Now that was a struggle. Painful all the way through and definetely a game you have to be glad was on Big Ten Network. But as they say, style points don’t count. Michigan shot a horrific 30% from the field for the game, luckily Illinois only managed 32%.
Players of the game have to be Grady and Ekpe. Grady played well offensively I thought for the most part and hit some big shots. One thing that pains me about Grady is how poorly he runs the fast break, this is something that the whole team really needs work on. Ekpe was a monster on defense and dominated Pruitt. Ekpe had 7 points, 7 boards, 5 blocks, and 2 steals and held Pruitt to 6 points and 5 turn overs. After the game while getting interviewed Ekpe said that he thought “he was the best defensive player in the country and loved challenges like this”. At least he has some confidence.
Ant Wright started on the wing which I think has to be done. He did a surprisingly decent job on defense especially with Illinois going small all game. Ron Coleman brings absolutely nothing and seems to regress every game. I think Wright should play about 30 minutes a game and Shepherd about 15. Ronnie needs to be the odd man out at this point.
It was great to see Jalen in the house looking sharp. A quick recap over what he said:
- Always a Michigan man and it was great to be back. First time he had been back to a basketball game since he played on the court (not because he didn’t love it but he was playing professionally).
- Mentioned Perry Watson, Bo Schembechler, and Fisher.
- RIP Bo.
- Gave a shout out to the rest of the Fab Five individually (Jimmy sat on the sidelines with him) and said he would be back the day the banners went back up.
- Said he would be around the program and it was great to be back.
- Said Go Blue! once in his speech and the band started playing and he had to cut them off and continue.
- â€œEvery time you see the black shoes, the black socks, the baggy shorts, the Fab Five lives. Iâ€™ll be back one day when those banners get hung back up.â€
- Crowd reaction was great the whole time, he got a big welcome when he walked out to half court before tip off. The starters all gave him hugs before the game.
A win is a win and Michigan has to learn how to win the tough ones like this because they aren’t all going to be easy. But man I hope we can start hitting some shots. There were ALOT of wide open shots today and very few of them went down. Good physical gutty effort. Another note, saw Jordan Morgan was there, not sure if any other recruits were in the house.
One more addition: huge props to Anthony and DeShawn. They have really started attacking the glass. DeShawn had 9 rebounds and Wright pulled down 8. Not to mention Manny pulling down 6 and Ekpe 7. All together we outrebounded Illinois 43 to 36. I think the man-to-man has really helped our defensive rebounding but DeShawn especially seems to have started to find an extra gear in terms of hustle.