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Why Michigan Basketball Isn't As Bad As You Think

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 12: Guard Darius Morris #4 of the Michigan Wolverines controls the ball during the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 12, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Chris ScheiCorrespondent IApril 27, 2010

Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims are gone. The Detroit duo that gave Michigan fans reason for hope and carried Michigan to the NCAA Tournament is off to greener pastures.

It's time to move on.

While many agree that Michigan basketball is in a tough place right now, I still have reason for optimism. While I think it's a stretch, I don't think it's totally unrealistic that Michigan could find itself back in the NCAA Tournament next season. I'll try to persuade you.

The defense will be improved. In recent years, Sims simply couldn't afford to play aggressive defense because he needed to avoid foul trouble. Instead of other teams having the luxury of making teams earn it at the foul line, oftentimes Michigan would be giving away easy baskets.

But with the arrivals of Evan Smotrycz and Jon Horford, plus Blake McLimans and Jordan Morgan coming off redshirt seasons, Michigan will have the frontcourt depth it has sorely lacked in recent seasons. In theory, more fouls to give should lead to fewer easy baskets.

The shooting will be improved. Smotrycz, McLimans, and Matt Vogrich are the keys here. McLimans is 6'10" and is a deadly three-point shooter. Smotrycz has been compared to Sims with his game, and a hopefully vast improvement from Vogrich, who looked lost in his freshman season, would be sorely needed.

While Michigan could not land Trey Zeigler, they are the leading candidate for Isaiah Sykes, who is a slasher/scorer. Add him with Jordan Dumars and Tim Hardaway Jr., and the Wolverines have great frontcourt depth.

Last but not least, the improvement of Darius Morris will be huge for this team. After struggling early on in his freshman season, Morris was a different player down the stretch last year. His ball-handling, defense, and assist-turnover ratio vastly improved. He won't score much, but he is developing into a very steady point guard with great leadership.

Overall, I'm already excited for Michigan basketball next year. With a little luck, we can surprise some people once again.

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