State down, Michigan to go for men’s basketball

Ray Bressette

With the Michigan State experience behind them, the NMU men’s basketball team travels to another Division I powerhouse this weekend to face the No. 25-ranked Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor.

NMU head coach Bill Sall said the exhibition games are beneficial to his player’s college experiences.re-Men's Basketball

“It’s a game all our guys are looking forward to,” Sall said. “It’s a lot of fun playing in these types of atmospheres, and all of the players and coaches are making memories that we will all remember for the rest of our lives.”

The Wildcats faced the No. 13-ranked Michigan State Spartans last week on Wednesday, Nov. 4
in Lansing.

The ’Cats held State to a five-point 38-33 lead at the half, but Michigan State than put up 56 points in the second half to earn a 94-53 win.

Sall said his team showed great athleticism on the defensive end and rebounded well in the first half. However, he added that his team needs to adjust better to
adverse situations.

“Our guys had a lot of panic shots when things were going south, which led to easy transition baskets,” Sall said. “We did not rebound as a team in the second half, and therefore a lead of five points suddenly turned to double digits.”

Senior guard Terry Nash sustained an injury early in the second half against the Spartans and had to be assisted off the court.

“Our biggest concern right now is maintaining health and avoid guys from building some rust,” Sall said. “Our team is a little banged up right now, but nothing too
serious.”

NMU’s final exhibition match of the season against Michigan will tip off at 7 p.m. at the Chrysler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. on Nov. 13.

The Wolverines finished their 2014-15 season with a 16-16 overall record and 8-10 in conference play, landing ninth in the Big Ten conference and reaching the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament.

Michigan’s senior guard Caris Levert was ranked the 18th best player in college basketball on CBSsports.com, as last season the 6-foot-7 guard averaged 14.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists in his junior season. Levert also shot 40.5 percent from the three-point range and 81 percent from the
freethrow line.

“Michigan is a team where you’re going to see more half-court style offense than last week with State,” Sall said. “We should be able to hold serve on the glass because they’re not aggressive on offensive rebounding. Michigan has guys 6-foot-8 and up at your positions with smaller point guards, so you have a lot more size to worry about.”

Perez said the ’Cats are looking to adjust this week from their second half mistakes last week against
the Spartans.

“State came out strong in the second half, and we just weren’t prepared for that,” Perez said. We didn’t handle the adversity well enough, and it obviously showed. We learned from that, and I feel this week we will be more prepared.”

Michigan head coach John Beilein is entering his ninth season with the Wolverines, and has earned a 166-110 record in that time. Beilein has led the Wolverines to a pair of Big Ten regular season championships (2012, 2014) and one Final Four appearance (2013). Michigan has made the NCAA tournament five of the last
seven seasons.

Perez said his team needs to maintain focus in another hostile Division I environment.

“We have to stay together, last week showed how easy things can fall apart,” Perez said. “We have to stay as a team, listen to our coaches and run our plays right. We need to play together better on defense and communicate, and hopefully all those things will add up and we can pull out a win.”