Game 31: Michigan at Minnesota Post Game

Dylan Burkhardt

You can call it heart, moxie, courage, toughness, or bravery. Use whatever word you want, that was an impressive effort. Michigan battled for forty minutes and somehow, some way, pulled out the victory. Michigan trailed for most of the game in an arena where only two other teams had won all year but it didn’t matter. On this day, Michigan would not be denied.

Michigan was down by as many as nine points in the first half but they clawed their way back into the game and made it to halftime with only a three point deficit. I have to point out that Dave Merritt is quite the statistician, citing the fact that Michigan has led 7 of 10 road games this year at the half in his pregame speech. Minnesota came out on fire in the second half and marched their way to a 12 point lead with just over 13 minutes to play. I’m no different than the rest of you, I thought it was over. Thankfully I was dead wrong, this team had at least one more comeback left in the tank. Laval Lucas-Perry hit 3 three pointers in the span of two minutes and it was suddenly a 4 point game.

A pair of DeShawn Sims free throws with 5:02 remaining gave Michigan their first lead since the 18:31 mark when they led 4 to 3. This time, Michigan finished down the stretch. The disappointments of Ohio State at home or the trip to Iowa City were a thing of the past. Manny Harris made a huge three pointer to push Michigan’s lead to 5 with 2 minutes to play and he followed that up with a dime to DeShawn Sims on the fast break who threw down the game clinching dunk.

Make no mistake about it, this was Manny Harris, DeShawn Sims, and Laval Lucas-Perry’s day. The trio carried Michigan on their back for forty minutes. They scored 57 of 67 points, made 19 of 22 field goals, and scored all 35 second half points. Manny and DeShawn have done it all year, so that’s not surprising, but most had all but written Laval Lucas-Perry’s season off. He has struggled for a long time but tonight he was back in the zone; 6 of 7 shooting and 3 of 4 from behind the arc for a career high 19 points.

This certainly wasn’t a perfect effort, Minnesota dominated the glass. Minnesota rebounded 52.6% of their own misses and 83.3% of Michigan’s misses. Michigan only pulled down 13 rebound to Minnesota’s 30 and there wasn’t one Michigan player who had more than 2 rebounds. Michigan’s answer for their lack of size and offensive rebounding has been the same all year, win the turnover battle. Minnesota turned it over on 31.6% of their possessions to Michigan’s 15.8%. Minnesota hasn’t turned the ball over that often all year and the only team that did a better job holding onto it against their pressure defense was Michigan the first time around. Minnesota shot the ball very well from inside the arc but Michigan’s eFG% was a bit higher at 58.9% thanks to some their three point shooting (Minnesota was 2-10 compared to Michigan’s 9-22).

So what does this mean for Michigan’s tournament chances? A top 50 road win was the one thing missing from Michigan’s resume and it seems pretty hard to deny Michigan a spot in the field of 65. The resume is impressive: RPI of 40, SOS of 9, 19-12 overall record , 6 top 50 wins, 10 over the top 100, a .500 conference record, and plenty of signature wins. It seems like they have enough but anything can happen in the eight days leading up to Selection Sunday and I won’t believe it until I see our name on the TV screen next Sunday. My biggest worry is that Thursday game in the Big Ten tournament against Iowa or Indiana where there is nothing to gain but plenty to lose.

This is one that you just have to sit back and enjoy. Take a step back and look at how far this team has come in only one year. A year ago Michigan was wrapping up a 10-22 season, one of the worst in the program’s history. Now they are on the verge of finally making the NCAA tournament and are already 9 wins better. I don’t think I could be more proud of this entire team from top the bottom. Everyone has stepped up this year; the senior walk on point guards, “the Detroit Duo”, the 2-star recruits from Indiana, the transfers, the whole team. Michigan responded with their back to the wall all season but on an individual level it is almost more impressive. Just about every player on the roster has been benched, went through a slump, or made a crucial mistake at some point this year but they were always ready to step up when they were called on again.

Player Bullets:

  • Manny Harris: Manny wanted it tonight, he started out missing some shots but they weren’t awful looks and he just kept playing. Manny finished with 14 points on 11 shots, 6 assists, 2 steals, and 2 turnovers. Manny hit some huge shots but he also set up his teammates.  His biggest plays of the game came down the stretch: securing a huge loose ball, hitting a huge three pointer, and huge dish for a DeShawn Sims slam. If you read any quotes from Manny there was no doubt that he knew how important this game was and he definitely stepped up.
  • DeShawn Sims: DeShawn Sims became a man this year and he has carried this team on his back down the stretch to the tune of 23.3 ppg over the last three. Tonight was no different and Peedi did it all; he hit turnaround jumpers, finished in the lane and in transition, and even added a three pointer.
  • Laval Lucas-Perry: Where have you been Mr. Lucas-Perry? That sweet stroke that we saw an eternity ago at the Palace was back: 6 of 7 shooting, 3 of 4 from deep, for a career high 19 points. Laval was the hero of this game and his best effort of the season couldn’t have come at a better time.
  • Stu Douglass: Stu, like just about everyone else on the team, didn’t do much scoring but his 5 points were fourth best. Stu hit 1 of 3 from behind the arc and also had 2 assists, 3 steals, and 2 turnovers. I thought Stu was very effective at the top of the 1-3-1 and he also did a great job stripping the ball on the double team in the post.
  • Zack Novak: Novak also had a first half three pointer but he was 1 of 5 and had 1 rebound, assist, and steal in 38 minutes. He was severely outmatched on defense but he kept fighting and he does all the little things. He might have made the most important play of the game when he stepped out on Westbrook at the end of the game and forced him to go left and fumble the ball.
  • CJ Lee: The last guy to get in the scoring column. CJ is who he is, a walk on point guard, but you have to love him. CJ finished with 2 points, 2 assists, and a steal in 19 minutes and there is no doubt that his leadership helped this team down the stretch.
  • Dave Merritt: Merritt struggled a lot in the first half, he got ripped right at midcourt and just looked out of sorts. In the second half it was actually Dave Merritt who was running the point during the start of Michigan’s comeback. Dave finished with 2 assists and 2 steals with only 1 turnover. No he isn’t spectacular but he did just enough today.
  • Kelvin Grady: Kelvin continues to step up when he is called on, he lost most of his minutes down the stretch but he seems to have handled it well and kept his head up. Kelvin came in the first half when Michigan was down and seemed to be a bit of a calming force as he helped guide Michigan back into the game.
  • Zack Gibson: 7 minutes, 2 boards, 2 blocks, and an assist for Gibson in 7 minutes. After struggling over the last few games I thought Gibson held his own out there when he came in for Peedi. Should Beilein have tried to go with Gibson and Sims at the same time? Maybe but he rode DeShawn to the victory so it is hard to question to decision.
  • Shoes: Are the blue shoes with the yellow “laces” here to stay? They aren’t really laces but they seemed to work.

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  • Also, I’ll work on getting another Bubble Watch Viewers guide together :-)

  • Also Stat of the Day #146 is a gem… Most fouls called by a referee against Michigan since 1996 (although I’m sure it has to do with the # of games officiated).

  • Giddings

    Maybe this team will popularize the blue shoes with maize laces like the Fab Five popularized black shoes and black socks????

    Ok, maybe not…

  • JimC

    CBS dude alongside Greg Gumbel says “Michigan is IN”.

  • Giddings

    Maryland on fire from 3-point range, they’ve come back from down 7 to tie the game at Virginia.

  • LADIES AND GENTS, THE WOLVERINES ARE IN THE DANCE. There’s no possible way they are out of the bracket, too many bubble teams didn’t step up & Michigan did. Every analyst I’ve spoken to thinks they are in with this big road win & every ESPN/CBS/FSN sports analyst has said similar sentiments. March Madness, indeed.

  • raiderfan

    So with Penn St. loss to Iowa what seed will we be for the BTT? I know we have talked about these senarios before, I just don’t remember.

  • Maryland loses to UVA… That means sub .500 in the ACC.

  • Giddings

    Certainly helps that the Terps just lost. :)

  • New Mexico got the win against Wyoming though…

  • Giddings

    RPI update: Iowa only moves up to 109, PSU drops to 63.

  • Giddings

    What is Creighton’s deal? They want to challenge the Committee to take two MVC teams or something? They’re down 24-9 against Illinois State in the MVC semis. I think most people have them IN right now as an at-large, but seriously Jays, take care of business.

  • I said this on the previous thread, but it bears repeating. It’s surreal how everything that had to UM’s way did this week. All those bubble teams losing and dropping out like that and they still are. We’re in, but just for good measure, Maryland, Okla St, South Carolina, Rhode Island lost as well. I guess fate has tired of screwing us in the bahonkis and has moved on to someone else.

    One extra on you’re writeup Dylan. I will be very interested to see what Grady and LLP do next year. Will they mope about the lost minutes or work harder in the off season? If the latter, we’ll be one tough team next year.

    We lose Lee, Shepherd and Merritt next year, right?

  • jgunnip


  • I don’t think LLP is doing any moping, that is for damn sure. Kid just played the game of his life in the biggest Michigan win in a long time. I think Grady will be ok too, he has sat on the bench a bit but a I said he has kept his head up and kept playing hard. There is plenty PT available next year at the point guard also.

  • Alex

    Where can I find the updated rpi?

  • I think this team needs to bring back the old Fab Five tradition and shave their heads if/when they make the tourney…

  • Chad Jones

    I am for sure going to sit back and enjoy this win!!!

  • Avery Queen

    If I’m not mistaken I think I hear the sound of the estranged band wagon fans in the distance. So before they all get here lets take a second to remember what we all had to go through.

    I don’t know how old everyone is but I imagine a lot are in my boat where their first memories are the national championship, Fisher, and the Fab Five.

    And when you are 11 years old you don’t have a lot of perspective on temporality and that good things aren’t always meant to last. And they didn’t.

    Names like Martin, Ellerbe, Groniger, and Jamal Crawford haunted my teens. I remember going to State games and seeing more green than blue.

    Then came my freshman year as did Horton’s. We got the Maize Rage going and things were looking up. But then came injuries, off court issues, stagnant offense, lack of player development, etc.

    While Tommy deserves some credit, I think everyone was excited to see Beilein.

    But then came a horrid season, a key transfer, and a lousy recruiting class. We all said patience, growing pains, the next year won’t be great but should be better.

    And while it has been a roller coast but it has most definitely been great.

  • Sam

    Look close at the picture with C.J. Lee in it. They clearly are wearing laces along with the yellow stripes, but those shoes are awesome either way.

  • gooter9

    Peedi, Manny, and LLP w/ the only points in the 2nd half? That’s crazy, but I’ll certainly take it. Great win today.

  • bball

    I vividly remember watching Rumeal Robinson sink two free throws and almost not being able to contain myself as a youngster. I’ve long-suffered as a die-hard fan that never lost faith and never gave up on the program. I’ve even spent time alone in bars (the only place I could watch the games) just to have my heart stomped on again and again. This is ten long years of suffering over, and really marks 20 years since a ‘clean’ team won the national championship. I just can’t look back on those Fab Five years and get any enjoyment anymore (although I do respect and still love Jalen, Juwan and Jimmy).

    This is a great win and a watershed moment for the program. This is the official shifting of the culture and the mentality. Gone are the choking, lazy teams that frustrate the heck out of you and turn the ball over like crazy. Thank you Bill Martin for luring John Beilein and thank you Beilein for giving us a hard working, good natured, great group of kids to root for. What a fun team to watch and what a great reward for the loyalty! Go Blue!!!

  • bentley

    Couldn’t agree more Avery Queen! I remember going to the MSU game in 2001 and Michigan getting blown out and State chanting “just like football”. That memory still haunts me. My favorite memory until those of this year had to be that 1995 team. With Jackson, King and Fife. I seriously think this is the biggest win since that year when that team beat a good illinois team behind 3 treys by Dugan Fife. I remember that like it was yesterday. As soon as LLP hit those 3’s that memory came racing back and I knew we had rose from the dead. Seriously without that quick burst by LLP I think we may have been blown out. ITS GREAT TO BE A MICHIGAN WOLVERINE!

  • Sam: Yeah, there are laces underneath I suppose. The yellow stripes on across on the strap stand out though.

  • Jordan

    Man, did this win feel good! I watched every televised game over the past four or five years (excluding the games on BTN last year) and, while I haven’t suffered as much as most of you guys, it feels good to finally see UM finally accomplish something this big. I’m only 16, so I never got to see the program in its glory years, but its great to know that we are making a return back to becoming a solid contender again. I will definetly enjoy watching my first NCAA tournament game of my favorite team, that’s for sure!

  • ch125

    I just looked at the bubble situation on Right now we are BY FAR the best bubble team. Everyone is losing right now and playing their way out of the tourney. We showed today that we want and deserve to be in. Win the first round of B10 tourney and don’t roll over in the second round and we are in without a doubt.

    Creighton is gettin their ass beat by Illinois State btw. Down 20 w/ 16 left

  • BL11

    Stat of the day is interesting,but if you have noticed…..

    The only game Michigan has lost this year when Eddie “frickin” hightower officiates is the loss to MSU. The guy bugs the heck out of me but we win (for the most part) when he’s there.

  • gooter9

    Creighton down 20 right now. What does everybody think? They could be out w/ a loss or they could steal an at-large. Close. I have no idea.

  • ch125

    They won’t steal the at large from us I don’t think.

    Not with a 20 point loss and a near miss in the MVC tourney.

  • Avery, yeah, they’ll come a runnin’. It’s like that Simpsons episode where Homer goes into Moes and bashes the Isotopes as a bunch of losers then we he hears they are in championship goes out and comes back dressed in ‘Topes gear. I will admit to washing my hands a bit after the third or fourth time an Amaker team cratered like the meteor that killed the dinosaurs, but I was watching every game last year that I could (mostly ESPN gamecasts) and just hoping for a cool win or two. This year is incredible. These kids never quit, they never get down even when the shots just aren’t there. They fight to the last second. They get bloodied and still come back. They do the best they can with the talent they have and I am darn proud to be a Wolverine fan!

    Being here in North Carolina if it isn’t some pansy shade of blue (duke, NC) it doesn’t get covered. I am one of few thankful for the B10 network. But I do want to brown nose our host for a moment. Dylan, thanks a lot for this blog. It has been great this season following the team with y’all around here.

  • RT23

    great win

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  • IX

    I mentioned this earlier in the week, but today’s game was the biggest for this program since the 1993 National Championship game. Others games stand out, but not like this one. Yes it was a regular season game and yes it was on the road, but look at all this team has gone through the past 16 years. From the Webber timeout to the Ed Martin situation to all the transfers, the last decade and a half have been brutal. I hated watching that little historical video on the scoreboard at Crisler all the time and seeing it end with the 1989 National Championship team. Due to the unlikely success that this team has achieved this season, we once again have something to be proud of. Today’s win proved that those wins over UCLA, Duke, Illinois, Purdue, and now twice against Minnesota were no fluke. This team is the real deal. I’m almost done with my time here at UM and I can tell you that there was not one other team in any other sport that I enjoyed watching more than this year’s basketball team (that includes all football and hockey teams as well, even if hockey goes on to win the national championship this year). We did not have any home games during weekends where there were road football games so I was able to attend every home basketball game this year, including staying here in Ann Arbor during Thanksgiving, Winter, and Spring breaks as opposed to going back home. It was well worth it! This team had heart that could not be beaten or matched by anyone else. The reason this team succeed and past basketball teams haven’t here is because they had great leaders. CJ Lee and David Merrit may not be the best shooters on the team, but they are tremendous leaders and this team would not have gotten to this point without them. As much as Deshawn and Manny frustrate me sometimes when they make dumb mistakes, they are great players and have great futures ahead of them after Michigan. Stu and Novak were suppose to not be factors at all this year but stepped up and have become crucial parts to this team. Then there’s Beilein, he is one hell of a coach. He easily is one of the best coaches in the game of college basketball today. Not only for his 1-3-1 defense, but for keeping a young team like this focused throughout the season and making them play to their potential. Though there are certain games and matchups where his system doesn’t work, it’s going to work in the long run and get us where we want to be every year. We are lucky to have a great college basketball coach like him.

    Sorry for going on and on there, but this is a very special team and they deserve all the credit in the world for not giving up, especially when the outlook was not so good. I still think we need 1 more win to get to the tournament, but I like our chances right now and this team knows what is at stake on Thursday, no matter who we face.

    GO BLUE!

  • Ryan

    I could be consider a slight bandwagoner on Michigan basketball. I was always a Michigan football fan, Redwings, lions and tigers fan, but I didn’t get into watching basketball until hortans freshman year. Since then I have not missed a game (whether on tv, listening to it on the Radio, or following it on ESPN.) This feels so good for me. Now my friends here at Kentucky can stop bashing me. It is so nice for us to get and kentucky to most likely be out. They have nothing to say to me now. I can’t imagine, with how good it feels for me, how this feels for all of you who have been around longer than myself.
    GO BLUE!

  • Well said IX.

  • Ryan

    *for us to likely get in.
    I know it is not for sure

  • Avery Queen

    i got no qualms with the band wagoners cause they are the ones that are gonna sell out crisler next year. i just thought since everyone here is probably quite the dedicated fan we owe it to ourselves to reflect on just how much this means to us.

    i’m enjoying reading everyone’s rambling and sentimental posts.

  • Josh B

    Dylan, how about Manny ditching the sleeves midway through the game?!? An untold storyline to this point, yet maybe the thing that saved our season.

    Question to the masses, can we be beaten with a sleeve-less Manny Harris???

  • wooderson

    Yeah to echo the sentiment that many have already expressed…this season is karmic payback for all of us who came to Crisler to watch 50-point losses to MSU and stayed for the whole game. What a fun team to watch and root for, what a fitting end to such a roller-coaster regular season.

    That being said I won’t believe we’re really in until I’m foolishly picking us to make the Elite 8 in my mock bracket.

  • GregGoBlue

    There goes Peedi, hitting junipers in the lane!

  • Hathachips

    MICH!!! good game yesterday. I’m glad LLP is BACK!

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