Game 20: Michigan State at Michigan Post Game

Dylan Burkhardt

image sims-final-shot

Michigan battled the higher ranked and more talented Spartans for the entire forty minutes but in the end, like we have seen time and again this year, Michigan came up one basket short.

The bottom line is that Michigan didn’t make their shots in the clutch and Michigan State did. After DeShawn Sims airballed a three pointer from the corner, Kalin Lucas calmly knocked down a 15 foot jumpshot from the elbow to put the Spartans ahead for good.

The final two minutes were the killer for Michigan. Leading by three with the ball, Michigan got a terrible Stu Douglass look with time running down on the shot clock that was airballed. On the ensuing defensive possession, Draymond Green grabbed an offensive rebound from right over Douglass’  head for an easy put back.

On Michigan’s next possession DeShawn Sims got a wide open look from three point range that he airballed. The miss was painful but I have a tough time criticizing this shot because Sims had made his last two triples and was three of four on the night. The biggest problem with this possession is that Michigan needed to get a shot off sooner, if they had they could have left themselves more time on offensive after State’s made basket. I think this was the plan, with the hope that Harris would take the ball all the way but Michigan reset the offense and had Douglass penetrate and kick to Sims.

On the final possession, Beilein went with the 1-3-1. I assume the thinking here was to mess up whatever play MSU had set and it seemed to work, for about 15 seconds. Then Lucas found a gap and hit a wide open shot that was eerily similar to one that he hit from the other elbow versus Michigan’s 1-3-1 with 5 minutes to play.

Beyond the final stages of the game, Michigan really couldn’t make any shots. They shot just 32.8% from the field (eFG% 38.8%). Three point attempt after three point attempt clanged off the rim for Michigan. Everyone without Sims on their jersey combined to shoot 4 of 24 from three point range, 16.6%. If they could have shot even close to their season average they would have won this game easily.

It’s tough to beat anyone when you shoot that poorly. It’s even tougher to beat a top 10 team. Still, Michigan caused enough turnovers (30% of MSU’s possessions) that they were actually leading throughout much the contest.

Michigan has been playing much better defense than they were earlier this year and although it was a couple months too late, it was great to see the defensive intensity today. Thanks mostly to the turnovers, Michigan held Michigan State to only .928 points per possession. The only teams who have done better against Michigan State this year defensively were Texas and Wisconsin.

DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris weren’t particularly efficient but they were really all that Michigan had going for them. They nearly carried Michigan to victory without any help from the so called role players, who were invisible on the offensive end. Stu Douglass, Zack Novak, Darius Morris, and Laval Lucas-Perry were nothing short of brutal. If just one of those guys manages to hit more than one three point shot, Michigan would have been in great shape.

A lot is made about how Michigan shoots too many three pointers, and they took exactly half of their shots from three point range last night. However the real issue is that, beyond Harris and Sims, no one else has any ability to create or make shots inside the arc. There is no one else that can penetrate, no one else with any midrange game, no one else with a back to basket game, and no true distributor. The other three players on the floor have to take some shots and three point range is really the only place that Michigan’s complementary players are comfortable shooting.

At times this year, questions of Michigan’s effort have crossed my mind. Last night there were no such questions, Michigan gave everything they had for forty minutes. They just weren’t good enough to come away with the win. Michigan is now 10-10, and if you were to ask for a worst case scenario before the season it might not have even been this bad.

Two final things. First, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Michigan State go “big” the next time around. The Nix and Roe lineup had great success and I think they would benefit from going with bigger lineups at times. Second, I wish my article about Michigan State having the “killer instinct” wasn’t true, sadly we got a large dose of it last night.

harris-summers harris-shot imageimage

Player Bullets:

  • DeShawn Sims: Peedi wasn’t at his best, scoring 19 points on 7 of 18 (3-5 3pt) shooting with 5 rebounds. He couldn’t hit any of his shots near the hoop and despite hitting a couple threes, he airballed the one the corner three that could have sealed the game. Sims has played some of his best basketball over the last month, and despite it being a couple months late, it would be great to see him finish the season at this level as well.
  • Manny Harris: Harris was excellent down the stretch. He had 16 points on 5 of 13 (1-5 3pt) shooting with 5 steals, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 0 turnovers. My only complaints are about a couple questionable three point attempts and that I would have liked to see Harris keep the ball on the possession that resulted in an ugly Douglass jump shot. Otherwise Harris was phenomenal and he responded to Michigan State’s run in the middle of the second half with his own.
  • Stu Douglass: Stu has begun penetrating the lane but his fear of taking the ball all the way to the hole for a layup is maddening. Instead of getting fouled or making a layup, Douglass typically ends up trying to make Steve Nash-esque passes that tend to be intercepted. 1 of 5 three point shooting with 3 turnovers is simply not good enough.
  • Laval Lucas-Perry: Laval played decent defense but he BADLY missed a couple wide open looks from three point range. He is supposed to be a shooter and if he’s going to be a shooter he has to hit open shots.
  • Zack Novak: Novak had 5 of Michigan’s 6 offensive rebounds (how many of his wild tips counted as offensive boards?). The offensive rebounds were nice but like Douglass and Lucas-Perry, it’s time for Novak to start hitting some shots.
  • Darius Morris: He missed his only three point shot attempt off the side of the backboard. His length is a nice asset on defense but he is just not a threat on the offensive side of the ball.
  • Zack Gibson: Gibson had a nice shift in the first half but got dunked on in the second.
  • Anthony Wright: Wright hit a three but he was still the same old poor defender and mediocre rebounder.
  • Jim Burr: It was Burr’s 7th Michigan game this year but he finally wore down and busted his back. That 32nd year officiating will getcha.

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  • beileinomics

    Alex, at this point, winning 9 out of the last 10 games is probably 99.999999…9999% impossible. I think that we should focus on winning our home games or at least staying competative in them in order to gain favorable NIT positioning. However, when the BTT roles around, we’ve got nothing to lose. Winning 3 or 4 games could certaintly be possible if we give it our all and if we achieve that, suprise, we get an automatic bid. If not, then I’ll be just fine with the NIT. At least we tried.

    Regarding Manny and Sims, I would agree that Sims is currently our most important player right now. What I’m curious about is if Sims will get a spot on the All-Big Ten first team this year.

  • Alex

    I hope Sims gets it he has been playing great this year.

  • Paul F.

    I hope Deshawn Sims gets a chance at the NBA.
    He’s got to be my favorite wolverine. Plays his butt off. Sims, is the kind of player, I’d do a road trip to go see him play. Doesn’t matter where he will be. I’ll go cheer for him.

  • Drew

    I like this guy’s take on the Lucas elbow. This is definitely worth a read for everyone. The more I watch the video, the more I’m convinced that this elbow was way higher than it needed to be and he should have been ejected. Didn’t feel that way at the time, but I do now. Favorite line from the article… “Props to Chris Kramer for selling it well and simultaneously throwing away his manhood.” LMAO.

  • There is no way in hell that Lucas should be suspended for that elbow. The only thing that I could have seen would be having him assessed with more than just a personal foul.

  • Am reading through recent posts and found myself wondering just how big a problem the established B10 style of play might really be for Beilein down the line. It’s more than just a lunchbucket ethos that’s now almost set in stone; it’s the way refs call or do not call the game. Can offenses based on finesse or flow succeed here? Would a Duke, for ex., succeed here? (I know their O is, in the end, quite different, but.)

    Bobby Knight DID succeed here, of course. (Even though Keith Smart is remembered for a long shot from the corner, I seem to remember him making millions of mid-range shots.) Maybe you have to have really superior talent. Maybe super-agile guys who produce a lot of layups from the defense, back door plays that evolve from good three-point shooting, maybe it all comes together. I have to learn more about the game to understand better, but it’s kind of a fascinating question.

    Guess w. Beilein’s new ironclad lifetime contract we’re gonna find out! Or maybe I’m completely wrong and it’s not an issue; as Dylan says, couple of made shots here or there and the team is an easy NC2A entry this yr, the coach is a genius. . .

  • Drew

    I suppose a suspension is not warranted, but I don’t think an ejection from that game would have been THAT outrageous. Seriously, look how intentionally high he comes up with that!

    And I’ll be the first to admit I hate MSU, especially the thuggery displayed by Lucas/Morgan every game… constant chest pounding, and I swear, Raymar’s lip is permanently stuck in that upright position, when he gets fired up from making a lay up? Congrats, you had a big impact in a game for the first time in two years!

    But I don’t think I’m being that biased when I watch that elbow. How is it not on par with/worse than Manny’s? Shouldn’t there be some sort of precedent used?

  • I agree with the ejection precedent concept. Especially because people overall seemed to be OK with Harris getting ejected. That argument stands.

    I was more referring to the suspension idea. Harris was not suspended and didn’t deserve to be. Same with Lucas. When you have someone intentionally elbowing someone like Novak on PJ Hill, that’s when they deserve a suspension.

  • bird

    (…and a Christmas card.)

  • JimC

    Don’t know about you guys, but i want closure, and to move on.
    Hey Dylan, when’s the IA preview coming, or some Friday links, or some rumors about Zeigler, or something about the Vancouver Olympics. Anything?

  • Drew

    I’d like to see PJ Hill take about 5 more elbows before his pathetic playing days are done. Same with Kramer.

  • Got a link post coming up soon. Preview later probably.

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