Five Key Plays: Michigan at Iowa

1) Tim Hardaway Jr.’s early 3-pointers

A common theme for Tim Hardaway Jr.’s big games (excluding the Penn State game) is that he is usually able to get a few early shots to fall. These were more important earlier in the season because it seemed like he would get in a funk if he missed some early open looks and he wouldn’t be effective. At this point, Tim seems to have matured so rapidly — and he doesn’t need to rely on the 3-point shot as much — that he can disregard early misses and force himself to be a factor whether he’s hitting his outside shot or not. Still, it’s always good for Tim to get things going from beyond the arc early in the game, especially in one as sloppy as this one was. On the first play, the “Big Three” team up to get Tim open and get him the ball: Jordan Morgan sets a screen on Tim’s man and Darius Morris finds him for the open triple. On the second play, Darius gets one of his more impressive assists on the season, tipping the ball to Hardaway in the corner while falling down in transition. Tim buries the shot but this is an extremely impressive play by Morris, who manages to not just see Hardaway but also get him the ball all in the split second that he’s falling to the ground.

2) Zack Novak fouling out on all charge attempts

In many ways, this video is a microcosm of Zack Novak’s night in Iowa City. The junior couldn’t get anything going and it was just one of those nights. Not only did Zack go 0-10 from the field, he also fouled out with each foul being called on Novak as he attempted to take a charge. Michigan’s bigs (and, to a certain extent, the guards) try to draw offensive fouls in the paint instead of going up to block shots because of a general lack of explosiveness in the Wolverine frontcourt. Zack and Jordan (and Jon Horford and Evan Smotrycz, at times) have all gotten pretty good at getting in position and drawing charges. But when the refs aren’t blowing the whistle in your favor, you’re really out of luck, and that’s where Zack found himself last night. Many of these could have gone either way but Novak’s problems just seemed to compound as seemingly every 50-50 call went the wrong way.

3) Tim Hardaway’s mini-run in the beginning of the 2nd half

Early in the second half, Iowa took a commanding 10-point lead on a 3-pointer by Matt Gatens. Then Tim Hardaway decided to put his foot down. The freshman nailed two triples and a mid-range jumper in the span of about four minutes. That, combined with some solid defense from Michigan, cut the Iowa lead to just two at the 14-minute mark in the second half. Michigan gets a lot of open looks for its shooters by running them through screens, and that’s exactly how Hardaway gets his first two 3-pointers. On the first, Morgan sets a ball screen and both Iowa defenders back off of Hardaway. Hardaway reads this correctly and knocks down the wide open jumper. On the second, Hardaway gets his shot off while Blake McLimans sets an effective, albeit moving, screen. The mid-range jumper is just an extremely impressive move by Tim and shows off how far the freshman has come this year in terms of creating his own shot. John Beilein talked since day one about Hardaway taking over that Manny Harris role, and early returns appear to be proving him right.

4) The two posterizations

These sure were fun to watch, weren’t they? The first play was just brilliant on both ends, as Darius makes an incredible pass to Jordan, who proceeds with one of his strongest finishes this year. It’s amazing to see what he can do considering where he was at a year ago. This play is what Darius does best: drive the lane, draw and extra man, find his unguarded teammate in a position to finish the play. Here, Darius draws Jordan’s man and bounces a pass right through two defenders to Jordan, who catches it and slams it home with one hand directly over Andrew Brommer. The best part might be watching Hardaway’s reactions, he starts galloping around and clearly wants in on the action. Three minutes later he has his chance on the fast break as Darius finds Tim with a beautiful no-look pass in transition and Tim finishes with style over the same unfortunate soul, Andrew Brommer. His teammate Zach McCabe made the smart move and just stayed out of Tim’s way. A couple of highlight-reel plays for Michigan I wouldn’t be surprised to see integrated into the pre-game video at Crisler.

5) Jordan Morgan’s clutch free throws

It doesn’t get more pressure-packed than this. Down two points on the road in a hostile arena with two free throws to tie the game. Jordan Morgan, a 53 percent free throw shooter on the season, stepped up to the charity stripe and calmly sunk them both. He even managed to remain focused despite an Iowa timeout between the pair. This was a really great moment for Morgan and very gratifying as fans to watch knowing all he’s gone through and how hard he’s worked to have the kind of year he’s having. The free throws forced overtime and allowed Michigan to gut out an ugly, tough road win that they couldn’t afford to lose. These shots, as Dylan mentioned in the recap, were without a doubt the play of the game.

  • SteinerBlue

    Loved the “Daddy never did that!” comment on Hardaway’s dunk.

    • KRN

      Trying to do his best Gus Johnson impression.

      • Rob Pollard

        You’re not giving the announcer enough credit. That was a great, instantaneous comment on the dunk. Gus Johnson, who I really like, would have probably just been laughing manically for about 5 seconds, and then punctuated it with something like a growled “Tim…Hardaway,..JUNIOR!”.

  • wayman britt

    I don’t understand why referees are so afraid of calling charges. Many of Novak’s defensive plays were close, but at least two of them were definitely charges no questions asked. Especially the last one.

    • tyler

      Yep I was going to post that but you beat me to it. I think the first three calls could have went either way. But the last two (esp the last one) definitely were charges. Look at long Novak’s feet are planted on the last one. I know charge/block calls are difficult, but I honestly Zach couldn’t have made that last call any easier and they still messed it up.

    • Jeff

      Just my two cents, but I thought two of them were charges, two were blocks and one could have gone either way. On the first one, I said, if that was at home he would get that call. That’s just the way college ball is reffed. Different game if you’re home or away.

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  • KRN

    Who here watched all five videos, then proceeded to watch #4 ten more times?

    • Gary

      I can watch the Morris assist on the second play in #1 over and over. That was just a brilliant play for Morris.

  • Bigfoot

    So who are we pulling for, UW or PSU?

    • sven

      I’m pulling for Wisconsin as much as it pains me to do so.

    • ToBlav

      UW, we can’t catch them but we can pass PSU in the strandings. Plus we don’t want UW coming in off a loss. Also, we want UW ranked as high as possible to get us our quality win at the highest level possible.

    • MH20

      We are pulling for Wisconsin. A win today would keep them in the top 25 of the RPI and a chance at a high quality win. A PSU win also would really boost their resume, despite a so-so overall record. They are a threat.

    • Jeff

      I disagree with everyone. We need as many top-50 wins as we can get for our profile. We beat PSU twice so that’s a way to get two top-50 wins, if they keep winning. Beating Wisconsin will look good no matter what, if we’re able to. I think people worry too much about passing teams in the B10. We’re evaluated as a team, not as a conference. The thing we’re lacking is good wins. I’m rooting for Clemson, PSU and MSU (as painful as it is) to keep winning to make our profile look better.

  • Kainkitizen

    #4 is what makes this team exciting to watch. Can’t wait to do it against the team to the west on March 5th.

  • JimC

    5 Key Plays – I love it!

    The missing key play is the phantom half-court triple that wasn’t. So give that to instant replay.

    Also, you could make a case for the ‘practice squad’ lineup late in the first half – it was bad, but it wasn’t a total disaster. The existing deficit only swelled by a few points.

  • A2MIKE

    I thought the second and fifth fouls on novak were definite charges. I thought on the first one it was a 50/50 call, he may have been a tad bit late. On three and four he definitely was in position but notice the offensive player is able to slide around him and hit novak with a glancing blow. The charge was not straight on for these two fouls, and one thing that has been more consistent this year is that this is routinely called as a block when the offensive player does not collide with the defensive player head on.

  • dustin

    It seems like there is at least 2 sick dimes by morris every game. It would be awesome to see a compilation video of morris schooling people. Please make this happen ! Great stuff as always.

  • Andrew

    I feel like the Novak calls were questionable and really could use the semicircle painted underneath the basket. I kind of felt like that’s what they were calling and Novak takes a lot of charges/commits a lot of blocks in that area. It’s insane they don’t have it there to make the officials jobs easier.

  • rkw

    u guys know if hardaway jr dunk made sportcenter top 10?

    • KRN

      No it didn’t.

  • Brian W

    The Hardaway dunk was sweet. I didn’t get to see it yesterday since I had to leave for the U-M hockey game… The close-up angle of Morgan’s was cool also. Morgan has had some good dunks over the last few games.

    After seeing Wisconsin honor two guys from the Super Bowl champion Packers at halftime of today’s game, it would be sweet if they could honor Charles Woodson during the halftime of the U-M/Wisconsin game this week. I’m sure he could give a pretty inspirational talk to the bball team too.

  • Chris in NC

    All I can say is that this team is going to be absolute pure death from above in 2 years… God have mercy on the opponents souls…

    • Mith

      That’s what I used to think too, until I realized Morris will go pro before his senior year. And now I worry about Hardaway too. But if those goes somehow stay for all 4 years, this team could be spectacular.

  • Joel

    Wow, Novak was 0 for 10??? That combined with all the blocking fouls = probably his worst game as a Wolverine. #4 is awesome, but #5 is even more satisfying to watch. So, so, so, so clutch – a ~50% FT shooter sinking 2 FTs to tie the game and possibly save our season. Huge shots.

  • Erik

    They may or may not be instructed to take charges because we lack shotblockers, but I’d actually prefer taking a charge. Blocks often times become loose balls which can go to either team or out of bounds. Charges give you the ball AND it creates a foul which is HUGE.

    I’ve seen the coaches tweet about the importance of moving the feet and anticipating where the offense is going to establish position there first. Obviously over the past couple games we haven’t been anticipating as well as earlier in the season because we are no longer getting the fouls. But I’m not ready to give up on it yet. I think taking charges is an important facet of this defense and it instills some toughness.

    If I’m going to run the risk of getting a foul on defense between a block and a charge, I’m going for the charge and I’ll force the offensive player to risk a foul and provide physical contact to make his shot harder. I think we may be getting a reputation was “floppers” though and that is the only thing that worries me.

  • MaizeNBlueJ

    The Iowa game is up at BigTenTracker.com:

    http://bigtentracker.com/torrents.php?id=267

  • gpsimms

    bracketology 101 has us in the first four out.

  • Azad

    What’s depressing to me is that in Beilein’s tenure, not only have we never beat Wisconsin, we have never even come within 10 points of beating them at home. We’ve kept them close a couple times @ Wisconsin and lost 5-6 point games, but we have yet to show that we really are capable of beating them. I hope this is the time that we really come together and play our best game and finally take them down.

  • http://Umhoops.com KAB

    Crashing the dance also has us on the first four out..What a huge game on Wed!

  • http://www.offtackleempire.com GregGoBlue

    Well put, Joe.

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