The Wolverine

February 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 45 of 75

46 THE WOLVERINE FEBRUARY 2017   MICHIGAN BASKETBALL BEILEIN: MORITZ WAGNER A BIG MAN FIRST, SHOOTER SECOND Michigan head coach John Beilein might have envisioned Moritz Wag- ner being his next Kevin Pittsnogle, but the first priority when he recruited Wagner out of Germany was to make the import a good big man … not just a shooter. Pittsnogle, a sniper dur- ing Beilein's West Virginia days, was well rounded, and that was what he wanted Wagner to be. "I didn't want to give in to this idea, 'Okay, he's a three-point shooter.' We wanted to establish he's a big man who can shoot, not a shooter who plays big man," Beilein said. "We didn't want to give in to that too early. "We threw it into the post, he had a nice little drop step lefty in the game [with Nebraska Jan. 14]. Now we can sort of complement these two things. We still have to remind him … he and [redshirt sophomore big man] D.J. [Wilson] shoot three times more threes than post moves in shoot-around. We want that equilibrium between the two." Wagner was shooting 47.9 percent (23 of 48) from three-point range as of Jan. 16, outstanding for any position, let alone center. He admitted to trying to pattern his game after NBA stand- out Kevin Durant on the defensive end more than anything — it just so hap- pened that he turned out to be a great shooter, too. "I guess it's more confidence, trust from the coaches and my teammates … and experience, having one season behind me knowing how it feels," Wagner said. "The other difference is they are going in, so I might as well keep shooting. "But I always have the mindset that it's just one part of my game. I don't want to have to define myself as a big shooter. Coach Beilein always says you're either a big shooter or a big who can shoot. I'd rather be a big who can shoot. I still want to work around the basket, get rebounds, play tough de- fense and attack the basket. I'm happy I can shoot, too, but that's my main mindset." It took a while for Beilein to give him the green light, but now Wagner is the team's most consistent deep ball threat. They weren't able to play that way over the last several years, Beilein noted — they weren't going to try to force square pegs into round holes — but it's been beneficial to the 2016-17 squad. "It was, 'Can he make them in games?' We'd seen he could make them in practice, but when the lights are on it's a whole different thing," Beilein said. "Both [Wagner and Wil- son] have more than 20 [three-point- ers] on the year. When you see that MISCELLANEOUS NOTES • Michigan's issues have centered on the defensive side of the ball, evidenced by its bottom-feeder standing in defending the against shots from the field and three-point range (see above) in Big Ten play. The Wolverines made it through the opening handful of conference contests with the fourth-best scoring average in the league, at 77.0. That was only slightly behind Nebraska's league-leading 79.6 scoring average in Big Ten games. • With Michigan giving up 80.4 points per contest, the Wolverines were no bet- ter than 10th in the league for scoring margin, at minus-3.4 points per game. Wisconsin led the league, outscoring conference foes by an average of 9.8 points per game in the opening portion of the league season. • The Wolverines shot free throws at 77.6 percent through Jan. 15 in confer- ence play, good for third in the league. Purdue topped all Big Ten teams, at 82.9 percent. • Michigan's field goal shooting led the Big Ten in league play, at 49.1 percent. Indiana (48.1) and Nebraska (47.3) were second and third, respectively, in the race as the best Big Ten marksmen. • U-M stood fifth in the league for three-point shooting over the course of five conference games, connecting on 38.9 percent. Nebraska (43.7 percent) stood atop the league through the opening handful of contests. • Michigan sat at the bottom of the 14 Big Ten teams in rebounding margin through Jan. 15, getting out-rebounded by an average of 8.0 per league tilt. Pur- due proved the conference's early bullies of the boards, out-rebounding foes by an average of 6.0 per game. • U-M's 13.2 assists per conference game average was good for sixth in the Big Ten early on, behind league leader Purdue's 17.8 average. The Wolverines were fourth in the league in average steals (6.8), behind No. 1 Nebraska's 10.2. • In Big Ten play, the Wolverines were second in turnover margin (plus-3.6) only to Wisconsin (plus-5.3), and led the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7). • Redshirt sophomore forward D.J. Wilson stood eighth in the Big Ten for scor- ing after Michigan's first five conference games. His 16.6 average trailed that of Nebraska's Tai Webster, who accounted for 21.4 points per game in the early going. • Wilson led the conference in shooting percentage through the first five league games, connecting on 62.3 percent of his shots. Directly behind him was Illinois' Maverick Morgan (61.0), along with Penn State's Mike Watkins (57.6) and Purdue's Isaac Haas (57.6). • Wilson demonstrated his versatility for a big man, standing fourth in the confer- ence for three-point shooting in league contests at 61.1 percent, behind league leader Curtis Jones of Indiana, at 75.0. • Sophomore center Moritz Wagner demonstrated his free throw shooting prow- ess early in the Big Ten season, connecting on 84.2 percent, good for eighth in the conference. Northwestern's Bryant McIntosh led the way through the Wildcats' first six conference games, going a perfect 12 of 12. Wagner was also tied for ninth in the Big Ten in average steals, at 1.6 per league game. • Michigan senior Zak Irvin tied for seventh in the Big Ten for average assists through five conference games, at 4.2 per contest. Sophomore center Moritz Wagner is shoot- ing 61.1 percent from the floor and 47.9 percent from the three-point line en route to 12.2 points per game, but he needs to up his average of 3.7 rebounds. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - February 2017