Finally, a win.
The last three weeks have been brutal for Michigan basketball players, coaches and fans. Bad enough that an otherwise innocuous non-conference win against one of the worst teams in Division I is enough to provide a confidence boost.
Michigan just needed to win a game – against anyone. The Wolverines weren’t perfect, but they managed to take the necessary first step in the right direction.
Michigan jumped on Coppin State early, opening up an 11-0 lead, and was able to stretch its lead to 21 points in the first half and 27 points in the second.
Things got a bit sloppy at times in the second half as the Wolverines inched closer to Christmas break – most players will have their first chance to go home since before the August trip to Italy – but the game was always out hand and Michigan capped the night with Austin Hatch’s first official points in a Michigan jersey.
Coppin State is the worst defensive team that Michigan will face this year – the Eagles have the worst eFG% defense in college basketball — but it had to feel good for Michigan players to see the ball end up in the hoop — at least in the first half.
Michigan racked up a 71 eFG% in the first half (and just a 36 eFG%) in the second. For the game, U-M’s 54.6 eFG% was its third-best of the season and was desperately needed after its three worst shooting nights of the year. The catalyst was two-point shooting – something the Wolverines haven’t done well all season. The Wolverines shot 63% on twos (and just 31% on threes) and outscored CSU 30-12 in points in the paint.
Michigan looked sharp, focused and, finally, loose in the first half. Even when the shots stopped falling in the second, the Wolverines were still aggressive and attacking offensively and able to create quality opportunities. They lived at the free throw line for the game, but were just 14-of-26 (54%) at the stripe.
That being said, the one major weakness was that Michigan still looked uncomfortable against a 2-3 zone. The Wolverines promptly turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions right in the teeth of the zone. Michigan has had one of the best zone offenses in the country over the last two seasons, but is ranked in just the 30th percentile this season.
Michigan’s defense held Coppin State to right around .8 points per possession in both halves and did a good job of cleaning up the defensive glass against the undersized Eagles. The numbers didn’t even do Michigan’s overall defensive performance justice as CSU made 7 of its final 10 shots, many of which came after the game was already decided and reserves were being shuffled in.
Michigan’s non-conference slate can be summed up as nothing better than disappointing. The Wolverines suffered two bad losses – at home to NJIT and EMU – and were shellacked in Tucson before letting a chance to bounce back against SMU slip out of their hands. But eight days of rest will be a welcome relief for this team, as will starting fresh with a 0-0 Big Ten record.
- Ricky Doyle: Michigan clearly went into this game with the plan to force feed the ball to its big men and Doyle was up for the task, playing against a very undersized front line. Doyle finished with a career-high 16 points on 6-7 shooting and should have had an even bigger game had he not gone just 4-9 from the charity stripe. He caught the ball very well overall and finished almost every opportunity he had. I loved the way he ran the floor after grabbing a defensive board late in the first half and he was rewarded with a pass and a pair of free throws.
- Derrick Walton: Walton just loves playing against Coppin State. The Michigan point guard finished with a career high 9 assists, topping his previous career high of 7, which he set last year against the Eagles. Walton played a solid all around game (adding 9 points and five boards) and he made a number of solid passes to bigs and finishers around the basket rather than just spot-up shooters and transition dimes.
- Zak Irvin: Irvin probably put the ball on the floor with a purpose more times this game than he did in the previous three combined. It was obviously a point of emphasis, and CSU had no one to match him, but it was good to see him make those more aggressive moves. Beilein praised his overall performance afterward (7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals), but it’s worth noting that those numbers came after his hot start from three (3-7 for the game). I’d still love to see Irvin make that peripheral impact and effort when his shot isn’t falling.
- Mark Donnal: Donnal has showed some very positive offensive flashes in the last several games. He’s been more aggressive (I loved seeing him whistled for an offensive foul for putting his shoulder into someone) and he’s shooting the ball well.
- Kameron Chatman: This was a performance Kam Chatman needed entering Big Ten play. He gave quality minutes, knocked down a few jumpers and even finished a cut at the basket. For some reason Chatman loves shooting from the left corner, which is unique because he plays primarily on the right side of the floor.
- Caris LeVert: LeVert has now played four straight below-average offensive games and while he’ll never admit it, the results and the wrap on his hand implies that he’s dealing with an injury. He’s just 4 of his last 17 from three-point range and finished with a pedestrian 8 points on Monday night, but he did grab eight boards and hand out three assists.
- Spike Albrecht: Albrecht is nursing some sort of undisclosed lower body injury and he doesn’t look like he’s playing at full strength or full confidence. He missed both three-point attempts and had a bad turnover early against the CSU zone. He’s starting to dribble himself into trouble too often offensively and the offense actually seems to be stagnating when he’s on the floor — something we’ve rarely said about him over the last two years.
- Max Bielfeldt: Bielfeldt is giving Michigan very little. He scored 1 point in six minutes of playing time and was 0-1 from the floor (a missed three) with three turnovers.
- Aubrey Dawkins: Dawkins had a nice floater along the baseline in the first half, but he just can’t find his three-point shot. His form looks good, and he was touted as a shooter all summer, but he just can’t make a triple. Dawkins was 0-3 from long range on the evening and is now 2-11 from long range on the season.
- Austin Hatch: There’s nothing better than seeing Hatch score and more importantly watching his teammates reactions to his every move on the court.