Game 30: Michigan at Michigan State Post Game

Dylan Burkhardt


Outhustled. Outmuscled. Outrebounded. Outshot. Outplayed.  Dominated. Michigan State had control of the game from start to finish and the result was never in doubt.

Michigan State imposed themselves on the game. They made sure they they were playing at their pace and in their style. The Spartans backed down Michigan’s undersized four and five players and just willed their way to rebound the few shots that they missed. Most of all, they played absolutely suffocating defense. For the first 30 minutes or so of play, Michigan couldn’t get a clean look at the basket.

DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris were completely neutralized. Michigan’s players seldom looked confident enough to take the few shots when they were almost open, and countless possessions ended up with desperation shots as the shot clock wound down.

Raymar Morgan (22 points on 10/15 shooting, 10 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 assists, 1 block) completely dominated the game. A good five minutes or so into the second half, Morgan still had more points by himself than Michigan had as a team. Morgan is just one of many power forwards that have simply exploited Michigan’s lack of size at the four.

Michigan came out extremely flat but it was also clear that Michigan State brought their ‘A-game’. The result was obviously not pretty… especially from my seat in row 19 of section 216 (yeah, that’s the top). There’s not really anything positive to take from the box score either. Just an assortment of ugly stats:

  • Michigan’s shooting line (2pt/3pt/eFG) was 50/19/39.5. Michigan State’s was 45.6/42.9/48.1.
  • Michigan State rebounded 46% of their missed shots for 16 second chance points. Michigan rebounded a meager 26.7% of their misses, which is just a tad below their season average.
  • The most disheartening statistic was Michigan’s 19 turnovers (30.7%). Michigan is obviously one of the best teams in the country at holding onto the ball, but they have had their black-eyes this year. The home game versus Northwestern (29.6%) and the game at Purdue (23.9%) were their two worst performances before today. Michigan had to win the turnover battle by a significant margin if they were going to have any shot in this game.
  • Sticking with the turnovers… Michigan’s starting guards (Morris and Douglass) combined for 9 turnovers. They had 9 turnovers between the two of them in the last five games combined.
  • Manny Harris’ frustrating season hit rock bottom. 4 points (1-10 shooting), ZERO rebounds, 5 assists, 3 turnovers. Harris’ season has steadily veered off the tracks since his season opening triple double versus Northern Michigan. His rebounding numbers have also fallen off a cliff, I’m not sure how you can play 33 minute sand not grab a single board.
  • DeShawn Sims wasn’t much better. He missed a number of layups and was outplayed by Derrick Nix. It was one of those days where Sims just didn’t have it.
  • Zack Gibson looked like he was the only one that wanted to play, even if most of his production came once the game was well out of hand. 10 points (2-3 shooting) with 4 rebounds and 2 steals.
  • Darius Morris didn’t manage a single assist and had five turnovers but he also made a few nice plays and did a decent job containing Kalin Lucas (10 points, 2-8 shooting, 2 asst).

I’m sure these quotes from Izzo and Beilein’s presser will get plenty of play over the next couple days. There’s no doubt that MSU plays a different brand of basketball. There’s no denying that they grab you a lot. There’s also no doubt that they are going to be allowed to play that way.

Related to physical play, I think the most appalling thing here is just how much bigger and stronger Michigan State’s players are. There are only three players on the MSU roster under 200 pounds (Lucas, Lucious, and Dahlman) and two of them are 6-foot and under. Michigan’s roster is littered with guys under 200 pounds including Harris, Douglass, Lucas-Perry, and Morris. There is a striking difference between wing players like Allen and Summers compared to Harris at 185 is a striking difference. Sims (235) consistently was pushed around by MSU post players like Green (235), Roe (230), and Nix (280). I don’t think it would be wrong to raise some sort of strength and conditioning question, but Michigan has had three different S&C coaches over the last three seasons so who knows where to begin.

Next up: Iowa on Thursday in Indianapolis (2:30 PM ESPN2). This is the third year in a row that Michigan has played Iowa in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. Michigan won both games in Indianapolis and is 2-0 versus Iowa this year. Full Big Ten Tournament bracket.

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  • Dylan you must be a masochist to be burning the late night oil after today.

  • EchoWhiskey

    Before the “Beilein-ball won’t work in the Big Ten” comments begin, let’s remember that the Big East lets a lot of physical play go too and he was successful there. That said, I think the state of officiating is deplorable in the Big Ten. I totally agree with Beilein’s comments. It’s bullshit the holding and grabbing that those guys got away with. And yes, Dylan, they’re going to be allowed to play it because we have the same guys doing games every time. Perfection isn’t expected, but consistency would be nice. A hold is a hold is a hold. Oh, and someone please explain how that was not a shot clock violation.

    We lost this game because we were an inferior team, not because of the officials. But we wouldn’t have had a chance if the teams were on equal talent levels either.

  • There were some really bad calls both way in the game. Ones where you look at them and can’t figure out how they were or weren’t made. The balance of them going both ways evened out but there’s no doubt that the officiating was dreadful.

    I think there is also something of a truth that the bigger, stronger team gets away with more contact. That’s kind of a rule of thumb in basketball at every level. Just the way it goes.

  • I think that’s a pretty key insight, Dylan, re: physicality in the game. Though you could argue that finesse teams can/do/have thrived in the NBA (witness people’s horror when the Pistons championship teams first came along in the late 80s), it’s especially true of the B10, where whistles might be blown all day long. . . where the crowd, and Izzo, and the established ethos of play are firmly in place. It DOES raise questions about Beilein’s style of play, though, and its potential for success here. And miserable though I am to admit it, this suddenly seems a pretty legitimate topic of conversation.

    Of course, the jury is still out. Of course, the talent and luck are low. But I think that in the next couple of years there will be a verdict. Those verdicts aren’t ever definitive or very satisfying, but. . .

  • Cyrus Ernesto (“Ernie”) Zirakzadeh

    Interestingly, in “UConn-land” local players grumbled about Michigan’s excessively physical play (grabbing, holding, shoving, etc.) after both the 2009 and 2010 games between my Huskies and my Wolverines. (Maybe in the end, physicality is all relative.)

    Much more important in the MSU-UM game was the Wolverines’ complete lack of confidence in their offensive strategy after a few early inside shots went awry. This led to passing endlessly on the outside and to quick Spartan interceptions. If Sims had kept his faith in the offensive system, he could have gone to work on the slower footed and sometimes winded Nix. Then, the fouls would have mounted; the Spartans would not have been able to drape themselves over our shooters; and the game would have been closer throughout.

  • JBan

    From my seat at Breslin, this was an awful UofM showing. I still am hopeful for Beilein and this team, but yesterday was brutal.
    I don’t think it had anything to do with officiating and everything to do with them be better. Better athletes, better prepared, better intensity, better coached.

    I was there an hour before the game and didn’t see Beilein until the team came out a few minutes before tip. The group I was with were amazed out the lack of energy observing in warm-ups.

    MSU after a time out ran a out-of bounds play to score under their basket. Anytime we had the ball under our basket, our play was to through it to the back court. Drives me nuts.

    Our defense has been good the later half of the season, but the offense sets are painful to watch.

    I have lost interest in the B10 tourney, and hopeful next fall brings better things to our programs, cause right now it is brutal.

  • YpsiTuckyBoy

    Dylan/others (on a topic not UM/MSU related since that was a sickening thing to watch, and I’m trying to erase it from my mind)

    Did you catch the Louisville game? One of Louisville’s starting guards was injured early on in the game. A soph, Kyle Kuric, comes in off the bench and drops 22 points on the #1 team in the country, Syracuse. That 22 included some long 3-balls, a two-handed jam, and a sick alley-oop dunk. And the kid is only 6’5″. After seeing a benchie come in and play like that, I looked up his recruiting profile. A 3-star from Evansille, IN, turns out MI was recruiting him hard. Had he come, I assume he might’ve taken Douglass’ scholly.

    Granted, it was one of those games that a player seldom has in his college career. Nonetheless, I wept.

  • Andy

    @Cyrus. I agree that the Big East is in general not as physical as the Big Ten. They seem to get up and run more and there just seems to be much less banging. I think that our two games against UConn the last two years seem to show that maybe UM is better suited for that kind of game.

    And now for my end of the regular season diatribe…

    1. I am still behind Beilein, but I think he needs to make some adjustments if he is ever going to do any better than they are doing in the last three years. His calling card seems to be his ability to develop players and coach fundamentals. I think he should shift his focus from finding niche players for his system, and really focus on getting a higher caliber of athlete. You can coach execution, shooting, and fundamentals. You can’t really coach speed, strength, and athletic ability. You have to think that on the whole, the S&C at all big time universities is about equal. Some guys just don’t have the frames or abilities to become superior athletes.

    2. I think the move of Novak to PF was, on the whole, a failure. I realize that there were not a ton of options, but it really didn’t work out too well. Novak plays hard and I have all the respect in the world for him, but it just doesn’t seem to work. UM was 7-2 last year before LLP became eligible and allowed Novak to move to the 4. Things just haven’t seemed right since then. I would have left Sheppard at the 4 last year and gone with it. This year is a tougher one and I’m not really sure what the answer would have been. I guess the obvious is don’t have Morgan get hurt and use McLimans’ scholarship on someone who could have at least been a space filler. I don’t pretend to really have the answer, but this just doesn’t work.

    3. Shooting. I have no actual basis for this, but I think they may have over coached shooting this year. When I play, I know I shoot best without thinking about it and just letting my body do what it knows and what is right. Maybe if they de-emphasized shooting drills and just let them play, they might get into a more natural rhythm and not be psyched out.

    4. I am beginning to hate all the talk of “systems” in the football and basketball program. A good coach knows that there are several different ways to win games and gets himself educated in those different philosophies. You can recruit to a goal team make up, but at the beginning of every season and every game, you should look at your team and your opposition, and put your guys in the best possible position to win. These guys are paid millions of dollars and I don’t think they should put themselves and their systems ahead of the best chance of success for the players.

  • Sid

    It DOES raise questions about Beilein’s style of play, though, and its potential for success here. And miserable though I am to admit it, this suddenly seems a pretty legitimate topic of conversation.

    I agree with this and might even argue that this loss is a low-water mark in Beilein’s tenure so far. Three years in, the team came up short yesterday in every conceivable way: talent, execution, effort and ideas. If you felt Beilein was helping Michigan gain ground on the Big Ten’s top-tier teams before yesterday, this game has to give you pause for thought.

    On the positive side, Morris continues to prove that, at least physically, he belongs at this level. Also positive is that at least four of the teams the B10 is sending to the tournament are going to be VERY tough outs, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they fare.

  • Jake

    i say during the tournament Beilein should play Gibson a ton the last few games he has shown that he is a threat to score. I would also like to see Vogrich get some more minutes when Darius is at point and stu would normally be at sg. I know he is a defensive liability but i feel like he could go off from behind the arch at any time

  • Old Style

    Bring on Iowa, I’m done thinking about this game.

  • jvblaha

    No Big Ten team has won a national championship since 2000, and I think that will continue as long as the officiating in the Big Ten remains so horrendous. To do well in the Big Ten you have to play in a manner that is not allowed by refs in other conferences. At some point during an NCAA run you’ll run into refs from the ACC or PAC-10 and not be able to play that way. Happens every year.

  • AG2

    Its like I’ve been saying before: MSU and Wisconsin have been the two most successful programs in the Big Ten over the last 10 years, and that sets the tone for the rest of the Conference. Do you really think Wisconsin can play defense they way they do without fouling? Do you think its a coincidence they’re such a phenomenally good home team? No, its because they get away with stuff.

    That being said, its important to remember that Ed Hightower, Ted Valentine, and Jim Burr officiate other conferences games too. I remember once seeing Kansas fans made a site detailing their hate for Hightower. Also, I could have sworn it was Jim Burr officiating that 6OT game in the Big East Tournament last year.

  • Pingback: Out of none, Manny: Harris at center of UM Sunday debacle « Great Lakes Hoops()

  • maxwell’s demon

    I agree AG2. Since we aren’t going to be doing anything to change that then maybe Purdue and osu will. I’m so sick of msu.

  • Steve S.

    In reply to JBan’s comment about the play(s) we run from the inbounds: I used to get frustrated like you when we continuously lob the ball into our back court instead of trying to run a play to get an easy basket. I now believe that Beilein feels confident that he can get a good shot by just running our offense and it isn’t worth a possible turnover on a bad inbounds pass in traffic or a 5 second call. Just a guess, but it makes me feel better at least.

  • AA

    A great opening to your article Dylan, and unfortunately oh so true!

    “Outhustled. Outmuscled. Outrebounded. Outshot. Outplayed. Dominated.”

    Great description. And only incomplete in that it did not include Outcoached.

    The Wolverines came out flat against the arrogant asses of Michigan State, when a victory would have prevented a Michigan State Championship.

    Sure there is a talent level difference, but where was the Wolverines fight? Their team mental toughness. They laid that down.

    Their fight must be hidden with their offensive game plan.

    I want to see Beilein raging after a loss, not saying he doesn’t know what to do. His teams flat out do not play well away from Crisler Arena(when not on a neutral court), and that is a coaching problem. I have heard him say he wished a certain game was in Crisler as that would enhance chances.

    Wolverine Fans can tolerate losing if their teams compete, but it gets old fast when their play is an appropriate subject of ridicule.

    I do not want to see this Coach and program fail, and the Coach tossed out, and I will pay my money and keep watching. But at some point there has to be a realistic evaluation of where this program is going and right now it is too obvious that direction is not up.

    I am more and more leaning to the idea that his system can not compete successfully in the Big Ten. Is recruiting where it should be? They can’t recruit bigs that stay healthy or qualify.

    A nice run in the B10 tourney would take some of the heat off now, but how probable is that?

    Now if Iowa whips them, Wolverine fans will rightfully howl!

  • Tweeter

    The officials were awful yesterday but clearly UM loses this game no matter if they call every foul or no fouls. The two big bad calls that stood out to me were the travel on Gibson early in the game and the shot clock violation on UM. I dont know how they missed those calls. But the most fustrating part of the officiating yesterday was the fact that the game was called tight at the start and then they just stopped blowing the whistle.

    I can live with officials missing calls here and there, or not calling a tight game, but I hate games where they call no fouls for a period of time then start calling every foul. It ruins the flow of the game and players have no idea how they should play. I have noticed this a lot this year in BT play. UM has had several games where only 3 or 4 fouls are called on both teams in the first half, then in the second half the officials call 20 fouls. Its just silly.

    On inbounds plays: UM has run some OBU plays this year but they are limited in the number of plays they can run. Usually UM runs some version of “America’s play.” Which is inbound to the corner, swing it out and then screen the inbounder for a shot in either corner. I’ve noticed them run several different versions of this play this year. A lot of the plays that State runs are designed to get postups for their players. For instance the play yesterday where Morgan inbounded the ball then jumped in for a postup on Douglass. UM doesnt have the players to do this. Its not like you can postup Novak. I remember UM running a screen the screener player early this year, and I believe it was Novak came wide open at the basket, but when he got the ball all he could do was dribble it out because the opposing post player helped over.

    So I think UM tries to run some OBU’s to get shots they can take, its just that they are limited in their options, so most of the time good teams take it away and force them to throw to midcourt.

  • Cyrus Ernesto (“Ernie”) Zirakzadeh, above, makes a good observation. They had a number of early chances, and were really executing; when the shots didn’t fall it just looked like the heart when out of them.

    The bludgeoning is a problem esp. if you’re already under-manned. It would be fun to believe the day might come when M would just come out and rain 3-bombs and doopse in via that back door on those bastards, render some of that cave-man sh*t irrelevant.

    Could be true that Beilein the shooting expert has them over-thinking their shots; sure he’s thought of that too, though.

  • JBan

    Steve S:

    I would feel better about the inbound play if I had the confidence we could get a good shot, but……our offense has shown otherwise.


    I could not agree more about the talk of “systems.” The best coaching staffs are able to adapt to what they have. Our former West Virginia coaches do not be willing or able to do that. I am not sure how that will work in the long run.

  • Tom_McC

    Think we need to back away from the ledge a little here…

    1. @ Home, on Sr. night, playing for a share of the Big Ten Title and in a rivalry game to boot, are we really shocked MSU came out and played as it did? That in no way excuses UM’s performance but in a season where we rarely know what UM team we are going to see, I can’t believe people are THAT surprised. UM did get slaughtered, but at least they didn’t completely lay down…I thought the last part of the 2nd half some guys showed some heart and grit.

    2. You expect your stars, especially your stars from the the state of Michigan to step up in a game like this. If there is anything that was disappointing about yesterday the following was the most disappointing to me:

    Manny and Peedi combine for: 13 Pts, 4/18 FG’s, 0/5 3FG’s, 5/8 FT’s, 9 Rebs, 5 Asts, 6 TO’s in 63 minutes.

    I love both of these guys but those numbers are scary, especially when you consider they are UM’s ‘go to guys’.

    There has been a sect of fans that have been really hard on the supporting cast Beilein has recruited but at the end of the day when push comes to shove, you play through your stars.

    3. Which leads me to, the difference b/w a good and bad year isn’t that significant. It really comes down to handful of plays and UM, for whatever reason, was not able to make the same kinds of plays they did last year. Whether it is shooting 4% points lower on FT’s, whether is the inability to make open shots and/or the inability to secure loose balls or rebounds that might get UM the extra possession it needs to salt a game away or given them the chance to win, it just didn’t happen.

    Obviously, a large portion of this is a personnel issue, but it is also a chemistry and leadership issue.

    On most teams, the oldest and best players are the guys that you need to count on to get you through. Well, I appreciate Sims and Manny’s efforts, but they haven’t fit the bill as leaders of this team. Same goes for the other guys…but it’s hard to get leadership from underclassmen.

    4. I’m staying the course. It’s easy to let the naysayers influence your opinions, but as a Michigan fan all we need to do is look at what happened last year. We had absolutely no reason to expect an NCAA berth(or a NCAA 1st rd win for that matter) and it was delivered. I know there are obvious concerns, but I think as a fanbase, it’s important we continue to openly support this program. I’m not saying there aren’t reasons to doubt the program or that we should give Beilein a pass for this year…it will be a long offseason and I don’t plan on dwelling on the negative and I look forward to focusing on what this team is capable of doing.

  • noah tahl

    Observations: 1. Manny at 185 lbs spread out over 6’5″ cannot handle a push to the hips by someone 205 to 275. 2. If Deshawn starts another first shot of game with a baseline turn around one more time I will puke. 3. Everyone who watches Mich BK knows where the ball is going 90% of the time…ball on the wing to Manny,Manny swings to the key, going right of course,Manny tries to go to the basket, Manny gets fouled,Manny gets the call(25 %) or Doesn’t get the call (75% of the time) 4. Too small, too small, too small. 5. Can’t shoot, can’t shoot. 5. Belein does not inspire. I repeat, Belein does not inspire.Whine would be the word to describe his during the game demeanor, while his locker room pep talks are painful.

  • ChrisG

    I think this teams inability to shoot from any range is what has killed us. So much of our game last year was hitting 3s and then backdooring the hell out of people when they were forced to guard us on the permimeter. Not like we were stellar from 3 last year, but the truth is we hit enough to make defenders honest. I can remember maybe one or two backdoor attempts ALL SEASON!

  • Bill

    To me the big question is has this style of play hurt the conference. Can you recruit skilled offensive players to play in the big ten? There are a few but this site tells part of the story:
    The impression nationally is very much affected by the style in the big ten. I’ve been a fan since the mid 70s and this was never the norm. Watch some of the games from the eighties when the conference was at it’s best and had great players all over the conference. Guys played defense with their feet. There were big guys with talent. Things have changed.