Ann Arbor — Manny Harris knows he will face much tougher opposition than Northern Michigan this season.
He wasn’t worrying about that Saturday night after getting the second triple-double in school history as No. 15 Michigan routed the Division II Wildcats 97-50 in the season opener for both teams.
“It’s great to get a triple double in a college game,” he said. “This is a lot more important than anything I did in high school.”
Harris had 18 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists to match the feat accomplished by Gary Grant against North Carolina in the 1987 NCAA tournament. Harris was taken out of the game after recording his 10th assist on a 3-point basket that gave Michigan a 84-41 lead with 8:15 to play.
“They told me that I had seven assists, and we had a big lead, so I really wanted to get it,” Harris said. “With the shooters that we’ve got on this team, I think any of us can have a 10-assist night.”
Wildcats coach Dean Ellis knew early on that his team was in for a long night. The Wolverines only needed 13 minutes to take a 32-12 lead, and were up 51-25 at halftime.
“Their pace was more extreme than we could handle,” Ellis said. “We played Michigan State about four years ago, and even they didn’t attack us with that kind of speed. If they keep playing like that, and keep getting the ball into Manny’s hands, they are going to be very good.”
DeShawn Sims added 22 points and 10 rebounds for Michigan.
“This is now the kind of team where we have a lot of guys who can go off and have big games,” he said. “Tonight, Manny was incredible and I made good decisions and had a nice game.”
True freshman Matt Vogrich scored 15 points with a 5-for-5 performance from behind the 3-point line as Michigan shot 57 percent for the game.
“I didn’t expect that,” said Wolverines coach John Beilein. “We’re going to play teams that are much better than Northern Michigan, but any time you can shoot like that and hold the other team to 50 points, it has been a very good night.”
Marc Renelique had 11 points for the Wildcats, who trailed by as many as 50 points.
“Usually, when a team like Michigan plays a Division II team, it is an exhibition for them, but that’s not how this one worked out,” Ellis said. “They were so dynamic on offense that we really couldn’t match up with anyone.”
Michigan is coming off its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1998, while Northern Michigan finished 11-16 while playing in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
“We’re going to be playing Division I schools the rest of the way, and we know it will be tougher than what we saw tonight,” Beilein said. “But that’s a better team than you saw tonight — we just hit so many shots that we were able to get away from them.”
The Wildcats are better known for their hockey program — they won the Division I title in 1991 — and their production of coaches. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, former Wolverines football coach Lloyd Carr and former Detroit Lions coach Steve Mariucci are all alumni of the small school, located 442 miles from Ann Arbor.
Now, Ellis suspects they will also be a footnote in Michigan history.
“I hope Manny remembers us when he thinks about this game,” Ellis said. “I know we’re certainly going to remember what he did to us.”