Submitted by Tim on January 11th, 2010 at 2:48 PM


Northwestern 68 Michigan 62. Michigan 8-7 (2-2 Big Ten)

At this point in the season, we have a good idea who these Michigan Wolverines are. They'll finish middle of the pack in the Big Ten, lose to most opponents better than them, and just about split with teams at or below their level. In that sense, the Northwestern loss yesterday wasn't surprising. It still hurts though. The team dominated the first 16 minutes of the contest, and a valiant comeback effort fell just short.

The way this game played out, and I'm sure a lot of people noticed this, was a lot like the Penn State game on Thursday with Michigan's role reversed. A big difference, however, is that Michigan continued to fight when the tides turned. Whereas Penn State folded up when the Wolverines took the lead, yesterday Michigan was able to stem the Northwestern momentum and even briefly lead the game in the final minutes.

Turnovers told the story, just like against Penn State. Whereas the Wolverines took good care of the ball in the first half, the Northwestern defense stepped up its pressure after the break, and Michigan's young ballhandlers coughed up the rock too many times. When the rhythm was disrupted on one end of the floor, the players got distracted, allowing Northwestern to take over the game.


  • Just came through now, and is unrelated to this game in particular, but John Beilein has extended his contract with Michigan through the 2015-2016 season.
  • Despite a couple ill-advised turnovers toward the end, I thought Darius Morris looked as comfortable on the court as he has all year, with 7 assists to his name and a couple 3-balls, one when Michigan absolutely needed it.
  • It's hard to say Manny had a tough game when he nearly had a double-double, but he made a couple killer mistakes (the turnover at the end comes to mind), and at the very least didn't play his best game out there.
  • Zack Gibson made his requisite boneheaded play (letting a pass slip through his hands under the basket), but didn't get enough time to make of for it with his requisite awesome athletic play. With such a short bench (and as the only backup in the post), he needs to get more than a couple minutes.
  • The commentators who always say "you need to pound inside to DeShawn Sims" (Jay Bilas and others) frustrate me, because John Beilein has proven at multiple coaching stops that it's possible for his teams to win without using the low post as a main source of offense. However, when Sims was playing so well at the beginning of the game, I wish they'd continued that when Northwestern started going on a run, to settle the team and prevent the game from getting out of control. Congratulations to Sims for being named the Big Ten Player of the Week, as well.

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The Wolverines have just a couple days to recharge for a big Weekend. Indiana visits Crisler Arena on Thursday at 9PM for what has become a must-win game. On Sunday, UConn will stop by to close out the non-conference schedule. This is also a big football recruiting weekend, so they'll be taking in the UConn game.



January 11th, 2010 at 3:00 PM ^

"John Beilein has proven at multiple coaching stops that it's possible for his teams to win without using the low post as a main source of offense."

You are correct, but when you have a senior, athletic presence inside like Sims being guarded by inferior players, you need to get him consistent touches.


January 11th, 2010 at 3:11 PM ^

Bummer of a game:

1) The post is the main source of offense, but, not for scoring with Beilein. It's all about the inside out game for Michigan. If they get Sims touches down low on each possession it will open up the 3 point shot which, for some reason, Beilein is in love with.

2) Michigan was surprisingly susceptible to the trap, considering (I assume) they practice against it daily. Guards must stop picking up their dribble at the top. This plays right into the hands of the defense.

Tough year for the Blue, so far.


January 11th, 2010 at 10:28 PM ^

this was yet ANOTHER thing about this game that absolutely perplexed me. When NW went into a trapping D I started licking my chops for two reasons:

1. Our lineup is basically 4 guards and Sims. Our deficiency in rebounding due to our lack of height SHOULD be offset by our advantage in ball handling, breaking the press and trapping defenses. Nope.

2. Since our 1-3-1 defense for a period of time was our bread and butter since JB has taken over at Michigan wouldn't it make sense that our guys WOULD GO UP AGAINST IT EVERY FUGGING DAY AT PRACTICE FOR THE PAST THREE YEARS? Are you f'ing kidding me?!?!?

I am just dumbfounded that we let that damn defense turn us over so much that it resulted in a loss at home to NW when every game matters.


January 11th, 2010 at 3:32 PM ^

I don't think the failure to get Sims the ball in the 2nd was due to lack of effort. Northwestern did a much better job denying entry passes, and bracketed him on both sides. They took him away from us, and we couldn't hit the shots to make them give him back. Actually, we couldn't even stop giving them the ball.

And jesus, a few weeks ago, everyone loved Beilein, Manny, and Sims, and now we're saying things like "collapse". OMG THE TEAM ISN'T AS GOOD AS THEIR BEST TEAM IN A DECADE. Come on people.


January 11th, 2010 at 3:33 PM ^

This was a very frustrating game to watch. I agree that we needed to get Sims the ball a little more. He is so versatile and makes tough shots in the post. It might have given the team some easy buckets when NW started getting back into the game. The most frustrating part is the uncharacteristic turnovers. This team is normally very good at taking care of the ball which was not evident in this game. I don't know if I can take the emotional swings of watching this team the rest of the year. I might have a stroke.


January 11th, 2010 at 4:06 PM ^

One day when Drew Crawford becomes the first ever Northwestern Lottery pick we will all look back at this day and...well....probably still cry.

Personally, he WAS the story yesterday. He was the best player on the court and singlehandedly swung this game to the Cats. Hard to understand a game wrap that doesnt at least mention that. He was awesome to watch, you know except for the fact that he was flat out killing us.

Anyway, with IU and UM offering second half, home collapses after opening up big double digit leads in back to back days, I really was at my wits ends last night. I tried to write about hoops, but I was too frustrated.

Two very frustrated teams will be playing each other on Thursday. Hopefully its a recipe for a good game.


January 11th, 2010 at 4:44 PM ^

kids in the last 2 years have had their "career game" against michigan??? this crawford kid is just another in a decent sized list to do so... i was only able to see the last 10 mins of the game yesterday... from what i saw is that when michigan retook the lead they became complacent, instead of taking the ball at crawford who had 4 fouls... if they do that and get him out of the game hes not shooting 4 foul shots at the end...


January 11th, 2010 at 10:21 PM ^

Good post. A few thoughts:

1. This idea that opposing players have "career games" against Michigan is not a last two year problem. This shit has been happening for years. When I was in Ann Arbor in the mid-90s we used to just laugh when we would play IU and they would go something like 15-25 from the three point line and some dipshit would triple his career high. Happened every fugging year.

2. Crawford went over Sim's back on a rebound for a clear foul with maybe 4 minutes left in the game and didn't pick up his 5th. Even the announcers made a point of it and the guys in the truck replayed it close up showing the contact. He even knew he dodged a bullet but the look on his face. I knew we were screwed then because.....

3. ....One of Beilein's faults IMHO is that he doesn't seem to be a very crafty/clever in-game situational coach. Just like you mentioned he had 4 fouls and I don't remember one time that anyone took it to him to try to force a 5th foul, not one damn time. If I'm coaching this team I have whomever he is guarding go after him at least a few times to test his mettle.

go blue.


January 11th, 2010 at 10:34 PM ^

I had hoped going into the season that adding 3 bigs (Cronin, Morgan and MacLimans) that we would get significant contributions out of 2 of them or at least 1 of them and thereby free up Gibson to get more minutes. Now it looks like we won't be getting anything from those 3 and Gibson gets stuck on the bench so that he can be available to spell Pedee for a few minutes. Thus we end up with 3 guys playing out of position (Sims, Novack and Douglas) resulting in poor interior defense, poor rebounding and limited post offense. How much better could we have been with Gibson at the 5, Sims at the 4, Morris at the point and Stu at the 2?
At what point do you think that Morris will be the better option to run the point? Will it be later this month? March? Next year? I wonder when Beilein thinks that wil happen.


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