Five Key Plays: Minnesota at Michigan

Alejandro Zúñiga

The Michigan basketball team defended home court Saturday afternoon with a come-from-behind, 62-57 victory against Minnesota. Ricky Doyle had the big play late, but we break down how the Wolverines got there in Five Key Plays.

1) Minnesota attacks Michigan off the dribble

After the game, John Beilein said the Golden Gophers were quicker than the Wolverines, and Carlos Morris was among the biggest headaches Michigan faced all night. The guard tallied a team-high nine points in the second half as Minnesota built a lead after the break.

Five minutes into the half, he went coast-to-coast in transition after a steal, scoring on a finger-roll while drawing a foul from Derrick Walton. The Gophers’ next time down the floor, Morris got free in the corner, received a pass, backed down Caris LeVert and then beat him with a slick spin move.

Then, a simple ball screen and pick-and-roll action gave Morris a moment of separation from Derrick Walton. The Minnesota guard kept the ball and converted a tough layup over Mark Donnal.

When Morris wasn’t scoring off the dribble, the Gophers had another contributor in Andre Hollins. The first cut of the clip shows the guard blowing by Zak Irvin for a floater, a play made possible because Michigan had collapsed around DeAndre Mathieu in the paint.

And with 11 minutes to play, the Gophers simply cleared out for Nate Mason on Spike Albrecht, and Mason drove in for a layup through contact.

This was rock bottom for Michigan as the Wolverines had fallen down by nine points mid-way through the second half and needed a shift. Shortly afterward, Michigan began relying heavily on its 1-3-1 zone — “out of desperation and foul trouble,” as Beilein would say — to help slow down Minnesota’s attack off the dribble.

2) 1-3-1 zone keys comeback run

The Wolverines’ first defensive possession using the 1-3-1 in the second half resulted in an open three by Mason. But after a timeout on the court and a pair of Walton free throws, a crucial sequence turned momentum in Michigan’s favor.

Minnesota attacked the zone well, using fast, sharp passes to get the ball to Joey King in the corner. There, he had two options: Either a feed to Mason on the perimeter or a delivery to a seemingly-open Maurice Walker in the paint. King chose the latter, but Doyle and Albrecht cut in front of the pass for a steal.

Walton got the ball in transition, using a slick crossover to blow by Mason, and he lobbed to Irvin for the alley-oop.

Then, the Gophers committed a careless turnover, as Mathieu dribbled into a trap and threw a cross-court pass behind Morris and out of bounds. After a timeout, Walton fed Doyle on the pick-and-roll, and the freshman center drew a foul, finished inside and banked in the free throw as the Wolverines stormed back.

“They are a pretty good passing team,” Beilein said, “but in that 1-3-1 zone, it can spook people sometimes. I can tell you one team it doesn’t spook: Our scout team. They kill us every day — every day. But you could get a turnover or two.

“Those two turnovers back-to-back? That was big.”

3) Walton three-pointer gives Michigan the lead

The Wolverines finally retook the lead with 3:30 to play thanks to Walton’s third three-pointer of the half, but the look was created by LeVert.

LeVert got a bit of dribble penetration near the baseline on Hollins, and the Michigan guard then spun and cut into the paint. Meanwhile, Morris lost Walton on the perimeter thanks to a great off-ball screen from Ricky Doyle. Morris is caught watching the ball as Walton flares into the corner and LeVert makes the perfect read.

Walton nailed the catch-and-shoot trey, and Michigan never trailed again.

4) Caris LeVert makes clutch plays late

Nursing a two-point lead with less than three minutes left, Michigan essentially had an empty possession, failing to get any open looks.

With 10 seconds on the shot clock, LeVert got the ball and asked for a ball screen. Minnesota switched, and Joey King fell for the junior’s pump-fake. LeVert leaned into King to draw contact as he fired a three-pointer, and the referees called the bailout foul. The Michigan guard hit all three free throws to stretch the Wolverines’ lead.

Then, after Minnesota cut its deficit to two and had the opportunity to take the lead with a minute remaining, LeVert came up big once more. This time, he simply stepped between a pass from Hollins to Mathieu — a surprisingly nonchalant delivery in that stage of the game — for his fourth steal of the afternoon.

“Those turnovers were inexplicable,” said Minnesota coach Richard Pitino. “… We didn’t allow ourselves to win the game.”

Michigan then called timeout, setting up the dramatic conclusion.

5) Walton-to-Doyle alley-oop seals third Big Ten win

Beilein wanted the ball in Walton’s hands, and the sophomore guard delivered. Walton, who came to Michigan as a pass-first guard, delivered a pinpoint feed to Doyle to clinch the victory.

The play was a routine pick-and-roll from just beyond the high post. Doyle set the screen on Matthieu, forcing Walker to step toward Walton. By the time Walker noticed Doyle sprinting to the rim, it was too late. Walton fed the center with a one-handed lob, and Doyle finished with a dunk despite being undercut by Walker.

It was the second time Walton and Doyle connected on the pick-and-roll in the second half, as the duo scored from a similar look as part of their run after switching to the 1-3-1. (See the last clip in the second video.) But, according to Beilein, it was the first time the play has ever finished with a lob and dunk.

“Right before we were going out on the court, D-Walt says, ‘Rick, look for the lob,’ ” Doyle said. “So I was expecting it as soon as he threw it up.”

Michigan had yet to miss a free throw in the second half, and it hit all but one to ice the game.

  • NorthernBlue

    Great execution on that lob. Awesome no look as well. Walton played great. Need more of that from him, know he is capable of playing that way most games. Loved his pull up in transition. He is a very good shooter.

  • Wayman Britt

    Besides getting rebounds and rolling to the hoops after pics, Doyle is even doing a nice job of setting off ball screens. I love his toughness.

  • Mattski

    Just noticed that there are two days left in Dylan’s fund-raising drive, and donated my tiny offering. Couple more years before my wife and I are out of the financial woods and I can offer more, but I really appreciate this place. Everyone else who loves the site please get in on the action!

  • ChathaM

    A big impact of play #3 was getting Morris out of the game. Pitino mentioned in his presser that defence is a real issue with Morris, and he was completely lost on that play.

    The baseline official did an excellent job of stepping up and making the call on the Levert 3-pointer in play #4. That call is not in his area, but given the sketchy angle the official beside the play had, I was impressed that he was willing to make a call that had to be made. I have no doubt that the primary official thanked him for that after the game.

    I’ll echo Mattski’s comment re: donating to the site. I’m sure that any donation, no matter the size, would be appreciated.

  • sane1

    Doyle was fouled by Walker on that lob dunk.

  • Champswest

    Doyle is starting to remind me a lot of McGary in his freshman year development. If he keeps improving and gets more comfortable in the offense, our team offense could become pretty potent.

  • DingoBlue

    The Doyle move on the last clip of the second vid is one of the most impressive to me. Doyle may be able to stake his name as the biggest, most skilled big Michigan’s had in some time. He doesn’t have the energy or athleticism of McGary when he was here, but if he’s a four year upgrade to JoMo, that’s pretty great for the program.

  • Mattski

    About half of the guys that fans wrote off are back in better health now. I still think we’re not close to seeing what this team can do. But definitely getting a sense. If Zak can locate his shooting touch. . .