Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Preview: South Carolina State

No. 9 Michigan once again takes the Crisler Center hardwood tonight, this time against 1-1 South Carolina State. This is Michigan's final tuneup game before hitting the road on Sunday to take on Fred Hoiberg's Iowa State squad in Ames; even without senior forward Melvin Ejim, ISU should be a tough test. 

Nonetheless, there's not much use in going too in depth for a game like this, especially so early in the season. So, I'll talk a little SCSU personnel then move on to some miscellaneous Michigan-centric thoughts.

South Carolina State has played two games, at Marshall and St. Andrews, the latter which I'm pretty sure could be a school I played against in high school.

The Bulldogs --of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference-- lost at Marshall, 85-69, a game in which they were fairly competitive for a while. Then again, that probably isn't saying much, as Marshall finished just 13-19 last season.

In their second game, the Bulldogs hosted St. Andrews and won in overtime, 59-55. As always at this point in the season, neither of these things means anything. Then again, you typically don't need contextual evidence to know that South Carolina State is probably not very good vis-a-vis even the worst major conference teams.


Based on box scores alone, senior forward Matthew Hezekiah seems to be SCSU's best player. He scored 19 and 17 in his first two games while shooting 69.6% from the field.

Speaking of the Marshall game, due to some foul trouble the Bulldogs ended up playing 15 (!) different guys. That is incredible. Unfortunately for SCSU, Hezekiah was the only one to get in the double-digits in points.

Against St. Andrews, senior guard Adama Adams scored on 6-of-9 shooting (3-of-5 from beyond the arc). Barring some of the other guys on the roster getting a hold of Michael Jordan's "Secret Stuff," these two will likely be the only scoring threats.

Points of Emphasis

  • This is another bad team: can Michigan avoid a first half case of the Mondays? Not that it even matters if they don't, but consistency is nice. 
  • With Mitch McGary still out, can Glenn Robinson III continue to find ways to make himself a focal point of the offense i.e. to "hunt" for his shots? As has been discussed over and over again this offseason regarding his game, this is no longer the year of the putback/dunk for GRIII; he will now be expected to create. 
  • Can Michigan get out in transition early? UMass-Lowell did a good job of shutting down Michigan's fast break game by simply getting back on defense with alacrity. 
  • Derrick Walton watch: How does he look on the pick and roll? How about from three-point land? Can he learn from his relatively few mistakes thus far, i.e. last game's traveling call in transition?
  • Is Caris LeVert actually shaping up to be a guy Michigan relies on for big points and some amount of ball-handling? Or is he simply filling the McGary-sized production vacuum?
  • Plain and simple: shooting. Michigan was downright atrocious from the field in the first half against Lowell. I guess part of the benefit of these cupcake matchups is the opportunity for guys to get some good looks and see the ball go in. The Wolverines would like to get the types of looks they go in the second half against Lowell as opposed to the parade of jumpers they settled on in the first half. 
Most of these questions won't be answered for a while; unlike football, however, there isn't quite as much urgency for these answers to be so immediate. Each game is a small step forward in the data-gathering process. As for this game, it is one last chance for the team, especially the freshmen, to breathe before the non-conference schedule starts to pick up in quality. 

No use in even deigning to make a definite score prediction here. Michigan will win, by a lot. 

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