A while ago, I said this of Harris,
|Stars make their teammates better and Harris rarely does so. I'm not
expecting him to run the point because that's not his position, but he
doesn't flow with this team, working within their system.
Simplistically, DeShawn Sims is the post presence and all the other
players are the three point shooters, except Harris, who's
schizophrenic and often plays with blinders on. But whatever the case,
Harris seems to transcend Beilein's system and work on his own set of
That was painfully apparent last night in the first half, and thinking back to the rest of the season, this is exactly the problem. On most offensive possessions, Harris stands on the shoulder of the three point line. He does half-hearted back cuts and tries to pop back out to get the ball in his hands. And the guards, inexperienced and not knowing what else to do, wait for him. They stand and stand and stand and wait until they can pass Harris the ball, at which point, there's about 10 seconds left on the shot clock, and Harris has the ball at a standstill 25 feet from the basket. And worse, Harris isn't Kevin Durant or Carmelo Anthony. He simply can't be relied to make a play on every possession.
There was a period of a few minutes in the first half against Penn State that Michigan pulled Harris, mostly because Taylor Battle was taking a breather (they both returned at the same time). The lineup was Sims/Novak/Douglass/Vogrich/LLP(?). The few possessions they had together ended poorly. Vogrich jacking up an airball. A few missed shots. But their play together looked great. There was movement by all five players on the floor. Lots of screens and cuts. And they actually produced some open shots that, were it not the first half and, well you know, probably would've gone down.
When Harris is on the floor, the team plays a different system, and it unfortunately starts and ends with Manny Harris. The creed that this team "lives and dies by DeShawn Sims" is no joke. And there's a reason it's Sims and not Harris: Sims fits into the Beilein system in a way that Harris simply doesn't. When Sims is working on the block, the three point shooters can get open and produce good looks. When the game runs through Harris, the point of attack begins at the three-point line and the shooters have really no options besides swinging the ball around the perimeter.
This is, again, not supposed to be a condemnation of Manny Harris who is a great player and likely an NBA Draft-level talent. But in the system that Michigan runs, he just doesn't fit.