ��� I cite Michigan State, late shot clock, where he knocked in a tough jump shot. Those are things he can bring to the table. Confidence is going to be the key, moving forward.��� Michigan also features preferred walk-on freshman Sai Tummala, a 6-7, 200-pound forward. Senior Zack Novak insisted Tummala proved the surprise of the summer in his ability to perform and defend. Together, the Wolverines��� front line is still plenty young, featuring a junior, a redshirt sophomore, three sophomores and pair of freshmen. While they���re all still in the learning process, many have come a long way, both physically and in Michigan���s system, Alexander assured. ���Development is the key to future success,��� he said. ���One of the things we envision for all of these guys in the frontcourt is their ability to embrace new challenges. Each year, we recognize that our young guys aren���t the only ones that are getting older. Their leading competitors are also. ���Our ability to have a competitive spirit with how we approach the weight room, film sessions and the practice floor really serves as the cornerstone for what we���re trying to build here in the Michigan basketball program. Our big guys ��� who we call ���Hard Hats��� ��� are men at work. We���re trying to construct something all of our fans will enjoy in future seasons here at Michigan.��� ��� Evan Smotrycz And Blake McLimans Provide Versatility At 6-10 each, sophomore Evan Smotrycz and junior Blake McLimans easily fall into the category of ���big men.��� They���re capable of finding their way into spots normally occupied by smaller players, though, earning them a hybrid tag this season. ���They���ll play in the middle of the floor, they���ll play low, they���ll play on a wing, and they can obviously play on the perimeter,��� noted U-M assistant coach Jeff Meyer, who works with both. ���That versatility in their skill set allows us to utilize them offensively in some areas that will allow us to be creative and at times, hopefully, give us an offensive advantage.��� Smotrycz enjoyed some strong efforts as a freshman, connecting on a pair of three-pointers and scoring 18 in an early-season win over Clemson. He also hit a pair of threes and scored 13 in Michigan���s near miss against Duke in the season���s finale. ���Evan had a very good year,��� Meyer observed. ���He played quality minutes and was a starter early. He became a core member of our NCAA Tournament team. He has a natural instinct to score the basketball. He can shoot it and can really get it going offensively. ���He did that at Clemson. He did it on occasion throughout the year, where he made two or three perimeter shots. But the thing about his skill set is, he can show you the shot, then floor the basketball, as he did against Duke. That gives him a onetwo punch. ���He���s hard to guard. If you match him with a big, he���ll show and maybe get a shot or go by him. If you match him with a smaller player, we can play him inside. That���s what Coach [Bacari] Alexander does with the back-to-basket development of our guys. ���He���s 6-10. Is he a two-guard, or is Smotrycz, a sophomore forward, started 24 he going to have the versatility to games as a freshman, averaging 6.3 points take a smaller player inside? That���s and 2.3 rebounds per game, and he scored 18 where we continue to try to expand points in a win over Clemson. Photo by Per Kjeldsen his skill set and utilize his versatility.��� McLimans, meanwhile, will look to give Michigan effort off the bench at a number of positions, after averaging 5.4 minutes a game last year. ���He���s a skilled big, who has the ability to play in the middle of the floor and on the wing,��� Meyer said. ���We���re going to continue to give him opportunities to utilize his skill set. As those opportunities come, he���ll need to step up and be productive with the time that he gets.��� ��� John Borton November 2011��� ������ the wolverine��� 63

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