Game 25: Michigan at Michigan State Recap

Michigan State 75, Michigan 52-31
Dustin Johnston

Team PTS PPP FG FG% 2P 2P% 3P 3PT% FT FT% OR DR AST TO STL BLK PF
MICH 52 .80 21-53 40% 15-34 44% 6-19 32% 4-6 67% 6 24 6 16 5 1 16
MSU 75 1.15 30-62 48% 23-42 55% 7-20 35% 8-17 47% 14 27 18 8 9 3 14

“We got killed, man, and it’s embarrassing that everyone was watching on national TV. We just got embarrassed.” – Tim Hardaway Jr. (via Kyle Meinke)

There’s nothing more to say: Michigan State punked Michigan in East Lansing on Tuesday evening. The Spartans beat the Wolverines 75-52 and even that score line was generous.

Michigan looked like a team that would rather walk through offensive sets against air while Michigan State hit the Wolverines in the mouth, going for the kill from the opening tip.  The difference in intensity, execution and emotion was clear early on and a rabid Breslin Center crowd – described by long time Michigan State scribes as being as loud as it’s ever been – relished every second.

Michigan’s performance conjured memories of past Wolverine embarrassments in East Lansing rather than inspiring talk of a rivalry renewed or the first meeting of intra-state rivals as top ten heavyweights. There have been plenty of humbling moments in John Beilein’s tenure but this loss, at this time, with this team was as disappointing as any during his six years in Ann Arbor.

Michigan’s freshmen looked shell-shocked and its most experienced player, Tim Hardaway Jr., somehow looked even more rattled in his third trip to the Breslin Center. On the other side of the court, the Wolverines had no defensive answer from the dominant inside-outside attack of Derrick Nix, 14 points, and Gary Harris, 17 points.

The four factors do the game justice. Michigan State dominated in all facets.

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Michigan’s offense was painful to watch and the Spartans did a tremendous job of not just guarding one-on-one but making every switch and rotation. Ohio State and Wisconsin defended Michigan well but Michigan State’s defensive performance was by far the most thorough and dominant of any team that the Wolverines have faced this season. Poor shooting, lack of free throw attempts and subpar offensive rebounding have all reared their head at one point or another this season but the agonizing statistic on the box score was the turnover. Michigan gave the ball away on a quarter of its offensive possessions, its worst turnover rate of the season. This team’s identity is rooted in not turning the ball over and those 16 turnovers (which led to 15 points) show just how badly the Wolverine offense struggled.

Trey Burke scored 18 points on 11 field goal attempts and was very good offensively. However, his teammates combined for as many turnovers (14) as made field goals on the night, going just 14-of-42 from the floor.

Defensively, it was a perfect storm. Michigan clearly had no answer for Derrick Nix (although the second half double team probably should have been brought out a lot sooner) and Gary Harris continued his torrid three point shooting. Michigan’s sheer inability to box out, allowing Michigan State to rebound 37% of its misses, turned Spartan possessions that didn’t end with a Harris three or Nix half hook into additional easy baskets. The Spartans outscored the Wolverines 18-4 in second chance points and across the board out toughed Michigan for most offensive rebounds. The Wolverines have been a great defensive rebounding team this season but looked hapless on Tuesday evening.

Nine Spartans scored and seven grabbed at least one offensive rebound in a game where many Michigan State pundits hypothesized that Tom Izzo was unlikely to play more than six or seven players.

There are no hidden positives to take from Michigan’s performance in East Lansing – the Wolverines were dominated – but the loss counts just the same as an against-all-odds defeat in Madison. After a grueling four game stretch, it’s officially gut check time for John Beilein’s team.

Michigan just played road games at Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan State with a home game against Ohio State sandwiched in the middle of the 10 day span. That’s 170 minutes of basketball as difficult as any other team in the country will play this season with barely enough time to breath. That’s not an excuse, it’s a fact.

Going 1-3 in that stretch eliminates any margin for error down the stretch but if the Wolverines can snap out of their funk there’s plenty to play for. Michigan plays just three games in the next 15 days; two against winless (in Big Ten games) Penn State and the other at home against Illinois. Rest, recovery, extra practice, players only meetings, film sessions or meditation; whatever Michigan needs it has the next two weeks to figure things out.  Navigating those games with a perfect record will setup a revenge stretch with home games against Michigan State and Indiana bookending a trip to West Lafayette.

If Michigan can regain some confidence, get Jordan Morgan healthy and begin to resemble the team that we saw for the first 21 games of the season then the Wolverines are capable of winning out. Even after Tuesday’s defeat, Michigan should still be favored in most, if not all, of its final six games. But that all depends on how this team can recover.

Michigan State 75, Michigan 52-16

Player Bullets:

  • Trey Burke: Burke played a good game, a great game even, offensively. He finished with 18 points on 7-of-11 (3-5 3pt) shooting with four assists to two turnovers. While he grabbed three steals, he also got caught trying to cheat on defense too many times for a player that needs to be one of Michigan’s more reliable defenders.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: Hardaway was missing in action after playing terrific basketball throughout Big Ten play. He didn’t score in the first half and finished 1-of-11 from the floor. Hardaway looked rattled from the opening tip and had a forgettable game under the Breslin Center lights. It was appalling how flustered Hardaway looked as the lone playmaker on the floor in the first half with Burke and Stauskas sidelined on the bench.
  • Nik Stauskas: Stauskas was about the only Michigan player other than Burke that looked comfortable initiating offense. He finished 4-of-8 (2-4 3pt) from the field and while his two turnovers came in situations where he probably tried to do a bit much, at least he tried to make a play on the offensive end. On the defensive end, his play left a lot to be desired. Stauskas got caught up in screens several times and got burned on an array of Gary Harris three pointers in the first half.
  • Glenn Robinson III: Robinson has just lost all confidence. His body language is disheartening to say the least. He’s obviously not getting the easy baskets he had early on, but his lackadaisical play is perhaps most troubling. Robinson didn’t grab a single defensive rebound in 21 minutes and went 1-of-4 from the field. He had two wide open jump shots early in the first half, shots he’s hit confidently all season, and he wasn’t even close. He’s not going to get five dunks per game against Big Ten teams that know how to scout but he needs to hit the defensive glass and make open jump shots if Michigan is going to bounce back.
  • Mitch McGary: McGary’s tendency to go for big plays rather than simple plays really cost him in the Breslin Center. McGary’s night was defined by the number four: four points, four rebounds and four turnovers. Michigan State scored nine points in the first 12 minutes of the game almost directly after McGary misses (1) or turnovers (3). Those four baskets came an average of 7.25 seconds after a McGary mistake. That’s not intended to pick on McGary, who has been a bright spot in recent games, but it shows just how quickly freshman mistakes can snowball under fire.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan looked as healthy as he’s been, playing nine minutes but still obviously isn’t 100%. He does appear to be on a more positive trajectory and showed more discipline in the post defensively against Michigan State’s bigs.
  • Jon Horford: Horford looked like a deer in the headlights and his last two performances were really subpar after some promising play early on after Morgan’s injury. Horford finished with four fouls and two turnovers in six minutes of play.
  • Caris LeVert: Beilein continues to note LeVert as a defender and while the raw ability might be there, he looks visibly lost on that end of the floor. He’s overthinking almost every movement on both ends of the floor and it continues to cost him his effectiveness.
  • Spike Albrecht: Albrecht was Michigan’s third leading scorer at five points and all five points came in the final 61 seconds of the game. It was that kind of night.
  • JohnNavarreIsMyHero

    All around bad game. From the first possession, we looked lethargic, disinterested, and had no movement. Very little fight and passion. You have to think the team is a bit worn mentally and physically, but to lay an egg like this in a game where we should be a making a statement is frustrating.

    • geoffclarke

      I remember thinking, at least during parts of the game, that we had better off-the-ball offensive movement than previous games. Too many unforced turnovers.

  • troy

    I never thought that I’d miss zack & stu as much as I do now.

    • lavell99

      Yep. Our youth definitely came through tonight.

  • Nick

    1. Everyone breathe. 2. Forget about the Big Ten title, let it go. The team needs to focus on playing their best ball going into the tourny. They won a Big Ten title last year. This year should be about making it to the Sweet 16 and beyond, something they still can accomplish. 3. Is anyone really that surprised or upset about tonight? With that crown and the way Izzo gets his team up for Michigan, especially a No. 4 ranked Michigan, this was more or less the expected result. 5. It’s not as bad as it seems; Many of the turnovers were unforced, Michigan missed many open/good looks, State made everything, and many of State’s offensive rebounds were long rebounds and lucky bounces. 6. I think this is the best thing that could happen to this team. They aren’t as good as everyone thought, and this gives them some breathing room. Let them flat line. I love the site the Dylan and your work, but you might want to tone down the drama. This time is fine.

    • Mith

      A 30 point laugher was the expected result? Nonsense, no one thought that.

      • jemblue

        Let’s take the big-picture view. We’re 25 games into the season and Michigan is 21-4 and 8-4 in Big Ten play. Would you have taken that before the season started? I’m guessing yes. This was a horrible performance, obviously, but it’s one game. A loss by one wouldn’t have looked any better in the standings.

        • UM 05′

          I would not take 8-4 with losses to every good BIG team. UM is the clear 4th best team in conference right now. Would you take that before the season?

          • Jeff

            Not sure how you get clear 4th best team when we split with osu and have a better record than them and Wisconsin needed a miracle to beat us at home.

          • Mattski

            Would I have a choice? There’s just a wierd level of cognitive dissonance in some “fans” attitude toward “their” teams. It’s a bunch of 18-22 year-old kids out there, the third-youngest team in big college hoop; the Big Ten is full of roughhouse craziness and they got whipped. We’re going to say we don’t TAKE that? Makes no sense.

        • Mith

          I don’t know if I’d taken that, but I would have taken 26-5 in a heartbeat and this team has a very good shot at that if not 27-4. So, yeah, it’s been a frustrating 1-3 stretch, but this team can still end up with a heck of a season.

        • Adam St Patrick

          Sometimes it’s not only whether you win or lose but how you do it. Michigan went into the season with a strategy that time and again fails in those sorts of settings, and this is no exception to that rule. don’t see the purpose of a strategy designed to help you crumple against your biggest rivals.

          • Mattski

            This is just angry, not terribly lucid stuff, Adam–“strategy designed to help you crumple. . .” c’mon. Everyone’s looking for scapegoats after a loss, but we tend to get more thoughtful analysis here.

          • Adam St Patrick

            Angry for sure after a game like that. Lucid or thoughtful is another question. For example regarding this crumpling business I didn’t think you actually literally meant that another commenter should put on a uniform and help out when I read that, so I presume you know that others are going to spice up their points with a little bit of rhetoric as well.

            Overall, I’m content with my thought process, and you can extrapolate from there what I think about yours. However there’s no need to say that directly. In particular the morning after a game that painful to watch.

          • ajerome33

            Looking at your posts, it seems you don’t care for Beilein and his offensive philosophy. We get it. You keep repeating yourself. The fact is winning on the road in the Big Ten is not easy for anybody, regardless if they stress defense or offense more. Although the results defensively haven’t been there, that doesn’t mean the coaches aren’t working on it practice and stressing it strongly. The results show that we excel at offense and are somewhere around average on defense. Do you think some of that could be that we are the youngest team in the Big Ten and are still learning how to play defense at this level AS A TEAM. They will get better from this. If you don’t like Beilein’s philosophy, perhaps you would like to go back to Amaker, since he was a defense first coach, and had no semblance of an offense. I for one, despite the horrible game last night, like where this program is at this season and for the future.

    • lavell99

      1. Nobody is panicking. Not sure what you’re talking about. 2. We’re still very much in the Big Ten title race. Dylan’s point is that we have no margin for error left. 3. Yes. Dylan is dead-on about it being a horrible reminder of past games we’ve played at the Breslin. If you want to make the point that in retrospect, we’re coming off a BRUTAL stretch and we should have expected to be out of gas, fine. But expected to play our worst game of the season and be down by 30 against a beat up Spartan team? That’s a ridiculous comment. 5. I absolutely agree with this point. We played terrible and we’re definitely capable of playing better. 6. I guess we’ll find out. It’s definitely good for the freshmen to get knocked down a little so they can regain their focus and intensity. Rest is what this team needs right now.

      • Nick

        If you didn’t see the potential for a State blowout I think you had blinders on. How irritating do you think it has been for State and their fans to listen to how about good Michigan is for the past 3 months when they have owned the state for past 20 years or so and have a really, really good team themselves? And then you have Michigan, one of the youngest teams in the country, capping off the most difficult 10 day schedule as any team in the country will face? Is anyone really having a hard time with this? I hoped for the best and expected the worst.

        • ajerome33

          I saw the potential for a 10 point loss, but certainly not what happened last night. Real easy to say what you are saying now, but getting trucked like we did last night was not the expectation going into the game.

  • Wayman Britt

    Hats off to MSU, they are a really good team. I think the crowd was correct when they chanted “over rated”. UM is not the 4th best team in the country instead probably the 4th best team in the BIg Ten.

    UM still has not proved it is tough enough to hang with the traditional top teams in the Big Ten, however, they still have opportunity in the two end of season tourneys to prove the world wrong.

    • Navray

      it’s the same michigan team that put up 1.5 ppp in the 2nd half against ohio… they’re in a funk. the difference is, they were so good for so long that they’re still in the big ten title chase despite a 4 game stretch of below expectations basketball.

      what they’ve done in the past three games is lose 3 road games to the top 3 teams in the conference. basically… saying they aren’t a top 4 team is a stretch.

      have some faith.

      • UM 05′

        are you serious? take off the blinders. UM is #4 in conference until it proves otherwise. Stop flapping out a PPP metric for one half of basketball like it means something. L to OSU, MSU, IU is what counts. Being down to each of them by 15+ in every game is what counts. This is like RR football logic and pounded your chest about the yards the team racked up when down 28-10 in the second half of a game.

        • Mattski

          Those are good teams, and our incredibly young team played them away. Throw on a uni and help out, please.

    • UM 05′

      agreed. UM has the talent to win the conf but hasn’t found a way to put it together. Until then they are #4 in conference. They also lack the “heart of Zack Novak” if you will. The willingness to bang with an opponent and match their intensity. hopefully this is a wake up call. Even though that has been said after the last 4 games now…

  • DoubES

    We should not be too reactionary at this point. I think most folks thought that going 2-2 over this four game stretch would be a success and we were an Evan Turner special away from doing so.

    That said, I think some reevaluation of expectations is in order. I think we still have a chance to win the Big Ten, but at this point it seems hard to imagine that we will be flawless the rest of the way. We have a very young team not used to playing in tough away venues or the intensity required to defend at a high level and handle the Big Ten physicality. I think we’ve had a great season so far and winning the Big Ten would be a great bonus.

    I tend to agree with Nick’s point: I think our chance to shine is in the NCAA tourney. No more hostile environments or refs that let Adrian Payne jump on Stauskas or hand check our slashers. What I want most the rest of the season is for the squad and especially our youngsters to up their intensity on defense, get a little swagger back and be ready for a tourney run.

    • UM 05′

      We also could have easily lost to OSU. UM deserved 1-3 and got 1-3. Don’t sugar coat it. Also, THjr and Horford have not had any defensive intensity or clue at all. They are not frosh…3rd year players. MSU’s frosh was rising to the occasion (G Harris) btw…

      • Adam St Patrick

        Man I was just so sick to hear that that was Harris’ hottest start to a game. Can’t we have a freshman who has his best moments in the biggest moments?

        Overall, I still expect to win out. I’m not surprised that Michigan got punked because their offense-first approach invites that sort of treatment, but they’re done with big-time road games and they have a few weeks to recover until the next measuring-stick game, which is MSU at home first weeekend of March. And I think it’s entirely possible that Michigan could, with a bit of a lucky draw, get to the Final Four without playing any games as tough as the ones they’ve just played. Keep a certain few teams out of our bracket and that should be enough.

        It’s gonna be really interesting to see what next year’s team is like. Beilein will presumably have the bigs to play a different style, and there won’t be Burke there creating the logic that mandates picking your personnel based on offense. I hope he learns from this year and comes back next year with a tougher, more balanced team.

  • gpsimms

    Not that in game strategy had anything to do with that outcome, but taking Burke out with 3 fouls was a terrible decision. He was the only guy who gave us any chance at all.

    The other decision I disagree with is not emptying the bench earlier. Once it was clear they had given up (as early as 8 mins or so), sit their butts down and spend the rest of the game questioning their manhood.

    Sometimes, I could use just a little more fire from Beilein.

    • UM 05′

      couldn’t agree more on virtually every point made.

  • UM 05′

    Hopefully people can stop makin excuses for this team now. There have been obviously flaws on this team for 2 weeks now that keep gettin brushed aside . People keep pointing to metrics or the schedule to prove to themselves what this team is when it doesn’t pass the eyeball test.

    UM’s O is not elite. We are like a Rich Rod team that can light up UCONN but get punched in the mouth when we play equal talent. UM could have easily lost to OSU at home so don’t give me the wisc BS. UM deserved 1-3 in this stretch and that’s what they got.

    This team plays the same joke defense that Rich Rod teams played as well. Our wings have no idea how to play defense. Even TH who is in year 3.

    We are not playing HORSE out here it’s basketball. The intensity level must go up 1000%.

    Losing bc of a lack I intensity or mental fortitude is >>>>> worse than losing with a lack of talent. These last 4 games are on coach B.

    • Nick

      Great point about the overemphasis on metrics, nailed it.

      Disagree with you on Coach B though. Think their lack of intensity is a product of their youth and being intimidated more than anything.

    • DoubES

      You dismiss the use of “metrics” which try to encompass a seasons worth of information and then base your eyeball test evaluation on the hardest stretch of games that ANY team has had to play this year. Previous to this game, we had a chance in every one of our losses, and that includes making a few big comebacks after getting down early. I would call that fortitude, no?

      • Adam St Patrick

        What is a worry is how they packed it in in the second half, cause previously they have been pretty tough. Hopefully that’s not a sign that the players are losing faith in the system, but I’ve seen that happen with these offense-first teams that can’t handle being bullied. They play hard until doubt creeps in about the system. Effort is in part connected to the players’ belief that the system they are running is a good and effective one. The players are this point would be crazy if their faith in it isn’t a bit shaken.

        I think it was this hardest stretch that was going to be the measuring stick all along. Nobody cares about IUPUI and December and all that. And this was pretty easy to anticipate no matter what any metrics said. This is just what happens to offense-first teams unless, like Crean appears to be doing, you can pull of the balancing act of playing two ways. IMO it’s a function of practice time. You can’t run an offense as smooth and effective as Michigan’s without a lot of practice time. TSome of tat practice time should have been spent on defense, hustle, ball security and playing through contact.

        • Mattski

          Second guessing the coaches from your spot by the TV like this is silly.
          As people have pointed out above, Indiana did the same thing last year.

      • UM 05′

        nobody gives a crap about the scrub teams feasted on earlier in the season. About inflated PPP or reb vs NU,NW,iowa…etc. It’s always about big ten titles and that means beating the top teams. UM just played the top teams and was down big in every game.

        Seriously, UM led for maybe 5 mins in the last four games….combined. Defense is about effort. Rebounding is about effort.

        And youth has Nothing to do with effort. In fact, You should be worried that if you don’t bust your ass you will be sitting on the bench when you are young.

    • Chinch

      You are a fool. Relax, it is a bad stretch but not the end of the world. Geez, this reminds me of this board when Manny sat at Iowa in OT. This is the 9th youngest team in D1, and unfortunately that has showed on 2-3 occasions in hostile environments. This will build character, and there are no road games in the tourney (big10 or NCAA).

  • jakelam2116

    1. Forget the Xs and Os. The most disheartening part of last night was the lack of effort, of getting out-competed. How many loose balls did MSU win? 90 percent? That’s unacceptable. Robinson and Horford, in particular, looked out of sorts, not running hard, not going hard for rebounds. Unacceptable.

    2. The first priority for Beilein and his staff over the next two weeks (and thank god for two against PSU) is to get his team’s swagger and competitive spirit back. Show them tape from Pitt; show them tape from KSU; show them tape from NC State; show Robinson tape from Minnesota.

    3. Can we cut it with the football comparisons and metaphors? The sport gets shoved down our throats enough, right? This site and time of year is all about hoops, and I still believe in this team. I’ll be back in town Sunday for the game. Really hoping to see a sell-out crowd with lots of positive energy for a team that needs it.

  • ChathaM

    It’s important to put a game like this into perspective. UM’s halfcourt defence has been exposed over the past two weeks; no denying that. Last night was an embarrassing beatdown; no denying that. Should we be ratcheting down our expectations/hopes for the season? Maybe. But, adversity strikes most, if not all, teams, over the course of a season. A look at some of the best teams in the country proves that. A few weeks ago, Duke lost a road game by 30 to a very good Miami team. Arizona looked to be getting on a roll, then lost a home game to Cal by 8. Kansas recently lost 3 straight games, one to TCU. A few weeks ago, Louisville was in the middle of a 3 game losing streak. This type of thing happens to teams made up of 19-21 year old kids. I understand the angst, and I can imagine what fans of those teams were feeling after their bouts with adversity. But, this stuff just happens. How UM recovers from this brutal 4 game stretch is the key. I can’t say for certain that they’ll enjoy their full week off next week, refresh, and finish strong. But, I think there’s a good chance they will.

    Some of the top B1G teams will go through the same type of stretch UM just finished. After playing Neb this weekend, MSU plays IU, OSU, UM, and Wisky. They’ll consider 2-2 a success over that span. After this weekend, IU finishes with MSU, Minn, Iowa, OSU, and UM. I’ll bet they’d accept 3-2 over that span. 3 of OSU’s next 4 games are against Minn, MSU, and IU. TV analysts are famous for hyperbole. But, I think they’re right in that this conference is just brutally difficult. To see a young team like UM go 1-3 over this type of stretch isn’t surprising, nor should it be disheartening. I’m sure this sounds like excuse-making to some, and that may be partially true. But, I really believe it’s simple fact.

    • Buda

      I disagree, MSU will expect 3-1 in that stretch (3 home games) and hope (reasonably) for 4-0 after last night’s performance.

      I really put this on the coaching staff. Allowing GRIII to fall to these depths is on them. His execution has been lacking and now his effort (he’s forgotten how to box out, apparently) is suffering. Meanwhile, Gary Harris (and Costello and Valentine) is trending upward.

      We have a young team. But effort isn’t a youth thing. Our effort was terrible, and, again, I put that on the coaches. You don’t walk into your rival’s house with that level of intensity. You just don’t. And Izzo is a great coach, one of the best, so it’s not fair to compare Beilein and Izzo, but I’m hard pressed to recall an Izzo-led team playing so lackadaisical and with so little effort. Coaches, please reevaluate your performance.

      • ChathaM

        I see your point re: MSU, but accept and expect are two very different words. Most of their players will expect to go 4-0 over that stretch. Most, if not all, of their coaches will realize that they’re playing 4 very good teams in a row.

        I’m sure the coaching staff evaluates itself on a daily basis. Without being at practice, and without knowing what’s being said/taught to Robinson, you can’t reasonably place blame on the staff for Robinson’s struggles.

      • Mattski

        Go over to RCMB and look back through fan reactions to earlier games in their season. Same kind of grousing we’re getting from fans today. Thank goodness coaches and administrations aren’t as Jekyll and Hyde about their teams as most fans. People on these boards often start saying we’ve lost games halfway through the first quarter if we’re down. It’s a little weak.

      • rlcBlue

        Unless you’ve ceded Crisler to MSU, they play only two of those four at home.

  • JDiesel

    I am struck by potential comparisons to last year’s Indiana team. They had a ton of young talent, very little senior leadership, and a lot of success early in the season (especially at home). They then lost by 25 at MSU, 23 at OSU, and 12 at UM. Once the tourney came around, they gelled well and nearly upset Kentucky in the sweet sixteen. We are better than that team was (see Burke, Trey), but I think it is illustrative to point out the difficulties young teams face on the road in the B1G. That said, I agree with all of the comments about a lack of hustle last night. Was at the Breslin (which, by the way, was at Spinal Tap 11), and was most disappointed with the lack of effort. Hopefully these next 3 games will get the team rested, re-focused, and practiced, and we can run the table or only lose once here on out…

  • Dr_ZC

    The last 4 games we saw some disturbing trends on offense. I am sure the coaches saw them as well. We knew about our defense, but in past games our good offense masked our defensive woes. I am not sure how and what the coaching staff did to repair our lack of offensive loss of confidence as a team. What we saw in the last 4 games was the lack of crispness, movement, hustle, fundamentals, extra pass and synergy. Too much individual play when the chips were down. We were lucky with OSU, but our luck ran out at Wisconsin. Indiana faced the same in Illinois, but they bounced back at OSU. We were unable to impose anything at MSU. To me it appeared that the loss at Wisc, took a heavy toll on the team.

    We knew well what it would be playing @ MSU. The freshmen experienced the away environment at OSU, IU and UW. But it was our leaders and upperclassmen who did not rise to the occasion. I just hope the coaches work on the mental part of the game for our young players, so that we regain our confidence for tournament play.

    • geoffclarke

      Like I said above, I think the movement was good. Just bad passing and decision-making by the people with the ball. It was almost as if they had gotten so used to a stagnant offense that they forgot how to pass when there is good movement.

  • Greyblue

    This was a indeed nasty loss to the Green Meanies. Disturbing! M did not come to Breslin to play on a night when everything was up for grabs..

    Obviously they did not play as tough as they can, and some might understandably say tough at all.. Schedule and all that is somewhat extenuating, but only somewhat.. MSU simply was the better team on that night, and this will give them a jump start for the rest of the season. But the Spartans may not be so hot away from home either.

    With this losing streak, the young Wolverines are finally tested. How tough this team is should be judged not by their failure at Breslin, but how they bounce back now. Will there be finger pointing in the locker room? Will self overwhelm team for many of them now?

    I don’t think so. Belein has turned worse teams around and he will do it again.

    Maybe they are the victims of their own early success, just finding out they are not the only good team around. This will relight their fire. Belein and his staff will not let them wimp away the season.

    The early winning streak showed they are masters of the transition game, not half court sets. Rebounding and defensive takeaways set that up. They have to find a way to bring that back. They have to improve their defense, and improve the offense when they can’t run. Scoring points can take care of their somewhat spasmodic defense, that at times has saved bacon.

    Meanwhile 21-4 is nothing to be ashamed of, even if their most recent Breslin performance and how they lost was a little rough on Wolverine egos. A bad sandpapering. More than that, a rasping.

    Yet all is not lost. Yet. The season is just heating up.

    If they can get a top seed to the NCAAs I think they can shine. Neutral courts, opponents unfamiliar with their style, refs frowning on rough stuff. Maybe. It will be fun to see this season unfold. Right now what would feel best is revenge on the Spartans.

  • geoffclarke

    Dylan, is it possible to get the AdjD and AdjO numbers for just the last 4 games?

  • AADave

    What a disaster.

    Everybody needs to put this in perspective. Even Duke (currently #2) lost by 27 to Miami. We only lost by 23 (although the final margin was random due to our scrubs being in for the last 5-10 minutes and garbage ball). Almost all teams have a slump, especially young ones like ours. Here’s how I see the major areas of concern:

    1. Poor defense and defensive rebounding. This has been killing us for several games now.

    2. Overall sloppy/shaky play by the freshmen

    3. GR III’s disappearing act

    I do think #1 will improve. I do think it’s mainly an effort problem. This team had no energy in Lansing and needs to realize it will need to fight and scrap on defense. Our bigs need to step up. Morgan at full strength will help. I also think #2 will continue to improve but I’m not sure if the improvement will be enough to cure all problems. I do think avoiding lineups with both Albrecht and Levert will help. #3 is a bit of a puzzle. I thought GR III might have an off game or two but he’s completely disappearing. He seems to have no confidence and low energy. Since it seems mainly mental, I think it’s also curable. Beilein needs to tell him to be more aggressive and not worry about mistakes.

    Michigan needs improvement with all 3 if it hopes to make a deep tourney run.

  • rlcBlue

    Defense has to get better. More stops means more chances to run, more success, more confidence on offense.

    Jordan Morgan has to get healthy. McHorFeldt need to beat PSU by themselves so that Morgan can rest his ankle for the next week and a half.

    B1G title is still in reach; we win out, Sparty beats the Hoosiers and Badgers in East Lansing, Bucknuts beat Sparty in Columbus, and 14-4 earns at least a co-championship.

  • mikey_mac

    So two big challenges:
    On offense, they need to find a way to beat the OSU strategy of “riding the rails.” Not every team will have the personnel/discipline to attempt this defense, but those that do, or are close, seem to be able to really contain this team. More PNR with THJ is an idea. Some double screens for Stauskas is another.
    On defense, they need to work smarter. They need technique and understanding of how to work through/around screens, how to close out on a shooter without completely giving up a drive, and when to commit to help or stick with their man. Too much half-assing, no-man’s-land results with help defense right now. Note that these are all primarily perimeter problems, i.e. Burke, Hardaway, LeVert, Stauskas.

  • Dr_ZC

    Starting McGary proved to be fatal, not because he did not play well, but because we had nobody to provide us with Energy coming off the bench. I thought our batteries were dead before we even turned the switch on.

  • JDiesel

    Does anyone have a good feel for why we don’t play a bunch of zone from here on out? We have a lot of man D deficiencies, which is something that could potentially be covered up by a 2-3 zone. We have nice length (Stauskas, while slow, is at least long, and Hardaway is big for 2). I can understand why it wasn’t implemented in recent games- no time to practice to it. But does it make sense as a viable strategy going forward?

  • SG

    Don’t play body language expert

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