Game 4: Michigan vs. Long Beach State Recap

Dylan Burkhardt
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Michigan 85, Long Beach State 61. Post game video. Transcript. Box score.

It took a tournament record 14 made three-point field goals but Michigan beat Long Beach State by 24 points to open the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in style. The Wolverines didn’t play flawless basketball but had too much talent and shooting ability for their mistakes to catch up to them.

Michigan jumped out to an 18 point lead in the first 11 minutes of play but allowed Long Beach State to hang around. The 49ers abandoned the various zone looks they utilized in the game’s opening 10 minutes and managed to cut the deficit to 13 at the half with their man-to-man defense. Six Wolverine turnovers in their first 20 possessions of the second half allowed Long Beach State to cut the lead to nine points with nine minutes remaining but the Wolverines had one more answer.

Michigan regrouped after a 30 second timeout followed by an additional stoppage for a clock error. Nik Stauskas buried a three and from that point on the Wolverines never looked back, outscoring the 49ers 24-9 over the final nine minutes to run away with an 85-61 victory.

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Michigan’s offensive statistics resemble a classic Beilein-offense with lots of threes, few turnovers, efficient twos and not a whole lot else.

Over half of Michigan’s field goal attempts originated from three-point range (52.5%) and the Wolverines connected on 14-of-30 for 47%. The two-point shot attempts were good ones and Michigan made 61% of its attempts inside the arc for the game. The Wolverines didn’t turn the ball over but didn’t make much of an impact on the offensive glass or at the free throw line either. Michigan’s halfcourt offense, especially against LBSU’s man-to-man, never looked quite in sync but it’s tough to argue with the results – 1.27 points per trip. That recipe works against teams that don’t have Michigan’s talent but will have to improve as the season wears on.

Defensively, Michigan was far from perfect. The Wolverines held Long Beach State to .92 points per possession but looked average when they weren’t forcing the 49ers into turnovers. Long Beach State did turn it over on 22.5% of its possessions which led to 25 Michigan points. Late closeouts, especially from freshmen, cost Michigan in the first half as LBSU went 6-of-13 from three-point range. The 49ers hot shooting cooled in the second, 2-of-9 from long range, but the effective close outs will be high on Michigan’s list of necessary improvements. (To be fair, I did write in the preview that Michigan should let LBSU have the long range shot.) Long Beach State only rebounded 18.2% of its misses on the night and three of its six offensive rebounds were on missed free throws.

Long Beach State played well enough to force the Wolverines to play the game out but this was the sort of confidence building win that Michigan needed heading into a more difficult Friday game. Caris LeVert and Glenn Robinson III both had strong performances and the Wolverines shot the ball very well as a team. That being said, it was a step in the right direction and not a perfect performance. Whether Michigan plays Florida State (up 66-40 right now) or VCU they are going to play a team with significantly more athletic ability and talent.

Player Bullets

  • Nik Stauskas: Stauskas is a five-tool offensive player and he’s been demonstrating his whole skill set lately. He stuffed the stat sheet with 24 points on 7-of-10 (4-6 3pt) shooting with four rebounds and three assists. When Michigan needs a basket right now, John Beilein is calling No. 11 – evidenced by Nik’s huge three out of a timeout after LBSU cut the lead to nine.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert looked like the player that we saw in Michigan’s first two games. He hit a great pull-up to neutralize a 9-0 LBSU run and he’s probably U-M’s best player off the bounce. Stauskas is explosive driving in a straight line but LeVert’s ability to change pace and direction and get to the paint is impressive. LeVert’s full stat line speaks for itself: 20 points on 8-of-13 (4-7 3pt) shooting, five rebounds, four assists and zero turnovers in 34 minutes.
  • Glenn Robinson III: Robinson looked much more comfortable offensively. He was 2-of-4 from long range and found some of his range with his mid-range jumper, finishing with 14 points, four assists, two offensive rebounds and a steal. That’s the good news, the bad news was his defensive rebounding. Robinson didn’t grab a single defensive rebound in in 35 minutes. Robinson is going to be the best athlete on the floor most times the Wolverines take the court and they need him to box out and be a presence on the defensive glass.
  • Mitch McGary: Michigan was trying to rest him but McGary needs way more touches whenever he’s on the floor. He had three FGAs in 14 minutes and made all of them: two turnarounds in the post and an athletic putback. McGary also had four rebounds, a backdoor assist, a block and a steal. John Beilein admitted he’s easing McGary back into things but sooner or later, Michigan is going to half to rely on him.
  • Derrick Walton: Walton still seems to be playing the game a little too fast. He knocked two early threes but then kind of fell in love with the long shot. Michigan doesn’t need him to take seven threes, even if he did end up with three makes. He struggled to finish at the rim (0-of-4), looking for contact and ending up with his shot in the second row. Seven defensive rebounds is impressive as he showed not just a nose for the ball but the ability to push the tempo after grabbing the board. That ability still gets him into a trouble a bit as he drove straight into a charge in the second half. He deserves credit for helping ice the game with a made three and then a drive-and-kick to LeVert for another three on the ensuing possession.
  • Jon Horford: I thought Horford did a good job defensive against Jennings early in the game. He also knocked down a nice short jumper in the short corner against the zone. On the other hand he took an ill-advised long three and threw an awkward pass in the middle of the zone that was turned over. Zero rebounds in 12 minutes is nothing to write home about either.
  • Zak Irvin: Irvin looks like he’s over-thinking things on the floor and that’s causing him to hesitate on offense – cutting and passing a step slow.  He’s also one of the most-guilty Wolverines at not getting a hand up when closing out on shooters. Irvin received kudos from Beilein after the game for bouncing back after a bad turnover and coming right down the court and burying a three.
  • Spike Albrecht: Albrecht didn’t have his jump shot (1-of-4)but Michigan’s offense runs smoothly when he’s on the floor. He finished with two points, three rebounds, two assists, a steal and a turnover.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan played 10 minutes and scored three points via an goaltend-plus-foul but he looked a bit out of sorts offensively.
  • Brad S

    So much for the VCU rematch everyone has been talking about since this bracket came out. Wow

    • mistersuits

      Yeah if you would have told me after the first game we’d be on the same side of the bracket as Northeastern, Charlotte and FSU I would have assumed an entirely different outcome.

  • Wayman Britt

    I know it’s early, but I am beginning to worry a little about GR3. I hate to say this but he looks like he hasn’t improved in the area he needed most: toughness. We all know the Big Ten is a bangers league and we will need GR3 to play aggressive. He has the physical tools, it now rests between his shoulders.

    • Kam

      lol it doesn’t take a summer to improve toughness… either he wants to be tough or not. Caris who is skinny as a child throws his body into the paint and gets rebounds.. Walton who is 6 foot gets them. its a matter of wanting the ball. Toughness is all in the mind. It can be fixed in a day IMO

      • mattD

        My, my, my…………..

        • Kam

          lol what does that mean

    • Indiana_Matt

      I don’t know. Some guys are smash-mouth. Some guys are more finesse players. It is the way they are wired. Either mindset can be successful if they are aggressive enough. I am not worried about him. I thought he looked pretty good (outside of rebounding) this game. This team is still trying to understand its personality. He actually seemed more in the flow on offense this game than in the others.

      • Blue Basketeer

        Well, the whole team does not have a smash-mouth personality…that’s just not the way Beilein recruits or coaches. It’s not surprising that Robinson hasn’t developed that mindset.

        • Indiana_Matt

          I would say Mitch does. But, true for the team overall. And when we aren’t in BigTen slugfests with the likes of Wisconsin it doesn’t seem to hurt us too much.

    • Chris De Sana

      I agree…. I also think we have to stop saying he is the best athlete on the floor because he certainly does not show it. Having the highest vertical ever recorded and no defensive rebounds?

      He has all the tools and even more potential but he and the coach need to find where he is most confident and put him in better position to take advantage of both.

  • GregGoBlue

    Derrick Walton with a *team high* 7 rebounds. That about sums it up. Woof.

    Will need to improve on the glass if we are to play with the likes of an athletic FSU team tomorrow. Of course, we expect to see a bit more of Mitch McGary in that game as well.

  • DingoBlue

    “When Michigan needs a basket right now, John Beilein is calling No. 11 – evidenced by Nik’s huge three out of a timeout after LBSU cut the lead to nine.”

    That about says it for me. Stauskas right now is the guy, but there are layers being added to this offense bit by bit. We absolutely need to start using McGary more and putting Horford in more situations where he’s comfortable. Morgan “looking out of sorts on offense” seems to be a recurring theme at this point and he is not the one that will be getting us offensive rebounds at this point. Our frontcourt/center identity right now is taking a hit because of McGary rounding back into form.

    That said, tough matchup against FSU tomorrow, Go Blue!

  • Chris De Sana

    Nice recap: One of your stronger points are that yes Nik seems to be the go to guy when points are needed and I think most thought this would be the case coming into the season. Walton needs to understand he does not have to be the leading scorer but he does need to get into the paint in order to open up the shots from behind the arc. I would prefer to see Caris running the point and have both Walton and Spike coming off the bench. Horford, Mitch, GR3, Nik and Caris I think gives us the best chance to win against better comp.

    • Kam

      most thought glenn would be the go to guy…

      • Champswest

        I never thought Glenn would be the go to guy. I don’t think he ever will, or at least not anytime soon.

  • Dana

    Robinson had a good game? He had 0 defensive rebounds and repeatedly was not in a solid guard position/stance when his man got the ball. At some point we have to stop saying he’s not demonstrative and acknowledge he’s apathetic. I’m fine with a subdued demeanor but make an effort, get in a stance.

  • Johnny

    First I want to say, good bounce back win by the Wolverine. Dylan I notice you talking about Waltons games he played. I just want to say to you and everybody else, Walton is doing fine as a freshman. The kid is taking what the game is giving him. Ok lets be fair, trey burke freshman year started off the same way. If you dont believe me, look it up. Give the kid a chance before we judge.

    • Chris De Sana

      Mostly true but Burke did not have the talent around him that Walton has which means he needs to be a distributor and not force things. Anything different and he will cost us wins.

  • geoffclarke

    “That ability [to push the tempo after grabbing the board] still gets [Walton] into a trouble a bit as he drove straight into a charge in the second half.”

    In my opinion, that could have easily been a block call, *especially* the way they’ve been calling them this year. Along those lines, I think it was McGary who drew a legitimate charge…tough to do nowadays.