Michigan 62, Minnesota 57 Comment Count

Ace January 10th, 2015 at 3:45 PM

Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog

John Beilein's still got it.

Aside from Derrick Walton, Michigan couldn't hit an outside shot to save their lives against Minnesota, and for most of the game the offense stagnated. With a heavy dose of the 1-3-1 zone down the stretch, however, the Wolverines hung in the game with their defense, ultimately forcing 17 Gopher turnovers.

The master stroke from Beilein, though, came with 38 seconds left, when he called a timeout after a timely Caris LeVert steal with M holding a tenuous two-point lead. The play he drew up couldn't have worked better. Derrick Walton doubled back to take a Ricky Doyle screen, Doyle slipped to the basket unimpeded, and Walton tossed a lob that Doyle threw down with screaming emphasis on top of Minnesota's Maurice Walker. A Crisler Center crowd that spent most of the afternoon library-quiet followed Doyle's lead.

"He was the guy that was making us go," Beilein said of Walton. "Today was all about Derrick Walton." Walton's strong play down the stretch led to Beilein putting the ball in his hands on the game's critical play; with four options, including shooting it himself, it's safe to say Walton rewarded his coach's trust.

The Gophers couldn't recover, and a few Zak Irvin free throws provided the final margin. Despite all their struggles, Michigan now stands at 3-1 in the Big Ten, and just sent Minnesota reeling to 0-4.

While Michigan looked resplendent in their 1989 throwback uniforms, their play was anything but attractive for most of the game. They went 0/8 from three in the first half, allowed the Gophers far too many open looks from the perimeter, and eventually fell behind by as much as nine in the second half.

Then Walton took over in the latter half of the second stanza, scoring five straight points to cut the lead to seven, then throwing a fast break lob to Zak Irvin after crossing up a defender in the backcourt off a Spike Albrecht steal. A few minutes later, Walton gave Michigan the lead with another triple, assisted by a cross-court pass from LeVert, who'd later stretch the margin to five when he drew a foul on a three-point try of his own, then buried every free throw. Shortly after Andre Hollins, who scored a game-high 18 points, answered with a triple, LeVert stole a Hollins pass on the sideline; the fateful timeout ensued, and Doyle drove the final nail into the coffin.

Walton and LeVert each tallied 15 points to lead the Wolverines, though Walton did so in much more efficient fashion; he added five rebounds and three assists, while LeVert came away with four steals, three coming in the second half. Doyle, by far M's best big man on the day, scored 12 on 5/8 FGs, including a pivoting, Olajuwon-esque and-one to key the second-half rally; he also pulled in four offensive rebounds. Zak Irvin, who continued to struggle with his shot, chipped in 12 points. Spike Albrecht (six) and Kam Chatman (two) were the only other Wolverines to score on the day.

Even though Michigan continued to have a hard time getting their shots to fall, they found a way to pull out a tough game against a Minnesota squad whose conference record belies their quality. Active zone defense bailed the Wolverines out time and again down the stretch. Add in a little Beilein clipboard wizardry, and suddenly Michigan is riding back-to-back wins into a showdown in Columbus on Tuesday.


Heinous Wagner

January 10th, 2015 at 4:22 PM ^

Wily old coach taught a lesson to son of wily old coach. Beilein's worth his weight in gold. Minesota acted as if they were surprised to see the 1-3-1, and they just might have been. 

Stringer Bell

January 10th, 2015 at 4:22 PM ^

Zak Irvin's confidence is through the floor.  Either that, or he really needs to work on his corner 3's.  But they need to find some way to get him going, he's way too important to continue to struggle like this.


January 10th, 2015 at 5:37 PM ^

Looks like his release point is way out in front of him now.

I get that the future of jumpers is GSW's Curry one-motion quick release; but when a guy has a beautiful fluid more tranditional two-step release like Irvin had, don't mess with it completely.

The only reason I can figure was that someone thought his release too slow, so one-motion will quicken it. But it looks very awkward in traffic even when he hits (there was a real rainbow of a shot v. Penn State off the dribble that just looked wrong), and he isn't hitting much from outside now.

At least he is taking the open jumpers, which is a very good sign in terms of his confidence.

4th and short

January 10th, 2015 at 4:32 PM ^

Other than three point shooting I actually thought Michigan played a good first half. I was actually glad to see them much less reliant on the three.The post game is slowly coming along and post defence looked much improved. If Michigan would have hit one or two threes and Minnesota would have missed a couple of those tough threes it would have been a very good half for Michigan.I know you could always say if but,I was fairly pleased with the efforts.

Walter Sobchak

January 10th, 2015 at 5:19 PM ^

My wife and I were there. The kids played hard, but, like most of the season, they couldn't shoot a lick.

Irvin is the key. If he's can make his open threes and open things up, this is a top 25/sweet 16 team. If he struggles, so will the rest of the team.


January 10th, 2015 at 5:50 PM ^

I'm starting to be impressed with Ricky Doyle.  Just 16 games into his college career and the kid looks promising.  Still has a lot to learn, but I like what I see so far.


January 12th, 2015 at 7:33 AM ^

Agreed! He gets better almost every game. Pre season he didn't box out and rarely even touched a rebound. Now he's doing both - next step is hand control of the ball and he will be an unstoppable beast. Very proud of him. And he's super like able from a crowd perspective, he knows to hulk out at us and get loud!

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January 10th, 2015 at 5:59 PM ^

Lots of possible corner-turning here.

Walton looking much more mobile & aggressive looking for his shot. His release was confident, and his killer 3 from Caris' drive-draw-dish late (the killer momentum play) was perfect. Knocking down shots opens up his p&r game with Doyle, which killed them off. That combo looks potentially very effective.

Defensively the high trap unleashed Caris and Irvin as roaming poachers. Caris in particular looked the most confident he's looked all year on d, roaming, arms wide, anticipating, jumping lanes. The speed and length they have, astutely pointed out by Alex Cook in his excellent blog post, is ideal for this kind of running, gambling aggression, where extending the trap so far out lessens our height disadvantages. Great change-up by Coach B, and used just enough.

Caris little things right, still tempted to go one-on-one off screens instead of taking the open shots, but Matbaugh is right, no-one can hang with him one-on-one. The more Doyle gets his game vertical, the more running the 5 out at Caris as help is going to burn opponents as he will be able to jump-pass / lob into an active target down low (what I was hoping Wilson would turn into before his injury, a lob-target that can dunk zones & help back into man-to-man).

I like how Dawkins is coming along. He has growing comfort on both ends. He doesn't have to fill it up to fill his role. Doyle looks effective, still learning positioning. Donnal looks way off unfortunately and got a quick hook after a missed 3. Biefeldt is more effective at this point.

Very nice comeback. Even survived Irvin's wide-open miss off the corner 3, but you can't fault him for taking it. They proved against a pretty decent team that they don't need to be all Caris to pull out wins. 

Go Blue! Win 4 of our next 5 (very tall order yes) and we are in real business.


January 10th, 2015 at 6:24 PM ^

I really struggle to see how Donnal fits after this year. I do not believe that he will ever be able to positionally defend the 5 and I think he is best at the 4, but Wilson/Kam/Dawkins all have more upside at the 4. I really hope JB goes after a rim protectior in 2015 or that Wilson can fill that role. 


January 10th, 2015 at 10:39 PM ^

but right now it doesn't look good this season at least. Dwindling minutes and zero defensive (post) presence. 

He can't put the ball on the floor at all and doesn't look a special passer, so he'll live on open shots. 

Let's see what happens if his quickness and ballhandling improve, and they do pair him with someone who can operate down low. Next year.



January 10th, 2015 at 9:00 PM ^

This team is getting good experience at fighting for victories which will help them at the end of the year but even more next year.

Beilen is an incredible coach as everyone knows. We are so lucky to have him and now Harbaugh.


January 10th, 2015 at 10:23 PM ^

Am I crazy or did the title of this thread have Minnesota winning briefly? I missed the game, saw the headline and was pissed until I came back on now. Maybe I need to switch to water...


January 10th, 2015 at 11:19 PM ^

Everytime we get points in the paint our team looks good. Even when we're not shooting all that great it takes a ton of pressure off our guards to score. I'm hoping for a McGary-Esk tournament run from him. As soon as he Whipes that butter off his fingers we should be good.

Off topic, is drake Harris ready to go in winter conditioning? Hoping for big things from him.


January 10th, 2015 at 11:51 PM ^

Today's win was a gutsy one that showed and built character. This team won't shoot poorly forever and it'll start to click for some of these Freshman come tourney time. I'm not declaring them a contender, but they are very capable of becoming an 8-9 seed that nobody wants to see in the first 2 rounds.