Five Key Plays: Indiana at Michigan

1. Michigan’s 13-0 run to start the game

Indiana has one of the Big Ten’s best offenses, entering Wednesday’s games on the heels of a 103-point performance against Iowa, and it was clear that Michigan was going to have to score more than usual to win. No problem. The Wolverines came out of the gate red hot and set the stage with a quick 13-0 start. Trey Burke started the run with a nifty spin move in transition. Stu Douglass got involved in the next Michigan possession and showed off a bit of his maturation as a player. Off a pass from Novak in transition, Douglass had an open look at a three from the wing but realized he had a better option. Instead of pulling the trigger, he drove to the basket and finished with an easy layup. That’s a play that a younger Stu Douglass wouldn’t have made. From there, Burke took over. Off a handoff from Novak, he drilled a three just inside the block M to make the score 7-0 Michigan. He stayed hot on the next possession, hitting another three, this time from the left wing off of a pass from Tim Hardaway Jr. To cap the run, Novak changed his role from passer to shooter and hit a three from the right corner off a nice look from Douglass. Just over four minutes into the game Michigan held a 13-0 lead and looked poised to cruise to an easy victory.

2. Zack Novak’s three at the end of the shot clock and Tim Hardaway Jr.’s alley-oop halt first half Indiana run

After jumping out to a big lead, Michigan became the hunted not the hunters and it was almost inevitable that the Hoosiers were going to make a run. Late in the first half, Indiana had made its first response. The Hoosiers were in the midst of a 9-0 run and had cut a 20-point Michigan lead to just 11. They were gaining momentum and Michigan needed a response late in the half. This play was far from what John Beilein drew up – after the game he called it “the worst zone offense in the history of zone offenses” – but it ended in three critical Michigan points. After the Wolverines had run down the shot clock without coming close to a good look at the basket, Novak was forced to jack up a three from the top of the key with two defenders in his face. It was a lucky shot but it was one of the most important baskets of the game for Michigan. A of couple possessions later, a much prettier play helped keep the Wolverine lead in double digits before the break. Hardaway received the ball at the top of the key and passed the ball to Burke on the wing before cutting to the hoop off of Evan Smotrycz’s back screen. Burke found him for one of Michigan’s best dunks of the season, an emphatic alley-oop, and the Wolverines went into the break with an 11-point advantage.

3. Wolverines respond after Indiana cuts the lead to two

While Indiana is very capable of putting together quick runs to get back in the game, Michigan also has the ability to put up points quickly. The Wolverine lead was down to just two points with 13 minutes to play after another Hoosier run. The comfort of a big lead was gone and this was a ball game. Michigan didn’t panic, instead the Wolverines countered with a 9-2 run of their own to provide some much needed breathing room. Once again it was Michigan’s three-time captain Zack Novak that started the run. Novak buried a three from the right wing and Hardaway followed it up with a nice drive and strong finish. Then it was Novak again, this time on the defensive end. After forcing an Indiana turnover, Novak took off in transition and found Evan Smotrycz with the no-look pass. Smotrycz finished the layup and Novak drew a rare off-ball blocking foul which extended the Michigan possession. Michigan capped its 9-2 run with a Jordan Morgan bunny off of a great drive by Trey Burke. Yet again, Michigan had the answer for Indiana’s comeback.

4. Tim Hardaway’s late 3-pointer holds off Indiana

With just over three minutes to go, Indiana had once again cut the lead to just two. Michigan responded again. With the Hoosiers in man-to-man defense, Burke drove the baseline and attracted two defenders. Both Smotrycz and Hardaway’s defenders collapsed to help on Michigan’s driving point guard and someone had to be open. That open player was Tim Hardaway Jr. Michigan’s sophomore guard has been struggling with his jumpshot as much as anyone but there was no doubt that he wanted this shot. Hardaway knocked down the open three which extended Michigan’s lead to five points. Despite his struggles, Hardaway has continued to hit big shots for Michigan down the stretch and John Beilein shows no hesitation in giving his go-to player the ball in clutch situations.

5. Jordan Morgan’s offensive rebound leads to Stu Douglass’s three to make it a three-possession game

Indiana came up empty after Hardaway’s three and Michigan had a chance to seize the game once and for all. Hardaway got another good look at the basket, this time in the lane, but the ball rimmed out. The ball rolled around the rim for a split-second longer than two Indiana rebounders expected and Jordan Morgan capitalized. Morgan grabbed the offensive rebound – one of three Michigan offensive rebounds on the game – and extended the Wolverine possession. Morgan made the smart play to kick to the ball out to Douglass, who reset the offense. Michigan went with the same offensive set that worked the last time down the court. Burke drove baseline again, collapsed the Indiana defense and kicked the ball to Hardaway. The Hoosier defense adapted and Hardaway didn’t have an open look but he made a perfect extra pass to Stu Douglass. Douglass had enough space to shoot and knocked down his first three of the game to give Michigan an eight point lead. From there, the game diverged into a test of free throw shooting for the Wolverines and they passed the test, walking away with a 68-56 victory.

  • rlcBlue

    One of the things that stands out to me about highlight #3 is who is on the floor for the first 7 points of the run: Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Smotrycz, and Vogrich. Being able to extend the lead while Burke rests is a big plus for this team.

  • Schaef60

    On play #4 watch as Novak lowers his shoulder and nails that guy!

    • Billiam

      the best play.  Refs totally missed that hockey check, but I enjoyed it.  (But seriously, if Creen asks for a review, can’t Novak be suspended?)

      • Anthony

        I dont think crean would do that and that would most likely be just an offensive foul.

    • Brad Stone

      I’ve seen that play 5 times and didn’t notice that until now. Awesome

    • Mattski

      Holy crap!

      • Mattski

        Just watched that play again, and–some people know the rules better than I–but Zack is crashing the boards and Roth tries to prevent him doing so. It’s more like Zack takes the opportunity presented by him blocking out to nail him rather than just does it from outright malice. Also, they had locked arms a moment before. . .

        Wonder if we watched Zack’s off-the-ball movement through a pile of games if we’d find a lot of these. Funny that it can happen in front of 12,000-plus people and nobody notices. 

    • JimC

      Good catch – priceless!

    • Jeff

      Wow, that actually made me laugh when I saw it. The ineptitude of Big Ten officials came in handy on that one.

    • kainkitizen

      Last night i only saw tim make the 3.  today i see Novak being the player from the playground.  Good Job Zach!!!  We have been waiting for this to happen.  Alright just kidding.  just a little excited.  Great choices for top plays guys.  Season ending highlights are going to be interesting to see at the end.

    • ChathaM

      I’m an official, so I usually stick up for officials, but…

      The official who likes to wear his sleeves up (presumably to show off THE GUNS) is standing right in front of the play. Roth almost flies right into him, and he seems genuinely surprised when that happens; like a “where did he come from?” reaction. How he wasn’t watching that play, I’ll never know. But, I do know that his evaluator will tear him up for that gaffe.

      • Guest

        You’re right…And it appeared Novak was in the direct line of sight of the official near midcourt. Maybe it was just so entertaining they thought they should let them play haha?

    • Giddings

      After watching it 6 or 7 times, I have no idea what Roth was doing turning around like that with the ball in the air. It almost looks like he was trying to draw a “charge” on Novak as he ran in for an offensive rebound. Hard to say if Zack really meant to hit him that hard, but there was definitely some flop in there as well.

      By the way, random fact – can you guys believe we have more Top 50 wins than MSU, Duke, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, and North Carolina? That’s just to name a few!

  • rlcBlue

    The 11 finalists for the Cousy Award for top collegiate point guard have been announced; there are two B1G players on the list, but neither one is Trey Burke.

    After comparing their tempo-free numbers, I’m not going to argue that Burke is already better than Taylor and Craft, but he is certainly in the same league (har har).

    [Dang, Disqus’s formatting sucks rocks]

    P %Min ORtg %Poss eFG% _ ARate TORate Blk% Stl% _ FC/40 FD/40 FTRt
    B 87.1 106.0 26.1 49.8 _ 30.3 _ 18.6 _ 1.4 _ 1.5 _ 1.7 _ 3.9 25.6
    T 88.9 119.9 25.2 45.3 _ 27.5 _ 10.4 _ 0.0 _ 1.9 _ 2.0 _ 4.8 42.9
    C 73.6 109.8 17.4 53.2 _ 27.1 _ 22.7 _ 0.4 _ 4.7 _ 3.0 _ 3.6 53.2

    Taylor is amazingly efficient for a guy who uses so many of his team’s possessions. Craft’s steal percentage is otherworldly, and the rate at which he gets free throws is very impressive. I can’t imagine why Burke would be the best shot blocker of the three – I’m going to chalk that up to noise in the sample…

    • Mattski

      Burke has had blocks at several key points in games, no? 

      • rlcBlue

        It’s true, I just don’t know why he’d be better at it than two taller players, Taylor and Craft. Maybe it is a real skill. Anyway, it’s not one that they usually look for when handing out point guard awards.

        • Mattski

          Guy is a serious baller, that’s for sure. 

  • JimC

    This game is another reminder of how much we’re going to miss the production and leadership of Zack & Stu next year (when our lone senior will be Vogrich).

    • johnnyumfan

      Don’t worry JimC, when you see GRIII play your going to say Zack who. And Stauskas may be a taller, more talented version of Stu.

      • serious

        I think that you missed the point.

      • sane1

        A lot of the game is played between the ears. That’s where we will miss them most. And NO ONE who is a real Michigan basketball fan will ever say “Zack who?”

      • JimC

        That would be OK.  Maybe we’ll be missing more at the 2 position, where we’re going from 2 good seniors, to laying it all on Brundidge.  Unless the new guys play the 2.  Stauskus maybe?

  • snoopblue

    we could use a europe trip this summer.

  • Joel_C

    I love Novak’s 3 in play #2 – it’s such a terrible possession. We pass it around outside the arc for 34 seconds, then chuck up a contested 3, and it goes in.

    ….actually I change my mind, it was a fantastic possession!

  • Mattski

    I’m thinking maybe they end up holding Horford out? It’s not like he brings a lot of points–thing we need most–to the table, whereas next year and for two after that he could bring a fair number. The team could use some rebounds, that’s for sure, but maybe they’re wrestling just enough off the defensive glass. . . 

    For sure if anyone (cross fingers) happens to go down, but they’ve been pretty successful despite his absence.

    • sane1

      Barring an injury, it’s almost certain that Horford redshirts. He’s still not healthy enough to practice full out with only a month left in the season. We have to hope that JMo stays out of foul trouble and that McLimans continues to give us 5-10 solid minutes off the bench.

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