Game 3: Michigan at Iowa State Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Iowa State 77, Michigan 70-17
Dustin Johnston

Iowa State 77, Michigan 70. Photo Gallery. Beilein presser. McGary/Stauskas presser. Box score.

Last year’s Michigan team went two months before losing a game. This year’s group made it to its third game. The Wolverines didn’t play poorly at Iowa State but they didn’t play well enough to win on the road, falling to the Cyclones 77-70.

The 2013-14 Wolverines are still forging their identity. Replacing the National Player of the Year isn’t easy and doing it with a freshman point guard is even more difficult. Michigan doesn’t know who its go-to player is or who it should be and its All-American center practiced just once before playing his first game Sunday night. Playing in front of 14,384 fans, that uncertainty caught up to Michigan.

The Wolverines led by as many as nine points in the first half and controlled the game until the final seven minutes. Sophomore guard Nik Stauksas was comfortable leading the offense, scoring 20 points and handing out six assists. Mitch McGary played 22 minutes and made an impact, but he was out-dueled by Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim. Ejim, who returned two weeks early from a hyper-extended knee, tallied a game-high 22 points and nine rebounds.

The Cyclones made more plays down the stretch and Michigan unraveled just a bit in the face of pressure. Iowa State outscored the Wolverines 24-10 with a run that spanned the final 8:48 and started immediately after an emphatic dunk from Nik Stauskas appeared to give Michigan a comfortable six point lead.


Michigan’s offense was held below a point per possession against a non-conference foe for the first time since December 2011 (at 74 possessions this was also the fastest game that Michigan has played since 2011). The Wolverines lost this game because of their offensive execution. Over the last two seasons, Michigan is 45-3 when holding opponents below 1.05 points per trip. This is a program that relies on having an offense that can win consistently with that level of defensive performance.

The Wolverines undoing on the offensive end was the 3-point shot. With 42% of Michigan’s field goal attempts originating from long range, the Wolverines connected on just 8-of-29 attempts (28%). Some were forced late in the game, but Michigan missed a lot of open looks from players that have been fairly consistent. If this team shoots less than 30% on those kind of open looks all season they are going to have some major issues. U-M did shoot 52.5% on 2-point attempts but didn’t get to the line often (13% FTA/FGA) or make a major impact on the offensive glass (29% offensive rebounding rate). The Wolverines scored 14 second chance points on 12 offensive boards but most of that production was in the first half.

The Wolverine defense wasn’t necessarily bad, surrendering 1.04 points per possession, but it deteriorated down the stretch.  Michigan held Iowa State to 3 points on its first eight possessions of the second half and then surrendered 39 points on the final 30 possessions of the game – 1.3 points per trip over the final 17 minutes compared to .86 points trip trip in the first 23 minutes.

The Wolverines controlled the defensive glass, Iowa State rebounded just 21% of its misses for eight second chance points, but struggled to keep the Cyclones out of the lane and protect the rim (56% 2-point shooting, 0 blocks). Michigan’s defense was most effective when it could turn Iowa State over. McGary and Robinson combined for eight steals which led to 11 points off turnovers but the Cyclones only gave the ball away on 16% of their possessions. The big difference statistically was at the free throw line, where Iowa State outscored the Wolverines 13-4 and had 10 more attempts. Iowa State also executed down the stretch. Naz Long and DeAndre Kane both hit some big threes late and Georges Niang was able to switch onto Caris Levert twice down the stretch and post him up for easy points.

Michigan has a lot to fix but at this point that’s encouraging. There was a point in the middle of last December where it was clear that Michigan was playing about as well as it could. Mitch McGary did emerge in the tournament but we always knew about what that team was. This year’s group is going to improve significantly as the season goes on. The Wolverines will have to grow up as they are off to Puerto Rico next week. The environment in Puerto Rico will be friendlier (and warmer) but the importance of getting a few quality wins is magnified with a trip to Duke shortly after.

Iowa State 77, Michigan 70-20
Dustin Johnston

Player Bullets:

  • Nik Stauskas: Stauskas is the guy that Michigan can rely on offensively right now. 20 points on 8-of-18 (4-10 3pt) shooting with six assists, four rebounds and one turnover is a very solid game. He missed some open threes but his mid-range and driving game is in full effect: strong drives to the rim, mid-range jumpers, ball screen passes and the monster dunk in the second half. Stauskas was Michigan’s best player and right now he’s the guy who I want to have the ball in his hands. He made mistakes (missing the front end of a 1-and-1 stands out) but he played a great game overall.
  • Mitch McGary: McGary played and made a lot of McGary plays. He also looked healthy for the most part. He changes the game with his disruption defensively (4 steals) and outlet passing ability. He made plays on the offensive glass and in transition but his half-court offense was a bit rusty. He missed all of the mid-range jumpers that he took and also tried an over the shoulder pass to the far corner that went flying out of bounds. The half-court improvement is what fans are most eager to see but with exactly one full practice under his belt, he gets a pass in his first game.
  • Derrick Walton: Walton certainly had some bad moments but he didn’t necessarily look like a deer in headlights during his first road game either. He finished with 13 points, two assists, and three turnovers in 21 minutes. He was 5-of-5 inside the arc and just 1-of-5 outside the arc and his only made three was a bank from the top of the key. He made some mistakes in pressure situations (a big reason that Albrecht was on the floor late) but his talent is obvious. The first thing on his improvement list will be learning that he doesn’t have to shoot the ball every time he’s slightly open from three-point range — especially off the dribble.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert played major minutes (37) but struggled. He finished with 5 points on 2-of-9 (1-5 3pt) shooting with six rebounds, two assists and a turnover. LeVert played more than 16 minutes just twice last year (EMU and MSU) and this was obviously a big step up in competition from Michigan’s early season cupcakes. His jumper still looks better and I’ m confident the 3-point shooting will come around but he got caught in some tricky spots around the rim when he drove the lane. Defensively he spent a lot of time guarding DeAndre Kane (who finished with 13 pts (5-of-10 fg), 6 ast, 5 turnovers) but he really struggled when Kane and, late in the game on a switch, Niang took him to the post.
  • Glenn Robinson III: Robinson’s first half was dreadful (2pts, 1-6 fg, 2TO, 1 stl), but his second half was better (10pt, 3-8 fg, 3 stls). He’s clearly a guy that wants to do more but isn’t quite comfortable doing more. I thought he played pretty good defense, especially early on against Ejim and Niang, and he did grab 7 rebounds (2 offensive). Michigan coaches want Robinson to push the ball off of defensive rebounds but he was too loose with it in transition today. His jumper wasn’t working tonight and hasn’t really been since the first exhibition game when he racked up 33 points. He needs a big performance in Puerto Rico, mostly just to give him some confidence so he can stop feeling that he needs to force things. The snap reaction is that Robinson needs to stop pressing entirely and just sit in the corner but the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Michigan needs him to do more and it will take some time before he figures out that sweet spot.
  • Spike Albrecht: Albrecht is a luxury because he can step in and isn’t afraid to fire away a three pointer or throw a pass on the ball screen. Yes, he’s a defensive liability but he played well on Sunday. He finished with 7 points and three assists in 18 minutes, knocking down a triple, throwing a great ball screen assist to Jon Horford and finishing a nifty layup at the rim to give Michigan a 5-point lead in the second half.
  • Jon Horford: Horford played 14 minutes, scored 4 points and grabbed 5 rebounds (2 offensive). He missed one bunny but it was a tough catch and played pretty solid while he was on the floor.
  • Zak Irvin: Irvin struggled in his first road game. He finished 0-of-2 with a turnover, three rebounds and three fouls in 13 minutes. There are little things to shore up: a transition pass into the fifth row of the stands or having a defensive rebounds just ripped out of his hands. I don’t love him playing the four, but there’s really no other spot to get him on the floor with LeVert and Stauskas playing so many minutes.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan played just four minutes and had two fouls and turnover (a dropped pass in the high post). He seemed like a potential answer for Ejim but never really did much in his limited playing time. With McGary and Horford healthy, where do his minutes come from? Zak Irvin played all of the backup minutes at the four spot today.
  • countourzealous

    This was a tough game. I think we saw flashes of potential from this team. They’re still trying to figure things out, and I would rather learn from a loss than become overconfident in a win. Tough loss, but we’ll bounce back. I don’t think it’s a reflection of what’s to come, which is still very promising.

  • Luke

    I’m getting increasingly worried about GRIII the more I see him play. I feel like he has played enough by now that he should know his place in the offense? I hope I see all the offseason hype about him come to fruitition during his actual play time. Also, we need to get Nik the ball more when he was so clearly our best scorer on the court.

  • Paul Sandy

    Very fair review of today’s game. We would have won this game if three things would have happened: more minutes for Mitch McGary, better shot selection, and some lucky bounces on open three pointers. Tough loss, but there’s a lot of potential here!

  • ChathaM

    As frustrating as the final 10 minutes of the game were to watch, I’m encouraged by the game overall. I think ISU is a pretty good team, and M hung in there, and controlled the game until late. Transitioning from Burke/Hardaway to other on-floor leaders will take time, and a close loss on the road to a good team is not a problem for a team with so much room to grow. I’m not trying to paint a completely rosy picture; there are problems to be sorted through, and frankly, I could see Duke putting up 90 points in Durham a couple weeks from now. But, we all know that the coaching staff can be trusted to develop this roster.

    I thought that McGary looked great. He was very active. It seemed like his timing was off around the rim, where he didn’t seem crisp at times on the defensive glass. But, that’s to be expected. He is so much fun to watch.

    I’m starting to wonder what Robinson will be at the NBA level. I don’t follow the pro game nearly as much as the college game, but he looks to me like a bit of a tweener; not tall enough to play a post-type game, but not a good enough shooter or with enough first step quickness to excel in a perimeter role. I know he’s still so young, and there’s plenty of room for his game to grow. But, I’m just starting to wonder.

    Walton looked far more comfortable than Monte Morris. Between a couple of very poor turnovers to a few really bad defensive lapses, Morris did not look good at all.

    I think I have the new block/charge rule figured out. Everything is either a block or a no-call (sarcasm intended). By January (at the latest), people from all facets of the game will be begging for the old rule to come back.

  • gobluemd16

    A lot has been said about things that didn’t happen this game that will undoubtedly improve in the future (missing open threes, freshman’s first road game, Mitch off injury, etc.) and I agree with all of them. The two things that worry me most is how easily ISU penetrated into our defense most of the game and Glenn on offense. I think the penetration problem can be fixed as we grow accustomed to the new hand check rules and are more comfortable switching. However, at this point, I think Glenn has had enough game experience to where he has shown his offensive capabilities. I really am not sure if he will ever be able to take over a game or consistently make one-on-one moves on offense. That isn’t to say we can’t succeed if he isn’t able to, we can, but this was an improvement that I, and many others, expected this year. The season is still young, but I don’t know if he has that killer instinct on offense. He tries at times, but it looks more forced than anything. Otherwise, a great effort that we can definitely take a ton from going into P. Rico and the rest of the season.

    • gobluemd16

      Also, were we ever up 11? I am not sure, but I don’t think we ever led by more than 9 in the first half

      • Ahh good call. Not sure how I messed that one up. That’s correct. Updated the post.

  • Alex

    Not sure if anybody has made the comparison but Albrecht is very similar to Jordan Hulls. Lights out from beyond the arc but somewhat of a defensive liability. Anyway, yeah it stinks to lose but as long as the team finds the teachable moments I think we’ll be fine.

  • guestavoe

    I’m not worried about Glenn. I do think we need Levert to be a secondary ballhandler and facilitator to compliment Nik. I like Walton but teams will always go under until he shores up that jumper. Levert also has a nice handle that consistently splits the defense when he gets the highball screens. He needs to move without the ball a bit better.

    • geoffclarke

      I think Walton is strong and quick enough with the ball to be able to get into the lane *without* a ball screen. I’d actually like to see if that action could work more. Or like Dylan said, you don’t have to shoot it every time you get a little space…if the guy goes under a ball screen, be patient, let him try to recover, and then try to go by him as he’s recovering.

      • guestavoe

        No doubt, I think Walton is an excellent penetrator and finisher but his lack of a shot kind of makes me want to see Levert facilitate just a little bit more until we can work the kinks out of that shooting motion.

  • Bigrange

    We looked like a young team on the road. I’d rather lose 2-3 games early, rather than late in the season. It’s gotta say something for Mitch to play his normal way after being out with a back injury. I love his toughness. We have a couple more games to get Mitch back in game mode and work jitters out before heading to Duke.

  • mattD

    Not worried about GR3 on offense, his shot is better that what we saw last night. However, I am worried about him on D, especially in the post. He always seems to allow the offensive player to get deep position in the post, and he NEVER jumps to contest the shot, he simply stays vertical with his hands in the air. Part of me wants to say that he is coached to do that by Coach B, but then I see Mitch attempting to contest shots……….so I don’t really know. In any event, if you allow a major D1 player to catch the ball 5 feet from the rim, chances are it’s going to end up in 2 points.
    I though the offense was fine, we just missed open 3s, plain and simple… happens sometimes. Rebounding and interior defense was simply non-existent down the strecth though, we need to take a major leap in that area.

  • CDeSana

    This game was about what I expected from a young Michigan team that lost a lot of leadership and ball handling.
    Walton is going to be a good player in time, but in this game he got caught up in the fast pace and made several mistakes to include bad 3 pt shots and wild passes. When he figures out that he needs to get into the paint and either finish or kick Michigan will improve by leaps and bounds.
    Nik keeps showing that he will probably be our most consistent performer regardless of who or where they play. His amazing work ethic shows as his over all game continues to improve. He is stronger, wiser and I look for a big year from Nik.
    Caris as mentioned is not as good as he looked against lesser teams and not as bad as he looked last night. he will continue to improve but needs to work on getting his in the framework of the offense. I did notice last night he often got into the paint but looked a little lost as to what to do once he got there.
    GR3 pretty much the same as Caris, needs to find his sweet spot in the offense. I do not think this offense is really best suited for his skill set, more motion would certainly help GR3. Coming off screens, curl cuts and back doors would help get him into the game where he can finish around the basket (his strength). He also needs to value the ball more, got stripped going in for a dunk and then shortly after got stripped bringing the ball up.
    Mitch gave me more than I expected and love what he brings to the table. Was a little disappointed in his foul shooting as I have to imagine he got plenty of practice while injured.
    Spike should get the start IMO, this would help set the pace of the game and get Michigan to run the offense.
    Horford could be the one player that gets more minutes due to the rule change, meaning interior defense may be a premium with all the ticky tacky fouls being called. A shot blocker could discourage the dribble drive.
    Morgan seems to be struggling with his new role, he is a great kid and hope he finds a way to contribute.

  • romeowolv

    I dont think the new blocking rules are being applied correctly. Refs are just afraid to call a charge.

  • WolvernineinDallas

    I think we can expect more of these inconsistent games on the road early on, especially with Walton, Irvin and LeVert. I am concerned about LeVert’s defense in this game, which was eerie similar to the defense he played at Wisconsin last year, lacking aggressiveness. GR3 is looks lost and hope that it will take a few games to find his groove in the offense. Staukas is an assassin! The team will get a lot better as McGary gets his game legs and eases into the rotation. Good things will happen this year…

  • Champswest

    I am not upset with this loss as it was to be expected this early in the season. We are young and should improve greatly as the year moves on. We may lose all or most of the pre- conference games against top teams and that is ok with me as long as we learn from it. It takes maturity to win on the road.
    I thought we would be the better defensive team yesterday, but we were not.
    This team needs to be more assertive. McGary should help with that.
    I like Walton’s ability to take it to the rim. He and Nik seem to be the only ones who can do that.

    • guestavoe

      Levert can definitely get into the paint. He just needs some more reps so he can get comfortable in there and not look like a lost dog.

  • mikey_mac

    Good team effort, hard to bag road wins against good teams, especially in your first road game of the season.
    Loved Stauskas and McGary. Irvin looked overmatched. Poor team shooting and LeVert’s defense were the most disappointing aspects. LeVert just got worked off the dribble and on switches. Albrecht was also bad on defense — I was somewhat surprised he was on the floor in crunch time, even with some of Walton’s earlier bad decisions. Athletically, in the lane on offense, and on defense, Walton looked like he belonged. We’ll be in great shape once he shores up the mistakes and has the game slow down for him a bit.