Monday, November 5, 2007

First Impressions

I took my son to the Michigan-Ferris State exhibition basketball game last Thursday, hoping to get a look at our new basketball coach, John Beilein, and his "crazy" system. What I saw was very encouraging, although there is still long way to go, and the talent level of the opponent has to be considered. Some quick impressions:
-The offense will be very perimeter based: Usually four guys camped out at the three point line, one in the post. Weaving, cutting to the basket, kicking back out for (hopefully) open threes. It looked like a combination of the old Indiana "15 passes or your running laps offense" and the Kentucky offense of the Rick Pitino era.
-The defense showed a number of different looks. The most impressive to me was a 1-3-1 zone trap with big guys like Deshawn Sims and Epke Udoh on the wings. When they got this going, they really gave Ferris fits trying to run any sort of offense. If we play a lot of this, we will get out rebounded a lot, but teams better have good ball handlers, or we will get a lot of turnovers.
-More than anything schematically, it looked for the first time like we really had a plan, instead of just waiting around for someone to make a one-on-one move.
-Player thoughts: DeShawn Sims looked great. He was active on D, hit a few 3pt shots (he took none last year) and showed that he can really be a force.
-Manny Harris showed why he was Mr. Basketball. He looked lost on D and in the offense a little, but he certainly has the athletic ability to be a star in the big ten.
-Ron Coleman has the best outside shot, and will be steady on D, but he's not as dynamic as the other two.
-Kelvin Grady is very quick, has a decent shot, but doesn't really know where he's supposed to be yet.
-This offense doesn't really fit Epke Udoh's talents very well, but he is a monster on defense. My guess is that he and Zach Gibson will be an offensive / defensive switch at the 5 all year.
-K'len Morris looked solid at the two, and seemed to have a calming influence on the offense when he was in there.
-My guess at the rotation this year: Manny and Jarret Smith at the 1, with Manny also getting time at the 2 with Morris, and Grady getting more time later in the year as he learns the system. Coleman at the 3, Sims at the 4, and Zach Gibson and Udoh at the five.
-The new lighting system at Crisler really makes a difference. Now if they could only get a live crowd in there, that place could maybe get some real atmosphere.

All in all, not a bad night. Cheap tickets, my son loved the hot dogs and a big Michigan win. Sure it was only an exhibition, but at least we didn't lose to a division II school.