Game 5: Michigan vs. Alabama Post Game

Dylan Burkhardt

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.

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  • pgrom

    It’s really been 4 subpar games in a row for this team.

    It’s a different ballgame this year. There are expecations to live up to and as we saw this weekend, people are gunning for us.

  • pgrom: That’s probably fair. I still think the Creighton win was a nice effort. HBU, Marq, and Alabama were brutal though.

  • AG2

    I don’t want to hit the panic button, but we just went from a ranked team to a bubble team just like that. And suddenly, Northwestern isn’t looking like the 2 easy wins we thought they’d be when they lost Coble.

  • pgrom

    of course if we pull the game out today, we have a whole different perspective on this weekend.

    I’m not really too down on this team because I think we’ll get better as the year goes on and we’ll definitely shoot better from the outside.

    Wednesday is obviously a big game though for a lot of reasons.

  • Everyone is on the bubble right now. It’s all hypothetical. No one has a resume that guarantees them a bid. Michigan has plenty of opportunities to pick up nice wins this year in the out of conference. Will they get in at .500 in conference? Maybe, maybe not.

    The goal has always been to top that mark. Beat BC and Utah and we will have a different outlook on this team IMO.

    Other conference teams also looking very human. Minnesota really struggled this weekend, their weekend sounded similar to Michigan’s ( Illinois lost to Bradley and Utah. It’s a long season. Marquette and Alabama are not juggernauts but they aren’t *terrible* RPI>200 teams either it appears.

  • Fab54ever

    The 1-3-1 was brutal this weekend giving up way too many 3-pointers, offensive rebounds and layups. Bad outside shooting especially at the line is not what this team is all about. I felt like I was watching our team at the beginning of last year all over again. Long season they will bounce back, heck they can’t play any worse. I guess were lucky to get out of this weekend with one win. Bring it on Wednesday boys.

  • Brady

    I think a lot of people are over exaggerating about this weekend, I know i’m dissapointed like the rest of you guys are. We live and die by the 3 in this offense…this weekend it simply didnt fall, Manny was awful from beyond the arc. We have proven shooters on this team. In fact, a ton of them. Manny will get his shot back soon i’m sure. We also have a freshman point guard who is still learning how to play at the college level, I still think its just early season rust and we are a top 25 team! GO BLUE!

  • South Florida Maize Rage

    I attended all three games this weekend. This team lives and dies with its shooters, we all knew that coming into the season. We died with them all weekend. Novak isn’t getting good looks. Douglass appears to be in outer space sometimes on offense (aside from his 2 huge threes in two of the games). Lucas-Perry got lost against Alabama. It seems like Vogrich is never on the floor long enough to get into a rhythm. If these guys aren’t hitting, we’re going to need heroic efforts from Peedi and Manny to win. Athletic teams own the 1-3-1. Way too many open looks.

    That said, We are NOT a top 25 team right now and I hope we fall out so its a wake up call.

    BTW, seeing Ekpe Udoh sitting six feet from the court while Bama grabs offensive rebounds was quite frustrating. GO BLUE!

  • bf1118

    We can’t look at being on the bubble so early even before conference play has begun and its not even the end of November. I will say that Deshawn Sims where are you because you disappeared at times this weekend on both ends of the floor and that just cannot happen. This team counts on you way too much. The three point shooting was deff an issue but more importantly their lack of defense is troubling. Their inability to make key stops down the stretch needs to change. All in all though it is early and Belein is going to right this ship, he has before and he will again this year. Give them time and remember it doesn’t matter how you start the year, its how you finish it.

  • JRose5

    Just one question…was that the best shot we could get at the end of the game…has anybody been able to stop Manny on the drive, if they do he can at least kick it out(not that the shots were falling). All in all, I think this will serve as a wake up call and Coach B will hopefully get things straightened out. Lets beat BC! Go Blue!

  • Deacon Blues

    It’s absolutely reasonable to be worried about U-M’s NCAA chances right now.

    Each winnable non-con loss increases the likelihood that U-M will need an extra road win or two in league play. And when you have a team that a) relies on the three and b) consistently shoots threes poorly away from home, every road game is a huge challenge, even IU. (To speak nothing of U-M’s defensive issues.) Add it all up and it’s trouble.

  • maxwell’s demon

    Obviously it’s too early to freak out but now we’re in a position where one more loss before big ten (aside from KU) would really hurt. Also, while I can’t think of reasons why the d is so bad, I think the shooting will come. It has to be hard to shoot in the same gym for 8 months and then finlly step out. Especially with JBs emphasis on jump shot practice.

  • jp24

    At this point I would be all for playing man-to-man for 25-30 minutes a game and limiting Novak, Stu, and Vogrich’s minutes while we do. I don’t like the 1-3-1, because it exacerbates our defensive rebounding problems and allows good teams to find open 3 point shooters. Allowing teams to shoot near 50% from 3 and giving up 40% of missed shots as offensive rebounds will not win you games. I think a lineup of Morris, LLP, Manny, Sims, and Gibson can play man-to-man. As long as you don’t play Novak or Vogrich, both of whom were abused against Marquette and Creighton.

  • Steve

    Team lacked intensity and focus, it was only a matter of time before Alabama took the lead for good. This team needs leadership badly, and since it hasn’t happened now, then I don’t think it’s going to come anytime this season.

    Shooting was terrible the past two games, and I am disturbed with the “Defense” played by the team. Team is not playing with a chip on their shoulder… not good.

    Laval seems to be playing well, same with Manny and Gibson. The rest need to step up BIG TIME, and that includes Cronin and Morgan. They should see the opportunity for playing time out there…

    Wednesday is a must win, sadly.

  • Tweeter

    No game is a must win this early in the season. Its an important game for confidence and getting this thing turned around, but its not where near a must win.

    I dont know the exact numbers, but it seems like this team is playing a lot more 1-3-1 and zone in general, than last years team did. However, I guess we did play a lot of it at the beginning of last year. I think Beilein may just be trying to figure out where this team is at and what they can do by trial and error.

    The problem with the man to man, even if you take out Douglass and Novak, is that no one on this team has been able to guard anyone man to man. Everyone gets beat off the dribble and no one helps early.

    I really think the whole thing comes down to a matter of intensity and focus, which means we need leadership. Early in games this team has come out fired up and played well, then they relax and the other team makes a run. At that point a good team would step up and respond. This team has not been able to respond, at least not well enough. Good teams find ways to win even when shots are not falling, last year UM did that, eventually I think this team will as well but the question is how long it takes them to get there.

    Even though it was a tough weekend, lets remember that we lost one game on a shot with 5 seconds left, and the other was a one point game mid way thru the second half. So it is not like we are getting blown out or handled with ease. Although you could argue this team could have gone 0-3, you could also argue that they could have gone 3-0.

  • Steve

    This team seems soft… unwilling to bang bodies for rebounds or to set screens… that needs to change or the big ten season may be even a greater disappointment… Novak’s energy needs to become contagious, or else…

  • ToBlav

    The comments above are almost all valid. The quality of comments goes way up as the fair weather fans have fallin’ away. I’d rather have a season that keeps the comment quality a little lower.

  • dave

    both these tournament loses could have been wins……….this teams defense is the most disturbing part so far……….the alabama lose is one that will hurt for awhile………they should have buried this team and had plenty of opportunities to………they need better defensive efforts………particularly in the paint

  • dave

    we have seen this last year in particular the clemson game in whcich we were up big and let them crawl back…….now alabama to start this year…….hvae to bury squads and make them just not care, but to let a 13 or any lead above 10 slip away is unacceptable

  • JimC

    Agree w/Steve, Tweeter, etc:
    The biggest shortcoming is intensity/focus/leadership on the court.
    We have *enough* talent.

    Manny & LLP will just not be that guy, and Sims seems to always have that goofy grin on his face. That leaves the other sophs/freshman, and they aren’t it either.

    I never thought I’d want Izzo’s red-faced yelling on the sideline, but maybe JB has to get more intense as a coach.

  • Giddings

    About the 1-3-1… in all 3 of the games, our big runs were fueled by the 1-3-1 forcing turnovers, then pushing the ball up floor and finishing. When the game “slowed down” on both sides, that’s when we had our problems. We couldn’t really get any points out of half court sets, which is troubling, but I think that’s why JB played so much 1-3-1.

    Of course the tough thing is that all 3 teams seemed to “figure out” the 1-3-1 by the 2nd half, which ruined our chances for easy points. At that point Beilein tried the 2-3 to switch things up but they don’t seem to be aggressive enough in the 2-3, and certainly weren’t able to react to the quick penetration and of Marquette especially.

    The solution? Let’s play half court offense with a purpose. I know most people are pointing to the D but we all knew this team wasn’t built to win defensive battles, they’re built to score points, and lots of them. I do think that if someone steps up and becomes a vocal leader this would help get everyone on the same page, both offensively and defensively.

  • AG2

    I was on the road all day yesterday, but when I saw the final score, 3 thoughts popped into my mind: we didn’t shoot well, we didn’t force enough turnovers, or JaMychal Green straight dominated the game. Looks like it was 2 out of 3.

    It might be a bit early to call Michigan a bubble team already, but the way they’re playing, they are not winning @ Kansas, @ Utah, or at home vs. UConn. The way they’re playing, they could get swept by MSU, OSU, and Wisconsin again. Those teams are already matchup problems, so I can’t help but feel concerned.

    That being said, this team can improve, and a win at home vs. BC on Wednesday could be the first step. Besides, if anyone can get this team back on track, its Beilein.

  • AG2

    On the other hand, considering Utah’s losses to Seattle and Idaho at home, maybe Illinois just plain sucks…

  • john

    The problem is not that we are shooting to many threes, its the fact we aren’t making and threes. The marquette game we only shot 20. The problem is we only made three.

  • Steve

    Vogrich and Gibson NEED to play more every time they’re in the game we go on runs – ie against Marquette tied game back up w Vogrich 3 and Gibson buckets and went on 10-1 run against bama these two aren’t getting a chance

  • Duffy

    Not to get down on our best player, but we seem maybe too “Mannycentric”. It seemed like every game someone would pass to him beyond the 3 point line, he would hesitate, and then take the shot instead of shooting it in rhythm, usually missing. Also there seemed to be several times he was driving to the basket when there was someone wide open that he never passed to, and his free throw shooting was pretty poor.

    Not to say it was all his fault, he was still our best player in all the games, Darius certainly struggled, his layups were not going in, Gibson seems to play well but can only get out on the floor for 10 minutes at most, wright is streaky, Sims just seems to disappear for long stretches, Novak is undersized and the 3 pointers just were not falling for the team as a whole.

    We’ll see if the team can react and get it turned around or not, they have a lot of work to do though.

  • Bball

    Lots of good commentary here!

    I’ve been mainly frustrated with the lack of intensity, but still remain very optimistic on the season. How? I keep in mind the following:

    The last games we watched were end of the season tournament games – rust is an issue right now for sure

    The ceiling of this team still seems much higher than last year

    The floor of this team (which I think we witnessed over the weekend) still has opportunities to win against average quality opponents playing above their head.

    Lessons from last year:
    Stu’s defense improved tremendously over the course of the year – LLP needs to have this same progression. His body position is horrible right now (bent at the waist, weight on his heels, etc, needs to get his butt down and weight over the balls of his feet) and increase focus. LLP is really hurting us on D at the bottom of the 1-3-1 as well. He needs to improve for team defense to improve. I have faith he will get this done. Darius will improve on the defensive end as the year goes on as well.

    Novak’s role, and really the whole rotation, wasn’t established until midway through the big ten last year. I think we will see continued tinkering and additional contributions from the freshman as the year continues.

    Free throw shooting will come around.

    We are a better 3-point shooting team than we have shown (part of this is Manny/stu busting slumps and part is wright/gibson/peedi not shooting any – or at least very few). If the team can make 10 threes a game, they will be extremely tough to beat. Where do they come from? One to three makes from any of Manny, Stu, Novak, LLP, Vogrich

    Our point guard is a Freshman – as the year progresses, Darius is going to gain confidence and be able to contribute more and more. I think Manny will essentially need to play point-forward in terms of floor direction though, and he needs to step up that part of his game for sure.

  • dave

    i agree with the person talking of manny lack of good decision in shooting 3s in some cases……..he takes bad shots sometimes and really does more damage…………i also agree especially that gibson needs to play more, he has been an animal and his FG% has to be like 80% right now definitely needs more mins and vogrich needs to be getting at least 5 3pt attempts a game

  • Justin

    Sorry, but this season was not about sneaking into the NCAA dance.

    This was supposed to be an enjoyable 20-22 team that cruised into the NCAAs with a solid seed and a chance to advance to the second weekend.

    One of the things I was looking forward to this season? Being ranked. To drop out of the rankings so soon is very discouraging.

    UM basketball won some converts last year. But we have a fragile following. A #19 or #20 ranked UM team would have drawn some fans — but now an unranked UM team against Coppin State or Pine Bluff is going to play before empty seats.

    And we looked awful at Old Spice. Unless we turn it around fast, this team is going to have a major struggle to reach the NCAA tournament.

  • GregGoBlue

    I think I might be overstating the obvious, but worrying about the national tournament implications of a preseason tournament I believe to be a little premature.

    I agree with Tweeter re: man. Especially against Marquette, it was obvious that we’re simply either not athletic enough, or aren’t good enough defenders (yet) to play a considerable amount of man. The 1-3-1’s vulnerability is along the free throw line extended, which opens up the baseline. This problem is solved by better rotation and help defense, it is not simply the “magic way” to break the 1-3-1.

    I take a few positives about this weekend. One: these problems occurred all within the first five games of the season. Two: John Beilein as a head coach will have the film dissected and immediately begin addressing problems, including ones we can’t even conceive of ASAP.

    I believe that we just need to find our rhythm and our roles. We’ve got a great head coach, we’ve got great players, we’ve got the entire season in front of us. Keep in mind this is virtually the same team as last year, success will come once we become comfortable with who does what. And I trust Beilein 100% to get it done.

  • hambone

    just last year this week we were talking about making an ncaa tournament based on wins over a (highly overrated) ucla team and a duke team (who beat us by 15 a week prior)… look at the roller coaster we had to endure last season.

    i still maintain that we’ll need to have a marquee OOC win – whether at kansas or at home to uconn [bc and @utah are similarly important] if we don’t want to force ourselves into really running through the b10 and have a 11-7ish record (remember a 10-8 psu went to NIT last year because of their poor RPI and their lack of a marquee non-conf W, while both 9-9 michigan and minn went to the dance)

  • ohmigods

    “Michigan needs to regroup and someone in the locker room needs to step up and become a leader.”

    It MUST be Manny

  • Very, very disappointing week of bball from the wolves. I worry that Beilein’s gimmickry is catching up with him. Fran Franchilla kept saying how to beat the 1-3-1 and a rookie coach and a mediocre team ripeed it up time and again.
    Also Douglass can’t make a shot. Sit him down until he proves he is an offensive asset. Missed layups, 3 pointers, got beat on defense. Sit him.
    Very disappointing.