Game 25: Northwestern at Michigan Recap

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Photo Credit: Detroit News

On Michigan’s first offensive possession of the game, Jordan Morgan went up soft for an easy layup, missed it, and went crumbling to the floor. It was eerily similar to Morgan’s rough start at Ohio State, except this time it was Mike Cappocci defending the rim rather than Jared Sullinger. I’m not sure what happened, but after that dismal attempt, the switch flipped. Morgan dominated the next 39 minutes in a way that we haven’t seen this year. He missed just one more shot and finished with 27 points on 13 field goal attempts. That’s not to say Morgan didn’t get any help from his teammates. Tim Hardaway Jr. was phenomenal yet again and Morris, Douglass, Novak, and Smotrycz were all solid in supporting roles.

Michigan seized control of the game in the first half due to Morgan’s solid play and some of its best defense this conference season. Michigan held the Wildcats’ vaunted offense to just .63 points per trip in the first half and held a commanding 34-19 break at the intermission. The second half was a roller coaster ride that wasn’t quite as enjoyable. Michigan’s defense crumbled in the second as Northwestern scored 1.42 points per trip thanks to Juice Thompson’s offensive explosion. The Wildcats hit three after three and mounted a 14-0 run late that cut Michigan’s double digit lead to just a single point with less than three minutes to play. As disappointing as it was to see Michigan collapse and let Northwestern back in the game, it was almost more encouraging to see the Wolverines close the game on an 8-0 run and regain control.

While the defensive performance was inconsistent, Michigan does deserve credit for slowing down John Shurna. Shurna is nursing injuries but he was nursing the same bad ankle when he destroyed Michigan earlier this season. I said in the preview that Michigan needed to make someone else beat them and they did. Michigan aggressively switched screens and forced Northwestern into some very difficult shots, many of which the Wildcats made in the second half. Despite the poor second half showing, I think it was obvious that the preparation and execution was light year’s better than the disaster in Evanston.

Michigan’s offense was very effective overall, scoring 1.14 points per possessions. The Wolverines shot the ball extremely well with an eFG% of 57.7% – 57% on twos and 40% on threes. We rarely see Michigan dominate on the glass and get to the free throw line but today they did. Michigan rebounded 38% of its missed shots and also posted a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 40%, both well above its season averages. Michigan turned it over a bit too much, just under 20% of its possessions, but overall this was another very strong offensive performance.

This was Michigan’s 15th win of the season and matched the Wolverines win total of a year ago – with seven games left on the schedule. Next up in Michigan’s revenge tour is a home rematch versus the Indiana Hoosiers. Christian Watford, the Hoosier combo forward that gave Michigan fits defensively, is questionable for the game with a wrist injury.

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Photo Credit: Detroit News

Player Bullets:

  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan was dominant and Michigan kept feeding him the ball in perfect positions to score. The big man finished with 27 points on 11 of 13 (5-8 FT) shooting with 2 rebounds and just two fouls. Morgan obviously did a great job finishing and his defense was also solid. He was able to play physical defense without fouling but also provided great help defense with three blocks (his first multi block game). The stat line screams “career night” but you have to remember that he has something like 100 games left to play in his career.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: Hardaway did his best the prove that his clutch performance at Penn State was no a flash in the pan: 17 points on 5 of 11 (3-8 3pt) shooting with 10 rebounds (9 def.) and four assists. Thunderous dunks, “rise and fire” threes, a little bit of pick and roll, and double digit rebounds. Hardaway becomes a more complete player every game. Over the last six games, Hardaway is averaging 16 points per game with an eFG% of 56% — 45% on twos and 43% on threes.
  • Darius Morris: Morgan’s play offensively is a bit of an indicator as to how well Darius Morris is playing offensively. Today, Morris assisted five of Morgan’s 11 field goals and did a great job distributing the ball (7 assists total). Morris didn’t have his best shooting game (4-14) and had a couple sloppy turnovers (5) but he still manufactured 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds. It wasn’t a great game for Morris but when you are 3 assists and rebounds short of a triple double on an “off night”, it means you are having a pretty damn good season.
  • Stu Douglass: Stu played 37 minutes, as Michigan went small for most of the game. He only took four shots and hit one of two 3-point attempts. His defensive rebounding was extremely impressive as he grabbed six boards. He got a bit careless with the ball at times with three turnovers to three assists. He really struggled against Northwestern’s full court press and made a few bone headed plays – luckily they didn’t come back to haunt him.
  • Zack Novak: Michigan switched a lot of screens but Novak was primarily guarding Shurna and he did a great job. He finished with 7 points, three steals, three rebounds, two assists, and a turnover in 36 minutes. Novak was very aggressive in the first half by pump faking and driving, he forced a couple things once he got inside but his willingness to drive helped break down Northwestern’s defense, even if the open look was a couple passes down the line.
  • Matt Vogrich: Vogrich played 7 minutes and attempted three shots, none of them from three. He wasn’t all that successful slashing to the hoop but the assertiveness was good to see. His lone basket came on a tip in where he might have been the only player on his side of the court.
  • Evan Smotrycz: I noted in the preview that Shurna had abused Smotrycz in the first game so his lack of playing time in this one shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Even in limited playing time, Smotrycz scored 5 points on 2 of 3 (1-2 3pt) shooting.
  • Jon Horford:Just three minutes and not a lot of production as Morgan was phenomenal and Michigan also opted to play Smotrycz at the five more than the four.
  • EchoWhiskey

    I’m loving this team more and more. A lot of heart out there tonight.

    That no look dime from Morris to Morgan on the secondary break was a thing of beauty.

  • gpsimms

    they’ve been fun to watch, no doubt about that. it’s great to see them improving during the b10 season.

    It seems to me the most likely season outcome is probably 8-10 at this point, maybe 7-11 still. But anyway, let’s say 8-10. What kind of big ten tournament performance would we need then? It’s interesting because a lot of people say win two…but OSU has taken so many wins that 8-10 could theoretically mean a 5th place finish in the big ten, which means we’d get a first round bye. That means that winning 2 games is making the finals. Not going to be easy. So let’s say 8-10 is a fifth place finish and then we just win one in the tournament. That’s a fifth place finish in the best conference season and a 3rd/4th place finish in the conference tournament. It’d only be 19 wins, but are you really going to keep a 10-3 non con team, 5th place in power conference, 3/4 place in power conference tournament out?

    In some ways, I feel like we’d almost be better off going 7-11 so we can play iowa or someone in the first round. But I guess we’d probably need to win the whole tournament, or definitely make the finals, to go dancing if we’re just 7-11.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      I think you will have 5 teams .500 or better which means Michigan would probably top out at 6th place with an 8-10 finish depending on tie breakers. That would still be a Thursday game.

      When you put yourself in a situation where you have “something to prove” in the tournament.. that means big wins. A win in the 6-10 game is just preventing a bad loss. That’s why 3 wins would probably be necessary with an 8-10 conf record.

      Still a lot of games left to be played though.

    • Mith

      To answer your question about keeping an 8-10 team out- yes. Michigan is not going to make the tournament at 8-10 unless they make the B10 tournament final. We barely made it two years ago at 9-9 and that was with the signature wins over Duke and UCLA. We don’t have those big wins this year.

      I think we need to go 9-9 and probably beat Wisconsin in doing so.

      • AG2

        You’re right, it is very rare for a team with a losing conference record to make the tournament. Also, by the time conference tournaments are beginning the selection committee has largely completed handing out at-large bids and is usually working on seeding. This is especially so with the Big Ten which has the last tournament of the season.

  • Kenny

    great write-up. I only caught the second half of the game, thought it would start at 7. This is almost a statement game. We dominate the board and beat them soundly in the paint, many of the score seems so easy. I don’t remember any game that was even close to this in the last 4 seasons. This game is a statement that this team is not an one-dimensional parameter team, it will eat you up in the paint if you leave the interior open, and a post player can be very happy in this offense. I hope that this will help us on the recruiting trail as well. Watched Duke-UNC game, if Zack Zeller was on this team, we would’ve been a serious contender.

    • Alex

      We’re a contender right now which is amazing considering what many expected. I can definitely see us getting to nine wins in conference but it will, of course, be very difficult. If we finish 9-9 in conference I think we would maybe have to win the one game in the BTT to ensure a place in the Tourney. This could be a very exciting next couple of weeks for the Michigan fan base.

  • Tweeter

    Solid Win. It was a strange game. At the start there was almost no feel to the game. The crowd was not in the game and Michigan missed several easy opportunities to just blow the doors off NW. In the second half it seemed like NW just realized that they were getting pounded and started jacking up shots whenever they could, and credit to them they made them. However, even though their offense in the second was just as effective as it was in evanston, the type of shots they were getting were completely different for the most part.

    As good as a game as Morgan had, I think Hardaway had a better game. He is really starting to show signs of being a special player. You are seeing him mature right before our eyes, as he now seems to be able to sense when he needs to attack and when to back off and let the offense run. Plus his positioning on defense has improved vastly.

    It will be interesting to see if Beilein opts to go with Douglass again as a starter down the stretch. He has been using that lineup more and more throughout games and perhaps he feels, just as he has in the past couple seasons, that the small lineup is our best lineup. It wouldnt surprise me at all to see him start the same way against Indiana especially if Watford doesnt play since Indiana tends to play small a lot as well.

    Another interesting note, Beilein mentioned in the post game that McLimans played really well in practice the other day. Scoring like 25 points. I have mentioned this before, but I will say it again, that perhaps down the road we see some of McLimans at the 4. It would have to be a zone defense lineup, but his offensive game is much more suited to play the 4 then it is the 5, not to mention his lack of rebounding. It could be an interesting matchup for some of the teams that play bigger especially if Smot is struggling or has foul trouble.

    On to Indiana, lets try to hold off on the post season talk until after that game. We will have a pretty clear picture then of what it would it take.

    • wayman britt

      Ditto on Hardaway, he sure has blossomed into a good player right before our eyes. His dribble driving and scoring have been great, but I think it’s his rebounding and defensive that has helped the team the most. Fun to watch.

      Tweeter – I hope you are right about McLimans, but he hasn’t shown anything this year that he can play at this level. We will have to wait and see if he can develop enough to see the floor.

      • MikeM

        McLimans can’t defend the 4… How could you have McLimans and another big on the floor at once?

        • sven

          How do you know? He moves very well for his size and at the 4 he isn’t going to get out-muscled nearly as much. He also seems to have more balls skills than back to the basket skills. It might not work out but I hope it is something they try in the future.

  • georgeesq.

    Morgan did a great job running the floor tonight, which had to be part of the game plan. Mirkovich struggles to get up and down the floor.

    • Gary

      Agreed – I really liked seeing Morgan as the first player down the floor on a fast break.
      I also really liked Hardaway’s rebounding in the first half – nothing flashy but it seemed he was always in the right place at the right time. I like how assertive his game has become.

  • MaizeNBlueJ

    Torrent is up at BigTenTracker.com:

    http://bigtentracker.com/torrents.php?id=262

    • sven

      :)

  • JimC

    It’s great to see five players (or even six when Stu gets in the zone) on this team who are capable of scoring about 20 points on a given day, compared to last year when we basically relied on two guys scoring.

  • MAS

    JB had a great game plan and this is an example of where the game plan probably doesn’t get enough credit for the victory because of the night some of the players had.

  • Bleedin’Blue

    Great W! The improvement tha has been made this year is amazing! I am excited for the remainder of this year, but even more so for next year. Hardaway is gonna be special! Anyone know how early you can get into Crisler before games? Heading up for the IU game with 3 buddies, all of whom are IU fans. On a side note, how do you think attendance will be Sat.? My buddies are constantly harassing me about our turnout versus IU’s fan base, so I am hoping for a good crowd Saturday. Great win, and as noted before, great game plan!
    GO BLUE!

  • Section13Row15

    I think you can get in at least an hour before hand, maybe two. Saturday games usually yield better crowds and with the team peaking right now, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t at least three-quarters filled.

    • Eric

      They open the doors to Crisler an hour before the game starts. We will be there also to root for another big win!!

  • Rob in AA

    I agree that coach deserves some credit for his game plan. I loved how often we attached inside. Jordan was a beast. The alley oop to secure the win was unreal.

    Anyone know what percentage Northwestern shot from 2s and 3s in the second half? It was either sick or just seemed sick as our 15-point lead vanished.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      9/16 (56.3%) on threes, 9/15 (60%) on twos…

      Scary numbers.

  • http://Umhoops.com KAB

    I just can’t believe how much confidence this UM team is playing with…Need to keep it up and beat Indiana.I think Indiana’s big man is still out also.Dylan,great post as always…

  • gpsimms

    it doesn’t really matter at all–the point is that THJr is balling right now–but I don’t think it’s possible to have 2fg 43% and 3 fg45% and an efg 69.5%…

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      Yeah… that was a mistake. Should be 56%.

  • AG2

    When I saw NW went 2-9 from 3 in the first half I knew a huge 3pt barrage was coming, and that the only way to weather it was to just keep on scoring, and that’s what they did.

    This team has come a long way from Belgium.

  • MikeSal

    Great win now we need to keep it going on Sat. What a time to peak huh. I feel like this team is starting to gain that swagger and identity that young teams struggle to attain. If what JB said is true and Blake is doing well in practice then hopefully we see some time with him as the big on the court. I doubt they would play him and smot or morgan at the same time…it’s definitely won’t happen this year and i just don’t see JB doing that with the style he likes to play.

    p.s. Wow THJ is a stud. didn’t get a chance to see the game had a work meeting til 8:30 but he looked good on the highlights.

  • gpsimms

    kenpom has spoken. he wave an 82% of winning 7+ games, about 50% chance of winning 8+ games, and about an 18% chance of winning 9+ games.

    • gpsimms

      and the most likely out come is barely 8-10, almost dead even with 7-11, both right around 32%

      • Dylan Burkhardt

        Yeah… was just looking at that now. So mathematically speaking we have roughly a 15% chance of getting on the bubble? Sounds fair.

        • MikeM

          So if there are, say, 8 bubble teams, that would mean a less than 1% chance of making the tournament.
          I think NIT would be a great result for this team. Some postseason experience never hurts.

          • Mith

            I don’t know that I’d agree with the 1% thing. If you are someone that thinks 9-9 gets Mich in the tourney(and I think it will), then they’ve got the 15% shot.

          • Beast1530

            Funny, you mention bubble teams.

            I projected on which teams gets into the NCAA tourney. There are 32 auto bids so 32 is already taken. As for at-large spots, I counted 25-27 teams who are basically a lock to get into the NCAA tourney(like Purdue, Wisconsin). That leaves about 7-9 spots for the bubble teams. By my estimations, there are 25-27 bubble teams. That is lot for 7-9 spots. It’d be easier if Michigan can win the BTT, obviously.

          • Dylan Burkhardt

            Don’t forget about the first four games which provide a couple extra spots for at larges.

    • gpsimms

      uhh he wave=we have. ha

    • Mattski

      I always like to tell myself that the ratings are based on PERFORMANCE THUS FAR. Can’t stop Michigan from kicking a little old fashioned behind and blowing up THE FUTURE.

      Still, you have to pinch yourself early and often–so far these guys have held serve: 15 wins was the prediction. Now it’s time to pour on some gravy.

  • Evan

    Even though tim Doyle was not calling our game he still got the “butterfly” remarks a few times in the game after.

    • JimC

      Tim Doyle nets the Butterfly all the way from Iowa!
      We probably need a nickname for Tim Doyle. How about Dork?

      • rlc

        Dim Toil

  • Azad

    Let’s continue to see the game to game focus and determination by this improving team. We came off of a really solid Penn State win where we really didn’t play well for a majority of the game but got it done when it counted. We came back home to play Northwestern in a must win/a game we SHOULD win but versus a team that gives us matchup problems, and we won that one too. Gotta continue to bring that same focus and intensity to Indiana. At that point we’re 16-10, 6-7 in conference, and we’ve got a road game in Champagne next week for a chance to get back to .500 in conference with 4 games to go. Pretty exciting stuff.

  • tin mad dog

    Dylan-

    While I’m really enjoying this year, I have a question about next year:

    Do you think we might red-shirt Carlton Brundidge?

    He’s rated higher than Burke (#72 to #85) but I think Burke is more of a true-PG so I don’t know what kind of minutes Carlton will get. He would still be the 5th guard behind Morris, Novak, Stu & Trey. It would be a nice luxury to stash him for a year but he may just be too talented for Coach Beilein to keep on the shelf.

    I guess I could also see Coach Beilein wanting to have as strong a line-up as possible to send Zack & Stu off on a high note.

    What do you think?

    • Kenny

      Not Dylan, but I doubt Brundidge will be red-shirted. He will get some minutes to prepare him for 2012, when Stu, Novak, and possibly Morris leaves.

      • tin mad dog

        Good point about Morris maybe leaving after next year, although Hardaway could easily slide into the backcourt to help out. I think we could probably start Burke and Hardaway back there, GR III & Smot at the forward spots and Morgan at C in 2012-13 if we needed to.

        • John B

          carlton is not redshirting, he will compete for minutes from day 1

          • Champswest

            Is that you, coach?

          • Dylan Burkhardt

            Agree with this take. I see very little chance that Brundidge redshirts.

            I’ll start looking at the incoming class more formally after the season though.

          • John B

            haha nah, i’m not coach. just saying carlton has a lot of talent and offers some skills at the 2 guard spot that nobody else does. I’m not saying he’ll start or anything (although it’s possible), i’m just saying he won’t redshirt. he’s too good.

    • BlimpyBlue

      Brundidge isn’t coming here to redshirt.

      Carlton won’t play a ton of minutes next year because of returning perimeter players and the adjustments that he’ll have to make to play at this level. That said, he will still provide a dimension of the bench that this team will need for spurts — the ability to take the ball to the hole and finish in traffic. There are going to be games next year, especially late in the season when he’s adjusted to the speed and size of the college game, that this will be very valuable to the team.

      Furthermore, Brundidge is coming in as an undersized 2 and won’t be competing for the point guard role.

      • tin mad dog

        That’s why I think Burke will be more featured in the rotation. I haven’t seen a ton of Brundidge but I do know he’s highly rated. I’m certainly not against him playing next year, as I’m excited to see what he can do but I just don’t know it it would be better in the long run to save him if he’s only going to play about 10 minutes a game next year. He’s probably more talented offensively than Stu (and Burke will probably be a better back-up PG than Stu) but are you really going to reduce Stu’s role as a senior?

        I suppose if we don’t land another big, we may play even more small ball and that might open up more PT for him.

  • Tyler

    The best situation we could hope for is to go 9-9 in the conference, but still end up as the 6 seed (allowing us to play thursday against the 11 seed). It sounds like we can only have one or the other (9-9 record or 6 seed). But if we do indeed end up as the 5 seed I have a hard time believeing that the big ten would only get 4 bids, but it’s possible. The 5 vs. 4 seed would probably determine a lot of our fate at that point. I think 4 seed that would have a good shot at is the Illini.

    • BlimpyBlue

      If this team ends up on the bubble, it shouldn’t want any part of a Thursday game in the Big Ten Tournament — that game has plenty of downside and zero upside. The selection committee won’t look at a win in what’s essentially a play-in game as something that pushes a team from the bubble into an at-large spot, but it will look at a loss in that game as a reason to keep a team out.

      • sven

        We are going 10-8!

      • tyler

        so you would rather have a situation where we are almost assured of a win and another game we might win, then a situation where we play in a game we might win? No the 11-6 game wouldn’t push us into a bubble, but if we are 9-9 in the conference and get 20 wins we will make the tourney. It’s the body of work, not just that game. I’ll take my chances with 20 wins and a conference record of 10-10 vs. 19 wins and a 9-10 conference record.

        • BlimpyBlue

          Yes, because we wouldn’t be assured of a win in that first game, and win in that game would be meaningless anyway. An upset loss in that game, however, could be devastating.

    • Mith

      You need to remember that sometimes teams get skipped over. Even if we somehow finish in 5th place at 9-9, it wouldn’t be unheard of for the committee to take the 6th or 7th place team if they have a better profile and are also 9-9.

      I like Sven’s thinking below- let’s just go 10-8. :>)

  • Alex

    I guess it’s ok for us to talk about this but the team needs to just focus on a strong Indiana team that could win at Crisler. They almost beat MSU at te Breslin Center.

    • tin mad dog

      I’m sure they’re more focused than we are and that’s what’s important. :-)

  • gpsimms

    Nothing makes me more angry than when Brian @ mgoblog or that idiot at Burgeoning Wolverine Star start talking about Manny Harris.

    • JimC

      Well I’m not even gonna take the time to read their posts (especially MGoBlog, which always descends into sarcasm, obscure references, inside jokes, etc).

      Dylan’s site is the place to go.

      • Kenny

        The football coverage of Mgoblog aren’t bad.

    • Mattski

      Yes. I really think that Brian should give up on the bball analysis. Today’s post was annoying like heck.

      • Beast1530

        It’s obvious that Brian doesn’t know basketball. He is okay with football analysis. The reason why it’s popular is he post contents daily and writes very well for a blogger.

  • the_white_tiger

    Morgan’s performance last night was really amazing if we consider how his prospects looked before the season. With all of his injuries, I was just hoping he could make any semblance of a positive impact on this team, but to his credit, he’s at least our second most valuable player (to Morris, but Morgan is irreplaceable when you consider what we have behind him.)

    • JeremyS

      For the season as a whole, I don’t think Morgan is even close to the second most valuable player. I thought he was almost non-existant for until recently. But after the way he has played in the last couple games, he may be in the future. The kid is growing up. Its amazing. I am so impressed.

      I thought last night was a perfect offensive game plan. Its great to have a presence down low. When your shots aren’t falling, you can always depend on the layup (oops. bad joke). I was so sick of the live-by-the-3 / die-by-the-3 game plan that Michigan was taking earlier this season. For one game, you can beat anyone in the nation, but you aren’t going to win 6 games in a row.

      Boy how things have changed. I can’t wait to see how they finish the year. The potential for next seaon is through the roof.

    • Azad

      I think that different guys have taken the mantle in terms of most valuable during the year. Morris has been #1 throughout, we would be so incredibly lost offensively without him. Right now, I would say Hardaway is the 2nd most valuable player just because of what we saw @ Penn State and last night. He has the ability to be the best player on the floor every night. If Morgan can bring that kind of effort and anything nearing that amount of production against an upper echelon Big 10 team, I would consider moving him up.

      Also hard not to include Novak in this discussion, given that in what could be considered our turning point game of the season @ MSU, he was the emotional leader and a big shot maker.

      • tin mad dog

        That’s what’s great about this team. You can point to quite a few guys that have been strong contributors. Even Smot with the great game he had at Clemson.

        This is very much a TEAM of players.

      • the_white_tiger

        I was saying most valuable in that his replacements are either not ready (Horford and McLimans) or too small to consistently play the 5 (Smotrycz). If we did not have Morgan putting in these minutes, we’d get absolutely killed inside. He’s not one of the most valuable in that he’s one of the best, but that he’s irreplaceable.

        • JeremyS

          white_tiger, You are absolutely right. Morgan has certainly played himself into a very important role on this team.

          • http://twitter.com/thewhitetiger16 the_white_tiger

            Thank you, he really is. Horford will improve of course, but as of right now, Morgan is the only solid post presence we have.

  • http://Umhoops.com KAB

    Agreed Alex…

  • Tweeter

    Yea just read the post on Mgoblog plus the one it is referencing, and I am baffled. Not just by the conclusions but rather the method used by both posters. I always laugh when I see people try to break down players games by just using stats especially when comparing two players from two completely different teams. Both guys basically used stats to reach conclusions then referenced “other factors” to support the conclusions they had already reached.

    To say that Manny regressed simply because his numbers didnt jump each and every season he played, is basically to say that you watched zero basketball games and have no idea how to evaluate a player. Then you question what Harris could have been had he had the compliment of players around him like Hardaway does, yet a paragraph later you say that Morris is a better player than Harris ever was without even mentioning the same circumstance you just pointed out. Whatever.

    • Tweeter

      oops meant to reply above, sorry

  • JeffG

    Has anyone felt that Novak and Douglass have been kind of taking a back seat since Hardaway’s emergence? I mean that in a positive way, like they’ve recognized that he needs to have the ball in his hands more often and have tried to facilitate that. It seems like they’re still playing effeciently but not taking as many shots. They seem like true team guys.

    • Tweeter

      i dont know if it is them taking a backseat or its just the way teams have been defending us. Especially with Novak, I just think teams are playing him a lot tighter and forcing other players to do things. The number of shots that Hardaway is taking has not really gone up, rather we have seen him get better looks by being aggresive.

      Just like with Morgan last night, it was more a result of how NW just to defend than it was anything in particular Morgan was doing. NW decided to stick tight with shooters and force Michigan to attack the basket.

      • Tweeter

        I will add though, that the team is starting to recognize when and where to get the ball to Hardaway more than they had early in the season.

    • Azad

      Tweeter’s 100% right. We are getting better at developing different options and taking what defenses give us. I think Morgan’s performance last night was definitely eye opening and is going to make teams have to pay a lot more attention to him, which should open things up all around the court.

      Also, Novak’s ability to pump fake and dribble in drew a few fouls and he managed to finish a couple times at the basket, which also helps to make us more difficult to defend.

      Off topic but Darius Morris had a nice post move last night where he spun to and finished with his left hand. If we see some more lefty finishes on drives from him, he’s going to be so much more effective and draw a lot more fouls. It was really encouraging to see us get 21 attempts at the line last night.

  • Alex

    FYI: Realtimerpi is showing us at RPI 54 with 7 quality wins (x < RPI 100) and a SOS of 14. This is coupled with only one bad loss (@ Indiana). They are predicting a 17-13 finish though one of those wins is against Wisconsin and not counting Concordia.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      The 7 top 100 wins are nice but the lack of good top 50 ones is a weakness. Michigan has 1 or 2 with Harvard and MSU right around the 50 mark.

  • tyler

    Another thing that people are overlooking is that if we do go 4-2 down the stretch we will have a very good record since the state game, and moreover a good record in the last 10 games. The committee seems to place a high emphasis on finishing strong, and we def. will have accomplished that if we get to 9-9 in the conference.

    • BlimpyBlue

      Historically, this is definitely true. However, the committee has explicitly de-emphasized looking at how a team finished its season in an effort to judge teams’ entire bodies of work more evenly.

  • http://Umhoops.com KAB

    Dylan,do you feel if we get to 9-9 in the conference that we are pretty much a lock to dance?I think we finish 8-10, but just if!

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      I don’t think we’d be a lock. I think we would be in the picture though. Way too many games, conference tournaments, and upsets left in the season.

      • bird

        I think it’s 21 (wins) or bust. Regular season, BTT, however.

        Keep hittin’.

  • http://Umhoops.com KAB

    Yea,but I just think that we would have a pretty good case at 9-9..Like you said though,alot of games left to be played!It’s kind of nice for the time being to be back in the picture…

    • JeremyS

      I agree, It is very nice to be even talking about a possible NCAA spot. Wasn’t long ago when most the talk was about Beilien’s job. Considering the horrible stretch of 7 losses in 8 games, the turnaround these last 4 games has been downright remarkable.

  • redman345

    carlton bund..will get plenty of minutes depending on his play and the ability to play the one and a two guard.so saying that with the starters they had out there last nite,carlton and trey burke will be called to produce off the bench

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