|Michigan's Beilein preaches patience with program|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 10 November 2008 22:53|
Beilein isn't counting out the Wolverines before their season starts Tuesday night at home against Michigan Tech, but he's trying to keep expectations modest and realistic.
``Ultimately, we'll be judged on wins and losses. But in our second year, we're still trying to get our head above water,'' Beilein said in an interview with The Associated Press. ``In the programs we've turned around, it was the third or fourth year before we had results.''
Michigan lost a school-record 22 games last year in Beilein's first season.
The coach with 30 years of experience wasn't discouraged, though, after leading turnarounds at West Virginia, Richmond, Canisius, LeMoyne, Nazareth and a community college.
Beilein radically changed what the Wolverines did at both ends of the court, asking them to launch 3-pointers in a free-flowing offense and to play zone defense at times.
e players seemed to pick up the schemes.
``You notice it in practice when the returning players know so much more than the freshmen,'' Beilein said. ``That learning curve should shorten the gap between us and some of the premier teams, hopefully putting us in a position to win more games.
``We'll need to have some breaks to go our way as we build this program in the early stages, but I really like the direction we're headed.''
Michigan had a setback in the offseason, losing Ekpe Udoh as a transfer to Baylor after he improved his game to become an offensive threat in Beilein's system.
``Time will tell how much we miss him as a player and a person,'' Beilein said. ``But right now, I really like our team, and I like our chemistry.''
The Wolverines will be led by sophomore guard Manny Harris, who scored a team-high 16 points per game last season and was an All-Big Ten second-team player.
``I can't remember one time in our coaching career that we tried to create as many opportunities as we did for Manny last year,'' Beilein said. ``We didn't really have a choice because he was our best scoring option, but we're hoping he becomes more of a complete player this year.''
Michigan will be banking on forward DeShawn Sims to take another step forward after increasing his scoring average from 3.4 points to 12 from his freshman to sophomore seasons.
Sims is counting on it, too.
e the mindset and drive to be productive for the whole season and not just at times like I have in the past,'' Sims said. ``I learned the offense last year, but now I'm really feeling it and just playing without thinking as much.''
If the Wolverines are going to be competitive in the top-heavy Big Ten, they'll need players such as junior center Zach Gibson to be more than just a role player. They'll also need freshman guards Stu Douglass and Zach Novak, both from Indiana, to quickly turn potential into production.
``I think our freshman shooters are really going to help us by stretching the defense, making it tougher to stop us,'' Sims said.
Michigan should get a lift after the fall semester when guard Laval Lucas-Perry is eligible to play after transferring from Arizona.
``He's practicing with us now, and that's really helping him and us,'' Beilein said. ``He's going to make us much better when he can play, and hopefully that will result in the wins we all want.''