Game 7: Harvard at Michigan Recap

Dylan Burkhardt
on
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Photo Credit: AP/AnnArbor.com/DetNews

As expected, this game was no walk in the park for Michigan. Harvard provided the Wolverines with just about everything challenge that they could handle but luckily Michigan had just enough answers.

It looked like Michigan might win this game comfortably as they opened up a 17-10 lead over the first 10 minutes. Harvard answered with a 12-0 run of their own and the Crimson finished the half with a 32-25 lead. It took Michigan 6 minutes to tie the game in the second half, and the Wolverines would only trail for two of the remaining 14 minutes.

Stu Douglass takes the player of the game prize easily. He started the second half and simply caught fire. He was hitting shots from all over the court, on back doors, and even had a nice pass on the fast break. Douglass finished the game with 19 points and is now shooting 48% from three point range for the season. Several of Michigan’s shooters have been inconsistent early on but Douglass appears to have improved his consistency thus far.

Offensively, Michigan continuously shot themselves in the foot by turning the ball over. They coughed it up on 30% of their first half possessions which was the prime reason Harvard went to the break with a lead. The turnover problems were a little better in the second half, 5 turnovers rather than 9, but the biggest difference was that Michigan shot the ball significantly better. Michigan posted an effective field goal percentage of 69% in the second half after posting just a 44% mark in the second half. Michigan didn’t manage to get to the line often, and when they did the results were dismal (5-10 FT).

Defensively, Michigan did just enough as they held Harvard to a very average 1.00 point per possession. Harvard hit some big shots but seemed to cool down from three point range in the second half (39% vs. 31%). Michigan wasn’t able to force many turnovers but the Wolverines did do a good job of controlling the defensive glass, rebounding 73% of Harvard’s misses. Keith Wright was a load for Michigan to handle but they forced him into just enough uncomfortable situations which resulted in five turnovers.

Michigan won’t wait to jump back into action, as they face Concordia College on Monday. The Cardinals are 5-4 in NAIA play this year and naturally won’t pose much of a threat. The only good news about that game is that it won’t count against Michigan’s RPI. Player bullets after the jump.

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Photo Credit: AnnArbor.com

Player Bullets:

  • Darius Morris: He’s not without his flaws, but he is easily the most important player in a Michigan jersey. When Morris is playing well, Michigan’s offense works. Today he had 13 points on 6 of 10 (0-2 3pt) shooting with 5 assists, five rebounds, and four turnovers. The turnovers, mostly a product of trying to do too much, are a problem but they are a fixable problem. He can look for his offense, and has done a great job finishing around the paint, but he’s doing a great job finding teammates and probably should have had more than 5 assists.
  • Stu Douglass: Douglass won this game for Michigan. After scoring just three points in the first half, Douglass poured in 16 in the second half on 6 of 8 shooting. For the game he was 7 of 10 (5-7 3pt) – an eFG% of 95% — for 19 points. Most impressive might be how he took the ball to the hole a little more and hit several shots that he created himself.
  • Zack Novak: 12 points and 11 defensive rebounds for Novak, who didn’t have his best offensive game but managed to knock down a couple big treys. His most impressive play on the offensive end was a drive all the way to the bucket in the final four minutes. Zack played a lot of the four position due to Harvard going with a perimeter heavy offense.
  • Matt Vogrich: Vogrich still has a ways to go but I thought Michigan did a good job of utilizing him. They got him three point attempts off of set plays and he knocked them down. He did miss what should have been an easy backdoor layup.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan had a very tough time guarding Harvard big man Keith Wright. He didn’t have the length to bother Wright’s shot attempts and didn’t have to muscle to hold his ground. Wright is a very good player, but Morgan needs to be a bigger presence on the defensive end. Five offensive rebounds are huge, and he did a good job scoring once he got the rebound, but one defensive rebound in 25 minutes leaves something to be desired.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: Hardaway is struggling, his last four shooting performances are: 3-12, 1-8, 3-8, and 1-7. He settles for three point shots a little too often but also tends to pick up charging fouls when he drives. He’s going through a rough time but the next few weeks should be a good portion of the schedule to try to build his confidence.
  • Blake McLimans: This was McLimans best game of his young career. He had a couple buckets, including a nice tip in, but I was most impressed with the defense he played against Keith Wright in the second half. Those were important minutes and Blake did a terrific job.
  • Evan Smotrycz: After his best game of the year versus Clemson, Smotrycz had his worst versus Harvard. He didn’t have his shooting touch (0-5) and struggled on both ends. Smotrycz played just 3 minutes in the second half, and really struggled when Michigan tried to play him at the five versus Keith Wright.
  • Colton Christian: Just four minutes with 2 fouls and a turnover. The offensive foul was kind of cheap but Christian didn’t influence the game in many other ways.
  • Jon Horford: Did not play but he was out getting shots up after the game.
  • jmblue

    Any reason why Horford didn’t play? Just a matchup issue?

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      One thing I’m thinking on Horford is that Wright was so strong down low, he would have pushed Horford around. That coupled with Blake giving some of his best minutes of the season.

  • UMQuasi

    It’s nice to see the team shoot over 38% from 3 against a team that had been defending the perimeter very well.

    Other than turnovers, I thought Michigan played well today. Normally a 3 point home win over an ivy league team would cause me to cringe, but Harvard is a very strong team.

    I’m not as concerned about the inconsistency from Smotrycz and Hardaway as some others. Obviously, as freshmen they will have their ups and downs. Rather than looking for which players can step up and be a 12-15 ppg player, I think we should consider ourselves lucky to have several players who can fill the scoring role in any given game.

    I think Darius will consistently score 12+, then there’s Stu, Novak, Hardaway, Smotrycz, and Morgan who are all capable of scoring 20.

    • Champswest

      I agree, as evidenced by the fact that after only 7 games, 5 different players have been the leading scorer. When Zack gets hot, it will be 6. That is what is nice about having several players than can score instead of having to rely on one or two. It also makes it hard for the other team to game plan against you.

  • drae

    Solid win for the program… The more this team plays together the more they will gel… Rough games by THjr and Smotz but that is to be expected… If we can get the contribtion of everyone, minus the turnovers, we’ll be in most games this year… Hoping that shooting will get better too… Having a starter with NO points really hurts (just ask the Chicago Bulls right now)… Every starter is not going to put up double digits but need to atleast hit the open jumpers and contribute… Good win for a young team… GO BLUE…

  • maxwell’s demon

    Smotz just wasn’t a good match up today. If we can get away with playing a Morris, Stu, Hardaway, Novak, Morgan line up, I think it’s our best. So to me it wasn’t a big negative for him, just Novak was a better fit today. Most games that won’t be true.

  • UMQuasi

    So, I occasionally go on the general Michigan ESPN message board and I was just reading through a Harvard game thread. Good lord, it’s nice to come back here to the land of the sane people.

    Half of the posters were saying that youth is not an excuse (this was when we were losing at half obviously) because in year 4, youth has to be the coach’s fault because he hasn’t recruited players who will stay with the program. The only Beilein recruit who is not playing is Cronin which is obviously not Beilein’s fault–none of his recruits have left the program. I think people think 4th year=4 years of recruits but Beilein’s first class didn’t get here until his second year and he only had a few spots open in the class anyway.

    Sorry, I know I’ve just posted a response to argument no one here was making, I just had to vent and I didn’t want to do it on the ESPN board.

    • Jeff

      This is definitely one of the very few places where you can have a UofM BB discussion with reasonable people.

    • maxwell’s demon

      Even mgoblog for bball is pretty blah.

    • Polisci

      I think talk radio has a lot to do with people’s inability to understand context. Talk radio doesn’t have time for context. They need pithy things like X number of years is all you need to succeed.

    • Kenny

      LLP is a beilein recruit.

      • UMQuasi

        I don’t really consider LLP a Beilein recruit. He wanted to transfer here and Beilein offered him a spot on the team. I don’t consider that the same as recruiting a kid from high school. At any rate, having LLP wouldn’t change the youth issue–we still wouldn’t have any seniors.

      • Beast1530

        Not really, he transferred from Arizona. Not exactly a Beilien recruit.

  • Trevor

    I think the issue with Morgan’s post defense was less an issue of strength and more an issue of footwork – he looked to me to be stronger than Wright, but he had a really tough time dealing with Wright’s drop step.

    If it weren’t for Stu’s berserker 2nd half, this would have been a pretty rough offensive performance. I’m not sure how much they’ll be able to contribute next season, but Burke and Brundidge’s ability to create of the dribble, draw contact, and get shots up in traffic will be a welcome sight.

    • Evan

      I agree Morgan was not even moving his feet wright spn around him about 5 times for easy buckets. CB and Burke shoul give us the penetration that we need for open threes and easy baskets to get us out of long droughts

  • Dylan Burkhardt

    It’s worth noting that Trey Burke’s first game of the year is tonight. I believe Coach Meyer is headed down there to watch him play. We’re going to try to really start ramping up some recruiting coverage now that things are getting underway.

    Michigan high school games begin next week.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Trey Burke had 25 points and 6 assists in a season opening win over Mansfield, 86-48.

      • GrandChamp

        Trey is a beast. Wonder if they got to tour the prison/insane asylum afterwards? lol

      • bmorant

        I was at the game which was obviously a blowout. 25 pts on 8-13 from the field, 3 of 3 from 3 pts. and 6-6 from the line. The kid can flat out play!!!!! And yes, Coach Meyer was in the building sporting his maize and blue in buckeye country…. LOVED IT!

  • wayman britt

    Was nice to pull out a win today. Love it when Stu gets in the zone.

    I hope Hardaway stays positive. I would like to see Beilein run some plays just for him in the beginning of the game, especially something closer to the basket. I don’t think it’s good for Hardaway to shoot corner threes all the time at this point in the season.

    Game attendence was light.

    • John

      I actually found the attendance today to be the best all year so far. Mgoblue.com says it was upwards of 9500. You can’t expect the golds to be filled every week

      • georgeesq.

        9500 is paid attendance. Less than half that actually showed up.

    • CJD

      Agreed! Let him use his length and athletic ability closer to the rim; I highly doubt he averaged 30 plus a game as a senior in high school only bombing from the 3 pt line. It would help if our point guard did not pound the ball on the floor for the first 15 seconds of most trips.

      I think at times that causes the others on the court to stand around and watch; hence no motion in a motion offense.

  • Lyn

    Morgan was playing while ill tonight. Explains so much.

  • gordie bell

    Great game by Stu today and he is capable of more, his physical talent and skill level is pretty darn high. If Stu had a scorers mentality he would have put in 30 today. Assert yourself Stu, you have the best scoring ability on the team.

  • JimC

    Hey where did all the McClimans haters go?

    • Bigfoot

      Still here. You gotta admit, based on the offseason whispers about him, he’s been a pretty major disappointment.

      • Jeff

        I’ll agree he’s been pretty bad, but you have to remember he was a low-3/2 star recruit. He’s a project. However, I think it’s alright to discuss players both good and bad, and as long as you don’t make it personal, it doesn’t make someone a hater.

      • JimC

        Yeah you got a point, considering he won “most improved player”

  • JimC

    Stu was phenomenal, if i spelled that right. Vogrich great too.

    The boys seemed a little flat overall, but a nice win.

  • Bigfoot

    Man, I LOVE Joe’s Horford pic. Great shot

  • Brian W

    Wright was using his elbows and hooked Morgan a couple of times to get around him. Should have been called fouls. The refs finally called a foul on Wright for doing it in the second half.

  • AG2

    I am phenominally proud of the leadership showed by the upperclassmen today. They *REALLY* picked up the young guys like Smotrycz and Hardaway. You can’t expect freshmen to bring it every night. Now we have to work on getting guys confidence up, hitting their shots. This was an important game. This game, along with Utah and Oakland, will tell us what kind of team we have going into Big Ten play.

    • JimC

      What will the Concordia game tell us?

      • Brick

        It will tell me that Concordia is an actual college and they do have a basketball team.

        • Dylan Burkhardt

          They lost to U-M Dearborn over the weekend. I think we can take them. ;-)

          • JimC

            Hey so what is the official record right now? 5-2, or something less b/c of D2 schools?

          • Dylan Burkhardt

            Our official record is 5-2, we haven’t played any D2 schools in real games this year. Even if we beat Concordia, that win counts for your “official record” it just doesn’t count for your RPI.

  • http://waldo78 waldo78

    Any news on why Jon Horford did not play today? I thought we needed an lift from our bench because we looked flat and I thought Horford has been bringing energy when he comes in. Surprised and wondering.

    • ess

      I don’t get it. I would love to see him play with Morgan. Beilen seems to be intent on using only Smotrycz, Christian, and Novak at the four. But none of this guys can bring the shot blocking presence Horford can and he would be especially effective playing next to Morgan because Morgan is so smart defensively and moves well…he just doesn’t have the shot blocking ability Horford has.

      • Mith

        It always kills me when people post stuff like “But none of this guys can bring the shot blocking presence Horford can and he would be especially effective playing next to Morgan”. I have a pretty strong feeling that Beilein knows where Horford fits best and how much he should play. He only sees him everyday in practice.

        • mgocanada

          It always kills me when people shoot down someone’s constructive comment because they’d rather that everyone on the board quietly defer to the “only Coach knows best” viewpoint; there wouldn’t be much discussion here if everybody had that same attitude, now would there? Anyway, JB has shown a lot of flexibility with the lineup and I can definitely see situations on the schedule where Ess’s point makes a lot of sense: think about OSU, with the Sullinger-Lauderdale combo. Novak’s normally gutsy play would be a neutered non-entity against that pair of 6’9 beasts. Horford wouldn’t stop em either, but at least he could get in their face.

          • Mith

            It always kills me when somebody bashes my comment because I have a different viewpoint. Am I not allowed to disagree with someone else’s opinion? Ess is making the statement as if its a fact. Based on what? The two minutes a game that Horford plays? I have a problem when people spout things out like that and fail to see it as a “constructive comment”. I’m not saying everyone needs to go to a Coach knows best viewpoint, but to say Horford is going to make some huge defensive difference is a huge stretch and I don’t have any problem saying so.

    • Jeff

      I think it’s a combo of McLimans finally having a good game, and Harvard playing a small lineup. Not much more to it than that.

      • JimC

        I have absolutely nothing to add to the above debate.

  • ess

    I have to disagree with some of these observations:

    Morgan was not as bad defensively as people are making him out to be. The one defensive rebound is a disappointment but he really forced Wright to work hard for his points. There were plenty of times were Wright just didn’t want the fight and kicked it back out. Michigan’s team defense is 10 times better with Morgan on the court than any of the other big men because he rotates so well. Conversely, our team defense falls apart with Mclimans in the game because he is always getting caught out of position. However, his length did bother Wright in the second half.

    I thought Christian played well in his limited time. He hit the offensive boards hard and kept the ball alive with tips several times, one that directly led to a layup for Morgan.

  • Other Matt

    A couple of observations:

    1) If we can pick up the freshmen when they’re off, like Stu was able to do today, we’re going to win more games than people expected. Its obviously still early, but getting in the NIT would be huge with these guys, being able to have the extra practices and experience in a one-and-done setting.

    2) Did anybody else spend the first half wondering why Michigan’s offensive execution never looked like that during the Amaker era? Good grief, that was frustrating.

  • AG2

    Michigan 3, Maryland 2. After Extra Time. Michigan Soccer advances to the Final Four!

  • Pingback: Rush The Court » Blog Archive » Around The Blogosphere: Where We Decide Titles On The Floor()

  • Deacon Blues

    Regarding Horford: This is just a guess, but it’s possible they’re keeping their options open for a medical redshirt.

    The rule says you can’t play in more than 20% of your team’s games. Horford has played in six. U-M will play 32 games this season, worst-case scenario (meaning a first-round Big Ten loss and no postseason). So if Horford plays one more, he’s over the limit.

    But that’s just a guess. It might just have been matchups or something else. The Concordia game (a likely blowout) should tell for sure.

    • CJD

      Horford is the one young big that would benefit the most of a redshirt. And it would add a big to the next graduation class; which as of right now has zero.

    • ess

      Thanks for the rule update. I was wondering about that.

      I you are exactly right and my guess is he gets redshirted. Beilen probably figures there is no reason force the issue this year when we are probably a .500 club either way. We could get much more value out of a 5th year from him.

  • MaizeNBlueJ

    Torrent of the game is up at BigTenTracker.com:

    http://bigtentracker.com/torrents.php?id=228

  • Beast1530

    Dylan,

    It’s like you said a while ago that Michigan defense has improved leaps and bounds from last season as well as a few seasons before. Michigan is currently #24 in defense and they placed top 15 in eFG%, Offensive Rebound % and FTA/FGA. The only thing that is lagging is forced turnover % which usually a staple of JB’s defense. I think that JB emphasize playing good team defense rather than forcing turnovers. As of now, the defense is carrying Michigan. Michigan should be better with experience so the offense rating would rise while the defense would be at least the same. There’s hope for next season.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Yeah, what I stressed early on was that defensive rebounding percentage is key. That will obviously be tested once we get into the thick of the Big Ten season but it’s encouraging that this team has done a good job on the defensive glass to date.

      • Beast1530

        Yeah, Michigan is a better rebounding team because they actually have more size than last year. Novak moving to SG has helped Novak and he can beat out SG for a rebound. Morgan has been a good rebounder. It’d be interesting to see how they’ll fare in rebounding against Big Ten teams especially against MSU.

        The most encouraging part of the defense is the eFG%. Usually that tends to stay constant for most of the season save some hot shooting by any teams.

  • http://@ufl.edu Mattski

    So far, a lot of positives I, for one, had not counted on:

    a. emergence of Darius–still think his aggressiveness pays dividends down the road; his length makes him special; if your guard gets you rebounds that’s also a huge plus

    b. the return of Stu–his lost confidence last year was perplexing

    c. Morgan–I think he’ll be a better all-around contributor than Graham Brown, who he’s being compared to

    d. McLimans–though I love Horford’s energy, there is no better time for McLimans to show some promise if Beilein is considering red-shirting Horford.

    Fact that several guys are attacking the basket with some authority is also huge.

    Christian and Hardaway are the two biggest disappointments so far. Having a new player step up every night may be delaying Hardaway’s emergence–both he and Beilein may have assumed they’d depend on him more. Running some plays for him would seem to be a good idea, as others have said.

    • Beast1530

      I think that coming off the bench for Stu has done wonders for his game. He doesn’t have to feel like he has to make it every time because of limited opportunities last year. He’s playing off the ball more than last year in which he can concentrate on scoring more than just worry about running the team. Sure he’ll play PG to spell Morris but his burden in workload isn’t as great. He is more relaxed and has started to shoot much better. We’re seeing Stu shooting like we expected him to do coming off from HS in which he was the primary long range shooter.

      Stu has good form and release. He just need confidence and rhythm. He has both and hopefully that’ll carry over this season.

  • Alex

    I am really liking the team’s defensive effort. I think our team’s lackluster defense in the first half contributed a lot to last season’s results.