Losers bracket, consolation or third place games can be among the most dangerous, and sometimes most important, games in any pre-season tournament. The difference between a 2-1 and 1-2 finish is significant especially when matched-up with a team that has as many question marks as UCLA.
The first month of UCLA’s season has been nothing short of a rollercoaster. UCLA started 0-2 with a pair of home losses to mid-majors: Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee State. The Bruins’ leading returning scorer and rebounder, Reeves Nelson, has already been suspended, reinstated, missed the team flight to Maui, flew to Maui on his own, and been suspended for the first half of the Chaminade game. As a unit, UCLA has only beaten Division II Chaminade and has failed to beat a Division I opponent this season.
1. Five turnovers and two missed shots on first five possessions
I don’t know if Michigan was intimidated, too fired up or just caught up in the moment but its first five possessions of the game were frustrating and uninspired. Sloppy turnovers, air balls, a lack of offensive flow and flat out poor play defined this stretch. Michigan fell behind 9-0 early and looked more like a team in Cameron Indoor than the Lahaina Civic Center. This game looked very much like it would be a Duke blowout early on. As bad as the opening possessions were, Michigan was able to regroup with a run of its own and crawl back to 11-9. This opening stretch still put the Wolverines, who were never able to regain any real sort of offensive efficiency in the first half, into a situation where they were playing from behind for 40 minutes. The game would have changed had Michigan gotten off to a better start but perhaps with a more even start one of the Wolverines second half runs could have much them into the lead. [click to continue…]
Michigan trailed Duke for 40 minutes but this was not an empty performance for the Wolverines. John Beilein’s team simply dug itself too great of a hole to overcome despite an extremely impressive second half offensive barrage. Despite failing to advance to the final, there’s little doubt that this relatively unproven Michigan team left this game as a better team than it was this morning.
John Beilein, Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Zack Novak met with the media after Michigan’s 82-75 loss to Duke in the Maui Invitational semifinals. Find the full transcript of their press conference here and after the jump.
COACH BEILEIN: It mirrored a little bit of our game last year in the NCAA Tournament where they got off to a quick start with us. We only had nine turnovers in the game, and one was in the last second. We had eight turnovers, but we had‑‑ I think I counted the first four times down the floor we had a turnover.
Let them get out to it. We were chasing them the whole time. They’re not a great team to chase. They really know how to control the ball, limit their turnovers, and they have a‑‑ their perimeter played very well. I’ll have to watch film again to see how much of that was us and how much of that was Duke. But I assume an awful lot of it was Duke. [click to continue…]
Duke knocks of Michigan thanks in part to 52 percent three point shooting. Michigan moves to the third place game which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday (ESPN2) versus the loser of Kansas/UCLA. Post game recap, quotes, Five Key Plays and more in the coming hours.