The Wolverine

February 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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44 THE WOLVERINE FEBRUARY 2017 M ichigan's 2-3 beginning to the Big Ten season doesn't mark the first time the Wolverines have come out under .500 in the opening hand- ful of conference battles under head coach John Beilein. This one carries some extra concern, however. The Wolverines allowed an aver- age of 80.4 points in the first five Big Ten games, ahead of only Nebraska (80.6) and Iowa (82.3) among confer- ence squads. That's a far cry from Wisconsin's league-leading average of 63.0 points allowed in such con- tests. Opponents shot 53.4 percent against the Wolverines in those first five Big Ten games, making Michi- gan's field goal defense dead last in the conference and light years from the top three — Penn State (39.2), Northwestern (39.5) and Minnesota (39.7). Beilein lamented Michigan's field goal defense a year ago, and that came in at 47.0 percent. Michigan's three-point defense is also last in the league, with Big Ten foes shooting an astounding 55.3 percent from long range on average against the Wolverines. The rough start on the defensive end of the floor led to the first sub-.500 record under Beilein in the last six seasons. Here's a look at other Michigan starts that slipped below .500 early in league play under Beilein and how those squads finished: 2010-11: The Wolverines got off to a horrendous beginning in the 2011 Big Ten campaign. They got crushed at home by Purdue in the Big Ten opener, 80-57, and wound up sput- tering to a 1-6 start in the conference, seemingly on their way to the NIT or worse. Instead, a crew inspired by the grit and force of will from Zack Novak took down No. 25 Michigan State in East Lansing, 61-57. The Wolverines made their stand there, winning five of six games to right the ship. They wound up making it a clean sweep of the Spartans, beating them at Crisler Center in the regular-sea- son finale, 70-63. They then won a game in the Big Ten Tournament, buried Tennessee in an NCAA Tour- nament contest and took No. 3 Duke to the wire before falling, 73-71. 2007-08: Beilein's first season at Michigan featured a reclamation project, one that wasn't going to come at the snap of his fingers. The Wolverines started out 1-9 in the Big Ten that year, and there wasn't any coming back. They did string together three wins in the four games following that prat- fall out of the gate, including a heart- ening home victory over Ohio State. But U-M didn't feature the skilled players Beilein would eventually bring to Crisler, or the full culture he was creating, and dropped their final three games of the regular season. They beat Iowa 55-47 in the open- ing round of the Big Ten Tournament, but then got shut down 51-34 by Wis- consin and finished a no-tournament year at 11-22 overall and 6-12 in the conference. SENIOR ANDREW DAKICH AWARDED A SCHOLARSHIP IN UNCONVENTIONAL FASHION Michigan senior guard Andrew Dakich is a walk-on no more — at least for this semester. Head coach John Beilein pranked him into think- ing he was being arrested before campus police informed Dakich they were really there to have him sign scholarship papers Jan. 9.   MICHIGAN BASKETBALL Wolverines' Sub-.500 Big Ten Start Is Rare Under John Beilein John Beilein's U-M squad in 2010-11 started Big Ten play 1-6 before recovering to finish 9-9 in league play and reach the NCAA Tournament, where it won a game. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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