2011-2012 Season

Game 1: Ferris State at Michigan Preview

Who: Michigan (0-0) vs. Ferris State (0-0) Ferris-State_Bullgogs_Logo[1]
Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
When: 7 p.m. ET, November 11th, 2011
TV: BTN.com (Subscription Required)
Radio: MGoBlue / WWJ (950 AM)/WWWW (102.9 FM
Video: Beilein Pre-Game / Smotrycz & Douglass Pre-Game

Michigan hosts its second GLIAC opponent in seven days but this one counts in the record books. Ferris State took Indiana to overtime at Assembly Hall last season and finished first in the GLAIC North and advanced to the Division II Sweet 16. However, this year’s Bulldog squad is almost certainly a cut below last year’s with significant departures across the board.

Ferris was already blown out, 85-58, at the Breslin Center and lost at Division III Calvin College in exhibition games this season. The Bulldogs lost four starters from a year ago and return only one player that averaged more than six points per game . It’s safe to say that this year is a rebuilding year in Big Rapids.

Daniel Sutherlin, Jerrell Sanders and Kenny Brown

Ferris State was picked third in the GLIAC North and will rely on 6-foot-6 senior wing Jerrell Sanders to provide the bulk of the offensive production.  Junior guards Kenny Brown and  Daniel Sutherlin have also proven to be integral parts of the Bulldog offense. Ferris hasn’t shot the ball well in early exhibition games, making under 30 percent of its threes versus Michigan State and Calvin, and has also been dominated on the glass. Michigan State rebounded an astounding 55 percent of their misses.

It’s clear that, at this point, Ferris State isn’t a great team. That doesn’t really matter if Michigan plays in a similar fashion to last week’s exhibition game. That performance was underwhelming in almost every area. Michigan shot the ball terribly, was outrebounded and looked generally lethargic in a 47-39 win.

As painful as that performance was, it’s probably one of the most useful coaching tools available at this point in the season. As positive as Bacari Alexander can be, you can bet that he dished out a few reminders in practice that Michigan was outrebounded and only scored 47 points against Wayne State. Subtle encouragement.

It will be a new starting lineup for Michigan as freshman point guard Trey Burke has earned the start in his first official college game. This should come as no surprise, Burke is a point guard at heart and Douglass is not. Whether or not Burke is one of Michigan’s top five players (he very well may be), he needs to start because he is the only true point guard on the Wolverine roster.

Zack Novak, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Evan Smotrycz all remain in the lineup as well as the other notable, Jon Horford. Horford’s slot in the starting lineup comes as a surprise because Morgan was a significantly better player a year ago, starting all but one game. Both players had forgettable exhibition performances but they’ll certainly be the primary position battle to watch this evening.

Three things to watch:

  • Tim Hardaway Jr.’s ability to create for others after tallying five turnovers to just one assist in Michigan’s exhibition game.
  • Evan Smotrycz needs to put together a stronger performance. He missed several shots early and never seemed to find a groove afterward in Michigan’s exhibition. Can he remain confident through early struggles and find his shooting stroke?
  • Offensive flow: Michigan’s offensive possessions looked uncomfortable and forced in exhibition play, does inserting Burke in the lineup lead to more natural and flowing offensive possessions or do the Wolverines continue to struggle to score?

Any season opener needs a hype video:

Elsewhere: Mike Rothstein profiles Stu Douglass’s many roles and chats with Derrick Walton. Nick Baumgardner breaks down four things to watch in tonight’s game. MGoBlue has a pair of video interview features with Evan Smotrycz and Stu Douglass.

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