Game 19: Michigan at Northwestern Open Thread

Here’s an interview with Bacari Alexander from David Merritt discussing Michigan’s state of mind and how the Wolverines can continue to improve going forward.

Tip off is 9 p.m. eastern on the Big Ten Network, join the discussion during the game in the comments below. .

[More Pre-Game: Preview / Pick to Click]

  • bryemye

    The wheels are falling off. Why?

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      The reasons mostly sound like excuses… but some of them are pretty obvious. Youth, and short rest after some emotionally draining big games. Played on the 9th, 12th, 15th, and now 18th.

      It’s disappointing to say the least but at the end of the day it’s not all that surprising.

  • drae

    How Shurna even getting the ball of without it getting it chucked 20 rows up in the stand??? He shoots from his chest… Who ever is guarding him needs to stay with him in the 2nd half…

  • Jon G

    Wow….I’m at a loss for words. I know we’re young and we’re not big but damn…

  • Benny

    It’s amazing this is the same team that took two top 5 teams to the brink….the defense is pathetic and the offense just looks slow, unskilled, and unimaginative

  • wayman britt

    Everybody says we are young and inexperienced, but realistically do you think Stu, Novak, Morgan, Vogrich and Smot have the athletism, quickness, hops to ever be upper division Big Ten players?

    I don’t want to be negative, but I just don’t see it. Some skills you just can’t teach. Morgan and Smot may improve thier game, but highly doubtful they can lead UM to top 3 or 4 in Big Ten.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      They certainly have room to improve. When you get completely lost after helping, or covering a screen, it doesn’t matter how athletic you are.

    • Benny

      Way man…ur spot on…smote hasn’t seen the floor innthe second half…frankly if he isn’t shooting he is worthless at this point….the shear athleticism is terrible…we look a rec team…

    • bryemye

      I think Morgan and Hardaway Jr. have a ton of promise, as well as Morris obviously. If those guys can move defenses and the other players such as Smot, Vogrich, etc. can play off them, we have a system that can do things.

  • Alex

    A lot of people raised the same questions about Morris last year.

    • wayman britt

      I know alot of people were down on Morris last year, but I never heard anybody say Morris was not athletic, slow or could not jump last year. He has the basic skills to play at a high level in the Big Ten.

  • Tweeter

    Ok looks like everyone has given up, so im out. This team needs a week off or something. Things are just amiss.

    • bryemye

      Why is it prohibitively cold for a long walk in Michigan this time of year? This is depressing.

  • Alex

    Don’t blame you Tweeter although I do think they are trying.

  • AG2

    This season is what it is, that’s all you can say. We’re going to be hoping for Hardaway, Smotrycz, Morgan, and Horford to have a huge jump like Morris did next year.

    This team really needs a home win soon. I don’t think Minnesota will be it though, Mbakwe looks pretty unstoppable right now.

  • wayman britt

    Not only has MSU over taken UM in Bball and football, but now Northwestern has over taken us the last couple of years. I think we have the right coaches, but need to improve talent tremondously. Both programs need talent.

  • Tweeter

    lol. just came back to check. My comment about giving up was a reference to posters not the players. For whatever reasons the new comments were not loading for me, so i had assumed that “everyone (meaning commenters, all of you people, who i love)” had stopped commenting. I, in no way, meant to infer that I thought the players had quit. Sorry for the miscommunication. That said, I am out now. Way too fustrated and on verge of breaking many things if i keep watching. So gf is insisting we catch up on some episodes of Chuck. god help me.

  • bryemye

    That fadeway by Vogrich was telling. The kid does not have the vertical leap to be a scorer inside in the Big Ten.

  • Alex

    Unless you’re Kentucky, when you start three freshman many games are going to be tough. If the team can make it to the NIT that will be some more needed experience. I’m also really frustrated but I remember what the expectations were to start.

    • wayman britt

      It’s going to be difficult for this team to make the NIT this year, unless something changes.

      • Alex

        Agreed but I’ve got to keep hoke alive.

  • Dylan Burkhardt

    Quick question for everyone that says “youth is on Beilein, it’s year 4″.

    Beilein was hired on April 3, 2007 a week or two before signing day. That left him about 2 weeks (not sure on exact dates) until signing day. What are your expectations for that class? Legion was a disaster everywhere he went. He kept Harris, but he went to the league. And Grady’s situation we’ve discussed endlessly.

    The 2008 class, which would be the junior class, was disappointing. Benzing missed qualifying by a question and there were a couple near misses. Still, those are kids that would just be juniors.

    Is it really that confusing why this would be a young team?

    • Merlin

      Novak and Douglas are as inconsistent as our freshman-these guys are not good enough despite their effort. I don’t know why Grady is not on this team despite how much it has been discussed. I think this was a huge mistake that Beilein must surely regret.

      • Dylan Burkhardt

        Offensively Novak and Douglass are inconsistent, no doubt. However, on the defensive end they have far less blatant defensive breakdowns.

        • Merlin

          Novak was eaten up by Shurna today and Juice Thompson went around Douglas like he was standing still. Still the freshmen were even worse as you say. Then in the second half they let Mrkovich dribble the ball 10 times before he shot.

    • wayman britt

      No. Good point. It’s just so frustrating that UM basketball has been irrelevant since the mid 1990′s and the football team hasn’t been helping matters much.

  • Dylan Burkhardt

    On a slightly different note, this defensive performance is unacceptable. I don’t particularly care how old the kids are.

    • gpsimms

      dropping the “unacceptable” bomb? I thought that word was for mlive comments.

      • Dylan Burkhardt

        Eh. It’s that bad honestly. This team can play better defense and it needs to start soon.

  • Kevin

    Very disappointed again. This seems to be going downhill fast. Hoping for a better showing against Minn. Saturday

  • ZRL

    Eh, I guess we are who we all thought we were going to be in the preseason. Time to stop worrying about results and just worry about progress like we all promised we would do back in November.

  • TheHoke

    Dylan ->

    What about the offense and its lack of actual plays to setup 2 point shots. Guys cut to space, but there are no actual hard screen set to get anybody open. Players are running to open space outside the perimeter, but all that does is moves the ball around outside endlessly. It’s been the same thing for four years now.

  • CJD

    I know I am going to get slammed on this opinion especially because I just walked in the house and did not see anything but the last 2 minutes of the game.

    I have read every post and all I have to say is it time to start thinking how long we stay with Coach B?

    Yes we have a young team; but that excuse only goes so far; he was signed to turn a program around and I do not see where he is any closer to that today than we was when he walked in the door. He has 1 potential NBA player in THJ and one potential D League or Euro Player in D Mo.

    Michigan is too fine a school with too much Hoops history to be in the situation we are in right now. If you look at the jobs done by others at schools of Michigans class they have not made so few trips to the Tourney as we have. And based on what we have seen so far I would not expect it this year or next.

    I mean look at Steve Fisher he has his squad in the top 10 for God’s sake.

    Steve Lavin has the # 3 recruiting class already and he just took the job; not to mention quality wins over West Virginia – Georgetown – Notre Dame.

  • CJD

    And Dylan; do you still feel that Smot has John Shurna potential?

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Potential? Yeah. He’ll never be the same player but he certainly has a lot of potential to improve.

      • ZRL

        I went back to look at John Shurna’s stats from his Freshman year. Smotrycz’s stats are better in virtually every category.

    • gpsimms

      it is absolutely amazing to me that people are watching this team and saying things like “they will not be any better next year” or “i know they’re young but they show no athleticism.”

      THJr can cover about 19 feet in two strides. The kid is fast. Sure, he can’t dribble, and he takes dumb shots, but those are easy things to improve.

      Smot is a 6’8″ kid who can shoot around 40% from three. He’s a little slow right now, but he is quick. (example: his upfake always works, but then he’s too slow to make it to the basket before d converges, quickness but not speed)…but a year of strength training will get him some explosion in those legs. A kid that tall, that can shoot 3′s, and is a pretty nice dribbler. No potential?

      Morgan: look at his friggin arms. I think one of his main problems is also lower body strength. He lacks the ability to explode upward for dunks in traffic and rebounds. He had a major knee operation last year! No potential?

      We can do this for about every player.

      • CJD

        I said not make the tourney next year; never said they would not improve. I do not like the idea and I hope the win every game the rest of the year and go undefeated next year and if they do i will be the first to say I was dead wrong and be happy about it.

        That said I am not a kool aid drinker who sees the world through maze & blue eyes. Facts are facts it is year 4 and we got run off the court by Northwestern. Granted I did not watch this game but almost every post claimed we looked slow and nonathletic; compared to Northwestern?????????????

        These comparisons were not against Louisville or UCLA or any other fast paced team it was against Northwestern.

  • AG2

    CJD this is what I’m prepared to concede: Next year, we’ll have a team that has experience and a new infusion of talent. We will be competing against a Big Ten where Purdue, MSU, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Penn State will be losing major minutes. If we cannot make the tournament next year, then maybe its time to see what someone else can do with the pieces we have. Until then, we have to give Beilein a chance to make the tournament with a more experienced team. He did it in 2008 after a terrible season so there’s still a chance. Plus there’s still a lot of basketball left to be played this year.

  • Tweeter

    CJD: ahh nothing like a few episodes of Chuck to calm the soul. I get what your saying and I dont think you are too far off. Like AG2 said I think next year is the make it or break it year for Beilein depending on how they finish up this season.

    Expectations for next year should be tournament plain and simple. Now, if they make some kind of run this year and finish strong, then next year they have a few things go wrong and just miss out on the tournament perhaps that is enough to give him another year beyond that. If however, this season continues down this path, then it has to be tournament no matter what.

    Five years is plenty of time to see what a coach is bringing to the table and if its only one tournament appearance over that span, well then, that is not acceptable, barring the circumstances I stated before. Beilein brings a hell of a lot to the program and I think he is a very good coach. The player development under his coaching has been very strong and the recruiting is improving. Not to mention the way he handles everything off the court is tremendous. But if this program is serious about being the leaders and best, then wins ultimately matter. Needless to say its gonna be a big one and half years here for Beilein in my opinion.

    • CJD

      I have no doubt that Coach B is a man of integrity and class and represents the school and its values to the highest regard in everything he does. But….. we have a young team because he was not able to land impact players earlier plain and simple.

      4 years in and he does not have a single player than can check someone in the paint; no matter how much this current crop improves they will never have the athletic ability (THJ & D Mo possibly) of the upper tier of the big ten and they do not even have a back up point guard who can run any semblance of the offense.

      After 4 years I would have expected to be past some of these hurdles; and looking at next years recruits we have not added any help in the paint and that is a huge concern.

      Again I hope I am dead wrong but I just feel at this point we should be further along than where we are right now.

      • Tweeter

        I dont think many would argue that the program should be and could be further along than it is right now in terms of wins and losses. I think the more important question/s is what can and what will the program be in a year and half from now. Beilein isnt going anywhere after this year and he probably shouldnt be going anywhere after this year considering the state of the program when he took over and what he has done since then.

        However, I just think after five years we will know where we are at and where we can get to. I don’t think we know that right now. If this team is in the same boat at the end of next year as they appear headed for this year, then by all means a change should be made.

        I dont think it comes down to just athletic ability in terms of competing with the top tier in the Big Ten. Sure that helps and a lot of times on pure athletic ability you can compete, but ultimately winning basketball takes a lot more than that. Ive seen a lot of teams that didnt have great athletes win a heck of a lot, Wisconsin, Butler, Duke (some years), heck even MSU’s championship team didnt have a ton of great athletes. There is enough skilled potential on this team and with the incoming kids for them to be competitive. Probably not enough to win a Big Ten, but enough to compete and make the tournament. But that means it all has to develope and come together, if it does, then I think we will know the program is headed in the right direction and one or two big name players could put it over the top. If it doesnt, then its time to move on.

        • wayman britt

          CJD – I understand your frustration. It’s getting very hard to be patient. I beleive Beilein will be around for at least two more years. I think he is a good coach, but he definitely needs to reevaluate some of his players and coaching styles. Just like in football, the Big Ten in basketball is a different league than the Big East. He must compensate and react.

  • grandchamp

    Most of us including myself have over estimated this young team due to so many close games against top opponents. We still haven’t lost a game yet that we were supposed to win. If we start losing at home to the likes of Northwestern, Indiana and Iowa then that will be pretty bad. We also are capable of pulling off an upset or two and I hope it happens.

  • matt d

    Take a deep breath everyone, this was a reality check. Their are some simple factors with the team right now that can explain the team’s poor performance of late:

    1.) The team severely lacks athleticism/lateral quickness on the perimeter – only Morris is adequate in this area and he’s not the quickest himself but compensates with length. Opposing guards are simply too quick for us, and we usually get beat with dribble penetration. Help will be coming with Burke next year

    2.) Foul Trouble – the pattern over the last 3 games or so has been 2 or 3 of our key guys getting into early foul trouble, usually Morgan and either THJ or Smot. In particular, once Morgan goes out our lineup becomes VERY small, and that’s when teams are putting together these spurts. This will improve next year when Horford has bulked up and is a more viable option.

    3.) Road Games – let’s face is, this team simply isn’t good enough to win on the road in the big ten considering their youth and lack of athleticism. At home, it seems we can play with anyone in the country, but the road is a different story. Our players don’t have the mental toughness or confidence right now to deal with adversity on the road.

    4.) Defense(or lack of) – this is simply inexcusable at this point, and we have to point to the coaching staff on this one. The truth is that a lack of athleticism can’t be used for how poorly this team has played the last 2 games on defense. These kids are getting lost on simple high screen and rolls, and there is no help from the backside most of the time. I have to be honest, it doesn’t look like our kids are well prepared defensively.

    Overall – reality is that we only have 2 B10 level players in terms of athleticism and skill level right now – Morris & THJ. I do think that Smot and Morgan will develop into legitimate big 10 level players, just not this year. Once Morris or Morgan leave the court we simply don’t have the skill/size to compete with other teams in the B10.

    Moving forward, I think this team will certainly be better next year, the talent level will improve dramatically on the perimeter with Burke and Bundridge coming in. We will finally have guards other than Morris that can penetrate a defense and draw defenders.I truly believe one of those two players will be able to contribute next year. Our young players(Smot /THJ/Horford) will have a year of strength and conditioning, and should be much better next year as wellWe return every significant player on our roster next year, and I think we can compete for the 4-5-6 spots in the B10.

  • michigan fan

    Can’t really expect much more from this team, little size/strength in the midde and below average quickness which leads to poor defense against stronger teams and consistently being out rebounded. We are basically a team that shoots a lot of 3′s. We now have to shoot such a high percentage of the 3′s because our defense has been pretty weak. Sure they will better next year with everyone back. We need size and need quickness. I think those attributes are hard to learn. Size and quickness are recruited. To me, that’s a big part of the issue. Nevertheless, I still enjoy watching this team and hopefully they wil improve.

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