Game 5: Michigan vs. Florida State Recap

Dylan Burkhardt
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Michigan 82, Florida State 80 (OT). Beilein video. Player video. Presser transcript. Hamilton video. Box score.

It wasn’t always pretty but Michigan grew up on Friday night.

The Wolverines were beaten up by a bigger, faster and stronger Florida State team for about 25 minutes and no one stepped up. Nik Stauskas fired errant pull-up jump shots, Glenn Robinson III sat expressionless in the corner of the floor, and Mitch McGary played his tail off but couldn’t do it alone.

There was no leadership or backbone as Florida State got whatever shot it wanted on offense. The Seminoles extended their lead to 16 points with 17:18 to play in the second half and had their sights set on back-to-back wins against top-15 foes.

Finally, the Wolverines had enough. Michigan’s stars realized that this was their team and they had to own it. Stauskas tallied 25 points while playing 44 minutes, carrying the Wolverines down the stretch. McGary posted his first double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds and Robinson awoke burying a handful of huge shots down the stretch.

There were still mistakes along the way and John Beilein had to reach deep into his bag of tricks to pull out the 1-3-1 zone but the Wolverines finally looked like a team on the same page. Michigan grew up and pulled out a game that it probably had no business winning.

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Michigan’s offense was as effective in the second half as it was dreadful in the first. The Wolverines scored 27 points on 30 first half possessions compared to 55 points on 42 possessions in the second half and overtime. That’s .9 points per possession in first and 1.31 points per possession after the halftime horn.

Florida State’s length was as advertised inside and Michigan shot just 46% on twos but made some threes, 37.5%, and got to the free throw line. Converting the freebies was a different story, Michigan was just 17-of-27 at the stripe. The free throw shooting almost cost the Wolverines down to the final horn when Florida State had a desperation heave at the win. The one thing that Michigan didn’t do was turn the ball over against FSU’s pressure defense, giving the ball away on less than 10% of its offensive possessions.

Michigan dominated the glass on both ends of the floor against one of the tallest teams in the country. The Wolverines rebounded 36% of their misses (15 offensive rebounds) for 14 second chance points. Florida State managed to rebound just 23% of its misses for a meager six second chance points. McGary had seven offensive rebounds but four other players had at least one offensive rebound. Leonard Hamilton admitted after the game that he couldn’t play as many big men as he wanted because Michigan was able to play four guards and still control the glass.

The 1-3-1 zone is tailor made for a turnover prone team that can’t really shoot the three and it saved Michigan’s defense at the last possible moment. Michigan’s man-to-man defense had been abused all day and the 1-3-1 was a bail out. It’s worth noting that Michigan was only able to run its 1-3-1 so often down the stretch because its offense was nearly perfect – providing time to setup the defense. The Wolverines struggled to defend Florida State in transition or off the bounce and couldn’t force many turnovers with their man-to-man defense.

A loss to Florida State would have been crippling to Michigan with games against Duke, Arizona and Stanford still on the schedule.  The win means a game against Charlotte for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Championship, one of four championships that the Wolverines set their sights on in the preseason.

Player Bullets:

  • Mitch McGary: McGary looked every bit like an All-American, even if he was huffing and puffing to get up and down the court. His array of highlight plays is almost too long to recap from coast to coast layups, tip ins, a (lucky) behind the back transition pass, mid-range jumpers. McGary kept Michigan in the game when it shouldn’t have been and is going to be a monster once he’s fully healthy and in sync.
  • Nik Stauskas: Stauskas had a really bad first half but carried Michigan to the finish line down the stretch. His thunderous two handed dunk made a statement: Michigan isn’t going to back down. He was a changed player from that point on, driving the hoop with no conscience and consistently finished or drew a foul. Stauskas is averaging 20 points per game with a 67 eFG% through five games: those are big boy numbers. LeVert’s jump seems more dramatic because Stauskas played so many minutes last year but Stauskas’s improvement from last season is off the charts.
  • Derrick Walton: Baptism by fire for Walton isn’t always going to be pretty but he’s hanging in there and making the most of it. He finished with 15 points, six assists, four rebounds and three turnovers in 34 minutes. Was he perfect? No but he kept shooting, kept passing and made plays down the stretch. Six assists was a career high and as his comfort level rises, he’ll start to find a lot more kick-out opportunities.
  • Glenn Robinson III: Robinson was almost invisible for the first 35 minutes but hit some huge shots down the stretch. 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, five rebounds and assist, block and steal isn’t a bad stat line but Michigan needs to figure out a better way to get Robinson involved in the game consistently. He’s not a creator off the bounce but he can’t be a non-factor either.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert had a couple ugly turnovers and struggled to find his offense (5 points) but did hand out five assists and two steals. He just missed about five steals at the top of the 1-3-1 zone but he’s probably the best fit for a top of the 1-3-1 player that John Beilein has had at Michigan. He is Michigan’s best at penetrating for others and his comfort level will continue to grow as the season wears on.
  • Spike Albrecht: Albrecht is never shy of the big stage and buried a huge three during Michigan’s second half run. His chemistry with McGary was evident in the first half when the duo exchanged assists on back-to-back possessions.
  • Jon Horford: Two points, two rebounds and an assist in 10 minutes of work for Horford. He’s not McGary, no one is, but he was solid when he was on the floor for the most part.
  • Zak Irvin: Irvin had a rough stretch in the first half but gave Michigan some energy in the second half when Robinson went to the bench with foul trouble.  His crossover dribble drive and finish from the top of the key was one of his best plays of the year.
  • Jordan Morgan: Morgan’s one field goal attempt was an open roll to the basket and he was stuffed at the rim. If the Wolverines are going to rely on Morgan they need him to finish ball screen dump offs and play good defense. He only played two minutes tonight.
  • Little Perm

    I, as a rabid fan of all things Michigan, needed that in the worst way. GO BLUE!!!

  • DingoBlue

    This is a good win for the team. Not from style points or anything, but a win that will probably look better at the end of the season than it does now, and one that helps teach the team how to win when things aren’t going exactly your way.

    • Champswest

      This win looks huge right now. I don’t want to see FSU again. They are a potential top 15 team.

  • Kenny

    the team should play zone more often.

    • MGoTweeter

      the great thing about the 1-3-1 is that it is a defense teams do not see a lot of and therefore it is hard to prepare for. However, the more you run it, the more teams scout it and practice for it. It is a great zone for changing up offensive rhythm because it puts offensive players in spots they are not used to playing but it also has a lot of holes and can be easily exploited by a well prepared team. Not to mention that generally speaking teams that are not good in man to man are not going to be good in a zone either.

      • Adam St Patrick

        Good as a changeup only. And in that role, very good.

  • Steve

    “Baptism by fire”‚ĶFantastic, Dylan! As always, a great read. Keep it up.

  • jakelam2116

    It’s so fun to watch Stauskas, because he’s a complete offensive player. He took over the game down the stretch, with every possession running through him coming up from the wing for the handoff.

  • MGoTweeter

    i think we saw the best and worst of what this team is right now in this game. The worst being the lack of a pure physical roster which can lead to being out muscled on both ends of the floor. The best being a wide range of skilled players that can exploit even the best of defenses. The great thing is that the team found a way to win a game they probably had no business winning after the first 23 minutes of basketball.

    The comeback was really quite remarkable considering that they battled so hard to get the lead back down to four with about 8 minutes left only to see FSU quickly extend it back to nine. Then once again get it back down to five with 4 minutes left before FSU once again responded with a three to push it back to eight. Michigan just kept coming despite making a lot of mistakes on offense and giving up easy baskets on defense. That is the kind of battle testing a team needs and can build off of heading into conference play.

    Defensively there were a lot of issues most of which I believe can be fixed. The one that probably cannot be fixed is that Michigan does not have the roster to handle teams that can effectively post up players at multiple positions on the wing. That will be something that the defense is going to have to live with. The good news is that teams with those sort of options are pretty rare (we might see one coming up in Duke, although I have not watched enough of them to know if Parker and Hood can be effective on the block). The other issues were transition defense, pick and roll help and recovery, and preventing penetration. The transition defense should improve as the offense improves. Most of what FSU got in transition was directly related to poor shot selection by Michigan or turnovers. Both of those are fixable. The pick and roll thing mostly seemed to be Horford to me although I would have to watch again. It seemed like he was holding his hedge position too long and creating a scramble behind him. I believe on penetration Michigan was playing a little too passively on the ball while trying not to foul. Hopefully as the season goes on the team gets used to what they can get away with and what they cannot, they will improve there.

    Offensively guys just need to settle into what their best roles will be on the team. FSU had a lot to do with the struggles, but with so many guys playing new or different roles this season, it is going to take some time to gel. The talent is there, but the focus has not yet been found. The two big things that I believe the team needs to do more of are wing pick and roles with Stauskas or Levert and posting up both McGary and GRIII. Beilein teams usually do not like to go heavy post action because it tends to clog things up and bog down the ball/player movement but those guys both need to get more touches in areas where they can be effective. I also would not mind seeing more wing to middle curl screens for GRIII (we saw them use those with THJr to great effect at times last season). Anything to get that guy into a scoring area where he does not have to take more than one dribble to score.

  • Cory

    I honestly believe that there are seven teams in the Big 10 that would have absolutely no chance to beat us if we’re in that 1-3-1. The others however……..

  • Wayman Britt

    Nice come back win. Agree with Dylan, Nik’s improvement has been fabulous. Now GR3 is a different story. He has along way to go to elevate his game. So far this season he sure doesn’t look like a NBA player next year. There are times on the court you don’t even know he is there. Plenty of time to correct though.

  • Dana

    Wayman. I agree about GRIII. So far this year he has shown nothing to suggest he can go to the NBA. People say he can…I used to believe he was just allowing the stars to work but I’m now convinced he can’t currently do these things. Everything he does is straight line. I’ve been judging his lateral quickness but it’s become clear why his lateral quickness is poor. He plays too tall on the perimeter. He has to get low when defending on the perimeter or when he has the ball in his hands. I’m surprised this wasn’t addressed in the offseason and not sure it can be fixed during the regular season.

    • BlueBasketeer

      I tend to agree as well. I could never quite see what made everyone project Robinson as a high NBA pick based on his performance last year. He was good, sometimes very good, but not spectacular. For a freshman on a team with a lot of other talent, that was fine, but he needs to do a lot more this year, and should know that, but his game has not stepped up so far. It seems like he’s waiting too much for other guys to do the heavy lifting while he waits for good feeds for dunks or open jumpers. Stauskas is the one playing with some swagger and aggressiveness, not Robinson.

  • PeteM

    Loved the win, but feel like free throw shooting is an issue for this team, which is surprising given Beilein’s overall emphasis on shooting.

    • Luke

      I’m still in shock that stauskas is shotting around 70% for the year. He can do better than that!

    • Adam St Patrick

      Agreed. Especially since FT shooting cost us the conference championship and perhaps the tournament as well. My hope for this year is to play tougher on both ends and to see those FTs go in down the stretch. Mixed bag this year, but this is the kind of team that won’t come out charging but could very well peak at the right time. It’s gotta be stressed in practice.

  • BlueBasketeer

    You left out of LeVert’s stat line a very significant 8 rebounds. Of course, he probably wouldn’t have gotten so many if Morgan and Horford were playing like actual big men, but it’s good that someone is stepping up. And yes..McGary is going to be an absolute monster once he’s fully in sync. He had some trouble finishing around the basket last night, but he’s as active a big man as I’ve seen anywhere. Stauskas has also stepped up as a real leader.

    On the down side, Irvin has not made the kind of contribution that his hype would have suggested. A five star, top 20 recruit should be showing more of a game, even in limited playing time. And Morgan and Horford…our most experienced players, and they just seem lost out there, as if they’ve forgotten how to play the game. How much better could we be if they were playing as well as they’re capable of?

    • Brad S

      If you only saw Morgan play now, would you ever guess that he was the starting center on a Co Big Ten championship team 2 years ago?

      • BlueBasketeer

        No, Morgan has regressed, and Horford has stayed pretty static. To have long term success, you really need to have your 4 year players get better every year, and they have not done it. And it’s not like we need them to be great, statistically. If they logged 8-10 points and 6-8 boards a night between them, against decent competition, that’d be more than fine. We need them to play good interior defense, and be efficient on offense, finishing strong when they get easy chances inside. We’re typically leaving 2-3 baskets a night on the floor because Morgan and Horford fumble layups and putbacks.

        • guestavoe

          Truth is that Morgan and Horford are the last remnants of when we struggled to recruit top notch talent.

          • BlueBasketeer

            Yes, they are, but Morgan’s stats have declined every year, to the point where he’s barely contributing at all this season. And it’s certainly not because we’re top-heavy with more talented big men.

    • Cory

      Did McGary look like the number 2 player in the country that he was ranked when he signed at the beginning of last year? No. Give him time to develop. He’s going to contribute for us this year.

      • BlueBasketeer

        Well, I don’t think anyone had McGary pegged as #2 in the whole country by the time he started playing for us, but regardless of that, it’s the teams who develop their recruits quickly that win the big early season games and the conference championships. Yes, Irvin may eventually be very good, but his coming along slow is a problem with Morgan and Horford playing in a fog, Robinson not seeming to have stepped his game up as hoped, and Donnal appearing destined for a redshirt.

  • Dana

    Bluebasketeer. You’re right Zak should be showing more. But that drive last night was a positive sign. The plus I see is it’s not a case of him forcing and being unable to make plays. He’s clearly eliminating himself by over thinking. Paralysis by analysis. That’s a problem that can easily be fixed during the season. One hot game could break him out. Or just getting an understanding of what the offense is trying to do(learning) could increase his comfort. Until he’s comfortable they should be preaching rebounding and defense to him because that’s what we need from him that he isn’t providing until his offense catches up.

  • Chris De Sana

    Nice write up.

    The first half showed what a big physical team can do to Michigan if they are not hitting from beyond the arc. This is why I think there will be games and situations where Horford plays the 5 and Mitch plays the 4. The second half was an example of what this offense can look like if they run everyone but the 5 off of curl cuts. Plenty of cuts to the basket and mid range jumpers rather than off balance 3 balls by those who probably should not be shooting them (or at least as many of them).

    Walton: I had him for 4 turnovers. That said I am convinced he is going to a huge asset as the season progresses, but should he start? I would prefer Caris starting at the point and both Walton and Spike coming off the bench.

    Nik: What can I say that was not said already. His game has matured to the point he look far more ready for the NBA than GR3. Love the dribble drive dunks! BUt he has to hit the FT’s!!!!!!!!!!!!

    GR3: It becomes more apparent every game that he needs to be coming of curl cuts where his mid range game will shine. Yes the occasional 3 ball on a kick out works but we clearly see he struggles to creat his own shot at this point. We were all expecting more this season and think he will get there eventually but will it while wearing a Michigan uniform?

    In addition maybe he should set more of the high screen which could free him up for some open looks inside the arc?

    Caris: Yes he is greatly improved but I think this game is what we should expect on most nights. The one thing that is apparent is that he makes pretty good decisions when he gets into the paint and that is why I think he should start at the point as he is the closest thing to Burke in creating for others.

    Mitch: He was the difference in this game, not only his play in the paint against bigger athletes but his hustle lead to points. His touch from 10-12 feet continues to get better and his decision making at the top of the key is exceptional.

    Horford: I actually see improvement in many ways but with Mitch coming back it appears he will not get that many minutes to show it. As mentioned above against bigger teams I prefer he starts at the 5 and Mitch at the 4.

    Morgan: I could not be more disappointed. I was hoping that with the arrival of Mitch he would push Morgan to be better but the exact opposite has happened. And the continued miss east ones around the hoop are a killer.

    Spike: He hit the huge 3 ball and ran some very nice pick and rolls with Mitch. At this point it appears that Walton will get more minutes but it is nice when the youngster struggles we have a steady hand at the wheel with Spike.

    Irvin: As mention many times looks a little lost so far, but he has all the tools and will come around.

    • BlueBasketeer

      I wish I could be as confident about Horford. I just don’t see the improvement you’re talking about. He had some good rebounding games against weak competiton, but he hasn’t showed much at all in the last 3 games against decent opponents. I’d like to see him and McGary teamed up out there sometimes, but I think that even against bigger and more physical teams, that’s just not likely to be be our best lineup. I wish it were, but I think it’s more likely that Staukas, LeVert and Robinson will pull the big minutes, and we’ll have to hope for good shooting nights to offset getting pushed around inside.

      • Chris De Sana

        I hear ya but the one thing that is clear is we have no answer in regards to paint defense. Just my take but it i worth a try…. put Horford on the least athletic big and Mitch on the most athletic big an I have little doubt or interior D improves.

        And maybe having someone who can block shots on the floor leads to less dribble drives as well.