Here's What I'm Thinking...The State Of Michigan Basketball
Michigan Basketball is definitely reeling a little bit right now. After losing to Penn State at home last night, Juwan Howard had a lot to say about everything being under control, that you can trust him, that there’s not going to be any doubt in the locker room, that nobody’s going to lose one another and that there’s a lot of season left to be played.
I’m just not sure I really believe all of that. The team looked poorly coached down the stretch last night and no one on the roster has really ever experienced a losing streak like this in college. If Michigan drops its next game against Illinois, which is also in Ann Arbor, things could get really hairy. Howard is right about one thing though, there is a lot of season left, but if Michigan plays like it did last night, that just means there’s going to be a lot more losses.
When Howard was hired, I was openly a little bit skeptical. I got roasted for it but I just had a feeling that someone who had never been a head coach before might struggle a bit, especially with this year’s roster. Honestly, I don’t think Michigan’s record would be much different if John Beilein were still the coach. The team lacks true play makers and guys who can go get their own shot, especially with Isaiah livers out.
The team is also struggling on defense. Howard has been perfectly content with letting other big men go off on Jon Teske and too often guards are able to get to the basket for an easy finish. Howard was particularly frustrated about this last night and seemed quite dejected as he said, “I just don’t understand,” when describing Michigan’s lack of communication on defense. But it's Howard's defense that is allowing other teams to execute like they are.
Zavier Simpson has also been asked to do too much, which includes shooting a lot more. Last night against Penn State he shot the ball 23 times. No offense to X, but if I’m an opposing coach I love the idea of him shooting the ball that much. Simpson is phenomenal at a lot of things on the basketball court but shooting simply isn’t one of them. He worked on it, and has gotten better, but he should not be pacing the Wolverines in shot attempts by nearly double digits.
All in all, I’m concerned. I just don’t know if Howard has the coaching chops to go toe to toe with other big-time coaches in the Big Ten. He’s recruiting like we never saw at Michigan under Beilein, which could make the difference for him moving forward, but the fruits of that labor is a ways off yet. If he can go out and land some of the best players in the country, his style of coaching will look a lot different. Until then, he better hope that Livers gets back in a hurry, that his guys remember how to communicate on defense and that his players start knocking down some open shots.
How worried are you about Michigan basketball? Do you think U-M will figure it out and start winning these games? Comment below!!!