While it wasn’t quite the worst case scenario, Michigan’s performance in Orlando was disappointing at best. After winning their opener over Creighton, they finished 1-2 after painful losses to Marquette and Alabama.
Michigan needs to take a long look in the mirror and find themselves quickly. Ranked 15th a week to start the year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Michigan drop out of the polls all together. At this point, it’s probably for the best because it’s clear they don’t deserve the ranking.
Michigan needs to regroup and someone in the locker room needs to step up and become a leader. Wednesday’s game versus Boston College has gone from a afterthought to a pivotal early season match-up. Michigan needs to prove, mostly to themselves, that they are who they thought they were. They need to play basketball like they know how and pick up the win versus a struggling Boston College team.
I didn’t see the game and only caught the second half on the radio so I’m not going to go that in depth. I won’t comment on various coaching decisions, missed dunks, shot selection, or whatever else. However, there were five problems that plagued Michigan consistently this weekend.
- Defense: The defense wasn’t just mediocre, it was brutal. Michigan can’t stop penetration in their man-to-man defense and ththird best defensive rebounding teameir 1-3-1 zone looks good when it’s causing turnovers but those are typically corrected by half time. In all three games, Michigan’s opponents shot an eFG% over 54%. Last year Michigan was 3-8 when allowing opponents to shoot that well (wins over NW, Sav St., and @Minny).
- Three point shooting: In their two losses, Michigan was 20% (9/45) from behind the arc. Player by player, the numbers are horrendous: Harris was 1-14 from three point range, Douglass 2 of 9, and Sims 1 of 9,. The only bright spot was Laval Lucas-Perry who went 8 of 16 on the weekend. It’s tough to win games shooting that poorly when you don’t rely on the three, for Michigan it’s going to be nearly impossible.
- Defensive rebounding: It’s very hard to win when your opponents rebound 40% of their missed shots. It’s possible as we saw in the Creighton game, but giving away that many opportunities catches up to you. Michigan doesn’t necessarily need offensive rebounds to win but they certainly need to do a better job on the defensive glass. Michigan was the third best defensive rebounding team in conference play last year, this year the only player who looks interested in grabbing a defensive board is Manny Harris and occasionally Zack Novak or DeShawn Sims.
- One man show: Manny Harris averaged 22.66 points, 9 rebounds, 5.66 assists, and 2.66 steals per game and was named to the all tournament team. The rest of the team, didn’t really show up. A lot of this comes back to three point shooting but Michigan needs more production from everyone else, especially DeShawn Sims.
- Leadership: It’s hard to discuss non quantitative issues like leadership but this is clearly a problem. Poor execution at the ends of halves, allowing big runs, and just an overall lack of mental toughness and execution are all signs of a lack of leadership. Harris and Sims have spoken about leading by example but this team needs a vocal leader, quickly.
People who are ready to quit on this team better buckle up. Yes, today’s loss was extremely frustrating. I was yelling at the radio and just as upset as the rest of you. However, it’s only November. This season isn’t over, matter of fact it’s barely begun. Was this weekend a step back? Of course, but it’s definitely not the end of the world.
This team has weaknesses but we all know that they are capable of playing much better than they did this weekend. John Beilein has been coaching for a while, the next couple weeks will give him a chance to right the ship. It’s tough to make many changes when you play 3 games in 4 days so the next month will be critical.