December 23, 2012 in Sports

Michigan’s shooting touch equals wins

Hitting 51.1 percent from floor has led to 12-0 start
Mark Snyder Detroit Free Press
 

Michigan is 12-0 primarily because of how well the Wolverines are shooting the ball.

At 51.1 percent from the field, they’re tied for fifth nationally. It’s enough of a sample size after 12 games to consider it a viable trend.

It’s a remarkable achievement, considering the Wolverines’ lowest shooting percentage this year came against Binghamton, when they hit just 44 percent from the field.

Why is that so impressive? In John Beilein’s first five years at Michigan, the Wolverines never topped 44 percent from the field for an entire season.

Eastern Michigan coach Rob Murphy refused to weigh in on Michigan’s Final Four chances after the Wolverines’ 93-54 whipping of the Eagles on Thursday, saying they were just one of 10 teams that have a good shot.

But the shooting overwhelmed him.

Michigan shot 50.7 percent from the field, below its season average. But that’s still impressive considering Eastern’s opponents entered the game shooting just 38 percent from the field and no one before Michigan shot over 46 percent.

“I will say I never coached against a team who can shoot the ball at such a high rate as Michigan does,” Murphy said. “Every position except for the five-man (center) can really shoot the basketball.”

The overall shooting is boosted by its top two scorers having career years as guard Trey Burke is shooting 8 percent higher than last year (52 percent) and Tim Hardaway Jr. 5 percent higher than ever before (47 percent). The frontcourt has three big-minute players hitting at least 55 percent.

Even more impressive is that the Wolverines are 35th in 3-point attempts nationally, taking far more shots from longer distance than any of the other top five field-goal shooting teams.

The numbers are likely to fade as the Big Ten season starts with familiar foes, more physical play and more athletic defenders.

“I don’t like to compare teams because all the other guys get mad at me,” Beilein said Thursday of previous Michigan or West Virginia squads. “But this is a good shooting team, as good as some other teams we’ve had. The ones that were really good could shoot.”


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