Michigan 55 – No. 4 UCLA 52
I had a good feeling about this game but I tried to restrain myself after the constant let down that Michigan basketball has been. Today is what we have been waiting for. This is the type of game that can make bandwagon fans into believers. This is the game that everyone who has been dragging themselves to Crisler through the rain, cold, and snow for the last few years deserves. This is most of all a sign that John Beilein has this program headed in the right direction. And let’s be honest is there any better time to win over some football fans? They will be looking for anything to brighten their spirits after this year’s football season.
The part that will be forgotten by some is how Michigan played in the first half. The team weathered three runs that would have crippled past Michigan teams. UCLA tipped the scales three times taking leads of 9-1, 18-10, and 29-19 but Michigan responded to each one. This is mental toughness that we just haven’t seen in this program over the recent history — we are seeing this team grow up.
On the other hand, the play that nobody will forget is the back door slam my DeShawn Sims with 30 seconds left. Now that’s Beilein Ball. DeShawn Sims gets my game ball: 9-15 shooting for 18 points and 5 boards. We’ll have to just excuse him for the missed front end late in the game. I loved to see DeShawn throwing it down with authority a couple times — inside is where this team needs him this year. “Peedi” also needs to be starting but that’s something they will probably deal with after the trip to New York City.
Stu Douglass is runner up for the game ball though (he’s only a three star!). The kid hit some flat out huge shots (4-5 (2-3 3pt) for 10 points and 5 assists). I think that we need to run a few set plays to Stu every game because if he’s open from anywhere he will bury the shot. I also thought the freshman played admirably at the top of the 1-3-1 even though they were clearly physically outmatched. There were times that Collison and Holiday coasted into the lane (mostly in man to man) but they are going to do that to a lot of defenses.
Michigan got out-rebounded 45 to 28, didn’t convert easy baskets in transition, and shot 1-12 from long range in the first half. But on the other hand they shot 4-8 from long range in the second half, the 1-3-1 worked to perfection, and only turned it over 10 times. It was ugly at times but this is the Beilein recipe for success.
Critics will say that this isn’t the UCLA team we will see at the end of the year but one of the best three players on the Michigan team isn’t eligible until December 20th.
Enjoy this night because it’s back to business tomorrow in a game that will be an even stiffer test against Duke. Although this is where Beilein’s tournament success comes into play, his schemes are a radical change from anything Duke has game planned all year.
Tonight Michigan proved to themselves (most importantly) and the world that they can play with anyone in the country. Of course we would never want to call this a statement game.