Five Key Plays: NC State at Michigan


1) Nik Stauskas dominates the first half

During his best performance of his young college career — by far — Nik Stauskas showed the Wolverine faithful his full offensive repertoire. The freshman finished with 20 points for the game, and a sizeable portion of that success came from beyond the arc. With Trey Burke’s scoring limited in the first half, Stauskas picked up the offensive slack admirably. As evidenced by this first-half sequence, the young Canuck possesses a hair-trigger release on his jumpshot that allows him to get it off in nearly any situation — in fact, Stauskas said after the game that he feels more comfortable shooting with a man in his face. However, it should be noted that whatever small separation he was able to get from defenders on the perimeter likely came as a result of a couple of nifty drives to the basket in the first half. One was the play that got him to the free throw line, another was a tough finish in traffic after an excellent crossover. If he can continue to set opponents on their heels early in games, Stauskas will get plenty of looks from beyond the arc. On Tuesday, the Canadian showed he has plenty of confidence and almost no hesitation, which is a big plus for the Wolverines.

2) NC State makes a run as the first half winds down

While Tuesday’s game was very encouraging in many ways for Michigan, the Wolverines suffered some lapses that ended up keeping NC State in the contest. One of those lapses extended for about a minute of game time late in the first half — Michigan allowed the Wolfpack to crawl back from down twelve and on the edge of a blowout to being down just seven with a chance to close the gap before halftime. This sequence illustrates one aspect of NC State’s offense that Michigan didn’t have an answer for: tough post play. Other than Scott Wood’s 3-pointer, both of NC State’s baskets in this short run came in the painted area, one off of an offensive rebound. On the first play, Richard Howell gets the one-on-one matchup he wants against Mitch McGary and takes him off the dribble. On the other, it’s Howell again, this time grabbing the rebound off a Wolfpack miss and finishing a tough layup in traffic. Michigan struggled to defend the interior all game but this run was also triggered by what felt like a pair of wasted offensive possessions. Fresh off of checking into the game, Eso Akunne didn’t hesitate to get a pair of shots up. He missed both and the empty possessions provided just a sliver of hope for NC State as Michigan slowed from its ridiculous first half offensive rate.

3) Trey Burke scores in bunches in the second half

Michigan’s All-American point guard played the entire first half without scoring a single point, opting instead to facilitate for others and hand out nine assists. All of that changed in the second half. Trey Burke scored 18 points, all in the second frame, to finish with 18 points and 11 assists. Perhaps most impressively, Burke didn’t turn the ball over once. Burke got things going early in the second half and really dictated the offensive action for Michigan. His first points came when Lorenzo Brown went under a Jordan Morgan screen — if you are guarding Michigan I’m not sure how you can justify not hedging Burke hard on the pick-and-roll, let alone going under the screen entirely – and Burke filled it up from long range. From there, he was pretty much unstoppable. He created offense with defense, shown on his steal off an exchange by the Wolfpack at the top of the key followed by a slam in transition. He confounded the NC State defense by waiting impossibly long to make a decision on a floater in the post as McGary rolled to the basket off a screen. The myriad of ways Burke can put the ball in the basket when his game is on continues to astound. On the final play of the sequence, Burke gets the Crisler Center crowd going as he strips McDonald’s All-American point guard Tyler Lewis to trigger the break and leaves the ball for McGary on the fast break, who slams it home.

4) Michigan’s offense stagnates as NC State makes late run

One thing John Beilein made sure to mention during his post-game press conference was the fact that he didn’t like that his defense gave up 57 percent shooting for NC State and 72 points. Michigan defense struggled against the Wolfpack all night — it was just masked for most of the game by the Wolverines’ prolific offense. When Michigan’s offense stagnated, however, its inability to defend some of NC State’s star power reared its ugly head. This was never more apparent than during the last five minutes of the game, when NC State went on a run that almost cost Michigan the win. It seemed as though Michigan was its own worst enemy on offense during this stretch, easing up on the aggressiveness and playing not to lose. Many possessions ended in bad shots taken at the end of the shot clock – including some desperation looks by Tim Hardaway Jr. After not turning the ball over once in the last 25 minutes of play to that point, Michigan racked up two of its six turnovers in a matter of minutes. The Wolverine offense just seemed to tighten up; whether it was hesitating to shoot or bobbling passes around the basket. This stretch was troubling because Michigan has to be able to rely on its defense when its offense isn’t feeling it — particularly if the Wolverines are to be an elite team. Their defense will improve as the season goes on and the freshmen get more experience, but for now they have to keep their foot on the gas on offense for 40 minutes.

5) Tim Hardaway Jr. scores a big security bucket in the final minutes

In the midst of the hysteria surrounding Trey Burke’s virtuoso performance and Nik Stauskas’s coming-out party, Tim Hardaway Jr. had a quiet but effective 16 points. None of his baskets were bigger than the one he made on this drive with about a minute and a half left in the game. At this point, NC State had cut what was once a 15-point lead to just five, and the Wolverines were on their heels. This is exactly the kind of situation when teams rely on their veterans to come through. Burke hands Hardaway the ball as Hardaway is curling over the top of the key. Hardaway keeps his momentum going as he receives the ball. What’s key on this play is that Hardaway’s defender, Lorenzo Brown, switches on the screen from Mitch McGary, leaving CJ Leslie on Hardaway. Hardaway recognizes the mismatch and uses a hesitation move to create all the separation he needs from the big man in order to finish the play. This pushed the lead back out to seven and was a big reason Michigan was shooting free throws with a 5-point lead at the end of the game, rather than clinging to a three point lead. Coming out of a timeout, this was a great job by John Beilein to get the ball into Tim Hardaway Jr.’s hands and let him make a play in a high ball screen situation where he’s been comfortable throughout his career.

  • MGoTweeter

    dont know if this was already posted over here but it just went up on mgoblog. Derrick Walton highlights from the past scrimmage. I have to say that his shot has come a long ways. It looked improved over the summer but seems even smoother right now.

  • gpsimms

    Shouldn’t the Stauskas reel start with his around the back dribble to get in the lane with nice up and under left handed finish? It was my favorite bucket of the game…Also, nice to see because Stauskas has shown an unfortunate habit of finishing with his right hand on the left side up til then.

    • Yeah it was originally supposed to be in the clip but didn’t make it. Was a really nice play and started his whole day off.

    • Mattski

      I’m still trying to figure out what he did there. Wish that I could see it in slow motion. Loved the shot of Denard in the stands covering his face at one second-half shot. . .

  • Buda

    I don’t know, I think you could have snuck in one more reference to Stauskas’ nationality in that first paragraph.

  • CDeSana

    The Eso substitution still makes me shake my head; why would coach pull Stauskas and even if he does why not go to Vogrich? That killed some serious run.

    Also the whole Burke dribbling the air out of the ball in the second half let NC State back in the game.

    • MGoTweeter

      just guessing, but I bet he went to Akunne over Vogrich because Vogrich looked pretty sloppy early in the game.

      • And had two fouls.

        • mikey_mac

          This may have been part of Beilein’s logic, but if it was, with UM’s depth, this needs to stop. Stretching the rotation out to 10 or 11 to prevent a third foul for a player who averages 10 minutes a game is senseless.

  • Chabvis

    Perfect summary of the game. We were in complete control of the game after 5-7 mins and were very comfortable. There was no point after the first 10 mins where I thought “We could lose this game”. I think our defense was not especially good, but people are being slightly too harsh. Leslie was an incredibly difficult matchup and pretty much did what he wanted against GRIII (he missed a couple tough, but makeable shots that could have kept it closer). The other big (forget his name at the moment) was an animal on the offensive glass. Otherwise, I thought that we were ok defensively. Just a couple of not great matchups against good players. Really confident win for us though.

  • Champswest

    Dylan, I know in the past that you periodically list the standings for the pick-to-click, but would it be possible to name the winning player (I.e. Burke, Stauskas, Morgan) after each game? You could include it in the game recap, 5 key plays or even the next games pick-to-click feature. I find it sometimes hard to locate complete box score details. Thanks.

  • Micah V Reed

    “Hardaway is on fire and Nic Stauskas lives his life on fire” Dan Dakich

  • Bigrange

    I love the way our freshman are playing. Even with 2 of IU’s highly rated class suspended for the first 9 games, I would take Michigan’s group. GR3 is supposed to be the best athlete of the group, Stauskas can light up a scoreboard, Mitch is just a body of energy ready to rip a rim apart & Spike is calm and relaxed getting the ball where it needs to be.

  • kevmc21

    Did Stauskas point up at the Canadian flag in the student section after he hit that corner three? Beilein is right… kid has swagger.

    Also, he seems really good at trying to draw or exaggerate a foul on his 3 point attempts. They weren’t called in this game but I bet he will draw a few 4 point plays in the future.

  • Roanman

    Stauskas’ best play in the sequence came on the last play viewed when after he makes the pass that resulted in the basket, he makes himself available for a three by immediately moving to a wide open position deeper down the sideline outside of the arc rather than admiring his very nice pass. That’s some big time stuff there.

  • Lester Abram

    take out 2-3 bailout shots THJ had to take receiving the ball with few seconds on the clock, he shot nearly 50% and hit the key bucket when our offense stalled out. He’s having a great season so far.

  • mikey_mac

    The stagnation by UM in the second half seems to have been the result of a few things:

    1. Missed opportunities to pass to the open player/shooter (poor reads off of screens, etc.)
    2. Late deliveries on passes near the hoop to our bigs
    3. Bad hands/instincts with the ball by said bigs
    4. Too much looking to kill clock

    Given the sample size, though, this was likely just a stretch with some awkward play and some bad luck. You could see the plays develop with positive possibilities — they just didn’t work out over 5 or so possessions.