Today is the last day of our donation drive, I wanted to reach out and thank everyone that has supported the site over the last month. We’ve received over 200 donations and have raised $11,285 – 75% of our fundraising goal. [click to continue…]
Michigan’s offense struggled mightily against Duke in the Wolverines’ 79-69 loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Tuesday — excluding the final two minutes of the game, Michigan managed a paltry 0.86 points per possession. This was due in a large part to Duke’s face-guarding and ball denial of Nik Stauskas, Michigan’s most potent offensive weapon this season. (Photo: Dustin Johnston)
Stauskas only took two shots in the loss and missed both, something entirely out of character for the sophomore. During a press conference on Friday, John Beilein described what Stauskas was up against.
“There’s not much you can do. They just face-guarded him in the corner. It’s a box and one with man-to-man principles,” Beilein said, describing Duke’s defensive strategy. “They’re going to want you to play four-on-four. There’s very little you can do for him at that time. We screened for him a couple times, and we have some things we can do, but you play 4-on-4. And we weren’t able to play 4-on-4 until the second half. If they’re face-guarding a guy and saying, ‘you’re not going to get the ball,’ there’s very little you can do because they’re not going to play help defense (off Stauskas). If they’re not going to play help defense, then there are pockets where you can score.”
It’s true — Duke never helped off Stauskas and packed its defense into the paint, not allowing for much driving opportunity. Michigan not hitting outside shots played right into the hands of the Blue Devils.
However, the way they overplayed Stauskas on the perimeter led to the obvious question: what about some backdoor cuts? Beilein said Stauskas tried that, but Duke completely took it away.
“They were just sitting on him,” Beilein said. “They were saying, ‘we’re not going to let you get the ball but we’re really going to overplay the backdoor,’ and our timing isn’t great in that right now, but that’s what they were able to do. It was just a complete face-guarding, don’t let him get the ball. No regard for help defense.”
John Beilein, Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton were available to speak with the media today and even though Michigan is playing Houston Baptist tomorrow at noon, most of the questions understandably revolved around Michigan’s 79-69 loss to Duke on Tuesday. Beilein addressed Michigan’s tepid first-half offense and whether or not LeVert will be playing point guard in the future. You can watch the full interviews using the embedded media players below.
LeVert and Walton after the jump. [click to continue…]
|Who: Houston Baptist (3-5) at No. 21 Michigan (5-3)|
|Where: Crisler Center (Ann Arbor, MI)|
|When: 12:00 p.m., Saturday, December 7th, 2013|
|Radio: MGoBlue, 950 AM, 1050 AM, Sirius 135|
Michigan has played some very difficult games this season but it has also faced a number of woefully over-matched opponents. The Wolverines’ five victories are over teams with a combined 6-28 record against Division I opponents this season and Florida State accounts for five of those six victories. Michigan has feasted on cupcakes in early season play and will face one more on Saturday afternoon at the Crisler Center.
Houston Baptist has two wins over D-I opponents, winning its last two games at Army and against Rice, but is yet another low-major opponent on the Wolverine schedule. The Huskies are ranked 305th nationally by Ken Pomeroy and have never finished better than 317th in their five previous seasons in Division I.
The good news is that Houston Baptist is the last sub-200 ranked team the Wolverines face this season as the schedule heats up. Michigan has just two games (Holy Cross 109, Northwestern 144) against teams ranked worse than 100th by Ken Pomeroy’s rankings.
Our weekly feature tracking the performance of Michigan players performance over two game segments of the season. (Photo: Dustin Johnston)
Caris LeVert: 9 (Last week: 7.5)
Over Michigan’s past two games, Caris LeVert has been Michigan’s best player — and it’s not close. The sophomore scored 15 points on seven shots against Coppin State, but more importantly, he was the player Michigan’s turned to when its offense was flailing against Duke. With the Blue Devils shutting down Nik Stauskas, LeVert stepped up big in the second half, finishing with 24 points, four rebounds and two assists in the loss. The talented wing scored his points mainly by dribble penetration to the basket and showed an ability to finish through contact. LeVert is steadily becoming an offensive force, something Michigan desperately needs alongside Stauskas. One interesting tidbit from the past two games: LeVert did not miss a free throw, going 11-for-11 from the charity stripe.
Zak Irvin: 7 (Last week: 2)
Michigan’s talented freshman made a big jump this week, mainly because of his flaming-hot shooting performance against Coppin State. Zak Irvin led all scorers with 24 points and made six 3-pointers in Michigan’s blowout victory. More important than the point total was the confidence that game gave Irvin going forward — it seemed as though he had been struggling with getting into the flow of the offense, and needed a breakout game. Against Duke, Irvin played 14 minutes and after some so-so decisions early rose up confidently to hit some shots late.
It’s no secret that the start of Michigan’s 2013-14 campaign has been disappointing. The Wolverines have already dropped three games and their two projected first-round draft picks have yet to find top-gear. (Photo: Dustin Johnston)
McGary missed time early on in the season with a back injury and is still rounding into form. McGary is averaging 9.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game but hasn’t looked like the big man that dominated the NCAA tournament last season.
Robinson has struggled to display improvement to offensive game and is shooting just 25% from three-point range on the year. He hasn’t been aggressive offensively and his production has decreased without Trey Burke passing him the ball. His play appeared to hit rock bottom in a high profile game at Duke on Tuesday, totaling just 8 points in 34 minutes.
Various mock drafts are starting to reflect the early season trends.
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix updated his mock draft with Mitch McGary slotted at No. 18 and Glenn Robinson III at No. 20. He’s a bit more bullish on McGary’s chances of rising.
A lower-back injury kept McGary out for the first two games of Michigan’s season, and the rust of not playing clearly showed in the first month of play. But there are signs that McGary is shaking it off. He posted 14 points and 12 rebounds in an overtime win against Florida State last month and on Tuesday had a 15-point, 14-rebound effort in a loss to Duke. For now, McGary slips a little on the Big Board. But as he gets healthier, his production — and draft stock — should keep improving.