Game 10: Michigan at Kansas Post Game

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan didn’t get embarrassed, but I’m not sure the performances give them enough to build on going forward. It’s fitting that the final deficit was 11 considering Michigan routinely would cut the game to 11 and no further.

Michigan got outplayed badly for about 10 minutes in the first half and that was enough to seal their fate. The positive is that they played the best team in the country even for about the other 30 minutes.

Beilein didn’t go with the 1-3-1 zone early on, which was a reasonable decision considering how badly it has been picked apart this year. However, when he finally did pull it out, Kansas struggled to hold onto the ball and kept Michigan in the game with their turnovers.

The four factors make it pretty obvious what happened here. On offense, Michigan simply couldn’t shoot the ball. 39.6% eFG%, .941 points per possession, and only a 19.4% free throw rate. With that poor of offensive performance it’s surprising that they even were in the game. 5 of 28 three point shooting just isn’t going to cut it for this offense.

On defense, I’m hesitant to call this a great performance. Kansas shot the ball very well (58.3% eFG) and lived at the free throw line (free throw rate of 54.2%!). Michigan did a solid job on the defensive glass but their defense still has room for improvement. Michigan inched back into the game after forcing Kansas turnovers but Kansas’ 11-14 shooting run in the first half was really the difference.

At this point some weaknesses are becoming painfully clear, even beyond not being able to hit open shots. First, they are not a deep team. There are very few options on the bench who can give Michigan much of a boost. This is emphasized in the backcourt, where Beilein is only comfortable playing three guards at two positions. As well as the front court where Michigan is playing an undersized four and five man.

Last year’s team had similar weaknesses but they were able to overcome them. Mostly because they were able to hit three point shots. Something this year’s team just hasn’t been able to do. 10 games in, it has to be a trend rather than a slump.

Player Bullets:

  • Manny Harris: 16 points (6-15), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 4 turnovers in 37 minutes. Manny did his best to keep Michigan in the game but it just wasn’t enough. Regardless, he is a joy to watch especially if he keeps producing at this level.
  • DeShawn Sims: DeShawn was relatively assertive today, he got plenty of touches and took 16 shots. His numbers (19 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals) could have been a little higher if he had managed to stay out of foul trouble.
  • Darius Morris: Darius airballed his first shot but afterwards he played one of his best games to date. 9 points (4-7 shooting), 2 rebounds, 4 assists, and no turnovers. He hit a few shots and made some really nice passes including a dime to Zack Gibson on a pick and roll. Hopefully Darius can build from this performance.
  • Zack Novak: Most of his 8 points came off of hustle plays, he also had 7 rebounds (5 offensive), 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 turnovers. But, like most of the rest of this roster, his three point shot is missing as well (0-4 today). Michigan needs Novak to hit wide open three point shots in order to stretch opposing defenses. Judging by the way the alternative options played today, we will continue to see Zack but he just needs to find his shot.
  • Zack Gibson: Brutal. 1 of 6 shooting with 4 rebounds. Ever since I wrote that Gibson should play more, he has done his best to prove me wrong.
  • Laval Lucas-Perry: Laval found his way into foul trouble and didn’t really do much else. He was 0-2 from three point range but did add in an assist. His turnover near half court was brutal.
  • Stu Douglass: One of the only guys to actually hit a three, Stu was 2 of 8 on the night, he did add 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals with no turnovers. At this point, he’s the best guard on the roster and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him stay in the starting lineup.
  • Anthony Wright: Anthony Wright is really hurting Michigan out there. Part of it is that he plays some of his minutes backing up Manny Harris, but he isn’t quick enough on defense and his offensive game is pretty much just chucking up a couple threes.

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  • maxwell’s demon

    Can’t wait to see Wright’s +/-.

  • JRose

    Can’t wait to not see Wright…period!

  • Darius and Stu with no turnovers… baby steps

  • Bball

    Negatives – Half court offense is still a little clunky. Gibson has regressed. LLP still spazzes out and doesn’t value the ball/possession like he should. NOVAK WE NEED YOU PLZ MAKE 3’S

    Positives – The defensive intensity was much improved. We out-rebounded Kansas by 2! The double downs and trapping looked much, much better (good, quick doubling down on big guys is going to be essential for Mich playing OSU, Ill, and other teams with good, huge guys like Aldrich). Darius played with confidence and made a lot of plays – hopefully he’s had his breakthrough game like Novak did last year and will be a consistent contributer from here on out.

    Here’s to hoping all this adds up to 12-5 heading to Wisconsin a month from now!

  • JBlo

    I agree that the shooting “slump” has become a “trend”. Still, an encouraging game in one of the toughest places to play in college basketball. If that trend is broken and shots start falling, we will be a very difficult team to beat. I just hope it turns before it is too late.

  • AG2

    Illinois has failed big time with that loss to Georgia. Feeling good about that game.

  • Dirtgrain

    I keep thinking of Gavin Groninger, a kid from Indiana who was supposed to have a great stroke. I don’t think he ever was a consistent three-point threat for Michigan, and I think it was mainly because he struggled the pressure.

    Are these guys hitting at a lot better rate in practice? Are they choking under pressure to hit open three-point shots? It takes a lot of mental toughness to knock down shots on the big stage. I’m not at all calling them weak; I’ve choked in pick-up games before. I know Harris doesn’t have the best three-point-shooting ability (although I had hoped for improvement), but I thought Douglas and Novak would be shooting better than 33% (instead of in the below 30%).

  • bf1118

    Good point made by Dirtgrain. There was yet another lid on the basket for alot of this game today for Michigan. They were a three here and there from making that game very interesting. It was good to see that 1-3-1 cause problems and force turnovers like it did often last year. Gibson needs to be tougher period. I thought we saw what the future will be like with Morris at the point. He handled the pressure nicely all day and made plays. Novak and Douglass please start making shots! Anthony Wright has no business out there unless we are facing some type of zone. Sims needs to face his man up more on the wing and attack the basket more often. He should be able to use his quickness and strength on anyone he wants to. (Check out Ellias Harris from Gonzaga for meaning).

  • dave

    the only thing for novak is that he has to be exhausted……he is guarding somebody much larger which has to wear you down especially cause he is getting so many mins that i really dont blame him for not being on ever

  • I remember Groninger had a really impressive freshman season, then got progressively worse and hardly played is junior/senior seasons. It’s all about confidence IMO and it’s lacking a bit with some of these guys I believe.

  • Rob

    I agree with one of the commenters from the other posts: Beilein has to recruit better players but especially shooters. As good as Novak and Douglass have been, they are just 2 stars. Notice how Henry (I understand- the type of super-recruit Michigan can’t get at this point) or others shoot few threes but a high percentage.
    Though I guess we may have an infusion of athleticism once Hardaway gets here and Darius improves. Maybe the shooting comes from a maturing Vogrich, Hardaway, and matrix (smot).
    And yes could we please recruit some high (or at least mid) level big men. I’m not sure Morgan, Cronin, or Mclimans will ever approach an Aldrich or Suton or even Deshawn Sims.
    The more you type, the more addictive this gets. Forgive the long post.

  • michiganman777

    Other than the sub-par shooting (again)I think that they played there best game of the year today. It just happened to be at #1 Kansas. We shot almost 20 more times than kansas (!!!), out-rebounded them and had less turnovers but still lost by 11. Just HAVE TO START MAKING BASKETS.

    D-MO looked like a baller today. The sooner he can become an offensive threat our whole offense improves greatly.

  • michiganman777

    A poster on rivals said that Hardaway JR is averaging around 40 points a game. Is this true? Is there a website where we can see what Tim is scoring each game?

  • KainKitizen

    I would have to say after watching the few minutes that A. Wright is getting and his showing. I would take his 5th year scholarship and give it to someone else. He can always be a walk-on player if he wants to continue his basketball playing days.

    You’re right about the level of competition is very noticable when you are play with a team full of top 100 players to just a few. Coach Beilien will get it right. For example, It took Izzo 5 years to start the craze for his program. We’ll get the recruits and all-americans. We’re only on the first few steps of the process right now.

  • ScottGoBlue

    A few positives from this game:
    – We DID play good defense in the 2nd half
    – We were challenged to play at a faster pace by a better team, and we eventually matched it
    – The starting lineup of Stu, LLP, Novak, Manny, & Peedi is the way forward IMO
    – DMo did great coming off the bench, he looked relaxed and played effectively
    – If we’d made just 4 of 19 missed 3-point attempts, we win by one

    This team makes me want to pull my hair out. But they are literally one shooter a night away from being a good team. At this point, Manny and Peedi are giving us what we need. We just need Stu or LLP or Novak or even Vogrich to start taking turns catching fire. One shooter per night, mark my words.

    So far we’ve been playing below expectation and below our abilities. Mostly it seems like we play at or below the level of our competition. I’m hoping this bout with Goliath will help the team play at a higher level for the rest of the season. They can compete.

  • ScottGoBlue

    Oh, yeah, and what’s the likelihood that Anthony Wright doesn’t get a 5th year? He really isn’t giving us anything we need. The only thing he can give us is scholarship room next year. Please!?

  • I know our bench is weak, but I would rather play anybody other than Anthony. He brings nothing, not even a big body. I know this would be a short lineup, but what about Aso? This is really stretching it but what about Puls. Anything would be better than Ant at this point. He is a total liability.

  • Bluebufoon

    With scholarship offers out to John Horford and Trey Zeigler, I don’t see how Ant Wright could come back on scholarship next year ? Plus I believe preseason, Coach Beilein spoke as if this was Wright’s last year with the team.

    Has anyone heard from Jordan Morgan’s mother lately ? U-M could really use another big body in the front-court with the Big Ten schedule in front of us. Plus I would love to know if Jordan is competitve in practice against the veteran players ?

  • Great question Bluebufoon. Dylan or other insiders have you heard how Morgan or McLimans are doing in practice? Are they going to be able to provide some inside threat, rebounding, toughness next year?

  • Brick

    Beilein says they are coming along but doesn’t want to waste a year of eligibility on spot minutes. He says that playing them now would be trading a year from a 22 year old big man for a year from an 18 year old. He’s building a program and I agree with his thinking. I don’t see Morgan playing this year because I believe he is learning the 5 and would be behind Sims and Gibson. I don’t think McLimins is ready to step in at the 4 with any meaningful minutes.

    I would not be surprised to see Eso start stealing Ant’s minutes as the season rolls on but Kansas was too big of a stage at this point.

  • JimC

    Great to see DMorris come back after his airball and play so hot

  • ToBlav

    Not a lot here to disagree with and I do think we’re progressing, but if we’d hit a few more shots and made it closer Kansas would have used another gear. That was a very impressive team.

  • Bluebufoon

    I can see why you wouldn’t play both Morgan and McLimans but one of the
    two could really help because Gibson and Wright are so inconsistent, uncordinated and slow-footed defensively, that they put U-M at such a disadvantage when they enter the game.

  • Sam

    I’m extremely surprised that no one has commented on Deshawn Sims’ fantastic defense on Cole Aldrich. Aldrich is a 7’0 preseason 1st Team All-American and Sims didn’t give him one FG. ONE! We have to laud Sims for his effort against a much bigger man. Aldrich managed 5 points the whole game. If Sims plays with this intensity the rest of the season, we could win 14 games in the Big Ten.

  • Kevin in GR

    With the shooting woes this year (esp Novak and Douglass), I’ve been wondering if their weightlifting since last season has had any affect on their shots. LLP has even gotten in better shape and you’d think in time, they would all be better off for putting the time in the weightroom….but does anyone think there could be an adjustment period to where their shot has to catch up with their “new” bodies?

  • ToBlav

    My understanding of the weightlifting shooting connection is that if you lift and don’t shoot there will be an adjustment period. On the other hand if you get some shots in after the weight sessions you can stay in the groove. Don’t know if they shot after lifting, but if the didn’t that might be a factor.

  • Bball

    I was wondering the same thing Kevin, especially with the change in the strength and conditioning staff…

  • Kevin

    Sam, you make a great point. He was fouled a few times but overall we did a great job.

    I though Deshawn played his best game of the season as well as Morris. Novak played his ass off, unfortunately he couldnt make a couple more threes. Manny played solid but was just harrassed all game.

    The other thing that impressed me was the way we rebounded. Man, we haven’t seen that all year. On the defensive end everybody was going up for the misses. I definitely see this as something we can build on. I know this is getting repetitive, but if we shoot even 32% on our 3s then we win.

    Happy holidays and GO BLUE!

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  • bigplaybray

    The weight lifting has nothing to do with it. I AM sure any exprienced strength and conditioning coach at this level would emphasize flexibility and endurance as much as raw strength. Plus the players have had significant practice shooting all along so any added strength shouldn’t effect their shooting. If anything they should be shooting better because they should have a little more range and added endurance as games wear on. I think the problem is a combination of waining confidence and at times poor shot selection.

  • Jeff

    It’s hard to get too excited about a loss, but I can see that the team is slowly improving. Between this game and the 2nd half of the UofD game, the defense and rebounding are getting alot better. I think the biggest positive from this game is that DeShawn Sims finally played well against a good opponent. He’s a key player for this team. Manny always plays well, but I think if Sims starts to play consistently well, it will give the other players a security blanket and take some pressure off of them, allowing them to relax and perform better. Also, Morris seems to be slowly improving, which can only help.

  • Sam

    I may be wrong here, but I think Stu is one three away from breaking out of his slump. His stroke is looking pure as ever and he at least made a couple against Kansas and one or two against Detroit. I think we’ll see him get very hot within the next couple of games. After that we really need Novak to start hitting. If he and Stu are on, we should be good to go for Big Ten season. LLP has really never slumped yet this year, so hopefully he can continue to shoot well, Manny has picked it up lately, and the shooting will be contagious and it will rain threes like we all thought it would.

  • Jay

    Novak will continue to make threes when they dont count, and miss when we need them to go in. I thought he was a good shooter, but even last year he clanked shots over and over. Out of all our shooters, he probably ends up with the most uncontested 3’s outside of Ant Wright. One wish for Novak is to learn how to step inside the arc, and knock down a 2 or go to the rack strong to get your confidence back please? I mean you were the dunk contest winner right?