Game 14: Michigan at Iowa Recap

Dylan Burkhardt
on

Iowa out-dueled Michigan on Saturday afternoon, handing the Wolverines another loss at Carver-Hawkeye Arena where they haven’t won in six years

Michigan got a career performance out of DJ Wilson — 28 points, 14 rebounds and six assists — but it just couldn’t get enough stops or big shots down the stretch to escape Iowa City with a win.

The Wolverines trailed throughout much of the first half, failing to find any traction or consistency from three-point range, but managed to remain close. Trailing by just three at the break, Michigan was able to extend a modest lead in the second, leading by as many as seven points midway through the period. But Iowa fought back and was able to force the game into overtime where Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Peter Jok and freshman guard Jordan Bohannon were just too much for Michigan to handle down the stretch.

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Michigan’s offense was very good despite some cold shooting early on. The Wolverines scored 1.17 points per possession, made 56% of their twos and hit 12 threes. That’s the kind of performance that should win you games 90% of the time, but the game isn’t play on one end of the floor. Michigan only turned the ball over on 11.3% of its possessions (it’s painful when you can remember every turnover, but it also means that you didn’t turn the ball over much), but it also couldn’t get to the free throw line.

There was a five or six minute span in the second half where everything was clicking for Michigan as it was grabbing defensive rebounds, pushing the tempo and finding open guys. The early penetration and kick game was great, but it was a fleeting moment and something that would be good to see more of going forward. Overall, the ball moved well (21 assists on 34 makes) and the offense did its job, the defense just couldn’t keep up.

The real story of this game is that Michigan’s defense wasn’t good enough to win a Big Ten game, let alone on the road. You can’t give up 1.22 points per possession and hope to beat people consistently. Iowa undoubtedly hit some very difficult contested shots, especially early on, but stops are the name of the game. We’ve spent weeks and months talking about Michigan improving defensively, but this wasn’t that. Michigan gave up 1.2 points per possession four times last year: vs. Xavier, vs. Michigan State, at Iowa and at Purdue — those games should all resonate as awful memories.

In the first half, the story line was Iowa’s hot shooting, but eventually Michigan seemed to wear down on the defensive glass. Iowa rebounded 36% of its misses and scored 15 second chance points (13 in the second half). Finishing those late defensive possessions not only would have resulted in more stops, it would have also give U-M’s offense better opportunities on the other end of the floor.

Michigan’s inability to close this game out — it led by 5 with 6:26 to play — is also troubling after the Virginia Tech debacle. Iowa made some big plays, but there were definite teaching moments down the stretch. Not getting a shot off at the end of regulation is inexcusable and the fact that DJ Wilson took Michigan’s last two three-point attempts, despite his hot start, is sub-optimal as well. Defensively, the inability to grab one or two more loose balls down the stretch or not try to cheat for a steal, might have made all the difference. Instead, Iowa hit the big shots and Michigan is 0-1 in league play.

One Big Ten road loss doesn’t ruin a season, but it’s tough to stomach the ones that are right there for the taking. There’s now significant pressure for Michigan to win its next two home games (Penn State and Maryland) before another top-100 road game at Illinois. The Illini, like Iowa, are ranked in the 70s and will be a tough out on the road, but that’s the kind of game that an NCAA Tournament team needs to win at least half the time.

Player Bullets:

  • DJ Wilson: Wilson played a career game, finishing with 28 points on 11-of-18 (4-8 3pt) shooting with 14 rebounds and six assists. He provided early energy around the rim with a few putbacks, hit a mid-range jumper, then started knocking in threes. He carried Michigan throughout the entire first half. I do think that he fell in love with the three-point shot in the second (and overtime) a bit too much (and when he misses he misses way off), but he also passed the ball very well when Iowa went to its zone defense looks. Wilson isn’t going to give Michigan 28 and 14 every night, but he can play with that sort of energy (6 offensive rebounds) and will be one of Michigan’s most valuable players.
  • Zak IrvinIrvin finished with 12 points on 5-of-15 (2-of-6 3pt) shooting with 6 assists. He passed the ball very well in the ball screen game early, but started to force the issue late with a couple of costly turnovers. He also hit some big shots down the stretch that kept Michigan in it. I thought he had some good moments against Peter Jok defensively, but the Iowa senior is a tough cover. The one that will sting is trying to jump a pass late and missing, which led to Jok’s game-winning triple.
  • Moritz WagnerWagner played another great game offensively, rolling to the hoop and even throwing down a big transition dunk. He scored on most of his post isos and played well defensively as well. A pair of late cheap fouls going for rebounds really cost him both in playing time and mindset, because he seemed to play a bit different after those fouls on both ends of the floor. Michigan would also probably like him to grab more than 2 defensive rebounds in 35 minutes.
  • Duncan Robinson: Robinson gave Michigan a great 36 minute performance without great three-point shooting. He made three shots inside the arc, handed out three assists and grabbed four rebounds. He continues to outplay Abdur-Rahkman and the new versatility in his game is impressive. On the other hand, 3-of-9 three-point shooting is good but he used to be automatic. He’s getting wide open looks and if he can hit 4 or 5 of those 9 attempts, it’s a different game. Nicholas Baer gave Duncan all he could handle defensively, but I think that Robinson is learning how to use his hands more effectively to make up for his shortcomings on that side of the ball.
  • Derrick WaltonWalton had some very good moments and some extremely frustrating moments. He finished the game with 13 points on 5-of-13 (3-8 3pt) shooting with 5 rebounds and three assists, but Michigan needs its senior point guard to be more consistent. To not get a shot off at the end of the game is frustrating (although I probably would have taken a timeout) and he had a few other giveaway possessions (missed front end, quick trigger NBA threes, turnover against the press) that Michigan just can’t afford. On the other hand, he did finally heat up from three and made a few big plays late to keep U-M in the game.
  • Muhammad-Ali Abdur-RahkmanAbdur-Rahkman picked up two early fouls and only played 8 minutes in the loss. Michigan needed Duncan Robinson’s shooting and Abdur-Rahkman didn’t do much to prove that he deserved a spot in the rotation when he was on the floor. Of course, his struggles cause additional problems down the line as Sean Lonergan saw some first half action over Ibi Watson.
  • Mark DonnalDonnal made a few nice plays in his 12 minutes, but he’s falling behind Wagner. He isn’t as efficient finishing around the basket and he struggled defensively against Tyler Cook in the second half.
  • Xavier SimpsonSimpson’s first Big Ten pass was a turnover, but he made up for it with a steal on the other end. He’s limited offensively, but his active hands caused problems defensively.
  • GTFOmycourt

    JB did a poor job giving guys rest. All the starters looked exhausted before regulation ended. Irvin, Walton, and Wilson started making bad decisions because they were exhausted. In my mind that is the story of the game…. MAAR, X and Donnal should have played more even if it was just five minutes more each….two minutes rest here….two minutes rest there…and I believe we would have seen a different result….

  • Richard Wroblewski

    I want to know is simpson and watson that bad they cant crack the rotation …..or ???? Cuz im feel they can use an infusion of new blood

  • MGoTweeter

    While this result sucks and no one is happy with this game, I do think there is a big difference between this game defensively and those games you mentioned from last year. You would probably have to look pretty hard to find challenged shots in those games whereas today Michigan challenged most everything Iowa put up. There were some obvious lapses but on the whole the defense was about as sound as this group is capable of. Sometimes the other team just makes their shots.

    This game really came down to two key stretches. The couple minutes after Michigan went up by seven and the last few minutes plus ot. after Michigan got that lead, they gave up a bunch of offensive rebounds, committed several fouls (albeit questionable ones) and took a couple very wary threes without running any offense. That’s not a recipe for building nor maintaining a lead. Then late game/ot Michigan obviously had issues on offense and couldn’t force Iowa into any uncomfortable situations on the other end.

    I do agree with the people questioning the rotation. While Michigan is getting very little from everyone outside of Walton, Irvin, Duncan, Wilson and moe, they need to do a better job of running some of the other guys in for a couple minutes here and there. Just seems like there isn’t much middle ground right now with the rotation. Either Michigan rides those guys for the entire time or they end up with multiple limited guys on the floor at the same time.

    All in all I’m not disappointed with this performance. If they can replicate it throughout the big ten on the road, they will win some of these games. I’m not positive they can do so but it’s a much better performance than some of those layup line and open three after open three games we saw last year.

  • gobluemd16

    Good recap, agree with all Dylan. If Moe could rebound as well as Mark, he would be superior in pretty much all aspects of the game. A good amount of the O rebs we gave up were attributable to him. He isn’t aggressive in seeking out the ball on defensive end (which is ironic because half of his fouls come from being too aggressive trying to get off rebs).

  • Wayman Britt

    Some people will say this is only the first Big Ten game – plenty of season left, but when your team is a bubble team and you lose a very winnable game against a low team, it just puts an enormous amount of pressure to steal a game against UW, MSU, IU or Purdue, etc. later to make the tourney.

    I thought things were going to be different when we had seniors and juniors?

  • John

    Zak had a a good game while not shooting the ball very well, but that attempt to steal the ball leading to the Jok three was brutal. Also agree that JB should have called a TO on the last possession.

  • Chris De Sana

    DJ may have had his best game but it as clear at the end of the game he was less than comfy with having to take a big shot. So progress yes but knowing limitations is the key to real growth IMO.

    Zak is what Zak is….. a solid mid range player who often struggles with court vision, These struggles too often lead to late passes when the big rolls to the rim ultimately leading to a turnover or the big in a position where they struggle to finish. On defense he gambles too much, and it hurt them today.

    Moe simply needs more touches; he so often gets himself into a position on the block but the ball never gets there. He has had success driving fro the top of the key I feel his next level of improvement will only come if he gets some touches on the blocks.

    Love that Robinsons game is evolving, not crazy about the missed 3’s that seemed to be automatic last season. And his defensive effort has gotten way better, also a plus which in total should mean more minutes for him and fewer for MAAR.

    Walton has not developed as many thought; and that includes those outside of the UM fan base. The once Cousy watch list guard struggles to bet his man off the dribble all the while also struggling to be an effective on the ball defender. Those are the keys to our success; especially when they have zero post threat, we need a guard who can penetrate and create opportunity for those toeing the 3 point line.

    MAAR, just not playing well….. is it because he is well scouted and not surprising anyone anymore?

    Donnal and X both need more minutes; and when they get them do not have to make the great play just be steady.

    • ChathaM

      That is a great question re: MAAR. I wish I knew the answer.

      Walton’s on-ball defence confuses me. Sometimes (including some possessions in this game) his man makes a concerted effort to beat him off the dribble, and he is able to shut it down and turn back his man. Other times, his man easily blows past him. Maybe the fact that his man takes so many runs at him over the course of a game is an indication that opponents generally consider Walton’s on-ball defence to be a weakness. I don’t know. He has quick feet and quick hands. You’d think he could be a lock-down defender.

      • A2MIKE

        X needs to play more. Have to live through the mistakes be cause he provides two things that Walton can’take provide, vision and defense.

    • Tuff Enough

      Donnal a cupcake out there with his play..I call him prance for good reason when you watch how he plays defense. Let him go and pick up a fighter for next year. Like Indiana does a lot.

      • ChathaM

        It wasn’t a good day for Donnal; getting his shot blocked by the rim was not a good sign; but it’s easy to forget the games where he steps in and takes a couple of charges. I think he’s fine; certainly a notch below Wagner and Wilson, which is why he plays behind them; but he can, and will, contribute.

  • ChathaM

    This wasn’t as frustrating as the Va Tech game, as that one was at home, and we led for virtually the entire game before it slipped away. But, it was close. Most frustrating to me is that our fairly experienced roster couldn’t overcome a very young Iowa roster, whose best player is a senior that played “only” 34 of a possible 45 minutes. Meanwhile, our upperclassmen racked up huge minutes, and it still wasn’t enough. More rest for the bigger guns, as mentioned below, may be the answer, but I’ll be surprised if that happens. I think Beilein has zero faith in Watson or Teske.

    I felt like a timeout with 15 seconds left, with the ball, and a tie game in regulation was a no-brainer. I haven’t read Beielin’s comments yet, but it looked like the plan was to have Mo slip the ballscreen to clear out the entire right side of the floor for Walton. That could have been run more quickly and smoothly after a timeout than not. Of course, a timeout could have led to Iowa fullcourt pressure which may have blown everything up anyway. I guess I’m glad there at least was a plan, as way too many college coaches seem to say “do whatever you want” in late game situations (which is exactly what Minnesota’s plan seemed to be at the end of regulation and OT against MSU last week). So, I’m really not railing on Beielin here as much as I’m saying that a timeout would have been a better option.

    I think it’s too early to paint this as a bubble team or whatever. The offence clicked pretty well for most of the game, and Iowa probably can’t play any better than they played. It’s disturbing that one of our guys had a career game, and we still couldn’t beat a team that will likely finish in the bottom half of the conference. But, let’s see how things look in a couple of weeks.

    • Barth Applefeld

      Va. Tech was frustrating, but did you see that they beat Duke?

      • ChathaM

        I did. They’re good. It’s just more frustrating to me because we led, and played well, for 36 minutes, and 4 bad minutes cost us that game.

    • mikey_mac

      For most of the game, I thought Bohannon was Walton’s match. I think Bohannon was playing over his head, but that needed to be a clear, decisive advantage for UM, and it wasn’t.

      • ChathaM

        Agreed, especially since Bohannon lost a bit of time with first half foul issues, and his replacement, Williams, was injured. Walton really didn’t have that bad a game, but Bohannon countered with 75% shooting, 6 assists, and no turnovers in 31 minutes. More credit should go to him than criticism should go to Walton, but I do understand the frustration here. Walton was a highly regarded recruit who is now a senior, and we expect better.

  • Fab 5 Legends

    Disappointing lose, I thought we could win this game and we had them in 2nd half…great game but DJ Wilson – hope it continues for him…Walton, Rahkman have been highly disappointing going up against Iowa Freshmen – I thought our experience would get the W but now I know these seniors/juniors are officially underachieving…

    • Jdubb40

      They shot good in their gym! Hey the kid bohanan and the other freshmen did what they was supposed to do on their home court. Derrick and Zak played like that as freshmen against better players at that time. We will be fine. Maars will be fine

  • Barth Applefeld

    I thought that two things stood out defensively. One Wagner and Wilson had difficulty communicating on the interior. This led to easy baskets. The other was that Wilson had trouble matching up on the perimeter on the fast break and, of course, with smaller players.

    • Tuff Enough

      I agree him being from Germany and not knowing the language hurts on the court.

  • gobluemd16

    Michigan loses a heartbreaking Orange Bowl by 1, Michigan loses a heartbreaker in OT by one possess, the Redskins lose in a win-and-they’re in playoff opportunity. Ahhh, what a sports wkend.

  • bobohle

    What makes this loss @ Iowa more frustrating is two teams figured to finish behind M in the B1G now have signature conference road wins. Nebraska @Indiana and @Maryland; Minnesota @Purdue.

    • JohnNavarreIsMyHero

      Thinking of that another way, Nebraska and Minnesota are both teams than Beilein has completely owned. So winning against them will gain more value.

      3 of the next 4 at home and a game against Illinois who is another team Beilein pretty much owns.

      Let’s win the next 4 and get some good positive energy going.

      • bobohle

        Still need a signature win.

        • JohnNavarreIsMyHero

          Oh for sure. There will be opportunities.

        • Jdubb40

          We are going to beat Maryland at home and SMU is starting to pick it up

    • Wayman Britt

      bobohle – with walk-on Lonergan getting into the game before Ibi Watson, has he now passed Watson? If that is the case, that is pretty terrible. Not only do other teams have freshman who are starters and are significant players, our freshman cannot even beat out walk-ons.

      • Fab 5 Legends

        Agree, Beilein does not trust our freshmen which is a big problem @ this point of the season

        • bobohle

          I might add and playing against high major competition. I just hope next years class is a vast improvement. Which from what I’ve seen shouldn’t be a problem.

      • bobohle

        Maybe Ibi had the flu. Trying to be positive.

  • A2MIKE

    Honest question: Should Michigan play X and Teske more at a risk to this season in hopes of being better next year? Let’s face it, they won’t win the B1G this year and they will most likely be on the bubble in March. I feel like next year could be rough if we don’t bring those 2 along this year.

    • Chris De Sana

      They need more minutes because they guys in front of them are not good enough to keep them on the bench.

      • A2MIKE

        That is my thought as well. X and Derrick need to be splitting time more evenly, both for X’s growth and Walton is a better player at 20-25 minutes per game.

        • Jdubb40

          I agree. Derrick only needs 25-30 minutes and X needs to play more . I would play both at the same time.

          • Chris De Sana

            We were sold that version by coach before the season started; X running and guarding the point and Walton moving to the off guard. I do not recall it happening much does anyone else?

          • Jdubb40

            Yes and No. He have played them together but coach always have the offense ran through somebody else than Derrick.

          • Fab 5 Legends

            It has not happened…we were sold on The being a big contributer…As long as Beilein doesn’t trust his freshmen that will not happen lol X is still a year away from contributing…

          • mikey_mac

            X and Walton together is incredibly tough on UM defensively. X is undersized against everyone he defends, and then Walton is also forced to play up and cover a bigger opponent. If X weren’t a non-entity offensively, they might risk the defensive disadvantage, but that’s clearly not the case. X wants no part of the ball when he’s on the court.

        • Wayman Britt

          My only concern about X getting more playing time, is can he score.? We know he is a better defender than Walton, but because of his height he has not shown he can score in the Big Ten.

          • Jdubb40

            What. He better defender than Walton. Dude I keep saying you funny.

          • Jdubb40

            And X can score.

          • Chris De Sana

            Are you Walton’s father?

          • jdubb40

            Nope. just a real Michigan fan ?

          • Chris De Sana

            A fan here as well just one with higher expectations it appears

  • Jdubb40

    I like that some of you all think we will be a bubble team. It’s hard to win in Iowa and that’s it. This team is alright, they as a team must gelled together. Meaning , trust your guys. Zak should’ve kick it back to Walton for the last shot.

  • Jdubb40

    I have found out some of you guys like Dylan said yesterday are here to just down players. You are happy when we win the game, now the players are the best and some are not.

  • Jdubb40

    Go Blue

  • Fab 5 Legends

    I think the positive from this game was trusting other offensive options…Wilson/Wagner have to be important going forward…even though Irvin is our go-to-guy he made a lot of great passes to those guys for easy buckets…Beilein needs to have them involved in offense going forward

  • Jdubb40

    I’m going to say this, I’m not a huge fan of the way Dwalt is playing right now. I agree. So let’s sit him and see how far we go ! I’m just saying its not like he not passing the ball but we just have to hit shots. Please believe me that we not making it far without him. So you all might disagree but that’s a fact.

    • Jdubb40

      He can play the bench Wednesday and let the starter sit .

    • Chris De Sana

      We agree, the team is going nowhere without him playing better. The question is how does the coach put him I the position to play better? More minutes at the 2? Fewer minutes over all? I am willing to bet most are open minded how we get there but we do have to get there or else we are NIT bound.

      • jdubb40

        He just have to hit his shots and others have to hit their when he passes it to them

        • Chris De Sana

          Is that not the case with every player? They would all be better if they hit their shots but they are not.

  • gobluemd16

    Man, the forum discussion and the comments here are depressing. I am really curious what Dylan’s thoughts are on the state of the program and outlook of the team this year.

    • robpollard

      Well, that’s because people are frustrated. Two key senior players, Walton and Irvin, are pretty good players but they hit a lower ceiling than we hoped; additionally, on the other end, the freshmen aren’t currently providing much of anything. That makes the big, positive developments of younger players Wagner, DJ and even Robinson less a focus, and people not trust JB too get excited about next year’s class (though I think Poole and Livers are definitely good pickups).

      Tonight’s game against Penn State is a must-win. This team has the talent and experience to make the tourney, but it needed to go at least 3-2 (minimum) and 4-1/5-0 over the first five games to do it. That’s why the loss to Iowa hurts; UM had the chance to win a tough but winnable road game but didn’t.

      Got to get it back one game at a time. I think they can do it, so let’s start hope it starts tonight.

      • ChathaM

        I think that’s exactly right; people are frustrated with recent results, and rightfully so. But, I think that if everyone were to post their thoughts on the big picture state of the program, we’d probably see a very positive slant.

        If you want to see some bigger picture frustration, check out some of the Inside The Hall threads. There don’t seem to be many happy IU fans.

        • robpollard

          Ha! I can imagine.

          Crean is a great example / contrast with Beilein. Crean has been at IU since 2008 and has had plenty of bad and/or disappointing years. Even his good ones (e.g., last year with B1G title) ended up only in the Sweet Sixteen.

          Or Jay Wright – his program floundered for years post their 2008-2009 Final Four, and then last year they broke through in a huge way (though you could kind of see it coming as they were having a couple years of high level regular season success – still, it had been six year since they won more than a single tourney game).

          It’s freaking hard to build an elite/Top 10 program. We’re two big tiers away from that, and won’t be there (obviously) this year, but I really like our sophomores/juniors, Matthews and our incoming class. But to get momentum and even better recruits, we need to win when we can — and that means this year, let’s make the tourney. If we don’t, it’s on JB as much as it is on Walton, Irvin, etc.

          • ChathaM

            Ew, Inside The Hall is not happy tonight. If they polled everyone re: whether Crean should be fired, I think it’d be 90% in favour of the boot. It’s not just about tonight, of course, but playing Wisconsin will do that to a fan base.

      • bobohle

        The PSU game is on Wed night 8:30 BTN.

        • robpollard

          Oops! Edited. With the holiday, my days are off!

    • Barth Applefeld

      Robpollard’s comment is right on point, but I would like to add that if we think of this team as having essentially 2 first-year full-time players with the physical skills to be very good two way players but haven’t figured out all the nuances of–and some basics– defense (Wagner & Wilson), 1 second year player with one surpassing skill that he isn’t succeeding at as much as we would hope (Robinson although he is improving some in other areas), and 2 seniors who haven’t yet figured out how to play a new style where guard offense isn’t the primary (nearly only) focus and (Walton & Irvin), a returning senior who is reasonably solid but definitely unspectacular (Donnal), a big disappointment this year so far (MAAR), we’re doing okay. The question is: Can Beilein and staff pull this all together to make a good team. I’m still betting that they can, but it’s looks tougher than I first thought.
      Many of the people on this blog expect a Kentucky, Duke, UNC (before it’s sanctioned), or similar program (MSU would not be enough in some of their opinions). That’s not a crime, but it is a tad unrealistic in my opinion.

    • Chris De Sana

      Pretty much mirror Barth and Rob but maybe go a bit further in my frustration.

      I may be out of touch…. but feel that Michigan can and should be an elite program way more years than not and should be able to land at least one very high level recruit again more years than not.

      To date most all of the guys that made it to the league did so when we found lightening in a bottle. Not sure we can count on that year in and year out. But when we did find that lightening in a bottle coach was not able to turn it into success on the recruiting trail.

      I also realize that Kentucky, Duke, NC, Louisville and a few others will constantly get their share of Top 100 players but just looking at ESPN’s Top 100 for 2017 I see schools like Miami, Western Kentucky, Alabama twice, Auburn and Georgia all landing players in the Top 25. When you move onto the next 25 (Top 50) we finally see Poole (who I like a nd think will make an impact right away) but you also see Miami again, Florida State, Oregon State, Creighton, St Louis and Arkansas.

      Last year you will see Florida State and Miami twice in the top 25 and when you roll out to the top 50 you see Alabama, TCU, Florida State again before Michigan land Xavier who obviously is not giving as much a contribution as we had hoped.

      • bobohle

        I agree with the person who stated earlier. JB may offer elite talent but just isn’t the salesman to close the deal with them. I know he won’t go after a one and done player but if it is going to take two or three years to develop his players,those players are only useful to the team for one or two years anyway. He also does not go after Grad Transfers or elite Juco talent (ie Ricky Greene from the Johnny Orr years).

  • Chris De Sana

    I have a hard time grasping that Michigan can not compete in regards to landing high level recruits. Great school, great schedule and conference along with tons of history and most every game on TV. I also have a hard time with the whole do not recruit one and dones….because who really knows?

    In the end my biggest issue as stated before is that it does not appear that Michigan was able to capitalize on its success in the tourney by landing recruits, so if that did not help losing to lower tier teams certainly will not unless of course we get more lightening in a bottle like Trey, Timmy, Nik, Caris and Mitch.

    Not holding my breath…..