BTT Game 2: Michigan vs. Illinois Post Game

Dylan Burkhardt
B10 Michigan Illinois BasketballMichigan just didn’t have it tonight. The rhythm wasn’t there, the shooting wasn’t there, and the defense wasn’t there. Thursday was an example of how easy the game is to play when everything is going right but today was an example of how quickly a few bad plays can spiral into a loss.

Michigan was in the game in the first half despite awful 9 of 30 shooting. Illinois got off to a hot start in the second half and the rest was history. The lead ballooned as high as 20 points in the second half before a late Michigan run got the game back to single digits. The run was based on Illinois’ lock down defense and hot shooting (started 10-13 in the 2nd half) coupled with a couple frustrating turnovers.

Similar to the match-up in Champaign, McCamey hit big shots in the first half to keep Illinois afloat before getting a lift from the rest of the team in the second half. Mike Davis was unstoppable throughout the night, he got plenty of easy looks but he also could get his patented mid-range jumper whenever he wanted over Zack Novak. Michigan tried to go with the 1-3-1 and the 2-3 but neither of them fazed the Illini.

Looking at the four factors, Michigan just didn’t shoot the ball well enough despite hanging tough on the glass and doing a decent job holding onto the ball. Michigan’s effective field goal percentage of 41.2% was dreadful and Michigan only managed to score .86 points per possession. Illinois didn’t shoot the lights out but they managed a respectable 1.03 points per possession. Illinois also managed to get to the line with a free throw rate of 24% compared to Michigan’s meager 8%.

Was it tired legs? Over confidence? Taking the foot off the gas? Looking ahead? Who knows. There is no denying that this team plays much better when they think that they have their backs against the wall. It was pretty clear that Michigan felt they were in after the Iowa win. It might have been a little bit of a Michigan let down but the bottom line is that Illinois had a week to prepare for Michigan and they were clearly ready to go.

There are 44 hours until Selection Sunday and it is going to be a long wait. Michigan should still be in the dance but anything can happen. Of course, the committee tends to make one or two awful decisions every year. Michigan’s RPI held steady at 42 (ahead of Wisconsin’s 43) and their strength of schedule jumped to #9. Michigan wasn’t near the “last four in” range before today and hopefully they stay off of those lists and remain safely in the field. The resume speaks for itself: an RPI of 42, 6 top 50 wins, 2 (potentially 3 or 4) top 25 wins, top 10 strength of schedule, 20 wins, and a .500 conference record. The bottom line is that waiting is painful — I’ll believe it when I see our name on the television Sunday evening.
Player Bullets:

  • DeShawn Sims: Peedi definitely didn’t have it today: 6 of 19 shooting for 15 points with eight rebounds. Peedi started 2-10 and those early misses really killed his confidence. I thought Illinois did a great job of forcing Peedi outside and he settled for far too many longer jumpers.
  • Manny Harris: 9 points on 3 for 11 (1-5 3pt) shooting with nine rebounds and four assists.  Frazier was out but Illinois was in Manny’s grill the entire night. He just never really got going and started pressing in the second half after the big Illini run.
  • Zack Novak: Novak had 10 points and seven rebounds thanks to two triples and a couple put backs. Novak scrapped but he is just so out-matched in a game like this that it is very tough.
  • Stu Douglass: Stu struggled out there, 6 points on 2 of 8 shooting with five rebounds, two assists, and three turnovers. The backbreaker was Stu’s pull up three pointer on a 2-on-1 break that turned out to be a five point swing. That was right when Michigan was starting a bit of a run and was just a poor decision.
  • CJ Lee and Dave Merritt: It is trendy to rip CJ and Dave after a loss and they clearly weren’t spectacular but I don’t think they were the reason we lost. I think it is pretty clear that Beilein is going for some consistency there in terms of playing just two guys at the point. Merritt and Lee have had their ups and downs but they have been playing well lately. They combined for 6 points on 2 of 5 shooting with only two assists and three turnovers.
  • Laval Lucas-Perry: I’m a bit surprised LLP didn’t get more time in the second half because he set up a few nice plays in the first half.
  • Zack Gibson: 4 points in only 6 minutes; I don’t know if Gibson even played in the second half. His two baskets were both nice finishes off of some good looks in the first.
  • ryan

    I am very nervous for sunday

  • Brick

    Seemed pretty simple. Mike Davis was feeling it today and Peedi wasn’t. I think the bye really made a difference. We had to play yesterday and they haven’t played in over a week.

    The officiating seemed terrible at times. 5 free throws? I listened on the radio and the announcers were amazed at some of the no calls.

    I think the 10 years without a bid is making some people nervous for no reason. Fans of teams with similar resumes are discussing seeding (I think a 10 seed) not the possibility of the NIT.

  • Big win for San Diego St. over BYU; BYU might fall out of the RPI top 25 though and that will hurt the other MWC teams I would think.

  • Redwings8831

    At least Utah State came back from down 13 to beat New Mexico State by 1. That keeps the WAC at a one bid league for now. Xavier and Dayton both lost meaning winner of Duquesne and Temple will get the automatic bid from the A10. Hopefully Temple can win and keep it a 3 bid league.

  • Giddings

    I have no idea why LLP and Gibby didn’t get any minutes in the 2nd half, as they connected for a couple very nice baskets in the 1st and really seemed to have it going.

    Anyone notice that we don’t play very well on BTN but really step it up for the ESPN games? I know it seems strange, but 4 of our 6 Top 50 wins (and 3 of our 4 Top 30 wins) came on ESPN networks…

    And if anyone is wondering how we are on CBS potentially for next week, we’re 0-1 with the road loss at Purdue.

  • blueinflorida

    I really believe that if we’re going to have any shot at winning a few games in the tournament that Gibson is going to have to play more/better. He HAS to give us more off the bench in spelling Sims.

    I also thought it would be a no-brainer in getting Grady on the court alot more today considering he only played 5 minutes yesterday and was fresh. That didn’t happen obviously. I’m not going to question Beilein—he knows more than I do.

    The loss is frustrating—just when you think we’ve turned the corner and are playing our best basketball we lay an egg. Still, has been a great season and will be great seeing our name on Sunday. Go Blue!

  • Tom Too

    We are in the Big Dance and the bottom line is that is one year ahead of what we all expected…

  • Florida just lost. If Auburn loses tomorrow, then it will be 2, count them 2, bids to the SEC. Unbelievable.

    Tom Too: Exactly. I really think people lose sight of that. No one gave these kids a chance at the NCAA’s this year. We all figured the rebuilding would take us to the NIT. The fact is we have a fantastic coach who made these kids believe and they went out and played their collective butts off this season and earned one. We may very well lose our first game. One and done. Who cares. We are at least a year ahead of schedule. Crack open some cold ones on Thursday or Friday and watch with pride and enjoy it. The long drought is over.

  • Syracuse goes to OT for the win again. Bet there are some exhausted Orangemen.

  • Zach

    Kinda off topic, but since St. Mary’s is a bubble team I guess it’s relevant. The fact that St. Mary’s and Eastern Washington are even playing tonight is ridiculous. St. Mary’s, in an effort to get another win and prove that Patty Mills is healthy, scheduled this game last week. Last week! Their conference tournament is already over!

    If this practice is approved by the NCAA, why don’t bubble teams that are likely out just start calling each other up and scheduling impromptu games to boost their resumes?

  • Agreed Zach. That could cause some chaos if more teams start doing that. Florida could call up BC or Va Tech and try to get a play-in. I don’t know how much credit the committee will give beating a 12-18 E. Washington team but it does stink.

  • Andrew

    The problem with that idea is that most schools have already scheduled the maximum amount of games they are allowed by the time the season starts. St. Mary’s, for some reason, had not. I think bubble teams would have a hard time finding other bubble teams that still had an open game.

  • Zach

    Good point, Andrew; I hadn’t thought about that. And I agree with you as well, Chris – playing E. Washington will probably end up dropping St. Mary’s RPI.

  • Bear Killer

    I have no problem with St. Mary’s did. They wanted to prove that Mills was healthy, and get him another game before the tournament. They had an open game, E. Washington had an open game, and it’s not like this one helps their RPI, since E. Washington stinks. I don’t think it sets much of a precedent.

  • Giddings

    If you guys haven’t had enough basketball yet today, UCLA/USC is a pretty relevant game going on right now on FSN. USC isn’t getting much discussion as a bubble team but if they win this game they will be right there… meanwhile, a UCLA win here would probably put them back in the RPI Top 25 (a win tomorrow would assure it).

  • jgunnip

    Yes, most teams have already maxed out their allotted number of games on their schedule. It is interesting though, because playing a game like this, bubble business aside, isn’t a bad idea for schools who have early conference tournaments to get some game action during the two weeks they are waiting to play in the tournament.

    Tough second half today. I agree with some of the above posters that I thought Gibson and Grady could have seen some time in the second half. You gotta think Manny and DeShawn would have benefited from a short break at some point.

    Looking forward to hearing our name on Sunday. There are no teams currently below us at this point that can pass us unless they win their tournaments. Maryland, Temple, and SDSU will not pass us as at-larges. Unless USC, Baylor, Auburn, SDSU, Tulsa, AND Maryland win their conference tournaments, I’m not sweating.

  • noahtahl

    Nobody will say it…in 2 out of the last 3 losses Beilein has made some very strange coaching decisions.Benching Manny,not playing Grady in a bask to back game,taking Sims out when he was hot, leaving him in when he was cold,playing LLP for 9 minutes tonight,playing Gibson less in a game where he contributed and more when he did not, playing CJ Lee too much…again!

    I realize that this is a long process and Beilein seems to be determined in stressing the bigger picture and looking forward to next year and beyond but to see some these decisions bite him and the team in the butt concerns me for future seasons.

    I do believe that this team more so than any team in the Big 10 will benefit most from the style of officiating from other conference referees and look forward to seeing Michigan selected for this years tourney but the bizarre game decisions of JB this year has me a little worried.

  • You act like Beilein is trying to lose.

    I’m not if taking Sims out when he was hot refers to Thursday. But when he got subbed out in the first half he had played about 10 straight minutes and they were going to him on just about every play. He need some rest.

    Benching Manny really seems to have got the desired result. The team responded after that game and played themselves into the tournament.

    Don’t really know why people would have thought playing Grady would have been the answer. But everyone loves to say it after we lose.

    And yes Giddings I’m watching this UCLA game, hopefully they can pull it off.


    Noahtahl, I hear you out on some of these issues. While some of his decisions are a bit goofy, I have to see a complete team of JB’s before I totally criticize him. We are one of the youngest and shallowest teams in the big ten, yet we are in the touney. Next year we will be even better.

  • Noastahl, you are absolutly correct. No one really wants to bring it up because they dont want to sound negative and the expectations were so low that they are willing to overlook it. Im very concerned for the future though, im still trying to figure out how Z. Novak is expected to guard Mike Davis? Grady? But to be honest the biggest concern is the apparent unwillingness to change up when something is not working. Oh well, we are still going to be dancin and it fells great! Go Blue!!!!!!!!!

  • MRH

    agree whatap. JB is doing an amazing job with this team. The future is bright.

  • Dave

    who else thinks that if davis misses that shot over novak when we were on our come back we win this game?

    i cant wait til we get 2 players on the court at the same time that are legit big men above 6’8″ i forget we dont have all the pieces to the puzzle yet …………its very frustrating to know that if we had a bigger guy on davis tonight that we would have probably shut him down as well as won that game ………..same could be said for many other games though as well

  • Giddings

    This UCLA game is a great example of: 1) it’s hard to beat a team 3 times in a season, and 2) desperation can really bring out talent.

    I really hate USC and hope they get smoked by ASU and fail to get an at-large bid. Unfortunately our best-case scenario of 4 Top 25 wins is not going to happen now, but let’s root for Purdue tomorrow so we could still get 3. I doubt that a loss to Purdue would bump Illinois out of the Top 25…

  • Erik

    That Stu 3 pointer exemplifies the point I was trying to make last night. It seems like UM’s missed 3s result in more fast break/easy basket opportunities than their half court sets.

  • Agree Giddings, I think Purdue could win tomorrow and jump into the top 25 while keeping Illinois in the top 25. Purdue might have to beat MSU too though, not sure.


    Go Blue, I think JB’s options are somewhat limited. The last few games Gibby played in(with the exception of this last one) he hasnt been strong with the ball and has been very inconsistent. Grady seems to lose focus and has had some pretty big brain farts in the latter part of the season late in games. There are some things that I would like this team/coach start to do a better job of moving forward, one is rebounding, two is attacking the basket with multiple players. However I think it comes back to a comment I made earlier in that we have limited players who can rebound while still contributing on offense, and we have limited players on offense who can attack the basket, therefore I think that is why we have to give this some time. D Morris is coming in, and we get some much needed size. We are in the tounament for pete sakes, with a team that is very young and a bench/frontline that is paper thin. That doesnt mean we cant question some of the things JB does, like, who is JB going to bring in here to replace Manny and Peedi?…ect, but if we made the tournament this year with this team, Im feeling pretty confident about where JB can take us, especially with the players coming in. We will be deeper, more talented, and more experienced next year, and the level of recruits will get better as well.

  • USC is doing everything they can to blow this game but I think there just isn’t enough time.


    Oh, and can we really work on our fast break drills for next year? Please JB. We look really lost sometimes on the break. It would be nice if we can capitalize on all the turnovers our zone creates.

  • UCLA is 19-67 and 5-26 from 3pt range. Yikes 28%!

  • JimC

    Mike Davis posting up Novak, over and over and over. That’s what I saw.

    Plus IL plays very tight on the ball D, which causes M trouble.

  • MaizeNBlue2

    Okay, after taking the rest of the night to calm down and take a step back. Here are my thoughts on the game last night:

    Offensively, it wasn’t there. Part of this has to do with Illinois doing a stellar job defensively, but there are plenty of things that we could have done. Peedi just flat wasn’t hitting, even on the looks he got in the post early. It was frustrating, because after he missed the first couple, he went away from it and tried to pull Tisdale away from the bucket. The ball movement wasn’t good either. It was night and day from yesterday. Look at the number of assists, that tells you that the ball movement was there and we settled for too many jump shots.

    Manny struggled, but I’m not upset this time, because he was taking it to the bucket and when the Illini cut him off, he was dishing to open teammates, but after the lead got out of hand, it seemed like he started settling for jumpers. We have got to find a way to be more aggressive and get to the line. We only shot 5 free throws on the game. When we play like this offensively, we struggle. It’s really that simple.

    Defensively, I don’t remember too many lapses. We did a very nice job on Tisdale for the most part, but Davis just killed us. We controlled him the first two times we played them, but he just went off in this game.

    I like some others, can’t wait until next year, because there is a lot more size coming in. There are a couple of question marks, including who’s going to step up and be the leaders (I’m looking at you Manny & Peedi, this is your team next year); also, who’s going to be that defensive stopper we desperately need? My vote here goes to Douglas, although I don’t know if he has the athleticism to keep up with the quicker penetrating guards, but he’s done a very nice job the past couple of months stepping up his defense, including last night on Meachem. The final question is can Grady get over his mental block defensively and start getting some minutes, or is it going to be point guard by committee with Morris, LLP, and Douglas splitting some minutes. And no, I’m not saying Douglas has the handles to be a full-time point, but he has enough that he can handle it for a few minutes here and there while Morris gets a blow. I’m thinking much of the same with LLP.

    Now, I was extremely pissed last night as the game was going on and for about an hour after. I couldn’t believe we came out in the second half with that lack of execution. The run we made to get back in it helped, but my thought process was, “If we would have played like this the whole game, we’d be up 10, not down 10.”

    Then, I took a step back, as we’ve all had to at one point or another. Think about this; if before the season started, I told you Michigan would win 20 games, 9-9 in conference, beat Duke & UCLA in the non-conference, while giving UConn a run for their money and in all likelihood (if we get left out at this point, I really think it’s going to be like Dylan said; everything that can go wrong, does) make the tournament for the first time since ’98; what would you say? How would you feel? I’m betting anyone here (since I know most of you were here at the beginning of the season, starting with the comments section of UMs game in NYC against UCLA) would have taken it in a heartbeat. I know I would have.

    I don’t care if we get blown out in the first round, just getting here is enough for me this year. The only reason I don’t want that to happen is because it could affect the selection committee for next year, should we be on the bubble again, which is definitely a possibility with the predicted depth of the conference next year. It’s going to be a dog fight again.

    In closing, all I have to say is this: GO BLUE!

  • Kevin

    In general, I really think you can tell the type of game Sims is going to have based on his first couple shots. If they’re 3’s or long jumpers, he generally doesn’t have that great of a game. He needs to work inside-out.

    I’m really excited for tomorrow though, should be fun. And as for getting blown out in the first round, I’m definately gonna care because I know we’re good enough to make a run. Either way, it’s been a great season, glad it’s not coming to an end!

  • Tom Too

    MaizeNBlue2 – Nicely put…..Voila!

  • Dont want to beat a dead horse but UM is a better basketball team with Grady playing at least 15 minutes a game. I personally dont buy all this defensive crap about Grady and hes certainly capable of scoring 15 points every time out. Whats also not mentioned is how we are playing 4 on 5 with these point guards because they are so bad offensively you dont really have to account for them. Look if your happy with 6 points and 3 assists from the PG position, in a whole game then you should celebrate. Lee is a 2 guard who brings hustle and not much else and Merritt, what can you say. Grady is already light speed faster than the other guards and throw in the fact that he was fully rested and he didnt see a minute of action? Was there not a chance that he might have been able to help? Im not going to say we win with him playing, but why not try different things when what your doing is clearly not working?

  • JimC

    Agree with your concern GoBlue. Grady can’t buy his way onto the court lately. Certainly it doesn’t change the outcome like you say, but why his playing time has fallen off the cliff i don’t get it.

  • Kevin

    GoBlue, I don’t really get it when you say “try different things when what your doing is clearly not working?” We’re (likely) going to make the tourny. The run we made in our final 4/5 games has been without Grady contributing much. JB made it this far, obviously he’s doing something right.

  • JRose5

    Without Grady contributing much? His only real PT came against Minn at home and he produced rahter nicely! After that he never really got much of a chance. Don’t get me wrong, I love the way this team fights, but I do look forwar d to next year when we can run some bangers out there and wear down a guy like Davis. All in all, I look forward to Sunday…Let’s go dancin’
    Go Blue!!