Game 15: Michigan at Indiana Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan at Indiana 22
Photo by Jamie Owens

Post Game: Beilein Press Conference | Photo Gallery

There are no moral victories in a league where every game seems to boils down to a one or two possession battle. Games are opportunities and losses are missed opportunities. Michigan let a golden chance for a coveted road victory slip away at Assembly Hall on Thursday night. The Wolverines never led but had four shots and a desperation heave to tie or take the lead in the final three minutes of play. Those shots all rimmed out and Michigan’s last gasp effort fell short. The Wolverines missed out on their third win at Assembly Hall in almost a quarter-century and Indiana escaped with a 73-71 victory.

For 15 minutes on Thursday night, Michigan looked like a team playing its first Big Ten road game. At that point, down 33-18, the Wolverines looked defeated but they battled back. Michigan outscored Indiana by 13 points over the final 25 minutes but it wasn’t enough. The slow start against a good opponent in relatively adverse conditions was eerily similar to either of the last two Michigan games against Duke where Michigan simply dug itself too deep of a hole to overcome.

Michigan’s offense, especially given its star’s shooting struggles, was pretty solid on the day. The Wolverines amassed 1.08 points per possession against Indiana, which is the second best mark allowed by the Hoosiers this season. Michigan shot 50% (17-34) on twos and more importantly 42% (10-24) on threes. Douglass, Novak, Smotrycz and McLimans were a combined 8-of-12 from three point range. Michigan rebounded 27% of its misses which isn’t a great number but did allow for 11 second chance points. An 18 percent turnover rate isn’t too shabby but there were still a couple careless giveaways that really seemed to cost the Wolverines. There were a lot of sloppy or manufactured points but when this team can seem to play a bad offensive game and still score at this rate it means the offense is probably going to be okay headed forward.

The Michigan offense was good enough to win but the defense was a shade below acceptable, mostly due to early struggles. The Wolverines surrendered 1.11 points per trip and just couldn’t force Indiana into enough bad looks from the field. The Hoosiers scorched the nets inside and out, 53% on twos (20-38) and 64% on threes (7-11). Christian Watford was mostly unstoppable when Indiana went his way (25 points on 11 shots) and Cody Zeller was equally efficient (18 points on 10 shots). Watford was 3-of-4 on three point attempts while the only Hoosier to miss a three was Victor Oladipo (2 for 10, 0-3 3pt). Michigan was able to hang with Indiana because of a dominating performance on the defensive glass, grabbing 75% of Indiana’s misses, and forcing turnovers on almost a quarter of the Hoosier’s possessions. There were bad stretches for the Wolverine defense but five consecutive stops late in the second half were the only reason that Michigan had a chance to win this game near the end.

This loss is frustrating because there were so many possessions that Michigan seemed to give away. Silly turnovers off of inbound plays, bad or rushed shots, open Indiana shots because of miscommunication in transition or a bad rotation, missed free throws (even a front end of a one-and-one). It’s almost impossible to win on the road in this league when you give that many possessions away on both ends of the floor. Those are also great teaching moments. This team will improve over the next two to three months if it learns how to minimize those mistakes.

If this game leaves a bitter taste, there probably isn’t a more motivating team to welcome into Crisler Arena than Wisconsin. The Badgers travel to Ann Arbor on Sunday for a nationally televised game which will give the Wolverines an opportunity to avenge this play.

Michigan at Indiana 9Michigan at Indiana 12Michigan at Indiana 14
Photos by Jamie Owens

Player Bullets

  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan has struggled at times this season but he flat out battled at Assembly Hall. You’ll often hear Michigan players refer to being the hammer and not the nail, Morgan was the hammer tonight. Michigan gave up points in the paint (Watford and Zeller scored 43 points on 21 shots) but I think Morgan played strong defense. He grabbed nine rebounds, finished very well around the basket (6-7 fga) and didn’t turn the ball over. On one possession he went hurtling toward the Indiana bench flying for a loose ball, he didn’t save the ball but he was lucky that he didn’t fly into a railing. That’s the sort of intensity that he seemed to play with, while staying out of foul trouble, for a career high 34 minutes.
  • Trey Burke: John Beilein denied it after the game but, for the first time all season, Burke finally looked a bit like a freshman – at least by my eyes. Then my eyes look at the stat sheet and notice that Burke almost had a triple double: 10 points on 4 of 15 (2-5 3pt) shooting with eight assists and seven rebounds. Sure he turned the ball over four times and left points on the free throw line but you have to take a step back and realize the situation he’s in. He’s a true freshman in his first road game that’s running the Michigan offense, leading the team in minutes, creating scoring opportunities and all but shutting down Jordan Hulls (3 points on 4 shots). Burke is only going to grow and get better going forward.
  • Stu Douglass: Douglass hit some huge threes in the first half to keep Michigan treading water and he did a great job defensively all night, mostly on Verdell Jones all night long (8 points, 3-6 fg, 4 TO). He plays the most physical perimeter defense and, yes, it cost him late but it’s the kind of defense that you have to play in the Big Ten. 11 points, two assists, one turnover and good defense off the bench is about all you can ask for. He missed the late three, and didn’t quite get his feet set, but a lot of people missed opportunities down the stretch.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: Hardaway is an emotional player and there’s no doubt that his three point shooting slump is beginning to affect his game. He’s now made just 4 of his last 33 three point attempts (0-7 tonight) and looks like he’s starting to question himself a bit from three point range. He’s still scoring, 19 points today, and is effective inside the arc (7 of 12) but he starts to let his struggles affect his confidence and his defense. He just has to play through it because he will single handily change games if he’s hitting his threes.
  • Evan Smotrycz: I was very nervous about this match-up for Smotrycz and he had some struggles but he also made a few plays. Michigan was outscored by 13 points while he was on the floor, a stat that doesn’t say everything but also isn’t very encouraging. Watford at the four and Zeller at the five are both very difficult match-ups for Smotrycz and it will be interesting to see how he bounces back against Wisconsin.
  • Zack Novak: Novak is going to try to take charges and sometimes it might cost him, in this game it sidelined him for most of the first half. Given how close a charge call can be, and the fact that a charge he took late in the second half almost swung the game in Michigan’s favor, it’s tough to suggest he try anything else. He hit a pair of huge threes in the second half, the first one to open the second half which made it clear that Michigan had every intention of coming back.
  • Matt Vogrich: A Club Trillion-esque stat line in five minutes beside one turnover. Vogrich didn’t do much and didn’t even seem to come close to any shot opportunities.
  • Blake McLimans: McLimans really gave Michigan quality minutes, even at the four position. He hit a three (shot with no hesitation) and played admirably against Watford. Watford got the best of him but Blake didn’t look nearly as out of place in a hostile environment as one might expect. Michigan outscored Indiana by six points (16-10) during the seven minutes that Blake was on the floor.
  • Joshua Bock

    Great fight out of the team tonight.  Nothing seemed to go right in the first 15 minutes (even the announcers referenced “home cooking”) but the rest of the way was a great Big Ten road effort.  Especially liked the play of Morgan and Stu.  Kentucky and Ohio lost there as well, and I think those teams are sorta okay…

    Dylan – It appears Beilein is still running a lot of sets for Hardaway to get a look from 3, especially early in the shot clock.  Obviously the offense needs to run through Tim, but do you see an adjustment coming?  Or will they just focus on him rolling more often and getting to the paint?

  • Mattski

    Of course there are moral victories; and you can bet that John Beilein will be identifying them, pointing out the positives from this game in the team meet today. The respect from Indiana netizens on sports websites already this morning makes it clear that we impressed in the lost. Beat Indiana solidly at home–which is hardly a given–and the deduction will be that we may be the better team. 

    Morgan really stepped up last night, and Michigan started to demonstrate the kind of mid-season defensive form that came much later in the year last year. No one knows how we play from here on out, but a lot of good signs.I’m with Joshua below in thinking that Hardaway cannot be the sole savior of this offense, though, and said so last night. 

    • DeeLyle

      IU fan here and we all knew we were in for a fight.  For some reason, it just felt like this game was going to be tougher than the OSU game.  We certainly have respect for UM and you guys always play us tough.

  • mitch

    Tough loss.  This game might come back to haunt us down the road.  We had our chances.

  • JR79

    I have been a Hardaway fan from the beginning but let’s be honest: This game was lost on Hardaway insisting to shoot threes when he can’t hit them. Plus as soon as he touched the ball he would shoot it. How many times did he pass the ball? Not nearly enough. Selfish. Plus at the end his terrible, no horrible lame defense allowed IU to score virtually uncontested. This should have been a win. Hardaway has to learn when he is NOT hitting, to restrain his tendency to just chuck the ball up.  WHY didn’t Belein put the clamps on him? I don’t get it.

    • Giebz

      I too am as big a Hardaway fan as there is. I just don’t understand why he insists on shooting 7-10 threes in the last few games.  Especially since he is killing teams on the inside.  Put the ball on the floor and take it to the rim or kick it out for an open three from someone else.  

    • Bosstothemax88

      agreed he was extremely selfish

    • Jeff

      The funny thing is that I’ve heard comments from Beilein to the effect that the only thing that would upset him is if Hardaway STOPPED shooting. I guess he just doesn’t want him to lose confidence. I’m with you though, at a certain point he needed to abandon the three and just concentrate on driving last night.

    • Renard

      My dad and I detect a change in Tim’s attitude this year.  He seems almost standoffish at times, as if he isn’t clicking with his teammates.  I hope this isn’t true, but it sure seems to be that way.  Last night I heard the comment that he seemed to think he was the only one who could score, and was taking everything upon himself.  Some of the comments here seem to indicate the same feeling.

  • Hokeisit

    I looked into starting a website with the goal of getting Thrursday’s official Jim Burr fired, but it turns out that one(of sorts) already exists

    • South Florida Maize Rage

      That crew was clueless on the block/charge call. I have intramural officials who would’ve gotten those calls right too. Novak’s 2nd foul was a charge. Hardaway driving to the lane was a block. Even the announcer commented on how awful Hardaway’s was.

      • Matt

        Yea, but the charge he took late in the game against Olapido was a block. It all evens out over the course of a game.

        • sane1

          That was Novak, and the replay showed that he got there, set both feet outside the arc before contact. No way was that a blocking foul.

    • Guest

      Jim Burr has been the bane of Big Ten officiating for many years now. JIM BURR! *shakes fist*

  • SCHoosier

    As a Hoosier fan I can only commend MU’s effort. A bounce or there..and u would have won the game. I do not look forward to the return game in Ann Arbor. Coach B is puting together something special..and Burke is the real deal. Good luck the rest of the way.

    • Appreciate the kind words, but just for future reference, we’re referred to as UM, not MU.

      • gpsimms

        or, if you’re really clever, scUM

      • DeeLyle

        It’s ok.  Someone referred to Indiana as UI above.  No worries….

  • Tom, Too

    Evan S should be able to dribble it one time only.  I can’t count the number of times he dribbles three or more times and falls down and looks at the ref….that attempted spin move last night was brutal.  He is a great spot up shooter, rebounder, and passer, but when he tries to become a play maker, he gets himself in trouble…it is almost like his brain is going faster than his body.  He really needs to figure this out and play within himself.  Just sit outside and wait for the guys to drive and dish for a three.  I think Blake knows his limitations and plays accordingly.

    • chitownblue

      tell that to the Plumlee brothers, who Smotrycz has killed off the dribble in 2 meetings.

      • Tom, Too

        Blind squirrels find nuts sometimes.

  • Azad

    It’s a tough situation for Hardaway, the old adage you hear about shooters is that they have short memories and they are going to keep shooting to shoot themselves out of slumps.  It’s hard for a guy like Hardaway to resist the open looks (or even the forced looks) that he was knocking down so frequently last year.  Do we really want him to stop shooting 3s altogether?  That may be better for us short term but worse for us long term…I’m really conflicted at this point.  I do think that we had too many forced shots early in the shot clock especially as we were getting back into the game, our team pressed too much at the prospect of finally gaining a lead vs IU that we couldn’t do it.

  • GregGoBlue

    Really love the fight of this team. I’d like to echo Dylan in that once we minimize these mental mistakes, I think we’ll be a very dangerous team. But for now we’ve got to grow together with what is still a young team.

    I’d love to see Burke get a handle on the pick and roll game with Morgan à al Darius Morris to JMo. Morgan is open fairly often on that roll, and having been such a big part of our offense last year I’d love to see it incorporated. 

    • Anonymous

      Agree…Morgan is crying for the ball, and his fg% demands that he get the ball more!

  • MGoTweeter

    really thought Michigan was going to get that one down the stretch.  It just felt like one of those threes late was going to drop.  But alas, it was not to be.  As a coach of this team or  player, you have to be upset and motivated for the next one.  As a fan, definitely some positives here seeing how Michigan played very poor and still nearly pulled out a B1G road win against a top fifteen team.  

    I see a lot of people talking about the offense in these comments, but to me the biggest problem to take from this game is the defense.  Yeah they got some crucial stops down the stretch, but when Indiana was not throwing the ball away, they were getting great shots.  Michigan was terrible double teaming the post, had weak hedges on ball screens and looked completely lost most of the time in transition.  There are just too many guys who are liabilities on defense right now and UM does not have the great athletes or shot blockers to make up for those liabilities.  I really think the team needs to look at using the 1-3-1 more, not because they will be better at it ’cause they probably won’t, but at least it gives a different look and tends to cause a few turnovers.  

    This team still has not found that B1G level defensive intensity that it found at the Breslin last season.  However, they are a lot closer to it than last year’s team was at this point which I suppose is another positive.  

    • Allen Harrison

      Actually, the defense was good after the first 10 minutes or so. The coaching staff made some pretty cool adjustments to how we defended their screening action on top, started doubling their big kid, and made UI all kind of uncomfortable during the game. The kids executed pretty well.

      • I think the defense was “good” for the final five to seven minutes. There were still a lot of bad plays after the first 10 minutes IMO. Mistakes they would love to have back.

        • Eyerunthis

          I’d agree with the late defensive surge thought.  It seemed like we finally started to keep the ball out of the post, and especially out of Zeller’s (and Watford’s to a lesser extent) hands.  Too little to late at that point, unfortunately

    • gpsimms

      I was really surprised in Beilein’s post game comments that he praised Timmy’s defense.  I don’t know if he was just grasping for something positive to say since he had a terrible game, or if maybe it was one of those times when he says something but means the opposite, but Timmy’s defense was just awful.

      Also, I’m not sure why, but I watched the game a second time, and Morgan did an outstanding job on Zeller.  After the game, I was harping on how Timmy and Trey had bad games but everyone else was good.  You can definitely add Smot to the had a bad game list.  Every time he was on Zeller he got smoked.

      Re: Timmy’s shooting, Beilein did say he is continuing to learn about shot selection when he is struggling, which is the first time Beilein has ever said anything other than “Tim should never pass up a shot.”  So I think he’ll pull in the reigns on him a bit the next few games.

      Got to beat Wiscy at home.  Hopefully we kick em while they’re down.

      • gpsimms

        also, yeah, i was frustrated by the lack of 1-3-1.  it seemed like it bothered IU when we used it.

        Is it because IU pushes it up the floor too quick after makes to set up?  Or what?

        • It did work the run time they ran it but I think there are a few concerns. Indiana’s tempo, as you mention, plus their great three point shooting. A lot of teams can get open threes versus the 1-3-1. It’s high risk, high reward, and down the stretch we didn’t have a lot of room for risk because we were right there.

          • rlcBlue

            I’ll have to watch again for the one time they did run the 1-3-1; there were a couple of possessions when Dakich claimed they were running it, but I’m fairly certain it was the 2-3.

            And I’m somewhat certain that a big reason we don’t run the 1-3-1 against a team like Indiana is Burke’s size. Putting him down on the baseline against a team with a big who can catch and pass and rebound is almost guaranteed to allow more than 1.11 points per possession. The only way we’ll play more 1-3-1 is if we’re matched up against a team with a smallish front line or if Burke is getting a rest. If Eso could reach the corners, he’d be dynamite down on the baseline…

          • MGoTweeter

            UM did run the 1-3-1 for at least two possessions that I can remember.  One of them Burke was on the bench and I believe Douglass was at the top and Vogrich the bottom.  UM also ran some sort of 3-2 or 2-3 in the second half but it did not look good.  I don’t know if the 1-3-1 or other zone can be effective over a long stretch, but I do know right now the man defense just is not that good.  At least switching it up more often helps to keep the other offense out of rhythm.

  • NYBlue

    4/4 of Michigan’s games against top 25 opponents have been played on the road.  3/4 of IU’s top 25 games have been played at Assembly Hall.  I know the point has been beaten to death, but you can see what I’m getting at.  In March the lessons from home vs. road games are going to come to light.  Like Coach B said, nobody goes 18-0 in the B1G when you have home crowds (and cooking, in this case, just ask the announcers…) like our teams do.  Go Wolverines!

    • NYBlue


      • rlcBlue

        Not challenging your larger point, but the Duke game was at a truly neutral site, thousands of miles from North Carolina.

        • NYBlue

          True, but it was still on the road, which is more than Indiana can say.  The tournament will have plenty of neutral sites as well.

          • DeeLyle

            We’re 3 games into the B1G season.  Each team will have plenty of opportunities to show their worth in the next few weeks.  I hear what you’re saying, but let’s give it some time to see how this all shakes out.

  • sheldogiu

    I was very impressed with michigan last night…although I thought both teams played poorly compared to most of the games I have seen. It’s funny the stats don’t see it that way. The poor play can be attested to the good defense both teams are capable of playing. UM closed out the last 9 or so min like you must, to have a chance to win on the road in the Big Ten. I will say this, and hoosier fans might not like me for it, but there were some calls in this game that would not have happened on the road, but you guy’s did get plenty of fortuitous bounces for breakaways. I tell you UW, MSU, OSU, and IU will all have to play their A game for some time, seeing what you guys have coming in next year. So all in all a good game, and good luck the rest of the season…except against us of course