Michigan Wolverines: Blake McLimans

WolverineNation mailbag 

December, 12, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Could a former Michigan coach return? What will Michigan’s record be next football season? This basketball season?

These questions and more are answered in this week’s WolverineNation mailbag. Chantel has the mailbag next week, so drop her questions at jenningsespn@gmail.com or @chanteljennings on Twitter.

Now, to your questions:

Five Questions: Tim Hardaway Jr.

September, 20, 2012
Editor's Note: In the buildup to Midnight Madness, we are taking an in-depth look at Joe Lunardi's top five seeds in a series called Countdown To Madness. In addition to the Insider stories, Eamonn Brennan will offer Three Big Things about each team and we'll have Five Questions with a player or coach from each squad.

For Tim Hardaway Jr., the scenario is becoming routine. Every single day on the Michigan campus -- whether he’s eating lunch with a teammate, sitting in class or walking to practice -- someone stops him to talk about Wolverines basketball.

“We could be out and about, and a group of fans will just walk up to us,” Hardaway said. “They’ll wish us luck and say, ‘Oh, we’re so excited for the season.’”

The buzz in Ann Arbor is certainly understandable.

One season after claiming a share of the Big Ten title, the Wolverines are expected to contend to reach the Final Four thanks to a mix of talented returnees, such as Hardaway and Trey Burke and highly touted newcomers Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III.

“There’s a lot of hype,” Hardaway said, “but I think we’re doing a good job of just making sure that everyone settles down. The season hasn’t even started yet. We’re all just preparing to play anyone in the country. Everyone is excited about the season. Everyone is trying to make it seem like we’re back. But we have a long way to go."

Hardaway, who averaged 14.6 points as a sophomore last season, spoke with ESPN.com earlier this week.

[+] EnlargeTim Hardaway Jr., John Beilein
Rick Osentoski/US PresswireTim Hardaway Jr. said Michigan coach John Beilein, left, puts great trust in his guards.
What’s the most encouraging thing you’ve seen from your teammates thus far?

Tim Hardaway Jr.: Just the mindset of everyone coming in, with everyone having the same intensity and passion about playing Michigan basketball. Everyone sees that and we’re all trying to fulfill our dreams and get back to where we were last year and win a Big Ten championship.

Who will be the “surprise player” on this year’s squad?

TH: Everyone has been making a lot of improvement. Jon Horford is coming off an injury and has been playing really well in the summer. Matt Vogrich has been shooting the ball really well. Blake McLimans is getting better. Jordan Morgan -- just everyone in general. Everyone has added little pieces to their game to make them more successful and help the team out any way they can.

Even though you had a great season overall, you went into a major shooting slump and made just 35 percent of your shots in February. How were you able to snap out of it and finish so strong?

TH: It was a team effort. We had a lot of guys coming into the locker room with me and having conversations about what I needed to work on. During the Nebraska game, Zack Novak talked to me at halftime before we walked onto the court. He said, "Hey, you can help the team out in different ways than scoring." Once I heard that, I think I just snapped out of it from then on. That’s what helped me out the most.

What did you do in the offseason to better prepare yourself for your junior year?

TH: I feel like I’ll be playing a lot more at my normal position [combo guard] instead of being at the 3-spot. We lost two of our main guards, Zack Novak and Stu Douglass, from last year. So I’m working on my ball-handling, guarding the point guard and guarding the shooting guard. I’m just trying to have fun and play Michigan basketball. Wherever Coach Beilein wants me to play, I’ll play. I’m not a picky guy. I just want to be out there on the floor and have fun and help my team in whatever way I can.

What’s the best part about part about playing for John Beilein, and what goals has this team set for itself?

TH: [Beilein] is an excellent coach. He lets us play. He lets the quarterback, the point guard, call out the plays. He has the utmost confidence in his guards to make the right decisions out there.

As far as goals, the first thing is to get better every day. We’ve been saying that since the first day of the fall semester. We’re not focused on national championships or Big Ten championships. We’ll worry about those later in the season. Right now we just want to do everything we can to get better as a team, build our chemistry up with these new freshmen and get better every single day.

Basketball banquet roundup 

April, 10, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- After a season in which the Michigan basketball team won a share of the Big Ten title, the Wolverines' end-of-season banquet entitled a "celebration" seemed just that. It was jovial and lighthearted, jokes were made and shots were taken at teammates.

Even Michigan basketball coach John Beilein got in on the action.

While introducing each class he picked on juniors Matt Vogrich and Blake McLimans, telling the crowd both needed to get a hair cut. Later, he looked over at Vogrich and asked, "Have I really never started you? I must not know what I'm doing."

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Where Michigan hoops goes now 

March, 21, 2012
The Michigan basketball roster had a major overhaul Wednesday afternoon when sophomores Evan Smotrycz and Colton Christian along with freshman Carlton Brundidge decided to transfer.

This is a big shift for a program that had been trending upward the past few seasons. It loses a former starter in Smotrycz and someone who was looked at as a likely backup point guard to Trey Burke in Brundidge.

It also leaves Michigan with more holes to fill than it had 24 hours ago. Here's the immediate aftermath:

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F Morgan displays on-court maturity 

February, 19, 2012
In practice this week, redshirt sophomore forward Jordan Morgan told teammate Blake McLimans that given the chance against Ohio State, he would dunk left-handed.

McLimans didn't believe the right-handed forward, who has been known more for his struggles against Jared Sullinger than his prowess in the post.

But then, on Saturday in No. 19 Michigan basketball's 56-51 win over the sixth-ranked Buckeyes, Morgan flew down the floor in transition and brought the Crisler Center to its feet with his left-handed tomahawk dunk.

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3-pointers: Michigan 68, Indiana 56 F 

February, 1, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- This was a game that Michigan would not have won last season. Blowing a 20-point lead against a talented team at home and needing to make free throws down the stretch, Michigan would have lost.

This season, however, the Wolverines are much more capable of being able to deal with an opponent’s elongated run and then come back to finish off the game, like No. 22 Michigan did on Wednesday in a 68-56 win over No. 20 Indiana.

“I don’t know,” senior guard Stu Douglass said. “If we would have missed our free throws, yeah, we would have lost this game. But right about now, we started to make our turnaround and started to get tougher mentally, but if we would have missed those free throws, yeah, it would have been a lot tougher.”

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Three keys at No. 3 Ohio State 

January, 28, 2012
The No. 22 Michigan men's basketball team doesn’t call the third-ranked Buckeyes, Ohio or "That School Down South." But that doesn’t mean the rivalry is any less bitter.

Ohio State has been one of the more difficult teams to beat during the last few seasons for Michigan. Seniors Stu Douglass and Zack Novak have only come out victorious once during their time at Michigan. Last season, the Wolverines lost to the Buckeyes three times (though never by more than nine points).

"I think there’s bad blood between Michigan and Ohio State regardless," redshirt sophomore Jordan Morgan said. "It could be checkers or chess, whatever, I think there’s bad blood regardless."

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan sophomore forward Jon Horford is progressing from a stress fracture in his right foot that has kept him out of the past seven games.

Wolverines coach John Beilein said Horford will miss the team's games against Northwestern on Wednesday and at Iowa on Sunday as they wait for him to be cleared. Horford had an X-ray on his foot Monday and Beilein received the results Tuesday.

"There is improvement in his foot," Beilein said. "This week he's actually going to begin to start shooting on his own. We are going to do a lot of water therapy and physical therapy with him just to get him ready."

(Read full post)

Next season, the Wolverines will most likely have one of the strongest inside games in the country with 2012 power forward commit Mitch McGary. But this season, with sophomore forward Jon Horford out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his foot, Michigan’s post game will look a little different.

Redshirt sophomore forward Jordan Morgan has secured himself the starting spot for the Wolverines, but the backup big man is a bit more unexpected -- 6-foot-9 sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz.

Smotrycz has been a solid wing player for Michigan this season, but with Horford out, the sophomore leapfrogged 6-foot-10 junior Blake McLimans for the backup position.

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Michigan's 3 keys vs. Minnesota 

December, 31, 2011
The No. 16 Michigan basketball team opened its Big Ten season with a convincing 71-53 win over Penn State, a team in transitional due to the loss of guard Talor Battle to graduation and coach Ed DeChellis to the Navy head coaching job.

Now, the Wolverines will welcome Minnesota to Crisler Arena. The Gophers are also slightly depleted after losing senior forward Trevor Mbakwe to injury in November. Last season, Mbakwe was the Big Ten’s leading rebounder and before his injury he had been averaging 14 points and nine rebounds per game.

The last time Minnesota came to Ann Arbor, the Gophers left with a 69-64 victory. And last week, Michigan coach John Beilein said he had been surprised with how poorly his team had played against Minnesota that time around.

There are some lose ends to tie up with the Gophers and Michigan is very serious about winning its home games this season. But in order to do that, here are three keys for the Wolverines.

  1. Redshirt sophomore Jordan Morgan and sophomore Evan Smotrycz can’t get into foul trouble. With Smotrycz now as the backup at five and Morgan starting, the Wolverines can’t afford to get into foul trouble down low. Yes, the Gophers don’t have Mbakwe, but junior forward Rodney Williams and senior center Ralph Sampson III are serviceable in the paint and if it comes down to a junior Blake McLimans matchup with either, it might get ugly for Michigan.
  2. Switch up between the 1-3-1 zone defense and man-to-man. The Gophers don’t have too many strong outside scoring threats, so if the Wolverines can throw out the 1-3-1 zone defense a bit to keep the tempo changing, Minnesota will be forced into reacting to what Michigan gives it. The only downside with the zone is that it puts players like Smotrycz and Morgan in a greater position to foul because of help defense and a greater area of coverage. But, if Beilein uses the 1-3-1 sparingly, it could be a good tool to force turnovers and get easy transition buckets.
  3. Share the ball to get balanced scoring. There will be games where sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr. needs to score 20-plus points in order for the Wolverines to win. This is not one of them. Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said what made Michigan so difficult to defend was the number of options the Wolverines had for scoring. If Michigan shares the ball and gets double digits out of (at least) four of its players, the Wolverines put themselves in good position to put this one away early.

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Three keys vs. Penn State 

December, 29, 2011
Big Ten season has finally arrived and while Michigan might say it is looking forward to it, everything becomes a lot more difficult. Yes, the Wolverines have played some difficult early season games (Duke and Memphis in Maui along with Virginia, Iowa State and Oakland), but the Big Ten is the nation's best league this season.

And it might not be close.

So this is what Michigan enters tonight against Penn State, a team it swept last season and one expected to finish toward the bottom of the league. It makes games like these, against a bottom-tier team at home, become more critical for the Wolverines to win. How will Michigan do that?

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Horford out for Big Ten opener

December, 28, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan sophomore forward Jon Horford will miss at least the Big Ten opener Thursday against Penn State as he continues to try and return from a foot injury.

Horford had an MRI last week, which showed a stress fracture in his right foot. He hasn’t practiced in more than two weeks, doing nothing more on a daily basis than sitting in a chair and shooting on a lowered basketball hoop.

Michigan coach John Beilein said Horford won’t be playing for at least a week.

(Read full post)

Horford injury not progressing

December, 21, 2011

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan sophomore forward Jon Horford’s right foot stress injury is not healing as the team initially expected.

Due to this, Michigan coach John Beilein said Wednesday that Horford may be out longer than anticipated.

“Probably a week-by-week basis,” Beilein said. “Unless there’s something today, and he’s not going to practice today, that we’d use him in an emergency, but we’ll see.”

(Read full post)

Jennings' 3-pointers vs. Alabama A&M 

December, 17, 2011
The No. 18 Michigan basketball team had a pretty sloppy first minute against Alabama A&M, which gave the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead. But from there, the Wolverines controlled the game and cruised to an 87-57 victory, staying undefeated at home.

The lopsided game gave Michigan a chance to throw some riskier passes and take some shots that might have been considered ill-advised against other teams. But at times that approach became sloppy -- Michigan committed 15 turnovers (one more than Alabama A&M).

And while Alabama A&M did cut Michigan’s lead to nine points with 9:00 remaining in the first half, the Wolverines never looked too frazzled and managed to close out the game without relenting too much, something they’ve struggled with throughout the non-conference schedule.

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3-point analysis: Virginia

November, 29, 2011
No. 15 Michigan trailed by just one point at halftime to Virginia, but a 15-0 run from the Cavaliers and Virginia’s ability to slow the pace of the game gave Michigan a 70-58 loss in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr. picked up two early fouls and spent about 15 minutes of the first half on the bench after Michigan coach John Beilein pulled him out of the game. But even without Hardaway Jr., the Wolverines were able to keep it close -- something they weren’t able to do against Duke when the sophomore had zero first-half points.

The Cavaliers, who had 16 assists to Michigan’s eight, executed their offense mechanically against Beilein’s 1-3-1 zone defense and exploited the mismatches in the man-to-man, specifically with fifth-year senior Mike Scott. The 6-foot-8 forward picked up his third double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Virginia’s defense kept Michigan from establishing any rhythm and kept the Wolverines from scoring for nearly seven minutes in the second half. It was Michigan’s first true road game of the season, as the Wolverines got a very rude awakening from a spirited Virginia crowd.

1. Beilein ran with a deeper rotation. Twelve different guys played for Michigan, but there was no real bench production for the Wolverines. Outside of the starting five and senior guard Stu Douglass, only six points came from the bench. And those six points came in the final minute on 3-pointers by juniors Blake McLimans and Eso Akunne both hit 3-pointers after Virginia had already solidified its victory.

2. Foul trouble made major trouble for Michigan. Hardaway’s two early fouls kept him out of the first half and sophomore Evan Smotrycz, who scored 10 points, only played nine minutes in the second half after picking up his fourth foul early. He ended up fouling out with 1:35 remaining in the game, but Virginia was up 11 by that point. The Cavaliers attacked the paint and Scott drew fouls from several Wolverines. Virginia shot 17-for-22 from the charity stripe, while the Wolverines only got to the free-throw line seven times.

3. Hardaway Jr. never got going. Even when he came back into the game after halftime, the sophomore didn’t make up for lost time. The 6-foot-5 guard, who was averaging 15 points a game before Virginia, finished the game with five points off 2-for-9 shooting. He didn’t grab a single rebound despite playing 25 minutes. In Michigan’s loss to Duke, when Hardaway Jr. was held scoreless in the first half, he came out and exploded for 19 second-half points, but against Virginia there seemed to be a lid on the basket for the sophomore, as he struggled to produce.


Michigan C Cites Concussions In Decision To Quit
Joe Schad discusses how concussions and a concern over long-term health have helped Michigan center Jack Miller decide not to play football his senior year.