2008-2009 Season

Game 4: Michigan vs. Duke Pre-Game

Who: Duke vs. Michigan
Where: Madison Square Garden
When: 7:00 PM EST (30 minutes after SIU/UCLA ends)

PROGRAMMING UPDATE: I’m going to experiment with a LiveBlog tonight. It’ll be a test run but try to participate, should be fun.

Michigan just won their first game over a top 5 team since 1997 (a win over Duke) but their reward a game against the Blue Devils and another double digit spread.

I didn’t catch the Duke game but it looks like they struggled early (the halftime score was the same as our game) before rolling in the second half. The staggering number from Duke’s game last night is they shot 47 free throws and made 40 of them — Duke averages 34 free throw attempts per game . To compare to Michigan’s game last night there were 17 free throw attempts total. As in every game it’s important to stay out of foul trouble. This means Manny can’t pick up the cheap charges and Gibson can’t pick up the ticky-tack fouls around the hoop. Here is the Duke Basketball Report’s take on last night’s Duke vs. SIU game.

Looking down the roster there are the names you are familiar with: Paulus, Henderson, Singler, and Scheyer carry a lot of the weight. Although sophomore Nolan Smith has stepped into a starting role in the backcourt and Paulus now comes off the bench. This gives Duke a much more versatile and athletic option at the point. Duke has the shooters to blow any game wide open if they are left open for three. Henderson was 4-5 from long range last night against the Salukis who are known as a very strong defensive program. Timely three point shooting mixed with getting to the foul line seems to be the Duke recipe for success. The key for Michigan is not letting these guys get the wide open looks from deep that UCLA couldn’t convert.

Looking at our own team some quick thoughts on a couple guys:

  • DeShawn Sims: Has the lightbulb gone on? He looks so much more comfortable down low this year. Big games are where Peedi disappeared last year and now he is stepping up whether he starts or not.
  • Manny Harris: Nothing extraordinary last night and disappeared at times but he hit some huge threes in the second half and the clutch FTs down the stretch.
  • Stu Douglass: Ice in his veins. Those were some huge threes.
  • Zack Gibson: We are going to need something out of him offensively and defensively. Still trying to figure out what he can provide night in and night out.
  • Anthony Wright: He’s gotta get hot sometime and he made some big time passes especially the dime to Peedi late in the game.

The matchups tonight are intriguing as it will probably be Henderson on Harris and Singler on Sims. This matches up arguably the best players on the court. While this team is establishing an identity and proving they aren’t last year’s team it’s important to remember last year’s debacle at Cameron Indoor and not get carried away.

This team has a newly discovered confidence and it will be really interesting to see how it translates to the court tonight. They looked timid early in the UCLA game but took their punches and stayed in the game. By the end of the game they were the ones dictating the pace and play. Do we come out with the same swagger early against Duke? It could be a fun night if we hold onto the ball and hit a couple triples. It’s becoming very clear to me why Beilein has so much success in a tournament atmosphere, there just isn’t enough time for other teams to prepare to face the 1-3-1 and his offense in a night or two.

Lot’s of reactions to U-M’s win last night, here are some highlights:

Let’s hear your predictions for the game tonight in the comments. And a final UMHoops.com recommendation: listen to tonights game on mute.

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