Game 14: Michigan at Penn State Post Game

Dylan Burkhardt

It’s the sign of a painfully inconsistent team but yet again Michigan’s game at Penn State was a tale of two halves. In the first half, Michigan played some of the worst basketball they have played all year (and that’s saying a lot). They didn’t defend, allowing Penn State to shoot at a 59.6 eFG% clip. They turned the ball over 9 times and shot only 34.8 eFG% from the field while failing to make a three.

Rah-rah pump up speeches never struck me as John Beilein’s thing but he definitely has a nice collection of psychological ploys in his library from “Queme Los Barcos” to Thursday’s half time silence. In a season that has lacked proud or even notable moments, Michigan has finally put together a couple wins to build some momentum.

In the second half Michigan exploded. The basket appeared to grow and they finally started defending. Michigan hit seven three point shots in the final 12 minutes of the game en route to a scorching 79.6 eFG% in the second half. Michigan hit their threes but they also consistently tossed the ball to DeShawn Sims who put together another monster performance, scoring 25 points on 12-17 shooting. When all was said and done, Michigan had rung up 48 points on the Nittany Lions in the second half in front of the sparse, but shocked, Bryce Jordan Center crowd.

Michigan’s second half defensive effort can’t be overlooked. Michigan forced 10 second half turnovers and held the Nittany Lions to a more respectable, 50 eFG%, shooting percentage. Most importantly, Michigan completely eliminated Talor Battle. The superstar guard scored 9 first half points but was held scoreless in the second with more turnovers than assists. For the second game in a row Michigan has put forth an inspired second half defensive effort, now it’s time to bring that effort for 40 minutes.

It’s a couple months later than most expected it but this team finally appears to be gelling. Two wins doesn’t even qualify as a run but at the very least it’s a sign of life from a team that could have folded their hand by now. The season remains on life support but all of a sudden 11 conference wins doesn’t seem quite as improbable as it did a week ago.

Next up for Michigan is a three game home stretch that pits them against Northwestern, Indiana, and Connecticut. Taking care of business at home is obviously critical, especially with games at Wisconsin, at Purdue, and versus Michigan State after Connecticut.

Player Bullets:

  • DeShawn Sims: Neither Andrew Jones or Andrew Ott could guard Peedi and luckily Michigan went to him all night long. Another monster game for Sims, who is shooting 67.5% on two point field goals over the last six games. It’s been repeated ad nauseam but this team goes as DeShawn Sims goes and now it appears that Peedi might be realizing it:  “I didn’t know how valid it was until I looked at it,” he said.”
  • Laval Lucas-Perry:His road game out-of-nowhere antics inspired me to put together a post dedicated to all things LLP, it was out of nowhere but definitely a great performance. Laval also notched 5 rebounds and dished two assists besides his 4 three pointers. He was even Jeff Goodman’s “Stud of the Night”.
  • Manny Harris: Manny wasn’t his dominant self but he made some huge plays down the stretch including a couple steals and transition baskets. Not quite enough rebounds (3) and a few too many turnovers (4) but 4 steals and 4 assists to go along with 13 points is certainly not bad.
  • Darius Morris: Kudos to the freshmen for a terrific defensive effort, I wasn’t sure that Michigan would be able to hang with Battle but Darius did a great job, especially in the second half. Darius’ lack of a jump shot is becoming painfully apparent on the offensive end and preventing him from taking his game to the next level. He did manage to hand out 4 assists to 2 turnovers in 23 minutes of play.
  • Zack Novak: 8 points, 3-6 (2-5 3pt) shooting, 3 rebounds for Novak in a solid if unspectacular effort. I want to watch the game again but I’ve been impressed with Novak’s defense over the last couple games. It feels like he’s still getting quicker and sticking with people a little better on the perimeter.
  • Stu Douglass: Definitely an off game for Douglass shooting the ball (1-5) but he was due for lesser performance. Luckily LLP was there to pick up the slack.
  • Zack Gibson & Matt Vogrich: 6 minutes combined, John Beilein’s lack of confidence in his bench is becoming painfully apparent as Harris, Sims, and Novak all played over 37 minutes.
  • SubAlum_06

    Silence is golden sometimes. I remember my father did that to me once when I had made one more of a string of bad judgments. He was able to communicate “I don’t know what to say because I know you are better than that and you know it, too.” It turned me around at the time, and it worked because of the relationship we had.

  • umhoopsreader

    We do need more from Gibson and a little shot in the arm here and there from Vogrich, but I actually think the rotation thinning a bit can be a really good thing from here on out for this team.

    Hopefully going inside early and often to Peedi is a staple from here on out as that seems to bode well for a complete game from him…We have enough streak shooting to compete with anyone if Deshawn continues this play

    Is it just me or do you get the feeling Beilein knows exactly how to handle a team in each and every situation. They may not always win as a result, but my confidence in Coach B grows with every game.

    Need to get the next two…I’m guessing the outside shots will fall regularly against NW and IU…then again you never can tell – GO BLUE

  • Loving the Blue

    I know the 1-3-1 has it’s faults and can’t be run the whole game but the past two games I have seen a connection between going to the 1-3-1 and added energy on the O side. The added energy I believe last night was connected to finally making some 3s.

    Looking at the next 16 games. I can only hope for an amazing 12-4 run. 8 must win games (NW, IN, Iowa, @NW, @Iowa, PennSt, IL, Minn). Then split from the remaining 8 (UConn, @Wis, @Purdue, MichSt, Wis, @Minn, @OhioSt, @MichSt).

  • Paul F.

    Big games are needed wins here. Split with Mich. St. A victory vs. UConn at home would really help. Knock off OSU in Columbus. Those are huge games. And of course, Win the games you should.

  • Giddings

    I like LtB’s list, but we don’t need to go 12-4… 11-5, 10-6 (with one win in BTT), or even 9-7 (with two wins in BTT) should be enough.

  • JBlair52

    I thought Stu handled the ball real well, and again his Assist-Turnover ratio is VERY good.

    Also when I was watching in the first half, he did a GREAT job guarding Battle. I dont think Battle scored at all in the half court when Stu was guarding him.

    Morris did a great job as well but I thought Stu did a fine job when he was in despite missing his shots.

  • Acedeuce

    If one were to break down the rest of the season into three game pods, we have to win 2 out of every 3 games. That doesn’t seem totally crazy to me, but the important ones is that stretch of 4 crazy games (UCONN, @wis, @ PU, MSU) of which we need at least a split to get us enough quality wins to make an argument with 19 or 20 wins.

    1- NW, IN, UCONN- should be able to win 2 of 3. first two most likely
    2-@Wis, @PU, MSU- season rides on these games, must win this pod
    3- IOWA, @ NW, Wisc- should be winnable. if we drop @NW, must beat Wisc
    4. @minn, @Iowa, PSU- must win at Iowa then split PSU/@minn
    5.- Ill, @OSU, Minn- The other really difficult pod, two home games I would guess
    6. @MSU, Big ten tourney, Big ten tourney- must win first game regardless, but if we lose at MSU must win two games in Indianapolis

    Does that get us enough quality wins to get in? I’ve always thought you need two quality wins to bad losses, so I think we need at least 6 QW at this point in the season. Should be a heck of a ride, GO BLUE, beat the wildcats!

  • Yeah. Stu has turned himself into a pretty solid defender. Especially fighting through screens and sticking with guys.

  • Kenny

    the team can definitely fight back. Hopefully this win turns around the season.

  • gpsimms

    hoopsreader I totally agree. Through all down times just repeat, “Believe in Beilein.” Has anything he’s done not turned to gold?

    Puts Grady on the bench (who I really thought was our best guard at the time) and then CJ Lee plays phenomenal d and gets us to the dance.

    Benches Manny for OT @ Iowa, fanbase explodes. Manny destroys Purdue at home in the next game and leads us to the dance.

    Even if we lose every game for the rest of the year, any “fan” on here last night calling for Beilein’s head has no clue what they are talking about.

  • KDavis

    Dylan, I usually only post when things seem to be going really bad and I’ve never thanked you for the time and effort you put into this site. So, thank you.

    Also, this team usually makes me want to jab shards of glass into my pee hole because I’m immature like that, but you always seem to put everything into perspective. I appreciate that.

    Thanks again.

  • English prof sez the expression is “all of A sudden,” fwiw. You’re a good writer, so I assume you’re intent on perfection. Thanks as always for your work and this site.

  • Jeff

    GP, regarding your last sentence, I find it very telling that the “fan” in question disappeared the moment we started our comeback and hasn’t been heard from since. People who only post when things are going badly, whatever their motivations, aren’t fans in my book.

  • The fan disappeared because I banned him.

    Thanks Mattski.

  • stevefisher4life

    An honest, semi-ignorant question here:

    To what extent does Beilein’s presence on the ethics committee protect him from having to generate wins to keep his job?

    The PSU win was necessary, but we need to do better. We have a chance to rack up some wins early on against the conference’s weaklings, but if the aforementioned gauntlets (CONN-@WIS-@PUR-MSU and ILL-@OSU-MINN-@MSU) go catastrophically, people need to be able to ask serious questions without being automatically called sparty or fairweather fans.

  • Loving the Blue

    Thanks for banning him.

  • KainKitizen

    It was very different to see and watch the game last night. Everyone has excellent view points. We also have to remember that it’s definite that the beginning of the season is alright for the selection committee for the tourney but the middle to end of the season is what really puts a team in the tournament. Let’s do good now and great at the end and we will be an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.

  • JimC

    That game was so great I wish I had watched it.

    It’s still a little mysterious how they turned everything around in the 2nd half. Did JB know that the silent treatment would prompt the guys to regroup and figure out what to do on their own? Or was he so stymied he had nothing to say, or was one end of the court off kilter, or …?

    Whatever, i think that’s the best road performance from our team in a LONG time.

  • bird

    Not very green of me, but when I got to work this a.m. I printed up all 200+ comments from yesterday and took it to the toilet with me. Oh man, that was good stuff. A special nod to Tweeter for his general level-headedness and perspective. Taco Bell Denise is hot. And Dylan, way to lower the boom on whoever that ding-dong was. I’m sure you’re not happy about having to block or censor posters, but it’s certainly understandable.

    I have very little idea what’s going on with this team or what’s going to happen the rest of this year – I’m prepared for a few more low points and hopeful of a few high points. Would that we could beat Sparty, just once. It is my deepest desire—away from the gridiron, of course.

    Long term, I feel quite confident that Coach Beilein will retire a Wolverine, and that his tenure will be seen as a success when it’s over. I wish we could have had him 10 years ago, but regardless, we’re fortunate to have him now.

  • maxwell’s demon

    stevefisher4life – I don’t think anyone on here is against criticizing the coaching staff or individual players. But just as being on the ethics committee doesn’t give you a free pass, a poor first half effort doesn’t justify a firing. That’s like saying: it’s colder than average today, global warming must be a hoax. When you’re talking about whether a coach is doing their job, your sample size needs to be bigger than one half a game or even half a season. And if you look at the big picture, only an idiot would want to fire Beilein at this point in time.

  • JimC

    I would nominate Tweeter for UMHoops and Big 10 Poster of the week. He was bringing last night.

  • bf1118

    Great win last night! They looked absolutely dreadful in that first half though which is a concern. I just don’t know what makes this team click. Do they honestly need to play that bad the first 20 to turn around and play that hard the next 20? Deshawn is playin great though, finally finishing easy buckets inside. Hopefully his confidence and assertiveness can remain high.

  • Drew

    I must admit my comments get pretty brutal when we are losing, probably because I’m way too emotionally invested in this team. I think I may have found a bit of luck though. After punching the wall when we went down 16, I closed my computer and slid it away. We instantly started the run and I refused to get back on here. May have to continue with that in the future.

  • Erik

    The real reason why UM turned it around is because I started watching! I got back from the airport and turned it on. They were down 17. I kept watching and to my amazement they pulled it off. I skipped dinner because I was afraid I’d jinx them if I turned it off (plus it was too good to turn off).

  • Conrad

    huge win..anytime we can win on the road, especially the way we came back, is big for this team..we gotta hold serve at home sunday vs a good yet beatable northwestern team. hopefully sims keeps up his hot streak and keeps his ass inside the paint or at least inside the 3 point line

  • Bardo

    Rollercoaster win. My favorite (read: made me laugh the most) comment from the in-game post was from “Fire Beilein” which read: “How long are we going to keep giving Beilein love? Amaker’s teams never looked THIS bad.” I could not disagree more.

    Did anyone happen to catch the Big Ten Network Classic Game tonight? Michigan v. Purdue in a game that featured a Tommy-Amaker-induced 12+ minute drought followed by a Courtney Sims last second tip-in to win the game (yes, this was the peak of Courtney’s career). Unfortunately, I experienced 4 years of the Amaker Regime in A2. In Beilein I Trust.

  • Erik

    Bardo I remember that. And as much as we bag on Amaker, Ellerbe was worse. I used to drive from Lansing to A2 to watch Ellerbe’s teams. ugh.

    Remember that year we played Duke and started the game on something like a 0-22 deficit? I don’t remember if that was Amaker or Ellerbe but it was U-G-L-Y. Or that 50-something point win MSU had over us in their National Championship year. Yeah, there have been plenty of games worse than this PSU one.

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