Game 19: Michigan at Northwestern Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

The growing pains continued as Michigan’s defense was effortlessly picked apart by Northwestern. Northwestern’s offense is very good, the Wildcats are one of the best shooting teams in the country, but this game was about Michigan’s defense being awful. Again. Michigan’s defense has allowed 437 points in 357 Big Ten possessions, which computes to a Big Ten worst 1.22 points per possession.

Northwestern’s offense was very good throughout the game and the Wildcats were unstoppable in the first half. Northwestern scored inside, outside, in transition, on inbounds plays, and even on second chances. There were times when Michigan was beaten by a tough shot off of the dribble or by exceptional ball movement. However, there were far too many possessions when Michigan’s defense was late to rotate, caught out of position, failed to fight through a screen properly, or was scrambling aimlessly trying to catch up with the basketball. Michigan’s defense was not only passive, forcing turnovers on just 9% of Northwestern’s possessions, it also was sloppy and prone to break down which allowed numerous easy baskets and layups. Yes, this team is young — Michigan started three freshmen and Northwestern played just one. But the defensive rotation and execution that this team has demonstrated in Big Ten play is just not good enough to win games in this league.

Similar to the last game in Bloomington, Michigan’s offense wasn’t that bad but the defense was bad enough that it didn’t matter. After Michigan’s loss to Ohio State, I noted that the Wolverines had rarely lost a Big Ten game when they managed to score over 1 point per possession. Versus Northwestern, Michigan managed to do it again, scoring a respectable 1.03 points per possession. The Wolverines only attempted 36% of their shots from three point range, well under the season average of 45%. The problem was that Michigan made just 46% of its two point shots well under its season average of 51%. Michigan didn’t get to the line often and only converted 8 of 15 free throw attempts.

This is a shattered team. The last several weeks have been a perfect combination of short rest, close home losses to top teams, and blow out road losses to average Big Ten teams. Now Michigan is desperately grasping for answers. In order to regroup for Saturday’s game versus Minnesota, Michigan needs to not only figure out how to harness this desperation into positive energy but also improve its team defense by leaps and bounds.


Player Bullets:

  • Darius Morris: Two early fouls knocked him out of a rhythm and he needs to do a better job finding his five man rolling to the basket. Morris seemed to have a great chemistry on these plays with Morgan early on but now seems to be more focused on looking for his own offense. His final numbers weren’t awful, 16 points on 6 of 13 (0-1 3pt) shooting with four rebounds, four assists, and three turnovers, but once again a majority of his production came with the game already out of hand. There’s still a bit too much over dribbling, and it costs Michigan some possessions, but there are also times when Michigan needs him to create something out of nothing.
  • Stu Douglass: Stu had Michigan’s most efficient offensive performer, scoring 17 points on 7 of 9 (3-5 3pt) shooting. Stu was the only Michigan player other than Jon Horford (1-2) that shot over 50% from the field and without his offense this game could have been much uglier. It would certainly be encouraging if Douglass can hold onto this hot shooting stroke moving forward.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan didn’t have his best game. He was abused by Mirkovic in the post and also missed some easy shots (and a dunk) around the basket. Jordan doesn’t have the ability to be a big time shot blocker but he is letting opposing post players get whatever shots they want. Northwestern scored 51 of its 74 points during Morgan’s 21 minutes of playing time as Morgan posted a team worst -23 plus/minus rating.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: Hardaway had a great start, scoring Michigan’s first five points, but then went ice cold, making 1 of his next 12 shots. Shot selection is a huge issue for Hardaway, who also had seven rebounds and two turnovers, as he needs to make better decisions with the basketball. He’s not shooting a high percentage from three point range and continues to shoot three pointers early in the shot clock. He as aggressive taking the ball to the hole at times but was a little too loose and either got ripped or missed shots in the lane.
  • Zack Novak: Novak, similar to Hardaway, started the game hot but then couldn’t find his range from distance. He airballed a three that could have cut the lead toward single digits and was just off for most of the game. He did have a nice drive to the basket at one point. Novak did a better job on Shurna than Smotrycz but he was still caught out of position or late closing out on shooters on several occasions.
  • Evan Smotrycz: John Shurna took Evan Smotrycz to school in the first half. It didn’t matter whether it was off the dribble, off of screens, or in transition; Michigan couldn’t stop Shurna and Smotrycz was often times the culprit. Smotrycz played well versus Ohio State but beyond that he’s really struggled on both ends over the past several weeks.
  • Matt Vogrich: Vogrich showed some nice aggression on the offensive end, including a nice drive to the basket and a surprising tip in, but couldn’t’ find many open threes.
  • Jon Horford: Horford really struggled defending the pick and roll and was caught out of position on help defense a number of other times. He provides some energy and, unlike Morgan, had the ability to recover and block shots but he looks like a guy who still has his head spinning when he’s on the court.
  • Spot on analysis, Dylan. I have nothing further to add.

  • Junderground

    I have a question about recruiting, and to some extent this comes from reading comments in the NW open thread about the future of Beilein.
    I see that the kids on Dylan’s recruiting boards tend to be 2 and 3 stars, #90 nationally, etc. I don’t know if Beilein has some targets that aren’t being listed, but I don’t understand why we’re not seeing–besides maybe Brundidge–any of the elite hs players in the country even listed as targets. Even if we don’t get them–does Beilein not want to even try? Does he only like the underdog types? I understand that a lot of our recruiting is in Detroit and Flint and that if those cities produce some of the best in the nation we’ll go after them, but Fisher recruited Jimmy King from Texas, Juwan Howard from Chicago, Louis Bullock from the East Coast, Jerod Ward from Mississippi. I know for the most part he had a better reputation in his program to deal with but if Beilein is Mr. Wins Everywhere He Goes, that should give him some prowess.
    A lot of people here are calling for players in the paint, scoring in the paint, bigs, etc. Acknowledging a possible exception here and there, it seems Beilein wants only bigs who can shoot the three. Would he ever bring in athletic bigs and 6-7 types who can slash and consitently score in the paint? (He did make the adjustment of letting go of the 1-3-1 for the most part) If not, at some point, I think you have to apply the “If you keep doing what you’re doing you’re going to get what you’ve got” thinking and start shopping for another coach. Beilein brings a lot to basketball, and has helped some small programs, but I’m not sure, without changing his offensive philosophy, he’s going to work out here (and before you tell me I’m an idiot, etc., you may look at some of the exchanges in the NW open thread)

    • Jeff

      He’s heavily recruited some fairly big-time recruits. We were pretty close to getting Zeigler (he’s acknowleged that) but he went to play for his dad, I believe we were the second choice of Casey Prather who chose Florida and he very heavily recruited Amir Williams, who went to OSU. He goes after them, he just doesn’t have as much to sell until we start getting back to the tournament on a regular basis. Hopefully, the practice facility and Crisler renovations will also help.

      • CJD

        There is little doubt that Zeigler was a top flight recruit but he would not have helped their two glaring weaknesses; offense and defense in the paint and additional player to play the point when D Mo was out of the game.

        And as Dylan has already pointed out he is not ripping up the MAC as of yet.

        I will say it again a team that so often settles for the 3 ball early in the clock will continue to land big time recruits in the paint; our best hope is to sign one early that has huge upside and exceeds everyone’s expectations. The downside is that means there will be plenty of misses (so far) such as Christian and McLimans.

  • Rob Pollard

    Excellent summary. Beilein has to go Norman Dale on THJ and say, “If you attempt more than one 3-pt shot, I’ll pull you from the game.”

    His strength is his pull up 12-18 foot J’s. He’s not particularly strong or in-control going to the basket, and he’s even worse from 3-pt land. He needs to “do what you do,” and not get enamored b/c he has a pretty looking stroke to think he should be jacking up so many 3s.

    He’s just a freshman and I’m sure a 3-pt stroke can be added to his game, but we’re halfway through the season and it’s clear he doesn’t have that now. It needs to stop.

    • Dylan

      I think that might be overkill in the opposite direction. He has a mice looking stroke but just needs to learn when the right time is to let it fly.

      • CJD

        Anyone ever notice how similar his 3 ball shot is to Jamal Crawfords at the same stage? When they are wide open and do not have to elevate they have a great stoke and knock them down; but early in the shot clock and well guarded they would elevate and typically miss long.

        I think it can get better in time; but definitely more patience is needed on his part.

  • drae

    Guess it’s back to the ole drawing board… Good to see Stu break out of his funk now if he could keep it going from here on out that would be a huge boast… I’m @ lost for words with this team right now… Yes they are young but @ almost the mid-way point you should start to figure things out and be more constant game in and game out… Not sure what has happened to J-Mo… He was never an “offensive beast” but earlier on it seemed he would provide 10 points or so… If they continue to work on some finishing moves down on the block he could be dangerous… I also never expected Evan Smotz to come into college and just dominate but man has he really been up and down… The skill set is there… This is where a senior leader could really help with the team morale… Getting beat by likes of Purdue, Wisconsin, KU and OSU was to be expected but I really thought they would bea able to hang with the middle of the pack teams… Here’s hoping for a quick turn around for Coach B and the youngster… GO BLUE!!

  • Skinzkid

    I’m really starting to think that this 3 point shooting offense is not going to work in the big ten.

    • Dylan

      Kind of odd to day after a game where Michigan attempted a fairly pedestrian ratio of threes to twos

    • gpsimms

      not to mention northwestern beat us by making a gjillion threes

    • Champswest

      A three point offense works when you make the shots.

  • MikeSal

    I think Dylan said it best, the offense played OK but the defense was horrendous. For whatever reason our guards could not stay in front of their guards. Not to mention both Morgan and Horford were obliterated on the pick and roll. It’s one thing to hedge a screen but you have to get back to your man! The out of bounds play were Mirkovic scored the bunny was the prime example. Instead of staying with his man through the screen Morgan jumped out to the perimeter. Either our guards need to get through screens better or UM needs to stop hedging. It is putting us in terrible position defensively and causes high percentage shots. Not to mention our help side defense was completely missing.

    It was clear this game was all but over after the first half. With Morris in foul trouble and a large deficit (10 pts and up) in the second half he tried to do to much. Staying in the offense is something that he will learn with time. I was wrong, the NW bigs scored at will in the paint and we had no answer. There are a lot of problems with the team right now. Hopefully with rest and some good practices we can break these bad habits. I fear the psyche of the team is broken. Maybe some home love from the crowd will help but we need something good to happen and fast.

    Just a thought, but maybe JB should make a rule that THJ needs to drive to the whole 4 times before he can shoot a 3. He got to the rim at will last night. Or give him a crash course on good shot/bad shot.

  • Section13Row15

    Junderground, I’m not sure you’ve been following the recruiting that closely recently. Beilein went after Amir Williams (#2 C in 2011 class) hard and lost out to OSU. He went after a 6’7″ athletic slashing forward in Dom Pointer (#11 SF) hard and nearly missed to St. John’s. Brundidge (commit) is one of the top players in the state of MI, and Trey Burke (commit) right now is probably the top player in OH. Both of them will give us added scoring next year, and Burke will be the best defensive player on our team next year. The bottom line is that Beilein is going after those guys but I think recruits view him as more of a system guy which is why they’re choosing other programs. And frankly, until we show we can play some better basketball, I don’t necessarily blame them. But it’s kind of a catch 22 because if you don’t get the players, you can’t play the brand of basketball he wants to.

    And to your other point, Jordan Morgan is the epitome of a Big 10 PF or C. The type of guy that Izzo has had on his team since I can remember (Anagonye, Marquise Grey, etc) and OSU seems to have every year (Lauderdale, etc.). I don’t think you’re stupid by any means but I do believe that Beilein is going after these guys. Morris is from Los Angeles for heavens sake. He flew out there all the time to see him play. Casey Prather (#11 SF in 2010) chose Florida over Michigan at the last minute and he’s from Jackson, TN of all places.

    • Junderground

      Excellent points. I hope that he’s recruiting players of similar stature for the 12 and 13 classes (plus we have a scholarship left for 11)–I don’t see them on the lists of recruits.

      • Junderground

        I guess I should clarify–I see Gary Harris for 12 and Zak Irvin and VJ Beacham for 13 as the really strong recruits. But the others are right around 90th nationally (for the most part) and 3-stars. Good but not great. I just found that uncanny, and I was aware of the recruiting of Zeigler and Prather but I forgot about that when posting earlier. I didn’t know about Pointer, so I’m glad to see he was being recruited if he’s an “athletic slashing forward.” I don’t have the 12 and 13 boards memorized, and I know there are exceptions, but I’m seeing a lot of 6-5 and under and I think we need a lot more than Morgan. Horford will be good, and if we can just get into the tourney and THEN go up another notch, then that’s what we’ll have to do. But we’ll need some serious additions to our personnel in 12 and 13 to do that.

  • KingLouie

    I think the team is mentally exhausted and the Freshmen are physically tired as well. They have played a lot of minutes in a lot of games in a short period, with only a very brief Christmas break. They put tremendous emotional effort into big games against three top teams and did everything short of winning twice. I am sure they think they are playing as hard as they can and concentrating as much as they can, but clearly they are not. They need to regroup mentally and get as much rest as they can. Let’s hope that coming back home will relax them. They need to forget about the last two games–as do the fans. They are a young team, they have lots of promise, and they need to avoid getting down on themselves. The fans can help by generating some positive vibes on Saturday.

    • MikeM

      I think you’re right. The team looked lethargic on both sides of the ball. There has to be quite a bit of mental and physical fatigue. This second consecutive road game on short rest was not what this team needed. You could see it on offense last night… the guys were soooo slooowwww on their curls and plodding through their off-ball movements. They just looked spent. Shurna’s hot streak took out all the air the guys had left.

  • Tom Too

    blah, blah, blah, blah….same stuff. Getting boring.

  • KAB

    I dont mind losing but it’s another thing to go out and not compete…We looked out of sync and confused for most of that game.I just dont understand why we are getting worse week to week and not better??

  • Deacon Blues

    Everyone seems to think Burke and/or Brundidge will make a difference next season, but is it realistic to expect that? Morris was rated in the same range and really struggled as a freshman.

    I also wonder how much they’ll play. There are 120 minutes/game at the 1, 2 and 3 spots, 60 of which are likely going to Morris and Hardaway. Douglass and Novak may see their time decline, but it’s hard to imagine them getting under 20 each as seniors. (Granted, some of Novak’s may come at the 4.) Then there’s Vogrich, although he might not be a factor.

    Who knows–maybe Burke and Brundidge will come right in and command major minutes. The best players will play. But I’d be surprised if either of them plays more than Morris did last season (24/game). You can only play so many guards, especially freshman guards.

    • Skinzkid

      Thats what i’ve been saying, we graduate no one, where are these two going to find minutes? It wouldn’t surprise me if you see one of them redshirt.

    • andrew

      the thing you are forgetting is the whole team gets another year and another year to practice together. Horford will get stronger, morgan will develop a inside game, smotz will watch tape of pittsnogle, morris hasn’t reached his peak, novak and stu will be the merritt and lee of the team. brundidge and burke can create there own shots.
      great lineup for the next 2 years

  • Jeff

    Just peeked at the schedule and noticed, like Indiana, Minnesota gets a full week to prepare for us. I’m getting a worse feeling about that game.

  • MikeM

    Morgan and Smot were destroyed. Mirkovic looked like first-team all-Big Ten against Morgan!! Add in the missed FT’s and missed dunk… Awful game by Morgan. Smot just looked slow and tentative all game long.

    I actually thought THJ played better than his stat line… I’ll take the growing pains as far as not quite being able to finish at the bucket if he’s going to be able to get to the rim like he was. Better shot selection from beyond the arc and better finishing at the rim… He’s very close to being a real threat on offense.

  • Mtung

    With the rapid disintegration of this season and our very young team floundering, it sent me scrambling for some perspective:

    When former AD Tom Goss fired Steve Fisher shortly before the start of the 1997-98 season, it set in motion a series of events from which the basketball program has never recovered. Fisher was (to some degree) a continuation of the Bill Frieder – Johnny Orr line of coaches. Additionally, he had Brian Dutcher as his chief assistant/protégé/future coach. The timing of Goss’ decision couldn’t have been worse. I suspect he was concerned that if Fisher had a great year in 97-98, as expected, it would’ve been more difficult to fire him. Everyone speculated that Goss had Ben Braun lined up to take the job. When that blew up in his face, he had little choice left and that led to the Brian Ellerbee debacle. Tommy Amaker followed, and despite several decent recruiting classes, the program continued to fail to meet expectations, with complaints that the players never improved after arriving on campus. The decision to hire John Beilein made sense to nearly everyone. “He’s a good guy, runs a clean program, and his players actually improve during their tenure.” Thus far, it has been a bumpy run, and this year (due to youth) it’s as if he is starting all over. Again.

    Much like Rich Rod’s offensive/defensive schemes and his smaller, quicker players that didn’t work in the Big 10, I question whether “Beilein Ball” will ever result in a Big 10 Championship. Strong interior/post play seems to be a requirement for top line Big 10 teams. Ohio State and Purdue are certainly solid examples of that this season. Successful Beilein Ball can disrupt and surprise, but I question whether it can dominate. Ultimately, is a good, solid middle-of-the pack program sufficient for Michigan? Even the surprising NCAA tournament team from two years ago was a Big 10 also-ran.

    This team will be measurably better next year. Brundidge and Burke will be good players in their careers. Hopefully, the interior players will improve and Beilien can add another post player candidate. Although the light at the end of the tunnel is barely visible, it’s out there somewhere. Hard work will make up for a lot of shortcomings. You have to have respect and admiration for all of the players who have committed to play for UM, whether it be Denard Robinson or Troy Woolfolk or Zack Novak or Ben Cronin.

    Meanwhile, Steve Fisher (along with Brian Dutcher) landed nicely at San Diego State, where they rebuilt that program from the ground up. Now a perennial Mountain West contender and occasional NCAA tourney qualifier, the Aztecs are currently rated #6 in the country. San Diego State apparently had no problem with the Ed Martin baggage. In fact, Fisher’s Wikipedia report states “The NCAA ultimately faulted Fisher for allowing Martin access to his players (though his ties to Michigan dated to the Frieder era), but otherwise cleared him of wrongdoing.´ It certainly makes one wonder where Michigan’s program would be now had Goss chosen to hang with Fisher when the going got tough, like Syracuse did with Boeheim, and Tennessee is unexplainably doing now with Bruce Pearl.

    • Gary

      Fisher was a great recruiter, but I never thought much of him as a coach – no discipline and not a good game coach. I know this is going to get some flack, but given the talent he had, his teams under-achieved. Also I can’t believe he didn’t know what was going on with Ed Martin. Goss had no choice but to fire him and if the same thing happened now, things wouldn’t be any different.

      The worst thing about Fisher leaving was the Ellerbee decision. I think we could have bounced back from the sanctions if there had been a serious search for new coach during Ellerbee’s interim year. Instead, the decision to keep him on as permanent head coach, more than anything else, killed Michigan hoops for the past decade plus. It showed a serious lack of interest on the part of the athletic department to support the program.

      • Fisher took a team that had been beaten up by Illinois twice during the regular season and beat them in the Final Four, and then won that national championship banner that hangs in the rafters of Crisler.

        He then went to two straight national championship games, the first with a starting five of all freshmen. Talented or not, all freshmen.

        Goss fired Fisher, then let Ellerbee hang around who continued to allow the corrupt atmosphere around the program to flourish and failed to come anywhere near the success that Fisher had.

        The worst thing about Fisher leaving was that we hung him out to dry for poor decisions that Bill Frieder made, such as allowing Ed Martin to hang around the program. Fisher was a good to great coach, and he now has the longest winning streak in the country with a bunch of kids who were castoffs to the major Cali programs, and a wrecking crew of a sophomore who was too much of a “tweener” to play major college basketball.

        Yeah, Fisher was a terrible coach. I’m glad we fired him.

      • Junderground

        Gary, when I made a comment that didn’t mirror the way you think about the program a week ago, you called it nonsense and were bordering on abusive. I do not operate that way. But your definition of underachieving is making the championship game as freshman and again as sophomores and playing to the buzzer against a UNC team we beat earlier that year in the Maui Classic. That team lost something like 5 regular season games, and the next year’s team didn’t do much worse.
        The likes of Willie Mitchell, Travis Conlan, Jerod Ward (who had serious injury problems) underachieved, but I don’t see how you blame Fisher for that.

        • Gary

          I was at almost every home game during the Fisher era and since then. The Fab Five was the most exciting team I have ever had the pleasure of watching. I think player for player, they were one of the most talented college teams ever, even as freshmen. I can vividly recall moments when Webber, Rose, or Howard did things that made my jaw drop. They accomplished amazing things. They were also really frustrating to watch, with a tendency toward playing undisciplined one-on-one basketball. They won a lot of games on talent alone and they lost games they shouldn’t have to less talented, but better coached teams. They had lots of turnovers. Fisher teams in subsequent years played the same style. None of the Fisher teams won a Big 10 championship. The last couple of years, they were in the middle of the pack in the Big 10. There were a number of games during the Fisher years that I remember walking out of Chrisler thinking they were more talented but simply outcoached. These are my views and we can agree to differ.

          None of what I have said here is intended as comparison of Beilein to Fisher or the current teams to those of the 90s. Talent levels are so vastly different that it is hard to compare. For me the jury is still out on whether Beilein will be effective here, but I am more than willing to give him more time. But before anyone elevates Fisher to sainthood, or even speculates on how things would be different if he was still here, you need to be aware that he had his own limitations as a coach, the most important of which was that he presided over the program during one of the biggest scandals ever in college sports. I don’t forgive him for that, and I don’t know why so many Michigan fans want to give him a pass.

          As for the comment regarding the current team – I didn’t think my response to Junderground was abusive. You have your opinion – I disagreed. No names were called and it was much more civil than most conversations on sports blogs. That is one of the main reasons I come here.

  • KAB

    Dylan,we have had sota’s number the last couple of years correct?

  • Section13Row15

    I never said Burke and Brundidge were going to play major minutes next year but at the very least they will only help our depth, scoring, and defense. Plus we play in the Maui next year so we’ll need as many bodies as possible.

    My theory is that the injury to Ben Cronin hurt this team more than we make it known. He’s a 7 footer that’s supposed to be a junior this year. Imagine if we had him, Morgan, and Horford rotating in at full strength. Kelvin Grady quitting certainly didn’t help us and Manny Harris going pro left Beilein’s first class of Novak and Douglass (and Cronin) in a vulnerable position. Those guys are doing all they can and they’ve improved over the last 3 years, but they are what they are.

    • CJD

      I full heart-idly agree the loss of Cronin probably had more impact than anyone realizes. That said other programs have tons of guys leaving early – transfer and get injured and they seem to reload all the while UM just sputters.

  • Section13Row15

    Mtung – Very nice overview of the situation and how it parallels with the Football team. You certainly can’t put any shame on the players, they are putting their hearts and souls into this. Especially recently with SDSU being in the top 10, I often think what if we had kept Steve Fisher?

  • Section13Row15

    KAB – I’m almost positive we’ve swept Minnesota the last 2 years. 4-0 against them in the last 2 years.

  • AG2

    At the time there really was no choice but to cut ties with Fisher. Maybe today, in the era where NCAA violations are considered the cost of doing business and running a dirty program is an acceptable alternative to running an irrelevant program we could have kept him, but not back then. Things just looked so bad, although Tom Goss was an exceptionally poor athletic director from what I’ve heard.

    Michigan has just been cursed when it comes to basketball coaches. First Johnny Orr, who left for Iowa State after they wanted Bill Frieder but he took the job himself because they offered him more money. Then Frieder left for Arizona State because they offered him more money. I don’t know about anyone else, but I consider it an egregious insult that those two left for irrelevant schools simply because of the money. That’s probably why Frieder wasn’t invited to the 1989 Championship Team 20th Anniversary a little while back.

  • Michael4

    I just become a fan of this team over the last 2 years but this game really fustrated me. Dispite how bad they played in the first half if Morgan made his free throws and that missed dunk we are only down 7 at the half. But my main piont is why couldn’t anyone stay on Shurna??? It didn’t seem to matter who was on him or if we were in zone or man-to-man. Everytime the ball shifted away from Shurna’s side of the court our man shifted away from him?? Why? This was so frustrating… The guy was making every shot he took but no one would stay with him. Anytime someone is as hot at that I would stay on him no matter what. Deny him the pass. I am not sure why we didn’t do this more. It is not like we didn’t know he could get a hot hand. He only scored about half their pionts in the first half. The team really needs to review this game tape and learn from this lose. The easiest way to keep someone from scoring that has a hot hand is to not let them get the ball.

  • wayman britt

    Beilein needs to add an athletic, quick, strong, create your own shot type of player to go with our role players. Unfortunately you can’t teach those traits you must recruit them.

    Beilein’s recruiting has definiting improved and the quality of 2012 recruits that are considering UM is high. I just wish we had more than one opening. Maybe one of our current less skilled players won’t be on scholarship their whole four years and create an opening for 2012.

  • Brian W

    During his radio show, Coach Beilein got asked a question about using Morgan and Horford at the same time. Coach said that next year when Brundidge and Burke are playing that you could see some double-post player sets to add height since B&B are smaller, speedier players.

    Javontae Hawkins at 17 points for Flint Powers in a win over Swartz Creek on Tuesday. On Friday, Flint Powers plays Flint Carman-Ainsworth team, which has Denzel Watts.

    Glenn Robinson III had 26 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, and three steals on Tuesday…,bkblowelllc-ptb-0119.highschool

    • Junderground

      Was he referring to B&B playing at the same time, or either of them in the game alone?

      • Brian W

        Coach Beilein mentioned them together and didn’t mention other guards, but based on how he likes to mix and match lineups, I don’t see why it couldn’t be done with Darius with either Brundidge or Burke in the backcourt.

  • maxwell’s demon

    Non-conference is always a tease (unless you’re damn good).

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Eh, so the defensive performances versus Kansas and Syracuse don’t count for anything? Michigan’s wins over Duke and UCLA a few years ago? I’m not sure that you can say that it’s a tease.

      • maxwell’s demon

        I guess I don’t really get your point. Sure they count for something, but I think it’s easier to get up for one or two marquis games in the non-conference than it is to suffer the grind of the conference schedule. Nobody is doubting our team has potential but they clearly have a ways to go in consistency. Go PSU.

        • Merlin

          One thing about our defense that might be crazy but I noticed-we play our best defense when the Maize Rage is there. This team may have trouble getting the defensive intensity going on its own.

    • Sid

      Is it possible that it’s easier for us to surprise OOC opponents who haven’t been playing and preparing for Beilein’s teams on a regular basis for four years? Honest question.

      • Jeff

        I think there is a little truth to that, but I don’t think his teams have played that much worse in conference play. It seems like every year they hit a huge wall in the first half of conference play, then start playing better.

  • AG2

    The predicability factor in college basketball this year is totally falling apart. WVU gets embarassed by Marshall, Purdue comes *THIS* close to losing at home to PSU. MSU isn’t playing well, Illinois isn’t playing well, OSU is letting teams keep it close, Kansas playing down to ppl, C-USA is a pile of warmed-over garbage, Duke is banged up and has no size, UNC has no offense or point guard, Baylor won’t let Perry Jones touch the ball. Am I missing anyone? Lol

  • Mattski

    I guess as a grad and longtime fan I don’t ever give up on the team–or too down on them–but I wonder whether they have hit their ceiling for this year. They outperformed expectations early but seem demoralized now. I wonder how hard it is to get up for games as the semester and winter wear on.

    In football people kept saying that the defense would need the offseason before they really got better. Wonder whether it might be like that in bball, too. Just so much data brain and body can meld, week to week? Curious for other epinions. . .

  • Alex

    The team is unpredictable. I think we lost to a team we shouldn’t have but this team has enough talent to surprise teams. Can’t wait to watch them in the second Indiana game at Crisler.

  • Brian W

    Beilein mentioned during his radio show how hard it is for players who play a lot of minutes to work on skill development during the season because there isn’t much of a break once you get into Big Ten play. He said that McLimans and Christian are doing more skill development work now than the regulars since they’re not playing playing as many minutes in games.

    A lot of the issues may come back to inexperience since three-fifths of the starting lineup and some of the reserves are freshmen, who haven’t had to go through a full Big Ten season and aren’t used to playing tough conference games. The same type of thing happened during Beilein’s first year when Manny was a freshmen and there were several players who hadn’t played much prior to that year. Manny and the others improved during their second year, so I’d expect the same type of thing next year for this year’s freshmen.

    • wayman britt

      I don’t think McLimans has the basic skills to be a Big Ten player. He can’t rebound, he is soft and surely can’t shoot the three. I don’t look for him to ever contribute more than three minutes a game.

    • Interesting. Confirms my assumptions a little, but also might suggest why some players explode off of the bench in late season/at tourney time.

    • MikeM

      UM could obviously use a skills upgrade from all of their freshmen (Morgan needs to be able to touch the ball with his back to the basket, THJ and Smot need to work on their ball handling, McLimans needs to work on his everything).
      These are nice-to-have’s, though, and they will come in the offseason (hell, even Stu can drive to the basket now — unthinkable his frosh year)… What they really need is game smarts on the defensive side, which fortunately comes with coaching and reps, something that does happen in season.