Really excited and really nervous about Saturday. Hoping for at least a competitive showing led by solid defense.
Michigan 80, Penn State 67
I'm sitting in the Crisler Center having just watched a thoroughly entertaining Michigan win, in which they would've covered the KenPom spread if not for a meaningless* late layup by Tim Frazier, and I really have no idea what to take from it.
Michigan's offense was stellar, racking up 1.39 points per possession with 18 assists on 28 baskets; Penn State tried a soft 1-2-2 press for large swaths of the game and Michigan tore it apart with beautiful ball movement. The Wolverines turned nine Nittany Lion turnovers into 16 points, played well in transition, and continued to pick apart halfcourt defenses with the pick-and-roll.
However, they also gave up 1.13 points per trip to a Penn State squad averaging just 0.98 in their first four Big Ten contests. In the first half, Frazier repeatedly jetted Michigan's guards, scoring 11 points in the first 20 minutes. In the second half, it was DJ Newbill's turn, as he scored 16 of his 17 points while also generating most of his offense off the dribble. While the Wolverines found more success against the pick-and-roll than they did against Nebraska, their transition defense remained porous, and one way or another opposing guards continued to find their way to relatively easy layups.
Michigan never trailed. They also let a 14-point first-half lead evaporate into just a two-point edge before a Jordan Morgan baby hook ended an extended 18-6 Penn State run. The Nittany Lions would come within a basket of the lead twice more before the Wolverines pulled away. Then again, the Wolverines did pull away, and in style—a spectacular halfcourt lob from Caris LeVert to Glenn Robinson III capped a quick 9-0 run with 12 minutes to play, and they cruised to the finish from there.
The game started with eight unanswered points by Derrick Walton, who sandwiched a pair of confident corner threes around a nice fast break finish. Walton scored 12 points in the first half en route to a career-high 16 on 6/9 shooting. However, he also finished with three turnovers—one of which was sloppy enough to earn a quick hook from John Beilein—and he was one of Frazier's primary victims defensively. He's made huge strides during the season, which was apparent tonight. He's not all the way there yet, obviously.
Nik Stauskas led the team with 21 points, making 7/12 FGs and 4/5 FTs, while also hauling in six rebounds and dishing out a five assists with no turnovers. His deft passing off the pick-and-roll allowed Jon Horford to score 11 points on 4/5 shooting and Jordan Morgan eight on a perfect 3/3 mark from the field; Horford chipped in a team-high seven boards. Again, however, there was a defensive downside—Stauskas defended Newbill for much of the second half and was clearly worn out trying to guard PSU's hot hand while carrying much of the offensive load.
Robinson shook off an 0/5 start from the field to finish with 15 points on 5/8 shooting, and he sparked Michigan's second-half run by jumping a Frazier pass and quickly finding LeVert, who split the PSU defense right down the middle and got the friendly roll for an and-one. For his part, LeVert dropped five dimes on an otherwise quiet offensive night for him (6 points, 2/6 FG); like his guard counterparts, he struggled on the other end of the floor, as much with his off-ball defense as on-ball.
In the end, Michigan played like they've done for much of the year, pairing excellent offense with far too much poor execution on defense. Against Penn State, that was enough to essentially cover the spread. Against the next three teams on the docket—Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan State—that won't be enough to come away unscathed. After Indiana's triumph over the Badgers this evening, Michigan sits tied atop the Big Ten with their in-state rivals; how long they stay there depends on how much they improve at preventing their opponent from carving a path to the hoop.
... the passing all-around. Even Morgan and Horford were finding open guys from down low. They can still score against anyone when they're running and operating with quick ball movement.
I feel like without McGary, Michigan's gonna have to try to run more against better teams; the upside to playing without a lot of height is that Michigan's usually got the quicker team on the floor.
Except that McGary is one of Michigan's best players in transition. He runs the floor like a boss, and even brings it up himself off long boards. We take a big step back in transition moving from him to Morgan/Horford.
McGary is also the master of the Wes Unseld-esque outlet pass.
...and end up 5/8?
I think he meant he shot 0/5, then made 5 out of his next 8 shots, for a combined 5/13. I had to re read that part too.
When he's hot, there's no limit to his awesomeness. Soon he'll be making a 110% of his shots!
Has to be the emphasis for the next 11 days, especially by the guards and especially defending off the dribble. Walton looks to be weak on technique, and he'll no doubt improve, but we need him and Nik on the accelerated learing curve if we are to hang over the next three. Offense seems to have it going on; be great if we can continue to get the kidn of efficiency from Morgan/Horford we've been enjoying.
I was disappointed not to see McGary in a suit. I hope his recovery is going well.
Live, it looked like there were some really terrible blocking calls. I have to wonder how long you have to be standing there before the refs will call a charge. Probably longer than the 35 second clock will allow. Maybe we should just lower our heads and drive to the basket all crazy like too.
That PSU team is scrappy. Michigan might have lost this game in the valley. Horford flashed some athleticism I didn't know he had. Morgan seemed a little tentative(not the monster we've seen as of late). Wonder what gives there.
I miss seeing big Al at all the home games(ducks). I'll get over it if the new guy can convince Devin to throw it to the good guys more exclusively.
Quick Change is still freaking amazing.
you are whats wrong with the fanbase...
1) If you haven't noticed Horford's athletic ability before you obviously haven't been watching him make plays/dunks all year.
2) DG had the lowest amount of INT's in B1G play out of all B1G qb's and is a beast.
3) You seriously miss a rude fat guy at games who was the main factor for Michigan's bad season????
I understand your hero worship and all, and I love Gardner's potential, but that doesn't change the fact that the guy absolutely turtled after ND.
That's not what killed the season though. Our defense wasn't good. Our O-line was sub-standard. And yeah, play calling wasn't great. But offense and defense, if you cannot accept that most of our problems were personnel related we just don't have much to talk about.
Who does KenPom see winning the Championship!? Sheesh, some how some way every game is within a point of his prediction.
This certainly has not always been the case, but it does seem like Pomeroy rankings are very predictive for this particular team(While they've seemed to systematically underestimate Beilein teams in the past).
My hypothesis would be that the formula needs some kind of adjustment for veteran guards in close games. And that the formula is spot on this year because we just don't have any veteran guards.
Kenpom had IU losing by seven at home tonight. IU won by three for a ten point swing. Kenpom isn't always right.
Kenpom just forgot about the requisite IU at Assembly Hall +10 adjustment for officiating.
Kenpom has to miss a few on purpose to convince you that there's nothing to see here.
So just keep thinking that bro. . . you're safe as long as you play right into their hands. I'm in bigger danger because I know too m
It's obvious what happened here. A Wisconsin Blog said, "Only 7 points!? We are going to win by 17!"
Thus the curse of going against KenPom gave 10 points to IU & Wisco lost.
Hence why you always predict the same thing KenPom does. ALWAYS.
It was a fun game, but I share the general sense of dread for the next couple of games. 1-2 would be fine with me, and 2-1 would be considered a minor miracle. The defense still has trouble closing out on shooters, but I'm not sure if that is because of rotation issues or player deficiencies. Still, 4-0 is as good as it can be at this juncture, and the team probably just needs to go .500 in conference to make the tourney, so they are almost halfway there. Morgan's return to form has been refreshing given all of the worries with McGary out, though I suspect him and Horford are going to struggle mightily this weekend. At least this team can seemingly score with anyone, and nobody seems invincible in this conference.
That would mean beating everyone not presnetly ranked ahead of us, but no one else. Hopefully, we can get 2-3 wins against the ranked teams, and only lose 1-2 to the others. That would get us to 11-12 B10 wins, and with a tourney win, probably somewhere on the 5-7 lines.
But often for the wrong reasons. A good win, but I hate our defensive play.
This might not be entirely the fault of the players; they play as if they're afraid to foul. Given the wild inconsistency of the refs (I was shouting at the TV regularly tonight), I can't blame them too much. Down the stretch, they have to shake it off and just live with the fouls.
So is it a bad thing Wisconsin lost tonight?
When Wisconsin loses.
...unless it causes them to regroup and refocus and take us to the cleaners Saturday. Still, with their relatively easy schedule in conference, this loss helps keep our dreams of a B10 conference championship alive.
This was my first ever MBB game. Absolutley loved the atmosphere
Glad to hear you enjoyed your first ever visit to "The House that Cazzie Built, and Zack and Stu remodeled"!
I am not near as worried about the defense as others appear to be. This game recap sounds awfully similar to ones from last year when we had a "poor defense". Good offense will always beat good defense and particularly in the college game, I feel defense is overrated. Don't get me wrong, UM definitely needs to improve their defense if they want to achieve all of their goals. Much like last year, I expect UM to get better on the defensive side of the ball as the year goes on. Every team in the Big Ten has flaws. Wisconsin was exposed last night as IU was able to get to the basket any time they wanted. Yes, UM needs to get better on defense but there is not one remaining game on the schedule that is unwinnable. I think UM goes 2-1 over the next 3 games and firmly plant themselves as a legit Big Ten title contender.
It was more like Michigan ignored the press. By that I mean, it wasn't like the VCU game where they beat the press and then quickly scored. Michigan methodically moved the ball up and then ran their offense, and I believe that none of the paltry 6 turnovers were press related. I think Michigan did exactly what they would have done with or without the press. In that way, it was "ignored."
They "tore apart" the press in that the press didn't cause any turnovers or cause Michigan to really expend much extra energy trying to break it. It was a relatively weak press, and one that doesn't allow quick, easy points like the VCU press when you are able to break it.
So far, we have not had any problems with the pressure. At worst, it takes about 10 seconds off the shock clock.
And taking 10 seconds off the shock clock is a good thing!
else think that having spike and walton on the floor at the same time is completely useless? I mean, spike is having a hard time creating a shot for himself as of late...so walton dishing it to him does absolutely jack shit and basically makes Michigan's offense run with one less scoring threat...also LeVert's defense has gotten worse as the season has gone on, i really hope he picks it up or lese Michigan is really going to struggle
Caris seems to be struggling to find his place in the offense lately. He hasn't dribbled the air out of the ball like he did in earlier games, which is good IMO, but at the same time I'm not seeing a lot of decisiveness out of him recently. He seems to be a little lost in the halfcourt offense.
One of those games where you enjoy a pummelling of a weaker opponent, zone out and do something else and realize from the tone of the announcer's voices that they're no longer just trying to make small talk and it's actually a game again. Except it happened twice. We really need to learn to play a complete game without slow starts or let ups. Hopefully we'll rise to the occasion at Wisconsin.
The last two games against Nebraska and Penn State have been interesting for Michigan's KenPom ranking. They've basically held steady in the rankings at around 20-21, but their offense has risen from about 15th to 5th best in the country while their defense has dropped from a peak of 48th to 77th. With the way their offense appears to be improving, they can definitely move up if they can just figure out how to get that defense back down towards last year's level.
While Michigan's defense wasn't as bad last year, they depend and always have depended on high efficiency offense with few turnovers. I don't think they need to do that much defensively to win some big games, but it's looking like this might be a mid-tier Big 10 team regardless. Win at Wisconsin and expectations will definitely go up for me, but no matter what happens this is a brutal conference.
The game started with eight unanswered points by Derrick Walton
That's not how unanswered works.