Game 17: Michigan at Illinois Post Game

Dylan Burkhardt

The Michigan offense left Champaign at half time. Michigan only made 6 field goals in the second half and Manny made 5 of them. Illinois held Michigan to only 20 points on 20.7% shooting in the second half. Grady, Novak, and Lucas-Perry finished the first half with 5 points each, they combined for only 2 points total in the second half.

In many ways the game was similar to the first meeting between these two teams:

  • The road team held the halftime lead but the home team won it down the stretch on the defensive side of the ball.
  • The winning team had a guy who hit three 3-point shots in the first half to keep his team afloat (McCamey/Novak).
  • A tall unathletic big man took over the game in the second half (Tisdale/Gibson).
  • The home team shot and made a lot more free throws.
  • Both teams turned the ball over the same number of times.
  • Both home teams were missing their students due to winter break.

Michigan fans looking to point fingers have to look no further than DeShawn Sims. The 6-foot-8 big man was not himself tonight and looked sluggish from the get-go. Sims was held to 3-14 shooting for 7 points and didn’t bring the effort and intensity on the defensive side of the ball. Illinois big man Mike Tisdale posted 24 points on 10-12 shooting and dominated the game in the second. Sims missed tons of easy looks deep in the lane and also refused to drive the ball on slower Tisdale. I would have liked to see a little more Zack Gibson down the stretch but this team really needs production from Sims night in and night out.

Michigan lost this game by letting Illinois get to the free throw line and by not being able to buy a basket. Their shooting was dreadful with an effective field goal percentage of 38.1%, Michigan’s lowest eFG% all year. Illinois usually struggles to get to the line, their free throw rate of 23.8 ranks 343rd (2nd to last) in the NCAA. On the other side Michigan doesn’t let opponents get to the line, their defensive free throw rate of just 23.8 ranks 8th nationally. Illinois posted a free throw rate of 47.8 tonight compared to 4.8 when these teams played just 10 days ago.

This one stings because Michigan was in the game for the first half and Assembly Hall appeared to be pretty tame without students. At the end of the day there is no shame in losing this game, Illinois is a very good team that will be dancing in March. They are 14-2 with an RPI in the top 20 and have quality wins at Purdue and Missouri. They play lock-down defense (top 15 per Pomeroy) and will beat a lot of teams in Assembly Hall this year. Saturday night’s game against Ohio State is a big one. This team has played well coming off of a loss and they can’t afford to lose to a struggling Ohio State team at home.

Player Bullets:

  • Manny Harris: In the live blog a lot of people were saying that Manny struggled (and he certainly has for stretches this Big Ten season), isn’t that good, is overrated, and whatever else. Manny scored 20 points on 7-13 (3-5 3pt) shooting with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 turnovers while the rest of the team combined for 12 field goals all night. Yes, he took a couple questionable shots and yes he turned it over a few times but I’ll take this effort from Manny any time, especially when the rest of the team is limping behind him.
  • DeShawn Sims: See above, simply not good enough.
  • Zack Novak: Zack hasn’t been getting a ton of open looks but he is doing enough to deserve his minutes. Novak posted a game high 9 rebounds to go along with 5 points on 2-4 shooting in 33 minutes.
  • Laval Lucas-Perry: LLP had a rough day shooting the ball, he was 2-7 (1-4 3pt) for 7 points with 1 assist and 3 turnovers. I think you have to remember that this is only his 7th game this year.
  • Zack Gibson: Zack Gibson loves playing against Illinois. In only 9 minutes (really?) Gibson scored 4 points (2-4) and pulled down 2 offensive boards to go along with 2 steals.
  • Kelvin Grady: This is the case with most everyone besides Manny Harris, a great first half (5 points) and nothing in the second.
  • Dave Merritt: Just not a threat to score, I think he played a few too many minutes but the box score says he only played 10.  Dave is just not a threat to score the ball and opposing defenses know it.
  • CJ Lee: Always hustling CJ posted 5 rebounds and played 14 minutes.
  • Stu Douglass: It was good to see Stu hit a three in the first half but he missed a really deep (25 foot+) three pointer in the second that he shouldn’t be taking. Stu really can pass the ball and even though he’s going through a bit of a funk you can see what Beilein likes in him. Right now it’s all about teaching Stu the right pass and the right shot.
  • Jevohn Shepherd: I just don’t see how Jevohn is the answer to any questions… This team is going to win games by out scoring people. Shep isn’t going to help us score points and he isn’t 7 foot. Shepherd is more athletic than Novak but he has only pulled down more than 3 rebounds twice this year (4 each time). Novak is averaging 6.75 rebounds per game in conference play and grabbed 9 tonight against a team with two guys 6-foot-10 or taller.
  • Giddings

    I don’t wanna start looking ahead too much, but when you break down the rest of the season, you really see that a win here would have been a luxury but not a necessity.

    I figure we have 2 pretty tough home games (MSU and Purdue) along with 2 pretty easy road games (NW and Iowa), plus 1 kinda tough home game (OSU or Minny, take your pick) along with 1 kinda tough road game (PSU). As long as we can steal some of those road games, there won’t be too much pressure to win at home against the likes of MSU and Purdue, especially since we already have two marquee wins.

  • Aaron

    Peedi was disappointing not because of his inability to put the ball in the bucket, but because he didn’t pass the ball to the open man. There were a few times he would post up and there’d be a 2nd and 3rd guy there to guard him. Meanwhile, there was a guy in the corner calling for the open trey a couple of times. Actually, I saw Manny was visibly upset after one of these misses and I think Coach B had to sit him down.

    I’m also starting to think about the fact that our marquis wins came so early in the season. Sometimes the committee will look at two teams with similar records but will take the hot team over the other. To make this an obsolete point, we need to take care of business at home, but also win one of these “toss up” games on the road. I think we’ll get there, but just something to keep in the back of my mind.

  • jg

    Meh, that was frustrating to watch in the second half. I had to swtich over to LOST so I wouldn’t break something.

    I thought the first half (what we saw) was one of the better halves passing wise and getting the ball inside that we’ve had all year. Our offense looked pretty good.

    The turning point IMO was the play that douglass made a nice pass over the top of the defense to gibson who was wide open under the basket but instead of going straight up for the layup he decided to take a dribble and wasn’t able to get a clean shot off before the defense collapsed. Illinois came down and hit a 3 on the next possession making it a 5 or 6 pt lead and we never recovered.

    Gotta beat the buckeyes on Saturday!

  • I dont know how accurate the statistics are because Manny had way more than 2 turnovers. Merritts minutes should be limited and they need to come when we have 4 scorers on the court with him, I dont like Lee and Merritt playing at the same time. Deshawn played like a women and bears the most responsiblity for this loss with LLP turning in a poor performance as well. Man, I thought Douglass could shoot, this is a long funk if thats what it is!

  • UMDC

    It would seem to me that Michigan and Illinois are pretty even. The two games were essentially mirror images of each other. Yet, we assume Illinois will be dancing and we’re going to struggle to get in.

    Our marque wins are better than theirs, especially with Purdue in the midst of what, I think, will be a very mediocre season, which will be evident by the time the selection committee is choosing teams. Thus, all the teams around the country counting Purdue as one of their signature wins will ultimately not have that to hang their hat on.

    I think the Big Ten is going to send 6 teams and thus all we need to do is finish in the top 6, which I think we will do with relative ease.

  • UMDC

    Couldn’t agree more about Shep, Dylan. He’s not the answer to anything. I find it funny when people want Shep (or even EXpe back) for rebounding, yet Novak is averaging more rebounds then either of them ever have.

    Shep isn’t an inside player. He’s a wing that isn’t particularly good at shooting or scoring the ball. I think some people confuse his improvement from years past with him actually being good.

  • Merlin

    I knew we would not win this game but I was impressed with the effort. With the game out of reach the boys were still fighting for the ball on the floor. Obviously Deshawn needs to be an animal for us to win and we need to be really concerned that he is going to or is already wearing down. They asked Beilein at one of his shows-what if we do not shoot well in a game-his answer we will lose. We are too small to win any other way. I am not confident of a tournament bid because of our recent history. I am hanging on every game.

  • blueinflorida

    The thing is Novak has had more playing time that Shep thus more opportunities to get rebounds. I just feel like why not give him a shot in a game where Novak was pretty meh and the team needed a spark.

    Agree with the above poster on the Gibson miss down low being the turning point. He HAS to convert that pass from Stu. I mean, you don’t get an easier look than that in this conference. He’s gotta be stronger with the ball, but what else is new. Let’s learn from this, move on and beat the Buckeyes on saturday.

  • Beilein had an article in the Ann Arbor News about keeping his team hungry. What was the second half of the game…a hunger strike?

    I wish Ben Cronin was healthy this year to equalize the likes of Tisdale.

    Also, on WTKA this morning they were talking about a DetNews article, where Rumeal implies that the ’89 team was talking money…WTF. I am not sure what to think- but WTF.

  • Opps, typo…”taking money”, not “talking money”.

  • Dylan

    Ben: you have to be careful distingushing poor shooting from lack of effort.

  • El Capitan

    Looking ahead to March (which I don’t usually do, but it’s been awhile since I’ve been able to), I think we need more than just a top 6 finish in the conference to guarantee a spot in the Big Dance.

    The way I see it now, the conference should shake down something like this:
    1. MSU
    2. Minnesota
    3. Purdue
    4. Wisconsin
    5. Michigan/Ohio State/Illinois (take your pick)

    Assuming nothing drastic happens in the Big Ten tournament, those top 4 will be guaranteed spots, but only two of us fighting for that #5 spot will get in. For us to get one of those spots, we have to do one of the following:
    1. Beat OSU twice (possible)
    2. Beat MSU and Purdue/Minnesota (very possible)
    3. Run the table and take one of those top spots (major doubts)

    Obviously, that third choice probably isn’t happening, but those first two are possible. Aaron couldn’t be more right when he says the committee will take a hot team, because if we fade down the stretch, a team that makes a conference tourney run (like a mediocre Big 12 or SEC team) will probably get the nod over us. So we need to solidify our status and take that 5th spot. We can’t do anything about Illinois now, but if we take care of business from here on out, we will be fine.

  • Drew

    I understand what an effort Novak gives on the glass, and honestly, he might be my favorite player on the team because of his hustle. The only reason I say Ekpe would have been useful is because of interior defense and length, something that is HUGE with the number of scrappy, big teams in this conference. The fact is, I don’t think Tisdale has that kind of game if Ekpe is on him. He has so much length, and for the whole rest of the year were not going to have anyone down low who can truly challenge shots, aside from the occasional Sims/Gibson block.

  • Dylan

    I think at least six from the big ten get in. Psu probably should be in the picture though. Osu is falling fast and I think they are NIT bound.

  • Dylan

    Shep Rebs per40: 5.625
    Novak reb per40: 5.09

    But remember that Novak was playing the two early on until llp. In the Big Ten Zack is avg 6,42 Rebs per40.

  • tbliggins

    Novak had developed into more of a useful rebounder than I expected at this point. I think the glaring advantage Shep has on Novak is on the defensive end. We know that JB is an offensive coach, but I am just surprised that Shep doesn’t get some pt when teams are playing well offensively (1st half vs Wisc, 1st half vs Ind, 2nd half vs Ill, ect).

  • Voice of Reason

    For what it’s worth, I think that with each game we see new weaknesses that are being exposed with this team, and Beilein is helping them to address it. Last year they stunk, but this year they are a lot better [not great]. They are a young team still forming into a good team and it’s important that we don’t expect them to be better than they really are. That is why being nationally ranked too early this year was not a good idea; February yes, but not December or January.

    We want them to make the big dance, but we want them to be a solid team that is good enough to make some noise in the tournament and not one and done. So Beilein has to continue to build up this team through each game working with the good and the bad. It looks like he has just recently decided upon his playing rotation, which means his team’s chemistry is still coming together and they will need more time to gel. Therefore, they will likely have more ups and downs this year.

    Beilein is trying to create a foundation on which to build for future years so that when Michigan goes into Illinois, East Lansing, and so forth, that we’ll either be the favorite or considered pick-em chance. I believe Michigan is on the right road and we’ll eventually get there.

  • Chief

    When did Minnesota become the second best team in the league? They lost to MSU at home and have beaten PSU at home and Iowa on the road in of the ugliest offensive games I’ve seen. Big test for them tonight at Madison where I expect them to lose.

  • Avery Queen

    I agree with Dylan that 6 teams will get in. I would be very hesitant to put Minny at #2 as they have had probably the easiest conference schedule thus far. If PSU had pulled off that never ending game last night (btw Battle was extremely unclutch) they would be a serious contender however probably on the outside looking in along with OSU. Purdue really hadn’t proved anything until they absolutely dismantled Wisco, which was enough for me.

    So I think mine would be:

    1. State
    2. Wisco
    3. Purdue
    4-6. Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois
    7-8. PSU/OSU

    I also think on a neutral court Illinois beats us 6+ games out of 10 based strictly on how we match up but I don’t consider them a better team in the whole scheme of things.

  • UMDC

    The only team in the B10 that I think is actually better than the others is MSU. I think after them Minn, OSU, UM, Wisc, Ill, Purdue, and Penn State are really close to each other; perhaps with Wisc slightly ahead and Penn State slightly behind.

    So I would say that the tourney is MSU plus the top 5 from the rest. I also think that we’ll beat MSU in our only meeting at Crisler, which will add another quality win for us. We’ll also get a win over Purdue.

    I think Purdue over achieved last year, lost one of there better young players to a transfer and now this year they are just good. About equal to us.

  • Ky Fox

    Last night was a perfect illustration of what I mean about balance. I dont care what anyone says, Epke(without being a negative in the chemistry department) would have vastly helped this team. To win games of this magnitude we have to build a better/physical/more tough frontcourt, Peedi still disappears at times and doesnt bring the intensity game in and game out. Gibson is just Gibson, he is just too weak and doesnt have the tough mindset to get things done down low. Those of you who say that we have to shoot well, and drive the ball well to win games especially on the road..are very right in that assessment. The only other way we win games of this magnitude without shooting very well.. is if Peedi becomes an animal and really exerts himself(15 to 20 pts, 15 to 20 rbs, and a couple blks) A game like this just really shows us how much next years class, along with Cronin is going to help this team. I didnt expect to win this game just because of a few different things. 1. We are still young and have a lot of young guys playing extensive minutes. Thats tough especially when you play on the road in the big ten. 2. This is just JB’s 2nd year. Let him bring in a few more classes, 95% of the other coaches in the bigten have been at their respective schools longer than JB has been at UM. 3. The lack of any post presence is seriously hurting us. I would almost go as far as saying that if we have a healthy Ben Cronin we win that game. What having good bigs does for you is it makes your room for error greater…if we have a solid frontline we get a few second chance points, we defend better and challenge more shots in the paint. Having good bigs just lessens the pressure on our 1 thru 3 guys. 4. Shooting becomes more difficult on the road…different backdrops, different lighting, crowd..ect.
    I believe we stand ground at home the rest of the way, winning all but maybe 1 at home. If we can snag a couple wins like at iowa we will be fine. Like one of you said earlier..the committee goes by the rule of “what have you done for me lately” which I think bodes well for us because historically and by style JB does well in a tournament platform. We can win 2 or 3 games in the bigten tourney and that will look good in the eyes of the committee. There is still a lot of bball left to be played. We just need to continue to play hard, and get better with every game. We will be fine

  • jg

    You guys have to remember that Purdue was badly hit with the injury bug during the Illinois and PSU games. I still think, when healthy, they are just as good if not better than MSU. However due to the unbalanced schedule I’d still give the edge to MSU to win the conference. They miss us at home and don’t have to go to Madison, while Purdue doesn’t host Minny or go to Bloomington.

    I’d rank the conference like so,
    1-2 MSU/Purdue
    3 Wisco
    4-6 Ill/Mich/Minny
    7-8 OSU (without lighty)/PSU
    9-10 Iowa/NW
    25 Indiana

  • JimC

    jg, that rank looks about right to me.

    Out of Whack stat from last night:
    Novak 9 Rebounds
    Sims 2 Rebounds

    Novak can barely jump off the floor, but at least he thinks he belongs in the paint.
    We need our big men to play big, not stand around the 3pt arc!

  • rlc

    Well, the good news is that there only a few teams in the conference like Illinois that can so thoroughly exploit our lack of size.
    The bad news is that Ohio State is another one of them. If we don’t apply serious pressure to their guards, they’ll be lobbing the ball in to Mullens and Lauderdale all night long. Even with adequate pressure, expect Sims’ offense to suffer again as he is forced to burn a lot of energy leaning on a 7 footer. I’d like to see Gibson get a few more minutes just so Sims can rest.

  • Umm.. Big win for Minnesota to say the least…

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