Game 13: Wisconsin at Michigan Post Game

Dylan Burkhardt

Welcome back to Big Ten basketball. Wisconsin won a 59 possession game thanks to 58.7% shooting from the field. It’s definitely too early for Michigan fans to jump off the bandwagon because Wisconsin is going to do that to a lot of teams this year and Michigan has 17 more Big Ten contests yet to go.

Wisconsin posted their third highest offensive efficiency of the season at 123.7 and Michigan posted their fourth lowest at 103.4. Wisconsin came out hot and got out to an early 12 point lead and while Michigan made runs, Wisconsin answered every one of them and hit big shot after big shot to keep Michigan out of the game. There aren’t many teams who can execute as well as Wisconsin did today on offense, they methodically picked Michigan apart.

Before the game I said the key for Michigan was pace and forcing a more uptempo style. A 59 possession game is just what Wisconsin wanted, they wound the shot clock down time after time and still managed to get their shots. Michigan’s defense certainly needs work and there are a couple things I didn’t like today on the defensive side of the ball. First off, Michigan abandoned the 1-3-1 pretty early on, I think they need the 1-3-1 to force some turnovers and they just didn’t do that today. The man-to-man defense today had us switching on every screen and I don’t know that I liked that so much either. This team isn’t going to be dominant defensively but they are going to need to do better in this conference. Wisconsin hit some tough shots but they got a far too many good looks.

Looking at the four factors there is only one that Wisconsin won handily: shooting. Wisconsin shot an eFG% of 65.2% to Michigan’s 47.1%. Turnovers were low for both teams, Wisconsin posted the 2nd lowest turnover percentage of any of Michigan’s opponents this year. Michigan lost the rebound battle 30-26 but they did a good job on the defensive glass and Wisconsin only rebounded 13.6% of their misses. Free throw rate was a tieand in the end Michigan really needed to get to the line more than they did to have a chance.

Even though Wisconsin led for the whole game there were a couple chances for Michigan to get back in it. Michigan was on the cusp several times but they just missed some wide open looks. The Laval Lucas-Perry three at the end of the first half comes to mind along with several others but I think it’s at least encouraging that we got some really good looks.

It’s always frustrating to lose at home, especially to lose a game this way where you are down start to finish. But in the end it’s just one game and it’s too early to jump off any cliffs. Purdue and Minnesota both lost on their home courts and they are both good teams. I made the mistake of underestimating Wisconsin in my Big Ten predictions and they showed why today. Michigan isn’t the only team that will lose to Wisconsin but this loss makes Sunday’s contest against Illinois a big one.

Player Bullets:

  • Zack Novak: Wow, how did Zack Novak have no scholarship offers coming out of high school. Zack is just a warrior and he played his heart out today. Novak had a career high 20 points on 7-11 (5-8 3pt) shooting and also pulled down a game high 8 rebounds. I questioned Novak’s rebounding but he can flat out get after it whether he is out matched in height or athleticism. Zack single handily kept us in this game and it was an admirable performance in a day that didn’t have many.
  • Manny Harris: Frustrating night for Manny to say the least. Manny was 3-13 (0-2) and 4-6 on free throws with 6 boards. Manny just wasn’t getting the foul calls when he was driving to the lane but he just kept putting his head down and driving. Manny’s game relies on getting the line but he just can’t let the refs get in his head like he did today.
  • DeShawn Sims: Peedi had 14 points on 5-6 shooting in 29 minutes but just never really seemed like a factor. I wasn’t impressed by his defense and it seemed like he got beat quite a bit. I think he might have been fighting a cold (he was wearing a nasal strip) but he’s going to need stronger performances as Michigan’s only real big man.
  • Stu Douglass: Stu was 0-5 and it just wasn’t his night. It was interesting that Beilein went with Stu running the point for stretches today, I think it was an attempt to match a little of Wisconsin’s size. Stu had a couple good looks but he they just weren’t falling. Stu did have 2 assists to 0 turnovers so he didn’t appear to be an awful answer at the point.
  • Laval Lucas-Perry: LLP played a career high in minutes with 30 but wasn’t hitting his shots either. LLP was 2-8 (1-6 3pt, 6-8 ft) for 11 points with 2 assists and 5 boards. It was a solid outing but I think LLP is definitely still feeling out the offense and he also missed a couple wide open threes. Trevon Hughes got the best of everyone today but I think he really took it to Laval a couple times as well.
  • Jevohn Shepherd: Shep got only one stint off the bench but I think Novak’s monster game was a big part of that. Beilein also played Gibson a little more in an attempt to match Wisconsin’s size. Shep might have helped defensively but Novak was just playing too well.
  • CJ Lee: CJ hit a big three in the first half and played hard but he still doesn’t give us that much besides basically being a coach on the floor. I think a lot of his minutes in their first half were a message to Manny to calm down.
  • Zack Gibson: 1 rebound in 14 minutes with 2 points isn’t really going to cut it. Gibson is in a funk and needs to figure his way out of it because Michigan is going to need him to win games in the Big Ten.
  • Kelvin Grady: Grady didn’t get a lot of minutes and I’m not sure why. The game certainly wasn’t uptempo which hurts Kelvin and Wisconsin just had so much size with all the switching on defense.
  • Giddings

    I too was puzzled as to why Grady didn’t play more in this game. Was Beilein mad at him for taking that three in the first half? I doubt it, it was a wide open look. You would think that the best way to try to increase the tempo is to get your speedy PG that loves to push the ball up the floor in the game…

  • Tom

    Go 9-9 in the Big Ten, win two Big Ten tourney games and that gets us to 21 wins and an at-large bid to the NCAAs….

  • blueinflorida

    Most frustrating thing about this game is losing at home. We have to protect home court in the Big Ten this year. While the Illinois game on Sunday is far from must win, I think we need it big time for confidence and morale. Not to mention we don’t want to fall to 0-2 in this conference this year. Hopefully this game wakes the kids up a bit–we still have a long ways to go.

    Also, the fact that we played on Monday probably didn’t help either. Still no excuses. We’ll bounce back on Sunday.

  • Aaron

    Here are 3 things I observed this game:

    1) Defense was absent for much of this game. We were successful earlier in the season because of our defense, even if it wasn’t efficient. Our 1-3-1 either seems to have lost its luster (when we were able to get back in it after a made shot), or Wisconsin has been great in figuring it out. In the 2nd half we were able to close the gap after creating turnovers, but we just didn’t do enough of it tonight. To give you some numbers, we only created 8 turnovers and got 6 points off them.

    2) Wisconsin’s made some big contested shots. You can’t blame Peedi for the shots that Leuer and Landry made. But that’s what is going to happen when playing against better competition, or really hot shooters. Having Novak at the four didn’t help even with his 8 rebounds, especially since we weren’t making our shots and he had to play his man straight up. If we made more shots, it could have really helped on defense.

    3) Our rebounding deficiencies were a result of a poorly run offense. I know that our game isn’t dependent on rebounding, but if you guys go look back at the game, I’m sure you’re going to see a lot of times where we’d attempt a three and there would be absolutely nobody there to rebound. The stats don’t necessarily back that observation up (7 offensive boards), but that’s what I saw. Also what I observed in the 2nd half was that several times we’d have 4 or 5 guys on the outside, with (again) NOBODY down low. Was this a result of trying to get back into the game by shooting the three? I don’t know. We try to shoot the three all the time. But now I fear we’re not going to get much production by attacking the middle besides Manny taking his guy off the dribble (which was completely ineffective).

  • jmblue

    I thought we generally looked a step slower than usual today. I wonder if that was the aftereffect of playing 40 hours before this. Manny was shooting short a few times during warmups, which I thought was a sign he might not be up to snuff. Sims also didn’t seem to have as much spring in his legs today. Oh well, it’s one game out of 18.

    Thanks to the students being out of town, I got to sit on the edge of the student section, just a few rows behind our bench. That was awesome. It was cool to observe the team’s interactions. C.J. Lee is a real leader. All game long he shouted encouragement to his teammates. I’m happy to see a guy like him get a few minutes.

  • tbliggins

    We aren’t going to beat anyone decent w/ Manny playing like that. I agree that he was totally thrown off his game by not getting some calls in the 1st half. He really seemed to be forcing things consistently for the 1st time all year. I don’t expect to see a repeat performance against Ill.

    We cannot afford to play Novak at the 4 for long stretches when he is matched up against a low post scorer. If he is playing well then we need to go “big” and play him at the 3. He will simply get abused if he is isolated down low. It really is too bad they aren’t getting anything productive out of Gibson. I think that is really handicapping what JB wants to do.

  • Merlin

    Yes I don’t think CJ played bad at all. You know when Beilein went to the elite eight at WVU his team played Villanova in their first big east game that year and lost 84-46. In fact they lost 6 of their first 7 big east games that year. As Beilein says if his teams do not shoot well they will lose.

    There were other problems today.. The defense is not good-we do not have good defensive players other than shep. That is why the zone is so important and that is one reason Beilein is cool on grady. He is too short to play the baseline in that defense. In our man to man we were getting beat off the dribble and there was no ekpe udoh to bail us out.

    Manny was so frustrating to watch. He just does not trust his teammates and feels it is all on him. As Beilein has said so many times-if there are three guys on Manny someone has to be open. The short offensive possessions also reared its head to day instead of working the offense. This was panic in response to the outstanding offense Wisconsin had going today.

  • AT

    The Grady thing really bothered me today. I know there must be a reason, so I’m not throwing beiline under the bus, but david merritt cannot play that many minutes if we are going to win games. I understand we need leadership and he’s a captain, but he really lacks a step out there and cannot hit a shot. Call me crazy. I think we’ll rebound though, even losing to Illinois is the end of the world. We need to keep our composure this season; the team and the fans.

  • Giddings

    Don’t wanna take away Dylan’s thunder, but I just went through and did the Individual Plus/Minus for the game today (I was curious).

    Merlin you are right, CJ did play well today (with the exception of that crazy layup attempt), leading the team with a +10 in 15 minutes. Amazingly, the only other player above zero was Zack Gibson with +7 in 14 minutes.

    Manny had a team-worst -17, while Peedi and Novak each had -15.

    Didn’t have time to do the lineup breakdowns… I guess I’ll leave that to Dylan if he wants.

  • I’m almost done with +/- Giddings. I’ll have it all tomorrow morning.

  • Giddings

    Don’t spend too much time at the computer tonight :-)

  • Jay

    Gibson is in a funk Dylan? Hasnt he been in this funk the previous years also? The funk is called hes no good!! Back to the game, ESPN says the game was lost in the first half from poor D. They allowed Wisconsin 42 points in the 1st half, when they only avg 64 a game. I figured we would struggle when we play a team with consistent trees inside like a Landry and Leuer on top of having a bad night from the big 2 (Manny & Peedi). The trio of PG’s combined for 37 minutes, and only produced 5 points…another disappointment.

    Overall we knew they were going to take some lumps, and when they do play teams with true bigs who know there job they will have trouble. Peedi is just to light in the a$$ and has nobody to help him out against these type of teams. Games like this is the only time you miss a player like Ekpe, or understand how much a Cronin(pray that he has a pulse), Morgan, Lubick or Riley could add to the front court dimension of this team.

  • AG2

    Honestly, they outbigged us and out 3’ed us. Between their extremely hot shooting and refs calling the game like it was at the Kohl Center, we just couldn’t keep up.

    Hopefully, we match up better against Illinois.

  • Jimmy

    Manny is NOT a leader. He struggled and got all dejected. The kid needs to grow up over the Big Ten season. Not cool.

  • tbliggins

    1 bad game = Manny is NOT a leader. Seems rational.

  • JimC

    So that game brought everyone back down to earth.

    The lack of defense was a surprise.
    The one thing that really concerns me is that we exactly 1 truly contributing big man who is 6’8″, and of course the B10 has a lot of big lineups.

    But if they can pull out a win against IL Sunday–no small feat–the season momentum will be back!

  • Troy

    I would of like to see Shep play more. I think we need
    his athleticism on defense.
    Also next yr we will be able to counter a big 10 front line with Morgan and McLimans.

  • Jay

    I think the fact that our last game against a high major was 25 days ago really hurt us yesterday. To only have four games in that span, but one of them 40 hours before the Big Ten opener is just really poor scheduling. In contrast, Wisconsin’s last game was a week before against a good Texas team, so they had plenty of time to get ready for us and had a competitive game heading into the conference schedule.

    Let’s hope the team doesn’t get too down on itself. It’s one game of 18, against one of the more experienced and disciplined teams in the conference.

    Lastly, DeShawn really needs to assert himself next game and be a leader on the floor. Hopefully his ankle will be fully healed by Sunday.

    Jay (different from the one who posted earlier)

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  • @Jimmy: I strongly disagree about Manny’s leadership. He got frustrated but it was one game, it would be an overreaction to say he’s not a leader from this game.

  • Evan

    As I watched this game, I kept thinking, “there is no way Wisconsin can continue to shoot 60%.” And I was wrong. I think they just shot the ball uncommonly well. Yes, our defense didn’t look great, but they also had a hot shooting night, so give them some credit. Not every team is going to shoot that well against Michigan, even with our defense.

    It was interesting to see how quickly we left the 1-3-1 behind. I think I must not understand the purpose of the 1-3-1 because I thought it would help us against a team like Wisconsin with more size.

    This was an interesting game to see how Manny responded to being the focus of a Big Ten defense. I was fine with him driving as much as he did, but he would have helped himself if he had kicked it out on occassion. Instead, three guys collapsed on him, hacked him to death, he didn’t get a foul call and then sulked. It was weird to me to see so much contact without fouls being called, but maybe I just don’t understand what it takes to foul a player on a drive.

    No one has mentioned LLP driving to the basket. He did this a lot, even though he was somewhat less than successful hitting his shots. He did get to the foul line, though, which makes me think that there is such a thing as fouling a player who is driving to the hoop. It was good to see him add that to his game.

    I am in the group that is puzzled why we didn’t push the ball more. I assumed we would do that. Maybe we just didn’t have the chance because they were hitting 60% of their shots.


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