Michigan 59, Minnesota 57

Michigan 59, Minnesota 57 Comment Count

Alex Cook January 22nd, 2019 at 9:05 PM

Michigan was able to eventually pull away from Minnesota for a while, but the Gophers erased a 13-point deficit and tied the game with less than a minute left — John Beilein drew up a play for Ignas Bradeikis at the end of regulation, but the freshman was blocked, and Charles Matthews came up with the rebound, took a dribble, and hit the game-winner: a tough, one-handed baseline floater just ahead of the shot clock and the final buzzer. The Wolverines played an ugly game (shooting 3-22 from three and scoring just 0.92 points per possession) but managed to prevent overtime and the prospect of a bad upset loss.

It was clear from the beginning that the Gophers were going to be a challenge. Minnesota had scored six points and it was almost three minutes into the game before Isaiah Livers opened the scoring for Michigan with a pair of free throws. Minnesota maintained that lead for most of the first half. The Wolverines were mired in a funk this weekend against Wisconsin, and that seeped into the start of this game: Michigan began the game shooting 3-19 from the field as Minnesota crawled out to a 19-10 lead. The Gophers took advantage of Michigan’s smallest lineup with some nice big-to-big passing early on, and freshman shooter Gabe Kalscheur knocked down a couple early threes.

Eli Brooks provided a nice spark with nine minutes left in the half. On back-to-back possessions, he found Jon Teske on a pick-and-roll for an easy alley-oop layup, then stopped Dupree McBrayer cold on a drive, leading directly to a fast break layup for Matthews. Richard Pitino called a quick timeout, but Michigan was awake — because of Teske. The Big Sleep scored on the next possession, following an Iggy miss; Matthews set him up for another pick-and-roll finish; then he hit a pick-and-pop three to tie the game at 23. It was a mostly horrible half for Michigan, but Teske shined — he scored 11 points and didn’t miss a shot. He finished with an efficient 15 and was Michigan's only unequivocally positive player on offense.

Beilein tried to steal some minutes with Brandon Johns at the five after Michigan tied it up late in the half, but Amir Coffey took advantage with some drives all the way to the rim. Minnesota regained the lead and carried it into the second half. Kalscheur got past Jordan Poole for a layup to put the score at 36-29; Iggy responded with a tough three over Jordan Murphy on the next possession. Iggy had a rough start, missing his first seven shots, but got going late in the first half with a couple buckets. He followed up the three with a nice defensive stop on Murphy and a coast-to-coast and-one layup. It was an inefficient game for him — his 18 points came on 23 shot equivalents — but Michigan needed Iggy’s production.



After the Gophers built that seven-point lead, the Wolverines played a dominant stretch of basketball, outscoring Minnesota 23-3 over a ten minute span. Zavier Simpson had a nice sequence — scoring on a tough running sky hook off glass, then taking the ball from Daniel Oturu and converting an easy layup. Iggy was fouled twice on three-point attempts during the run; Brooks roasted “Jelly Fam” Washington for a bucket; Livers got a transition dunk (after having missed one earlier in the game) following a Teske block at the rim. Michigan’s offense was finally up and running, but the defense was locked in too: Minnesota was leveraged into awful shots with Teske patrolling the paint.

Murphy dragged the Gophers back into the game. Michigan led 52-39 when the burly senior forward took it at Poole and tipped in his own miss to stop the run; he scored on two more possessions soon after, drawing a shooting foul on Iggy, then bullying him on a drive from the three-point line for a tough bucket. Michigan’s offense cooled off, but the Wolverines still led by ten following a shorted pick-and-roll jumper from Teske… and then Michigan didn’t score for the next five minutes. A missed Simpson layup which led to an excellent Dupree McBrayer outlet pass to Coffey for a layup and a McBrayer runner off glass over Teske trimmed the Michigan lead to 57-51 and prompted a Beilein timeout with under three minutes left.

The Gophers ran some action for a high-low pass to Murphy, who was fouled by Iggy and hit one free throw. 57-52. Matthews threw up a wild miss in traffic and Coffey got out in the open floor for a tough layup through a Teske contest. 57-54. Kalscheur got loose off a screen and knocked down a three with 31 seconds left. 57-57. Those three were the only three Gophers to finish in double figures, and the huge three from Kalscheur put Minnesota one stop away from sending what had looked like a near-certain defeat to overtime. They had gone on an 18-5 run over the last eight minutes of the half. Meanwhile, Michigan couldn’t buy a bucket — before Kalscheur’s three, Iggy barely missed a layup after getting a step on the defender.

For a moment, it looked like they had that stop. Beilein drew up a play for Iggy to receive the ball at the top of the key and make a play with Poole slipping a ball-screen and popping to the wing. Predictably, the freshman was aggressive — and he threw up a tough, well-contested shot. Eric Curry blocked that shot, and it fell to Matthews. A patient dribble caused Coffey to fly by, Murphy stepped up for a contest, and the high-arcing shot fell through the net shortly after the clock struck zero. A lengthy replay review to determine whether Matthews had beaten the shot clock as well as the game clock was evidently inconclusive, as the referees upheld the original call after a frame-by-frame review of the shot leaving Matthews’s hand.

Michigan had its worst overall offensive performance (0.82 points per possession) since that horrible loss to South Carolina in November 2016 against Wisconsin; they had their worst shooting performance (36.3% effective field goal percentage) since that South Carolina game tonight — but still escaped with a win over Minnesota. A substantial advantage in shot margin (14 equivalents) because of Michigan forcing turnovers and uncharacteristically crashing the glass provided just enough cushion to make up for the awful shooting. Matthews was the hero; Michigan avoided a bad loss (and avoided falling further behind Michigan State in the Big Ten standings). The next game is in Bloomington on Friday against an Indiana squad in free fall.

[Box score after the JUMP]


Chart? Chart! Defending Morgan and Langford

Chart? Chart! Defending Morgan and Langford Comment Count

Alex Cook January 11th, 2019 at 6:30 PM

A couple of weeks ago, the MGoBraintrust assembled at a secret location somewhere in Ann Arbor to discuss Official Business. During that meeting of the minds, Brian suggested that I chart a basketball game. “Just chart one thing,” he said. “Don’t do it like a UFR,” he said.

So I didn’t. A basketball UFR — like this one — would be a herculean endeavor for me, and my grading would be tenuous and subjective (and likely ill-informed) at best. Instead, I watched film to focus on a small but essential facet of the game. Defense is harder for most laypeople to judge compared to offense, especially during a live game. It’s obvious Michigan is good, but how? And why? A lofty defensive efficiency ranking, strong four factor metrics, and counting blocks and steals for individual players only tells you so much. We notice a lot during games, but miss a lot too.

I rewatched the game, took notes, and feel like I learned a lot. Indiana’s top two players — senior big Juwan Morgan and freshman swingman Romeo Langford — are All-Big Ten level talents, and they’re pretty much the only two offensive options for Indiana, especially without their starting point guard, Rob Phinisee.

I charted all of their touches:

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Click on images to enlarge

[Clips, breakdowns, and analysis after the JUMP]


2018 in Photos

2018 in Photos Comment Count

Seth January 3rd, 2019 at 9:26 AM

Intro by Marc-Grégor Campredon: The MGoBlog photographer team covered over 50 events in 2018, all over the country. Sports photography is not all about capturing the action; It is about the moments, emotions, and stories. I am extremely honored to be part of such a talented team of photographers with Patrick Baron, James Coller, Bryan Fuller, JD Scott, and our now-graduated senior, Eric Upchurch.

Also very thankful to the additional photographers who are always ready to jump in and cover for us when no one can: Bill Rapai, Paul Sherman, George Borel, Ryan McLoughlin and Dianna Oatridge. All that incredible work would not be possible without Brian’s support, David’s help and everyone at MGoBlog: Thanks guys. And of course, thank you to our readers.

You can find all the photos taken this past year and more on our Flickr! page. Each photographer also selected 15 of our personal favorites from 2018, sorted per photographer, and chose three to write a little something about.

Patrick Barron

Gallery: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mgoblog/sets/72157677193362958 

The easiest part of photography is taking the picture - it’s literally just pushing a button. The adventure behind what it took to press that button is often lost, because the end result, the photo, is really all that matters. For example, to take a photo of the team coming out of the tunnel under the lights began with a 7 hour drive from Appleton, Wisconsin (where I currently live) to Ann Arbor. After failing to find a seat in the sardine-packed photo editing room and resorting to either the floor or interview room, I take the field during warm-ups by swimming through the sea of sideline pass VIPs like a salmon in Katmai. I wanted to try something new for the player entrance so I did my stadium-step rep to row 60ish and waded my way through the definitely-sober influx of students and around to Section 1. I gave my fondest thanks to the group that sits just above the tunnel who were kind enough to let me squat under them with my camera until the players came out. By the time my leg went numb I had changed my settings four times, taken about 100 practice photos (thank you, band), and 20 minutes had passed. From there it was easy, just press and hold the shutter button. Legs still numb, I did another stadium-step rep to row what-felt-like-1,000 and sprinted my way back around the stadium, down through the student section, and onto the field.



My trip to the Elite 8 in L.A. was planned the day before. I had some sudden availability and Brian was generous enough to expense me a last-minute flight. After getting about 4 hours of sleep I woke up at 4 a.m., booked it to the airport, and was on a 7-hour travel binge to L.A. I never thought I’d have to travel over 2,000 miles the morning of a game to get there on time, but I survived. My typical duties were pretty routine once I was there, but in a celebration ceremony anything can happen. A lot of it is shooting Hail Maries (holding your camera above your head and hoping you get something). I’m only 5’8” so this is pretty much a requirement for basketball players. Pro-tip to aspiring photographers: don’t be rude, but being aggressive and holding your ground during a celebration mosh pit is a necessity. I got my shots and went to publish. Exhausted, I went back onto the court after everyone had left and I grabbed some leftover confetti, as well as a tiny, tiny leftover piece of nylon that was still on the court (now my most prized Michigan sports possession).



As a photographer my goal is to always grow and step outside the box. Think differently. What shots have been done a million times and what’s new? I’ve sprinted, climbed stadiums, driven across the Midwest, flown across the country, fallen on a slippery Spartan Stadium*, had Notre Dame players tackled at me three plays in a row, hockey pucks hit my lens, rained on, sleeted on, and heckled by Bucky. There’s a bit of sweat and tears behind each photo that you don’t see. But am I ready to do it all again? You betcha.



*shout out to the MSU player that called me a “dumbass” for slipping as Michigan players celebrated with Paul Bunyan, oops!

[After THE JUMP: the basketball guy, the football guy, the hockey guy]


What Are You Gonna Do, Stab Me?

What Are You Gonna Do, Stab Me? Comment Count

Brian November 15th, 2018 at 12:24 PM

11/14/2018 – Michigan 73, Villanova 46 – 3-0

During the consumption-of-entrails portion of the game someone tweeted a question at me.

Sort of but also no. "Death from above" is a particular genre of Beilein win where Nik Stauskas sticks contested threes in your face and no amount of scoring you manage is ever enough to climb up the Sisyphean treadmill that Michigan's offense presents you. Halfway through the first half your official twitter account issues a shruggie. The danger comes from the high-arcing artillery shells Michigan fires with unerring accuracy, and then a Lithuanian-Canadian dude dunks on your face.

That's Death From Above. This was different, except for the Lithuanian-Canadian dude. This was a shiv in the dark.

Michigan was most dangerous in the low places, where Zavier Simpson's fingers are stickiest and Ignas Brazdeikis's defense most implausible. The closest thing to a consistent perimeter threat Michigan presented came from Charles Matthews jumpers that started just outside the restricted circle and ended just inside the three-point line. The very, very burly Eric Paschall is going to hit 65% from two in conference play; he was just 3 of 13 against against a true freshman wing giving up 40 pounds.

At the same time Michigan was turning an All Big East C into a pumpkin they limited Villanova (VILLANOVA!) to 3 of 15 from behind the arc, on shots that were about 95% contested. Six different guys had steals. Zavier Simpson had five himself. Villanova had three turnovers for every assist.

At some point Gus Johnson said that Michigan was known for ferocious defense and a near-total lack of turnovers. I thought about tweeting out something in the "lol that's half-right" genre, and then stopped. Stopped like a wildebeest trying to drive the lane against Michigan. Maybe it's true. Or, at least, it's is going to be true.

And like, I don't know, fine? Let's go? I don't have the fingers to deal with this.

Never in the history of humanity has a program undergone such a dramatic 180 in how they get things done without losing its fundamental personality. And make no mistake: Zavier Simpson is as good of a Beilein-at-Michigan avatar as anyone despite the fact he'll hit 30% of his threes this year if he's lucky. He is not without precedent. He is the continuation of a theme. Seven years ago Darius Morris told Michigan State to "get the fuck off my court." Nik Stauskas terrified Kentucky fans despite Kentucky having 16 seven-foot jumping jacks. Charles Matthews?

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[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Charles Matthews spent the entire first half doing this to various Villanova Wildcats. Everyone wanted to punch him and someone almost did.

These guys have always been assassins. Just not this kind. They've been guys who line your head up in a targeting reticle from two miles away. Now they knock on the front door and ask if anyone wants to play with all these knives they brought. You can say no all you want. The question is rhetorical.


Yes. Michigan is going to stab you until a palpably depressed Gus Johnson can no longer inject any life into the game. And then they're going to stab you one last time, because maybe you deserved it.

[After THE JUMP: some bullets and react from elsewhere]