Game 5: Michigan vs. Villanova Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Villanova 60, Michigan 55. Photo Gallery. Video Reactions. (Photo: Adam Glanzman)

Michigan grew up in Brooklyn, but it came up short.

For a solid ten minutes on Tuesday the Wolverines were flat out punked by Villanova. The Wildcats held Michigan without a basket for a stretch that spanned the final seven of the first half and the first three of the second.

Michigan finally bottomed when Caris LeVert was ripped by JayVaughn Pinkston for a steal and easy dunk to stretch the Villanova lead to 13 points. From there, the Wolverines called three timeouts in 18 seconds. First to stop the momentum, then because Derrick Walton was trapped in the corner and then because Kameron Chatman couldn’t even inbound the ball. Michigan looked broken and the Wildcats appeared to be on the verge of their second straight blowout win in Brooklyn.

But for the first time this season, we saw what happens when this Michigan team is punched in the mouth. The Wolverines got up off the mat and battled back. Zak Irvin, Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton combined for a 7-0 run in just over a minute to put Michigan back in the game.

The Wolverines eventually overtook the lead, only to let it slip away late. This young group made the type of mistakes that you can’t make to win games against a good team. From JayVaughn Pinkston’s emphatic block of Zak Irvin’s late dunk attempt to Mark Donnal’s missed front-end of a one-and-one, Villanova simply out-executed Michigan down the stretch.

The loss hurts, but the important lesson on Tuesday night wasn’t that Michigan lost, it was that it had the heart to get up when it could have packed it in.

Four Factors

It’s fitting that this was Michigan’s worst offensive performance since last November against Charlotte in Puerto Rico. This game had many of the same characteristics – it was at the end of a preseason tournament on short rest, the Wolverine offense went dreadfully cold for a long stretch and it was lost in the final possessions – and the Wolverines will hope that it has a similar residual effect.

Michigan’s offense is going to be okay. The Wolverines made the requisite adjustments to attack Villanova’s trapping defense and started slicing the Wildcat defense for easy layups with ease in the second half. Caris LeVert, Derrick Walton, Spike Albrecht and Zak Irvin all made handfuls of big shots down the stretch. Ricky Doyle and Kameron Chatman showed continued inklings of progress as they moved closer to game-readiness.

During Michigan’s mid-game slump the Wolverines didn’t just miss shots, they had rash of live ball turnovers that led to easy points. Villanova recorded seven steals and outscored Michigan 13-0 in fast break points on the night. Michigan had thrived in transition offense to start the season, but was outscored 21-0 in fast break points during two games in Brooklyn. The Wolverines were good enough to survive the free giveaways against Oregon, but weren’t so lucky against Villanova.

Defensively, Michigan held Villanova to .96 points per possession for the game. Over the last three years, Michigan was 48-3 when holding its opponents under a point per possession with the losses coming to at Ohio State and Wisconsin in 2013 and against Charlotte last season. This was a defensive performance that was good enough to win on most nights against an offense that is very good. The defense is far from a finished product, but the early returns have been encouraging. Michigan forced turnovers on 21% of Villanova’s offensive possessions and rebounded a very solid 75% of Villanova’s misses.

This loss will sting, but it’s far from the end of the world.

Despite the solid defensive rebounding numbers, Michigan’s big men struggled in that department. The Wolverine bigs were whistled for at least six or seven fouls after either crashing the glass or missing box outs. Those are the sort of mental errors that just compound other mistakes like missed layups into further damage. As a result, Villanova ended up in the bonus down the stretch and Beilein was forced to juggle foul trouble for all three bigs.

There were plenty of late game situations to dissect:

  • JayVaughn Pinkston’s game winning shot came after Michigan opted to go with five guards defensively. The idea behind putting Kameron Chatman at the five was that Michigan would switch every ball screen (which it did), but the Wildcats made the perfect adjustment and isolated Pinkston down low on Caris LeVert.
  • Pinkston followed up the game-winning shot with the game-winning block after Michigan ran a perfectly executed baseline out of bounds set that appeared to setup Zak Irvin for a dunk. While the play call and execution were great, Pinkston simply made the better play.
  • With four seconds remaining and trailing by three, I thought Michigan went with the wrong option to inbound the ball. Not only was Max Bielfeldt’s pass errant, it felt too aggressive. Four seconds feels like it could be enough time to catch something closer to three-quarter court moving toward the basket rather than throwing it to half court.

This loss will sting, but it’s far from the end of the world. Villanova is going to win a lot of games this season and is a favorite to win the ‘new’ Big East. It would have been a better win, but it’s certainly not a bad loss. Michigan regroup against Nicholls State on Saturday before facing Syracuse and Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone on Tuesday.

Michigan vs. Villanova basketball game on Nov. 25, 2014 in Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Adam Glanzman

Player Bullets:

  • Caris LeVert:  LeVert had been sputtering with his shot over the last few games, but he was dominant on Tuesday night. LeVert’s shot attempts often times have a ridiculously high degree of difficulty, but when he finishes 7-of-12 (2-4 from long range), it’s hard not to wonder if Michigan needs to get him even more opportunities. In the second half, LeVert hit an array of ridiculous turnaround and fading shots around the paint.
  • Derrick Walton: Walton really started to click in the second half and hit a couple of very smooth mid-range jumpers. He wasn’t able to get to the line, but did finish with four assists to one turnover. He was just 2-of-6 from long range, but he seemed to be uncertain on several attempts while passing up several others. Walton made several terrific passes, but perhaps his best wasn’t even credited an assist as he found Max Bielfeldt for an over the shoulder pick-and-roll feed that took Bielfeldt two tries to finish.
  • Zak Irvin: In yet another parallel to last year’s game against Charlotte, Zak Irvin simply couldn’t find his three-point stroke. He finished 1-of-7 from long range, but was 3-of-6 inside the arc. Irvin had several strong finishes and drives to the basket and it’s safe to say there won’t be many games where he goes 1-of-7 from long distance.
  • Spike Albrecht: Albrecht is still Michigan’s sixth man, but he’s playing starters’ minutes and he’s producing. Albrecht drew a late charge, hit the go-ahead three and helped settle Michigan’s offense. Against a formidable shot blocking team like Villanova, Albrecht really struggled attacking the basket and ended up caught in no-man’s land trying circus shots around the rim.
  • Ricky Doyle: After this week in Brooklyn, Doyle appears to be rising to the top among Michigan’s post players. He’s the most physical, the most passionate and he’s starting to become more comfortable. He still has a lot of work to do – he didn’t grab a defensive rebound in either of the last two games – but he’s coming along steadily.
  • Kameron Chatman: Chatman finally knocked down a couple of jumpers, including a long two just inside the three-point line. He finished with six points on 3-of-5 shooting and five rebounds for the game. Chatman’s development will take time, but by the end of this season his size and vision will become a major asset for Michigan.
  • Mark Donnal: Donnal finished with 3 points on 1-of-2 shooting with one assist and zero rebounds. The missed front end of the 1-and-1 free throw will haunt him and he could have escaped that pressure by just making a simple pass out to one of his guards after he caught the long inbound play. Donnal struggled a bit, but I do think he improved as the night went on. The first time Daniel Ochefu went directly at him and scored with remarkable ease, but as the game wore on there’s no questioning that Donnal toughened up, even if he has a long way to go.
  • Max Bielfeldt: Bielfeldt’s size really cost him offensively as he caught the ball in prime positions several times, but was unable to finish.
  • JohnNavarreIsMyHero

    It sure seemed like Donnal wanted to make that pass to Spike.

    The no timeouts came back to haunt us there. I think Beilein sees that right away and calls a Timeout to get the inbound on our side of the court and get the ball inbounded to Levert, Walton, Irvin, or Spike.

    I think our guys know they let this one get away. You can tell we have a group of guys that don’t like to lose. These lessons will pay dividends the rest of the nonconference season.

    GO BLUE!

  • Richmond_Eric

    Looks like another fun season ahead of us. I really enjoyed seeing the fight in the team, I think they showed lots of character when the game could have easily turned into a route. Villanova was VERY good on defense. Irvin and Walton were both off with their shots which I do not think will happen often. Overall a great experience for the young team.

  • Indiana_Matt

    “The loss hurts, but the important lesson on Tuesday night wasn’t that Michigan lost, it was that it had the heart to get up when it could have packed it in.”


    • brooklyn_guy

      Other important lessons from the past two days:

      – Michigan has something in Ricky Doyle. That’s now two strong performances against high-level opponents, and he’s only four games into his career.

      – I also think Kam Chatman is beginning to loosen up a bit. He still made some pretty bad mistakes but I think his D is getting better and he’s starting to get some shots to fall.

      I was at the game last night and told my companion that if this game gets played in March, UM wins by a handful. Once JB gets the freshman settled in their roles and unclogs the offense a bit, this team is gonna be good.

  • jakerblue

    if they can clean up some of the early game turnovers and get some shots to start falling it looks like they can be really good.

  • ChathaM

    I guess it’s simply the mark of an early season game that the play of both teams was so sporadic throughout. From some weak first half shooting (both teams, including a missed Villanova dunk) to looseness with the ball (the Michigan live ball turnovers, the 2 Villanova backcourt violations) to defensive confusion in the halfcourt (both teams, but especially Villanova during the 2nd half Michigan run), it wasn’t pretty. But, it was a great, competitive game, and it was a lot of fun to watch. It was encouraging that Michigan looked like the more experienced team for most of the 2nd half, even though Villanova has the more veteran roster. I’m not sure Michigan wins easily if they play again in the spring, as Villanova has plenty of room to improve as well (shot selection, halfcourt junk defence rotations in particular).

    It’s exciting to see young players like Doyle and Chatman improve from game to game. I don’t see post depth being an issue as the season goes on, as Doyle and Donnal should both become more comfortable with angles and body control, and that should lead to less foul trouble. Wilson has serious strength issues, and I’m not sure how effective he’ll be this season.

    I’ve thought in the past that if Spike played a lot, it meant that one of the key players is having problems (foul trouble, effectiveness, whatever). I love that things have changed to the point where we want Spike to play a lot. His court vision and awareness is incredible, and I love watching him play. When he ended up on the floor in the backcourt during a late Villanova possession (I think he tried to take a charge), I had a huge smile on my face, just because of the max effort with which he plays.

    This tourney was a perfect fit for this team. Next week’s Syracuse game is also a great fit, with the trip to Arizona an excellent cap to the non-con schedule. This is so much better than a cupcake laden non-con slate, and I’m glad that Beilein is comfortable with playing high caliber teams in Nov. and Dec. A strong annual tourney like this, in addition to a good B1G/ACC challenge game, plus a couple of solid home-and-home matchups (Arizona and SMU this year) make for a great schedule. Part of me would like to see one more bigger pre-Christmas game, but maybe 5 is plenty on an annual basis.

  • Chris De Sana

    This game came down to experience, as mentioned one time in the call of the game Nova average age was over 2 years older than Mich and it showed at times. Our youngsters will get better but we should probably expect more of the same from time to time especially against high quality teams that are stacked with returning players.

    That said I will say once again…….. the bug guys need to get more touches even if the ball comes back out. It will be a great investment in the late season run. They toss it down to Max but often will not to Doyle or Donnal as of yet. And…. Kam is doing a better job of running the back cut on the baseline and he was open a lot as well.

    Reward the big men for all the screens it will pay off in the long run.

    • Old Man

      That is what I was thinking as well. We are going to need everyone we have.

  • Fab 5 Legends

    Tough lose, but great lessons to be learned, most importantly Michigan fought back when they were on the verge of getting blown out….come big ten play this team will be ready…expect more growth against Arizona, Syracuse & SMU….

  • Wywy

    I’m still upset about the no call offensive foul in the last 30 seconds when Villanova took the lead levert was set and there was no call

    • ChathaM

      At the time, I thought it was more a flop than anything, but I haven’t watched a replay.

      • gobluemd16

        The game is up on mgovideo, FYI. I rewatched the last 3-4 minutes

        • ChathaM

          Thanks; watched it. I agree with the no-call. I also liked the no-call at the other end when Irvin appeared to run through his defender on the BLOB play that ended with the Pinkston block. When I watched it live, I thought Irvin had gotten away with a shove, but watching more closely, it was a clear flop by the Villanova player. Really good block/charge judgement by the officials all night, IMO.

          • gobluemd16

            What did you think of the no-call on Walton drive and offensive foul on Irvin with around 1:30 to go, I believe?

          • ChathaM

            I forgot about that Irvin call at the 1:30 mark. I think Dakich was right. The official reacted to the defender, not to the degree of contact, which was minimal, and certainly not enough to send Pinkston to the floor. Weak call.

            I watched that Walton drive several times, and didn’t see a foul. If the defender got any arm at all, it happened after he slapped the top of the ball and dislodged it. If he got a lot of arm after that, it’s a foul. But, he didn’t. I’m good with that no-call.

          • jakerblue

            UM is great at drawing the charges but it seems like very often after 2 or 3 the officials just swallow their whistles and refuse to call it anymore unless it’s the most blatant charge ever.

          • gobluemd16

            The replay they showed after the play (when the refs were reviewing it), showed the defender hitting his arm. I dont think he even got much of the ball. It is on the Mgovideo replay of the game

      • Adam St Patrick

        I think the refs didn’t do us any favors, but they let the players play all night. It’s a shame that it seemed a little unbalanced. FWIW I thought the non-call on Walton was fine. I thought Pinkston quite obviously lowered the shoulder, and whether Caris was selling it or not, that was a foul. But when you note how few times each team got to the line, it’s hard to expect it. It was a minor screwing, and hopefully we get those out of the way early instead of late in the season.

    • LSA Superstar

      I see your point and I don’t disagree, but the team was sent a clear message during the inbound on that possession when Kam Chatman tried to take a charge immediately after the ball was passed in, flopped hard, and the ref didn’t even flinch. Fair or not, referees aren’t going to call charge after charge and Michigan had exhausted the officials’ patience for it.

    • gobluemd16

      I thought that was a 50/50 call to be honest. End of game, no problem with the no call. I do think that Walton was hit on the arm on his drive on our last possession though.

  • Bluebufoon

    I love how the team fought to get back into the game but Mark Donnal’s play is the biggest concern because MD has talent to be at the very least a solid role player but to this point he plays like he is scared of his own shadow. He’s unable to stand his ground when setting picks for his teammates or when rebounding and he show’s little to no ability to score the basketball. We take great pride in player develoment under Coach Beilein, well to this point Donnal and Bielfeldt’s development over the last two to three years has been non-existent.

  • gobluemd16

    Why wasn’t Doyle in on possession that Nova took the lead by 1? You touched on it above, Dylan; it seemed so clear to me that they were going to go to Pinkston/Echefu in the post. I could understand the all-switching lineup if a guard was likely to take the shot, but it seemed clear where the ball would end up if Nova had its way. Also, did anyone else think Walton was hacked on the arm with 7.8 left on his drive (before Irvin got blocked)? Seemed pretty clear on the replay.

    Obviously the Donnal missed front end and bad pass by Max killed us (why not throw to Walton who was wide open, we had 4 full seconds), but Nova just was the better, more experienced team down the stretch. Good learning experience but this one really hurt as a fan. I think we were all very invested in this game haha.

    I think Doyle should be starting; he has proved enough to me these two games and Donnal is just so soft. Rahk and DJ are definitely not ready to be playing yet, and Max should only be played situationally against smaller teams.

    • brooklyn_guy

      I was definitely more invested in this one than I thought I’d be! Going in I had braced myself for a UM loss, so to see them acquit themselves as well as they did (and nearly win) was unexpected and awesome. Being at Barclays only made it worse considering that many of the ‘Nova fans around me were whiny d-bags.

  • MbeeInOH

    Surprised nobody is bringing up Walton getting held on an in-bounds, causing Spike to burn the last timeout. JB was visibly upset about the no call, but Wright thought Walton should have been called for pushing off. Similar to the Irvin call earlier. I guess if the refs piss off both coaches they’re doing something right?

    • JohnNavarreIsMyHero

      That is true. On Monday night, the refs called a hold on Oregon before the ball was inbounded. There was precedent to make the call. Say the same sequence happens and Donnal gets the deep pass. Beilein immediately calls the timeout (that we still have) and we do another inbounds pass on our side getting it to the one of the veterans. It ended up being a pretty big missed call for us.