Five Key Plays: Harvard


We’re introducing a new feature today that we’re going to keep going throughout the season: Five Key Plays, an in-depth look at five plays during the course of the game that changed momentum, started a run or otherwise had a significant impact on the game.

This feature also wouldn’t be possible without Josh Houchin, or MaizeNBlueJ, who captured the video and cut the clips to include with the post. Without further ado, here are the Five Key Plays from Michigan’s 65-62 win over Harvard yesterday, in chronological order:

Darius Morris hits a pull-up jumper just before halftime

This is just a really good, creative play by Darius. I think we can be reasonably confident in his ability to create his own shot, and he proved it yesterday. Darius was able to create his own scoring opportunities and take advantage of them against Harvard, especially when Michigan was having trouble scoring within the offense, and this is just one of those times. Darius crosses his man and makes a great play to the basket. Pulling up in the paint frees him from his defender and creates space enough to make a tougher-than-it-looks fadeaway jumper. This made the deficit at halftime seven points instead of nine, one of those important baskets going into halftime. Last season it felt like these were the backbreaking plays that Michigan gave up so often and rarely converted on their own.

Ball movement leads to easy layup for Blake McLimans early in the 2nd half

Really impressive play all around for the Wolverines. Darius starts by getting the ball out on the fast break quickly and finding a very open Stu Douglass at around the free-throw line extended. Stu passes up the 3-pointer, pump-fakes and makes a strong move to the basket. He sees the rest of the Crimson aren’t quite back on defense and shovels a nice pass to Blake McLimans for the easy layup. Though Stu Douglass deserves props for his great shooting tonight, he contributed a whole lot more–he also recorded four rebounds, two assists and some solid defense along with this smart play that brought Michigan to within two points of Harvard while the Wolverines were clawing their way back early in the 2nd half. Also, finishing a good lay-in like was probably a confidence-booster for McLimans, who hasn’t been playing great this season.

Matt Vogrich drains a clutch 3-pointer off the skip pass from Zack Novak

At around the four-minute mark in the second half, Michigan was clinging to a one-point lead over Harvard and hadn’t scored for over two minutes. Darius brought the ball up the court and looked intent on finding Zack in the right corner. Zack eventually gets the ball in the post and somehow finds a wide-open Matt Vogrich clear across the court and makes a great pass over the defense to get him the ball. Vogrich knocks down the 3-pointer and makes a precarious one-point deficit a slightly more comfortable four-point cushion late in the game. Michigan wouldn’t relinquish that four-point lead until very late in the game, as they won by three.

Jordan Morgan takes a charge against Keith Wright late in the 2nd half

Morgan has been working on this all season, according to John Beilein. Beilein said early in the year that Morgan was taking some of the first offensive fouls of his life, but after how many he took against Syracuse he looked like a seasoned vet. He continued to progress in that area yesterday against Harvard, taking (and flopping a little) a charge against Crimson big man Keith Wright, who had been giving the Wolverines trouble all game. This occurred with about two minutes left in the game and Michigan nursing as four-point lead. It was a great way to get Michigan the ball back and Morgan made it look easy.

Stu Douglass buries a barrage of 3-pointers

Stu started with hitting a tough 3-pointer early in the second half, at around the 13:30 mark. Seemed unassuming enough. Then, he made another one less than a minute later. With a long two and another make from beyond the arc Stu’s second-half mastery was complete. He almost single-handedly led the Wolverines back from a seven-point halftime deficit to, by the time he was done scoring, a seven-point Michigan lead. His long-range makes came at exactly the right time and played a big part in building up a lead the Wolverines would hold onto for the remainder of the game. I think this can also solidify Stu’s role on this team as a shooter and can allow him to find a groove in that role. His purpose off the bench should be to shoot–though he can do many other things (pass, play good off-the-ball-defense), shooting is how he can help the team the most.

  • AG2

    Wow, we were down by 12 when Stu took over the game. Rise and fire, baby.

  • Dylan Burkhardt

    Sorry, had to take the Douglass video down for a second, will be up shortly.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      In the process of moving all the videos… HD versions should be up soon. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  • jihadistjohn

    tremendous work, fellas!…definitely look forward to these all season

  • Jared

    The key to the vogrich corner 3 was Jordan Morgan setting a screen on his man. Doesn’t look like much but without that heads up play vogrich definitely wont get that shot up

  • Tom_McC

    On the 4th clip were Vogrich hits the 3…I believe this was a quick hitter “call” from the bench…after trying to get Novak backdoor, Darius rests the O and you can see Stu making a signal when he gets the ball. Then look at the weak side, Morgan moves up towards the FT line extended as does Vogrich. You can see Morgan getting outside of Vogrich’s defender and preparing to screen Vorgich’s guy. When Novak posts up and receives the pass, Vogrich drifts down to the baseline and Morgan seals Vorgichs man inside to give Matt time for a clean look.

    One more thing, when Stu gets the ball at the top, you can see Beilein communicate something to Stu.

    • Great pick up – good observation Tom. Beilein’s in game coaching is amazing.

      Did Tommy Amakers sitting on the bench like a log with his arms folded bring back any bad memories??

    • MaizeNBlueJ

      I noticed this when I was cutting the video. Wasn’t sure if it was called, or just a good thought process by Morgan/Novak.

      • Jeff Boyer

        FYI, A pick play is almost always predetermined. The only time it doesnt have to be is during a pick and roll on the ball. Morgan and Vogrich running a pick off the ball wouldn’t make any sense to the other players unless in the context of a play. It was a very good design to free up a weak side shooter with a pass from the short corner.

  • mat

    This feature is excellent. I read often but don’t post much. Just want to say: good work. In general, this blog is really taking a big step forward and continually improving. High quality stuff that us Michigan bball fans find invaluable. Thanks Dylan and co.

  • Merlin

    Great idea-dissecting the Beilein plays will be fun this season.

  • Nice new feature, Dylan. I don’t even read the Detroit papers for M hoops news anymore, just come straight here.

  • Brian W

    Nice job, Dylan.

    Glenn Robinson III scored 23 points and had seven rebounds in a win over Valparaiso on Friday. He was impressive from the way it sounds…,bkb-valpo-lc-1204.article

    Mike Hutton of the Gary Post-Tribune expressed the opinion that Purdue may regret not going after Glenn harder. :)

    • sven

      Interesting to note that he was going up against Robbie Hummel’s brother.

    • JBlair52

      23 of his teams 46 pts.

      Also led his team with 15 pts in their other win.

  • YpsiTuckyBoy

    Great new feature Dylan. I really like this. It’s especially nice since I missed the game, but wanted to see the Douglass sequence.

  • TheYooper

    When does Southfield open? Michigan boys basketball starts this week, but I was wondering whether it is a Tuesday or a Thursday game.

  • georgeesq.

    One thing occurred to me. The offense was better in the second half when we were at the end in front of the Michigan bench where Beilein could easily communicate with the team in the half court.

  • Erik

    I’ve been reading a bit about the motion offense trying to understand it better, and that Vogrich 3 is a really nice illustration of how our offense works by reading the defense.

    It starts out as a sort of 3 out, 2 in high which means 3 guards around the edge with Stu and Morgan in the high post. Novak flares out on the wing to get a pass, but see’s he’s being over played by the defender. So Novak then makes a 2nd move: a backdoor. DMo sees that the defender is playing it well, so he dribble drives behind Novak in the void that is created. Stu rotates over into DMo’s spot at the top.

    Defender cuts off DMo, so he stays on the low block and kicks it out to Novak in the corner. Novak is defended well there, nearly double teamed in fact, so he kicks it out to Stu to reset. Stu calls a new play.

    Novak cuts to the low block, DMo gets the pass and feeds Novak on the block. Meanwhile, Vogrich has been completely ignored this entire posession. He starts drifting towards the top of the arc and his defender goes with him.

    Vogrich makes a sharp cut back to the near side corner seeing that Novak has it on the block. This is kind of a skip pass, but really more of a baseline pass. As noted, Morgan screens Vogrich’s man who was out of position (busy watching the ball and not paying attention to Novak).

    I thought this was a brilliant posession to break down because it shows all elements of the motion offense….the movement, the defensive recognition, the backdoor cut, the dribble penetration, the kickout, the reset, and ultimately a screen and open man.

    Not to dig on Manny or DeShawn but I think last year they felt a lot of pressure to carry this team and Manny probably wouldn’t have been as patient as DMo was here..they probably wouldn’t have reset the play and settled for a contested drive and shoot. Really an excellent play. And while not fundamentally the best part…I love how Novak starts sprinting to the other end before Vogrich even lets go. Novak knows it’s going in. :)

  • Brian W

    Big Ten has settled on 12 for the conference and won’t pursue further expansion.

  • Tweeter

    Blog entry up on espn from Draymond Green talking about UM. Its insider only but you can see the first couple paragraphs. He basically gives UM a lot of credit for beating a more athletic Clemson team, says it was the best win in the challenge, and now that Beilein has guys for his system the team is going to get better. Pretty interesting to hear all that from a spartan.

    • JimC

      Very nice feature.

    • steve

      kind of dont agree though with draymond though… he said he watched some of the game and said we struggled in the first half against clemson… where we outscored them 40-23! that doesn’t make sense…

      • Dylan Burkhardt

        Yeah… makes no sense.

        • JimC

          Plus, I thought Wiscy’s 50? point win was the best win.

  • JimC

    p.s. Stu Douglass = B52 Bomber

  • the_white_tiger

    Great feature, definitely keep up the analysis, it’s been great and getting better. I really appreciate this, it’s the basketball equivalent of mgoblog’s football coverage. Great stuff.

  • gpsimms

    Thanks to commenters for the more technical parts of the breakdown, too. Yes, please more of these Dylan. I love this site, and this is a great new feature.

  • Wes Mantooth

    This is an awesome feature. Good work!

  • JB

    Agreed- great feature. I really appreciate it living out of the US and unable to watch most games.

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  • Matt

    I’m ok with that “flop” on Morgan…Wright was lowering his shoulder all day into his chest and the stripes didn’t even look twice. He finally just went loose and Wright knocked him down. Shame that you have to force a call like that…

  • Anthony

    Darius’s dunk off the steal i thought was huge im suprised that wasnt up there that seem to set the tone in the 2nd half.