Game 11: Michigan vs. West Virginia Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan 81, West Virginia 66 - #4
Dustin Johnston

The Brooklyn Winter Hoops Festival paired two teams going in opposite directions. From the opening tip, it wasn’t hard to tell which team was which. Michigan jumped out to a 13-4 lead and rarely if ever looked back despite a handful of mini-runs by the Mountaineers while cruising to an 81-66 victory. West Virginia cut the first half lead to five points and was able to reach a single digit deficit in the second but the Wolverines were always in control. Mostly because their All-American point guard played his best game of the season – a tall task considering his fast start to the season.

Burke finished with 27 points, eight assists, five rebounds, three steals and zero turnovers. He was lethally efficient from the field, connecting on 12 of 16 field goals. While Burke looked every bit the NBA prospect he’s capable of becoming, he had plenty of help from his backcourt mate. Tim Hardaway Jr. had one of his strongest performances of the year as well, finishing with 25 points on 7-of-12 shooting.

Michigan’s offense continues to hum along smoothly – even if in a different format. West Virginia’s ball pressure defense forced turnovers and disrupted Michigan’s traditional offense but the Wolverines had an answer. John Beilein turned to his horses and unleashed a dribble drive offense that was lethally effective. Hardaway and Burke combined for 19 of Michigan’s 28 made field goals and handed out 11 assists on top of that. The approach was different but the result was the same.

The Wolverines scored an efficient 1.22 points per possession thanks to lethal shooting – 21-29, 72% on twos and 7-21 33% on threes for a 63% effective field goal percentage. The Wolverines aggressive dribble drive offensive approach also yielded significantly more free throw attempts than we’ve seen this season. Michigan rebounded 35% of its missed shots but did struggle with turnovers, coughing the ball up on more than once in every five possessions. The Wolverine offense was forced to rely on its superstars but they were more than up for the challenge under the bright Barclays Center lights.

There are still concerns on the defensive end of the ball for Michigan. West Virginia is not a good offensive team yet managed to score a point per possession. There were times Michigan’s defense looked steady but there were other times when the Wolverines were on the ropes. The Mountaineers weaved back into the game with timely threes and breakdowns in Michigan’s zone looks. To Michigan’s credit, West Virginia rebounded a more respectable 31% of its missed shots and still had an effective field goal percentage (44%) around its season average of 42%.

The Wolverine defense isn’t bad but it continues to lag behind the offense. If Michigan is really the No. 2 team in the country (seemingly inevitable after Indiana’s upset loss to Butler) then it will have to improve on its defensive consistency in Big Ten play.

The heavy lifting portion of Michigan’s non-conference schedule is in the books. The Wolverines will host Eastern Michigan next Thursday before resting over the holidays and wrapping up the non-conference slate against Central Michigan on December 29th.

Michigan 81, West Virginia 66 - #19
Dustin Johnston

Player Bullets:

  • Trey Burke: If tonight made one thing clear it’s that if you try to force Trey Burke to beat you then he will. Burke has been playing great basketball the last couple of weeks (just ask our form tracker) but he upped the ante in Brooklyn on Saturday night. Burke played a nearly flawless first half scoring 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting (90% eFG%) while handing out five assists and adding three rebounds and three steals. He wasn’t much worse in the second half finishing with 27 points on 12-of-16 shooting with eight assist to no turnovers.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: Shooting slump be damned, Hardaway loves to play in New York City. Hardaway missed his first three of the game but came right back to drill his second on the very next possession. He shot the ball well from long range (4-8 on the night) but he was even more impressive attacking the hole with 3-of-4 two point shooting and 7-of-8 free throw shooting. This was a huge bounce back game for the Michigan junior and should serve as solid footing to give him confidence heading into Big Ten play.
  • Nik Stauskas: Stauskas is a lethal shooter so it’s not worth worrying about one 2-of-7 night, but he needs to clean up his game a little before Big Ten play. He’s capable of putting the ball on the floor and taking it to the cup but he needs to rein his game in just a bit. Turnovers are becoming a real issue, especially after 6 turnovers in 34 minutes. There’s a fine line to straddle because he can be effective attacking but he needs to let the game slow down just a bit.
  • Glenn Robinson III: Robinson had a tremendous take late in the first half after West Virginia cut the Michigan lead to two possessions. He caught the ball on the wing and drove without hesitation in easily his best dribble drive of the year. He had a somewhat quiet night overall but still stuffed the stat sheet with 8 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, a steal, an assist and two turnovers in 31 minutes.
  • Jordan Morgan: It was a slow but steady night for Morgan who continued to do most of the things you’d expect from the experienced big man: taking charges, cutting to the basket and playing strong. Morgan finished with 8 points on 3-of-4 shooting
  • Mitch McGary: McGary’s foul woes are going to become a serious issue, especially if Horford’s injury becomes long term. He picked up four fouls in his first eight minutes of playing time. He also had a nice layup, being rewarded for running the floor with an and-one transition layup. Free throw shooting is another woe, finishing 0-of-3 on the night.
  • Spike Albrecht: For one of the first times this season, Michigan struggled to initiate its offense with Albrecht in the game. Early on he looked overwhelmed by West Virginia’s quickness on defense and then threw an errant backdoor pass. In the second half, Michigan struggled to initiate its offense and was forced to take a couple difficult shots.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert’s perimeter shot isn’t quite there and he still seems to be playing a bit reactive. As he becomes more comfortable he won’t be thinking about what’s happening but making things happen.
  • Jon Horford: Horford had a pair of strong offensive rebounds but the news here is obviously his injury. It looked painful but John Beilein compared it to an early season knee injury which only lasted a couple of weeks. He was clear to emphasize that no official diagnosis has been made but there’s at least some hope that the injury isn’t long term.
  • Max Bielfeldt: Bielfeldt did not play but has reportedly been practicing well and will be available going forward as he gets back up to speed especially given Horford’s injury.
  • eddieben

    I have plenty of conifdence that Coach B can get the defense, Stauskus’ erractic ballhandling, and McGary’s foul tendancies under control over the next week. Looking forward to seeing Max getting some run. Nice to have these kind of nit-picky problems to deal with over the holiday break!

  • Champswest

    Glad to see Tim, Nik & Glen take it to the hoop even if they are not always successful. It will help to keep defenses honest.

  • Troy

    I’m still waiting to see something out of Caris LeVert.

    • Ryan

      You should pay more attention to the defensive end then. He might not be a dynamic scorer (yet?) but he is pretty nice on defense.

    • JimC

      Agree. Seems he has taken all of Vogrich’s minutes, and maybe some others too(?). I’m sure JB knows what he’s doing, but yeah it must be there in practice anyway.

  • Tyler Carter

    What’s up with the “pts” column? 69-61? Is everything else correct?

    • The rest looks right. Not sure what happened with StatSheet there.

      • Tyler Carter

        Go to bed, Dylan. I know we were close to your donation goal, but that doesn’t mean we are paying for your NYC bar tab.
        Kidding, and thanks for your dedication, as always.

  • CDeSana

    Looking for a link to a replay if available

  • Ryan

    The silver lining that I saw re: Horford, was that his knee was not immobilized when he was on the bench as far as I could tell. Looked like an ice pack and shrink wrap, which makes me think that this could be non-disastrous.

  • ChathaM

    Every NCAA season, there are a handful; no more than a dozen; games that will be high talent, high level basketball games that are must-watch games. It’s exciting to know that Michigan will be involved in at least a couple of those types of games this year (UM-IU *2, plus at least one NCAA Tourney game are my guesses). That’s how talented this team is. The pace at which M plays is so much fun to watch.

    I thought that WVU did a pretty good job of guarding M, except for the early game run. I’m sure the scouting reports were sound, but it’s almost like WVU wasn’t quite prepared for the M pace, and that resulted in the huge early lead. Once WVU adjusted, they defended well, but the M weapons were still too much too handle.

    It was interesting to watch the contrast between this game and the Binghamton game. BU took away any driving opportunities, and challenged M to make outside shots, while WVU did the exact opposite. That M quickly adapted to both approaches is a credit to the coaching staff and to the players.

    Last night should prove to be Stauskas’ best learning experience of the season.

    I had watched the Friday Pistons-Nets game, and was surprised that an entirely different court was on display for Saturday’s game. I assume that last night’s court will also be used for any future Barclays college games.

  • CDeSana

    After watching the game back a few things come to mind.
    – How lucky UM fans are that Trey Burke came back
    – THjr’s handle continues to improve and his confidence in his handle is better matching that skill set. Meaning he less often tries to do things he is not able to do.
    – Stauskas continues to show he has far more skill than just sitting at the 3 point line knocking down 3’s. He has very good ball handling skills but does need to value the ball more when in traffic.
    – GRIII has way more than we are seeing but is a willing secondary option.
    – JMo continues to get better on both ends of the court and is taking far fewer silly fouls.
    – Spike came down to earth a bit this game in regards to his ability to run the offense.
    – Mitch needs to watch the tick tack fouls 20 ft away from the rim.
    – Caris is still thinking too much but trust that coach knows that will change
    – Horford will be missed more than anyone is willing to admit as we head towards the meat of the schedule.

    All in all a very good win as we show we are not a one dimensional team; we can play style that does not solely rely on the 3 pt line.

    • Tadk

      I think Burke is lucky too. Playing as the centerpiece of a powerhouse is going to really improve his draft stock over what it was last year.

  • Wayman Britt

    Good analysis on Nik. He does need to slow down, the game will come to him. I think with all the fans cheering as soon as he attempts a three has also affected his attempts. It is great to have moxie, but he must show controlled moxie.

  • MGoTweeter

    As others have said, really hope Horford can get back in there soon. Not just to make Michigan a better team but because he deserves it. You can tell that kid really worked hard in the offseason and he deserves to get a benefit from that.

    I actually thought the man to man defense was pretty good last night. West Virginia made some tough shots and made some plays going to the basket, but they were not getting a lot of wide open looks. The zone D was a mystery. It did not matter which zone Michigan ran, they all got picked apart and then when West Virginia did miss an open shot against them, they got an offensive rebound. I like the new wrinkle this year with the 2-2-1 press, but I wish they would drop back into man instead of the 2-3. The timing on the 1-3-1 just seems off right now. Guys are either going too early or too late to pressure the ball and therefore making passes easier than they should be. Personally I like it better when they just play in between and use their length to slow down ball movement.

    I love the versatility that Stauskas has to his game, but with this particular team, they might be better off just having him be a shooter unless a driving lane is wide open. He seems to be really forcing some plays to show off his ability instead of just taking the shot when its there. That said, this is a very small concern for me, as he will continue to develop and better understand the game at this level. The bigger concern with him is his defense. I think as the year goes on we will see more and more teams work to isolate him on the defensive end.

    Burke has taken his game to another level. His ability to score through contact and make tough runners/floaters over bigs is unreal. Surprisingly, at least to me, he might be a borderline lottery pick this year.

  • gobluemd16

    This team is just awesome and so much fun to watch. It is just a joy to see Trey play, and we better enjoy every minute because he is bolting after this season. He played almost flawlessly last night, truly lucky to have him back. As stated below, feel so horribly for Jon. He was just rounding into shape, so let’s hope this injury is only a few weeks and he will be back by January. All those worries I had about losing senior leadership still may come to fruition at some point this year, but at this point I am not worried at all. We fended off every small run WVU had yesterday, and the talent level on the team this year is so far superior to last, that it makes up for the leadership that may have been lost. I absolutely love this team and am so glad I bought the pre-sale tickets to the Palace for the tourney, cause we aren’t going anywhere else.

  • homeinthemitten

    I thought Stauskas was extremely unlucky on a few plays and actually played a great game. That was a tough traveling call to stop that beautiful drive and assist, and tough T. I can’t remember the other, but there seemed to be one more tough break against him. That drive and dunk was just awesome. If Horford comes back and contributes like I think he can, we will win the Big Ten and be a top 4 team all season. Without him we’ve still got a chance at both but McGary will have to get his court sense developed and/or Biefeldt will have to be better than we all know. Burke played a *perfect* game last night too and it was so much fun watching him. Anyone else think there could have been like 5-10 and-one’s called on drives by our players? Seemed like we were initiating contact, getting it, but not getting the whistle.

    Never thought I’d see the day of Michigan basketball being this freakin good. I grew up watching Gavin Groniger (the fact that I don’t know or care about the spelling of his name perfectly captures this era for me) and Avery Queen, but loved every minute of it because I was like 10 and loved everything. Then we were like teetering on the edge of something for a while with the Horton years, then Manny + Deshawn, then Morris. BUT NOW WE HAVE ARRIVED! Michigan bball was imprinted on me at an early ageand I’ve at times felt like a prisoner but now it is paying off! It’s been a nice existential exercise to see your team finally win. Anyways, sorry for the rant.