Game 9: Eastern Michigan at Michigan Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

A week ago, Michigan’s season was running smoothly. The Wolverines had accomplished about as much as anyone could have asked for in early season play. They knocked off Oregon and had just beaten Syracuse to bounce back from a close loss to Villanova. But in a matter of days the wheels have fallen off quicker than anyone could imagined.

First the Wolverines lost at home to NJIT. Now just three days later, Eastern Michigan walked out of the Crisler Center with a victory.

The upset followed a similar script to Saturday’s shocker. The Wolverines got out to a modest early lead, but were never able to extend it and allowed Eastern Michigan to hang around. Against NJIT, Michigan’s unraveling was its mediocre defense. Tonight, it was the sheer inability to generate any offense against EMU’s zone-defense.

The Wolverines bricked themselves into a close game they didn’t want and provided Eastern Michigan with more life with every miss. A Michigan offense that has looked so lethal over the past two seasons — and even for stretches this season — looked rudderless in the first half, failing to make a field goal for nearly a 14 minute stretch in the first half.

Despite playing its worst offense in years, Michigan still had chances to win the game down the stretch. The Wolverines had five tries to tie the game in the final 2:30 while trailing by a single possession, but were never able to capitalize and Eastern Michigan escaped with the win.


This was Michigan’s worst offensive performance since February 23rd, 2010 when it managed just 44 points in 63 possessions in a home loss to Illinois.

Eastern Michigan befuddled Michigan’s offense by pushing the wings of the 2-3 zone high and applying swarming pressure. At times the EMU zone almost looked like a 4-1 as the wings spent the majority of their time well above the free throw line. This worked because Michigan’s small guards couldn’t pass over the high-pressure and because the Wolverines sorely lack a reliable finisher to catch and finish on the other end.

The Wolverines tried to make adjustments, but they just didn’t work. Michigan’s primary adjustment in the second half was to drive into the middle of the zone and then look for drop off passes to the big man. That resulted in a couple of easy baskets, but a lot more errant and dropped passes and a 22% turnover rate. Eastern Michigan’s preparation and execution of its game plan was masterful and Rob Murphy deserves all the credit of the world for putting the Syracuse film to work and out-coaching Beilein.

Perhaps most jarring was Michigan’s inability to get the sort of baskets that helped turn the Syracuse game: transition and second chance points. The Wolverines rebounded a woeful 7% of their misses and recorded just two fast break points.

How bad was Michigan’s offense? Not a single Wolverine made more than four shots or scored more than 10 points.

Eastern Michigan’s offense wasn’t much better. This was Michigan’s best defensive game of the year, which only magnifies how bad the Wolverine offense was. The Eagles shot 33% on twos and 32% on threes for a 39% eFG% while giving the ball away on 28% of their offensive possessions – and they still won the game.

Losing back-to-back games, at home, to NJIT and Eastern Michigan isn’t a learning experience – it’s a major red flag. twitter

The talk of growing from losses and necessary learning experiences for this young team is over. Losing back-to-back games, at home, to NJIT and Eastern Michigan isn’t a learning experience – it’s a major red flag. That’s a radical step backward for a program that had only lost four home games over the past three seasons.

Michigan has a laundry list of flaws to fix and it has to do it fast.

The Wolverines have only four players that John Beilein trusts: Spike Albrecht, Derrick Walton, Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin.

Kameron Chatman has struggled while Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman just aren’t ready. Down low, Beilein’s best option has been to shuffle through Mark Donnal, Ricky Doyle and Max Bielfeldt and hope he comes up with the winning ticket. Michigan needs some sort of consistent production from someone other than its four veterans and right now it’s not there.

Perhaps the only positive of traveling across the country to face a top-five team like Arizona is the fact that the pressure will be off. Against Eastern Michigan, the Wolverines played like a team that had just lost to NJIT and was terrified it would happen again. That pressure will be off at Arizona, where Michigan will probably be a double-digit underdog, but the Wolverines will also be playing arguably their most difficult game of the season.

The losses are much worse this season (NJIT and EMU at home are about as bad as it gets), but the calendar is still on Michigan’s side. Last year on this exact day, the Wolverines held the an identical 6-3 record and were about to face Arizona. That team lost to Arizona, then lost Mitch McGary a week later only to rebound and make the Elite Eight. That sort of talk is eons away for this group, but there’s a lot of basketball left to be played this season.

Dustin Johnston

Player Bullets:

  • Derrick Walton: Walton was Michigan’s only bright spot in the first half as he ripped rebounds away from EMU players, pushed the tempo, got to the line and even made a couple of baskets. His second half was much more forgettable. Walton just seemed too passive against the zone and didn’t make a shot in the second half. He forced a number of difficult passes into the teeth of the zone and just never looked comfortable.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert was one of two Wolverines to reach 10 points, but he had more turnovers (3) than assists (2) and was just 4-of-12 from the field. He had Michigan’s best chance to tie the game down the stretch, missing an open three from the wing. He also appeared to be bothered by EMU’s length in the middle of the zone and just couldn’t find a comfort zone.
  • Zak Irvin: Walton and LeVert’s struggles seemed to be related to the zone, but Irvin appears to be in a more serious crisis of confidence. Irvin didn’t look confident when he was open and was forcing shots when he was guarded. He’s now just 3-of-16 from three-point range (and 2-of-7 inside the arc) over Michigan’s last two games and the Wolverines are going to need him to snap out of his slump in Tucson.
  • Spike Albrecht: Albrecht shredded Syracuse’s zone last week, but he really struggled against EMU. He had two brutal possessions down the stretch where he first fired up a 25+ foot three and then turned the ball over the next trip down the floor. He finished 0-of-3 from the floor with just 1 assist to a career-high four turnovers.
  • Kameron Chatman: Chatman needs to be stronger with the ball and he’s not progressing as quickly as many hoped.. He’s tentative with both his ball handling and his movement and that’s costing him minutes. He missed a couple of the mid-range jumpers that he knocked down against Syracuse’s zone and only played six minutes in the second half.
  • Ricky Doyle: Doyle had a big dunk in the second half that gave Michigan a bit of momentum, but he also struggled to catch the ball down around the block. The passes weren’t always the greatest and EMU’s zone was impressive, but it was clear how badly Michigan missed a reliable option like Morgan or Robinson flashing baseline.
  • Mark Donnal:  I thought Donnal did some good things including a nice second half blocked shot and a drawn charge in the first half, but his hesitancy to shoot the ball when he caught it in the short corner was troubling. Donnal passed up that shot twice in the first eight minutes and his hesitation to shoot the ball was a big reason why EMU was able to extend its defense so far.
  • Max Bielfeldt: Bielfeldt scored five points in 11 minutes and provided a bit of a spark, but he struggled against the much bigger EMU bigs.
  • Aubrey Dawkins: Dawkins got a bit of extended playing time in the first half, but didn’t make much of an impact. He missed his lone field goal attempt and grabbed a rebound in five minutes.
  • Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman: MAAR made the first shot of his career late in the first half, he was probably the least likely player to score Michigan’s first FG in the halfcourt offense after a painful drought.
  • Pizapp

    This team is too reliant on outside shots and will lose if they cannot make them. The threes set up the penetration and without that we have no post scoring. Does anyone miss the pick and roll from the past couple of years? This team is now 50-50 to make the tourney in my book.

    • JohnNavarreIsMyHero

      I agree we rely a lot on our jump shots, but it is head-scratching to have guys this good miss this many shots. There are off nights and their are WAY OFF nights. The last two games, it seems like we can’t even buy a bucket. Our Big 3 has yet to dominate a game this season. Its either been 1/3 or 2/3. If its 3/3, we can and will beat Arizona.

      The most frustrating thing is our opponent was not only not a good team, but they also played bad. You cannot lose a game like this where your opponent was just as bad.

      The shootings percentages will increase for the sole reason these guys are too good not to make shots. They have already proven it on the big stage.

      We also seem to play down to our competition when they are bad and play up when we face better teams. That is one positive going into Saturday.

    • MAZS

      Because the high pick-and-roll was our bread and butter the past three years, it is certain that we aren’t running it this year because we don’t have the bigs to make it work. God, I miss Morgan.

  • Vince

    Some observations:

    1. The losses and struggles aren’t unexpected for any rational follower of MBB. No way we can not skip some beats with losing 3 to starter to nb and a key senior leader.

    2. The struggle on offense is more surprising as it usually comes easier than defense. I suspect maybe the practice reps had been very focused on D?

    3. The effort of this group is good, seems better than previous teams at this juncture of the season. But this is not a good thing to me – it indicate this teams raw talent level is not as good as previous years and may have a lower ceiling.

    4. Irvin seems either not 100% after hitting the deck hard earlier, or is caught in a struggle to consciously improve his driving/creating game to up his draft stock and letting the offense come to him and be a shooter. Either way he seems to be on more a Hardaway arc than a Nik arc in terms of development. His progression and contribution will determine how far this team goes.

    5. It really hurt to come up empty for both blackmon and booker.

    • Guest

      1. Really? You expected to lose to NJIT and Eastern Michigan? Give me a break.

      • Vince

        Well I expected we are 6-3 by now and hoped for 7-2. If you ask anyone would they be panicking with a 6-3 record by game 9 before the season, I guess most won’t. Fact is we are a very young and inexperienced team, and we won some tough games then the pressure and expectation became too much, especially after a fluke game where the opponent hits 65% of their threes. Young teams are usually inconsistent, and if you know anything about the game you would know EMU played Mich tougher D than Cuse…

        But of course being entitled Michigan fans these days everything is “Unacceptable!” “This is Michigan FFS!” Lol and we should be undefeated regardless how many players we lost. Gimme a break….

        • robpollard

          Vince, you miss the point. It is not “unacceptable” to be 6-3 or 7-2; in fact, it is downright reasonable with this young team. But to lose to NJIT (a Top 200ish team) at home *and* then lose to EMU at home the next game? I could understand one or the other, but both? That is unacceptable.

          I was of the mind that losing to NJIT was a fluke, but to lay another egg (albiet against a decent team) the very next game has everyone much more concerned. EMU didn’t even play at their very best.

          UM is right now not even a bubble team; they would be if their 3 losses were to Villanova, Oregon and Syracuse. Considering this is a young, but still talented team, making the tourney this year is the bar for success. With these bad losses to NJIT and EMU, they’ve made crossing that bar a lot harder (though hopefully they’ll still do it). Perhaps that is not “unacceptable” but it would be a failure, and that’s bad.

          • Vince

            Yes. These are fair points.

            Losing is bad and losing to bad teams is BAD. Not gonna pretend losing to NJIT+EMU is the same as losing to Cuse+Oregon. Will it hurt our resume come tourney time? Yes. But should we be surprised we are up (winning against tough teams) and down (having bad losses) throughout the season? No.

            My comment was mainly to the poster who put word into my mouth insinuating I “expected” us to lose to EMU. No. Didn’t expect it, nor NJIT, but am not surprised we have bad losses, especially early in the season, with our very inexperienced team. And anyone who follow Beilein’s teams and MBB recruiting shouldn’t be surprised either.

    • cs

      Another after-the-fact genius. Losses to NJIT and EMU aren’t “aren’t unexpected”. People who claim to not be shocked by those losses aren’t fooling anyone.

  • Wayman Britt

    Mr. Bacari Alexander I know you read this site. Can you pull Zak aside and tell him to drop that phone bit and start playing some ball. Start attacking the rim, tell him there is more to the game than jacking long threes, play some defense, get some steals, be tough. Show the world you can dribble drive to the basket rather than gloat after hitting one three.

    • Mattski

      Sometimes all of our most burning desire as fans is to discipline players. We build them up ridiculously when they succeed, become so very down on them when they fail. And we’re so elastic in our acceptance of players’ onfield/court demonstrations. Dunno if this is some American trait or global, but it’s messy, to say the least.

      If Zak’s gesture had inspired the team on to a win it might have been seen as a turning point. Especially since it was all about the confidence last night. . . I wasn’t crazy about the gesture myself, but he’s a 19-year-old, and this team has bigger concerns. Respectfully.

      • ChathaM

        Those types of gestures are rarely about anything other than “look at me”. I can’t think of many such gestures that have been adopted as more of a team thing. When they are, I think it’s a positive for team morale, but it just doesn’t happen very often. Zak’s phone thing is just silly; nothing more, nothing less; and you’re absolutely right that there are far bigger concerns.

        • MAZS

          Of all the things to worry about. I hope I see the phone sign more often–way more often–as that means 3s are dropping for Zak. I don’t recall many people complaining when Nik did his eye thing.

          While I do think Beilein could play the bench more(or earlier)–particularly in easy wins–I trust his assessment of the players. Donnal isn’t playing well enough to justify playing two bigs–besides it simply not being Beilein’s system. Similarly, I suspect, based on practices and learning the schemes, that neither Dawkins or MAAR are ready for meaningful minutes.

          The biggest disappointment IMHO (even more so than Donnal) has been Chatman. He is a highly skilled player who the coaches expected to step in and make an immediate contribution. Obviously, that has not occurred. If this team is to reach one of the top spots in the Big Ten, it will be because Chatman has made the necessary strides.

          • John

            Yeah, but really, Nik would not have been doing the 3-goggles when we were tied with Michigan in the second half, that is the thing, Stauskus would have done the things to make sure that circumstance was not occuring.
            The phone thing needs to, nobody really knows what it means and he is not playing well. At some point, any display like that becomes ridiculousness when you are losing like they are right now. Shelf it for a while, go beat somebody, and then decide whether you want to “break it out” again later in the season. Right now it looks silly.

          • John

            Eastern Michigan, that is.

  • Nick

    This team needs to lose its fear of losing. They can’t let peoples’ expectations of what they should be doing affect how they play. These announcers act like the world is ending and the players look like they agree. Just play ball and compete. I don’t see these players ENJOYING competition. “Don’t let the pressure of competition outweigh the pleasure of competition”.
    Dylan, you say MAAR isn’t ready, and I know Belein sees him everyday in practice, but I’m so disappointed he didn’t get more minutes. I mean he checks into the game and makes a play. Maybe give him a chance in the second half? His size, driving, and defense are all things this team desperately could have used last night. Sure he would have made some mistakes, but it would have been a changeup worth trying IMO. Wish Belein would walk the walk when it comes to developing the bench.

  • Anthony Maceri

    I think belien should play two bigs with biefeldt getting some time at the wind spot. Chatman shouldn’t play at all right now he is a negative every time he touches the ball he is way to indecisive and never just attacks the rim. I also wouldn’t be opposed to Dawkins taking his minutes to give him more of an extended look

    • Vince

      This. The 4 is a key concern. I’m pretty sure Beilein is not happier than you or me with our production at the four. Problem is the alternatives don’t seem too viable: max is too slow to defend on the perimeter, Dawkins is too small for boxing out/rebounding and may not yet familiar with defensive rotations. I was hoping to see some DJ at the four but he also seems quite raw and lost on D.

      But if Chatman is continuing to struggle it isn’t a bad idea to let others have some runs, provided they bring it in practice.

      • Chris De Sana

        Not sure Dawkins is too small especially since he is a far superior athlete than Kam.

  • robpollard

    Gonna be a l-o-n-g season. Hopefully up & down, but if they lose to Zona and SMU, look out.

    Also: just looked at GRIII’s NBA stats for the first time this year. Averaging 1.9pts a game and 6 mins for a 4-16 team. Frustrating that he could have stayed here and helped this team (a lot) and likely put himself in a better situation long-term for his pro career, but oh well.

    • A State Fan

      He would not be in a better position this June than he was last June. For a player hoping to be drafted on upside, the worst thing you can be is an older player. He wanted to go, he got paid, be happy for him.

      • robpollard

        Again, look where he is at. 12th man on a bad team, playing very little, getting paid 2nd round money. While there are no guarantees, a very good year as the leader of a UM team (which would have been his role this year) could have gotten him into the first round and (potentially) on to a better team, as he likely would have been a late first rounder (where better teams draft). If he wanted to leave with NBA teams betting on his upside, it would have been better to leave as a freshman. After his sophomore year, the reason he got drafted so late is he had shown there were some concerns with his game — he could addressed those with a really good junior year.

        I’m not mad at him. In fact, I’m glad he stayed on the T-Wolves roster (which was touch & go) and got a contract. It’s just frustrating.

        • GTFOmycourt

          I disagree. At his rate of development, every year he waited would likely have reduced his odds of getting drafted.

          • Vince

            Well guess we would never know. Hard to argue against he would have gone higher after freshmen year, but Rob also made a fair point GR3 might just progressed like Hardaway had in his junior year and gone first round or at least be more ready for the League if he stayed as (one of the) the alpha dog.

            Man we really could use GR3 big time this year. Hope he continue to develop his game with T-wolf and have a long pro career.

        • A State Fan

          A “really good year” puts him in the mid 20s instead of the early 30s in draft position. Having an “average year” (13pts, 6-7 rebs), puts him at the end of the second round. That’s a huge risk.

          College fans don’t want to believe it/understand it, but the NBA wants kids young because it’s best for their development if they play basketball all the time. And the draft is a lottery anyways, so you want the ticket that gives you the biggest payout, which is a young athletic player.

        • mikey_mac

          T-Wolves were a double-edged sword as a landing spot for GR3 … Bad enough roster that he could stick at the end of it, but incredibly deep at his position, with both rookies and well-paid vets in his way.
          I’m just glad he’s seeing the floor at all.

  • KG

    The better team and coaching staff last night won.

  • Amaizeman

    The last two games have been painful. However, I trust the coaching staff, Beilein and team have shown that they can develop an impressive team. Lots of season left.

  • Chris De Sana

    Well gang it really comes down to the fact that we are going to play like a team that has no Seniors and starts two freshman, two Sophomores and a Junior. Some games will be better than others but hoping they all are learning experiences that we can build on for the future, which at this point means probably not going to the NCAA this year unless of course we get lightening in a bottle eventually.

    Our 4 leaders (Walton, Caris, Spike & Zak) are good players but too heavily reliant on the 3 ball, so once again our improvement trajectory stands squarely on the shoulders of our young BIGS. This is going to be frustrating to watch as none of them are polished at either end of the court to demand minutes from the other.

    At this point I really feel some experimenting is needed, that should include more minutes for Dawkins and MAAR as well as trying a multitude of two BIG line ups with mostly Doyle on the low block while rotating Doyle and Max in the high post for mid range jumpers. That shot seems to be there against most zones we just have to hit it.

    The bigger problem is how do we protect the rim on defense with these young BIGS? If we go with two of them fouls could be a major issue…………. ughhhhhhhhhhhh I just do not like the options in the end. Maybe go smaller and up tempo? But that takes stops………… just more challenges than answers.

  • Corperryale

    I really hope that Jaylen Brown and Derrick Thornton haven’t read any sports-related websites since last Friday.

  • ChathaM

    The general lack of high level athleticism is what really stands out over the past 2 games. Cory Alexander made a nice point during the broadcast when he noted that all 3 of last year’s defections were a surprise to the coaching staff (Robinson and McGary being more year-end surprises, with Stauskas rising from a guaranteed 3 year player to a 1st round pick in a 2 month time frame). It’s tough to keep the athleticism rolling form year to year when something like that happens to your roster. Granted, UM was in the hunt for some top level athletes, as others noted. In any case, what we’ve seen thus far is that Chatman is not particularly athletic, and Irvin’s quickness hasn’t really improved even with the increased strength. Aside from Walton and Levert, do we have anyone who can consistently create their own shot? That’s a big problem.

    Every year, in every sport, there are teams that seem to play just well enough to lose. We aren’t yet at the point where this team’s personality is fully formed, but I worry that this might be us this year. From the late lead that got away against Villanova, to the 10 point lead that evaporated against Syracuse (with the win salvaged in large part by Syracuse’s inability to take care of the ball, to scoring 70 on Saturday but allowing 72, to allowing only 45 last night but scoring only 42, I worry. Maybe all of that is just a function of collective talent, though. I don’t know.

    I don’t like the narrative that Beilein was outcoached. There were clearly adjustments made at halftime to try and better attack the EMU zone. Sometimes, players simply have to get it done. The outcome of games comes down to the players far more often that it does the coaches.

    That was the worst I’ve seen Spike play. He just wasn’t himself last night, for whatever reason.

    I think we’ll be physically overmatched at Arizona.

    • John

      The only question I would ask is if the players that are playing are not getting it done, why not see if somebody else can. We have seen Beilein be stubborn in terms of just not playing certain players, no matter what. I get it that Rawk and Dawk may not be “ready” in terms of playing error free basketball at this point, but play them a little bit. Caris and Irvin look tired, they need some help, and I am pretty sure they thought they were going to have some.

      • ChathaM

        It’s a good question. I always assume that playing time is based primarily on practice outcomes, so I don’t tend to think that guys who aren’t playing should play more. But, if crisis mode is reached, then trying some new combinations isn’t a bad idea.

        • John

          But practice outcomes can be completely not indicative of performance in games. Some guys are not practice players, they need the lights. If it is not an effort issue in practice I really don’t see the reasoning in not at least seeing what you have. Rawkman was not perfect in his limited time last night but you knew he was on the floor, he made his presence known and he drilled a tough shot. I distinctly thought at that moment, “yes please, let’s see a little more of him,” and then he sat the entire second half. I don’t get that, eventually Beilein is going to have so sink or swim with the players he recruited to play these roles.

          • ChathaM

            It’s true that some players shine brighter in games than during practice (insert Allen Iverson joke here). What I’m suggesting is that, given the difficulty in reads in many of Beilein’s sets, some of the guys who haven’t played much may not be at the point where he feels they can be trusted in a game setting. The same principle holds on the defensive end. If they aren’t ready to fit into the scheme, then it’s tough to play them for an extended period. Although, in last night’s game, playing against a zone, every player would have been on a much similar page than in a man-to-man game. I guess what it comes down to is that I trust the coaching staff to use the players appropriately.

      • Vince

        I think Beilein admitted he should have been developing the bench a bit more in his NJIT post game. With current rotation players in a funk/tired/confidence crisis or whatever, hope Dawkin and Rawkman (and DJ when he return) will get more runs and we can find more athleticism in our rotation before conference season.

  • MGoTweeter

    First off, congrats to EMU. That was a masterful job scouting and implementing a game plan. Syracuse’s 2-3 tended to extend out to a 3-2 much of the game against Michigan which made it a little easier to attack the middle off the dribble or the pass. EMU really extended out to a 4-1 especially in the first half (thought they dropped back a bit on the opposite wing more in the second half, but that might have just been my perspective from my seats). That extension made it very hard for Michigan to attack the same way they did against Syracuse, and the Michigan coaches could never adjust.

    That leads to my second thought, while I thought the NJIT game was largely on the players not showing up, I thought this game was largely on the coaching. Obviously the players missed shots and committed critical turnovers, but that was a team that looked lost at how to attack that zone. Michigan’s coaches either failed to adjust effectively or failed to get the players to implement those adjustments.

    With the way that EMU extended, I was shocked that Michigan never tried to screen the center in the zone or at least occupy him with a post up. That should have happened every time the ball swung sides coupled with the backside wing cutting behind the zone. Michigan should have gotten lobs whenever they wanted or the backside wing cutting through to the short corner after the ball swung.

    Instead Michigan opted to basically matchup on the perimeter for much of the game and hope one of the guards could make a play on his own. That was a critical error especially considering the lineup that Michigan relys on. Not only is it very difficult for either Spike or Walton to make plays over the top of the zone, it also causes problems in ball rotation. Those guys often have to be crafty about how they pass the ball on the perimeter because of their size, which means getting quick ball rotation from wing to wing is not going to happen most possessions.

    We all knew that this season was going to be a bit of a roller coaster. Obviously no one expected the low point to be quite this low, but the potential is there for a big bounce bacl. I think it is a really good thing that Michigan’s next game is Arizona. They have no choice but to move on and get ready to battle a very good team. Motivation and effort should not be a factor at all and Michigan won’t be seeing a lot of zone.

    • Vince

      As much as I hate to think we are outcoached, EMU did play excellent D and the high wing pressure combined with their quickness totally confused our guards, and probably caught our staff off-guarded. I keep hoping for more baseline actions or a lob/oops and then realized how much I miss GR3’s athleticism.

      Here’s to hoping the roller coaster ride will have more ups than down this year!

    • Chris De Sana

      I actually thought there were plenty of times both Donnal and Doyle should have got the ball in the post, do they score, fail or kick it out who knows but they were open often.

  • GTFOmycourt

    I have not seen the last 2 games… But I noticed from past games that there is a. total absence of of reliable high-ball-screen-and-roll. What is the problem? Are the ball screens set by Donnal and Doyle horrible? It seems like Caris would be great (like Stauskas) at hitting a shot, penetrating, finding the big guy rolling to th hoop, or kicking it out to an open three point shooter. The games I have seen we basically just do a bunch of one on one stuff and it is kind of boring to watch and not effective. Did Morgan set the most amazing screens ever and are we unable to run what was, in previous years our “bread and butter”?

    • MGoTweeter

      I think this is one of the bigger reasons for the struggles on O so far this year. The pick n roll has really been the basis of the offense for the last several years. This year the team is really struggling to find that reliable option within the flow of the offense.

      As to why they have not been able to get the pick n roll going, I think there are many factors contributing. The biggest is the lack of a great all around playmaker. Burke and Stauskas were so dynamic with it because they both could shoot lights out, get to the rim, hit a pullup, and they were great at reading defenses and making the right pass. Levert has some of those skills but his passing off the dribble is not close to where those guys were at. Walton seems like he could be an option but he has not really shown the ability to be a great deep shooter off the dribble nor consistently make the right read when penetrating.

      The second reason is the play of the big guys. Morgan and McGary were both above average athletes and both possessed good hands. Not to mention Morgan had five years of experience running the pick n roll and McGary did not really take off with it until the NCAA tournament. Donnal and Doyle are both still inexperienced and neither has the footwork yet to make that hard roll off the screen. Plus their hands are still a work in progress.

      The third reason that jumps out to me is the spacing issue. To be effective in the pick n roll, the guys not involved have to know what they are doing and how to space the floor. With so many young guys and guys playing in new spots, Michigan has really struggled to get the right spacing within the normal flow of the offense. It is a whole other step to get spacing in the pick n roll game.

      The good news is that the team is going to improve and they do have a guy in Levert who is close enough to becoming that kind of dominant all around player, that we could see the pick n roll again become a weapon later in the year.

      • mikey_mac

        Biggest issue, IMO, is our fives have no idea how to effectively screen at this point. You can’t roll or pop unless your screen gives the ballhandler an edge on his man, drawing your man away from you. That is not happening at all yet. Setting useful picks is a difficult skill to acquire. I think Doyle has the body and attitude to do it well, though, given some time.

  • psickert

    I sure hope that recruits don’t read these comments. Like i said this team will be just fine. Don’t get upset at me Being optimistic. I’m not giving on.this team before the season ends. We beat some teams and played a top ten team well. People forget the good and ficus on the negative. Sometimes i hate reading the comments, especially when the people who aren’t regulars make a account just to post negativity when we lose but when we win they never show up. It’s very frustrating to see a loyal fan. Last years lost some early games and bounced back and there is no reason this team can’t Stop panicking geez. Also please do not respond to me with attempt to bait me to argue. Im guess that i’m a loyal fan, i suppose. Reguardless. I have said nothing negative . i just bleed blue and i am confident in the players and the coaching staff. I guess i’m going to have to stop reading the comments section.

    • Chris De Sana

      I hope a BIG reads my comments because there is a spot waiting for one who can play both ends in the low post. The rest of the pieces are readily available for that player to be successful.

      • AMiddy2

        Jon Teske

        • Chris De Sana

          Class of 2016 right, that is a longgggg wait

          • AMiddy2

            Can’t wait for him though, 2016 could be a special special class

  • CZGuy99

    It’s the beginning of a long season with plenty of time for growth and development. No panic here. This is a great coach and coaching staff that has shown what they can do.

  • mikey_mac

    Great defensive performance by EMU. Would have been great to get a non-zone team as a bounce-back game. This just has to be a bad blow for their confidence, with UA next.