Happy with a win but 4 missed free throws in the final 20 seconds that would have iced the win is not acceptable. That's how we gave the game to Indiana at Crisler last year.
Michigan 63, Minnesota 60
Photo via Marilyn Indahl/USA TODAY Sports
It looked for all the world like a road loss. Zak Irvin, with just five made shots, led the team in scoring. Nik Stauskas finished just 3/7 from the field. Glenn Robinson III left the game early in the second half with an apparent ankle injury, finishing with six points. Caris LeVert played easily his worst game of the year. Michigan was outrebounded by a whopping 44.1% to 17.9% on the offensive glass. Oh, and Minnesota's last-gasp shot even caught the backboard.
Somehow, some way, the Wolverines clawed their way to a three-point win to open Big Ten play. Irvin's five three-pointers on eight attempts kept Michigan in the game after Robinson fell awkwardly following his fourth block of the night; while GRIII eventually returned from the locker room, he never re-entered the game. While Stauskas struggled from the field, he made play after play down the stretch, dishing out a game-high seven assists—including two in the waning minutes to set up Jon Horford dunks—and throwing down his signature "Game ... Blouses" dunk to give the team a late three-point lead.
With Jordan Morgan in early foul trouble and Mitch McGary spectating in a suit, Horford came up huge, scoring 14 points on 6/8 shooting and pulling down nine rebounds—five more than anyone else on the team—while adding in two steals and a block. While Horford made a few defensive errors guarding Elliott Eliason, who finished with ten points and ten rebounds, his tireless effort in the middle was the difference in this game.
Minnesota took advantage of Horford's occasional mishap and Robinson's absence on the interior, but they couldn't get it going on the perimeter, hitting just five of 19 three-point attempts. They had a tough time finding a clean look on the outside, and Michigan also forced 15 turnovers, eight of those steals.
The end of the game got a little nerve-wracking, to say the least, as the officials initially botched an out-of-bounds call—not to mention missing at least one obvious foul—when Minnesota tried to pressure Stauskas down three points with 22 seconds remaining. While Michigan got the ball back after a review, they ended up with Derrick Walton going to the line instead of Stauskas, and Walton missed both free throws. Fortunately for Michigan, the Gophers' Andre Hollins couldn't tie it up on the next possession, and a Horford free throw extended the lead to four.
Even then, the game wasn't quite over, as Stauskas committed the cardinal sin of fouling a jump shooter, stepping under Malik Smith on a wayward three-point attempt. Smith drilled all three freebies with six seconds remaining to make it a 61-60 game; after a pair of Stauskas free throws, the Gophers had one last chance to tie with five seconds to play. Deandre Mathieu managed to get a decent shot for the tie on the run at the top of the key; to the considerable relief of Wolverines with still-raw wounds from Evan Turner and Ben Brust, Mathieu's prayer wasn't answered.
It wasn't pretty, and there's lingering concern about Robinson's health to boot, but it's tough to overstate the importance of a conference road win for this team. Michigan is 1-0 in the Big Ten (and UNDEFEATED IN 2014) after a game in which the tired coachspeak platitude of "facing adversity" very much applied. Not a bad start to the new year.
And we should note that Walton did make four straight FTs earlier in the game, which helped us build the lead in the first place.
Stauskas missed FTs too. Add in his dumb foul and inability to handle the ball, there was plenty to worry about down the stretch. (Oh, and the widest of open threes miss, too).
Glad we got out of there with a win, but if Stauskas wants to be a B10 first-teamer, he has to be a closer. I think he can be and I'm sure he'd say the same.
Luckily, we held on despite the craziness. And just so it's clear: I'm thrilled with the win. WE BEAT KENPOM ON THE ROAD. That's huge. It was a season "setting/defining/changing" game and its crucial that it went in the "W" column.
Clearly, despite missing MM and GR3, there's room for improvement. And that's exciting.
Stauskas, who was 7 of 8 from the FT line? We're complaining about 87.5% free throw shooting now?
And by "inability to handle the ball," I'm assuming you mean his inability to have the ref see him get hilariously hacked. After all, he had 7 assists to 2 turnovers in the game.
Frankly, I thought Stauskas was the difference in this game. He created a lot of offense for other people, and was one of the few people who could get in the lane under control.
I thought both the "mistakes" by Stauskas down the stretch were really official problems in disguise. The 3 pt foul was incredibly ticky tack. Literally the only contact happened on the way down, and even that was really tiny. Then obviously he got completely creamed after the inbounds.
I agree with the other poster on the missed 3 down the stretch - Uncharacteristically, I thought he hurried the shot and completely lost his rhythm. He faked the pass and was wide open, and somehow didn't realize it. A poor play. But in the context of the rest of the game, it's hard to fault him. He and Horford were just huge, and Horfords success built off of Stauskas getting in the lane.
And by "inability to handle the ball," I'm assuming you mean his inability to have the ref see him get hilariously hacked. After all, he had 7 assists to 2 turnovers in the game.
Oh, come on, you're better than that. Don't put words in my mouth.
1. On the reviewed play, Stauskas fell on his own. He may have (probably) got fouled during the deflection out of bounds, but that's all beside the point and not even what I'm referring to.
2. I'm not talking assist to turnover ratio, I'm talking ability to handle the ball. These are two entirely different things. Zack Novak had a good A:TO ratio, but I wouldn't want him first in line to bring the ball up against a full court press.
I'm talking specifically about Nik Stauskas' ability to handle (i.e. dribble) the ball with intense pressure on him. It's not great. That's not even necessarily a knock on him - he's got so many other strengths. Often times you'll see him come off a curl and lose the handle a bit - his dribble comes above his waist, he has to look down, he has to abandon the curl and pick up the dribble, etc.
That's what I'm talking about. And, again, this isn't a huge deal because HE'S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE A PG. The problem is we don't really have a PG with a great handle. Because of that, I had hoped Stauskas could carry some of that responsibility, but it hasn't happened. Caris has been the guy they've gone to to help bring the ball up.
Is it no longer accepted that people can point out Michigan players don't have All-American abilities in every facet of the game? People were calling him an All-American the first month of the season - I'm not even holding him to that standard. But if I'm going to talk "All-Big10" about him, then he's gotta be mistake free down the stretch. Again, I'm sure he would say the same thing. If he wants to be drafted in the lotto, he's gotta be better down the stretch.
That Indiana game is over and the game in which your concern has arisen....we won. Take a win and feel good. Great road win against an 11-4, conference team when we don't have our two nba players for mist of the game.
And ignore the fact that they were 16 of 18 outside of those four misses.
Ever been an elite and clutch foul shooting team? I go back a long way (ie. cazzie russell) and never remember being confident with us on the line in a tight spot. Rumeal Robinson notwithstanding. C'mon, how many of you would have settled for him making 1 of 2 and going to OT? Be honest. :)
Hail to the Victors! Hail to 2014! Nice to see the fight in this team. Am continually impressed with the coaching staff, though we shouldn't be surprised anymore at this point.
Can Coach B take over the football team too? /s (but seriously)
We didn't play good defense throughout but we turned it on at the end. That said, we wish we hadn't given Mathieu that good a look at the end.
What was the final score again?
I thought we showed some life on d and actually had a ton of blocks. Was pleasantly surprised. Thought their fast paced actually helped us think less and be naturally aggressive.
Not only did Minny only score 60, they needed a total of FTs to even get to that total. I think they made one field goal in the last 6-7 minutes of the game (the three that made it 60-57), and they had several turnovers during that span.
Woo! A win to start 2014. A gritty performance from a young team missing key components.
Way to go boys.
Good to see Horford stepping up. I like it when one of the bigs is POtG.
Not 2013! Woooooo!!!!1!!!!!1!!
but i don't think the team displayed much of that elusive "learning how to win close games" quality. "now, wait a minute" you'll say, "we won, and the game was close, so obviously we did just that, idiot."
and maybe you're right, i'm being an idiot. but, sorry 2014, i'm still in pessimist mode.
when you're up 5 with 40 seconds left to play, and headed to the ft line for 2, a team that has learned how to win close games--to me--is one that makes its fts, doesn't commit dumb fouls, doesn't allow open threes, and doesn't commit turnovers.
what did we do? we missed 3? ft's in the last 40 seconds. we promptly gave up a wide-open 3. we fouled them on a loooong 3. and then, we gave up a very good 3-point look at the end.
that was an incredibly important win for us, and i'm happy we won.
but i'm not gonna be any more confident in our ability to win a close game in the furture based on this game.
The thing is, if this were 2013, Minn would have shot 50% from three, Irvin would have gone 1 for 34, someone's arm would have fallen off and then the bus would have broken down on the way home, standing the entire team in the cold to catch pneumonia. So 2014 rulleeezzzz! Until it sucks.
Can't just focus on the last minute plus in isolation and ignore what it took to get there.
the idea of closing out tight games basically comes down to the last minute plus in isolation; the determination of whether or not it is a tight game is what it took to get there.
so, in essence, talking about closing out games--which is a very standard talking point--is exactly taking the last minute-plus in isolation.
it was our first Big Ten game
on the road
with a freshman point guard
without 2 first round draft picks (okay, GRIII for only a half)
and Levert playing godawful?
I'll happily take it and I don't think it says squat about our ability to close out games.
stauskas was the player who committed that terrible foul on the 3-point shot, missed a ft late, and almost turned the ball over. i worry about all of those things happening again in a future game, because he is a poor defender, his ft shooting is not on par with his in-game shooting capabilities, and he has shown a propensity to be sloppy with the dribble. i don't foresee many of those things improving as the season progresses.
giving up the good 3-point look is also worrying, as it is apparent coach B won't ever turn to the foul approach in that situation.
i could maybe go on, but i'm tired of being a debbie downer for no reason.
That foul was an absolute phantom call. There really wasn't a whole lot Stauskas could do if he wanted to contest the shot - watch the replay and there is little if any contact. The referee bailed the Minny guy out.
Not only that, but Stauskas WAS foul on the previous "almost turnover"
just because they won doesn't mean you can miss BOTH free throws (walton), foul three point shots (stauskas), etc., and expect to finish the season with a record that matches your potential.
that being said, good win and walton played great....clutch rebound!
he successfully pointed out the things that went wrong? Everyone on the Board saw those and understand that you won't win if too many of them occur. Duh! He simply ignored the good things and perspective. And while he didn't want to embrace the Debbie Downer tag, it fits.
Didn't Stauskas also drain his final two FTs to put the lead to 3? His foul on the Minny 3pt shot was basically his momentum carrying him into a guy after the shot was away - is that even a foul (serious question)?
And really Minny's last gasp shot, while uncomfortably close, was still from well beyond the arc by a guy who was barely set, and the shot was about as contested as it can be when you're in "hustle down the court but for the love of god don't foul" mode.
Serious ref-answer for a serious question:
Yes, it was a foul. An airborn-shooter has the right to return to the ground unimpeded. Even if Stauskas did not touch him "during the shot", that "process" continues until the shooter has landed. So if Stauskas gets in the way of the landing and hits his feet, then it is a foul.
It was the correct call, though one that is not always correctly called in the middle of the game.
Man, if this was called all the time, I think Trey Burke would have shot 73 FT a game.
I thought it was a complete crap call from the perspective of consistency and context.
Yes, you're correct, it is not called enough during "the course" of the game as opposed to how often its called at the end of games.
Second, that first point seems exaggerated because at the end of games things are more frantic by nature and the foul does occur more often in the final minute of the game.
It was still a total flop and there was minimal to no contact at all, in which case it is not the correct call. Yes, hitting a shooter after the shot goes up is a foul; no, NOT hitting a shooter is never a foul. That was my issue with the call.
There is a better chance of winning the game by fouling before they get down the court than by being in "for the love of god don't foul" mode and giving up that three-point look
Unless the guy pulls up as you try to foul him and the ref awards 3 shots. Or the guy pulls up as you foul, drains a miracle shot, and gets an and-one FT to win the game. Or they get two shots, make the first and intentionally miss the second and set up for a rebound and a jumper to tie or win. Or Minny makes their two FTs, fouls immediately, Michigan bricks one or both of their FTs, and Minny has a couple seconds for a desperation heave to win.
I don't know if the Mathlete has run any BBall win % stuff, but I'm curious to see what the breakdown for this is. My gut sense is that the three seconds it takes for the guy to run down the court and heave a three are probably more valuable (from Michigan's perspective) than fouling immediately and trading another set of FTs for only one or two seconds off the clock. By not fouling, you basically guarantee that a marginal three point look will be the final shot of the game. This might slightly reduce your chance of winning in regulation, but the upside is that the worst case scenario is OT rather than (somewhat) plausible scenarios in which Minny has a final shot in regulation to win.
also got lost on the wide open corner 3 with under a minute. he allowed their only good shooter to get open. that was his responsibility. then he fouled the 3 pt shooter at the top; even though ticky tacky. don't give the refs a reason to call that - on the road. that said, don't forget about the great drive and dish for the horford dunk; also under a minute to play. stauskus was definitely up and down that last minute of play.
but i will take a road win any day, against any BIG team; especially with mcgary and griii injured. stauskus is the leader on this team now.
and hopefully griii is ok. i was happy to finally see him get aggressive on D. his 4 blocks is evidence of that.
Got him with the body. I didn't think so initially, but saw the replay and agreed it was a foul. he didn't give the guy any room to come down either. That said, he got hosed on the overturned turnover as he was fouled at least once.
Winnable games up next, be nice to win them and get some cohesion.
As the announcers mentioned, no Burke, Hardaway, Robinson, or McGary like we had at the start of B1G season last year.
Solid D in final few Gopher possessions and Irvin was in great position on the Hollins drive, kept hands up and bellied up Hollins nicely.
Well, good win but they got a pretty good look on the final 3. Bound to have one of those go UM's way.
Horray 2014 and a B1G road win to start the conference season! I was honestly hoping for muppets.
Hey Ace, given Michigan's recent experience with a walking boot, perhaps that wasn't the best word choice. ;-)
road wins in this conference, wherever they take place, are gold. Getting it with GRIII on the bench and no panic (although some late poor decision-making) was nice to see as well. No room for error this year in the B10; got to win every winnable game and try to steal a couple of the others.
No panic??? Speak for yourself.
First of all, GREAT win, and it was GREAT to be there. Love to see the fight, and players stepping it up big when needed, especially Horford and Irvin. What excites me the most about this team is that while there's no go-to scorer necessarily, there are at least five or six guys who are both willing and able to score on any given posession that they're out there - Stauskas, Walton, Irvin, Caris, GRIII and now apparently Horford, at least.
That said, a few areas of concern/potential improvement that I think are why the game was so close for so long. This is ignoring the issues late.
1. Switching on defense: Most of Minnesota's points seemed to come after two or three picks, when we were switching between their players and would rotate over to the last man just a beat late, giving them an open shot. Not sure how this can be improved, and it's obviously what many teams try to do, but it just seemed worse tonight.
2. Transition defense: This was a real study in contrasts. While whenever we got out in transition our opportunities were shut down by all five of Minnesota's guys getting back, Minnesota had plenty of chances as we struggled to get back.
3. Turnonvers: I knew we caused more, but ours seemed more crucial and more of the preventable, just throwing the ball away type. Hopefully this will improve with time and with not facing a press defense like Minnesota.
So glad we pulled it out, great momentum boost for the start of Big Ten play! Go Blue!
I would have to do more research to confirm this, but I think Caris and Derrick might be the source of some of this. Levert is a very good on ball defender and Walton is pretty solid, but I think their team defense is lackinig. Whether it's communication or effort or whatever, it isn't happening the way it should. Like I said, I would need to watch more closely, but it seemed like those were the guys that were giving up most of the buckets.
The other thing that killed me is that Jon Horford had some trouble hedging and also helping off of his man. There were a few times where he hedged, but didn't really re-route the driving player and it resulted in an easy bucket. There were a bunch of times when Jon would come to help on a drive that someone else had blown on D, and there was an easy dump off to his man. I guess he kind of has to help, but maybe it needs to come earlier.
A road win is a road win. Perhaps we didn't perform down the stretch in ideal fashion, but hopefully the experience of having been in that situation will benefit us when it comes up again.
and delete all others.
...in a place that is tough to play in is all good!
To play like that on the road is a great sign. This will boost his confidence.
At my parents without the benefit of the BIG10 network, and I called out our non-clutch free throw shooting sight unseen but seriously? Every win this year is a gift without McGary in the post so if we split the reg. season and maybe get to the Sweet 16, I will be beyond ecstatic. This won't be a pretty year without size but it can only make us stronger for an a-maizing run next year. Enjoy the sweet moments folks.