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2010-11 Big Ten men’s basketball previews: Michigan (premium)

Posted on 02. Nov, 2010 by in Iowa Basketball

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By Brendan Stiles

HawkeyeDrive.com

The Big Ten kicks off its 2010-11 men’s college basketball season next week, so this week, HawkeyeDrive.com will give you rundowns on all 11 conference teams. Today, we’ll showcase Michigan and Penn State. The Wolverines will play Iowa twice this season — Jan. 30 at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich., and the weekend of Feb. 19-20 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

When I look at the Michigan Wolverines, I see a team that is going to take a step back. Maybe not so much in the Big Ten standings, but in terms of production from last year to this year.

Other than maybe Ohio State having to overcome the loss of Evan Turner, there isn’t another team in the conference who has to replace a lot of its scoring like Michigan does. The Wolverines relied heavily on two players over the past few years — DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris, who decided to forgo his senior year to attempt a shot at the NBA.

Harris led Michigan in scoring with 18.1 points per game, 126 assists, 56 steals last season, while Sims led the Wolverines in rebounding with 7.6 boards per game and 21 blocked shots. These guys were Michigan’s top two players statistically in terms of points, rebounds, and steals. That is just simply a lot to overcome.

Now looking ahead to this year, the Wolverines have a roster that consists of zero seniors, and head coach John Beilein has a completely new set of assistant coaches, one of which is former Iowa assistant LaVall Jordan.

As a matter of fact, there are only two juniors on this entire team in guards Zack Novak and Stu Douglass. The 6-4 Novak averaged 7.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season, which leads all players returning this year. As for the 6-3 Douglass, he comes back as the team’s top leader in steals from last season with 35 of them, which tied him for second with the aforementioned Sims.

Another notable player returning for the Wolverines is sophomore Darius Morris. The 6-4 guard was second on the team to Harris in assists with 84 dimes.

Simply put, these three are going to be depended on to lead this team.

As far as newcomers go, there are three players — a sophomore and two freshmen — who all have NBA pipelines in their family. Sophomore guard Jordan Dumars is the son of former Detroit Piston great Joe Dumars and last winter, he transferred to Michigan from South Florida. Dumars is not eligible until the end of Michigan’s fall semester. The 6-5 Detroit native played in six games for South Florida last season before deciding to transfer.

The two most intriguing names from this year’s crop of freshmen are Tim Hardaway, Jr., and Jon Horford. Hardaway, Jr., is a 6-5 guard from Miami, Fla., who averaged 31.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and four assists per game as a high school senior. He is also the son of Tim Hardaway, who played in the NBA most notably with the Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat.

Horford is a 6-9 forward giving Michigan size it desperately needs inside after losing Sims. The Grand Ledge, Mich., native averaged 21 points, 13 rebounds, and five blocks as a senior in high school. His father Tito played in the NBA for three seasons, while his older brother Al won two national championships at Florida and is currently a member of the Atlanta Hawks.

The Wolverines are going to need all the production they can get out of these six players, as well as everyone else on the roster, because to me, Michigan is clearly in a rebuilding mode. This doesn’t mean that the Wolverines are going to finish with the conference’s worst record, but between the new set of assistants and the losses of the two guys who were clearly the team’s best players, I just don’t see Beilein’s guys doing a whole lot in 2010-11.

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