Game 4: Michigan vs. Marquette Post Game

Dylan Burkhardt

This moment was bound to come. The one where everyone says “What the hell? This isn’t a top 15 team!” Pre-season rankings are an extremely inexact science, they are based largely on last year’s results and a quick look over what players are returning. At this point, they probably aren’t a top 15 team but that shouldn’t change your outlook on the season one way or another.

Luckily this isn’t football. You don’t have to run the table and losses not only happen, they are prevalent. A college basketball season is a constantly evolving being with hundreds of variables changing by the second. November games are fun but barring disaster, they have little consequences.

Last November Anthony Wright was starting for Michigan at the power forward. In December, it was Jevohn Shepherd. In conference play, Zack Novak led the team in minutes, playing the same power forward position, while Wright and Shepherd sat on the bench.

The bottom line is, the team we saw today will look nothing like the team that we see by March. They will continue to gel, the freshmen will improve, and everyone will become more accustomed to their roles.

If Michigan can take care of Alabama on Sunday (5 PM, ESPNU), this weekend should still be considered a success. 2-1 was the most realistic result to begin with and a serving of humble pie should certainly do this team good going forward.

Back to the game now. This loss wasn’t about cold shooting, it was about terrible defense.. This was one of Michigan’s worst defensive performances since John Beilein arrived. The 1.27 points per possession that Michigan gave up was the highest mark since January 16th, 2008 in a 75-57 loss at Illinois.

Marquette shot the ball extremely well with a 58.5% eFG%. Not to mention that they didn’t turn the ball over (TO rate of 16.1%), rebounded 39% of their misses, and shot a ton of free throws (FTR 39.6%).

The Golden Eagles dominated the game by scoring at will. Michigan’s offense wasn’t bad but it simply couldn’t match the Golden Eagles offensive output. Yes, the three point shots were not falling (3 of 20) but Michigan managed a respectable 1.05 points per possession.

At the end of the day, Michigan just couldn’t stop Marquette. Marquette’s offensive thrives on penetration and Michigan simply couldn’t keep them out of the lane. Marquette was faster nearly across the board and it was painfully obvious that just about any Marquette player could take their man off the dribble. Marquette’s ability to live in the lane explains not only their high 2 point field goal percentage (61%) but their high free throw rate.

This Marquette team was not supposed to be good, they were even picked to finish 10th in the Big East, but I think they have definitely surprised some people. Perhaps Michigan’s defense is that bad, but I haven’t seen many teams with the skill and athleticism across the board that the Golden Eagles possess. Not to mention, Marquette notched a very nice win over Xavier, who rolled Crieghton in the consolation bracket of the Old Spice.

It might sound sacrilegious but this team really misses CJ Lee. Lee was by far the best on the ball defender on last year’s roster and that was the sole reason this team improved when he was inserted into the starting lineup. He wasn’t Travis Walton but he was the best this team had and it was painfully obvious that they could have used him today.

The perimeter defense is going to have to get better and you can be confident that will be the emphasis over the coming weeks. I’m not too worried about Michigan’s shooting struggles, this team will be able to shoot the ball and those could be attributed to tired legs or just an off night.

Big Ten. It was not a pretty day for the Big Ten. Besides Michigan’s loss, MSU lost to Florida, Minnesota lost to Portland, and Illinois lost to Utah. Northwestern did come away with a nice win against Notre Dame.


Player Bullets:

  • Manny Harris: He might still be nursing the hamstring injury, and it looked like he banged his leg a couple times but it didn’t matter: 22 points (9-16), 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. It was a complete game for Manny but he still can’t find his stroke. He’s now 2 for 17 from behind the arc this season and has already missed 11 free throws compared to the 28 he missed all last year.
  • DeShawn Sims: M-I-A. 8 points (3-10) and 6 rebounds with 3 steals, 2 3 turnovers, and 2 blocks. Marquette’s similarly undersized big men won the physical battle down low and DeShawn never really got into it on offense. Michigan also needs much more out of him on the defensive glass, it might be my imagination but I recall a couple rebounds getting ripped right out of his hands.
  • Stu Douglass: Despite not starting, I think it is pretty clear that Beilein trusts Stu quite a bit. Not only on the offensive end, but the defensive end. Stu had far from his best performance today and it was certainly magnified by his horrendous shooting. He has the tendency to force it a bit and that showed today. 2 for 7 (0-5 3pt) with 2 assists and a steal.
  • Zack Novak: Novak was a huge liability on the defensive end today because he just couldn’t guard Marquette’s fours. Novak is probably the second best defensive rebounder on the roster despite his size. He was only 1 of 2 today but he has been shooting the ball pretty well this year.
  • Laval Lucas-Perry: Laval has been shooting the ball very and kept it up today, going 4 for 7 for 12 points. It’s pretty clear that he’s 90% two guard though, he didn’t register an assist today.
  • Darius Morris: Darius has an offensive ability to get in the lane that last year’s team lacked but he has to learn to finish. On the defensive side of the ball he has great length and athleticism but still is adjusting to the college game. It’s tough to expect that much in his fourth college game, let’s see where he is in a month.
  • Zack Gibson: Give the big man some more minutes. He has his problems, but this year he has produced. Gibson scored 8 points, pulled down 3 rebounds, and even picked up an assist in only 10 minutes. I hesitate to say that Michigan should have gone “big” with Sims & Gibson because Marquette was killing is with their quickness, but Gibson needed more minutes someway somehow.
  • Anthony Wright: 2 points, 1 missed three, a rebound, and a turnover in 9 minutes. Not that great of a performance but nothing terrible off the bench.
  • Matt Vogrich: It was scary even seeing him on the floor against Marquette’s guards but I thought he played surprisingly well at the top of the 1-3-1.
  • Alexander

    I think your thoughts about missing CJ Lee are interesting. I actually have really been impressed with Darius in man-to-man D…he REALLY gets after it. He has some to learn in the zone D, but I think his length almost makes up for it. He’s on his way to being a solid defensive player.

    Of course, CJ really understood what Coach wants and that’s something that will take some time for someone else to pick up.

    I think Deshawn needs to especially pick it up on the defensive end.

  • Nick

    Great analysis as usual Dylan. The interior defense by Michigan was atrocious in this game. Especially during that key 10-0 run by Marquette in the second half, when we seemed to be inviting them to take open layups. We weren’t that good at interior defense last year, but I feel like we were much better than this. Hopefully we can get it together. I’m with you though, the defense is the most troubling aspect of the team so far and the improvement on that end will largely determine how good this team can be.

    I’m not worried much about the poor shooting today. We are a good shooting team, but we will have our off days. The only thing that bothers me is that Marquette seemed to force us to run our offense farther away from the hoop. Their perimeter defense caused us to force a lot of bad shots…and I think that contributed greatly to our poor outside shooting percentage. Free throws are troubling, but I think the team will be fine at the line this year, probably even one of the better teams in the Big Ten, once we get further into the season.

  • JimC

    Thanks for talking me off the ledge Dylan.

  • Dylan

    Interior defense is a huge concern but against a team like Marquette they were getting layups or dishes for easy looks.

    We aren’t going to become a shot blocking team so we are going to have to get better at preventing penetration or we will have issues.

    There are certainly concerns going forward but now we have an idea of where we need to improve.

  • Steve

    Marquette is a very good team. They shot the lights out as well.

    To be honest, I’m pretty happy with where we’re at right now. Our offense looks pretty crisp, and hopefully today’s pathetic outside shooting was an anomaly.

    Darius has been solid with the ball, and is starting to find the seams where he can drive to the rack.

    If they beat Alabama tomorrow, then I’ll be very happy with the weekend… with BC coming up this week, and a trip to Utah as well.

  • hambone

    i was surprised how well prepared marquette was to beat the 1-3-1 with the entry and swing pass leading the to the jump shot. give some credit to their coach buzz williams on that one

  • JimC

    For sure Marquette looks very good.

    I wish Morris and Gibson would get more minutes too. Take some of Novak’s and a lot of Stu’s. Maybe.

  • Old Style

    I think perimeter D is the biggest concern right now. Watching the 1-3-1 was painful yesterday. Stu, LLP, Novak and Vogrich were late on rotations and looked flat footed. When they can’t keep anyone in front of them the interior D is going to suffer. This was hopefully a result of playing an overtime game the day before and just not having your legs back. Hoping they look better sunday.

  • steve

    I really don’t get Coach B sometimes. I would love to have explain why he doesn’t use Gibson and Sims on the court at the same time and his insistence on forcing Novak into the four spot. The issue has always been for me that we get outathleted in 3 of 5 spots on the floor during many games when Harris and Sims are out there, and its not like the other teams athletes can’t shoot. Teams like Marquette are always going to be tough to handle, especially for a team built like UM has been built.

    Another issue I have is that Coach B is an offensive genius supposedly, but the gameplan really seems to need Manny to do something to create for everybody else. Without Manny, things go down hill in a hurry. Does this appeal to a guy like Ziegler, or would he feel better about it with some other potential penetrater type athletes around him. Brundidge is coming but not for another year. Its been good to see a couple of the guys try to get to the paint, but, other than Morris, it doesn’t come naturally to them.

    Hope it turns.

  • Tweeter

    I had the same thought about C.J. Lee when Marquette made that final run after we closed it to 1 in the second half. Lee really seemed to set the table for this team defensively both by example and vocally. This team really seems to be lacking in that leadership aspect right now. Hopefully Manny, Sims or Novak grows into it, but it is always easier when you have a pg who is a leader.

    I almost think this team might have to modify their approach defensively and try to pull a Duke when they go man to man. Duke thrived defensively for years by being over-aggressive on the perimeter and then just helping by taking charges. It basically forced players to drive into the help, because passing lanes were denied, and their man was guarding them tight. They got beat by teams that had superior guards, but everyone else struggled to score.

    UM clearly does not have talent of those Duke teams, but honestly I think that approach might work. Without great on the ball defenders and shot blockers, you have to find some way to stop people. Being over-aggressive and trying to take charges could be the answer. If we are going to get killed off the dribble anyway, better to get beat when we know it will happen and have the ability to help.

  • maxwell’s demon

    It definitely seems like the 1-3-1 is currently not working. I’m a little confused to as why because Morris looks pretty active out there and he’s got those nice long arms. Maybe he’s getting himself out of position. I still have no doubts that he is going to be, if not already, a huge upgrade at PG.

    On a side note, 2nd game for MSU with 20+ turnovers. With Lucas still running the show I find this pretty surprising…

  • AG2

    This defensive performance really hurt but like Dylan said, this wasn’t exactly an unexpected loss. Hopefully we will see a lot more of Morris toward the end of the season as he improves.

    The whole Big Ten took it on the chin today, but it looks like its a bit early to throw dirt on Northwestern just yet.

  • Mith

    People keep mentioning the “quick” turnaround between games, but Marquette had even less rest than we did and it wasn’t a problem. I just don’t see it as a valid excuse.

    At this point, the team isn’t any better than they were last year. Hopefully, some adjustments will be made and the team will improve. Wins over Alabama and Boston College over the next week would definitely make me feel better. :>)

  • Erik

    Sorry to carry this over from yesterday’s thread, but I was asked why I felt Douglass had regressed after only four games. I can really only say it’s my opinion from the 3 games I’ve watched, but here are some stats to try and help me explain what I’m seeing:

    Now again, this is only after four games so MAYBE he can turn it around..but the fact that he’s putting up these numbers against our EASIEST competition does not bode well in my opinion.

    I interpret those numbers as:
    -Same minutes
    -Half the point production
    -Lower turnovers (a function of another year in the system)
    -Worse shooting (FG% and 3P%)
    -Defense about the same

    Ok, so let’s think about his role on this team. Douglass is supposed to be a guy who brings the ball up (good job cutting down the turnovers). He’s supposed to be a good defender (his numbers are the same as last year), and he’s supposed to be a 3 point threat (which he clearly has not been this year aside from one big shot). His point per shot is getting into the abyssmal category.

    Now let’s compare to freshman Darius Morris for comparison however.

    Yes, Darius turns the ball over more (he’s a true freshman). But his defensive numbers are basically the same as Douglass’, and yet he has a much better FG%. The knock on Darius is his 3 point shot, but he’s actually shooting a better percentage than Douglass so far!

    So those numbers pretty well sum up what I’m seeing. These two play about the same minutes, and put up about the same defensive numbers. The balance is trading Darius’ turnovers for Stu’s lack of shooting. My personal opinion is that with more minutes/experience you’ll see Darius learn the system and his TOs will start to be reduced, whereas Stu’s shooting funk is purely mental and there is no way of telling if or when he breaks out.

    Again, it’s four games, things might change, but that’s what I’m noticing. There are other intangibles too like Morris’ ability to drive. As I said yesterday he missed at least 3-4 easy baskets. If those had gone in, his FG% would be even that much higher.

  • PeteM

    Good points Dylan. In addition to CJ, it occurred to me that, whatever his liabilities overall, Jevohn Shepard was atheletic and with his wingspan might have been able to slow Marquette down.

    Deshawn really frustrates me. There are times when he seems aggressive and dominant (last year against Duke and of course Iowa stand out) and other times (yesterday) when he seems out of it. In addition to the lost rebounds he had knocked out of his hands, he didn’t seem that aggressive going up for them. While I know Deshawn is a better player, I was calling for Gibson because, at least, I felt like we had his best effort.

    I also thought that we didn’t respond well to pressure defense on the perimeter. We should be either trying to drive past it (like Manny did a few times) or make quick passes. We weren’t making them pay for playing us so tight and seemed out of sync.

  • pgrom

    I wish our best players (Manny, DeShawn) would set the tone for us defensively as well. Too often they are lazy on that end of the court. You watch a team like Purdue check man-to-man and we aren’t even close.

  • JB

    Our best players aren’t lazy. DeShawn is always guarding the other team’s center and has to help out on other big men down low. He and Manny basically play 40 minutes a game. this weekend they played 40 min + overtime and then a game the next day, so they’re inevitably tired but not lazy.

  • Jay

    They miss CJ and Merritt, because when you took one out the other came in and though they were offensively inefficient they steal were hard nosed defenders. Darius is a really good defender but hes not playing the amount of minutes those 2 did, and the backup isnt as good defensively.

  • Nick

    Is the Michigan/Alabama game going to be on tv anywhere? ESPNU maybe? Anyone have any idea where to catch it?

  • JimC

    MGoBlue says ESPNU.

  • Nick

    Oh…haha…it’s tomorrow. I thought it was gonna be today. No wonder I couldn’t find it on ESPNU. I’m a little slow. Thanks.

  • GregGoBlue


    Stu’s production this year is lower than last year at this time, true. He’s really having a hard time adjusting to his new role/position this year: playing a lot more at the 1 and more off the bench. I don’t think he’s regressed per se, I just think he’s struggling with what Beilein is asking of him this year. I think a comparison for Stu last year and this year goes beyond the numbers a bit. I expect he’ll find his groove and mesh into his new role a bit more as the season progresses; he hasn’t stopped being the valuable, talented player he was last year.

  • ChrisG

    First time poster here, but have been tuning in for a while now. I agree with pretty much everything that has been said, but want to go even further with the idea of playing both deshawn and gibson at the same time. It seemed clear that whatever 5 Marquette had on the floor were going to be quicker than what we had out there. I thought the slight advantage we had was during the few mins in the second half when we out sized them with our two bigs. It seemed to limit their driving to the hoop (which was out of control the entire game), which forced them to rely on the perimeter shot. Might not have actually won us the game but I think was worth exploring for a little longer than the minute or so they were out there together. Gibson has impressed me a ton so far. I think Coach has to find him some more mins. Especially when the match up points to a UM advantage.

  • ryan
  • David F.

    Two points:

    (1) Manny really doesn’t look comfortable at the line. I don’t know what’s up.

    (2)Just wanted to point out that Marquette DIDN’T shoot the lights out in this game. They were hot at the start but finished at 35% from three.

    Marquette was able to post a very high FG% because out defense was very poor. We also only forced 11 turnovers, and constantly let penetration.

    A case in point was Peedi’s “great” block off the backboard. It ended up nice, but if you take a closer look the Marquette player diced through about three defenders (including Peedi) before the block. It was actually poor defense saved by an athletic play by Peedi.

  • Matt

    You really can’t get down on Douglass for shooting bad. Maybe his mechanics are a bit off, but that happens from time to time and can be corrected. 4 games and 16 3pointers are NOT a sample size to evaluate with. His defense isn’t lacking and he looks to be a leader out there on offense.