Five Key Plays: Arkansas Pine Bluff at Michigan


1. Jordan Morgan’s block and put-back on the other end

Jordan Morgan didn’t have a huge game but he was aggressive and assertive during this stretch. First, Morgan has a monster block, sending the Pine Bluff shot into the seats. One of the ESPN announcers posed a valid question, asking if you can block a shot like this, why can’t you keep it in bounds? He may have a point, but in a 24-8 game, a block like this did a good job of sending Morgan’s message. Aggressiveness. This is the attitude that Michigan fans want to see out of Morgan and he continued that play on the offensive end as well. Under a minute later, Morgan got into the action on the offensive end, out hustling three Pine Bluff defenders for an offensive rebound and finishing with a nice baby hook. Morgan should dominate games like this and for stretches in this one he was impressive. It was also great to see Morgan finish quickly and effectively after an offensive rebound as we’ve seen him struggle in this situation from time to time this year.

2.Michigan’s 19-0 first-half run

It’s tough to complain about a 19-0 run and this one was every bit as fun as you’d expect. The run started with Evan Smotrycz, who put together a nice performance (10 points, 5 rebounds) for the second game in a row. Smotrycz’s three-pointer with 15:55 gave the Wolverines a lead they would not relinquish for the rest of the game. Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Stu Douglass all add to the run, and it was capped by a nice put-back by Matt Vogrich, which may have been the most important play of them all. Vogrich, who had made just one three-pointer this season coming into this game, finally got hot in the second half. The put-back just may have been the confidence boost he needed to get going.

3.Trey Burke’s 3 at the end of the half, set up by Blake McLiman’s screen

There’s a couple things to watch on this play. First, the beautiful screen by Blake McLimans at mid-court. McLimans just levels the UAPB player, sending him straight to the floor in a daze, with a completely legal screen. McLimans is in perfect position and his feet are set. From there, Burke did the rest. He pulled up just outside the three-point line, hung in the air, and fired up the three. He drained it, giving Michigan a 37-17 lead heading into the break. Not that Michigan needed confidence to put them over the edge, but this is a play that could come in handy in a close conference game in the future.

4. Matt Vogrich’s three second-half 3-pointers

In one game, Vogrich’s three point shooting percentage went from 7.7 percent to 22 percent. Vogrich ended the game 3-for-5 from deep, making his first 3-pointer since his one and only made-three point bucket this year, which he made nearly a month ago in a Nov. 17 victory over Western Illinois. Vogrich has proven that once he gets hot, he can make shots in a hurry. For the first time this season, he reminded us of that fact and found a convert zone. Hopefully that confidence will carry over to the Big Ten season, which is just over two weeks away.

5. Tim Hardaway Jr. shows he’s OK in the second half

In a game like this, maybe more than anything you want your players to stay healthy. Michigan had a big scare late in the first half, when Tim Hardaway bit on a pump-fake and went flying into the air. Hardaway came down hard, landing right on his back. For about 10 seconds, Hardaway lay on the floor barely moving. Finally, he got up under his own power and headed to the bench — Crisler Arena exhaled. Fortunately, he seemed to be okay in the second half. He started the second half, hit a three in his first shift and had a couple shifts. After the game, John Beilein said Hardaway probably just has a pretty big bruise on his tail bone but shouldn’t miss any time for it. Disaster averted.

  • sane1

    Dylan, I like these 5 key play posts, but maybe it’s time to call this “5 key sequences”? And, JMo definitely could have blocked that shot over to Douglas. On Vogrich, not only did he hit three straights 3s, but they were pure, nbn.

    • Fair point but that doesn’t sound nearly as marketable :-)

      In all seriousness, I think they will draw more toward being individual plays when we get to Big Ten play… It’s hard to drum up the importance of a specific play against Arkansas Pine Bluff..

  • Tenz23

    I dont understand why JMo doesnt get more minutes…..?  He is obviously the best center on our team.  He can finish the best, he has a soft touch, he get the most rebounds, he our most athletic center, he has nice moves, and in the begning of the season he proved that he has the ability to shoot the 12 footer, he has got the softest hands and he is our strongest center….  He should clearly be our starter and our number one center.
    Can anyone else exmplain why it isnt??

    • gpsimms

      morgan has more than double horford’s minutes so far this year.  would you like him to get some minutes at guard?

      • MGoTweeter


      • Tenz23

        No..why would we do that we already have a center trying to play guard..Eso…we dont need two centers trying to play guard….

    • MGoTweeter

      Tenz, I think he clearly is the starter and the number one center.  As far as minutes go, it really is all on him.  Almost all of the games that his minutes are down, are because he has two fouls before the first tv timeout.  But on top of that, you have to factor in that there are going to be games that the team is better off going small with Smotrycz playing the 5.  He is never going to be a thirty plus minute a game guy and frankly I do not think you want a thirty plus minute a game guy at center.  That is position you want to keep fresh and Michigan actually has some depth there.   

      • gpsimms

        this is the correct, non-smartass answer.  sorry i’m a smartass.

      • Tenz23

        I dont understand why he cant be a thirty plus minute guy?  He is obviously our best center and i dont believe out back up are that good. Our freshman point guard is a 30 plus minute guy and he obviously is our best 1 just like morgan is our best 5.   Smotrycz is weak around the basket and he is so much better when he is playing his natural position as a 4, where he can stretch out the defense and shoot the ball.  Horford is super soft and all him post moves are awkward looking.  He is good on D, and can grab rebound but he is a cancer on offense.  You might as well be trying to score with four people out there.  Plus his hands are like rocks he cant catch the ball when it is passed to him.  Dont get me started on Mcliman……  I guess what i am trying to say is unless JMo is in foul trouble he should be in the game and that obviously isnt the case since he only averages 20 minutes a game

        • Mattski

          I loved the way he rolled with Darius last year, and–maybe like you, Tenz–have been longing to see Jordan in there bruising for longer stretches; when he’s putting his stamp on the game I always feel good about Michigan’s chances. I think that, depending on the other team’s personnel, we will see him in for longer stretches. I’m not so crazy about Smotrycz at the five, either, although he is pulling down re’s. 

        • MHoops1

          With all due respect, you seem to be ignoring MGoTweeter’s point, namely, that Morgan is in foul trouble early and often, and that’s a big reason why he averages 20 minutes a game. With rare exceptions, Beilein doesn’t play guys who get 2 first half fouls for the rest of the half, and Morgan has had several occasions where he had two fouls very early in the half.

          It is also a wriong analogy in my opinion to compare the minutes given to Burke to those given to Morgan. First, Burke is more productive than Morgan. Second, Burke is more essential than Morgan, because the people behind Burke are not nearly as ready to fill in as those behind Morgan. Third, even great bigs generally need more of a breather than do guards, because of body size and frequent pounding. 

  • JimC

    To me, #4 is a true highlight, since we haven’t really seen Vogrich produce since last year.  Hopefully not the last time he makes it into Five Key Plays.