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Posted on Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 11:09 a.m.

Once a matchup nightmare, production has dwindled from Michigan's 'worn down' Evan Smotrycz

By Nick Baumgardner

During the non-conference portion of this season's Michigan basketball schedule, Evan Smotrycz appeared close to turning the corner from a skinny shooter with size, to a legit Big Ten post presence.

But now, after a dip in production, he just seems tired.

Michigan coach John Beilein removed Smotrycz from the starting lineup Tuesday against Michigan State in favor of senior guard Stu Douglass.


Sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz (23) scored five points in 10 minutes in a win against Michigan State on Tuesday, the first time he's come off the bench this season.

Melanie Maxwell |

It was the first time this season the 6-foot-9 sophomore had come off the bench after starting the Wolverines' previous 18 games.

"I just want to get him in there playing with some energy," Beilein said. "I think he's really worn down right now.

"So we brought him off the bench."

With Smotrycz coming off the bench, Michigan went with a small starting lineup for the first time this season -- featuring Trey Burke at the point, Douglass at the two, Tim Hardaway Jr. at the three, Zack Novak at the four and Jordan Morgan at the five.

This isn't anything new, though, as Beilein started Douglass 12 times a year ago, relying heavily on the senior guard during Michigan's late push toward an NCAA Tournament bid.

This season, though, it appeared the Wolverines wouldn't have to go small to get by, as Smotrycz put up impressive numbers early on.

After posting 10 points and 10 rebounds against Penn State on Dec. 29, his third straight double-double, Smotrycz went into the new year averaging 11.5 points and 6.9 rebounds.

Praised for his improved rebounding numbers, Smotrycz was creating matchup nightmares for opponents with his outside shot -- as he was shooting 57.1 percent from 3-point range.

Since then, Smotrycz's production has dwindled.

Over Michigan's past six games, he has averaged 3.8 points and 4.2 rebounds and made 3 of his last 19 3-point attempts (15.8 percent).

Against Michigan State, the sophomore put up five points in 10 minutes, scoring on two solid drives to the basket. But he missed both of his 3-point field goals, still finished 2-for-6 from the floor and only had one rebound.

Smotrycz's limited action didn't hurt the Wolverines against Michigan State, as Novak did an admirable job of holding MSU senior forward Draymond Green to just seven points, and the team as a whole competed enough inside to hold Michigan State's points in the paint edge to just 30-28.

Michigan could see an additional bump in its frontcourt production soon. The coaching staff has hopes of bringing injured forward Jon Horford back to live practice as early as today.

Still, a full-strength Smotrycz clearly makes the team more potent. It's a fact Beilein is aware of, and something he hopes to see again soon.

"He's a much better four man than he was last year at this time, he'll give Zack a rest if we continue to go small," said Beilein, whose team will have had a full three days between games before playing at Arkansas on Saturday (2 p.m., CBS). "If not, he can play the five because he knows more positions (now).

"He didn't even know the five position last year at this time, so he can be very versatile right now."

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.

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Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 3:14 p.m.

its pronounced smonsterycz.


Fri, Jan 20, 2012 : 12:57 a.m.

.. He was huge in the ncaa tourney last year, hang in there Smotz.. you'll get you "second wind" Go Blue! v


Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 10:47 p.m.

I don't get what his role is. He always seems to be going away from his strength. He drives to the bucket (out of control most of the time) and throws shots up. Sometimes they go down, and it looks impressive, but more often he turns the ball over, or misses the shot. Also, he handles the ball WAY to much after rebounds. It's like Beilein has given him the latitude to take the ball up court, which he is not very good at. Post this guy up, or run him off screens for trey, and let him play D. Forget about this driving the bucket crap, and forget about bringing the ball up court.


Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 7:48 p.m.

The respect Coach Beilein has for his players is very impressive. He knows they want to perform at their best and he provides an atmosphere for them to make that achievement. The Coach has great interaction with his team captains (Douglass and Novak) to keep molding the team to stay in contention for the title. This scenario will help Evan Smotrycz ...and Tim Hardaway get back "in the groove." Go Blue!


Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

Smotrycz is going through the classic sophomore slump. But most of his teammates have the same 3 point shooting malaise as he does. It's amazing we win as many games as we do with the amount of time we run basically 4-guard offenses when either Smotrycz or Morgan are on the bench. It's a big weakness in our offense right now that hopefully will get better soon when Horford can play and Smotrycz has gotten "un-tired".


Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 7:24 p.m.

i remain highly optimistic. evan has had a tough stretch, no doubt. in the state game he did drive to the basket twice----impressively. i firmly believe he will be a big factor this season, and with two years left in A2 he will become a major contributor both scoring and rebounding . not everyone becomes a 'star' by his sophomore year. his career won't be destroyed if he comes off the bench the rest of this season.

Rob Pollard

Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 5:12 p.m.

This is worrisome - you're 19 years old (i.e., should be full of energy), the Big 10 season has barely started and he's "worn down"? They've only been playing two games a week, most of which have been at home Tuesday's game against MSU just started the toughest stretch of the season. There's not going to be anytime for rest. C'mon Evan - fire up!


Thu, Jan 19, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

Anybody else notice that Matt Shepard pronounces it "Smosh-trich" on the radio? It really grinds my gears.