Hopes Dashed

Submitted by Tim on February 21st, 2010 at 1:02 PM

mannypsu.JPG

Penn State 55 Michigan 51, MIchigan 13-13 (6-8 Big Ten)

At least I don't have to keep thinking about ludicrous scenarios for Michigan to make the NCAA tournament. Every time I start to think this team might be able to put together a nice run, they seem to be just waiting for the right time to punch me in the gut. I've grown numb now: walking out of Crisler the losses don't hurt anymore, and I feel like a zombie just going through the motions.

This was a battle of two mediocre teams, and though the temptation is to say "there's no reason Michigan should have lost," that's not true. There's a rather legitimate reason Michigan lost: because they aren't a good basketball team. When the shots are falling, they can win a game here and there, but that's a pretty rare occasion this season.

The defense went through some rough patches, but on the whole, I didn't think there was anything that lost Michigan the game on that end of the floor. When the opponent goes the final 10 minutes of the game scoring only 4 points, it's not defense that's the problem. No, I'm pretty sure it's the 1/12 three-point shooting in the second half, with no other way to create enough offense for the win.

The year of infinite pain in Ann Arbor rolls on.

Photos

Postgame Quotes

"Those guys are exceptional, and they played really well today." DeShawn Sims, giving the Nittany Lions their due credit for the win.

"We're all disappointed, but, still fight like we've been doing. But, very disappointing loss." Manny Harris, on the emotional letdown from the game.

"There's no time to feel sorry for ourselves. We've got Illinois at home on Tuesday and we can't let this happen again." Laval Lucas-Perry, on moving on from this loss.

"I'm just trying to learn more and more, because even though I'm a freshman, it's time for me to step up on the defensive end and stop their guards." Darius Morris, on his defensive improvement over the season, particularly his good defense of Talor Battle.

Up Next

Michigan welcomes the Fighting Illini of Illinois into Crisler Arena on Tuesday at 7. With the way these two teams have been playing of late, Bruce Weber's squad should be a heavy, heavy favorite.

Comments

bronxblue

February 21st, 2010 at 1:24 PM ^

In no way am I happy about this, but I always thought that seasons like this are the "downside" to a guy like Beilein at the helm. He is a great coach, but his three-point heavy offense is so reliant on a consistent outside shot that when a team lacks this ability, the wheels can come off really quickly on a season. This team does not have a consistent outside shooter, and if Harris isn't slashing to the basket the entire offense stagnates. Sims has been great and I would hate to see where this team would be without him, but shooting improvements has to be the #1 priority next year. Whether that be through different players, a different philosophy, practice, or some combination of them all, but this team has to find a way to generate points on a consistent basis, not just relying on hot shooting from the outside.

Pea-Tear Gryphon

February 21st, 2010 at 1:25 PM ^

Nice way to put it. I forgot this game was on (sorry) and flipped the channel from Olympic curling to see them down 53-51 while the announcers say how amazing it was that PSU hasn't scored in over 6 minutes and still had the lead. Then a PSU kid makes a nice baseline jumper with 14 secs to go, which leads Manny to race down and jack a 3. I flipped back to curling...

Will the UM sports nightmare end soon? I keep telling myself I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and dog-gone it UM will turn it around.

MGoAndy

February 21st, 2010 at 1:30 PM ^

That's what you get for having hopes.

I've begun looking forward to when our softball and baseball players come home from down South and start winning some games. Going to be a fun spring in Ann Arbor, I think.

MaizeSombrero

February 21st, 2010 at 1:30 PM ^

Damnit. I told you not to give me hope. But you did. And now look, I'm ready to punch myself in the nuts! GAHHHHH.

I just want a team to be good. And now that Ryan Lamarre is hurt, baseball isn't gonna be much better. UGGH!

The Barwis Effect

February 21st, 2010 at 1:39 PM ^

Now that this season is pretty much over, I would like to start seeing heavy doses of Vogrich the rest of the way. We're going to need him to make a substantial contribution next year, so we might as well get him some meaningful game experience now.

umchicago

February 21st, 2010 at 2:15 PM ^

zero improvement from last year from perry, novak and douglass. you could easily argue regression from those 3. if any of them would have stepped up this year, you could easily add 3-4 wins. very disappointing to say the least.

jonny_GoBlue

February 22nd, 2010 at 12:31 AM ^

I disagree on Stu, at a minimum. The guy has been playing really good on the ball pressure defense all season and as of late has been aggressively going at the hoop more often, something that this offense has really needed someone besides Harris to be doing.

The only thing I think you could say he's regressed on is his 3-pt shooting... last year - 33%, this year 31%... um, yeah.

Add to that, his Assist to TO Ratio has improved from 1.68 to 2.34 while arguably handling the ball with much greater frequency this season AND playing a substantially greater number of minutes, and I really don't think you can be too down on him.

umchicago

February 22nd, 2010 at 10:37 AM ^

how aggressive could stu possibly be going to the hoop? he's made only 16 non-3pt shots all season! Further, he had at least 3 PSU guys blow by him for layups during that game.

my disappointment is the fact that most guys improve significantly between frosh and soph years. it hasn't happened with our 3.

stu's a decent passer and takes care of the ball - too much. he lacks aggression snd he's bad on the fast break. that's why i've been hoping for months for morris to steal his minutes. he'll commit a few more TOs but he pushes the ball a lot more for easy buckets. this team needs to run a lot more. morris, harris, sims and LLP are all solid on the fast break.

i would also like more vogrich minutes, as i think he's a better shooter than stu and has more upside.

Noonan

February 21st, 2010 at 2:17 PM ^

"Mediocre" seems like high praise for both of these teams. PSU, in particular, has won 2 conference games. And UM just lost on their own floor to a team that had 1 conference win coming in.

Blue boy johnson

February 21st, 2010 at 2:48 PM ^

My boy Stu was encouraging today. First play of the game exemplified what Stu needs to do, he missed the shot but it just as well could have gone in. Stu was much more assertive today, way to go kid.

Darius was also a bright spot, the kid seems to get better every time out, Belien is right , things are going to be better next year.

Good idea on Vogrich up above, would love to see him get some real minutes.

Very winnable game, legs weren't there today, how many 3's hit the front of the rim? With the short bench and the long season these guys are a little worn down. Probably going to be a short run in the Big Ten Tourney

iawolve

February 21st, 2010 at 8:50 PM ^

Stu was 4 of 17. Manny took 24 and Sims took 10 but I don't see Stu as the second best option for us to score. I understand the open nature of the offense, but the dude should gets capped somewhere unless he is better than 3 of 11 from 2pt range and 1 of 6 from 3pt. That is a shooter that can't shoot, I don't know where the rip cord is, but it should be pulled occasionally. I liked his early drives in the lane, but did not come away really excited.

UMWest22

February 21st, 2010 at 10:44 PM ^

the most encouraging thing I saw from Stu was that horrible sequence where there was a loose ball that anyone could have gotten on a missed rebound by PSU, and he just kept running away from it. Actually, backpeddling. Slowly. He really is regressing every game, and it seems like he has less confidence in his shot than Morris. Which is bad.
I will NOT ever understand why he gets 35+ minutes per game, or whatever it is. He is just really frustrating to watch.

robpollard

February 22nd, 2010 at 10:06 AM ^

I wish Stu (and Zack, and LLP, and...) well, but I think you're reaching for positives. I'm glad he has a 2:1 asst to to ratio, but he was brought in supposedly b/c he could shoot, and he can't do that. He looks nervous out there, his shooting percentage (32%) shows that, and I feel bad for him. He's missing some wide open looks.

On a good team, he would be a nice bench player who plays 8-12 minutes a game. Unfortunately, Michigan is not a good team.

ijohnb

February 21st, 2010 at 3:53 PM ^

my only disagreement, that one did hurt. Not that I believed they were going to make the tourney, but imagining remote scenarios where they may was at least a little fulfilling.

What is left now is the question, and I honesty don't know the answer yet. If Harris returns, and I say after watching him this season, he needs to, the question is, was this just a massive softomore slump. The reason that I ask is that I can tell a good shooter when I see one, and Douglas is a good shooter. His release is Reddick'ish and he is athletic enough to get it off. Novak's a batter, and when he gets confidence, he CAN be money from behind the arc. This season was a bust, but I guess I am not that pessimistic about the future as the circumstances temp me to be.

Go Blue. (Please, this has been a touch nine months.

iloveyellow

February 21st, 2010 at 6:28 PM ^

Morris looks real smooth, and if he can knock down shots (or take them), he can be the type of big point guard that can dominate a game. It's easiest for a point guard to be the team's leader, and Morris I think has the capacity to step up.

remdog

February 21st, 2010 at 8:04 PM ^

This year or next year.

This team's not very good and appears likely to get significantly worse next year.

Michigan loses its only two post players and likely its two best players (Sims and Harris). Michigan's hopes next year rest on a few players whose only skill seems to be jacking up threes at a low percentage, a couple unproven redshirts and a couple new freshmen.

Beilein needs to start bringing in better talent - starting with Zeigler and then some decent post players.

trueblueintexas

February 21st, 2010 at 8:18 PM ^

Sometimes a coach just has to coach the team he has. My bet is many other coaches would have a worse record with the same team Beilein has this year.
Beilein has brought in about as good of talent as could be expected given the last 20 years of UofM basketball. The recruits coming next year give hope. Smotrycz looks like the real deal. Hardway has been averaging 30 a game, I don't care how low the competition, that isn't easy in high school.
Continue hoping for a .500 season this year and something slightly better next year.

remdog

February 21st, 2010 at 8:57 PM ^

Beilein is a great coach.

Smotrycz seems like a great near top 50 recruit and Hardaway appears likely better than his non-ranking. All is not lost if Michigan doesn't get Zeigler. But I suspect Michigan's going to need significantly more talent, preferably in the post, to make it back into the top tier of the Big Ten.

michfan4borw

February 21st, 2010 at 9:50 PM ^

has a good chance of remembering a play where Michigan had the ball on offense: The ball movement was excellent as it went down low and then out when the double team came upon Sims. The ball switched from one side of the court to the other as the defense struggled to catch up. As it rotated around the perimeter, it landed on the last guy open: Darius Morris. I'm pretty sure he hesitated (lack of confidence to shoot) and passed the ball instead. The announcer was almost ready to praise Michigan ball movement, but then switches to saying how well PSU rotates its defense. Clearly Michigan has the right thing happening within its program. Beilein is teaching them well, but he has a young, undersized team.

Morris will get better. We can all see that. Harris should return to improve himself and the program. The sophomores hopefully grow out of their shooting slumps (Douglass did start out aggressive; I only wished he would finished some of the easy plays he worked so hard to create). Our redshirt bigs will need to provide defense and rebounding. Hopefully we bring in a big with Zeigler; I don't see why not since clearly Beilein developed Sims into a bit of a NBA prospect. Michigan's program is fine. The season, however, is barely hanging on to a miracle big ten tournament peformance.

jb

February 21st, 2010 at 10:47 PM ^

Just nailed a free throw to ice the win for the Warriors over the Atlanta Hawks. Is it ironic that Jamal Crawford got a technical with 30 seconds left and the game tied at 104. Looks like Jamal is still making bad decisions.

I hate the NBA.

trueblueintexas

February 22nd, 2010 at 11:19 PM ^

Forget stats for a minute, anyone who knows the game and has watched last year vs. this year knows that Stu has improved in almost every facet of the game. You can tell he doesn't have legs on his shots right now. (i.e. consistently being short on his shot) Blame the S&C coach, blame Beilein for playing him too many minutes, blame whomever you want...just don't blame Stu for playing hard and doing what he is coached to do.