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February 3, 2014
Hoops: Wolverines prepare for second half
Michigan's first half of the Big Ten slate couldn't have gone much better. The Wolverines stand 8-1 heading into Wednesday night's game with Nebraska without preseason All-American Mitch McGary (back) and have generally had solid success under John Beilein the second time they've faced conference teams during the season.
Against a team like Indiana late in the year, it will be about figuring out how to get sophomore shooting guard (six points in a loss to the Hoosiers Sunday) back on track. Slowing Nebraska's Terran Pettaway will be the goal Wednesday in Ann Arbor.
"He's getting points," Beilein said Monday. "People know what he's going to do sometimes and can't handle it, and the league can't stop him. He's got a three-point shot, he takes the ball to the basket, he finishes going right; he finishes going left. Right now, he just played against some really good defensive coaches and he's still getting buckets. But he's not the lone one on that team."
Shavon Shields is shooting great from long range the last five games, he added/ Ray Gallegos went off on the Wolverines in Ann Arbor last year, and the Cornhuskers' defense is "really solid.
"You look at who they played recently. Indiana just beat us and Ohio State is really good," Beilein said. "Ohio State did not lose a non-conference game, and I think those are their last two games. They played very, very well.
"You only know the way you play and how they responded, but we will watch as many games as they played since then, that wasn't against us, we'll watch every one of them, as well."
Today, meanwhile, was a 'rest day' for the Wolverines.
"We'll watch about an hour of film," Beilein said. "We'll address the issues we think we have to improve on, the areas of growth, and then we will do a little bit with Nebraska, maybe 15-20 minutes with Nebraska and then we'll lift weights. Tomorrow will be our major prep day.
"We expect them to get back on the horse and just keep learning. I think our staff does a great job of framing up these games so we can learn from them."
"We try to do the best we can to prepare for what we imagine people are going to do, but the imagination of basketball, what you can do defensively, there's so many different scenarios it's impossible to practice all of them," Beilein said. "Especially this game will probably be a one-day prep because were playing a bunch of two-game in-between games. We won't have time to over-prepare.
"When you're consistently switching a certain screen that very few people switch on, it took us a while to respond. And when we did, we didn't finish or rushed ourselves. That was it. I can't explain it any more."
"A couple of the shots - ironically, I call them 'Hardaway shots,' not from Tim [Hardaway Jr.], but from his father, watching him just create his own shot," Beilein said. "It's a dribble and a half type of move that I'd have to explain to everybody, but it's tough to stay in front of him and stop a long range jump shot because if you rise up, he'll cross you and get in and if you stay back.
"He created two or three of those. The game plan for them was to create two or three of those, and we created two or three of those. It was a combination of a lot of those. There were only six assists for Indiana. They played great off the dribble, finishing their own, shortening the game."
"Both Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton have been key to any success that we've had. Everybody knows that Nik and Glenn (Robinson III) are high talents, our two centers, Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford, have been terrific, but you don't do any of those without good guard play," Beilein said.
"Jeff Meyer, my assistant who's probably as wise as anybody out there, mentioned to me a couple months ago - we have to improve our backcourt because they're so young. We've really got to work with them. Between LaVall Jordan and our whole staff, these guys have really grown, and Caris has been a great example of that."