Game 9: Michigan vs. Oakland Recap

Dylan Burkhardt
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More Coverage: Photo Gallery / Beilein Quotes & Video / Kampe Video

Michigan beat Oakland, 90-80, at the Palace on Saturday afternoon but had to do it on Oakland’s terms. John Beilein’s teams have been easy to define: they play at a slow tempo, limit turnovers, rarely foul, and attempt more than their fair share of three pointers. There was only one element of Beilein-ball in this game – three point shooting. Oakland controlled the tempo, forced turnovers, and got to the free throw line so effectively that with a little over ten minutes to play the Grizzlies had a very real chance of achieving the monumental upset that they so badly crave. The Wolverines were too much in the end, escaping the Palace with a ten point win on the back of clutch performances from Trey Burke, Evan Smotrycz and Tim Hardaway Jr.

It’s a struggle to find a Michigan performance that compares to this game under John Beilein. Michigan turned the ball over on nearly a quarter of its possessions and many of them were unforced. Burke (6) and Hardaway (4) were the primary culprits but Michigan’s less frequent ball handlers were equally culpaple, coughing the ball up seven times combined. It was Michigan’s shooting that won this game. The Wolverines connected on 62% of their twos and 54% of their threes for an effective field goal percentage of 71.3% that’s been matched in only two games under John Beilein (Iowa ‘10-11, Purdue ‘09-10). Simply put, it’s tough to lose games when you shoot the ball that well.

Michigan’s defense was far from flawless. The two greatest struggles for the Wolverine defense were keeping Oakland off the free throw line – 57% free throw rate (FTA/FGA) – and slowing down the Grizzlies in transition, especially off of made baskets. In the half court, Michigan did a decent job of challenging Oakland shots as the Grizzlies converted 47% of their twos and 38% of their threes for a 51% effective field goal percentage. Michigan’s defense excelled on the defensive glass against the smaller Oakland front line, rebounding over 80% of Oakland’s missed shots on the evening.

John Beilein knew this game was going to be a battle and he received every bit of the challenge that he expected. Michigan’s performance was far from perfect but it was able to ride strong individual performances from Trey Burke (career high), Evan Smtorycz (career high) and Tim Hardaway Jr. who all poured in 20 points or more.

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Player Bullets:

  • Trey Burke: More than any other player on the roster, Trey Burke makes good things happen when he’s on the floor. He affected the game in so many ways that it’s almost impossible to touch on all of them in one bullet. His final stat line today: 20 points, nine assists, two rebounds, steal, block and six turnovers. He was lethal in transition, penetrated Oakland’s defense easily to create for himself (4-5 2p) and others and hit some huge three point shots (3-6 3p). He made a few huge second half plays including an NBA-distance three to break Oakland’s zone, a great one-on-one block of Reggie Hamilton and then the huge assist to Tim Hardaway Jr. while falling out of bounds to ice the game. The six turnovers are a problem and a stern reminder of his freshman status but Michigan is a different team with Trey on the floor.
  • Evan Smotrycz: Evan finally managed to stay out of foul trouble and he produced: 20 points on 7 of 8 (4-5 3pt) shooting with nine rebounds, two steals, one assists and two turnovers. This was the most complete game of Smotrycz’s career and he was as efficient offensively as he was effective on the defensive glass.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: Hardaway had just three points and two fouls in the first half but, as we’ve become accustomed to, exploded for 18 points in the second half. All it seems to take is one hot stretch from Hardaway for three or four possessions to completely change the complexion of a game. Hardaway was more effective outside (5-9) than inside (1-4) today and also had his fair share of turnovers (4).
  • Zack Novak: He only took three shots but he left an imprint on the game: 5 points, 9 rebounds and 8 (!) assists. Novak is handling the ball with more confidence this year and his mid-range jumper continues to be a pleasant surprise.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan looked tentative in the first half. He was beat for position around the basket, missed an easy look or two and never seemed to find a rhythm. He was a different player in the second half and it all started with two great defensive possessions to open the half: the first a big help side block and the second a drawn charge. His confidence grew from there as he continued to play well defensively and knocked down a nice mid-range jumper late. Morgan finished with nine points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes including four vital offensive rebounds.
  • Stu Douglass: Douglass had a lackluster first half but hit some big shots in the second, finishing with 13 points on 4 of 7 (2-4 3pt) shooting including a transition dunk. He seemed to finally find some comfort with his shot in the second half and this was the sort of performance he can build off of offensively.
  • Jon Horford: Horford still struggles catching the ball around the basket and looked tentative today. He’s playing injured but the production wasn’t there: five rebounds, three turnovers, one block and 0-2 s hooting in in 11 minutes.
  • Eso Akunne: Akunne was thrown into as tough of a spot as we’ve seen with Burke and Novak sidelined with four fouls late. Unlike his earlier playing time this season, he didn’t rise to the occasion – coming up with a turnover and a missed three.
  • Matt Vogrich: Vogrich appears to be rushing his three point shots and also got back-doored for an easy basket. He did have a very strong take to the basket and finished through a foul.
  • Kenny

    Any torrent track of the game?

  • ForeverBlue

    Listening to the post-game radio interviews I heard JB talk about Burke taking the chair to lead the team in the Victors.  The interviewer said he thought Burke wanted that honor badly and was all smiles when JB gave him the nod.  JB was pretty happy to hear that because he says Burke loves the team and Michigan so much.

    In my wildest dreams I never thought Burke would this good, this early.  This team, as it continues to grow, should be better than last season.  Burke with his perimeter shot and quicks is twice the threat Morris was.  There is still much further to go but I like this team and watch out next season.

  • YSU_Golfer

    torrent for the game at mgovideo? 

  • Champswest

    When Smotrycz plays like today, we are going to be hard to beat.  It takes a lot of pressure off of Burke and Hardaway.  I too am surprised at how well Trey is playing at this point in the season.
    We have a chance to be a pretty good team by year end.  It would really be nice if Brudidge could get to the point where he can contribute meaningful minutes.

    • mitch

      Back up PG looks like an issue.  Burke needs to stay healthy and out of foul trouble.

  • Wayman Britt

    Well we know this team isn’t going to breeze through the season and they could go thru some rough patches in the Big Ten, but should be able to make the tourney and be pretty good by March.

    However, I hope the next couple of games we can get limit Trey’s minutes so he does not hit the wall at the end.  I know he is the only point guard, but hopefully Eso, Stu and Carlton can relieve him against these lower teams coming up.

  • Flwolve

    It felt like LLP was still trying to help UM win today.  Man, that kid is not one bit better today than he was 4 years ago.  He’s good at the Summit League level but he would still struggle mightily in the Big 10.  He’s just not a Big 10 caliber player.

    • Dremmler

      Actually, I thought he looked pretty good, driving, playmaking and making some big shots.  But, looking at the box score, he wasn’t very efficient – 5-12 FG, 2-4 FT and 4 TO to 1 assist.  He’s a bit of a gunner and not the most disciplined player.

      • Champswest

        He looked the same as I remember him, a turnover waiting to happen.

  • UM Hoops fan

    IU takes down Kentucky, MSU takes down Zaga, 8-4 in B1G-acc challenge… Man, B1G is going to be tough this year.

  • http://www.umhoops.com/ Dylan Burkhardt

    It’s still early but an odd random fact: Michigan has the best RPI in the Big Ten at 13 despite being one of four teams without a win over the top 50. Beauty is that Michigan has only played one team with an RPI > 200 and has played 4 neutral and 1 road game.

    Of course, the RPI will likely drop before the end of December with home games vs Pine Bluff, Bama A&M and Bradley the first two of which are >200 teams.

    Michigan also has the strongest SOS at this point in the Big Ten. Michigan will probably have 3 non-conf games against RPI >200 teams this year compared to 5 last year — that’s a significant difference. 

    http://warrennolan.com/basketball/2012/schedule/Michigan

    Again, it’s FAR too early for the RPI but this helps prove my point that smart scheduling is more about scheduling mediocre teams instead of awful ones than scheduling 10 games against top 10 teams.

    • ZRL

      Yeah I’ve been checking out the Western Illinois box scores ever since people were freaking out over our close win and Beilein predicted that they’d finish near of the top of their league. Turns out he was right, and their rpi is at 77 right now. Our rpi would be much lower if they were a 300+ team, which is probably what Beilein thought they were going to be when scheduling them.

      Also, while our next few games will drag down our sos, if Memphis and Ucla pick it up may counter the effect. They’re currently 78 and 174 in the rpi.

      • http://www.umhoops.com/ Dylan Burkhardt

        Yeah we are all Western Illinois, Memphis, Virginia, Iowa State and UCLA fans :-)

        Memphis plays Murray State (high RPI) and at Louisville in the next week, big games, then rematches with Georgetown and Tennessee by Jan 4th. 

        Still curious about how teams like W. Ill, Memphis, Iowa State, UVA turn out in their respective leagues.

        • FGCU Maize Rage

          I would guess Western Illinois finishes third in the Summit League below Oakland and South Dakota State. Hopefully Oakland can cruise through the conference and make us look better…

  • UM Hoops Fan

    Random note- LLP reverse back door was play 10 on sportscenters top ten plays of day. At least that worked out for him.

  • Mattski

    I see the team as it’s emerging being the most multi-faceted of Beilein’s tenure. While that’s going to mean some stretches, especially early, where all those parts aren’t terribly integrated, Burke and Smotrycz seem to knit the thing together; it’s coming together quicker than last year. Hopefully Hardaway can get his party started a little earlier in these games. . .  

    I know I sound like a complete homer, but Michigan’s uniforms right now, to my mind, are as nice as they’ve been in a long time, maybe going back to the Fab 5.

  • Merlin50

    The main concern is the bench.  With hardaway out and vogrich playing we have lost momentum in two games, this one and Virginia.  We have 7 players right now and hardaway and burke are going to have to log lots of minutes and stay out of foul trouble.  It is a shame Brundige is not ready to play this year.

    • Matt

      You can almost feel it through the tv too.  I know Vogrich is struggling, but when you are the designated sniper and you have trouble hitting anything there is a problem.  I assume he is hitting them in practice but man.  I am hoping his 3s start falling by conference play.  If not give someone else a shot.

      • Mattski

        On the radio feed last night, the announcers were saying he drills them in practice. 

  • Alex

    Just keep going one day at a time. If teams like Michigan State, VCU, Murray State, and Duke have shown anything it’s that it’s how you perform in the Big Dance, if you make it, that defines your season. In other words I want them to be good enough to make the dance (hopefully at a good seed) but I want them to also play their best ball in March (and April).

    Our teams really are inspirational.

  • Wayman Britt

    Looking forward to Dylan’s post and video of Matt Vogrich’s shooting slump, so maybe he can retain his touch like Stu did after the article on him.