By Joe Stapleton | 2013-14 Season | Posted on November 26, 2013 at 9:30 am
Michigan’s run in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off may have ended in frustrating loss — a last-second tip-in by Charlotte for the championship — but it provided the young Wolverines with an opportunity to learn about themselves. And if we know one thing about John Beilein, it’s that the coaching staff will encourage the players to “embrace” the loss in the championship game and “grow” from it. Here are five lessons we learned from Michigan’s play in Puerto Rico. (Photo Sanjiv Gupta)
1) As Nik Stauskas goes, so goes the team…for now
This first point is unfortunate because Stauskas appeared to twist his ankle badly during Michigan’s final game of the tournament. The injury severely limited his productivity in the second half of the championship game, but more pressing is how it will affect his productivity going forward. Luckily, Michigan is off until Friday, when the Wolverines play Coppin State at the Crisler Center. This should give the sophomore some time to heal up, but it’s impossible to know if there will be lingering effects.
Michigan fervently hopes that there aren’t, because Stauskas was the straw that stirred the drink for the Wolverines throughout the Tip-Off. He won tournament MVP honors, averaging just over 23 points, four rebounds and two steals per game. And right now, he’s the only Wolverine who has shown the ability to create with consistency. When Stauskas got hurt in the second half against Charlotte, Michigan’s offense struggled mightily until Caris LeVert took the reins late. As this team improves and players find their roles in the offense, the team won’t have to rely on Stauskas so much — but that day isn’t here yet.
In a particularly ugly 63-61 loss to Charlotte, Michigan’s first half stood out as the uglier of the two. Simply put, The Wolverines couldn’t buy a bucket. Michigan shot just over 23 percent from the field, and the only reason its percentage wasn’t in the teens was because of Nik Stauskas. The sophomore was the only Wolverine who found success in the opening frame, hitting five of his 10 shot attempts for 16 points. Take out his production, and Michigan made only three of its 24 attempts from the field. One shot by Stauskas stood out in particular: this acrobatic reverse lay-in on the baseline. Michigan actually displayed some good ball rotation and patience on this play, as the offense is run through a couple times before Stauskas finds his shot. We can see after Stauskas’ initial drive to the hoop, Zak Irvin and Spike Albrecht each make crisp passes that leave Charlotte defenders on their heels as they close out, which gives Stauskas the opportunity to drive and challenge at the rim. This was an excellent shot, but its result was unfortunately rare for the Wolverines in this game. They went into halftime down five, which was a pleasant surprise given how poorly they shot the ball.
Everything went wrong from the opening tip off for Michigan in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic Championship. The Wolverines had a horrific shooting performance, struggled on defense and were forced to play without Glenn Robinson III (back injury) and with a limited Nik Stauskas (ankle injury).
After starting out on the wrong foot, things never quite got better for Michigan. The Wolverines made some plays down the stretch but Charlotte always had the answer. Whether it was a defensive breakdown, blown box out or bricked three-pointer, Michigan could just never string together enough plays or stops to go home from Puerto Rico undefeated.
Seconds after a beautifully executed baseline out of bounds play led to a wide open layup for Mitch McGary, the 49ers drove the length of the floor for a layup attempt and followed it up for the game winning tip in off the glass. Charlotte was the tougher team and the team that made one more play down the stretch.
By Dylan Burkhardt | 2013-14 Season | Posted on November 24, 2013 at 10:51 pm
John Beilein talked about the closing moments of Michigan’s loss to Charlotte on Sunday evening. The Wolverines came back to tie the game with under 10 seconds to play before giving up a tip-in in the final seconds. Watch Beilein’s full comments in the embedded media player below.
By Dylan Burkhardt | 2013-14 Season | Posted on November 24, 2013 at 10:38 pm
Nik Stauskas, the Puerto Rico Tip-Off MVP, and Jordan Morgan faced the media after Michigan’s last second defeat to Charlotte in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off final. Watch both players’ reactions in the embedded media player below.