Michigan ’09-10 Preview
Best team in the state? It’s possible.
Throughout the history of college basketball the University of Michigan gained prestigious distinction for their ability to produce competitive teams. From the 1989 NCAA Championship squad to the officially extinct “Fab Five” bunch of the early 90s, the Michigan Wolverines have consistently stayed relevant.
All the way up until the new millennium, the Wolverines were running the Great Lakes State, as far as hoops were concerned, and no other team could do anything about it. That was until the Michigan State Spartans emerged from behind-the-scenes and hoisted their first NCAA title banner since the Magic Johnson-led team of 1979. Since then, MSU landed all of the top-tier Michigan athletes, monopolizing the local hoops scene and leaving U-M in the dust.
Then the Wolverines caught a huge break when a big kid from Detroit decided to verbally commit to the organization as a senior at Pershing High School on August 12, 2005. This same kid later signed his national letter of intent to Michigan during the early signing period on November 9, 2005 and has since been the cornerstone to the school’s recent success. The kid’s name is DeShawn “Peedi” Sims.
In his freshman season, Sims helped lead the team to a 20-plus win season (22-13) as well as second round appearance in the NIT. The following season, “Peedi” was paired with another Detroit standout, who also happened to be Michigan’s 2007 Mr. Basketball winner, when Redford’s Manny Harris decided to sign on the dotted line.
Since then, these two have been able to help revitalize fans of the Maize and Blue in Ann Arbor, MI. Although the duo accumulated 10 victories in their first collegiate season together, they were able to exceed expectations last season when they lead Michigan to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 11 years! The run stretched only to the second round when they were defeated, 73-63, by Blake Griffin and the Oklahoma Sooners.
Sims finished with 14 points and 6 boards while Harris ended with only 11 points after being in foul trouble for most of the game.
Other highlights from the season included victories over UCLA, Illinois, Indiana, Clemson and even Duke.
Despite all of this success, the year still failed to match to the run of the MSU Spartans, who competed in the National Championship game against the University of North Carolina. This is why the Wolverines are on a quest not only to show that they are the best in the state, but to also attempt to seriously compete for a national crown.
Here is what they have to build on:
Manny Harris | 6-5 | G | Junior
College basketball be afraid… be very afraid! Manny Harris is the real deal. Blessed with a complete arsenal of basketball skills, look for Harris to emerge as one of the nation’s elite players. Averaging 16.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game last season, he just continues to improve in every off-season. This year should be no different as he looks to extend on his stellar play and build upon his All-Big Ten First Team selection from last season.
With so much recent success, this also brings higher expectations, as Harris has been selected for several preseason All-American teams. The pressure is usually enough to bust pipes but I’m sure this tough kid from the “D” has faced much tougher situations than excelling on the hardwood so it shouldn’t be a problem.
DeShawn “Peedi” Sims | 6-8 | F | Senior
“Peedi” is as reliable as it gets and hasn’t missed a single game in the last two seasons. Consistency has also shaped his career as a Wolverine as he has also improved in every year increasing his scoring averages from 3.4 as a freshman to 12.3 as a sophomore to 15.4 as a junior. Sims also shot 50.5 percent from the field earning him a spot on the ‘08-09 All-Big Ten Second Team.
As he gets ready to use his final year of college eligibility, look for Sims to play as hard as he’s ever played in order to try to prove that he’s worthy of a spot on the professional level.
Laval Lucas-Perry | 6-3 | G | Redshirt Sophomore
With the new role this year as the team’s facilitator, Laval Lucas-Perry will have to be the team’s x-factor. At the point guard position, Lucas-Perry will remove some of the ball-handling duties from Manny and allow him to focus more on offense while also adding size to their backcourt. Appearing in 26 games and starting in 12 games last season, Lucas-Perry is familiar enough with the way that things are ran which should put trust in his teammates that he can deliver on this challenge.
Kelvin Grady | 5-11 | Guard
Ditching the hardwood for a spot on the football field, Grady left the Wolverines scratching their heads on who would fill the void. The speedy guard from Grand Rapids was a solid ball-handler who was comfortable with the ball in his hands and would’ve had made a big impact in the backcourt this season.
Matt Vogrich | 6-4 | G | Freshman
The Wolverines hope Vogrich can be just as half as good he was in his prep career at Lake Forest High School. Vogrich was the Gatorade Player for Illinois (2009), named to the Associated Press All-State first team (2009), and averaged 16.7 points per game while setting Lake Forest’s scoring record with 1,494 career points. The team is in search of another consistent role player to complement the skills of Manny and Peedi.
Darius Morris | 6-4 | G | Freshman
Morris looks to bring some sunshine to the cold winters in Michigan as the California native prepares for his first season in a Michigan uniform. Dominating the competition at Winward High School with averages of 21.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists, Morris adds more depth at the guard spot. He was also the John Wooden State Player of the Year for 2009.