Game 6: Savannah State at Michigan Post Game

Dylan Burkhardt

Highlights | Archived Video

A 66-64 overtime win over Savannah State isn’t going to wow anyone but this is the kind of game that can bring teams together. This is another instance of this Michigan team facing adversity and fighting through it. Yes they came out flat early, but they took Savannah State’s best punch and kept fighting.

Nothing went right for Michigan in the first half. The Wolverines turned the ball over 12 times, shot 31% (0-8 from long range), and found themselves down 39-19 after Savannah State shot 71% in the first half. Savannah State was 5-5 from long range and their eFG% in first half was 83.33%! All the work in the first half Michigan did to trim the lead was torn apart by a late Savannah State run that gave them their biggest lead of the game 20 points after a pull up three pointer.

DeShawn on the first half:

“They hit all those lucky shots in the first half. They were good. They didn’t miss a shot so we couldn’t get the rebound and run like we have been running because they didn’t miss their shots. We played solid defense, but they just kept hitting shots. In the second half, we stepped up our intensity and pressure and didn’t give them a chance to shoot those shots.”

Whatever Beilein said at halftime, DeShawn Sims heard it. DeShawn came out firing in the second half and willed Michigan back into the game. Peedi scored inside and out including a bank three pointer that got the crowd back into the game. On Sims’ back Michigan started the second half with a 15-0 run. Peedi did it on offense and defense and had some big blocks and steals in the second half.

Michigan had got themselves back in the game but Savannah State still hit some big time shots to keep it close. Manny hit big free throw after big free throw down the stretch and Novak added some timely three pointers.

The Novak missed-dunk will probably be on Sports Center’s “Not Top 10” but props to Zack Novak for holding in there and hitting a huge three pointer in overtime. You also have to give the kid credit for coming up with that steal in the first place which prevented Savannah State from getting a shot for the win.

In overtime Michigan battled and Manny, Novak, and DeShawn all made some huge plays. One that sticks out is when Manny lost the ball on a fast break and Novak somehow kept it alive and got it into Manny’s hands (this was in regulation I believe). Finally, DeShawn capped off the best game of his career with a buzzer beating jumper from the corner.

The game wasn’t pretty and Michigan struggled with Savannah State’s pressure all night but they just found a way to get it done. Here are a couple player bullets:

  • DeShawn Sims (23 points and 12 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals): It appears the light has clicked with DeShawn, he is hitting the boards harder than he ever has before and also scoring inside with ease. DeShawn has become a man inside, I criticzed him a lot last year for being lackluster on the boards but he has already posted 2 double doubles this year. It was interesting to hear Beilein mention on the radio that certain people need to throw the ball down into the post. This was Peedi’s day and it was only right that he hit the game winner.
  • Manny Harris (22 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 8 turnovers): Manny struggled with turnovers all day, especially early in the game when Savannah State was in control. Manny is a weapon because can get the hole with ease and at least get to the stripe. It wasn’t his best shooting day but he was clutch from the line with 14 (of 14) free throws. If a quiet game for Manny is 22 and 9 I’ll take it.
  • Zack Novak (9 points, 1 assists, 2 rebounds, 3 steals): Yes he missed the dunk but I think it was a gutty performance for the freshman overall. He is scrappy in the 1-3-1 and also hit some huge three pointers to get Michigan back in the game. I also loved Beilein leaving him in there and letting him get his redemption with big three in overtime.
  • Anthony Wright (2 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 0-6 (0-5 3pt) shooting): Anthony Wright is really struggling right now. He isn’t shooting the ball well and in my opinion doesn’t do the little things as well as Jevohn Shepherd. I’m sure Anthony can shoot the ball in practice but right now it’s just not translating on the court.
  • Jevohn Shepherd (4 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound): Jevohn might not be making a huge dent on the stat sheet but he played hard and had a huge offensive rebound. He looks a lot more comfortable on the court and got in the lane a couple times and made his free throws. He is certainly carving out his own role on this team with his athleticism on the wing of the 1-3-1.
  • Merritt and Grady combined for 3 points, 2 assists, 3 turnovers which is certainly less than ideal. Grady did a better job of breaking the press but the fast break still needs work. There were at least two blown fast breaks — an alley oop thrown over Manny and DeShawn as well as a wild bounce pass.

I don’t want to get into tournament talk or anything because I’m not ready to call this team a tournament team. No matter what your expectations are, this is a game Michigan can’t lose. But Michigan got it done, the odds looked slim at half time but they held in there and really fought.

Merritt on the win:

“It means a lot. Last year we had a couple games where we got down and we would come back, but we weren’t able to get over that hump. Today everything was thrown at us. They shot incredibly well in the first half; had us down by 20, but we never gave up and that paid off in the end.”

The officiating was awful for the entire game but I think for the most part it went both ways. I don’t want to use this blog to just complain about officiating but there were some really bad calls both ways. The loose ball off a Savannah State player’s chest in overtime is one that sticks out as just an awful call.

This type of performance won’t cut it in College Park on Wednesday. Michigan needs to play the full 40 minutes, and they can’t afford to spot the Terrapins points early in their first road game. DeShawn Sims needs to start the game whether that means Zack Gibson or Anthony Wright sits. Maryland will have played three games this weekend but they have performed better than expected in Orlando and will certainly be a tough test.

Similar to the week at the Garden we will learn a lot more about this team from Wednesday’s game at Maryland and our second shot at the Blue Devils.

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  • josh asselin

    We are now a top 25 team

  • I don’t think so. Two wins over bottom dwellers don’t prove much in my book. Gotta make a statement this week.

  • gpsimms

    like the reference to the cairo crusher, but yeah theres no way we’re top 25. def agree the main bullet is more time for dsims, shep, and less for wright, gibson

  • Giddings

    So let’s try to come to some consensus on what the starting lineup should be for Wednesday…

    PG – Dave or Kelvin?
    SG – Stu or Zack?
    SF – Manny
    PF – Ant or Shep?
    C – Zack or Deshawn?

    Since Maryland doesn’t have much size, we don’t really need Gibson’s extra 2 inches. I guess my starters would be:


    Jevohn generally plays better as a starter since confidence has been his big problem historically (and starting gives him that boost of confidence). As much as I defend Ant, I’d like to see him come off the bench for some energy and potentially a “role player” type three… since so much of shooting is mental.

  • Adam

    There is no way we jump 12-ish teams into the top 25 after a lucky win and a beatdown of Norfolk State. We may even lose those two vots. The thing is those rankings mean absolutely nothing to me until after the New Years. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see UM in the top 25 but for now I’ll take every win they can get.

    Wednesday is another huge stepping stone for this squad. I would be cautious to be confident taking such a young team into a hostile environment. Duke is another one that I don’t feel very good about. If this team can finally come out of the gate fast I like their chances on Wednesday

  • Jacob

    Top 25 talk is unjustified and unnecessary. We neither need nor deserve to be a top 25 team in the polls, they mean little to nothing, but we all know that. The fact is, Michigan still looks like an NCAA-bubble team at the moment, but I really think this was an important win. There are always gonna be games where the other team seems like it can’t miss, a la Savannah State in the first half. Also, there will always be games where you can’t seem to make a shot, especially when you rely on the 3-pointer as much as Beilein’s teams do. Since this game was in a way a perfect storm, going down by 20 in the first half to a crappy team, it was really good to see Michigan battle their way back with defense and composure beating the press. These are the types of games Michigan would’ve lost last year (Harvard and CMU jump to mind), but eked out a victory this year. Maybe a 2 point OT win over Savannah St. make no difference to the selection committee, but I think its a huge step in going from an NIT to an NCAA team.

  • Kenny

    I actually like Deshawn and Shepherd starting at 4 and 5. Wright should play more like Shepherd, not worrying about taking shoot from long range.

  • Wright is not getting it done but Gibson is just as bad.


    I know Stu and Novak have not played together, but this team needs to get shooters on the floor. I would think that Novak at 6′ 5 and a gritty defender, offers this team more than Wright or Gibson who neither rebound real well.

  • josh asselin

    Northeastern’s not doing us any favors. They got thumped by South Florida tonight and lost to our old nemesis Boston U.

  • josh asselin

    I need a stubhub code to pick up my Duke tickets. Anybody know a valid one?

  • aaron

    hey just wanted to say keep up the great work on the blog, as for the game, a wins a win, it sounds like it was kind of a perfect storm sort of first half, with their shooting and our missing, but the second half it looked like we played alot better,

    and my two cents on the starting lineup, i think shep should get a shot at the very least, just not until after the Maryland game, best case scenario is he gets to play in another tune-up type game, and plays good, and fills that role for the rest of the season, but i would keep sims coming off the bench, if it ain’t broke…

  • ryan

    i dont think believe is goign to change anything…

  • If we are 5-1 I guess we can’t really complain. But the starts are just killing us. I think he will ride it out until December 20th and then we will see real change with the addition of LLP. I guess it’s just who plays more minutes in the end anyways. I think we have some guys who can give us different things and different looks but no complete player at the 4.

  • Brick

    LLP will help with the starts but it’s the starting PF position that is killing us. Every time Wright shoots I think it’s going to miss. The Sims as 6th man thing is good because it lets him rotate out with Manny and we can never have them both sit at the same time. Maybe when LLP is ready, he becomes that punch off of the bench that Beilein likes and we can start Sims so we don’t have to suffer through the Wright brickfest at the beginning of the game.

  • My man KJ at Spartans Weblog mentioned something interesting about Izzo bringing Raymar off the bench. He thinks that the refs often call a couple cheap fouls on big men early in the game and coming off the bench helps Ray avoid this (he still got in foul trouble). Interesting theory and it seems to work for Peedi so maybe just leave it be.

    I also added highlights to the post.

  • qb waggle

    I agree, LLP will provide a much needed threat from the PG position. I like Merritt and Grady as energy guys off the bench that can play high intensity defense and push the fast break in short spurts in relief of LLP. But those guys just can’t shoot nor create their own shots (you would think Grady would, but from what I’ve seen of him when he slashes into the paint he often tries to dish the ball, which would be fine except it often results in a TO).

  • Brick

    I think the early foul theory may have some merit. Also, teams generally feel each other out a bit over the first few minutes so if you are sitting 6 minutes a half like Sims, you might as well get four of them out of the way at the start of the game during the feeling out period.

    In the end, it’s not who starts, it’s who finishes and he is always on the floor.

    Interesting that JB decided to stick with Novak in the crunch time minutes and overtime today. He has been pretty much backing up Douglass so far but today he was the one in at the end and in overtime. I wonder what prompted the switch.

  • Chris

    Dylan — I have definitely seen some ticky-tacky stuff called on Gibson and wondered what the point of the call was (making the refs’ presence known?). Sims has avoided foul trouble and it certainly makes sense.

    Also, if they start with a dry spell with him on the floor (which certainly has happened in the past), the psychological advantage of sending him isn’t available.

  • I think Gibson also has the tendency to just pick up dumb fouls though also just like Raymar. So while it may be a strategy to prevent things like that, I’m not sure it always works.

  • Jacob

    The reason Peedi’s been starting on the bench is because we thought he’d be the only other big man on the team who could play, and he can come in for either Wright or Gibson (whichever gets in foul trouble or generally starts sucking more.) I dunno how much I agree with it either, but so far I can’t have too much of a problem with it since he seems to get most of the minutes anyway. I have been pretty impressed with Jevohn, he’s rebounding and defending really well, and he hasn’t been a complete zero on offense either. Since he’s been pretty good, I think we can start DeShawn since there’s more big man depth than we thought at the beginning of the season.

  • MattNYC

    Wow, what an exciting game. Not a good win by any means, but a great comeback to what would have been a deflating loss.

    I’m not a big believer in momentum but anything that came out of the Garden would have been erased had Michigan blown this one.

    Hooked the laptop up to the big screen for the stream. Was pleasantly surprised with the stream’s reliability and quality. And for free it’s a great service. I wish more networks would catch on that streaming is here to stay and is catching on mainstream.

    It was almost like back in the day watching on C-Span satellite — zooming in on the cheerleaders during the break or weird people in the stands…

    Simms looks to be in excellent shape and seems to have a new attitude as well, no doubt helped by the extra lift he seems to be getting this year. He looks explosive around the rim.

    He needs to start, let’s put this theory that it’s better to have inferior players start thing to rest. If he starts it’s possibly UM never gets down 20 in the first place.

  • UMDC

    That’s an interesting observation about Sims being in shape, MattNYC. I haven’t really thought about it before, but I would say the whole team looks to be in pretty good shape. They don’t ever seem to be sucking wind at the end of the game. Harris looks like he could play 80 minutes.

    Holding a guy out at the beginning to avoid cheap fouls is an interesting theory. I’d like to see some real data on it’s effectiveness.

    The thing that drives me crazy about keeping Sims on the bench to start is that it almost guarantees that we are not going to jump out to an early lead on a decent team. Plus, against a good team we are more likely to get down by 5-7 early. I don’t think we can spot a team like Maryland (at Maryland) or Duke or Wisconsin, 5-7 points. The first few minutes of the game may be the time when the teams are feeling each other out, but it also sets a tone for the game.

    My starting 5: Sims, Shep, Harris, Douglas, Merritt. Novak, Grady, Gibson being the 8 man rotation. Wright is the 9th man used when foul problems creep up or a need for rebounds becomes apparent and we just need to be bigger.

  • Brick

    Matt, the 20-0 run was mostly with Sims on the floor. We would have been down 20 regardless.

  • We aren’t even close to a top 25 team yet. As exciting as the win was, a home victory over a team likely to finish the year with an RPI north of 300 won’t win us many AP votes. We have to win one of the next two games to be ranked.
    Our best five is Grady, Douglas, Harris, Sims and Shepard. Whether they start or not is really irrelevant, as long as they are getting a good portion of the minutes. Novak, Gibson, and Merritt should be next in the rotation, with Lee, Wright and Cronin being used in spots. LLP will take most of the Merritt and Grady minutes, and will probably make Lee a non-factor.
    I’m not expecting a win in either of the next two games, I just want them to be competative and not get blown off the court.

  • Merlin

    I agree with everyone that Wright is in real danger of not starting next game. Shepherd really deserves to start but he gets nervous so Beilein may be worried about putting too much pressure on him.

    Deshawn did get tired at one stretch late in the second half yesterday and they got by him on defense. He sat out a minute and was fine. I think he is a better (?much better) NBA prospect than Manny. Very coachable-great attitude. Will he be like an Antonio Mcdyess?

    On the other hand Manny can be just great at points in the game. Yesterday they knew he was going to drive baseline and they put two guys over there and just could not stop him. Could Manny be like Rip Hamilton ( you can tell I only watch the pistons)-he is not as fast or as strong (yet) and needs to get that pull up mid range jumper.

    We need a third scorer to win consistently. Good teams will be able to hold Manny or Deshawn down-then where will the rest of the points come from?

    I am very worried there is too much hype on LLP.

  • Steele

    This wasn’t a pretty game, but I still think the final result is a good sign that things are progressing. There’s no way the Mich team from last season could have overcome a 20 point deficit to pull out a win, no matter the opponent. This team was able to stay positive, get some of their problems fixed, and turn things around. Just one more reason to be positive about this season and the future in general!

  • Adam


    I was wondering if you knew anything about the uniform situation? Did Adidas make any maize jerseys? Those are always my favorite jerseys and Michigan has not worn them yet. I hope we have the option of the 3rd jersey and aren’t stuck with just white and blue all year.

  • Giddings

    Since you can buy the Adidas maize shorts at M Den and Moe’s, I assume that means that we have maize jerseys to go with them.

    I would expect the blue jerseys to debut at Maryland, and then the maize jerseys on Saturday against Duke.

  • Giddings
  • Forty

    Merlin – I think harris vs sims in the nba is a question of ceilings. Sims’ size makes him a tweener, and your best case scenario is what, an unskilled version of leon powe?

    Harris needs a better jumper, more strength, and improved ball-handling. But he has a position – u can imagine him as an nba 2. I just think the best case for harris is much better than for sims – and neither is a productive nba player as is.

    I think harris can be late first round to early second. I think deshawn will go undrafted…I hope I’m wrong!

  • Merlin

    Forty, Thanks for your comments. It will be interesting to follow unlike the last 10 years of Michigan BB.

  • IMO Manny is the much better pro prospect. As Forty said, he has a position, Manny will be an NBA 2. But he also has more athleticism than DeShawn. Peedi is a tweener but he also doesn’t have a lot of bounce off the ground. Manny also is putting up pretty ridiculous numbers so far with 22, 8 and 4 per game.

  • Merlin

    Why can’t Deshawn be a 4 in the NBA-too short?

  • I think that’s probably where he would end up but three men in the NBA are as tall as DeShawn…

  • Jacob

    The maize jerseys are for big games only….Savannah St and Northeastern don’t count, I guess. I was a bit surprised they didn’t bust them out at all for UCLA or Duke, but I think they usually only wear them for big games at home.

  • Giddings

    Immediate proof that what happened to us yesterday can happen to ANYONE in college basketball…

    Western Kentucky beats #3 Louisville by 14 points:

    I know Western Kentucky was a tournament sleeper last year, but they lost Courtney Lee and were expected to take a step back this year. The fact is, if nothing goes right for your team and everything goes right for the opponent (especially with Savannah St being able to set up their press after all the made shots), then superior talent can be overcome.

  • Jay

    Keep Simms coming off the bench! They have no legit scorer off the bench, and if he likes it why change it? Right now your just hoping to catch lighting in the bottle with Wright or Gibson. Bringing Wright off the bench, could mess up the flow. I love having a possible 20 coming off the bench rather then, having a goose egg struggling with his stroke.

  • Ky Fox

    Deshawn needs to continue to round out his game…if he can become a bit more explosive in taking it to the basket and around the baskett, as well as continuing to develop his outside shot he could be a late rounder..look at how much his mid range has gotten better from when he arrived(mostly thanks to JB) The bright side for Sims is that he has continued to get better every year! By late next year I think he will be good enough to make a team…he has to continue to develop his shot though.
    And I absolutley agree with Giddings. Everyone is making such a big deal because we almost lost to SSU…MSU barely squeeked by WSU today and like giddings mentioned that Louisville lost to Western Kentuck. Just because it was a close game with SSU doesnt mean we cant hang with some of the top dogs out there. There are a ton of real good ball players out there and they all cant go to duke, MSU, OSU, or a lot of them end up in places like SSU, WKU, Wichita State, and so on…some of SSU’s players were not all bad..should we have beaten them by more? yes probably so..we just need to learn to come out firing on all cylinders to start the game, and that will come with experience…we also have to remember how young our team is still.
    And imagine when Manny and Deshawn do make NBA teams how much that will help us in recruiting…kids will see how much better JB can make them, and who wouldnt want to be coached and taught by a guy who extracts every ability and abilities you never thought you had…to make you as good as you can be. Its only looking up

  • Ky Fox

    I like our chances with maryland…we just won a close game against a pretty athletic team, they pressured us just about every possession, and we fought through all the adversity to win. Now we get maryland who might be a little worn out and who doesnt pressure you as much. If we can win at maryland then coming home to play duke could make for a special day at the ole Crisler Arena!

  • UMDC

    By that logic, why don’t we start Harris on the bench too, then we can have 40+ points coming off the bench with Sims and Harris!

    It’s wonderful to have great bench production because that is a sign that you have great depth and thus a really good team. Putting bench players in the starting lineup in order to achieve great bench production isn’t the same thing.

    The question is, do you start your best 5 or not? The history of organized basketball suggests you do (controlling, of course, for positional depth, which is not an issue for us since no one would claim that Gibson and Wright are better than Sims).

    I know the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it argument.” But that suggests that we would have lost some of the games we won had we started Sims. I don’t think that is true. I think we have to exact same record right now with him starting and with him on the bench.

    My concern is with the future. I think by not putting our best team on the court to begin the game, we put ourselves behind the eight ball right form the tip (notice when it is really important Sims starts the second half of games). Duke is certainly going to put its best 5 on the court to start the game against us. I can’t understand why we would want our 2nd team starting against Duke’s 1st team?

    Maybe psychologically Sims can’t handle the pressure of starting and Wright, by being on the bench, is demoralized to the point that he is an even worse shooter than he already is. Psychology and the early cheap foul theory are the only two reasons I can think of to keep going with our current starting lineup. If this is true, then I’m wrong. Simple as that.

  • BJ

    Terps are getting <>

  • Ky Fox

    I think you are right UDMC. Against teams like mayland, duke and tougher big ten teams Sims doesnt have to start but he should be running down to the scorers table after about 2 minutes, especially if Wright, or Shep, or whoever is in for Sims is stinkin it up…which Ant has been demonstrating much of lately. We just do not have enough quality depth at the 4 spot to have Sims hardly sit at all. In big games Sims has to play a lot. Thats why moving into the future I would like to see JB go after a couple athetic 4’s. I know he loves Regan, and thats fine but another Deshawn/Lavell Blanchard type player on top of Regan would be fantastic, then we wouldnt be sweating beads about having 1 well rounded player at the 4 spot.

  • Maryland is getting absolutely handled by Georgetown… Yikes. At least we don’t play the Hoyas this year. Interesting weekend for the Terps though… A big win over an MSU team that struggled all weekend and then two blow out losses to the Zags and Hoyas.

  • Giddings

    The blowout losses to Gonzaga and Georgetown could do one of two things to Maryland – they may deflate the Terps so much that they are now “used to” losing (like us last year), which could result in them playing tentative… or they may motivate them to work extra hard in practice this week because they know they have a lot to work on.

    My guess is that the losses take a negative toll… you often hear players talk about how it’s much easier to practice productively after a win because they believe in themselves, their coach, and the system. I keep forgetting about that win over State though… hopefully Maryland forgets about it too.

  • Ky Fox

    As I watch the Zags play I cant help but draw some comparisons between matt bouldin and Zack Novak…similar size…similar skill set. Zack might be a better shooter though. I like how Gonzaga plays. Also remember that Adam Morrison was a 3 star according to scout…good to know as Blake Mclimans, and possibly Regan make their way to AA.

  • I feel more confident about the Maryland game now that Georgetown handled them with ease. Should be a tight game and one that would be huge for UM to win. I hope we see the blue uniforms Wed., I dont think UM has ever wore the whites this many games in a row. Usually they wear the blues more than the whites and maize. Its also not true that they only wear the maize at home in big games, this is generally true but I recall the maize jerseys on the road and against lesser opponents in the past.