Maryland 66, Michigan 56

Submitted by Ace on February 28th, 2015 at 2:26 PM

File photo [Barron]

Yes, we have to talk about it.

John Beilein is a great coach. His tenure at Michigan has left no doubt. Even great coaches, however, have their downsides. Beilein's rigidity with his foul policy qualifies, and—along with a perplexing insistence on sticking with the 1-3-1 while Maryland rained in second-half threes—it cost Michigan a shot at this game.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman picked up his second foul with 12:27 to go in the first half; the score was tied at nine. Zak Irvin committed his second with 6:55 to play in the half; Michigan held a 19-18 lead. Beilein went with a lineup that included walk-ons Andrew Dakich and Sean Lonergan, and didn't re-insert Rahk or Irvin until the second half.

Maryland entered halftime up 30-21 after the Wolverines scored on just one of their ten possessions after Irvin hit the bench. Using KenPom's win probability calculator, which factors in that Maryland entered the game with an 81% chance at victory, the Terrapins' win probability jumped from 78.0% to 93.3% during that span.

Although Michigan got within three during the second half, Maryland pulled away each time the Wolverines drew near, usually with an open corner three against the ineffective 1-3-1 zone. The ten-point swing with Rahk and Irvin on the bench in the first half held up as the final margin of victory.

Abdur-Rahkman finished with seven points on seven shots, seven rebounds, two assists, and three fouls in 28 minutes. Irvin had 15 points on 14 shots, three rebounds, three assists, and just the two fouls in 31. Lonergan had no points, two rebounds, and a foul in 11 minutes. Dakich had a three-pointer blocked in his three minutes.

It's not fair to Beilein to only point out the negatives. For the second consecutive game, Kam Chatman looked like a different player, scoring seven points on 3/5 shooting. Spike Albrecht tied for the team lead with 15 points. Irvin displayed a level of aggressiveness, ballhandling, and court vision that he didn't possess earlier in his career.

Beilein is coaching these guys up, and we'll undoubtedly be singing his praises again soon. Today, however, he wasn't close to his best.



February 28th, 2015 at 8:22 PM ^

His rigid foul policy has hurt the team several times this season.  When you're entire defense is built on not fouling, and you never have guys close to fouling out, it's insane to remove your top players in games where you absolutely need to get everything out of them that you can.

I love Beilein, but for being so seemingly good at playing the percentages in most tactics, this policy is not playing the percentages.


March 1st, 2015 at 5:00 PM ^

It's also distinctly possible his policy caused us to lose the national championship game. This isn't a one game situation, it's a policy he refuses to budge from that has cost his teams many games.

Beilein is great and is developing this team well but it hasn't been his best coaching job. This team lost to njit and emu at home even with a healthy team. The insistence on the 1-3-1 and inbounds plays cost us the Illinois game and the two foul policy has let up huge runs against msu Indiana and now Maryland


March 2nd, 2015 at 10:57 AM ^

We built a a lead but then lost it all.  We still went into the half losing.  We had an 11 point lead, Beilein should have put Burke back in to stop their run to take the lead back, the momentum swing from them erasing an 11 point lead in the last 4 minutes of the half was probably the reason we lost.


March 2nd, 2015 at 11:44 AM ^

Spike predictably ran out of steam, especially on D and when Louisville went on their run, it would have been nice to have Trey in there at the end of the half to help stem the bleeding.  That run by Louisville bascially cost us the game.


February 28th, 2015 at 2:36 PM ^

It was so hard to watch wide open shots being drained from all over the arc. That was just bad strategy on defense in the second half. This team continues to fight and perform well with the two best players on the bench .


February 28th, 2015 at 2:40 PM ^

a 10 point loss on the road to Maryland is about what I would have expected. They played hard, but we just don't have the horses this season. Next season will be fun. Drink up and cheers!

The Man Down T…

February 28th, 2015 at 2:42 PM ^

as I was one of those "we're going to be great in March" but yeah, as Clint said in Million Dollar Baby "Tough ain't enough".  We're tough.  We have some of the toughest kids around.  But just not the players to take on the Marylands this year.  Next year, I'll be back to "We're going to be killer come spring!" again.

snarling wolverine

February 28th, 2015 at 2:50 PM ^

I can't disagree about the foul policy and the 1-3-1 deployment today.  At the same time . . . Maryland shot 11-22 from dowtown (a season high in threes for them) while we were 5-21 (and it was 3-18 prior to garbage time) and somehow we were in this game until the late stages.  




February 28th, 2015 at 8:36 PM ^

It's not a coincidence that they had their best 3 pt shooting day against a laughable 1-3-1 that left guys wide open, and I mean ridiculously wide open time and again. And they shot eaqually unlucky from 2 which offest the 3 pt % a bit. Only 40% with just one shot blocked. I don't actually blame the 1-3-1 today.  If we went man more, they would have killed us going to the basket (the strength of their guards), since we have no interior defense and struggle to stay in front of quick guards.

It's like another poster said, we just don't have the horses (especially on defense) to slow down teams like this on the road. We needed to shoot the lights out, and like you said, we didn't.  End of game.


February 28th, 2015 at 7:23 PM ^

The problem is what coach doesn't have that 2 foul policy?

Has there ever been an mgoquestion at a presser asked about it? It's naive to think he would change because of that but it's so maddening. It was maddening even when NC did the same against Duke when they last played. Nc took out their best player with four fouls for a good chunk of the second half.


February 28th, 2015 at 8:43 PM ^

You're right that most coaches are overly risk averse, and the fact that Beilein teams primary defensive strategy is not to foul and that they play such a slow pace means the odds of a guard on his teams fouling out even if the guy picks up two in the first half is extremely low.  Add in the fact that on the road against a good team when he needs everything he can get out of his best players, it's surprising the a seemingly progressive coach like Beilein wouldn't waiver in his "policy". Like you said, it's maddening. 


February 28th, 2015 at 8:56 PM ^

we don't have the personnel to run man-to-man, and that's why he stayed in the zone. We have no interior defense and spike would have been eaten up by wells or trimble.  We had to hope they just missed a bunch of 3s, but they didn't.  That was the only hope on defense. And they actually weren't torching it completely until the last 7 minutes when they made their last three 3s they took in the game (and don't even get me started on the stupid Rahk foul on the 3 pointer). It wasn't like things were going horribly before that. If they had just missed 2 or 3 of those, which isn't crazy to hope for, it's a different ball game.

And it's never been a turnover-generating, confusing zone, this season or any season against well-coached Big Ten teams, which is why Beilein ditched it shortly after he was able to recruit moderate athletes.  It's an SOS defense when you can't actually play defense, which is the situation we are in right now.


February 28th, 2015 at 2:55 PM ^

One positive takeaway from this game and this season has been Spike's play. His defense still isn't great, but man can he carry an offense. Even when he doesn't put up flashy shooting numbers, his assists are great. Good game from him today. 


February 28th, 2015 at 2:59 PM ^

whenever i see people's prediction of next season, they always talk about predicted growth of other players, and then say something along the line of "and spike is spike."

i think spike has shown incredible growth this season--he's doing things he never would have done (and maybe couldn't have done) last year. his play has been incredible. i'm not going to just assume that "spike will be spike" next year--here's to hoping he can expand his game even more.


March 1st, 2015 at 1:59 AM ^

Spike is proven and established.  He will always be reliable.  I think he can improve his outside shooting numbers a bit.  He has a sweet stroke.   I don't think anyone can complain about Spike.   Let's not forget, but he isn't 100% healthy as well.  Spike is a gamer and warrior for this team.   Team MVP in my opinion.


Gulo Gulo Luscus

February 28th, 2015 at 4:50 PM ^

beilein probably isn't blind to the fact it has cost us sometimes.  i've wondered if the intent is as much about giving guaranteed minutes down the bench as it is about concern of a starter picking up 3 fouls in the first.

deploying the zone is also part of his philosophy.  sometimes it works, sometimes it won't, but the experience is valuable to the bigger picture (which is developing basketball players more than even winning national championships).

this site has well articulated the cognitive dissonance of "doing it the right way" in a world of the one and done. the refrain on fouls/zone are a manifestation of the complex.


February 28th, 2015 at 3:18 PM ^

But he was far from infallible too. Every coach has his blind spots; the great ones just have fewer of them, and the ones they do have tend to be less damaging.


March 1st, 2015 at 3:32 PM ^

Meyer plays Michigan really conservatively the first half.  Because he does that, we have been able to keep it close and even get a lead.  Then he gets even more conservative.  He finally snaps out of it sometime around the 4th quarter and then pulls away.

We love to say that since Hoke could play Ohio State so close, then Harbaugh will have his way with them.  But that closeness was due to Meyer, not Hoke.



February 28th, 2015 at 3:22 PM ^

I think it was one shot and done. They got back to a three point game with a chance to tie. They did that because they had players not in foul trouble to do it. Add some depth to this team, and they win. Make a handful more shots and actually limit second shots and create some ourselves and we win, with a major talent disparity. Give us some talent and watch out.


February 28th, 2015 at 3:27 PM ^

Yeah the 1-3-1 gave up a couple of threes, but it cost Maryland some turnovers earlier in the game. If Maryland shot  a more human 40% from three instead, we would all be singing Beilein's praises for this game. Several of those threes were from the wing and the key area, those would have been open in any zone defense. Michigan is close to being good despite missing so much. 


February 28th, 2015 at 3:28 PM ^

He got away with Dakich and Lonergan on the court together for a stretch. I think they were even +2 together, and then he brought Spike in for Dakich, after he got a quick rest. I then expected him to bring back at least one of Irvin or Rahkman, but he stuck with Kam and Lonergan for the rest of the half. That 9 point halftime deficit pretty much ended any shot we had in that game. Really just inexcusable. I know he's a great coach, but this is an issue year in and year out. 


March 1st, 2015 at 11:42 AM ^

That is the issue this year in my mind. When you have deeper teams you can sit a guy with 2 fouls. It is painful to watch Dakich on the court - I know he is working his tail off but we are playing 4 on 5 on offense and his defense is a problem as well.

They can't afford to sit MAAR and Irvin in a game like that. If you sit the players with 2 fouls, you are AUTOMATICALLY playing minutes with very weak players in the game. That will catch up with you when it is Dakich and lonergan. If you let the players with 2 fouls play, there may be a game when they get into trouble in the second half and you are without them. It may then cost you a game, but guess what, sitting them in the first half has cost us potentially 2-3 games! Had those players been allowed to play, you may take yourself out of a game in the second half, but kept yourself in 2-3 others because they never got into additional trouble.

Benching them in the first half GUARANTEES minutes with weaker players; playing them MAY result in problems in the second half but is never a guarantee and more often than not will work out. Most years I am ok with it, but not this year. We don't have the horses and need to play our best 6-7 guys regardless.


February 28th, 2015 at 3:46 PM ^

Serious question, has anyone ever asked Beilein about his foul policy (especially with guys with low foul rates) in a presser? I remember prople asking Borges about bubble screens and Hoke about punt formations until it was clear that they weren't going to give useful answers. For all the commentary here about it, I don't recall anyone ever calling him out on it. I don't see any downside to it, if nothing else just to see what he would say.


March 1st, 2015 at 3:42 PM ^

I hope he snaps out of it for the BTT.  He needs to adjust to the game as it happens and not play the percentages based on how they track over the length of a full season.  

We can't afford to play the last 5 mins of the first half with both Irvin and MAAR on the bench in tournament games.


February 28th, 2015 at 3:54 PM ^

Let's say Beilein deviates from his foul policy, leaves one or both guys in, and then they pick up their third. Then what's the coaching move?

I'm not saying Beilein is always right when it comes to his decision making, but a game is a lot easier to manage earlier when you know what you're working with as opposed to later. Michigan can get by with the two walkons on the court knowing that both starters can return sooner. If either guy picks up their third foul being left in, that just extends the patchwork lineup Michigan must play with.


February 28th, 2015 at 5:57 PM ^

If a player has two fouls, I always tell the guy to go after that player to get 3 fouls before halftime or that player won't be aggressive thus making it easier to score points.

I have zero problem with JB's sitting with 2 fouls at 1st half policy. You rather have players be aggressive at 2nd half and not worry about foul trouble.


February 28th, 2015 at 7:17 PM ^

I understand your point, but when the alternative is Dakich coming in, what's the difference? I'd much rather have MAAR defending at half speed and playing offense than Dakich going all out. The fact is that it's probably easier to score on Dakich with no fouls than MAAR who has to play it safe because of foul trouble.

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February 28th, 2015 at 7:26 PM ^

at the ten minute mark of the first half and you bench him, he can only play 30 minutes total (75%) for the game. You are self disqualifying your own player. Today, Irvin ended up with only 2 fouls for the game and MAAR had 3. Neither one came close to fouling out, but Beilein fouled them out himself (in the first half). We go down by 9 at the half and lose by 10. I think it is asking a lot for this short handed team to come from behind against Maryland on the road. You can do that with Kentucky depth, but not with this team.