Game 15: Northwestern at Michigan Post Game

Dylan Burkhardt


We all want this team to be good. After watching last season we all know that they have at least a little bit of ability. We can keep hoping that they turn it around. But right now this just isn’t a good team.

They are painfully inconsistent and the chances of them putting together any sort of winning streak are slim to none considering the fact that they struggle to play 40 minutes of solid basketball.

The story of this game was the Michigan backcourt’s inability to hold onto the ball. Michigan, who ranked 3rd nationally in turnovers (15.5% per game) before today’s game, turned the ball over on 29% of their possessions.

This is one of the worst marks of the Beilein era in Ann Arbor. To put it in perspective how bad the turnover number was, the short list of other games that Michigan turned the ball over that often include nightmarish performances like Savannah State, the home loss to Central Michigan, and last year’s loss at Ohio State.

After watching Michigan dominate from the jump and build a 17 point lead. Northwestern made just the right tweak to their 1-3-1 zone. All of the sudden the aggressive trapping worked and Michigan struggled to even start their offense. Stu Douglass, Darius Morris, and Laval Lucas-Perry were exposed as they consistently dribbled into Northwestern’s traps, forced passes, and just made foolish mistakes.

That’s not to say Michigan’s defense shouldn’t shoulder any of the blame. In a performance that was eerily similar to Michigan’s game at Penn State, Northwestern put on a shooting clinic in the second half. After shooting a dismal 4 of 14 (28.6%) in the first half, Northwestern went 7 of 10 from three in the second half en route to an eFG% of 71.7%.

Drew Crawford was the guy who simply killed Michigan. The freshman from Naperville, Illinois single handily kept Northwestern in the game through the first half with a personal 11-0 run. He also made all the plays down the stretch to keep the Wildcats ahead. His stat line is not only impressive but extremely efficient: 25 points on 7 of 9 shooting (4-5 3pt) with 8 rebounds. For those of you keeping track, that’s a 100% eFG%.

Down the stretch, as seems to be a theme, Michigan was one or two plays short of getting over the hump. Missed layups, getting beat on backdoor cuts, in and out shots, and poor shot selection were just an assortment of the ways that Michigan found to fall just short when they needed a big play.

This season is going nowhere fast and right now it looks like its time to hope for a couple nice upset victories and an NIT berth.

Other Notes: Eso Akunne has been ruled academically ineligible for the winter semester. John Beielin signed a contract extension through 2015-16.

Player Bullets:

  • DeShawn Sims: Early on Michigan gave the ball to Peedi with a purpose, they ran the offense inside-out and he scored a number of moves including a sick spin move and dunk, he even dished out of a double team for a couple nice looks. But after the first fifteen minutes he wasn’t nearly as involved and seemed to slowly float out of the game.
  • Manny Harris: 24 points on 8-15 (1-4 3pt) shooting, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers. It’s tough to criticize Manny when he puts up numbers like that. He almost single handily brought Michigan back into the game in the second half.
  • Stu Douglass: Before yesterday’s game, Stu Douglass had one of the best turnover rates in the conference and I believe his assist to turnover ratio led the conference as recently as a week ago. There are many reasons why it is frustrating to have Stu Douglass running the point guard, namely his inability to create plays off dribble penetration, but turnovers were never a problem. However his four turnovers today were just brutal and they absolutely killed Michigan.
  • Darius Morris: Darius has struggled with turnovers this year so that’s not so unexpected, although equally frustrating. However, his two made three point shots, seven assists, and two steals gave Michigan a huge boost off the bench.
  • Laval Lucas-Perry: Laval struggled with fouls and simply couldn’t find his shot. Darius and Stu struggled but Laval just doesn’t give Michigan much offensively. He got off a couple of three point attempts but didn’t knock any down and never really appeared comfortable.
  • Zack Novak: That missed layup near the end of the game is going to haunt him for sometime. 2-7 three point shooting isn’t pretty, but I thought Novak did a good job on John Shurna, holding him to 11 points on 14 field goal attempts.
  • Anthony Wright:2 turnovers in 10 minutes, he really doesn’t give Michigan anything offensively or defensively but he’s going to continue to play because there is no one else.
  • Zack Gibson: Scored his first basket since January 31st.

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  • Tweeter

    GoBlue what a baseless post. Stu is not a capable ball handler? Wasnt he leading the league in assist to turnover ratio coming into the NW game? So one bad game with turnovers and the guy is no longer capable? Wow.

    D Morris is halfway into the first season of his career and you can already tell that he is only decent at best. Do you remember D Sims halfway thru his first season? I think he turned out pretty good.

    I like the start of next years class with Hardaway and Smotrycz, and Bundridge the following year looks like a very good player. Now the key is adding two or three more to that mix. Lets see who gets added before we say that Beilein cant recruit.

  • Jeff


    Of course Beilein used some of Amaker’s players when we made the tournament. It was his second year as coach! It would basically be impossible to do it with only his players. However, this is also true: without the contributions of Novak, Douglass, LLP and two walk-ons, we would never have sniffed the tournament. I don’t think that’s a valid point.

    I’ve been pretty surprised how many people have turned on Douglass. Yes, he was shockingly bad against Northwestern, but I think that was an aberration. As Twitter pointed out, he has an immaculate assist to turn ratio. I’ve seen him make many, many great passes this year and he usually takes care of the ball. Everyone has a bad game.

  • pgrom

    I’d rather have Amaker at this point than Beilein. Amaker is a better recruiter and his style of play is more conducive to the Big Ten. Amaker’s main problems here were NCAA probation and the fact that his players got hurt at the wrong time.

  • Objective Spartan

    @Tweeter — Maybe this is not 100% on Beilein, but I think JB should have pulled Sims out to the high post or elbow area, which would have allowed him to either drive, hit cutters coming down the lane, or pass OVER the middle of the zone and get the ball to shooters in the baseline corner.

    I also have to agree with jack simms, though about Sims not doing enough to demand the ball and clear out room to receive a pass. He looked very passive in the 2nd half.

    Bottom line: when your guards have picked up their dribble 3-4 times (not to mention 6-7 times) in a trap 6 feet beyond the 3-point line, don’t you think it’s time to go back to the blackboard and draw up something different?

  • Tweeter

    Spartan: Sims in the high post is a good point. That certainly would have been an adjustment similar to moving Gibson into the lineup and going big. They needed that big in the high post. I dont know if the result would have been much different in terms of quality of shot though, since it would basically force Sims to only be a passer. He is not going to drive to the basket against a 1-3-1 from the high post. He does not have that kind of ball handling ability.

    My point though is still, that there really was not much to draw up. I think the coaches looked at and said, this is our best chance to score by trying to get a wing in the high post and eventually moving the ball to Sims low against the mis-matched point guard on the baseline. The reasons it was not working were simply because the players made mistakes with the ball. It wasnt like NW was just shutting them down and not letting them get quality shots. The shots were fine, there were just not enough of them because of the turnovers.

    @pgrom: if you think those were Amaker’s only problems then you obviously watched zero of UMs offensive possessions when he was coach.

  • AG2

    Enough of this “it was because of the sanctions” nonsense! Amaker’s recruiting fell off SHARPLY toward the end. Go ask Baylor fan if they need to make excuses about sanctions. Go as Ohio State fans, or Indiana fans, or any other school that bounced back from much more severe sanctions almost instantaneously.

  • Deacon Blues

    @pgrom: Don’t know if I’d go that far (taking Amaker over Beilein), but it is interesting to compare the two.

    Beilein’s Big Ten record (.400) lags Amaker’s pace through two seasons & four games (.444), and it will continue to do so through three years and probably even four. Amaker was .422 (27-37) after four years; Beilein (16-24) would have to go 15-17 from now through next season to top that. Beilein inherited a mess, of course, but so did Amaker.

    You can’t ignore Beilein’s track record; there’s much more there to take comfort in than there was with Amaker. But you also have to judge U-M’s play qualitatively. Just because this was a tournament team last season doesn’t mean it was much better than the Amaker ones that came a game or two short. The difference between Amaker and Beilein at this point is arguably that miracle comeback at IU.

  • michigan hoops 4eva

    When it comes to recruiting, Michigan just needs more quality players. Right now there is no one other than Darius Morris I trust coming off the bench; that is a big step below last year’s team when Kelvin Grady, David Merritt, Jevohn Shepard, and Laval Lucas Perry were sparkplugs.

    Depth is a glaring issue, as Ben Cronin, Eric Puls, Eso Akunne, Blake McLimans, and Jordan Morgan are sitting out and Gibson, Wright, and Vogrich continue to struggle.

    Inconsistency is also an issue; the team is consistently inconsistent, Laval Lucas-Perry and Deshawn Sims being the two most noticeable in this category.

    In terms of stats, the Northwestern loss wasn’t horrible, but I just hope that the team’s morale doesn’t start to wither. It seems like Deshawn Sims has gotten his act together, and Darius Morris is beginning to get better, the team just needs to keep the mental mistakes to a minimum and get some leadership from somebody.

  • JalenIsEmbarrassed

    NOOOOOOO, 6 more years of Beilein. John I’m really trying hard to love you and your system (that doesnt develop shooters)… but when you bring in the freshmen you brought in this year and you run players like Grady and Udoh off you deserve no extension.

    Top weaknesses with this team PG & Center… we had them both (shame)

  • Strongly disagree that Ekpe Udoh was “run off”, that is just outrageous.

    With Grady, he saw his playing time decrease significantly because others gave us the best chance to win.

  • Jeff

    It’s simply not true that Amaker’s problems were the NCAA sanctions. They were free and after his 2nd year and his best two recruiting classes were in his 2nd and 3rd year. He had one season where his team was derailed by injury, but in 2006 there was simply no excuse for that team missing the tournament–their last two games, they lost at home to a struggling Indiana team and on a neutral court to an awful Minnesota. Winning either one would have got them in the tournament. Let’s not revise history. His recruiting was starting to suffer in his last couple years also.

  • JalenIsEmbarrassed

    86 mins at the point -vs- Duke(2), UCLA, MSU (top teams we played other than Uconn, Grady didnt play vs. Uconn.

    3 total turnovers as a sophomore on the biggest stage, that kind of point guard play gives you a pretty good chance to win. Lee and Merritt did excellent jobs too but they didnt have the ability to break a press by themselves and they werent sophomores with upside!!!!! We finished 9th in the Big Ten did Lee and Merritt really make us a better team or did we get into the tournament because we beat UCLA and Duke? I’d say the latter.

    You are probably right, it isnt fair to blame JB for Udoh leaving because I dont know the full story. However I still believe Udoh would be wearing a #22 highlighter yellow jersey if JB would have simply said “Ekpe I need you, I will help you develop into a better all around player, and I will tailor my system to utilize your talent so you can play at the next level”.

  • Kevin

    Being at the game it was hard not to notice Gibson’s demeanor. He was clearly frustrated and upon making his first mistake his head slumped way down. You could see his teammates trying to pick him up, but he was pretty down. Even Stu got frustrated to an extent.

    The one player that impressed me the most was Darius. I really believe he’s going to be able to excel at this level in a couple of years, maybe even later this year. At the end of the game it was him yelling things around on the court and firing up teammates, as a freshman! (Manny and DeShawn obviously impressed but it’s expected out of them)

  • AG2

    We finished 7th in the Big Ten “Jalen”. We won the tie breaker with Minnesota because we swept them. Face it dude, Beilein’s team came up with a huge win over Purdue and a key road win, followed up with obliterating a bad team in the BTT first round to take care of business. Amaker blew games vs. IU in a game where Ron Coleman intentionally fouled with 30 seconds left in a tie game, then followed it up with a loss to a 9-win Minnesota team we’d beaten by 20+ twice that year in a game where Daniel Horton quit.

  • Giddings

    Post of the day goes to Junderground. The biggest thing that stands out in these comments is how wildly different they are after a win or a loss. If we maintain that one point lead 62-61 and somehow pull out the NW game, everyone would be talking about how much heart this team has in coming back and what our path forward is for the tournament.

    And regarding Beilein vs. Amaker, honestly if the records are the same I think it’s a lot more fun watching less talented players overachieve and play as a team rather than talented players underachieve. As mentioned there is absolutely no reason the 2006 team should have missed the Tourney, and you could almost say the same for 2007 if they could have held their 5 point lead over #1 OSU with 3 minutes left.

    And if you tell me guys are underachieving under Beilein, who? Stu and Novak are doing everything you can ask of 2-star recruits, sure their threes haven’t been falling this year but there’s no reason to think that they won’t find their strokes again at some point. Gibson simply doesn’t have the mentality of a big man and never will. Peedi and Manny you can’t say much about besides Peedi’s mental lapses at times (but look how far he’s come since his freshman year under Tommy). Vogrich and Morris are too young to judge, and LLP is simply an enigma who really didn’t get that much hype out of high school and is cursed by Tim McCormick’s comments that he would be “the best PG since Rumeal Robinson”. Ant never played under Tommy and only plays under Beilein because we’ve had tough luck with injuries to Cronin and Morgan (and Ekpe transferring).

    I agree that Beilein deserves some criticism but anyone calling for him to be fired is out of their mind.

  • I can’t beleive some posters here would rather have Amaker over Beilein. You have short memories. Amaker could not coach at all. I agree Beilein needs to step up his recruiting, but he is worlds better than Amaker.

  • First… As an adamant supporter of Tommy Amaker.. There is no way that we would be better off with Tommy, that thought is just comical. As mentioned above, when they were on the bubble, Beilein’s teams won the games they needed, Tommy’s didn’t. Tommy was a great recruiter, a hell of a guy, and someone who is hard to root against but he just had one, two, or five too many bad breaks.

    The Grady argument feels like one that will never go away but at this point it is what it is. If I could have one point guard off of last year’s team it would certainly be CJ Lee over Kelvin Grady though.

  • pgrom

    2006 missed the tourney because Abram missed 2/3 of the Big Ten season, Hunter missed multiple games, and Harris sprained his ankle against OSU. That team easily makes it without the injuries. The crucial Indiana game at home was played without Abram and Hunter.

    I like Beilein a lot too I just think Amaker gets a serious bum rap by a lot of Michigan fans. I think he’s going to be real successful in the future, which is great for him I guess.

  • pgrom

    The other thing that is hard to ignore right now is that Amaker has built a better team in 3 years at Harvard than we have right now in year 3 under Beilein. If the two teams played right now we probably wouldn’t win.

  • Giddings

    pgrom good call on those injuries, although they still blew the Minnesota BTT game even with Abram and (I believe) Hunter back. That game was basically the equivalent of last year’s BTT game vs. Iowa which you have to give Beilein some credit for having the team prepared to blow out the Hawkeyes.

  • Tweeter

    Amaker has built a better team than UM? Really? How many NCAAs has he made since he’s been there? Oh, is that right? Yep, its zero. That crazy competitive Ivy League, he must surely be owning that league right? Whats that? He is 10-19 so far in the Ivy League? Yes that is correct. Well his overall record must be much better than Beilein’s over that time span? No? Really? Pretty much the same – Amaker 35-39 Beilein 39-43. Hmmm, I wonder who has had the tougher schedule?

    Amaker hasn’t built anything yet Harvard. Yea they look ok this year, what with their best win being by two in triple Ot against William and Mary. Other than that, I dont see that much. They were respectable against a couple good teams and beat some other bad teams. Well good for them. Yes they did beat a team we lost too, but I dont think you can make much of an assessment on how teams compare against each other based off one common opponent.

    No one is concerned with this, because the play on the court and the results speak volumes. Amaker gets exactly what he deserves from UM fans. He was a great guy, but he was a poor coach here. He had plenty of time to show that he could get it done, yet he proved he could not. End of story.

  • Troy


    “Morgan wasn’t recruited by any other Big Ten School”

    Wrong. He was recruited by MSU, Purdue, Indiana, Iowa. Other notables outside of the B10 were Stanford, Gonzaga, Arizona, Notre Dame, Wake Forest. This kid will be good, but if I were him I would really wonder why I am even on this team.

  • AG2

    Amaker got that job at Harvard for two reasons:
    1. Harvard explicitly said that they wanted to hire a black coach, and his primary competition was scandal-plagued Mike Jarvis.
    2. His wife was hired by Harvard for an academic position first.

    As far as his track record there, he’s already publicly criticized the school for making it hard to recruit. Like you can recruit at all at a school that doesn’t give athletic scholarships. And finally, almost all his success he owes to inheriting Jeremy Lin.

    We won’t know anything about the quality of his team this year until they face Cornell. Frankly, I don’t see how they beat Cornell either at home or in Ithica.

  • pgrom

    I’ve seen Harvard play a couple times this season. They have a deep roster and they are more athletic overall than UM. My honest assessment is that they are better than we are at this point.

    Yeah, Amaker inherited Lin but he has helped develop him into the player he is just like Beilein has helped Harris and Sims develop.

    Whether or not Harvard beats Cornell in the Ivy they will be playing somewhere in the postseason this year. That’s quite an accomplishment considering Harvard has absolutely no basketball tradition.

    Like I said, I appreciate what JB did here last year and I like him personally but we don’t look like we’re headed in the right direction right now. Year 3 has been pretty bad and year 4 looks worse. I hope I’m wrong about that.

  • JimC

    We’ve endured some unexcusable losses before, but that 2006 BTT loss to MN was the worst, most infuriating, most inexplicable loss I’ve ever seen.

    p.a. Darius Morris is going to be very very good. No doubt about that.

  • Ted

    With Beilein at the helm, this program will remain stale. I wish we could find a young up and comer. We should have got Pitino back in 2001.

  • Jeff

    Alright, I just have to give my final word on Amaker. Yes, he had problems with injuries, as do most teams, but that 2006 team shouldn’t have even been close to the bubble. Their seven best players were upperclassmen, I know that three of them have played in NBA games. They had great size with Sims, Brown, Hunter, and Petway and a bonified go-to guy in Horton, not to mention Harris and Abram. Honestly, he mismanaged the Abram injury also, initially bringing him back too fast and then keeping him out too long. He also kept Hunter out too long. Sorry to harp on this, but someone is trying to revise history.

    Finally, I will say that Amaker was not as bad as some say he was. He did have bad luck with injuries and he got the team very close to the tournament. He just couldn’t get them over the hump. I don’t know how anyone can look at his and Beilein’s track records, and say Amaker is better. It sounds like the venting of frustrations with the current situation to me.

  • JimC

    Dylan will probably link to this later, but in case you missed it here’s a pretty good article from Rosenberg today on JB’s extension,

  • maxwell’s demon

    One of the frequent naysayers (Scott, Tim, whoever) mentions that we are a football school first and basketball second. Absolutely true, but just because Florida and OSU have had recent success proves nothing. I can’t think of a single school who been able to provide consistent elite programs in both sports over decades. So no matter how much we want to be this elite program, you have to keep reality in perspective.

    There’s no way we are going to get one of the established premier coaches to come here that are going to instantaneously change our program with insane talent. So if you aren’t a Kansas or a UNC the only way you can become an elite program is picking a diamond in the rough. We hoped that might happen with Amaker. It didn’t. Beilein is our next try and based on a tourney appearance last year, I’d say he’s off to a pretty damn good start. But the bottom line is: it’s just too early to be able to accurately assess the job he has done. And just like football, the only thing that would come out of another coaching change right now is guaranteed terribleness for a few years.

  • stevefisherbroughtushonor

    I’m definitely not one of the “fire beilein” people, but I’m also not one of the “re-hire” beilein people. So the news of his contract extension kinda depresses me, since it confirms what I’ve suspected all along: that the UM brass are in love with his squeaky clean “mr. ethics” image and are satisfied with having a bottom-three B10 program.

    The apologists say: “Who do you think we are, UNC?,” as though it’s unfair to expect the wolverines to be a major power. But the fact is that in living memory, we were an elite team. Wisconsin doesn’t have the national recruiting clout that we do and yet, unlike us, they are a solid team every year.

    It’s been said, but all this redshirting “player development” business is a smoke screen for the fact that we don’t recruit elite talent, and when we do (usually Detroit guys), they either have to carry the rest of the brick-shooting, non-defending dead weights or they transfer to greener pastures.

  • maxwell’s demon

    We weren’t bottom 3 last year, we won’t be this year, and we won’t be next year. I’d be very happy to have the success that Wisconsin or Purdue has had in recent years, and I think we will have it and more.

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