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Posted on Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 10:19 p.m.

Utah's size might force Michigan basketball to go big

By Michael Rothstein

For weeks, Michigan coach John Beilein has been discussing the possibility of playing senior forward DeShawn Sims and fifth-year senior center Zack Gibson at the same time.

But the Wolverines either didn’t practice the lineup enough or their opponent didn't present a good matchup to warrant the experiment.

On Wednesday, though, he might have no choice.

Utah has started both 7-foot-3 sophomore David Foster and 6-foot-11 forward Kim Tillie in all eight of its games this season. And there’s another 7-footer, Jason Washburn from Battle Creek, coming off the bench.

This is the definition of height on a front line in basketball, something Beilein’s smaller
crew will have to compensate for.

“What you always expect from Utah,” Beilein said. “They’re huge. We’re talking 7-3, 7-foot, 6-11, skilled players. Got some guys back from a team that was very, very good last year.

“We will not see size like this the entire year so just adapting to that.”

The adaptation might include playing Sims and Gibson, who has been Michigan’s most efficient player this season, together.

Inserting a bigger lineup could help Michigan,├é┬áconsidering how the Wolverines have struggled from the 3-point line. So a shake-up wouldn’t be shocking.

The big lineup is something Beilein has hinted at and shown in flashes. But if he does do it for an extended period of time, it’d offer a longer look than the Wolverines (4-3) have shown all year.

“You can mismatch them and hope for the best or you can match them and hope for the best,” Beilein said. “So I think we’ll have both of those concepts ready to go.”

Both big men also provide intriguing options for Beilein since they can step out and shoot the three-pointer if necessary. Gibson made two big three-pointers to help Michigan climb back into the game against Boston College and Sims made five three’s against Houston Baptist.

“We’ll have to see what they give us and how they play us,” Beilein said. “DeShawn has been able to score on big guys at times and at other times he’s struggled. We have to find out where he is, whether he’s scoring inside, whether it’s 15 feet or reach him all the way out to three.

“That’s good that he is versatile. You just hope the part that we and he chooses is the right one.”

Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan basketball for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at michaelrothstein@annarbor.com or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein.

Comments

Jaxon5

Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 11:14 p.m.

I listened to the game. Utah won easily, leading almost the entire game.

81wolverine

Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 8:29 a.m.

It's about time. We need to go with the bigger lineup for the rest of the season - not just the Utah game. This 4 guard lineup is a big part of our problem this year. Not enough rebounding and we're getting taken to the cleaners in the paint by all our opponents. Sims and Gibson must be in the lineup as much as possible, with Wright getting more minutes. And hopefully, Cronin will be 100% VERY SOON. Aside from that, Beilein needs to hit the recruting trail hard and find some big bodies to replace Sims and Gibson.

XTR

Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 12:04 a.m.

Beilein is now thinking of going bigger inside. LOL! Yeah, his team will be more stable if you use a center to defend and rebound to make Sims more effective as a forward and to free the guards. Enough with the 4 guard or 5 guard lineup. We will see with this game and on the Kansas game if Beilein's team has it this season.