November 16, 2009
The Hunt for the Most Interesting Team in the World is the Dagger's 2009-10 countdown preview series. Check out the overriding principles here.
Last year's record: 21-14 (9-9, Big Ten)
2009-2010's toughest games: vs. Creighton in Old Spice Classic (possible later opponents: Marquette, Xavier, Florida State, Baylor), vs. Boston College, at Utah, at Kansas, vs. Connecticut
Primary attraction: Last year they went dancing for the first time since 1998. Can John Beilein's squad finish the rebuilding effort in Ann Arbor by turning the Wolverines into Big Ten contenders?
Three items of undeniable interest:
1. Manny being Manny -- As Manny Harris goes, so do the Wolverines. In Michigan's last seven losses of 2009, the guard averaged 10.1 points per game. In the team's final seven wins, he doubled his scoring output with 20.5 per game. With an off-season emphasis on improved ball-handling and a stated goal of going to the line more, expect Harris to get his points. If he can get his teammates involved when opponents are keying in on him, however, expect even more Ws for Michigan this year. Harris had a triple-double in Michigan's first win of the year.
2. John Beilein -- In his third year at West Virginia, Beilein's team came within an overtime of going to the Final Four as a No. 7 seed. This is his third year at Michigan. His guard-centric offense came into its own last year and should see some perimeter help from freshman guard Matt Vogrich. But the inside presence will still need another player to step up in rebounding. DeShawn Sims can only do so much in the paint.
3. Fans -- Michigan will always be a football school, but with Rich Rodriguez's squad mired in another disastrous season, the Wolverines basketball team should have no trouble getting headlines early in the season. Now the question is, can the basketball team score more than the football team allows?
Five Four: No truth to the rumor that Chris Webber was originally in this photo until the NCAA made Michigan airbrush him out: