Purdue is one of the surprises of the early season. I thought they'd suck, suck, and suck some more, but they've been better than decent compared to their car-crash-in-slow-motion season last year. On offense there's really only one true scorer, Carl Landry at forward. Landry is a stud and was named All-Wonk 1.0 over at Big Ten Wonk for his early season work. Not the best defender in the world or all that careful with the ball, but he can put the rock in the bucket with gusto. Other than Landry, Senior guard David Teague is capable of contributing to the Purdue offense. He averaged almost 15 a game in 2004, but missed 2005 due to injury. Now that he's back, his numbers resemble Dion Harris' numbers, except Harris' FG% is much worse and Teague's pulled down 30 more boards. However, Harris has 30 more assists.
Purdue isn't an assist type team. Keaton Grant and Teague are type for the team lead with 42 assists. Further, neither have particularly accurate shots, so the majority of Purdue's points will come from down low. Expect Udoh and Petway to hammer Landry all game and expect Courtney Sims to see the ball down low quite a bit. If I was Amaker I'd have Baker on the court every second Sims was out there to give Michigan a long ball threat. It would keep the second defender off Sims and allow him a little more room to operate. But that would make sense.
Michigan is the better team. However, the Wolverines have never played well on the road under Amaker. The last two games have shown Michigan is capable of playing defense, and is capable of passing the ball without passing it to the other team. If Michigan plays in a controlled style they should beat Purdue. However, if Dion Harris launches 20 shots, we lose. Take that to the bank. Michigan needs to keep driving the lane, posting up with Sims, and letting Arbam take open shots. If Sims has ten shots and the rest of the shooting is evenly distributed, Michigan wins.
We'll see what happens. Michigan needs this game. Let's hope they play like it.
Bakermania Takes Hold of News Media
Free Press UM basketball beat writer Eric Lacy is a little behind the times in catching on to the fact that Baker was a decent pick up for the Wolverines. He does give Baker his due though. Good kid. Great shot. Works harder than everyone else on the court. Way ahead of you Eric...
The piece is a good, but brief, look back at Baker's strange journey to Michigan. Definitely worth a Reed (heyoo!). One annoying little aside from Lacy's article. Apparently there's a super secret memo floating around the legitimate media telling them to, at every opportunity, decry the internets as a place of evil where puppies are slaughtered and the Devil plots his plans following the Rapture. For that or some other reason Lacy takes a shot at the people who were slightly irritated when Baker was originally signed, instead of, you know, someone they'd actually heard of.
Memo to Lacy, the internet message boards were RIGHT to decry Amaker for signing a player he'd never seen. Normally when offering a full ride to someone that totals close to $50,000 a year for education, room, board, and clothing, the people who are PAYING or have paid that amount out of pocket to attend Michigan expect that the coach will actually know who the player is. It's a school pride issue. Michigan is a selective academic institution. We expect the same out of our athletics.
But when Lacy wrote this, I did giggle a tad:
Someone on a Michigan State fan Web site wondered if Baker made a mistake, thinking he committed to the Spartans.
No Eric. It wasn't a Michigan State "fan Web site". That was me.
One thing that is for sure, he's never seen Crisler. "To play in a packed house in front of 20,000 fans screaming with every game on ESPN, it's going to be incredible," [Baker was quoted as saying]. Apparently he thinks he committed to Michigan State. Reed. Quick heads up. We wear the blue and white jerseys.
While no one expected Reed to be the second coming of Jesus, there were indicia that he could become a decent ball player.
[T]he vibe on the kid seems to be he's a decent ball player. The Birmingham Southern site also mentions that he cracked 30 points four times his senior year. Combine that with the assertion he shot 88% from the free throw line, we could be looking at a quiet 10-15 a night mixed with some apples.
Have I been that far off? Lester Abram told us he was good over the summer, and I believed him. The message boards are fine for good old fashion rumormongering and venting frustration. However, there are lots of us who go out of our way to give informed and mostly accurate information on the people we talk about. Final thought on my irritated aside, cite your damn "message boards" and "Michigan State fan Web sites" when you talk about them.
(Soap box being put away)
To Lacy's credit he does have a great Q&A on Michigan at (2-0) in conference so far. One point he makes about the Michigan offense is something that's driven me nuts about Amaker's teams for years: the rushed, deep, unnecessary 3 point shot with lots of time on the shot clock. Rightly, Lacy points out that cutting down on those shots (cough Dion Harris cough) will greatly improve the team's chances of winning games.
Michigan has two games against Purdue sandwiching a game against Penn State, before two road games against Wisconsin and Indiana. As you can probably guess, the next three games are critical to Michigan's season. If the last two games are indicative of how Michigan will play the next few weeks, then expect good things. If Michigan falls back into the patterns it displayed against NC State, UCLA and G-Town, cringe in fear and assume the fetal position.