Game 24: Michigan at Minnesota Post Game

Dylan Burkhardt

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Just when you start to forget it this team has a tendency to remind you that, at times, they really can play good basketball. Michigan handled Minnesota on the Gophers’ home floor in one of their best performances of the year.

Minnesota has been struggling almost as much as the Wolverines over the last couple weeks but I’m still surprised that Michigan could put together this impressive of a performance. Michigan has been through some brutal losses over the last couple weeks; everything from late game collapses and missed buzzer beaters to blowouts. Playing for little more than pride and an NIT berth, Michigan responded.

Michigan must have had a good week in practice because they looked as well prepared as they have in a while. They executed their game plan to a T and played inspired basketball on both ends of the court. In short, they played the way they are capable of playing.

Michigan shot the ball extremely well, especially in the second half (68%). Their 56.7/50/50 (eFG/2pt/3pt) shooting line was one of the best they have had in quite some time. For the second game in a row, Michigan didn’t focus their attack on the three point shot, shooting only 14 of 52 field goal attempts from three point range. Instead they focused their interior attack on the two man game between Sims and Harris; six of Harris’ seven assists were to DeShawn Sims. Another sign that Michigan was playing crisp offense is that 20 of their 26 made field goals came off of assists.

The biggest difference in this one was that Michigan won the turnover battle in a landslide. Michigan turned the ball over on only 13.6% of their possessions while Minnesota coughed it up on 25.4% of theirs. Minnesota’s pressure defense forces a 25% turnover percentage on the year so Michigan deserves credit for holding onto the ball.

Defensively, Michigan looked very good despite allowing Minnesota to shoot a very respectable 52.4/48.1/41.2. Minnesota was also able to get to the line, especially in the second half. Their free throw rate (FTA/FGA)  for the game was 52.3% and it was an astounding 160% in the second half. Despite shooting well, Minnesota only scored 1.06 points per trip compared to Michigan’s 1.20 PPP (second best all year).

Despite Associated Press reports to the contrary, Michigan ran very little 1-3-1 zone. I actually can’t recall Michigan using the zone until the very last possession or two of the game. Bobby Knight also managed to mention Michigan’s affinity for the 1-3-1 zone countless times during a game where Michigan ran “100% man-to-man”. At this point I’m convinced that Michigan could not run the 1-3-1 zone all year and they would still be considered a “zone” team.

It was a good win for Michigan especially after the last couple weeks of frustrating and even embarrassing losses. But let’s not make Minnesota out to be something they’re not. Minnesota has lost five of seven games and beat writer Myron Medcalf penned a blog entry after the game about Minnesota’s lack of desperation that’s eerily similar to things that have been said about Michigan over the course of this trying season.

Michigan gets a little more time off before trying to make it two in a row with a road game at Iowa next Tuesday.


Player Bullets:

  • DeShawn Sims: Sims started the game slowly, he was benched early and was only 2 of 6 from the field with 2 turnovers. In the second half he was dominant: 10 of 12 for 21 points. When things are going well for Sims he is almost unstoppable, however most of his offensive play in Minneapolis was thanks to Manny Harris who found him time and again.
  • Manny Harris: Manny Harris found his offensive game tonight. He didn’t shoot the ball exceptionally well (5-14) but he played a tremendous all around offensive game.  He consistently managed to drive the lane and either got to the free throw line or found DeShawn Sims for an easy basket. Manny’s defense still leaves a lot to be desired. He lost his man (especially Hoffarber) several times when he was caught ball-watching and he actually go pulled for i early in the second half.
  • Darius Morris: It appears that the kid might have finally found his stride: 5 points, 5 assists, 2 turnovers, 3 rebounds. Darius played by far his best game of the season. He controlled the offense, hit shots when he needed to, and made a few highlight dishes. Morris needs 30 minutes and the ball in his hands every night from here on out.
  • Stu Douglass: Douglass didn’t shoot the ball well but he had 5 steals, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, no turnovers, and one of the prettiest backdoor cuts of the entire season.
  • Zack Novak: Nothing particularly exceptional from Novak but he really has to find a way to stay out of foul trouble.
  • Zack Gibson: 8 points in 9 minutes for the big fella on 3 of 3 (2-2 3pt) shooting. It is a huge boost when Michigan can get that kind of a boost out of Gibson. In total Michigan got 35 points out of the five position.
  • Anthony Wright: When you are a backup, it’s probably a good sign when there isn’t much to say about your play. Wright was forced to play a little extra because Novak was in foul trouble and he didn’t stand out and even picked up two assists.
  • Laval Lucas-Perry: Laval just isn’t competent enough with the ball in his hands to even see the floor against a team like Minnesota. I would be surprised to see Laval get many minutes down the stretch.
  • Loving the Blue

    Solid game. For me I was most impressed with the how easily they broke the press and turned it into easy points. Really surprised Minn stayed with it so long. Taking the two charges on the def side of the fast break was great!

    Dylan, Love the site. Just a thought for the off-season, would love to know how the actual records in conference match to the predictions from the different blogs. Anyone can make predictions, but did anyone come close. I know PennSt was way off on their.

  • AG2

    Now we take the weekend off, plenty of rest and prep time for that game @ Iowa on Tuesday night. Come to think of it, Michigan has a lot of time between its games for the rest of the season.

    I’d love to see Michigan win its next 3 @ Iowa and Penn State and Illinois at home.

  • KDavis

    I agree that D-Mo should get a bulk of the minutes. I truly feel he’s going to have a great career at UM. It took him longer to catch up to the game speed than I had expected, but I get overly excited about recruits anyway.

    I’m curious about LLP. I remember when he became eligible last season. He put together a few nice games early and I thought we had a consistent 3rd scoring option. He faded (except for the huge game against IU) and he has all but disappeared this season. His confidence seems wrecked. Stu made a comment early in the season about not knowing his role. It often appears LLP is in the same boat. Stu might have found his spot at the 2. He looks more comfortable without having to do a bulk of the ball handling.

    Looking ahead to next year, I don’t see LLP being much more than a role player, spelling Darius or Stu for a few minutes a game. Any thoughts on his role from here on out?

  • At the beginning of the season there was talk of Michigan pushing the ball a little; we saw some of that last night, and D Mo brings promise of three more years of it. Tubby said his guys were winded a little into the second half. Also–to add to Dylan’s observations–M was hitting from everywhere on the floor, as well as finding lots of lanes. When the opponent has to guard the whole team it’s a different game.

    Maybe as a backup at the point LLP will settle into his role. We know he can dribble, and that he can hit the three–he saved the team’s bacon several times last year. Like the whole team, he has looked depressed out there at times.

  • fresh

    anytime they can get a few baskets from gibson they win………

  • JRose

    One stat I really like: 20 assists on 26 field goals! Let’s put together a little streak here. Go Blue!

  • It certainly was nice to hear the love for Morris coming from Bobby Knight. I trust his opinion on basketball almost as much as I disregard his opinion on wardrobe. Morris is going to be a special player at Michigan, especially when he’s surrounded with shooters and slashers.

  • Blazerine

    Props to Darius. He should start in every game here on out. He provided a SOLID handle. He didn’t turn it over and he consistently broke full-court pressure that Stu and LLP are not capable of replicating.

    IMO he brings what Kelvin Grady brought us last season and that’s quickness and handle that can be used to start fast breaks, get transistion baskets or in the case of last night, prevent the press from causing us problems and actually use IT to our advantage by being crisp with the ball and passing to the open guy for easy buckets. Nice behind the back pass to Manny. The kid is going to be solid. Even more so once he gets into the feel of bringing more scoring to the table but right now, he gets stu and llp off the ball where THEY need to be to hit jumpshots and be effectively offensively. Darius is my MVP last night. But big props to Manny and Peedi for playing hard and the team overall.

    Too bad they waited to put it all together when there is nothing left to play for….

  • MichaelP

    Darius Morris was very impressive/patient breaking the press. And I think his defense has improved as the year has gone on (he took a really nice charge in transition, comes to mind). I think when Michigan picks and chooses when to shoot 3s they are a much better team, instead of 50% of the FGA being 3’s, I really like it at about 1/3 of FGAs.

    Gibson = a microwave on offense hahah.

  • Mike

    Any chance u think if we win the rest of our games and lose in the conference tourney finals we get in?

  • Mill

    @ Mike: No.

    Do you honestly believe this team will win out?

    Come on, man.

  • Mike

    Mike, if we win the rest of our regular season games, we would be in period. 5 out of 6, plus semifinals would also get us in. Are we going to do that? No.

  • big poppa

    this season may be mathematically over but many important things are to come this year. 1. we should beat iowa and penn state and then we can split OSU MSU Illinois and Minnesota, finish 9-9 in the big ten. 2. will Harris leave or come back.
    3. will jon horford and or trey zeigler come to michigan.
    4. if all goes well our line-up next year would be Morris Zeigler Harris Horford and Stu/novak/smotyrcz.
    That lineup would be very tall (if smotyrcz started) which beilien hasnt done before at michigan. 6-4, 6-5, 6-5, 6-9, 6-3/6-5/6-8.

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