Game 6: Mount St. Mary’s at Michigan Recap

Andrew Kahn

[Editor’s note: Andrew filled in with recap duties tonight. I’ll chime in tomorrow with Five Key Plays. – Dylan]

Michigan sports fans will not remember this day fondly, but not because of the men’s basketball team. The Wolverines beat Mount St. Mary’s 64-47 at Crisler Center on Saturday night.

Michigan (5-1) bounced back from its first loss of the season with a less-than-dominant performance against a Mount St. Mary’s team that fell to 1-6. The Wolverines went on a 25-4 run to close the first half and led 33-16 at the break. And while they pushed the lead to 19 halfway through the second, five minutes later the margin was just eight. Michigan ended the game on an 11-2 run.

The inability to turn this game into a laugher was perhaps the reason John Beilein didn’t give his freshmen more minutes. Xavier Simpson played eight minutes and Ibi Watson just two; Jon Teske didn’t see the floor. Zak Irvin (14 points) played all 40 minutes and Derrick Walton, Jr. (12 points) played 36. Those two seniors were among three Michigan players who reached double digits scoring (the other, Moritz Wagner, had 13).

“All the sudden you go to the bench…as you can see [the deficit] can go to eight [points] like that,” Beilein said. He praised Watson’s and Simpson’s effort in practice and said he’ll continue to “bring them along.” He said he hopes not to have a similar minute distribution in January or February.

The Thanksgiving break crowd was sparse at Crisler. On television, you could hear the players and coaches much more than typical. That’s no excuse for Michigan’s slow start.

“The Mount,” a Northeast Conference school in Emmitsburg, Maryland, played loose throughout, attempting several shots you’d more commonly see on the playground. Junior Robinson was the star for the Mountaineers. The smallest player in Division I at 5-foot-5, Robinson’s quickness and long-range shooting gave Michigan problems. He finished with 21 points, shooting 3-of-8 from two and 5-of-6 from three, including one from right in front of where the head coach sits on the bench.

Robinson and fellow guard Elijah Long (13 points) combined for 34 of Mount St. Mary’s 47 points.

“It was shades of New Jersey Tech where one guy can just make miraculous shots and keep them in the game,” Beilein said. “They were a bigger challenge for us than you’d think.”

Beilein said he thinks being 5-foot-5 and not, say, six inches taller, is beneficial, as you have a low dribble and can get underneath defenders. Michigan needed to adapt to seeing Robinson, who Beilein compared to Spud Webb, live.


Offensively, the Wolverines shot well from beyond the arc (11 for 27; 40 percent) but it is somewhat troubling they only attempted six free throws — and two of those were because of a late technical foul. Granted, the Mountaineers shot just five free throws. The Wolverines grabbed 11 offensive rebounds (they missed 31 shots) and allowed the Mountaineers to grab just three of their 30 misses.

Duncan Robinson played 23 minutes off the bench and used his shot fake more than we’ve typically seen. He hit 2-of-5 from deep and 1-of-4 from inside the arc, finishing with eight points. Wagner hit three triples and took his man off the bounce a few times. DJ Wilson wasn’t as big a factor as he’s been previously this season; he played just 17 minutes, partly because he picked up two fouls in the game’s first five minutes.

Michigan faces what figures to be a much stiffer test on Wednesday, when it hosts Virginia Tech in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.

  • Chezaroo

    Irvin plays 40, and Walton 36 minutes. So much for Ibi and X getting any chance to grow against the cupcakes.

    • Wayman Britt

      I agree would have liked to see the freshman including Teske get more minutes. However, I am not sure Ibi is ready for college basketball. He has only played a little the last few games, but the game was way to fast for him. Not sure he is ready.

      • Champswest

        But, we will need him to play minutes this year. Will he get ready by practice alone or does he need game minutes?

  • robpollard

    If we need Irvin and Walton to play those kind of minutes against freaking Mount St Mary’s, we are in a world of hurt.

    Walton getting burned out cost the team last year, yet here he is playing 36 minutes. That’s unbelievable; Simpson is good enough, right now, to make sure Walton isn’t playing more than 30-32 minutes.

    If Ibi isn’t good enough to play now, then Beilein needs to figure out some sort of “twin towers” lineup that can work for 5 or so minutes a game, and get Irvin out of there for a bit against the cupcakes. That also might get Teske on the floor (again, something that needs to happen against teams like this). Or if that’s not an option, play Walton/MAAR/Robinson/Wilson/Donnal for a spell — whatever, figure something out.

    I am more bummed out by this win than I am by the loss against S Carolina.

    • MAZS

      The minutes are very troubling. I’d rather lose another game or two in November and December, and have fresh players come the B10 season–plus presumably more experienced subs. Plus, Beilein waits later than almost every other coach–save Coach K–to sub in at the end of a game.

      • I’d love too perform an experiment there and see how many people would rather lose to Mt. St. Mary’s and give Zak Irvin 7 more minutes of rest :-)

        • mikey_mac

          Yeah, but that’s a strawman experiment … Unbelievable that Irvin is playing 40 min in a game where UM lead by double digits for significant portions. Further, note how many PFs DJ Wilson ended the game with … tell me why he played only 17 minutes.

        • MAZS

          there were minutes avalable at the end–and I was obviously speaking macro, not micro the MSM game.

  • bobohle

    I’m more surprised Teske isn’t getting playing time. He’s looked pretty good for the few minutes he gets. Could it be Beilein doesn’t trust freshmen period. Remember two years ago before all the injuries hit ,MAAR and Dawkins seldom saw the floor then was forced to use them when he had to.

    • MAZS

      Trey, Nik, GRIII, among many others, suggests that is not the issue.

      • A little of both. Most of the Michigan freshmen that played the most minutes didn’t really have anyone in front of them, certainly not a senior in front of them.

        • bobohle

          Thanks for backing me up. I was about to state there wasn’t an upper classman in front of them. They had to play.

        • UMHoopsFan

          I agree that it’s a little of both, but Nik had Vogrich, you could say Trey had Stu, etc. They were also Trey and Nik. Mitch did play a bunch behind Morgan and even Horford for much of the year – but then played a ton when he was ready.

  • Fab 5 Legends

    didnt watch the game, but from the sound of the comments/article…we were not as impressive as we should have been…VT will be an interesting test, Buzz Williams had a decent team last year, im glad Wagner got more FGA, i think he and Donnal should get more touches…we need a nice W against an ACC opponent…Go Blue!

  • It is clear Beilein prioritizes wins over developing players via game action.