Game 18: Michigan at Wisconsin Post Game

Dylan Burkhardt

deshawn sims rob-f-wilson
Michigan had the chance to revive their season almost overnight. After leading Wisconsin on their own floor for 37 minutes, and leading by 9 points with 9 minutes to play, the win was there for the taking. But in a refrain that has become all too familiar to Michigan fans this year, Michigan couldn’t make the plays when it counted to secure a victory and came up short.

While Michigan couldn’t make the plays, Trevon Hughes and Rob Wilson made enough to guide Wisconsin to the win. Hughes scored 16 second half points including a pair of huge three pointers. Hughes was joined by Rob Wilson, a guy who Hughes praised for his play on Wisconsin’s scout team in his post-game interview. Wilson scored a career high 13 points, 11 of which came in the second half.

DeShawn Sims was absolutely phenomenal yet again. Michigan gave him the ball early and often and he was dominant in the first half. He finished 9 of 14 on the night for 23 points with 13 rebounds (12 defensive). Sims didn’t score a lot of points versus UConn but for the second game in a row he was very impressive on the defensive glass, rebounding 33% of Wisconsin’s missed shots by himself.

The rest of the Wolverines must not have found the trip to Madison worth their time. They combined to shoot 8 of 33 for a dreadful 24%. Role players aren’t supposed to play well on the road, but performances like Zack Novak’s 0-6, Stu Douglass’ 2-8, or the one point that the bench mustered just aren’t good enough to win games.

Manny Harris’ 4 for 14 (2-6 3pt), 4 rebound, 1 assist and 3 turnover performance can be described as nothing short of disappointing. Not only did Harris struggle mightily on offense, he backed up his poor play on offense with lackluster effort (or maybe concentration?) on defense which enabled Rob Wilson to explode in the second half.

This wasn’t the first time that Harris has struggled on the defensive end. He has always had a tendency to free lance on that end of the court, going for cheap steals rather than playing solid defense. Against Northwestern it was Harris who was backdoored by freshman Drew Crawford down the stretch, giving Northwestern their final lead. It’s disappointing because Harris has the athletic ability to be a terrific defender but at this point he’s anything but.

Michigan actually outshot Wisconsin (if you can really do that while shooting in the 30 percent range) and finished a hair behind the Badgers on the glass and at the stripe. Michigan also lost the turnover battle, turning it over on over 20% of their possessions. Michigan has turned it over on 19% of their possessions or more in their last 5 games after only turning it over that often once before that stretch.

When Michigan led by only three at the half, the writing was on the wall. Wisconsin played about as poorly as they could and Michigan just couldn’t put together a lead. Closing halves has been a problem all year and it is one of the most critical aspects of a basketball game. It was tough to think about anything other than how Michigan would let the game slip away in the end.

Even after allowing Wisconsin back into the game, Michigan led by 9 points with 9 minutes to play after a pair of Douglass threes. Then the wheels fell off. Sims barely touched the ball in the post down the stretch (his three touches resulted in a missed layup, made jumpshot, and a charge on a flop from Nankivil) and Michigan attempted to ride Manny Harris to victory.

It didn’t work. The last 9 minutes of the game were ones that Harris would like to have back. It’s obviously unfair to just pick on Manny but these are the negative plays I marked down from the 9 minute mark until Wisconsin took their first lead of the game:

  • Harris drifted off of Rob Wilson in the corner leaving him open to nail a three point jumpshot from the wing
  • He was called for a (questionable) charge.
  • He missed a wide jumper from the free throw line.
  • He lost Rob Wilson again, this time for a wide open layup.
  • He blew a box out of Nankivil that led to an easy put back.
  • He did make a nice runner in the lane but he proceeded to miss an identical shot on the next possession.
  • With the game tied, Michigan went back to Harris once more as he airballed some sort of half hook shot, Wisconsin took the lead on the next possession with 3 minutes to play and never trailed again.

Other people made mistakes over this stretch as well. Sims and Novak missed painful bunny shots on the same possession. Douglass and Lucas-Perry both missed three point attempts. Morris got burned off the dribble by, who else, Rob Wilson. But as Michigan let their 9 point lead turn into a 2 point deficit it was tough not to focus on Michigan’s superstar, Manny Harris.

For the third year in a row, Michigan played extremely hard fought competitive game at the Kohl Center and came away empty handed. In two of those games Michigan held a lead at halftime and in all three Michigan was within two points with under 4 minutes to play. You don’t go 131-10 at home for no reason though, Wisconsin just figures out ways to win. Whether it was Joe Krabbenhoft, Marcus Landry, or Trevon Hughes — Wisconsin made the big plays and Michigan didn’t.

Next up Michigan heads to Purdue for a Saturday afternoon tilt in Mackey Arena. Purdue got an impressive performance from Kelsey Barlow and John Hart (If you’re asking yourself ‘who?’, Hart wasn’t even listed in the official scorebook) in a win over Illinois and appear to be righting the ship after three straight losses. The task certainly doesn’t get any easier.


 Player Bullets:

  • DeShawn Sims: Peedi is making his case for a spot on the all-conference first team, through six Big Ten games Sims is averaging 21 points (1st) and 8 rebounds (3rd) and shooting 62% from the field (1st). Sims was dominant again today and it was a shame to see his effort go to waste. Oh yeah, Happy Birthday.
  • Zack Novak: There appears to be some kind of jinx here. When I wrote an article praising Zack Gibson he reverted to his old ways and my article this week about Zack Novak appeared to have a similarly negative effect. Novak couldn’t hit a shot – not a layup, not a wide open jumper from the elbow, not a three, nothing. It was just a terrible shooting shooting performance and six rebounds is nice but Zack has to hit some shots. Michigan also switched screens through most of the game, leaving Novak on Trevon Hughes for two critical possessions late in the second half, Hughes obviously got in the lane easily.
  • Stu Douglass: Douglass has emerged as Michigan’s go to three point shooter, averaging 6.55 attempts per game over Michigan’s last nine games and he’s even making 37% of those attempts. But right now it, despite his shots looking good, it’s tough to imagine him making more than 2 or 3 in a game.
  • Manny Harris: I have probably harped on Harris’ play enough in this post, in short he was locked down by Tim Jarmusz.
  • Darius Morris: Darius makes some nice plays but he’s obviously a freshmen out there. Opposing offenses seem to be figuring out how to beat him on defense as he’s struggled the last two times out.
  • Laval Lucas-Perry: Nothing earth shattering from Laval but he hit a couple shots and I thought he actually played pretty well defensively. He is a passive offensive player and he isn’t going to create much there but I think he is finally making some strides defensively.

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  • Deacon Blues

    Rats — chitownblue beat me to the point about Leuer/Hughes’s modest freshman seasons. It takes time indeed.

    That said, the UW teams of 2-3 years ago were way ahead of where U-M is today. Hughes was getting 8 minutes his freshman year partly because he had Flowers and Taylor ahead of him. That team was stacked.

    U-M, conversely, has no depth and can’t shoot, so it’s disturbing that Vogrich (a shooter) can hardly get on the court. But Morgan obviously has an excuse, and Morris at least has shown flashes.

  • Tweeter

    I think if Vogrich was shooting well at all he would be seeing more time simply as an instant offense guy. But the whole team just seems to be in a funk shooting this year. I am starting to wonder if all the work the players did in the weight room and elsewhere getting their bodies in better shape is catching up to them.

    I remember at the beginning of the season how there was so much talk about Novak and LLP in particular trimming the fat and getting kinda ripped. As a guy who plays a lot of basketball and is primarily just a shooter, I know that whenever I go through a period of not playing a lot and lifting a ton, that I suck at shooting for awhile. One of the reasons that guys like Reggie Miller and Rip Hamilton were/are such great shooters is that they keep their bodies in the same state. Shooting is all about getting a perfect repetitive motion down. Once you start getting stronger in any part of your body it throws off everything.

    Now you would think by this time that they would be figuring it out, but it is probably hard during the season to get back to working on fundamentals. This is just my guess and it could just be that they are head cases or just not great shooters. But I would bet that the changes in their bodies have had some effect.

  • AG2

    Off topic question:

    If Penn State was in the Pac-10, what would their record be?

  • michiganman777

    I would just like to say that im proud of our team for how we played at wisky. Coach B has really transformed our defensive play by leaps and bounds from the start of the season. It sucks to lose a game like that but if we can play like that the rest of the season we would make the tourny.

    Last but not least im not gonna rag on Manny too much for having an off game when he has carried us on his back for 2+ years. It happens. It sucks but it happens.

  • FWIW: over on mgoblog someone is saying that Horford is a lock. The poster’s also a little higher on Horford than Dylan seemed to be after taking in a game the other day (compares his development to his bro’s at the same stage):

  • maxwell’s demon

    I watched the first half of that game of Horford’s that someone posted one of these sites. Definitely looks skinny, but you can tell he’s a smart player, good passer, good shooter. Maybe he won’t be an instant impact player (OMG he’s terrible, why bring him in?) but looks like he good be a pretty good player.

  • chitownblue

    Deacon – Morris is an interesting case. He has lapses, but I think he’s already our best perimeter defender – he’s fast, has long arms, and, most importantly, generally has the effort. But, for a guy that scored so much in high school, his jumper is really a work in progress. On Vogrich – he’s clearly not ready yet – we’ll see if he grows.

    My last comment on the matter – a negative poster up above cited Daniel Horton as an impact freshman. And yeah, I guess despite the 37% shooting and the 1:1 assist/TO ration from a PG, he scored 15 ppg, so I guess he did. But he NEVER got better. He scored 12 ppg with abysmal shooting percentages and turnovers for the next two years, with some modest gains coming as a senior. Courtney Sims was the same Snuggie-soft milquetoast for his entire career – no progress. Petway never learned how to do anything other than jump. Dion Harris was the same guy as a senior he was as a freshman. Sure – we got “talent” but what happened with it?

    DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris, today, are significantly better players than they were before they met John Beilein. Harris’s shooting % has gone up 30 points a year under Beilein, his rebounds and assists have nearly doubled, and his turovers have gone DOWN. DeShawn Sims shoots 105 points higher than he did in Beilein’s first season, and he’s added an additional rebound per game for the past few years.

    My point? Players get BETTER with Beilein. He showed this at WVU, and he’s shown this in his 2 off-seasons in Ann Arbor.

  • It should also be noted that much of our current freshmen were recruited under the specter of U of M’s abysmal 10-win season – not the NCAA year.

  • Junderground

    TWEETER, thanks for the comments on weightlifting and shooting. That’s certainly the most insight into a possible explanation for this team I’ve seen.

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