Game 29: Michigan State at Michigan Recap

Dylan Burkhardt
on

Michigan 58, Michigan State 57-15
Dustin Johnston

Team PTS PPP FG FG% 2P 2P% 3P 3PT% FT FT% OR DR AST TO STL BLK PF
MICH 58 .91 25-59 42% 25-47 53% 0-12 0% 8-11 73% 10 19 10 7 11 1 17
MSU 57 .90 21-59 36% 15-37 41% 6-22 27% 9-12 75% 19 25 9 18 3 2 15

Michigan has won a lot of games this season but the wins have rarely come ugly. The beautiful offense and lopsided score lines look great to pad a resume but the ugly wins are always the most rewarding. John Beilein agreed.

“We’ve had some real pretty wins here, where we did everything right and the ball went in and we just played lights-out,” Beilein explained after the win. “Today, it was all about grit.”

There were times that it felt like nothing could go Michigan’s way. The Wolverines fumbled loose balls away time and again; botched layups that turned to quick Michigan State threes; allowed Michigan State to rebound half of its missed shots; and failed to make a three point shot for the entire game. Despite what at times felt like the a comedy of errors and bad breaks, the Wolverines continued to play hard.

Resilience paid off as Michigan finally took the lead early in the second half and extended it to 10 points with just 4:37 to play. But even then nothing would come easy. Michigan State roared back to tie the game with under a minute to play and had multiple opportunities to win the game in down the stretch. Michigan had something that Michigan State didn’t: Trey Burke. Burke recorded steals on two of Michigan State’s final three possessions, both of which provided the opportunity to take the lead – or the win.

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Michigan’s offensive performance was similar to its game against West Virginia in Brooklyn – heavy on the dribble drive. Michigan State was able to take away so many facets of the Wolverine offense that in the half court, Michigan attempted to get its playmakers in space with the opportunities to drive. Both Caris LeVert and Tim Hardaway Jr. attacked the basket more than usual while Trey Burke was his typical self, weaving through screens and contact into the paint before scoring with an array of layups or midrange jumpshots.

Michigan didn’t hit a three point shot, an obvious red flag, but didn’t fall in love with it either – attempting just 20% of its field goals from long range – was able to create easy offense in transition. The Wolverines scored 18 points off of turnovers and had six fast break points. While Michigan was unable to secure many clean rebounds – a usual boost to transition performance – it did steal the ball 11 times. The Wolverines were able to exploit those unsettled situations for easy twos and converted 53% of its looks inside the arc. According to shot chart data from Michigan’s athletic department, Michigan made just three shots outside of the paint all game.

More than anything, this win was about Michigan’s defense. The Wolverines held the Spartans to just .90 points per possession, their best defensive performance since January 30th against Northwestern. Michigan defended the interior (41% 2-point shooting allowed), forced turnovers (28% forced turnover rate), and avoided costly fouls (12 FTA to 59 FGA). That being said, there was still plenty of room for improvement. Michigan State dominated the offensive glass, grabbing half of its missed shots and scoring 16 second chance points. The game turned early in the second half due to Michigan’s ability to draw charges. The Wolverines took four charges before the first media timeout of the second half and held the Spartans scoreless to seize control of the game. The largest difference between the first and second halves was Michigan State’s three point shooting – 5-of-11 in the first, 1-of-11 in the second. The Spartans uncharacteristically fell in love with the long range shot, attempting 40 percent of their field goal attempts from outside.

It was a bit childish but for the first time in weeks, Michigan showed some swagger midway through the second half. The Wolverines slapped the floor, mimicking the Spartans midway through the second half was when Michigan finally appeared to regain some of its swagger. The Wolverines finally looked like a team that was not only confident, but having fun back in front of its home crowd in a big game.

Michigan is going to have to build on its momentum from this win quickly as it now sits tied for second in the Big Ten with Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State. One of those four teams is going to end up playing on Thursday in the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan has to travel to Purdue, which won at Wisconsin earlier Sunday afternoon, before hosting Indiana in the season finale on Sunday.

Michigan 58, Michigan State 57-14
Dustin Johnston

Player Bullets:

  • Trey Burke: Burke simply willed Michigan to victory. He hit big shot after big shot, made great plays; both when the going was tough and when the going was good. The numbers weren’t as glamorous as some of his best games – 8-of-17 (0-3 3pt), eight assists, two turnovers, five steals – but Burke worked his way to every basket through great defense. Burke’s steals at the end were the sort of plays that define the rivalry for years. And his late game steal, deserves a GIF.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: Hardaway finished just 3-of-12 from the floor, scored six points, grabbed seven rebounds and handed out two assists to three turnovers. The numbers weren’t good but Hardaway played aggressively and continued to attack the basket throughout the game. He took one really bad shot (opening the game with a heat check) but I think Michigan will live with Hardaway playing this game every time, assuming he makes more layups. To his credit, Hardaway continued to play tough defensively and grabbed seven defensive rebounds.
  • Jordan Morgan: Does a healthy Jordan Morgan matter for Michigan’s interior defense? Despite the nightmare at State College, the answer is clearly yes. Michigan’s overall game plan on Nix was much improved but Morgan was a critical reason that the big man was just 2-of-9 from the floor with six turnovers. Morgan was tough on both ends on the glass (4 def, 3 off) and also picked up three steals in the process. He also played solid defense at the four when Michigan played two bigs, closing out surprisingly well against Adreian Payne on the perimeter.
  • Mitch McGary: McGary was a massive boost to Michigan’s half court offense in the second half. He scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting in just 11 second half minutes. Perhaps what was most impressive was his variety. He made a tip in, turnaround jump shot, dribble drive and reverse layup and a dunk. He also hit two critical free throws, a fact that will probably be lost by him missing the front end of the 1-and-1 in the game’s closing seconds. McGary had taken a couple of steps back in recent games, something John Beilein admitted, but he scored a third of Michigan’s second half points.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert was thrown into the fire and played a gutty 30 minutes. He missed a lot of shots 4-of-11 (0-3 3pt) but it was critical that he kept playing offense and being aggressive. He wasn’t just another pass on the perimeter, he tried to make plays. LeVert’s defense was great as he grabbed two steals, took a charge and fought admirably to chase around Gary Harris on the perimeter.
  • Glenn Robinson III: Beilein praised Robinson for taking two charges, noting that he “had not taken a charge in a long time”. He scored eight points (4-of-6 shooting) and grabbed three rebounds in a quiet 31 minute performance. Robinson made some strong moves, including a dribble drive and his usual emphatic dunks. Adreian Payne had another dominant statistical line but Payne is not just a bad match-up for Robinson, he’s an experienced player who is peaking and playing the best basketball of his career.
  • Jon Horford: Horford played just four minutes and recorded a foul, and Michigan played much better basketball with Morgan and McGary on the floor.
  • Nik Stauskas: Stauskas left the game after just four minutes after taking a strong (unintentional) elbow to the face from Branden Dawson.
  • Greg

    Is it just me or did anyone else feel like the defense was better because Stauskas wasn’t in?

    • MGoTweeter

      Definitely not just you. He struggled on D in the first few minutes and as bad as levert has been at times this year, the overall D was better today.

      • Mattski

        The highlights are up at mgoblue.com. Caris is in on an amazing number of Michigan’s plays. I love Nik, and he is averaging 11 points a game for Michigan as a freshman, so it’s silly to anything but praise him. And he will be fine on D by next year, too. But Caris is the more athletic player, and on his way to being a star in his own right. Today proved that burning his red-shirt was worth it.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=528316211 Will Keathley

          Caris uses his hands every single time on defense, on the road he’d have played 8 minutes and fouled out.

          • MGoTweeter

            that is a good point, but a lot of those fouls stauskas would not have gotten because he would have been two steps behind the player while he is scoring.

            Right now michigan has two imperfect options at the other wing spot opposite hardaway. One is an above average offensive player, who is a huge negative on defense. The other is an average defensive player, who is slightly below average on offense. The question is who does the rest of the team play around them? I am not sure we have an answer to that even at this point in the season. I think you just have to use your best judgment during games and hope you get it right with substitutions based on flow.

          • Lankownia

            At the very least, one of those two shouldn’t be play three times more than the other (as the season minutes reflect.)

            Michigan is a bad defensive team and an excellent offensive team. I’m not sure how much of that offense is credit to Stauskas, but it’s at least worth exploring further if LeVert is helping the defense out as much as today’s game might indicate.

          • DJ

            Michigan is an inconsistent D. The fact that they are in the top 5-10 as far as holding teams scoreless for 4 plus minute stretches is a testament that the D isn’t bad (though it’s been bad the last few games). If they can fix the inconsistency, they I’d put them as the odds on favorite to win it all; even as it is Vegas sure thinks that have as good a shot as anyone.

          • jdub

            Is Stauskas really a ‘huge’ negative on defense though? He does lead us in +/- and has been the most consistent of anyone, only having a couple games in the negative.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=528316211 Will Keathley

            the fact that Stauskas stretches the defense on the other end outweighs his Defensive liability in my opinion. Every game I attended there were idiots yelling he should be pulled if he isn’t going to shoot, but they don’t realize that him having a defender have to play him tight 22 feet from the rim is a very productive thing on offense. Going forward I think we need his ability to knock down 3’s over Caris ability to be in the wrong place on offense and make up for it 30% of the time with athleticism. 3 point shooting is a huge factor in tournaments and a guy like nick could easily get in a groove and carry this team for a couple games

        • Greg

          I love Nik too. I really think over the next couple years he can turn into a hybrid Stu/Novak in terms of leadership and intensity and it will be amazing. I can’t wait to see his progression.

    • mikey_mac

      No chance Stauskas sticks with Harris the way LeVert was able to.

  • MGoTweeter

    I’m not sure you can call michigan’s slapping the floor childish when state ripped it off another team. Plus it’s not like they do it all the time, rather they only do it when they score a basket during a comeback. I only wish beilein came out to the free throw line when michigan was on defense like izzo does.

  • mistersuits

    Love how Izzo in the presser downplayed Michigan’s points-in-the-paint claiming that something like 40 of the 44 came “in transition”. Couldn’t be further from the truth, been hoping and waiting to see the offense drive and penetrate like that versus an elite defense all year. Now regress to the mean on the three point shooting and Michigan will be all right come tourney time.

    • Adam St Patrick

      Well I think MSU sold out to stop Michigan from shooting 3s, on the expectation that Michigan couldn’t win in the paint. There were maybe less than 5 nice looks from 3 the whole game. Against a solid defensive team that wants to take something away from an offense I don’t think that the mean is necessarily a meaningful number.

  • Colby

    Any recruits at the game tonight? Big win, can’t lie did not thin we were going to hold on.

  • Lankownia

    If Michigan ‘showed some swagger’ after building the 10 point lead maybe they well…shouldn’t. They blew said 10 point lead pretty quickly and MSU seemed fired up by the taunting.

    I personally don’t buy the ‘they just need to get their swagger back’ argument at all. Swagger comes form playing well, not vice versa. It’s a symptom, not the cause. Michigan doesn’t need to talk more they need to defend and fight more.

    This was a great win and the Burke steal and absolutely ‘classic’ moment in UM bball history, but the disparity between how they lost @OSU and @MSU compared to the tight contests at Crisler doesn’t portend well for the games to come. When you factor in the loss at Wisconsin, even if Michigan manages a split with Indiana (no easy task, obviously) their performance amongst the conference’s top 5 is below average.

    The tournament(s) should be great fun.

    • Indiana_Matt

      1) if “swagger” means confidence, I think that the relationship between confidence fueling good play and good play fueling confidence is less than clear cut.
      2) So you’re saying that if they split with IU, MSU, OSU, lose at Wisconisn (only play them once) and swept Illinois (these are the top 5 in the standings)… that is below average. Throw in the 6th best team (Minnesota)… and we beat them also, at their place when they were ranked in the top 10. I guess I don’t get what you mean by below average.

      • Lankownia

        I consider UM to be a top 5 team in the conference. Illinois and Minn, not in the same class.

        I realize we lost by one possession against Wisc, but also came a shot away from losing vs OSU and MSU at home. We’ve taken more punches than we’ve given when it comes to Wisc, OSU, MSU, and Indiana.

        • GregGoBlue

          Illinois and Minn are two out of the three B1G teams this year to beat IU, the #1 team (the third being Wisconsin), so I think I disagree with you as well when you say they’re not the same class. Illinois has also beaten OSU, Minnesota has beaten MSU. Beating these teams should not be brushed away as unimportant wins. Your other top 5 teams can’t say the same thing.

          • Lankownia

            Michigan lost @PSU. Shh happens. Those teams are 500 in conference play, well off the elite group who losses are mostly among themselves.

            Minn’s record vs the Big 5 is: 3-5, Illinois is 2-5, all Ws at home.

            I’m not saying the wins are unimportant – I’m saying those wins are less meaningful than the results against the conference elite.

            Indiana: 4-1

            Wisc: 3-2

            MSU: 3-4

            OSU: 3-4

            UM: 2-4

            Other than Indiana, that’s too close to draw meaningful conclusions from, but from UM’s perspective it’s worrisome that the games at MSU and OSU were all but decided in the first quarter.

          • DJ

            You mean the OSU game where Burke’s 3 pointer with 14 seconds left that would’ve given UM the lead rimmed out? 20 point lead or not, it’s completely senseless to say a game they could’ve won in the final minute was “all but decided in the first quarter”. It’s a very disingenuous statement that belies the truth of that game.

          • blackie6

            first, they play a 1st half and 2nd half. the game at OSU was tied late in the 2nd half, with 7:00 to go and as DJ pointed out, Trey burke had a look at 3 that went in and out that would have given us the lead with about :10 left….

            It’s common to look favorably on other teams compared to your own. I do it all the time… But, your really grasping here. Plus, we get IU at home now…. so we could be 3-4 vs. the “elite” teams…. we haven’t gotten our home game vs. IU Yet.

        • Indiana_Matt

          I thought you were referencing our play against the top 5 teams other than ourselves, that’s why I included Illinois. And I think I know what you are saying but Ws are Ws, no matter how close the score is.

    • lavell99

      Debbbbbbbbbbbie Downer.

    • jemblue

      OK, we obviously played horribly in East Lansing, but in Columbus, we only lost by 3 points. And you seem to forget it, but it took a halfcourt prayer for Wisconsin to beat us.

    • ForeverBlue

      Swagger isn’t about being arrogantly confident, it’s about being confident enough not to play tentatively or to let mistakes get into your head and compound. Yes, it is important, anybody who has ever played a competitive sport would tell you so.

      • Lankownia

        Confidence and swagger are related but not the same thing. Swagger is about how you look and act, confidence is how you feel. Dylan is saying Michigan showed swagger, which I agree with – then they immediately gave up a 10 point lead. They didn’t have swagger when they were down, yet had a big comeback. We can debate all day about mental aspects of sports, but the relationship in this game to when Michigan displayed their confidence and when they didn’t indicates swagger don’t help.

    • Adam St Patrick

      To me, yesterday’s win was a breakthrough. Now they know what it takes to win on defense and inside. They beat MSU at MSU’s own game.

    • blackie6

      That 3 pt loss to the buckeyes was a blowout? it was tied with 7 minutes left, spare me the “we started poorly”…. It was TIED W/ 7 minutes left……

  • Joel_C

    We won without making a 3?? WHO IS THIS TEAM?!

  • MGoTweeter

    The defense, especially the initial defense is obviously improving. I thought it was much improved last game against psu and solid in the second half against illinois. However, the secondary problems are getting worse. Rebounding and loose ball retrieval are big issues right now. Some of that is just due to size issues which michigan has, but other parts of it are a result of the extra help michigan is using to stop penetration. Right now I am not sure where michigan stands as a defensive team nor what their best option is going forward. I know who I think are the best individual defensive performers but not even sure those guys make up the best defensive unit.

    I am resigned to the fact that Michigan is going to struggle on defense for the most part in some area every game. The key is making that area where they struggle, one of the weaknesses of the opponent. Tonight msu got a good amount of open looks from three but not many of those were gary harris. That was key. Against another team it may be sacrificing some inside play to take away threes. Or selling out more on the boards. This team just does not have enough above average defenders at each position to be solid in every area of defense, so they need to match whatever the opponent does poorly.

    Offensively, it was great to see some confidence from the role players. GRIII has a tendency to just defer to the scheme rather than try and make plays. Tonight, although he did not make a lot of plays, he did have at least one strong take to the basket out of flow. Michigan needs more of that. Levert took a bunch of shots and missed most of them, but his aggression is key. Even if he does not score on a lot of those it creates problems by forcing defensive attention. McGary continued to show strong play and confidence off his own moves. The more that the other guys step up, the more openings that Trey and Tim will see.

    This team still has a lot of growing to do, but as Dylan said, winning these types of games is big. Michigan has not won ugly at all this year so hopefully this is a sign that the team is starting to figure out what it takes to win against top competition on a daily basis.

    • JDiesel

      Agree with this, and I think it also speaks to home vs road in college hoops. Valentine probably makes those at Breslin, and then we are in trouble. Would only quibble with the assertion that we played good D against PSU. 1.8 ppp yielded over the last 10 min of the game is epically awful.

  • mstein23

    I’ve got to say that I loved the floor slap. Call it what you may, I saw it as an extension of toughness. MSU had done the same thing earlier in the half. For UM, I felt it was a “not in our house” response. It was a punch back and not a shrink back, which showed the type of toughness we’ve all been clamoring for the last few weeks. Now, floor slapping without gritty, tough defense would be weak, but I thought UM played it’s toughest game since OSU at home. Regardless, we got a big W.

    • Mattski

      I thought they were tweaking MSU, and I liked it. Not an ugly thing, just a very vigorous, “we are not intimidated by you” kind of response.

      • mikey_mac

        Agreed. To call it out as “childish,” as Dylan did, feels … weird. They are barely adults, and are playing a game. If not then, when?

    • Mr_Sledge

      Totally with you here mstein23…

  • ChathaM

    I was very impressed by the interior defence today. That was obviously a major focus of practice heading into the game. Morgan is a brilliant interior defender. He understands what every opponent wants to do, and he takes it away. He knew that you have to make Nix shoot with his right hand, and he forced Nix to do that. Brilliant. He was in position to step in and take a charge whenever necessary (even though one on Harris was a clear block…but, man, do college officials LOVE to call charges). Brilliant. I love watching Morgan defend.

    This game illustrates what UM will need in order to make an extended run in the tourney. We know that Burke will be solid. But, multiple freshmen have to step up and have solid games at the same time. Today, I felt that LeVert, McGary, and Robinson all had very good games. Take even one of those performances away, and this is a loss.

    I thought MSU missed quite a few open looks today; more than they usually miss. I suppose UM missed their share as well; a number of layups come to mind. Had both teams shot well, it could very well still have been a one point game, with a score in the 70’s instead of the 50’s.

    • mikey_mac

      I actually disagree that the charge Morgan drew was actually a block. I thought Morgan established position a split second before Harris left his feet. The defender doesn’t have to be completely stationary in order to draw a charge.
      Both teams missed a few more open looks than I would expect. MSU really came down to earth on 3s. UM missed a number of wide-open looks from 3 as well.

      • ChathaM

        Live, it looked to me like it should be a no-call, as Harris seemed to avoid a high percentage of the potential contact. But, the baseline replay showed that Morgan shifted his body sideways to create the contact with Harris once Harris was airborne. That’s a textbook block.

        • mikey_mac

          I could see a no-call, but Harris was careening into Morgan. Morgan’s lean was not nearly the type you see end up in a block call.

          • ChathaM

            After seeing the replay, I do think there had to be a call made; too much contact for a no-call.

            I’d really like to see the baseline replay again. It would probably make a great addition to a block/charge officiating video. Sometimes, I think I’m too hard on college officials for their block/charge calls. I really do believe they give the benefit of the doubt to the defender too often. But, those really are bang-bang plays, and tough decisions to make.

          • mikey_mac

            The baseline replay did show Morgan’s lean. It was a close call, for sure, but I still think it was a charge — Harris had no notion of Morgan, who had position, when he left his feet and crashed right through him. The lean just accentuated the contact, it didn’t create it.

  • robpollard

    I don’t recall any PG putting forth as much sheer effort/energy as Burke put forth in this game. He is so critical to the offense; we often can’t do much without him driving/dishing/shooting. He made about 5 bad decisions on offense in terms of shot selections (usually forced drive ‘lay ups’ that only if he had superhuman strength were going in) but I can’t really fault him for it because a) he made 3 times as many good/great plays and b) if he doesn’t do it, on this offense, it’s not getting done in this game. After playing against the Illini one of the smoothest, most efficient games I’ve literally ever seen, then playing mediocre (for him) against the worst team in the B1G, he follows that up with a tremendous effort, on offense and defense, against our biggest rival. What a player. I just wish, with all the talent we seemingly have, we didn’t have to rely on him SO much.

    Based on that, I will disagree with one point in the recap – UM can’t live with THJ playing like he did in this game. He’s a talented junior – he doesn’t get points for effort or intent. He’s played poorly as often as he’s played well for the last 10 games. He’s the clear #2 option on offense and a vital rebounder, and while I agree it’s good he played aggressively, he didn’t play smart in that aggressiveness today, getting out of control and forcing things. He was huge in the OSU win and would have been the hero of the Wisky near-win. If we’re going to advance in the tourney, we need him to play with results pretty much every game. That’s some pressure, but it’s the way it is. He has the talent to do it.

    • MGoTweeter

      My biggest knock on thjr today was not that he struggled with his shot, it was that he got reluctant with his shot. Especially at the end of the game. He passed up a wide open three to drive and eventually kick to Burke, who had to force an off balanced runner to beat the clock. The resulting miss led to transition and an open three for Harris which he made.

      Thjr is a streaky shooter but michigan needs him to shoot regardless of whatever streak he is on.

      • robpollard

        I would agree with this. THJ was aggressive most of the game, but towards the end, he did pass up a couple of ready-made opportunities. That leads to some hero ball and/or scrambling by Trey and while he’s as good as you can get for a PG, that’s not a recipe for success.

  • dustindbo

    I think it’s time Michigan plays more with two bigs at the same time. The most glaring negative in Michigan’s play is almost always it’s lack of rebounding compared to the other team. Coach Beilein played two bigs today and
    I think the team really responded well with Morgan at the four and mcGary at the five. At the very least we should play this way against big teams like MSU, OSU etc

    • http://www.umhoops.com/ Dylan Burkhardt

      I think you would have seen more of this in the last month but Michigan couldn’t really do it with Morgan injured.

    • Dr_ZC

      Any problem with Hortford? He played for only 4 min. And he looked as if he was coming along nicely after his injury. We know that Max B had an ankle issue, so he is probably not 100%. I kind of like Max, as he knows how to fight for a board. Him and Jordan are good position defenders, while Mitch and Jon can challenge shots, though they seem to be out of position defensively.

  • Matzio

    I was very encouraged by LeVert’s minutes. He is more intense on defense than Stauskas I would say.

    • mikey_mac

      He’s a much harder target to screen than Stauskas, and he’s willing to run his ass off to trail his man.

  • JDiesel

    anyone have an update on Stauskas?

  • fitey7908

    Am i only one that thought rebounding was better? I know in terms of stats we got out-rebounded but most games that was due to not putting a body on guys I thought we did a lot better job of finding a man and putting a body on them. I thought a lot of there offensive rebounds they could’ve and most prolly should’ve been called for over the back but izzo and state have been getting away with that for sometime now. Sometime the aggressor gets benefit of the doubt. And can anybody name a more terrible official then teddy valentine In my opinion he is the worst official in the big ten and that says a lot because big ten officiating has not been the best

    • http://www.umhoops.com/ Dylan Burkhardt

      I think Michigan made a noticeably better effort… You saw guys getting a body on people, etc. But there were so many rebounds that MSU just simply got whether it was a lucky bounce, hustle to a loose ball, or anything else. Some of that is mentality, athleticism, etc. but the bottom line is that MSU dominated the glass.

  • JeremyS

    My biggest takeaway from this game is the vocal leadership of Burke. He was outstanding in the 2nd half. He is always so stoic and straight faced out there. I loved how he was waving his arms and slapping the floor. It was anything but childish, imo. We saw some emotion out there from Mr. Burke and it was exciting to watch.

    Here is hoping he continues this trend and really takes this team under his wing. Maybe he is now seeing what can happen if he does it. They need him to do it.

  • mikey_mac

    Burke played much more aggressive defense! It’s wonderful seeing him use his abilities to his fullest. He led this team on both ends of the court, just like I called him out for not doing lately. Glad to see that effort.

    It was also great to see some of those sneaky Beilein moments from the defense — taking charges. This team probably can’t out-muscle many B1G lineups, but they don’t have to. They can play tough by giving up their bodies on charges and fighting through screens. This had been sorely missing.

    • Adam St Patrick

      I’m a little worried about defense overreliant on taking charges. Judiciously, yes. Step in and do it when there is a chance. Don’t make it a strategy, though. Doing that puts you at the mercy of refs, and we all know the refs are terrible and cannot be relied on. It also leaves you instintively doing things like what Burke did at the end of the Wisconsin game — trying to take a charge and instead giving an and-1 opportunity to a team down 3. Better to just D up. When you foul, make sure the ball isn’t going in.

      That said, flopping about is a bigger part of the game than it ever was, it seems. And at a time when the charge/block call is as unpredictable as ever. The payoff is huge — you get a big stop and a big cheer, you put a foul on the other team, and you make that guy think twice about driving next time.

      Still — in the end, you’re putting the outcome in the hands of the refs, and that just seems uncomfortable.

      • mikey_mac

        Are you forgetting that recent “good” UM defenses would routinely take multiple charges in every game? This was what Novak did as a religion. Obviously it requires the ref to participate, but being in position to take a charge implies good rotations and/or staying in front of the ball handler. It’s just a function of smart, tough defense.