Game 8: Duke at Michigan Post Game

Dylan Burkhardt

“In Beilein We Trust”

The sign rings true and I’m not quite sure how I will doubt anything John Beilein does again. Since Beilein has arrived all we have heard was that his 1-3-1 wouldn’t work in the Big Ten, he wouldn’t recruit Detroit, we need to offer Justin Watts instead of Zack Novak, and who knows what else. Well tonight two kids from the city of Detroit led Michigan past a Duke team full of All Americans with the help of a 2 star shooting guard from Chesterton, Indiana.

I am now a believer. I wrote in the pregame that on paper there is no way Michigan could win this game, but I must have overlooked TGCICB (Beilein has been mocked by Spartan fans since his arrival as “The Greatest Coach in College Basketball”) in my analysis. He has a plan and it’s starting to unfold before our eyes. I received several emails telling me I was wrong about this being an NIT team and I have to give you guys credit. This team can compete night in and night out with anyone in this conference. There are still plenty of games left to play this year but this is a win to remember.

The thing that stands out for me today is how much mental toughness and poise this team shows. Duke went up 53-50 with 8:36 remaining and this team didn’t fold. Michigan came back with back to back Zack Novak triples (both assists by Kelvin Grady). 1 minute later the score was 56-53 Michigan and they didn’t look back. I can’t even count the number of times in the last 10 years a Michigan team has crumbled under pressure but this team is different. It took a year but John Beilein has instilled confidence in this team and they have forged an identity.

Manny Harris

It’s impossible to overlook Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims for sticking with this program. They both have had multiple chances to bail on this program but they both kept with it. They were the difference tonight and deserve all the credit they will get from this game and anything that happens to this team over their careers.

Michigan controlled all four of the “four factors” in this game with a better eFG%, offensive rebounding percentage, turnover percentage, and free throw rate.

I’m sure many people will blame Duke’s cold shooting from three point range for their loss but that was a product of Michigan’s defense. Duke attempted 33 threes, almost double their season average of 18 per game. They settled for jump shots all night long and played right into Michigan’s hands. Michigan rebounded extremely well after a subpar performance in College Park and they were outsized at just about every position.

Player Bullets:

  • DeShawn Sims – DeShawn Sims is a new man, he was forced to play the 5 out of necessity at the start of this year and he has embraced it. DeShawn put up 28 points, 12 boards, 3 assists, and a steal. He hit shots from inside and out and dominated the game. Last year I criticized DeShawn for his effort on defense, his rebounding and disappearing in games but he is showing us that he is a changed man.
  • Zack Novak – Warrior. Zack Novak was probably the least athletic kid on the court but he kept fighting all night. Without Novak’s back to back threes this is a Duke win. Novak posted 14 points or 4-8 shooting and added 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal.
  • Manny Harris – DeShawn will take all the glory but Manny posted the kind of solid game we needed without forcing things. 35 minutes, 8-15 shooting for 17 points and 5 rebounds, 2 assists, only 2 turnovers. This is the game that we need from Manny night in and night out.
  • Kelvin Grady – 28 minutes, 9 points, 4 assists, no turnovers. Kelvin played a complete floor game today. He handled Duke’s pressure and didn’t have any “Grady moments”. Grady’s speed was a game changer all night and he was blowing by Nolan Smith and Greg Paulus. Now if he can just learn to finish those layups he’ll be a very complete player.
  • Jevohn Shepherd – I am just happy for Jevohn, I think most people had given up on him before this year but he has stepped up and we have needed it. He didn’t shoot the ball well besides a nice drive and layup but he just played solid defense on the wing all day against guys like Kyle Singler and Gerald Henderson. 32 minutes, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 1 block. The Beilein mantra on Shepherd has been “do more by doing less” and that’s what he’s done.
  • Stu Douglass – Stu is starting to force it a little bit and had 2 very frustrating turnovers but it will come. I think both Stu and Zack will have their ups and downs this year.
  • David Merritt and CJ Lee – Neither of this kids are going to be stars but they both play hard and are leaders. CJ Lee got a huge rebound down the stretch and hit his first two free throws of the year. I give them both credit for playing hard and they deserve a little playing time in every game, even when Laval Lucas-Perry returns.
  • Anthony Wright – Anthony didn’t play a lot of minutes but he made a couple huge plays including a steal and a tip out on a missed free throw. He just isn’t athletic enough to rebounds in there against a team like Duke and he picked up a cheap foul trying to tip another one out. He didn’t chuck a lot of shots though and gave us what we needed.
  • Laval Lucas-Perry – Nice suit, see you at the Palace in 2 weeks.
  • Crowd – Credit to the crowd, they were in the game all day and the Maize Rage was there early. Crisler was rocking and I especially liked how Michigan went to the “hot timeout” with the piped in music after big plays. Hopefully everyone that was checking this team out for the first time comes back and keeps supporting this team.
  • Recruits – I saw Kearney and Hardaway Jr. there as well as 2011 Hartland shooting guard Matt Poches. I assume Allen Payne made it up from Cinci as well but didn’t see Trey Zeigler.

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  • Also guys, I’m thinking of experimenting with some kind of UFR-type post with this game… We’ll see though.

  • Giddings

    That would be awesome…

  • UMDC

    UFR would be cool!

    Well, in this year we have had just about every football streak we have all held dear die. There is one basketball streak I thought was surely to die after this basketball season, but now I have a faint hope.

    Michigan has been in at least one final four ever decade since the 1960s (yes we’ve never been just a football school). This is the last year for us to keep that streak going this decade.

    I know, it’s a long shot, but before the season I thought it was a no shot.

  • BJ

    I’m worried about the Athletic Department revoking the free student tickets. It’s just mind blowing to think about where we were last year. Beilein has to be in the conversation for coach of the year after we lose the Big Ten’s leading shot blocker, pick up an unheralded recruiting claas, and yet here we are with one of the if not the best early season resumes in the country.

    A couple years ago we had a carbon copy scenario when we played Oden and Ohio State. We had them on the ropes, and we proceeded to miss dunks, miss free throws, and crumple under the pressure. No more.

  • cwood

    If you look at this team as compared to last year’s, every single player in the roster has greatly improoved his game from where they were 1 year ago. Thats something that never happened under Amaker. I can’t point to one player that improoved his game while Amaker was the coach, everyone just stayed stagnant. Just goes to show how great Beilein is at developing individual skills and gives us great hope for the future.

  • Ken in Las Vegas

    I haven’t felt the kind of elation that I felt when the fans flooded the court since well….since the UCLA win. Hey, I could get used to this.

    I’m so proud of these guys for not crumbling under the pressure in the final 5 minutes. I have to admit, I was bracing myself for the worst. Duke always seems to out poise everybody and I knew that we were still young and fragile. However, I should never have doubted them. The level of clutchness and maturity they showed leads me to believe that we will be worthly of the tourney at the end of this season.

    Obviously Peedi and Manny are NBA good, but the unheralded heroes as you’ve all pointed out are Novak and Grady. I’m going to enjoy seeing him running the point this year, because I think he will continue to get better. He should really make LLP and Darius Morris have to earn their playing time while he’s here at Michigan. I’m already so worried about Sims or Manny or both leaving for the NBA, because if they stay we could really be something special. Go Blue baby!!!

  • ryan

    Sims and Manny are great players, but i can’t see them being able to go pro this year. Manny is not good enough at handeling the ball and sims doesnt have a position. I beleive both will make it to the NBA but not this year.
    They will be back!

  • Matt Poches is only a sophomore at Hartland, very high ceiling prospect, especially if he grows to 6’5.

    Smooth player with a good shot, perfect for Beilein.

  • DC Dave

    Lets get a hold of ourselves on this discussion about Harris and Sims going pro. I remember worrying before Daniel Horton’s sophomore season that he was going to light it up and go pro the next year. Lets just hope Sims and Harris continue play great and and enjoy having to worry about having players good enough to even consider going pro. The good news is that Michigan now has a coach that will develop promising talent rather than letting it rot on the vine.

    How good is LLP supposed to be? People on a lot of Michigan boards talk like he’s going to be a superstar but is there a basis for this beyond general optimism?

  • gpsimms

    that’s what perfect about manny and deshawn. they are both great ncaa players right now, but also have enough holes neither of them are flight risks this year.

    manny needs to improve his handles and his 3 ball before he can be a legit nba scoring guard.

    deshawn…well, he’s unlucky because he’d play 3 in the nba, which si obviously the most talent rich position there is. do you see him covering kobe bryant right now? he also does not have the handles to be an nba wing.

    they are nba talents though, just not for this draft.

  • Sombrero

    I really think you should’ve touched on Anthony Wright in your player bullets. Tonight he showed himself to be a solid role player, and I think that was great. When he was in he didn’t chuck, and he had a HUGE steal when it looked like we were starting to slip. I love SummerSlam and wish he could’ve been more successful as a starter, but I was pleased with his game tonight.

  • Sombrero: I overlooked Ant, he didn’t get a lot of minutes but he had the huge steal and the tip out. I’ll add him to the post. Thanks

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  • I don’t see anyone guarding Kobe.

  • Giddings

    The 4 position in the NBA is getting smaller and smaller, there are plenty of 6’8″ guys who play the 4 nowadays. That is clearly where Peedi would fit in.

  • GoBLue

    I think Deshawn Sims can be a good pro. I’d compare him to Antwan Jamison.

  • jg

    +1 to whoever had the Beilein’s Squad Pwns Noobs sign

  • ohmigods

    GREAT writeup.
    dylan this site is a MUST
    for all UM hoops fans
    excellent job,
    i really appreciate your work here

  • Jay

    Great Win..we need the Grady who showed up at the end of the game and not the previous version. Penetrating..thats how Novak was able to hit a couple because we finally had a PG who went forward towards the basket and not cross the line and pick up there dribble to begin the weave. He did have a couple of passes that were the old KG early..but overall he played aggressive and undercontrol except for his layups.

  • qb waggle

    I’m watching the second half again right now. Grady and Sims really had a strong half. Great game and I fully support a UFR-style post.

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  • AG2

    Now its totally official that replacing Amaker with Beilein was the right decision. Everybody knew their role, and they brought their A game. We’ve got a solid starting lineup and LLP is on the way. Add Beilein’s next recruiting class and this is as complete a team as I remember Michigan having in years. We may not have the most talent, or be the most athletic, but we played VERY smart basketball. We never had that with Amaker.

    Props to Manny and Deshawn for sticking it out. Those who stay will become champions after all. (Ekpe Udoh, Alex Legion, I’m looking in your direction…”

  • Kenny

    Today, Beilein again showed the college Basketball world why he is one of the very best coaches of the game. And I hope that all those Michigan fans who had doubt over John Beilein until this morning has changed their mind by now.

  • jmblue

    I would love the UFR idea, as long as it doesn’t prove too time-consuming at your end. Great blog!

  • Giddings

    Two notes:

    1) I didn’t realize that the last time we beat Duke (in ’97), the final score was the same as today – 81-73. Interesting.

    2) The line about offering Justin Watts instead of Zack Novak brought back memories of last winter… sorry to call you out RB but here was one comment I dug up that summarized what some of us may have felt at the time:

    January 9, 2008 at 10:30 am
    Is this the best we can do? His only offer is from Valpo??? Thank God for the LLP transfer.”

    I’m not gonna lie, I was skeptical of Novak as well and puzzled as to why we stopped recruiting Watts… but in the back of my head I had faith in Beilein and WOW has it paid off.

  • Kevin in GR

    “It’s great, to be, a MICHIGAN WOLVERINE!” :)

    Great game today! I came down from Grand Rapids (bad weather and all) and had a great time at the game. I had gone to last year’s UCLA game and everything was like night and day. (for the better now)

    I was glad to see the lineup change with Shephard in the lineup. I read somewhere that Beilein said he would love to have a lineup of all guys 6’6. I imagine it would be a tough lineup to defend if they could all shoot it from 3 and have the ability to drive/kick out.

    I never thought Duke would miss so many 3’s or not get to the FT line much. It seemed like in the 2nd half they wanted to go down low to use their size advantage, but they never stuck with it. Also, I think Henderson getting 2 quick fouls hurt them.

    Definitely a “statement game” and “resume game” for the Big Dance! Hope they will continue to improve and build on this win!

  • Great win today by the Wolverines. It makes the entire conference look better and makes me very afraid for conference play.

  • bf1118

    It was awesome to see the maize rage going crazy and giving Duke some of their own hostile enviroment that their so accustomed to seeing at home. Can’t wait for LLP at the Palace and how about Peedi man that kid is a beast this year!! He just flat out wanted it more today and was the best player on that floor from start to finish today.

  • Matt

    I’m only 19 and have been a huge Mich hoops fan since I have been able to follow and I have never been old enough to know good Michigan basketball…man this is great. I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but I have seen many B10 teams play and I don’t see any being much better if at all better than us. Who is to say we can’t win the B10 this year? Be a real surprise team like Purdue last year…and boys we will only continue to get better.

    As for the guy who asked about LLP, it speaks large volumes that he was offered by Arizona and committed, the kid obviously has skills and I remember hearing last year that he was the best player in practice, now I can’t imagine him being better than Manny or Peedi but the kid is supposed to be a stud…..damn I’m excited.


  • JokischTacopants

    Awesome win. So great to beat The Enemy, Duke.

    Where is this guy right now?

    Fisher Forever
    October 7, 2008 at 11:07 pm
    Are you kidding me? What kool-aid are you drinking? Byrd’s not coming here. Zeigler isn’t coming here either. Why would they?

    This is a broken program. We were a 10 win team last year and the only reason we’ll win more games this year is that we dumbed down the non conference schedule a little bit. We should all be embarrassed that Michigan puts out a product like this. JB is proving to not be the answer, and the longer we go, the worse it’s going to get.

  • old fan

    to the 19 year old. Stick with it. From someone who spent 9 years at Michigan and 9 years attending every ellerbe, amaker disgrace, stick with it and enjoy the resurgence. It is coming. It is well deserved for us diehards and it’s only going to get better. This is a tradition laden program that legions of fans want to support. We grew up watching the fab five. It is still in us. To the promised land.

  • Dirtgrain

    Any updates on Cronin?

    Can anybody estimate how many of Duke’s three pointers were uncontested?

    I wonder if Beilein’s best W. Virginia team was better at covering the three in the 1-3-1. What do you suppose is the limit for this 1-3-1? Can it be a consistent lock down like Temple’s 2-3, or Augmon’s UNLV 2-3 (The Amoeba Defense), or the 2-3 of Syracuse’s best seasons (these are the most powerful zone defenses that were a frequent part of a team’s defense that I could think of)?

    Dylan, have you done an analysis of the 1-3-1 defense? Or is there a good source on the web?

    It’s great to see how the 1-3-1 has evolved for Michigan since last season. I’m getting excited about it’s potential. Could Michigan be as feared as Temple was back in the day? Someone mentioned Beilein liking 6’6″ players.

    Of all the teams we will face this year, maybe the Duke team we faced yesterday will be the team that was best prepared for the 1-3-1 (Coach K had them prepared well the first time we played them, and they knew what it was like already before yesterday’s game)–and they struggled with it. I don’t think we can simply say that Duke was cold from three-point range, overall. The 1-3-1 disrupted their offense and forced them to play a different game.

  • Dirtgrain

    I found a good Mgoblog post on the 1-3-1:

    I still have questions . . . Maybe there is a W. Va. board I can search for information on Beilein’s best 1-3-1 teams.

  • JimC

    Personally I’m doubting that the 1-3-1 is the key to the turnaround. If it was that great, every team would be doing it I suppose. The big difference is offense, IMHO.
    We have 2 top-notch players, a really quick point guard, and now the ability – FINALLY – to hit 3’s.

    And they seem to always know they’re doing on O! How many years have we seen THAT?

    Beilein has these kids playing with amazing confidence as well,

  • The offense certainly has been outstanding. The strength of the 1-3-1 in my opinion is that it takes opposing offenses out of their element. They have to deal with something they don’t see all the time and makes them at least work a lot harder to score. When it really starts working well and the traps lead to more turnovers then it is really effective.

    You are right though, it certainly isn’t the ONLY factor in improvement. I think last year the 1-3-1 really hurt us because we couldn’t run it well, basically didn’t run it anymore half way through the Big Ten. But it looks much improved this year.

  • Dirtgrain

    Good link, Dylan. Thanks. Oh, and a correction to my first post: Temple ran a match-up zone.

  • Old Style

    Does anyone know a place to watch the game now? I was working yesterday and didn’t get to watch it.

  • Old Style: If you get ESPN360 they have a replay there. will probably post it too I’d guess.

  • gooter9

    Great win. It’s going to be a fun season.

  • jmblue

    JokischTacopants – smart money says that guy was a Spartan “in drag.”

  • Old Style

    Thanks Dylan.