Game 13: Central Michigan at Michigan Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan 88, Central Michigan 73 - #16Michigan 88, Central Michigan 73 - #4Michigan 88, Central Michigan 73 - #14
Dustin Johnston

MICH 1.31 88 35-68 52% 24-39 62% 11-29 38% 7-11 64% 9 20 21 3 4 2 7
CMU 1.09 73 28-59 48% 20-34 59% 8-25 32% 9-12 75% 11 27 13 15 1 4 13

Michigan’s offense showed no signs of holiday rust despite a nine day layoff, paving the way past Central Michigan to wrap up a perfect 13-0 non-conference record. The Wolverines pulled away early, extending their lead to as many as 19 points in the first half, but a lackluster defensive effort kept the margin relatively close in a 88-73 Michigan win.

Michigan’s number two scorer, Tim Hardaway Jr., was sidelined by an ankle injury but the Wolverines had plenty of reserve firepower as Trey Burke, Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III combined to score 61 points. Burke led the way with 22 points and a career-high 11 assists (to just one turnover). Robinson and Stauskas were most effective doing what they do best: cutting to the basket (Robinson was 8-of-10 on twos) and shooting threes (Stauskas hit five triples).

The 2012-13 Wolverines continue to make what would have once been “season-best” level performances look routine. Michigan scored 1.31 points per offensive possession, a better per possession output than any game last season, despite the absence of its No. 2 scorer. Michigan turned the ball over just three times in 67 possessions and shot the ball extremely well, connecting on 62% of its twos and 38% on threes. The Wolverines’ 4.5% turnover rate and 60% effective field goal percentage rendered the other two factors peripheral at best, excusing a sub-par offensive rebounding day and the lack of free throw attempts.

Scoring points at an outlandish rate is a nice luxury but it also masks a few blemishes. This was a poor defensive showing from the Wolverines and, given the competition, perhaps the worst of the season. Central Michigan scored 1.09 points per possession, its third best offensive output of the season to date, and was effective attacking the basket. The Chippewas entered the game shooting just 44% on twos but carved up Michigan’s interior defense – in the half court sets, in transition and on the offensive glass – en route to 59% two-point shooting. Effective inside scoring combined with average (32%) three point shooting yielded a 54% effective field goal percentage. The Wolverines avoided fouling, as they’ve done all year, but simply couldn’t force many misses.

While the defensive effort as a whole was lackluster, statistically this was Michigan’s worst defensive rebounding performance of the season. Central Michigan rebounded 36 percent of its misses on the night and was able to turn 11 offensive rebounds into 14 second chance points. The Wolverines’ most significant undoing can be at least partially explained by the absence of its most consistent defensive rebounder: Tim Hardaway Jr.  Hardaway’s transformation on the defensive glass has been a major storyline this season and was especially apparent as an average-at-best offensive rebounding team got the best of Michigan on the glass.

While it’s nearly impossible to complain about a 13-0 start (only four of 347 Division I teams remain unbeaten), Michigan’s defense has left some causes for concern in recent weeks. The Wolverines aren’t going to be able to shred Big Ten defenses nearly as easily as they have in non-conference play and could be in for a wake up call if they are unable to tighten up their defense. That challenge will begin in Evanston on Thursday as the Wolverines open the conference season against a Northwestern team trying to find its way without injured senior guard Drew Crawford.

Michigan 88, Central Michigan 73 - #2
Dustin Johnston

Player Bullets:

  • Trey Burke: Burke has seemed to flirt with perfection every time he steps on the floor in recent weeks. His effort tonight was 22 points on 9-of-12 (4-7 3pt) shooting, 11 assists to just one turnover. That’s perfect two point shooting, a 92% effective field goal percentage and an 11-to-1 assist turnover ratio. Can a point guard play much better? Burke’s December averages are impressive: 19 points, seven assists to just over one turnover per game with a 65% effective field goal percentage. A year ago at this time the debate was whether Burke was Michigan’s best player, as it stands today the more applicable question is whether Burke is the best player in the country.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert was a redshirt candidate a month ago and seven games later looks like a kid ready to fill a rotational role in conference play. He’s not all the way there yet, and barring injury he won’t have to attempt 11 shots in a Big Ten game, but he has a great skill set. Two things stood out above all others with LeVert’s performance. First off, he can pass it. His five assists (and one turnover) were impressive whether they were deft lobs to the interior for Morgan or Robinson or kicks to Burke or Stauskas for triples. His ability to create his own shot in the mid-range game is also phenomenal and should only improve as he gains strength and comfort within the offense.
  • Nik Stauskas: Hitting five consecutive threes is a feat that should seem Herculean. Michigan only had a player hit five threes in a game three times last season (Novak at Arkansas, Hardaway against Oakland and at Northwestern). Stauskas has done it in back-to-back games. It’s almost more surprising to see Stauskas, whose three point percentage is creeping toward 57% on the season, miss back-to-back threes than connect on five in a row.
  • Glenn Robinson III: Robinson’s instincts cutting to the basket continue to impress beyond his years. All nine of Robinson’s field goals were assisted (7 by Burke) and eight of the nine makes were at the rim. There’s nothing wasted or forced in Robinson’s game and he’s just as comfortable dunking as he is adjusting in the air for a reverse layup off the glass. It was encouraging to see him knock down a triple, his only make away from the rim, despite missing his first two attempts.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan was once again solid but quiet, finishing with eight points, two rebounds and two steals in 26 minutes. He had a great move from the high post to score but also missed a couple of bunnies around the basket that he needs to finish – especially against a short team like Central Michigan.
  • Mitch McGary: Perhaps because of his full bore approach, McGary gives you a lot of everything – both the good and bad. He’s active and blocked two shots on the night but his shot blocking aggression probably cost a couple of defensive rebounds for easy CMU buckets. His missed dunk was not-Top 10 caliber but it was still a solid if unspectacular night for the 6-foot-10 freshman.
  • Spike Albrecht: A quiet night for Albrecht but the offense continues to hum along when he’s at the helm. The Wolverines scored on eight of the 14 possessions that Albrecht played before garbage time and that’s nothing to scoff when a lightly regarded freshman is replacing an All-American.
  • Max Bielfeldt:  Bielfeldt didn’t check in until the final three minutes of the game – likely because Beilein wants to get Morgan and McGary fully ramped up for Big Ten play – but did make an impact with a layup and rebound in three minutes.
  • Eso Akunne: Akunne’s shot-per-minute rate continues to be astronomical as he’s attempted a field goal once every 1:53 of playing time this season. The results weren’t impressive in this one as he finished 0-for-4 on the night with two assists in seven minutes.
  • gobluemd16

    I was thoroughly impressed with the offense tonight, especially considering Hardaway wasn’t playing. The team didn’t miss a beat. However, I think the defensive performance was the worst of the season. It seemed like Central was getting far too many easy looks at the basket on the majority of possessions, we weren’t getting back on defense in transition, and the defensive rebounding left much to be desired. This can definitely be attributed some to Tim not playing, and some to having a big lead the majority of the game. This is starting to be a trend though, so hopefully it cleans up as we enter Big Ten play. Otherwise, great showing and can’t complain too much about going undefeated in the non-conference. This team is gunna be fun to watch the rest of the way. Get healthy Tim and Jon, we’re going to need you!

    • Kenny

      hardaway is a great defensive rebounder and we clearly missed him last night.

  • Mattski

    Thanks for burning the midnight oil to get these out, Dylan. I sometimes go away brooding about some aspect of the game, but find that you put it all in perspective. I thought that the way GRIII picked up the slack so quietly and efficiently was a huge plus last night; you have to love the guy’s demeanor. And although Caris was shakier in the second half, he is going to be a very complete and interesting player to watch (don’t know if he gets some of that mid-range stuff off in B1G play just yet). Your comment about Spike is also spot-on; I sometimes grow a little worried when he comes in, but he’s confident and gets the job done. And it’s the same with Bielfeldt: lot of good pieces and players. Still think we’ll need Horford in action against the likes of MSU. . .

    • Champswest

      I would like to see Bielfeldt get more minutes. He never seems to hurt us. He rebounds well, he is an excellent passer and he finishes well around the rim. I would like to see him spell GRIII more, even though I know that those minutes are hard to come by.

      • DeepBlue83

        Agreed. I was hoping he’d get more minutes with Horford out, but it doesn’t seem to be happening that way. He seems to have better hands and a better sense around the basket than Morgan. I’d like to see what he could do playing a whole half.

  • JimC

    Nice work.

    Not that this team has completely proven itself yet, but the best start since 1985 (27 years!) is remarkable.
    March can’t get here soon enough!

  • A2JD

    GR III showed off his ups last night.

    “Crash” McGary didn’t. He’s got to be more than 250 pounds. I’d guess 270. I
    think that once he loses the baby fat, he’s going to be more of a
    handful than he already is.

  • Champswest

    My biggest worry is defense. It seems every team has their best shooting night against us. In B1G play, there will be many games when we really need to get a stop and I wonder if this team can do that,

    • DeepBlue83

      It does seem that almost everyone has a better than average offensive performance against us, even when we win comfortably, which is not a good sign. We won’t win the Big Ten, or even come close, with so-so team defense. It’s got to be very good to excellent.

  • jemblue

    This is a nitpick, but for the Stauskas bullet it should read “whose” and not “who’s”.