Game 7: Arkansas Pine Bluff at Michigan Post Game

Dylan Burkhardt

peedi-apb novak-apb

The first half was every bit as rough as Michigan’s recent performances but they managed to right the ship just enough to cruise to victory over a lackluster Arkansas Pine Bluff squad.

Michigan certainly didn’t play well but Pine Bluff was bad enough that it didn’t matter. Luckily Michigan’s big two, Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims, showed up. The first half was DeShawn Sims’ show as he scored 15 of Michigan’s 32 points. In the second half, Manny Harris went to work and put the game away thanks to three second half three point field goals.

Looking at the four factors, it’s clear that the difference in the game was Pine Bluff’s complete inability to hold onto the ball. The defense was pretty good, and much better in the second half, allowing only .7 points per possession. Both teams cleaned up on the defensive glass and there weren’t many offensive rebounds for either team.

Michigan’s offense just isn’t working right now. The three point shots aren’t falling but I don’t think the answer is to stop shooting them altogether. 43% of Michigan’s field goal attempts were from long range, that is a lot but that is the way this team is going to play. There are two guys that are threats from inside the arc and they both got plenty of touches this game (maybe not Harris in the first half). This team is going to be lackluster when three point shots aren’t falling, that should have been clear last year. This team is what it is and while it’s not pretty right now, they certainly have the ability to play much better.

The Utah game looms large on Wednesday night. The Utes aren’t a great team, they have lost to Idaho, Seattle, Oklahoma State, and Weber St but it is a true road game none the less.


Player Bullets:

  • Manny Harris: Manny was almost invisible in the first half, he didn’t get a rebound and scored only 2 points on two free throws. The second half was a different story as he finished with 18 points and 6 rebounds.
  • DeShawn Sims: This was one of DeShawn’s best games of the year, he notched a double double with 19 points and 10 boards and was far more assertive than he has been for most of the year.
  • Stu Douglass: Confidence is a fragile thing and right now the shots aren’t falling for Stu. 1 of 7 from three point range is just brutal. He’s been through slumps before and he’ll just have to work through this one. The good news is that he had 4 assists and no turnover.
  • Zack Novak: 7 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, an assist and a block is a pretty typical Novak stat line, however the 0-4 from three point range stands out.
  • Darius Morris: You can clearly see all of the reasons that he is going to be a very good player but at this point he’s still developing, which is understandable for a point guard in his 7th collegiate game. This was a good chance for Darius to get a lot of minutes and continue to get his feet wet.
  • Laval Lucas-Perry: LLP hit two big threes early and came out fired up but two quick fouls put him on the bench. He promptly picked up his third foul about 30 seconds into the second half.
  • Zack Gibson: 12 minutes, 6 points (3-5), 1 rebound and a block. Gibson continues to play well in limited playing time, giving Michigan a boost when Peedi goes to the bench.
  • Anthony Wright: Missed shots from all over the floor. Three pointers, layups, and mid-range jump shots. Not his best game but I think he deserves a free pass.
  • Matt Vogrich: The shot wasn’t falling today and Vogrich still isn’t ready defensively, especially in man-to-man which explains his limited playing time today.

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  • AG2

    Looks like Marquette followed up their beat-down of us with a loss at home to NC State. Which means either we’re really really bad, or NW is much much better than we thought.

  • JayRich

    At the beginning of the year, I was all about UM playing up tempo, pushing the ball and playing stifling 1-3-1 pressure D. Now….I just want them to slow the $(#@ down and run back door cuts and run a solid offense where we don’t come down the court and fire threes. I like the 3 point shot and I think it can be utilized to beat teams with more talent (obviously the extra point, but also long rebounds, which is good for UM since we are so short). But I think this team needs to build a lot more off Manny and Morris’ drives and play more solid on offense. I truly believe that moving Manny to the point would be the most beneficial for this team at this point…ala Tyreke Evans last year at Memphis

  • Interesting idea of moving Manny to the point. The problem I see with that is who plays the three?

    The obvious answer is to move Novak there… OK… then who plays the four?

    Move Sims there would be the next answer with Gibson at the five.

    Who backs up any of them? Cronin, Ant, Morgan, Vogrich… I’m not quite ready to give them any extra minutes. Are you?

  • JayRich

    Nope, I totally agree with you, but Manny plays basically the whole game, so when Darius is in, Manny moves back to three and we go small. I would like to see Gibson rewarded with some more minutes (maybe around 25), since he is playing well. Sims is playing around 31 minutes a game but with this speculative roster move, he would need to play about 35. That leaves our front court really short depth wise but we are used to playing small now anyways. I am beginning to lean towards giving Cronin some minutes even though he isn’t ready. He is still 7’1″, if he can just grab some rebounds and play like 5-8 minutes that would really help out. I totally understand what you are saying Dylan, but I think we need to shake something up.

    If Beilein can find a way to make Morris more confident, then things could change a little. What happened to the beautiful pull up jumper that I saw in the highlight reels. He either drove hard to the basket and finished or pulled up at the elbow and drained it. Maybe that’s why it is a highlight reel.

    I love the way Novak plays and he needs to be on the court. It is too bad he just isn’t 3 inches taller.

    I would like to see our guard rotation cut some since Stu isn’t hitting his 3’s. His overall game is solid and he seems to understand the offense but IMO if he isn’t hitting, LLP is a better option.

    So my plan obviously cuts our rotation down to about 7 with Manny, LLP, Novak, Sims, and Gibson getting the brunt of the minutes with Stu, and Morris getting the majority of bench minutes (or Gibson if he comes off the bench but still plays a lot) and Vogrich and Cronin filling their roles.

    Kind of drastic but maybe needed. The more I think about it, it’s not really that drastic. The big change is giving Gibson some well earned minutes which slides Novak into a guard role and eats minutes there. Then both freshmen (Cronin and Vogrich) get a few filler roles.

    I believe in Beilein and there may be reasons he isn’t playing Gibson many minutes but who knows.

  • JayRich

    Sorry for the mega-blog post!

  • Kevin in GR

    Evan Turner out 8 weeks with a broken vertebra in his back. That should help our chances..

  • No worries about the long comment, you guys are what makes this site work.

    It will be interesting to see if Michigan makes a move. Gibson has the habit of picking up cheap fouls quickly, which makes it hard to implement any plan that *NEEDS* him to play 30ish minutes per game.

  • JayRich

    I honestly feel bad for Evan Turner, I have a lot of respect for that guy (even if he is a turnover machine, he is playing out of position). He plays hard and is talented.

    That is true about Gibson, with my implied system, it doesn’t really matter though since you can go back to the current system if Gibson does get into foul trouble. I would just really like to see our defensive rebounding, guard play, and our match-ups improve.

  • maxwell’s demon

    The manny at pg doesn’t make sense to me. Not because of it not being effective but because of the distribution of talent within the team. Our most signifcant depth is with our guards and our weakest depth is in the post. Moving manny would cause a log jam at 1 and 2 and force us to run too shallow 3-5.

  • PeteM

    On the idea of moving Manny to the point, I actually thought that Morris played his best game today. He handled APB’s full-court pressure and drove the ball at times. I was sitting in front of a Candadian girls basketball team, and talked to their coach. He was really impressed with Morris’ vision, and pointed little things like when he gets the ball off the in bounds pass he looks before he puts it on the floor.

    Overall, I thought that today was fine. APB lost to Colorado and Arizona State by similar margins. If Douglas and Novak were shooting even so so we would have won by 20 plus.

  • Tweeter

    I got no problems with todays game. Certainly not the best of days for the team, but overall I think there were a lot of positives. Such as, Sims getting lots of post touches, Guards driving to score and create, extra passes with a purpose, and the defense finally showed up in the second half. I still believe the team lacks an on the floor leader but in terms of overall play today was a positive step.

    As for the rotation and position play. I really want to see Douglass moved to the starting lineup, not necessarily because he is playing better at the point than Darius, but more as a learning implement. Right now Morris is fallnig into the Kelvin Grady dilemma. He is thinking too much about running the offense instead of just trying to be a part of the offense. Far too often he is worthlessly dribbling or standing at the top, instead of creating or cutting.

    I would be all for letting Douglass start at the point because of his knowledge right now and letting Darius be an energy guy off the bench. Basically give him free reign when he comes in. Take all the thinking out of it for now and just let him make plays. Hopefully he learns from his mistakes as he goes and he gets more time to see how the offense flows, without worrying about what he just did in the prior minutes.

    One of the reasons the team was more effective with CJ over Kelvin last year was because CJ was limited in his skill. He knew he had to just go out there and move the ball to the open guy then cut. Whereas Kelvin had a lot of talent to do things, but never really knew when he should or should not do them. Which meant there were possessions he dribbled endlessly for twenty seconds.

    It is very similar to Manny’s development. His freshman year he always wanted the ball to do something, but most times it just was not there. Now, he realizes its ok to get the ball, take a look, and then move the ball and cut when its not there. When it is there, he attackes with a purpose but its rare we see him catch it and put it on the floor for no reason. Thats where Darius needs to be in order to be effective. Right now he is not close, but I believe by limiting his minutes and making those minutes more meaningful it might come quicker rather than him just being out there from the jump.

  • Erik

    I don’t mean to harp on the shooting, but what is going on?! For a bunch of guys who were recruited because of their shooting, to a program with a coach that emphasizes shooting…their output is horrible! I can understand 1-2 guys having a bad night or a drought…but this entire team is shooting horribly. Worse than last year!

    I still can’t figure out what’s going on on defense either. I know we lost 3 PGs, but that’s just one spot on the floor. The lack of rotation and help D is coming from all angles. It’s just baffling to me that these things are not getting fixed.

    We have mostly the same guys back as last year and I don’t think the shooting or defense can really be pinned on the loss of the PGs. Last week I may have bought into the idea they were tired, but not after today. They had plenty of time to prepare for today.

    I just don’t know… this Utah game is a MUST win. they can’t keep making these same mistakes.

  • JayRich

    My idea to move Manny to the point was to try to get better shots for our 3-point shooters since we aren’t having the best shot selection (Manny included). I just see him driving with more physicality than Morris. I mean, every game he drives to the rim and throws down a nasty dunk.

    It definitely thins our front court and logs our back court. But I agree with most people on here that Gibson should be playing more minutes. I think our guard play could use a little tightening up too. Morris played 34 minutes last game and Stu played 29. That’s a lot of minutes especially for someone who shot 1-7 and finished with 3 points. If Morris is going to be running the offense, then he needs to be driving more. That’s what Beilein’s offense is supposed to look like. It isn’t horribly different than Calipari’s dribble drive offense, basically a drive and kick offense. I know Morris is trying to let it come to him and he is doing a good job of playing under control and not turning it over but he is our PG and he needs to make plays. LLP was in foul trouble so that was probably part of the reason Stu and Darius played so much. LLP needs to be in their more than 13 minutes since he is currently our only 3-point threat.

  • JayRich

    Oh and why the hell is Wright still playing any role? I’d much rather see Cronin get those minutes, at least he is big and doesn’t throw a “shot” (i put it in quotation marks because it literally has no “shot” of going in) up every time he touches the ball.

  • Tom, Too.

    We are in turmoil. Do you remember when Beilein’s system was called a Princeton System? That is because there were so many backdoor layups at West Virginia, the offense resembled the same type that Pete Carroll (sp?) ran. Jeez, now the thing has morphed into a Paul Westhead chuck threes-type of deal. I’d love to see a comparison of the number of threes WV took vs today’s team. I know the backdoor layups are waaaaay down. Tough to watch.

  • Merlin

    Anthony Wright plays because his defense is great this year. If he could hit some shots he would be very valuable. He is not a bad rebounder either-I think you will see him play more not less.

  • It almost felt like Manny was intentionally not putting up shots in the first half. He shot once, though he had a bunch of looks – he opted to pass out of them. I’m curious if Beilein didn’t intentionally tell him not to take shots for the first half, in order to make the rest of the team push harder.

  • Dylan

    We really aren’t taking *that* many threes. The problem is that they aren’t going in. When teams like BC pack the lane there aren’t going to be chances for backdoor cuts until the threes start falling.

  • Merlin

    Michael-you are on to something. Manny’s play in the first half was so puzzling that one thinks it was scripted somehow.

  • JayRich

    I hope Wright doesn’t play more. He is basically a turnover on offense since he just chucks it and it never goes in. I don’t think his defense has been stellar but comparatively to others (especially our guards) it has been good.

  • maxwell’s demon

    I definitely agree that Wright should just not play. Give those minutes to Gibson. If we get in foul trouble at center then I’d rather see injured Cronin in the game over Wright.

    And LLP needs to clean up his game and stay out of foul trouble Wedn. because right now he is the only one who doesn’t seem completely broke (maybe Manny’s improved shooting will continue too).

    I also bet that within the last 3/4 games that the majority of Stu’s makes (not that many) are coming from at least 3 ft away from the arc. Not suggesting he start shooting more of these just mentioning it.

  • JayRich

    Totally agree Maxwell

  • ToBlav

    Opinion 1. The shooters are pressing, so if it is on the break or out of a 1/2 court set they need to be sure the shots come in the rhythm of the game.

    Opinion 2. The 1-3-1 has been used so much because Coach wants it to become better and sees early season games as a chance to practice it. He will get out of it quicker, if it is ineffective, as the season progresses. Changing to man has given the team problems, but they will also learn to make the transition better. What I mean is the play better man defense after they’ve been in it a while.

    Opinion 3. Nice exhange of ideas on this site. Don’t agree with everyone all the time but they are consistantly at least feasable.

  • JimC

    Yes some very good input by everyone. Maybe JB should read this site!

    The biggest hole I see, and really the only real fix needed, is a mental one. The guys are pressing, they lack leadership, and guys
    don’t seem clear on their roles, all as mentioned above.

    The shooting problem is mostly mental, and defense breaks down from poor communication. They seem to need more of a team identity.

    At the same time they all need to relax too. (How do you get more focused, but still relax mentally? Maybe the coach can figure that out).

    I just hope someone fills this gap. Once they do that and start playing to their real potential they might become as good as we all thought they were.

  • Sam

    Michael, I was going to actually say the same exact thing. It just looked like Manny wasn’t even looking for his shot at all, even if he was open. I have to think that Beilein told him to do this to see how we could do. Then obviously in the second half he had the green light. Even more convincing is the fact that he wasn’t getting frustrated and jacking up terrible threes.

  • Sam

    Michael, I was going to actually say the same exact thing. It just looked like Manny wasn’t even looking for his shot at all, even if he was open. I have to think that Beilein told him to do this to see how we could do. Then obviously in the second half he had the green light. Even more convincing is the fact that he wasn’t getting frustrated and jacking up terrible threes.

  • michmgoblue

    Good for Wright having a kid. But he’s not doing that bad. One of the best defenders, and it looks like he’s also one of the best passers.

  • dave

    ill give wright the ability to make a back door pass, but “one of the best defenders”…………you guys need to open your eyes and watch this kid, he is probably the slowest most unathletic kid on the court everytime he is out there…….never would i want him playing defense, thats outrageous

  • Tyler

    Yep agree with you Dave. I feel that if we keep a 10 point lead against Arkansas PB when we play Kansas I think we will be like Eastern Michigan against OSU. Haha!

    P.s.- Hey Dylan have you ever thought about adding forums to this site?