Game 12: Michigan at Indiana Preview

Dylan Burkhardt


Who: Michigan (6-5) at Indiana (6-6)
Where: Assembly Hall, Bloomington, IN
When: December 31st, 12 PM EST
Radio: MGoBlue, WWJ 950 AM/WTKA 1050 AM
Line: Michigan by 5
Stats: Live TFS
Opposition Blog: Inside the Hall
Pomeroy Profile


After a non-conference season that saw just about everything go wrong, Michigan hopes that conference play can help them salvage their season.

Indiana has improved since last year’s debacle but they still have a ways to go. With the loss of leading scorer Maurice Creek, it looks to be another long Big Ten season for the Hoosiers.

Looking at the four factors, Indiana’s offense relies on offensive rebounding and getting to the free throw line. They are an average shooting team that doesn’t take many threes, however they make threes at a 37% clip. The Hoosiers turn the ball over far too often, coughing it up on 22% of their possessions.

On defense, Indiana limits opponents to a 45.3% eFG% and forces turnovers on 24% of possessions. However they are a subpar defensive rebounding team (65.6% DR%) and give up a ton of free throws (42.5% FTR).

The loss of Maurice Creek can not be underestimated. Creek took 30% of Indiana’s shots when he was on the floor and was by far their most efficient offensive player (64.5% eFG). Ryan Corazza looks at potential changes in the starting lineup with Creek’s injury, and it sounds like we may see Devan Dumes inserted into the lineup.

Jeremiah Rivers & Christian Watford

The Hoosiers rely on Christian Watford and Verdell Jones III to provide the rest of their scoring. Watford is a 6’8″ 215 pound wing that is being forced to play down low who averages 12 points and 6 rebounds per game. Watford’s length and athleticism at the four position should provide a challenge for Novak at the four position. Jones is a 6’5” guard who has a knack for getting to the line (12 ppg). The rest of the lineup is rounded out by Jeremiah Rivers (7ppg, 5 rpg, 5 apg), a stat stuffing point guard who transferred from Georgetown, and big man Tom Pritchard.

On paper, this is a game Michigan should win. Losing a player of Maurice Creek’s caliber is a huge blow to an already struggling team. Michigan is playing for their lives right now and it would be nice to start conference play with a road victory.

On the other hand, it’s Assembly Hall and nothing comes easy. Michigan almost lost there last year despite playing one of the worst IU teams in history. I have a hard time envisioning any sort of easy Michigan win, if they pull it out I think it will be close.

For more on the game, check out my interview with Alex from Inside the Hall.

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  • Deshawn Sims Talent

    Can somebody find me I forgot it in Ann Arbor

  • JimC

    Where have all the forwards gone?

    It’s a game like this that i actually look forward to Sims leaving. He is a good talent, but he just plays so passively, and you know he is not a leader on the court–something you want in a senior.

    Having JoMo & Evan S, I can’t see our frontcourt being worse next year.

    But wow i miss having a forward like Loy Vaught. The dude shot like, 60% from the field.

  • Erik

    While I gave up any hope of a post season for this team long ago, I think Beilein’s system can still work here. This is still an incredibly young team.

    Sims and Harris just played AWFUL today and when they play awful, the team won’t win. Douglass and Novak stepped up and if Harris or Sims had played up to their level then it would have been a win.

    I think last year was a bit of a fluke and just raised our expectations too much. The truth is, Sims has worlds of potential but he usually plays soft and he’s always inconsistent. You NEVER know what you’ll get from Sims. Manny is amazing, but who knows how much those hamstrings are hurting him. He was in so much foul trouble today, that he didn’t really have a prayer of being involved.

    I wouldn’t call DMo a disappointment. I think he’s about where we should expect him to be. I see TONS of potential in him, he just needs more time in the system.

    I’ve never liked Ant Wright’s skills and I think that his scholarship combined with Ben Cronin’s have really hurt this team (through no fault of Bens). Who knows what Morgan or McLimans will bring next year, but I’m hoping that they pan out and are not “wastes” like Cronin and Wright were. It would be nice to have a full set of scholarships of talented players (even if they are 3 star players).

  • MLM

    Utterly depressing end to a decade. Where did they find these players?Enough with the nice, polite kids and the academic all-americans. I want chris webber back. remember that swagger, that pride?

  • LJ

    All good points, but I think the game plan would be to recruit guys who BELONG on a Big Ten roster! Beilein did wonders at West Virginia by bringing in guys with moderate talent, then coaching them up into a ‘machine’ that ran his system well. It won’t work in the Big Ten! You have to have talent, or you’re just another Northwestern- 14, 15 wins a year, maybe an NIT appearance or two. Beilein’s been at Michigan long enough, even at a few years, to get some real solid pieces in place. He has not done this, and his youngsters look confused and overmatched.

  • ChrisG

    Such a disappointing loss. It’s clear that we do not have a deep team AT ALL. Starters, Morris, and Gibson (barely) are the only players that can be trusted. So confused by Vogrich. Wasn’t he supposed to be Schyer-esque? Wright is a disaster. Was happy to see Stu and Zack put it together finally.

  • maxwell’s demon

    LJ – You’re suggested you need talent to win the in the B10 but not the Big East? I think a Big East fan would have a hard time buying that.

  • JimC

    p.s. do me a favor and don’t even bring up the tournament any more in here. It should painfully obvious by now, we are NOT going to the tournament.

    I sorta bought into the “first 5 B10 games are winnable” thing.
    Now predicting we just started an 8 losses in 9 games run.

    Have to think of something positive…any suggestions?

  • LJ

    Did my last post? I’m not sure… Anyhoo, I think it comes down to having the talen to compete on a major level, and Michigan is the type of school that should be able to attract major recruits (yes, even ones of high moral caliber and with good heads on their shoulders) immediately. It’s three years into the Beilein era, and if you look at most major recruiting services around, the country’s top talent (or even the area’s top talent) is NOT considering Michigan. It worked at WVU because he brought in guys with moderate skills and he coached them up and worked them into his system. In the Big Ten, you need a certain level of talent to match up consistently. If not, you’re another Northwestern: 11-15 wins a year, maybe an NIT appearance or two, and every now and then a big upset. We want MORE than that, don’t we?

  • MLM

    do all those who apologize for beilein and his “incredibly young team” understand or accept that harris and sims are gone after this year? do they really expect morris and vogrich and the recruits in the pipeline to fill those big (if streaky) shoes? seniority is overrated in a post-fab five world of John Walls and one-and-donners. we need better recruits and better coaching, period. unfortunately, the UM brass seems to have some kind of residual guilt complex hanging over it from the 1990s and only wants to be respected for intangible virtues rather than wins.

  • Jeff

    Mat, the expectations for Morris were somewhat set by the performance of Douglass and Novak last year, two start recruits. He hasn’t come anywhere near contributing what they did last year. I haven’t given up him yet, but I don’t know how anyone wouldn’t be disappointed that our best recruit hasn’t even been a good bench player.

  • Jimmy

    My individual assessments:
    Novak is a fighter. He can play for me any day.
    Douglass is a good ballplayer. Even when he isn’t shooting well, he brings value.
    We all love Manny Harris. Yes, he was off today but we all know he merits all the attention he gets.

    Those 3 are the only consistent players on our team and the only three capable of stepping up to a challenge.

    Deshawn Sims is a head case. I love Sims. He is a great ballplayer and a good kid but when things don’t go his way you can see his decision making disappear. He needs teammates who will settle him down, and put him in good positions to succeed (Merritt and C.J Lee).
    Darius Morris is a freshman. Remember this. I am seeing flashes of great potential. He’s a willing defender, and a good athlete who can push the ball and make plays. Yeah, he needs to be able to shoot the ball better and definitely makes plenty of freshman mistakes but he will be a great player hopefully sooner rather than later.

    These are 2 good basketball players with great potential if they could slow the game down in the head and make some good decision. These 5 are are 5 GOOD players.

    Zack Gibson. We’ve had this discussion before. Hit or miss. Good for a few minutes off the bench. Sometimes more if he’s in his zone.
    LLP. The most perplexing player on our team. Even when he’s shooting well he seems to always turn the ball over and display poor shot selection. When he is ice cold he brings no value. I was hoping for a lot more out of him and I will single him out as the one player who needs to step his game up the most.

    These are two players I can justify playing, although they come with serious flaws.

    Vogrich. Maybe a good player one day but too young and inexperienced to play major minutes right now.
    Wright. Does not belong on a Big Ten basketball court. Period.
    After this point, our roster gets very shaky.
    Eso? I liked what I’ve seen so far but really what can we expect from a freshman walk-on?
    Morgan? Freshman big man coming off injury.
    McLimans? I actually really like his potential at 6″10 from what I’ve seen (open practices/scrimmages), but he needs the redshirt.

    There you have it. My analysis of the roster shows 3 good players, 2 good players with issues, and 2 average players with issues. 7 serviceable players with lots of issues and no size does not give Beilein much to work with.

  • Erik

    Michigan has the talent and system. These kids were shooters in high school. They are in a system that is giving them open looks. For whatever reason, they are not making their shots. I don’t think you can pin that on Beilein or the recruit’s “talent”…it’s just that something is “off”.

    Each game 2-3 guys come to play and the rest slack off. Today Douglass and Novak brought it, but Sims and Harris played like crap.

    This team will not even make the NIT, but the problem is not the coach or talent…it’s consistency, youth, and shooting.

    On the bright side, I was expecting a huge drop off next year with Harris and Sims gone…now it looks like we might actually see an improvement from this year to next. ;) I think in two years this team will be really good again and this year will just be an asterisk.

  • Kudos to Zack Novak, who continues to impress. Despite the criticisms of Manny here he played a gritty game down the stretch. Beyond those two, there is a real lack of confidence on the floor. As a proud Michigan fan it hurts to see that.

    Beilein’s system is fascinating. But it was predicated on the limitations he faced as a coach at schools that couldn’t draw major talent. It’s not–for me–that he can’t win with his philosophy in the Big 10, but I think he needs near Duke-level talent to do it–that is, to go so strongly against conference tendencies. Whereas a Crean or Izzo can, possibly, get more out of working class talent in a league where size and muscle and discipline (not to mention D) count for more than they may have in the Big East. Rather than a consistent winner, I think that we’re going to see a lot of mediocre years and the occasional dazzling (sharpshooting) team over the course of Beilein’s career here. Hope that I am wrong.

  • Matt

    Did we just lose to the worst team in the Big Ten and oh yeah they were without their best player?…Yes, Yes we did

  • Mat


    Anecdotal evidence doesn’t prove your point. Novak and Douglass played on a team where there was almost no alternative. Its a team where walk-ons where getting major run. Morris has to beat out LLP, Gibson, Vogrich for playing time. Unless you’re an elite level (top 25) recruit, more often than not you won’t be a major contributor on a quality team. People who expect Morgan, Smotrycz (or Horford) or any other freshman to step in and top what Sims is doing, inconsistent as he is, are just asking to be disappointed.

    I love to get more info about incoming recruits, but the hype and unrealistic expectations get out of hand with some people. Its natural to search for a reason to have hope, but when your HOPE becomes and EXPECTATION, you only have yourself to blame.

  • MLM

    a minor correction, Matt:

    we just lost to the second-worst team in the Big Ten.

  • Jeff

    Manny Harris has quite a dilemna. Right now, it is highly unlikely that he will be drafted in the first round and it’s generally considered a mistake to leave early if you’re not going in the first round. On the other hand, does he really want to return to this? I feel bad for him, outside of this game, he’s really brought his A game this year.

  • pgrom

    we’re going to be counting on LLP, Vogrich, Morris, Novak, Douglass, and our redshirt bigs to score for us next year. Scary.

    I guess we have to hope Smote and Hardaway are instant impact guys that can carry a team.

  • Scott

    WV is better without Beilein! He leaves and Huggins has them in the top 10. We need an AD to clean house, Football, Both Basketball Programs and Hockey are embarassing!

  • Well as everybody knows we have a poor team. They are soft (except Novak), inconsistent and not very athletic. I’m really disappointed in the play of Sims. I still think he is on something or all ready thinking about the summer.

    I would recommend Beilein spend more time on recruiting. We need toughness both mentally and physically.

  • JimC

    We just lost to the 2nd worst team in the B10… Aren’t “WE” the 2nd worst team now?

  • A Concerned Michigan Fan

    I think Michigan’s troubles can be attributed to these aspects:

    1) Disappointing new players- Matt Vogrich was supposed to be one of the best shooters in the country. Darius Morris was supposed to be a premier point guard. Ben Cronin was supposed to provide size. None of these 3 have lived up to expectations; Cronin’s issue isn’t his fault, and I’m sorry that his career is likely over from that injury. Vogrich is infuriating on defense and when his 3-ball is off, he is essentially dead weight on the court. He has been the biggest disappointment in my eyes. Morris has flashed potential at times, but careless turnovers, missed layups, and poor decision making are glaring. Michigan has 8 freshmen on the roster, and none of them have really stepped up (Morgan and McLimans are apparently being redshirted).

    2) Lack of leadership- Anyone else missing the hell out of David Merritt and CJ Lee? They were such a presence on and off the court (i.e. David Merritt’s pregame speeches and CJ Lee’s defense) and no one has stepped up to take their place. This lack of leadership really shows with all of the mental mistakes and lack of clutch play.

    3) Identity- Just who is this Michigan team? The three pointers are simply not dropping, but even today, when Novak and Douglass finally find their way, Harris and Sims slump. Manny Harris has carried this team on his back; Deshawn Sims needs to become more consistent in order to get more high percentage shots and free up the wing players. This team just hasn’t found that winning approach. Same goes on defense.

    4) Depth- Bench production has been weaksauce. Anthony Wright is absolutely horrible; he is slow on defense, and has a shoot-first mentality that has resulted in a .259 field goal percentage. I’ve already touched on Morris and Vogrich. And Gibson has struggled recently after a surprisingly efficient start. In short, none of Michigan’s struggling starters can leave the game because the bench players are struggling more.

    5) Morale- I think that frustration is mounting. Losing is tough, and a few tough blows have also occurred; assistant coach Jerry Dunn leaving, Ben Cronin’s career likely over, and Jordan Morgan’s nagging injury. I think Michigan’s mindset needs to be revamped.

    Solution: Something needs to happen and I’m not sure what that is. Tom Izzo tried to jumpstart his team by benching Kalin Lucas; John Beilein needs to do something soon or this season is lost (i.e. bench Sims if he continues to be passive). Either Manny, Deshawn, or Zack Novak needs to be a leader and step to the plate. Deshawn Sims needs to find consistency and play harder. He is SO integral to this team; without him this team won’t make the tournament.

    Long Term Solution: Drop Anthony Wright’s scholarship after this year. Snag Jordan Dumars as a walk on. Drop Eso Akunne’s scholarship. Recruit Trey Zeigler and Jon Horford HARD this year. For 2011, recruit Quincy Miller like none other, and if that doesn’t (likely) work, get Amir Williams and either Percy Gibson, Marshall Plumlee or Cody Zeller. I think this team will be better next year with Smotrycz, Morgan, and Hardaway Jr. (and hopefully Zeigler and Horford) and I believe Harris won’t enter the NBA draft this year.

  • maxwell’s demon

    Similar to defense on football, our talent will get worse from this year to next, but I can’t imagine that we can actually perform worse. If so, then should be another great year to be a michigan wolverine.

  • JJ

    I know it doesn’t make much sense, since they averaged about six points a game combined, but we are seriously missing Lee and Merritt. If you look at today’s game, Rivers filled that role perfectly for IU, taking care of the ball, playing tough D, and getting teammates involved. Good point guard play is critical, and we don’t have a true point guard on the roster. Morris is the closest thing, and he is either too raw or just not good enough to deliver at this point.

  • AG2

    I can understand people feeling down on this season, but on Beilein’s program? Do I have to remind you all what we had with Amaker? Beilein got this team to the tournament for the first time in over a decade. Cut the man some slack.

    Its clear to me that Beilein can get this team to play smart, but they also are prone to mental lapses, especially the younger guys. Ask Da’Sean Butler if he thinks Beilein can recruit. He’ll be able to not just bring in players, but players who actually play the right position. Right now we have a 2-guard playing the wing and a wing playing center.

    LJ, you’re absolutely insane if you think you need talent to win the Big Ten. Wisconsin doesn’t seem like the kind of program that screams talent. If you want to fawn over one-and-dones, than you should consider becoming a Kentucky fan, at least until Calipari leaves that program in ruins the same way Eddie Sutton did.

  • PeteM

    Mattski, What is the Big East’s record against the Big Ten in interleague play? I don’t have the numbers, but don’t recall the Big Ten dominating those games, though I know Indiana did beat Pitt. I really don’t believe that the Big Ten has a style of play that is inherently better than the style played in other conferences.

    On Sims, I second everything else said. One additional point, has anyone noticed what a terrible job he does setting picks. He also looks slow to get to where he needs to be.

    If Novak and Douglas keep shooting I think we have a chance to be okay. We need to play Gibson more, and force Sims to play with intensity to earn his minutes.

  • LJ

    AG2- I’m insane because I think you need talent to win in the Big Ten? Did I read that right? And you point to the one school where the ‘system’ seems to work with a moderate degree of success? I do NOT want a Calipari or a Pitino, but I’d love a Crean or someone like that. I just looked at’s list of the top 150 high school seniors and we’re not listed as an option on ANY of those kids. And they’re not all one-and-done’s… Beilein may need time, and I’m willing to give it to him, but right now it doesn’t look good. This years team is NIT bound, IF they’re lucky, and next year doesn’t look promising, either. The question is – when will they become relevant again? The answer, at the moment, is not for awhile. They shouldn’t have taken such a step back this year.

  • I’m fearful that the Pit bull desires a particular type of proprietor…these dogs, no matter how ‘supportive’ nevertheless have teeth, are nevertheless animals with out moral ideas and once they DO bite, won’t let go. As in all creatures…some have a tendency to be far more suseptable to instinctual habits and time and time again, this breed tends to complete just that.