Game 28: Michigan at Penn State Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan head coach John Beilein covers his face after a foul is called against Michigan during their road game in the Bryce Jordan Center against Penn State on Feb. 27, 2013. The No. 4 ranked Wolverines fell to the Nittany Lions 84-78.
Sarah Finnegan/Daily Collegian

MICH 78 1.14 30-58 52% 25-38 66% 5-20 25% 13-20 65% 14 23 13 15 6 1 21
PSU 84 1.22 27-57 47% 17-37 46% 10-20 50% 20-27 74% 10 20 15 9 9 3 17

Earlier this week I posted trendlines of every Big Ten team’s performance to date and wrote that Penn State was playing its best basketball of the conference season and was bound to win its first conference game soon. Next week in Evanston against a struggling Northwestern team seemed more likely than at home against Michigan.

Michigan led by 15 points with just over 10 minutes to play and Penn State’s ability to play the Wolverines close for the better part of two games over the last two weeks felt like an heartwarming but insignificant story. Then the wheels fell off. The Nittany Lions outscored the Wolverines 33-12 to close out the game for their first win of the Big Ten season.

This wasn’t the sort of raucous crowd that the Wolverines have faced in East Lansing or Bloomington – the box score listed a generous attendance figure of 8,892 – but the run seemed to snowball so quickly that nobody was quite sure what happened. Michigan players walked off the floor in disbelief as a day that began with rejuvenated Big Ten title dreams ended with even more questions about a struggling Wolverine team that once felt invincible.


What happened to Michigan? A defensive collapse.

Michigan’s offense was bad over the final 10 minutes but its defense was atrocious. Penn State scored 33 points on its final 19 possessions of the game – 1.74 points per trip. The Nittany Lions scored at least one point on 15 of the final 19 possessions. One of the four empty possessions was an 0-for-2 trip to the free throw line, the others included a missed layup, a missed jumper and a turnover that Michigan promptly bobbled out of bounds.

Penn State attempted 18 free throws and made 4-of-4 3-point attempts during that final stretch and the Wolverines looked hopeless in defense.

How bad was Michigan’s defense? This was the Wolverines’ worst defensive outing of the season and it came against the Big Ten’s worst offense. This was just the eighth time this season that Penn State surpassed a point per possession and its 1.24 point per possession output was its best offensive output since December 27th, 2010.

The culprit, once again, was the ball screen. Michigan’s aggressive trapping hedge simply didn’t work. Penn State showed patience  and managed to exploit late help defense after passing out of the trap. Defending ball screens like this is a strategic decision but the results aren’t there. My hypothesis is that Beilein is attempting to cheat to compensate for Michigan’s lack of an elite on-ball defender like Aaron Craft or Keith Appling that can fight over ball screens quickly and consistently. Michigan needs to trap because that’s the only way Beilein is confident he can keep the opposing ball handler out of the lane.  Whether the strategy is right or wrong, the execution is lacking. Michigan’s bigs would trap but they weren’t able to reliably prevent penetration or cut off passing lanes without fouling.

Michigan’s offense was phenomenal for the first 30 minutes but also slowed down the stretch. In the final 6:30 of the game, the Wolverines didn’t make a field goal, turned the ball over twice and missed three free throw attempts.

Regardless of whether the calls were right or wrong, block-charge fouls had a major influence on the game. Michigan took one charge but was whistled for three or four blocking fouls while attempting to draw the charge. On the other end the Wolverines were whistled for three charges. Those 50-50 calls manifested themselves in a number of uncharacteristic Wolverine statistics: Penn State free throws and Michigan turnovers. Michigan turns the ball over and fouls less than any team in the country yet both statistics proved to be the Wolverines undoing at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Michigan gave the ball away on 22 percent of its possessions and allowed the Nittany Lions 27 free throw attempts to 57 field goal attempts.

Michigan’s late game execution left plenty to be desired. The Wolverines committed poor fouls, turned the ball over against Penn State’s trap, and mismanged the clock down the stretch. Despite the late mistakes, Michigan made 66% of its two point attempts and seemed to be capable of getting a layup whenever it didn’t trip over itself. The Wolverines dominated on the offensive glass while missed threes (5-of-20) and sloppy turnovers were the only blemishes on an otherwise solid offensive performance. Michigan still managed 1.15 points per offensive possession, just a hair above its in-conference average, and plenty sufficient to win a game with a moderate defensive effort.

There are plenty of teams with a bad loss on their resume (Kansas, Georgetown and Miami all have losses to sub-top 100 teams). One game doesn’t define a season and it took the Wolverines 28 games to catch a bad loss. However, Michigan’s troubles are concerning. The Wolverine defense has been shredded for the better part of the last seven games and Michigan is starting to look like a team running out of gas rather than struggling through a midseason hiccup. With Michigan State headed to Ann Arbor, it’s starting to feel like Sunday could either spark the Wolverines down the stretch or send Michigan into a nasty downward spiral.

Trey Burke (3) attempts a lay up as he is blocked by Ross Travis (43) and D.J. Newbill (2) during the second half of Michigan's road match against Penn State in the Bryce Jordan Center on Feb. 27, 2013. The No. 4 ranked Wolverines fell to the Nittany Lions 84-78.Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) goes for a lay up against Penn State's Ross Travis (43) during Michigan's road match at the Bryce Jordan Center. The No. 4 ranked Wolverines fell to the Nittany Lions 84-78.
Sarah Finnegan/Daily Collegian

Player Bullets

  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: I thought Hardaway played a great offensive game, even without consistent three point shooting (2-7). he was 6-of-9 on twos, grabbed seven rebounds and handed out three assists. Foul trouble plagued him a bit in the second half but the way he played, driving the ball to the rack and playing with aggression was exactly what Michigan needs from him on the offensive end of the floor.
  • Trey Burke: Burke’s six turnovers matched his total over his last five games and they seemed to come all over the map – careless bobbles of the ball, a charge, a couple of forced passes. To his credit, he had a number of highlight moves, pull up jumpers and a devastating hesitation crossover in transition, and still handed out six assists. Penn State essentially face guarded Burke down the stretch and that seemed to dismantle most of Michigan’s offensive flow.
  • Nik Stauskas: Early on Stauskas made some strong plays taking it to the rim (3-of-5 2pt) and it took him a bit to heat up but he finished 2-of-4 from three point range. The eight rebounds (2 off.) are something of a pleasant surprise but the five turnovers are frustrating. The two charges late in the first half are bearable, they were close and he was being aggressive. The two frustrating turnovers were in the first half when he passed up an open three to make a bad pass and when he was trapped late in the game and threw the ball away for an easy layup.  Stauskas obviously lacks some defensive foot speed but the thing that stands out to me seems to be his tendency to help off of Penn State’s shooters when he shouldn’t.
  • Glenn Robinson III: Robinson had a couple nice drive to start each half, an emphatic dunk in the first and a nice scoop reverse layup in the second. He had a nice tip slam in the second half but that was it. He missed his other five field goal attempts and still looks like a guy who has zero confidence in his jumper. Defensively he’s thinking every move and he’s not reacting and that’s manifesting itself by making him a step late almost everywhere he needs to be, from defensive rotations to loose balls.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan was productive around the basket, always in position for a number of drop off passes and he finished well. His free throw shooting was bad – 1-of-4 – and most of the attempts didn’t look close. I know he hasn’t played a lot of minutes in the last month but some of his attempts were scary.  I still don’t think he’s 100% physically as he looked to be lacking some lift when going for rebounds and a half step slow recovering from the screen and roll.
  • Mitch McGary: McGary had a great first half hustle play which led to a layup and took a charge later in his first shift He had a strong offensive board and a composed putback through contact.  That was the good, but McGary only played eight minutes. His steal and breakaway layup in the first half would have been a huge play had Michigan held on as it turned the tide going into the break.
  • Jon Horford: Horford scored six points including a follow up tip in and a nice basket off of an out of bounds cut and grabbed four rebounds (three offensive). He played more minutes than Mitch McGary on the night and you have to wonder if that was due to some frustration from John Beilein about how the big men were playing inside.
  • Caris LeVert: I liked that LeVert didn’t hesitate with his first two field goal attempts, a missed three and a strong drive, but obviously the result wasn’t there. Still for every Illinois game where he looks comfortable, there’s a game like this where he looks like a freshman that could have been better served with a redshirt.
  • Spike Albrecht: Albrecht made two great plays in the first half, a nice look to Horford who was fouled and an alley oop to Hardaway. He played three minutes in the second half and missed a (open) three late in the game from the corner.
  • Drew

    Is this the most fouls called on Michigan in any game this season?

    • Yes. Next highest are: 19 at Minny and @IU. 18 vs. WVU in Brooklyn. 17 vs. K-State in NYC.

    • ColinNer

      I didn’t/don’t want to write this but the officiating was horrible. 9 of Penn State’s first 13 points were a result of fortunate no-calls from the officials (Burke getting shoved down on the baseline led to a three; a no-call on Morgan trying to take a charge led to a three; a moving screen led to an and1). I lost count of all the blown calls somewhere along the way.

      However when it came down to crunch time, Michigan can’t blame the officials for no field goals in the last 6:30. Michigan can’t blame the officials for throwing passes right into the Penn State defender’s chest. Michigan can’t blame the officials for their slow defensive rotation allowing Penn State to have there best offensive output in 2+ years. The bottom line is teams that are playing well don’t blow 15 point leads in the final 10 minutes no matter who the officials are. Michigan is in a little bit of a slump right now and hopefully the change in calendar will help them break out.

  • ChathaM

    I appreciated how tightly the game was called. Too many college games are officiated loosely, with defenders able to use their hands however they like, and freedom of movement limited by overly physical play. I think that partly contributed to the offensive efficiency of both teams. Unfortunately, neither team can defend in the halfcourt, which was even more of a factor in the style of play. There were a lot of charge/block decisions to be made, and it’s simply a fact of the college game that officials struggle with those calls. I watch a ton of college ball, and it seems like the typical college official goes with the charge call far too often. IMO, this is one area where NBA officials blow college officials out of the water. Their charge/block understanding and execution is excellent, and in this area, they make the college guys look like high school officials, at best. To single out this game is wrong, though, only because this is the way charge/block is called throughout D1.

    This team is so much fun to watch when they have the ball, but I’ve reached the point where I want to close my eyes when they defend. The defence is plagued by a lack of lateral quickness, a lack of physical strength, and most importantly, a lack of experience. I know that some will try to place blame on Beilein for the defensive struggles, and some will cite intangibles such as a lack of heart and desire, but I really believe it’s as simple as the 3 factors above. He’s working with what he has, and it’s incredibly frustrating for us to watch the team so closely and not see them improving. Imagine how frustrated Beilein must be. He knows the principles of zone defence as well as any coach, and he made a comment earlier this season to the effect that if he tried to have this team play more zone, it’d be a disaster.

    McGary had 3 consecutive horrible defensive possessions in the 2nd half, and I think that’s why he didn’t see the floor at all down the stretch.

    I think we’re at the point in the season where your team essentially is what it is. There isn’t much time for improvement, and your flaws now will be your flaws through March. This team is excellent offensively, and average (at best) defensively. If the March matchups are right, UM can still advance far into the tournament. But, even the wrong first round matchup could be a nightmare, because this is a team that isn’t close to being a total package.

    • robpollard

      It’s not good when you rightfully are worried that if Michigan gets a 3 seed (which is quite possible if we lose to MSU and don’t do well in the B1G tourney) they could run into another Ohio situation.

  • maxwell’s demon


  • Alex

    It’s beginning to get a bit scary how uncomfortable we are on offense when the ball isn’t in Trey’s hands. It looks like if teams can effectively double him, not allowing him to either get off a shot or get in the lane, we have no flow on offense.

    On defense they need to go away from the aggressive hedges on the ball screen. I don’t care who we have our guys should be able to fight through ball screens at least half the time. I’d rather have guys shooting open-ish threes off the ball screen once in a while rather than the other team getting into the paint every play (which leads to even more open 3s I’d argue). Penn st. exposed our penetration defense both games and while we made good adjustments in the first game, it just didn’t happen this time around. Coach B has gotta make a permanent adjustment here…go back to basics please!

  • robpollard

    “…defense was atrocious.” That really about sums it up, along with the turnovers from Stauskas (as is pretty typical for him) and Burke (really unusual, particularly after the completely awesome game he played against the Illini).

    Michigan can still go far in the tourney, but it will pretty much be based more on whether it gets hot from the field, which you can basically say for 25 other teams (though when Michigan gets hot on offense, it gets hotter than anyone). To truly be an elite team, you’ve got to play defense and rebound, and this team clearly isn’t there yet. At home, we’re a top 5 team. Away from home, we’re what – maybe Top 25? The bad losses are piling up. I know every team plays better at home, but the disparity for UM is pronounced. Unfortunately, tourney games aren’t played at home.

    What a disappointment.

    • gobluemd16

      I wouldn’t say the bad losses are piling up. This is the first and only. I guess at MSU is a bad loss, but is one that was somewhat expected to happen.

      • robpollard

        I don’t necessarily mean that in terms of the NCAA tourney seeding sense (I don’t know if they take margin of victory into account or not).

        – Getting absolutely drilled by MSU on nat’l TV was a bad loss
        – Blowing a three point lead with 2.4 seconds left at a place you haven’t won in over a decade is a really disappointing loss (if not a ‘bad’ loss b/c Wisky, at home, is a very good team)

        – …and losing to a team that had a real chance to go 0-18 in the conference, when you just the day before got the chance to control your own destiny in the race for the B1G title, is an absolutely horrible loss.

        More importantly, what can Michigan point to – this team has made its mark winning at home. Hopefully that will continue against MSU and Indiana. But, as I said, that’s not where tourney games are played, and this team has not shown a real ability to find another way to win (e.g., playing good defense & making foul shots) when it isn’t shooting lights out.

  • CDeSana

    Penn State played harder, executed better on both ends of the floor, were better coached and were the aggressor last night. They were not only not in awe of the highly ranked Wolverines they took it to them and our boys simply did not respond AGAIN.

    Nik needs to go to the bench; bring back Vogrich for his defense, Sr leadership and passion.

    Trey needs to understand that he needs to move the ball and get others involved.

    The other 4 guys have to stop standing around watching Trey; but honestly think that is the offense that coach has them running. basically a clear out every time down the court hoping that when the defense comes to help on Trey he finds someone else to hit the jumper. Guess what; that offense is struggling do we not have another option?

    Last but not least games like this only prove we need more length; I love everything about GRIII but we need an eraser in the paint. Until then our guys have to find the Zak in themselves and man up to play better team defense.

    • gpsimms

      I actually have been wondering if Vogrich could somehow get a few manbounds and pump the team up. However, I remember when he came in for a few minutes last, he let up a few 3s just like everyone else does.

      That said, I still think completely benching Vogrich one week into the season is looking like a mistake now.

      • Tenzin Tsundu

        We need Matt in. When nick is struggling on offense and we can’t stop people on defense i think nick will bring the same things on offense but better communication and understanding on defense. I didn’t know why we stuck him so deep in the bench. He has been big big 3 his whole cAreer in Michigan and if nick is off why not bring him in??

  • Wayman Britt

    I am trying not to overreact with just one game, but it is a trend now. This team has serious flaws playing defense and being mental and physically tough. Certain players have not progressed and are trending downward.

    Hopefully March brings changes.

    • gpsimms

      At this point, we’ve had 3 good halves of basketball in the past 14. I don’t think anyone is overreacting. It’s very tough for me to envision this season having a happy ending at this point.

      • Mattski

        Let’s try to summon some perspective. This team was ranked #5 in the country before the season started, and many of us thought that was insane–with four, five freshmen in prominent roles, we asked? On February 27 they were ranked number four. Last night they blew a game they had in hand, faltering badly down the stretch. But it’s not like we can honestly say they have screwed up in the larger scheme. Our frustration now is tied to heightened expectations.

        Nik and Glenn and McGairy are not trying to screw up. They are just not reacting fast enough on D. Yeah, I’m sad about it, too. But at some point complaining about it, or casting doubt on people just becomes hot air. Beyond Trey, who was really going to take over that game last night? I agree that, in many ways, what you see is now what you will get this year with this squad. Potential small areas of hope include a fully healthy Morgan (he is obviously not there yet), Timmy and Nik again becoming more confident, and a different kind of officiating and style of play that will come in the NCAAs. . .

        • robpollard

          Of course the players are not “trying to screw up.” But I think what this game represents is reality smacking the fanbase in the face – we were ignoring the consistently poor defense and the high reliance on one player having to play not just good, but really good, (Burke) and thinking this was Top 2 seed team that had as good a shot as anyone as going deep in the tourney. This game shows that’s very likely not going to happen (it could of course – it’s college bball; it’s just not likely).

          Losing to PSU is probably be the worst loss of any ranked team this season, considering the full context. I know KU losing to TCU was bad, but that was in the middle of the season. UM, just the night before, got the gift of their B1G destiny being in their hands, and they immediately did an epic pratfall the next night.

          • geoffclarke

            We have not played consistently poor defense. I would say we’ve been very inconsistent defensively.

          • Mattski

            I accept that.

          • Mattski

            Really, it’s this kind of taking it so personally–a smack in your face, really?–that I’m criticizing. These 18-20 year olds don’t owe you or me jack. That kind of fan entitlement makes sports a nightmare for everyone.

          • robpollard

            “Smack in the face” meaning a wake up call; bringing people out of the clouds and back to reality. I don’t mean GRIII & other players are literally punching people in the face or even making fans’ faces hurt due to their gnashing of teeth in the streets of A2.

            How about “throwing cold water” instead? (And I don’t mean literally throwing cold water, since you seem concerned that I might envision THJ standing outside Crisler with buckets of water)

            And stop with the “entitlement” straw man – where in my post did I use the word “owe” or similar? None of them “owe” me anything in terms of their performance. I’m simply commenting that fan expectations (fans can have those, right? Is that too much a burden on D1 athletes?), which a couple weeks ago were that Michigan was a Top 4 team, are no longer realistic based upon recent play. It doesn’t mean UM still can’t get to the Final Four; anything can happen with a team that has shown it can shoot the three. But it is much less likely, to me, than it was two weeks ago. When you lose to an 0-14 team, just a couple games after getting your doors blown off by your main rival, that’s the reality.

  • Mike

    you are trashing burke’s defense but dont say his name. It is almost like you are afraid to admit trey burke cant play defense.

    • In the ball screen section? I think Burke struggles there, but there isn’t really another option. If you are going to run the offense for 39 minutes, it’s usually tough to wear the primary ball defender hat on the other end.

      • Mike

        no in the penn state recap. you talked about beilein looking to cheat to stop the ball handler. Burke cant stop penetration. i agree he is probably tired, but give him more rest and give up less points on offense to solidify defense, no?

  • Mattski

    Lot of blame to go around for that late-innnings collapse. But anyone who’s been watching closely has reduced their expectations for this team. The D is not there, and given that we’re expecting it from three freshmen in Robinson, Stauskas, and McGairy, it’s safe to say it won’t be much improved until next year. They often play hard and then get burned late in the clock, which has to add to the frustration. . . We don’t have an interior guy to throw it in to, and we have become less of a threat from outside, all of which makes trying to shut down Trey a still-better gamble. Robinson, Stauskas, and McGairy have ALL diminished their offensive contribution even as their offense suffered. If you could give these guys two weeks off to run a mini-camp I’m sure we could threaten for the the NC, but. . .

    What happened in that moment when Beilein grew furious with Stauskas, did anyone pick that up?

    • ChathaM

      Newbill (I think it was him) had turned the corner past Burke and Morgan by using a nice hesitation move on the right wing. Stauskas was in position to step in and help on the drive to the basket and just…didn’t. That was the play immediately before the timeout, so I assumed it was that one.

      • Mattski

        Thanks, I think I recall now–they showed a quick replay without comment, didn’t they? I was busy spitting out nails. ..

        • ChathaM

          Yeah, I think it was just a cutaway shot to a commercial.

      • Dr_ZC

        That is right.. We had two players, Burke and Morgan defending, and Stauskas hesitated to close the lane or set to take the charge. But on the other hand, you collapse down low with 3 defenders, for PSU to kick the ball for the open 3. Pick your poison.

        • ajerome33

          Maybe – but to stand and watch (which is what Nik did) is infuriating. He had to step up and help and didn’t. It is the job of his teammates to then ‘help the helper’ and rotate. To hesitate and not even try to help is what made JB so upset and I don’t blame him one bit for laying into him about it.

  • Adam

    Is it time to seriously consider going zone more? It really can’t be worse than man-to-man right now. They double the ball off of every ball screen and the big can’t back in time. If the wing helps, they have a wide open three and if he doesn’t, an easy layup. The hedging the ball screen simply doesn’t work. I’d rather take my chance with their point guard in the lane.

    Maybe a mix of 1-3-1, 2-3, and man-to-man. Our entire offense relies on defensive stops (aka why we didn’t score in the last 7 minutes of the game) and something needs to change.

    • Adam

      Also, to the numbers that say that zone hasn’t been as effective as man-to-man, haven’t we only used zone when the other team is hot on offense? Therefore, the numbers are clearly going to be slightly skewed.

      • If anything, I would say 2-3 zone… Michigan can’t stop dribble penetration and the 2-3 could help with that. 1-3-1 is too dependent on good defensive rotation and that could be an issue.

    • ChathaM

      That seems like a standard solution for a team that struggles in man, but I just don’t know if it’s practical. Beilein has basically said that this team wouldn’t be able to handle more zone, and I trust his judgement there.

  • Josh

    This was a bad loss, obviously. But what makes it particularly particularly bad is that UM was 99.3% to win (via KenPom) with the 15 point lead in the 2nd half. Championship caliber teams simply do not blow leads like that. They played well enough to basically ice the game after 30 minutes and gagged it up. Everything else aside, you cannot let that happen. And it is for that reason that I’m most concerned … at this time of year, especially, teams never stop playing. In March, teams will never stop playing. From the get go in early February, UM has had trouble responding to the opponent’s increase in intensity, as happened again last night. Bad signs…

    • Obviously coughing up a 15 point lead is awful but the KenPom probabilities are a bit tricky because they are heavily weighted with the original ranks. Michigan was something like 95% to open the game and never got below that really until the final 5 minutes.

      I would guess the probability of blowing a 15 point lead against anyone is something like 10% though — eerily similar to Indiana at Illinois in some ways.

      • Adam

        it’s worth a try. Beilein’s man scheme just doesn’t work with the players he has.

    • Championship teams don’t lose by 24 points like we did to MSU either, I think our window of a championship possibility this season has barely a draft coming through it now. That being said, this team is good enough offensively that if they have a good couple weeks shooting wise, they can beat anyone in the country on a neutral floor

      • Mattski

        Actually, I think the Fab V got stomped in a few games. Of course, they didn’t win championships, either. But no one disputes that they were good.

  • geoffclarke

    If you go to the standings on the B1G website, it looks like they gave us 2 losses for that debacle last night. I don’t blame them.

    It’s been fixed now. You’re welcome.

  • Dr_ZC

    Let us face it. We are the same team that oozed confidence 3 months ago. The freshmen are sophomores with all the paying experience. And yet, our confidence is gone. I think this is a coaching issue.

    We have become an open book on offense and defense. Stop Burke, and you shut down the offense. Throw a punch and we go into a fetal position on defense. We are getting KILLED from 3-land over and over, and we do not react. We are playing man-to-man and we are UNABLE to adjust to game situations. I think this is also a coaching issue.

    The players do not have any confidence any more. They do not have fun playing, they are afraid to play loose, afraid to take open shots, commit a foul, make a mistake, miss a defensive assignment. We are struggling, and yet we play exactly the same in the next game without any serious adjustments. Now MSU comes to down with 2 bigs. Do you think JB will change anything? Will he start 2 bigs to counter? Will he instill the killer attitude to the players? I want to see if he will make the necessary adjustments to get the team out of this troubling funk…

    • Kool Breeze

      Well said Doc! Rolling out the same lineup every night but expecting different results? Sometimes the bench can be a strong motivator.

    • ChathaM

      I don’t know about all of that. You seem to be doing an awful lot of mind-reading.

      • Dr_ZC

        Maybe Chatha, maybe. Hard to dispute the confidence issue, and our predictability on both, offense and defense. After all, we are expressing our personal opinions, based on what we see, no?

        Here is another personal opinion that is …totally wrong. It would be reasonable to assume that with PSU being 0-14, a chance to win would be over 90%. So from the safe side, coach B could have experimented a bit more with the 2 bigs down low, to kill 2 birds with 1 stone, for the upcoming MSU game. Never saw any sign of that. Instead, the last thing I saw was the stone hitting my head after missing both birds….

        • ChathaM

          I didn’t mean to sound as dismissive as I did; sorry.

          There appears to be a confidence issue with a couple of the players, but I don’t think that can be extended to most of them. The more I think about it, the more I think that perhaps this was just a really bad 10 minute stretch of basketball, where our weaknesses were fully exploited, and where some plays that are generally made, weren’t. We’ll find out more on Sunday, I suppose.

          • Dr_ZC

            Agreed. It seems that JB will have to prepare the players for the MSU game on both the physical as well as the mental aspect of the game. Most of the players are doing a bit of soul searching now. Do they have what it takes to win against MSU and get ready for the tournament? I would not mind seeing JB inviting Rose, King, Howard and Jackson to give them a little prep talk to help their mental state. After all, the players paid tribute to the fab five with their recent fades. Time to return the favor.

        • mikey_mac

          Morgan and Horford played together for a few minutes in the second half. Until Morgan is fully healthy, though, his limited minutes are needed at the 5.

  • geoffclarke

    I know this team has good chemistry. They have to be more accountable to each other on defense. I know the freshmen have limitations, but this is where the upperclassmen can show leadership. Morgan and Burke can say, “Guys, we’re sorry that when we double-teamed the ballhandler after the ball screen action, we still let him by us and forced you into a 3-on-5 situation on defense.” Hardaway can say, “I may have sagged too far a few times and been in poor position to defend a shooter.” “But we *all* need to do better with and take pride in our individual defense so we don’t have to rely so much on switching, rotating, etc.

  • FortWolve

    Does anyone else get frustrated with Michigan’s lack of aggressiveness when the other team full court presses? It seems to me that this team should be foaming at the mouth when they see a full court press. Instead, they methodically get the ball over half-court and set up the offense, allowing the defense to set itself. With the transition offense being our best offense, I would like to see them attack the basket when the other team full court presses.

    • ChathaM

      They appeared somewhat unprepared for the zone press that PSU threw at them. I’ve always believed that one of the best tactics against zone pressure is to use diagonal passing, but that wasn’t the plan. I agree that they should be capable of attacking a press like that, but there was no effort at all to do that.

  • Kool Breeze

    I just can’t understand why we continue to defend the ball screen like we do, teams torch us, and we continue to do the same thing? This team needs a new defensive philosophy right quick!

    • Dr_ZC

      Breeze, it is a mystery to me, but what do I know? However, I am sure the coaches read UMhoops. In fact, in the BTN Journey feature where they had Bacari, I could see that his desktop computer was pointing to the web page of UMhoops. So, I hope the coaches read our chats and our opinions.

      What is interesting (to me at least) we are all bitching and moaning about the same thing. We are all couch point guards, and yet we see exactly the same mess. I am beginning to think that the “fool me twice shame on me” applies here. Shake the line-up for god’s sake. Do something.. Defending the ball screen is not effective. And everybody knows it, that is why they shove it down our throats.

      • If Beilein and his staff are looking for ideas from me, you or anyone else on this site (and trust me they **aren’t**) we’d have some way bigger issues.

        • Dr_ZC

          Dylan, do not undersell your self. Having said that, and knowing they keep an eye on this site, it would not be a bad idea to see what the people who support UM basketball (aka fans) think. They can always ignore criticism by clicking away, but the reality is, like Breeze said, you cannot expect things to change without taking any action

        • ChathaM

          Yep…I truly hope that they are NOT reading our opinions.

        • although if our defense, we can all see that this team overplays their help defense constantly and gives up wide open jump shots. If the coaches see it and can’t fix it this far into the season, we’ve got bigger problems

      • ajerome33

        I hope our coaches are not wasting their time on this site. I enjoy as much as anyone, but to think they are going to start taking advice from average joes is just foolish thinking.

        As far as the ball screen goes, most (if not all) teams utilize the high ball screen as the main component of their offense. This utilization of the high ball screen is not unique to attacking Michigan only, this is just what college basketball has become.

        I do obviously agree with you, though, we have to get better at defending it. I don’t think it’s a strategy issue, to me it’s an execution issue.

  • MichManic

    Would anyone else like to see Michigan start Mitch, Morgan, Robinson, Hardaway, and Burke? Robinson turns into a good sized 3 from a undersized 2… Look at the top 25 and how big some teams are. No way they can make it through March Madness playing so small.

    • gobluemd16

      I think that lineup could potentially work. Hopefully seeing the bench will light a fire under Stauskas’ ass, and he will play harder/better on defense to earn more minutes. This lineup would definitely help against MSU, too.

    • ajerome33

      I was actually thinking we are going to see McGary and Morgan on the court together more, especially against MSU and their size. I don’t think you abandon what got you to this point, but I think it’s clear there needs to be some tweaking of the lineups until we find a solid group together that can defend and get critical stops.

    • CDeSana

      Ditto and they could run a high low post on the offensive side of the ball. This also allows for more screening options for our shooters.

      I think coach is concerned with the amount of fouls that could mount with 2 bigs; why not work Blake into the line up for 5 minutes a game? If nothing else he adds length and a few fouls to give in the paint.

  • MichManic

    I meant Robinson turns into a good size 3 from an undersized 4…

  • Mike

    this fact makes me wonder if Beilein is the College Bball version of Mike D’Antoni

    “The question was whether or not Beilein, who has never coached a top-25 efficiency defense in his career, at least since 2003, could mix all of that offensive potency with a defense that could at least get stops. “

    • Dr_ZC

      Double guessing time, for sure. At the end of the first half (and on many occasions), we could see McGary defending the post, where he had several steals. At the end of the game, he was not there, I am sure because he missed some defensive assignments. This is what is happening with coach B. He throws in the hook, and there goes the confidence. I would expect to see McGary and Morgan defending at the end of the game, rather than Stauskas and GR3. In fact, Stauskas was subbed by Levert just for a single defensive play.

      • So the solution to the defense is to play the players that struggle more?

        • Dr_ZC

          Well, statistically this is what he is doing, with Stauskas and GR3 as the defensive stoppers when you are in a dire need for a decisive stop.

    • gobluemd16

      Huge overreaction. The team is still unbelievably young (3rd youngest in college bball, I believe), and defense in the college game is what comes last to the players. It will take time. It is ugly now, and of course we wish everyone would come back, but I bet the three freshman improve a lot next year. Look at JMo and Tim (when he wants to), they can be really good on the defensive end.

  • Daniel My Brother

    I am very interested to hear a reaction to Stauskas getting his ass handed to him by Beilein late in the game, a very uncharacteristic Beilein move, which leads me to believe that he screwed up significantly in the waning minutes of the game. I have read what mgoblog has to say about it but, and am curious to hear what this site makes of that situation and honestly, a little more elaborate response.

    RE: LeVert – If the decision to remove the redshirt had come halfway through the season, it would’ve helped LeVert more then playing a game which is moving very fast for him. Yes, real game experience and all but it’s been awhile since the decision to remove LeVert’s redshirt seems like a better idea each game, paraphrasing obviously. This situation kinda mirrors the Morgan 2min v IU and other non-impactful performances Morgan has had which were of no help to the team and only further served to regress his injury.

    • Dr_ZC

      It might have been a combination of JB being frustrated, and by the lack of initiative by Stauskas not to switch to close the lane and possibly take a charge against the PSU player who was pursued by Morgan and Burke. The way I saw it, we had a PSU player driving and 2-3 UM defenders collapsing. Would a charge be called? Hard to tell. Stauskas had 3 fouls on him and by the way the refs were calling the game, he would have picked his 4th on a block. Let alone that by having 3 of our defenders collapsing, would have opened the door for a kick and a three from the top of the key, like it happened at least 4 times before. So pick your poison… I am sure Stauskas did not do what JB wanted at the time. But then again, why he was kept in the game after this with McGary on the bench?

  • mikey_mac

    Burke is a massive liability on defense against ball screens. He has to find the mindset that both sides of the court matter. I understand the difficulty of running an offense and then having to come back and guard a ball handler, but wow, he’s been lost on so many screens and falls so far behind his man. He’s the leader — if he won’t commit to playing D, why would the rest of the team?

    • Dr_ZC

      Well, mickey, hard to blame Burke. He has been the only bright spot in this team. However, I begin to worry about his stamina. Every time the camera pans on him, he appears winded, sucking for air, while he is sweating profusely. I am sure he is conditioned, but like last year, he is piling the minutes and this is probably taking a big toll on him, now we are at the end of the season.

      • mikey_mac

        He did play the entire second half, and his stamina did seem to be a factor. But I wasn’t just referencing yesterday’s game. Burke has had big problems staying near his man all season on ball screen defense.

      • Jeff

        Yeah, I’ve been worried about this for awhile. When you’re playing him 38-40 minutes virtually every game, eventually it’s going to catch up with you. I think he crashed at the end of last season from overuse and I sure hope it’s not happening again.

    • gobluemd16

      Not really an excuse, but it’s hard to have enough energy to give it your all on defense when the entire offense revolves around you, and your teammates stand around and watch you the last 10 seconds of every possession. The kid is working his ass off every play on offense, I give him more slack than anyone. Also, it looks like we are visibly frustrated on the court now, and clearly with some of the comments after the game, off the court too. The players just need to have fun like they were at the beginning of the year and not play so tight.

      • CDeSana

        That is why I have been saying all along that coach needs to find ways to rest Burke even while he is on the floor. Timmy has to play the point at times, Nik the same and of course running 2 points with Spike on the floor.

        Doing this earlier in the season would be paying off today.

  • Adam

    we realistically have a shot of finishing 5th in the conference and playing them again in the tourney. That would be interesting.

  • Drew

    Terrible officiating most fouls called on UM all year. Just found out Mark Whitehead, the official that called the majority of the questionable calls, actually did the Iowa st and Kansas game the other night. If you are unaware the Big 12 actually admitted to terrible officiating in this game and vowed to limit the refs assignments from now on. I guess that means send them to the Big 10.

  • tgio24

    After the MSU debacle I would be happy to make Sweet 16 and everyone said I was overreacting. It was not just our 4 game tough stretch that was the problem. This team is not capable of stringing together stops against good teams to win. We can not stop Penn St in crunch time how the hell are we gonna stop a top 15 team in the tournament when we match up with them?? Trey Burke is VERY VERY good but he is not capable of scoring every single possession when we are winding down the clock. It’s time we start drawing up plays and not just say here’s the ball Trey can you bail us out!