Game 22: Michigan at Northwestern Post Game

Dylan Burkhardt

The last month or so has been littered with games where Michigan reminds you how good they could have been. In this one, Michigan reminded us how bad they really are.

Northwestern dominated Michigan in all facets of the game in what was easily one of the worst performances in Michigan’s 11-11 season.

Michigan didn’t hit shots but most of all they didn’t defend. The Wildcat offense walked all over Michigan, scoring 1.19 points per possession with a 65.2/57.7/50 (eFG/2pt/3pt) shooting line. The worst effective field goal percentage that Michigan has allowed this year.

The StatSheet graphs pretty much tell the story here:

Michigan played with Northwestern for a while but when both teams went cold, Michigan froze. Northwestern eventually found their stride again and blew the lid off the game.  The game was tied 27-27 with 6:40 left and then Michigan disappeared. They missed 7 of their final 8 shots in the half and from that point on they shot just 21.9% (7 of 32) from the field.

DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris were brutal. Sims wasn’t in it defensively and Luke Mirkovic took advantage, scoring 12 points with 4 assists. Sims’ offensive game was completely missing in action as well; he made only 2 of 9 field goals for 4 points. Harris got some decent looks but couldn’t buy a basket either, finishing 4 of 14 from the field. One factor that could have affected both Harris and Sims is that Northwestern ranks very highly in “effective height” (12th nationally), a mixture of all the statistics that height results in which includes block percentage, 2 pt defense, eFG% defense, and overall defense.

Novak (1-6 3pt), Douglass (2-5 3pt), and Lucas-Perry (2-5 3pt) weren’t any better. Michigan’s trio of “shooters” made only one three point shot in the final 28 minutes of the game.

I’m not going to go into full player bullets because, quite simply, no one played well. The effort was missing on defense and there was no execution on offense. The entire team looked lethargic and if you don’t show up to play in this conference, you will lose.

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  • maxwell’s demon

    Like the new chart. Only positive thing I can say right now.

  • Junderground

    Excellent post–succinct and right on.

  • Drew

    F life. All I have to say.

  • Math Major

    LLP and Stu each shot 40% from 3; LLP had 3 asts and no TOs; Stu shot 50% from the field. I actually couldn’t watch this game, so maybe the stats are misleading, but while they’re not overwhelming, the whole “we are so bad” routine is getting a little stale. If you want to say nothing, then fine, or if you want to explain why these particular players didn’t play well despite the decent stats, then fine. But this wasn’t very informative.

  • KDavis

    It’s gotten so bad that we now have to look at Northwestern’s 12th ranked “effective height” as an excuse.

    Effective height? Who has all of this time? Wow.

  • Not saying an excuse. But basically effective height means that they do a great job of forcing you into tough shots inside. Something you wouldn’t expect from Northwestern.

  • Mith

    Disappointing for sure. I guess I was still holding out hope for strong finish and sneaking onto the bubble. I am finally able to let that all go and accept that there will be no tourney this year. Oh well. Rare success makes last year’s first round win all the sweeter I guess.

  • KDavis

    I gotcha. I’ve never heard of the term. And, I agree, I wouldn’t expect that out of NW, either. Of course, I haven’t expected anything out of NW ever.

  • maxwell’s demon

    Math Major – There wasn’t much to analyze if you had watched the game. We were just absolutely terrible in the second half. This is the kind of game where a coach doesn’t even bother going over film from the game. Just put them through misery in the next practice and then move on.

  • Giddings

    I thought NW did a remarkable job of collapsing on D. When Peedi caught the ball down low, he was immediately quadruple-teamed and forced into a wild shot or a turnover. Same thing for Manny – when he was able to get in the lane, the defense immediately surrounded him from all sides, usually leading to a turnover. That’s great coaching by Carmody and great commitment/hustle by his players.

    The few times that Peedi and Manny were able to kick it out, our shooters missed wide-open threes. What else is new?

  • DC

    One quibble:

    > Douglass (2-5 3pt), and Lucas-Perry (2-5 3pt) weren’t any better.

    I would take that every night from those two.
    This year, anyway.

    The only “excitement” left this year is whether U-M
    can stay at .500 or be invited to the NIT. I’m not
    sure they have .500 in them. I doubt that they would
    be invited to the little dance at less than .500.
    Yeah, the suspense is killing me.

  • Tom_McC

    Before I get too far ahead of myself, I didn’t see any of the game(had one of my own) but I can imagine what happened. My guess is the game looked very similar to the game UM played vs PSU last year.

    In any event, I’m still of the opinion that no player on this team (except maybe Novak and Peedi) have taken ownership of what is going on the floor. Even when they are playing well, I always feel like there is just something missing with this team. There is no cohesion and it is really disappointing. I really honestly thought Manny and Peedi would take the reigns and lead this team…but that clearly hasn’t happened.

    Basketball is a team game and I’ll never point the finger at any one aspect of the team so don’t take this as me blaming Manny or Sims. It’s just disappointing that no one has stepped to take on the leadership role on game in game about basis.

    It’s sad really. IMO, it’s the difference b/w 11-11 and 14-8 or something to that effect. Even with guys struggling making shots, all it takes is some guys with some nuts to make some key plays in some key stretches and this season isn’t near the nightmare that it has been. Sure 14-8 wasn’t what we expected going into the season, but at least UM would be in legitimate position to make a run at the NCAA’s.

    Obviously, Beilein needs to take some heat for what has transpired this season but I think the players(everyone) need to take a look in the mirror. This thing went south and it didn’t need to and could have been prevented if someone had the nad to take ownership of what goes on during practice and games.

  • Part of the problem with Stu and LLP is that they both started 2 of 2 or 2 of 3 I think… Then they went o-fer after that…

  • AG2

    A sad night all around, but at least Manny doesn’t seem to have quit. His facebook status now says that he’ll never stop grinding. Hopefully we can grind Wisconsin at home on Saturday. Seeing how NW was getting BP fastballs from 3pt range in both games, whether we win will probably be determined by Keaton Nankavil missing wide open shots.

  • TJM

    We sat 7th row behind the Michigan bench. Sims was shooting dirty looks at the coaches for most of the game, we thought because of lack of touches. He just had a bad, bad attitude throughout the game. His teammates definitely missed some chances to post him up early, but he definitely seemed to check out mentally surprisingly quickly.

    Giddings’s comment hit the nail on the head — Nwestern collapsed on defense like no one’s business. About mid-way through the 1st half, Northwestern got hot from behind the arc. I think they literally hit a three on 5 straight possessions, but they couldn’t stop us from scoring, either (though we mostly had twos). We scored by getting to the rim.

    Northwestern adjusted by packing the lane. Sims had a few turnovers and a couple shots blocked because he caught the ball, dribbled once or twice, and tried to force up a shot through a double-, triple-, or quadruple-team. When the defenders recovered to the shooters, we NEVER re-posted the ball to DeShawn. When Sims kicked the ball out, we couldn’t make a basket. Eventually our shooters started hesitating and just plain passing on open, kick-out 3s, giving Northwestern’s collapsing defense plenty of time to recover. That’s how blow-outs are made, boys and girls.

    The one big quibble I would have Dylan’s recap is the idea that “Sims wasn’t in it defensively and Luke Mirkovic took advantage, scoring 12 points with 4 assists.” As I recall this disaster of a game, that big awkward white guy only started scoring after we started switching on picks on the perimeter after they started raining threes. That seemed to be a directive from the coaches, but Mirkovic ended up with at least two to three buckets on post-ups over LLP or another relative midget on a switch. He also got 3 baskets due to a terrible, terrible coaching issue/defensive tactic that I could not understand. We would front (or partially front) that guy in the post. As a back to the basket scorer, he was very awkward and uninspiring. I can’t recall even one occasion where he got position on DeShawn, made a post move, and scored a bucket one-on-one. I don’t think he scored on a back-to-the-basket move on Gibson, either. For some reason, however, we would front him or half-heartedly front him relatively often, so he could just seal out his defender, catch a lob pass over the top of them, and put in an easy lay-up. This happened several times, but we kept employing this flawed strategy. Very frustrating. That Mirkovic kid had one good back door cut for a lay-up (on DeShawn, I believe), but he could easily have been held to 2-4 points if our guards could have fought over screens on threes, our big guys could just show hard and recover (that’s how UCLA always plays defense in that situation), and if we actually made him score back to the basket instead of quasi-fronting him over and over again.

  • Math Major

    Okay, thanks MD and Dylan (and others) for providing a little more info. I’d dvr’d the game and was planning on watching it later but I’m really starting to wonder if I shouldn’t find a healthier way to spend the hour.

  • JB

    Game Summary: They wanted it more than we did
    Notes: I am now worried we might not make the NIT. We need Jon Horford and Trey Zeigler, badly.

    novak, douglass, LLP, vogrich, etc. have the level of talent to play in the big ten. each of them should be a 7th or 8th man though. watching mirkovic (or whatever his name was) having his way in the post was a perfect example of why we just can’t start a 6’5″ pf, as much as I respect novak’s game.

  • jds

    I was at the game…pretty brutal. Probably the most entertaining thing was watching Blake Mclimans not even listen in the huddle during timeouts. He was more interested in seeing the little competitions they had set up and would bring on the court(i.e. musical chairs, make shots from different areas get $50 bucks, layup competitions). Yea he’s redshirting, but c’mon man!

  • dwb

    Speaking of the backdoor (which NW ran very effectively) and moving in the lane, it seems to me that all the cutting and movement without the ball that UM is doing is without purpose. We’ve got guys cutting through the lane on nearly every possession, yet they cut without calling for/wanting the ball, and we never hit the cutter in the lane. If Manny or Stu hit Novak a couple of times as he cut through the lane, that’d go a long way to collapsing the D and allowing for longer open looks from the outside.

    And why doesn’t Novak ever drive to the hoop? Beilein must recognize that he’d at least draw some fouls, if not score, and Novak can come up with some energy down under (which we need!)

  • michigan fan

    I am pretty sure you must be at least .500 to be invited to the NIT. I am not optimistic we can make it. Of course there is always the CBI tournament and I think last year there was actually a 4th post-season college basketball tournament as well.

  • maxwell’s demon

    TJM and Giddings – I think Deshawn is really good 1v1 whether he’s working for his little fade away or making a real post move but he’s really not good when the interior collapses. The same thing happened at IU. Whenever he gets it he immediately tries to make a move. He never backs down his opponent, kicks it out, reposts and then tries again. Or he never waits a second for a cutter. It’s really effective on him and I don’t get why teams don’t do it more, we clearly can’t hit 3s.

  • JimC

    Drew! I just hope you didn’t lose any money on this team. And take note all you college kids: DON’T BET ON SPORTS.

    Save that until you’re really old, or really rich, or dumb, or all three.

    This post for entertainment purposes only.

  • JRose

    Worst part about the game: My father, a diehard IU fan, said, “At least we play hard” ouch, that one hurt!

  • Drew

    Haha I usually don’t bet on Michigan sports because I feel my awful luck is a guaranteed jinx. That being said, as gambling expert JamieMac will tell you, this Michigan team has actually been covering the spread quite a bit lately, and have been very profitable for those betting on them consistently.

    But I’ve stayed away. Don’t gamble too often, and when I do it’s nothing too outrageous. I love it so much I just can’t stay away completely.

  • AG2

    Wow, JimC, you bet on Michigan? Isn’t it a cardinal sin to bet on your team? I for one have been burned by Baylor (losing to Colorado? Really?) and by Syracuse (their only loss, and it was at home to Pitt)

  • Erik

    Ok, off topic a bit, but I saw this on the NW Pre-game comments and I’m just tired of hearing it: “Fire Belein, we can do better”. Look, this team has underperformed, but firing Beilein is NOT the right answer.

    I emailed Dylan hoping he could do this as an offseason analysis, but I want to get my point out there now because I’m tired of the people turning on Beilein, especially those who were late to support him last year.

    The year Beilein was hired, several schools in the Big Ten filled vacancies. You had Lickliter to Iowa, Smith to Minnesota, Sampson to Indiana off the top of my head. Look at those coaches and what they’ve done in the same period as Beilein.

    Iowa sucks. Smith loads up on creampuffs, but his team always folds. Now he has this Royce White fiasco to deal with in addition to the earlier issues. Sampson got fired, and Crean is STILL trying to clean up the mess with an awful team.

    Look, things could be worse! UofM at least got to the NCAAs with Beilein once already, and despite our down year, we are as good, or better than these programs already mentioned.

    Painter, Izzo, and Bo Ryan are elite coaches with elite teams, it’s going to take awhile to catch up to them. But for the rest of the conference, I think Beilein is the cream of the crop. Even Bruce Webber has gone down hill over recent years.

    When you ask yourself “Could it be worse?” I emphatically say “Yes it can!”. Let’s keep consistency and see what Beilein can do over the next 2-3 years. Let him live out most (or all) of that contract.

  • JB

    Erik – great post. not to mention, great teams and great coaches have off years.

    Look at Roy Williams at UNC right now. is roy williams a bad coach? no. does UNC have bad talent? no.

    Every team has off years. I’m more amazed that we made the tourney last year than i am that we are missing it this year.

    the best is yet to come. people calling to fire beilein are just wrong.

  • Alex

    We haven’t missed it yet. There isn’t really hope for an at-large bid since we probably aren’t sweeping the rest of our games. But the BTT truly is a new season. They just need to use these games as an opportunity to get better and gain some confidence. Also, they could try to win five to lock up an NIT bid in case the BTT doesn’t work out.

    Beilein definitely deserves the fan base’s support for the near and medium terms. Erik and JB had great posts so no need to elaborate.

  • JimC

    I’ve never bet on UofM in anything.
    I did lose $20 at the Blackjack table on a cruise ship last month. Figured it was my one chance to play Blackjack with my Dad.

    Well Dylan should put a UMHoops bracket thing together next month, then we all put in $5, and Dylan gets his 4% or whatever. Then I would bet on sports.

  • Drew

    I was never saying you bet. I think AG2 just misunderstood your advice to me on avoiding gambling.

    Anyways, I’m going to let the pessimist in me vent for a second. Can we please stop with the “winning the Big Ten Tournament” talk? Look, I love this team as much as all of you, but it’s just not happening. This team has played 22 games and hasn’t hardly come close to “clicking” for even 2 games in a row, let alone four!

    The thought of going on the road (neutral, I guess) and winning important games four days in a row is well… preposterous. This team folds in big games. I don’t like to say it, but it’s true. I’ve seen it happen way too many times this year.

    We’re not winning the Big Ten Tournament. Not entirely sure we’ll even make the NIT. It’s time to cut our losses and start looking toward the future. Holding out hope for these scenarios just makes it hurt even more. I tried telling myself before the loss last night that we REALLY could go 7-2 the rest of the way and dance. In a way I’m almost glad they lost because it forced me to face reality. This year sucks, and it’s time to move on.

  • eddie

    And before the “bring back Amaker” clowns come back out of the woodwork, it’s interesting to see that things really haven’t changed for him. Just like when he had UM on the brink of the bubble in his third (fourth?) year and then the squad imploded down the stretch, his Harvard squad, after receiving crazy national press in the last two weeks entering their showdown with Ivy leading Cornell, absolutely bricks it and loses by 30+

  • AG2

    In honor of Signing Day (Rodriguez better hope this Dorsey guy is an instant impact defender) I went to ESPN’s basketball recruiting page. Beilein has 2 Top 100 guys for next year and a Top 60 guy for 2011. That’s pretty impressive for a guy who allegedly can’t recruit.

  • pgrom

    Beilein was hyped as an offensive guru but here we are in year 3 with an offense that stinks and appears to be getting worse. Last night was atrocious.

  • Erik

    While I defend Beilein, I agree with Drew. This team will not win the Big Ten Tourney. They haven’t played ONE complete games this year let alone four in a row. I understand fans job is to support the team but realistically this season is already over. I’m looking forward to next year already.

  • Alex

    You’re probably right. At the same time it ain’t over till it’s over. This team has the potential. MSU got embarrased at the Kohl Center. We could have/should have won the game. I think this Saturday will tell us if that was a fluke or at the very least will be informative. Also the team should know at this point that their only realistic shot is the BTT. Maybe they will give it their all instead of folding like I believe they did during Tuesday’s game.

    I also think next year could be special if Manny stays (and is commited to the team) and we land Zeigler and/or Horford. Enough about next year for now though.

  • JimC

    Drew – i agree with all that.

  • Larry Y


  • ToBlav

    Lots of good discussion. I’ve had a hard time remembering stay emotionally stable, several points above have helped. It is a seniors league and one thing that gets overlooked is that we are the youngest team in the Big Ten. Also we were coming off a tough rivalery game, which by the way State didn’t come off of any better than we did.

  • AG2

    Didn’t Juwan Howard Jr. commit to Western? Do we play them next year?

  • Junderground
  • Pete

    If anything, if looking at Beilein’s first 3 years in AA it should switch the last 2 around and this should have been the year we finally made the tourney, while last year realistically .500 and the NIT would have been fine. That’s the way it was at West Virginia 1st year awful, 2nd year better NIT third year, back in the Big Dance. Basically they just got one year ahead of themselves. Michigan hoops will be fine, especially with Harris probably returning next year.