The Wolverine

January 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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JANUARY 2017 THE WOLVERINE 47   MICHIGAN BASKETBALL BEILEIN LOOKING FOR MORE AGGRESSIVE GUARD PLAY Michigan head coach John Beilein has often told his kids there's time to run the offense and time to "be a player." Sometimes that means at- tacking the rim or pushing the ball in transition; other times it means pull- ing up for a shot if you're hot. Such was the case with redshirt ju- nior wing Duncan Robinson during a 97-53 blowout win over Central Ar- kansas Dec. 13. Robinson made 4 of 9 threes, including his first two, but he became hesitant after he missed one. "After the UCLA game [a 102-84 loss Dec. 10], we showed them about 10 defensive clips, but we showed them every basket we made. We'll do the same thing again," Beilein said after the Central Arkansas win. "Just show them making shots to get that confidence up. "Duncan, once he made a couple, got tentative. I would have been fir- ing those babies up like crazy when you make two in a row. He missed one and then he got tentative. You don't see whether you're open when you get the ball. Expect to be open, and turn it down if it's not good." He's also looking for his guards to attack the rim more, which they did against UCLA — not so much against Central Arkansas because of the team's match-up zone. "It's not only going north and south, but when you go north and south what do you do when some- thing's not open there?" Beilein said. "Do you leave your feet and hope something goes open, or like hockey, dribble all the way underneath like going behind a hockey net and look? Land on two feet, pivot two or three times, see who's open, maybe some back cutters? "We're going off one foot. That will work on some teams, but not against the [longer teams on the schedule]." WOLVERINES HOPE TO GET MORE FROM FRESHMAN GUARDS Michigan's freshman class had been in "wait your turn" mode for much of the first 11 games of the 2016-17 season, but head coach John Beilein said he wanted to see more of guards Xavier Simpson and Ibi Watson in the two games remaining before Big Ten play. The Wolverines were slated to play Maryland-Eastern Shore Dec. 17 and Furman Dec. 22 before opening the conference slate at Iowa Jan. 1. "I hope so. They earned a little bit of that today," Beilein said when asked if they'd see more minutes after U-M pounded Central Arkansas Dec. 13. "I'd like to get them more in these next two games. We're not going to do it to sacrifice a win. If they're getting beat defensively or taking us out of the flow, 'Okay, keep practicing.' "Both are very limited, as many freshmen are, as far as exams, and I think they're done early. We'll be using every NCAA moment — 20 hours a week — with both of them the next two weeks. That's a major focus for us." Simpson was averaging 1.6 points in 9.5 minutes per game through 11 contests, shooting 3 of 10 from the floor but 2 of 5 from three-point range. Watson was also at 1.6 points in 5.6 minutes, having made 7 of 20 shots overall but only 1 of 13 triples. "I'm trying to keep on learning from Coach Beilein and the rest of the team," Simpson said after scoring seven points against Central Arkan- sas. "I just have to keep chipping at it, do what I can do to help my team become a better team. "At first it was pretty tough [learn- ing the offense]. Once you get the hang of it, so many more things make more sense. It's pretty hard getting it … once you get it, it opens up a lot. "I think [Beilein] wants me to just make the right decisions, whether it's to shoot or pass the ball. He doesn't have me in one particular zone … 'Just do this.' He wants me to be a player, make the right decisions and do the right thing. I feel like he trusts me." Simpson was also tied for third on the team in steals with eight through 11 games despite his limited minutes. "I'm not the type of guy who plays very passive defense. I take pride if a person scores on me," he said. "I don't take that lightly. I would be disappointed in myself." MICHIGAN SETS THREE- POINT RECORDS IN WIN OVER CENTRAL ARKANSAS Michigan made a school-record 19 three-pointers — four each by senior Zak Irvin, junior Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and redshirt junior Duncan Robinson — on a record 45 attempts in a 97-53 win over Central Arkansas Dec. 13 at Crisler Center. "I was really proud of them," head coach John Beilein said. "First of all, we had a really good practice [a day earlier]. We shot the ball like that again yesterday. I think we're at a confidence level with that, that was a In his most extensive action of the young season — 18 minutes — against Central Arkansas Dec. 13, freshman guard Xavier Simpson totaled seven points, three steals, two assists and a pair of rebounds. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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