It was an unofficial homecoming for Hunter Dickinson, Terrence Williams II and Doug McDaniel Thursday night as the three Wolverines returned to the area where they grew up. It was the first time any of the three had played in front of a Maryland crowd.
However, the homecoming game was spoiled as Michigan’s offense faltered in a 64-58 loss at the hands of the Terrapins. Here are three points from the game, as Michigan fell to 10-8 overall and 4-3 in the Big Ten.
It’s no secret that Michigan has had lineup problems all season. Since Jaelin Llewellyn went down with an ACL injury in a game against Kentucky in December, Joan Howard has faced the difficult task of putting the right five-man combination on the floor.
Dug McDaniel has filled in well for Llewellyn, but the freshman can’t play 40 minutes per game. When McDaniel is on the bench, Kobe Bufkin usually slides into the point guard role, but this affects the rest of the lineup.
Coach Howard has recently been grounding Dickinson and Tarris Reed at the same time, and he seems to be doing fairly well in recent games, but the two big guys were sharing the floor sparingly Thursday night. Reed played only four minutes in the first half, while Dickinson carried the load for Michigan at “5.”
Going forward, it will be interesting to see if Howard returns to the Dickinson-Reed lineup, or if he continues to only give Reed minutes when Dickinson is on the bench.
Terrance Williams’ strong performance
It’s no secret that Williams has had a tough junior season, but the 6-foot-7 striker is very much alive coming home. The young man went to work on the councils and his efforts were certainly needed on Thursday night.
He finished the night with nine points and 12 rebounds, but the Maryland native showed signs of improvement and, most importantly, losing confidence. He hasn’t been Michigan’s most productive player this season, but if he regains his confidence heading into the final third of the season, it will be huge for Michigan.
In last season’s NCAA Tournament, Williams against Tennessee had two big touchdowns to help the Wolverines win. This kind of confidence from rookies could be crucial to Michigan’s late-season success.
Bench production needs improvement
In the second half, Joey Baker provided a much-needed spark with five straight points, but bench production remains a concern for Juwan Howard and the Wolverines. To go along with Baker’s five points, Reed added four, and Will Cheeter added two.
Overall, the bench combined for 11 points in the loss. Isaiah Barnes was the only other player off the bench to see the floor, but he failed to score a stat in seven minutes of action.
If Michigan wants to make the NCAA tournament, it will need to find more production off the bench. The starting five players don’t have enough experience to take the team to a win on the road, and the bench will play a vital role moving forward.
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