I can't believe this grown-ass man got down on all fours to slap the floor in a game he was coaching

Michigan 62, Northwestern 60 Comment Count

Alex Cook December 4th, 2018 at 11:19 PM

In what's now customary for Michigan's trips to Welsh-Ryan Arena, Northwestern took the Wolverines down to the wire - and this time, Michigan prevailed after a would-be buzzer beater from Ryan Taylor hit the backboard and bounced off the rim. Jordan Poole rejected a screen and drove for an emphatic dunk for the winning margin, and he drew a charge on the ensuing possession. The Wolverines were leveraged into two bad possessions, but their defense held up and secured the win in what was Michigan's first competitive game of the season.

Michigan pulled out to significant leads multiple times, but Northwestern was always able to respond. The beginning of the game portended another blowout: Poole scored five quick points, Zavier Simpson made a few nice plays on the offensive end, and Michigan led 9-3 early - Northwestern labored through their first few possessions but got on the board with a banked-in three from Dererk Pardon (the second made three of his career).

The Wolverines went up 22-12 on an Ignas Brazdeikis three, but Pardon kept the Wildcats in the game. Northwestern’s wings did well to get all the way to the rim on ball-screens to force help from Michigan’s bigs and get the ball to Pardon; he also went to work on the block with his back to the basket and scored effectively against Jon Teske. Pardon finished with 16 points in the first half and carried the scoring burden for a while before Vic Law got going.

Northwestern cut the lead to 22-19, forcing a Beilein timeout, but Michigan responded with a run of their own: Iggy scored on consecutive possessions out of the timeout, Simpson hit a beautiful sky-hook over Pardon, and Teske found Iggy across the floor for a three to extend the lead back to double digits. The Wildcats got back into the game before halftime though, as Pardon scored a few more buckets and Law hit tough shots to end the half - an elbow jumper over Simpson and a tough step-back three at the buzzer.

Michigan led 36-30 at halftime and started the second half well. Teske scored on a put-back on the first possession, Iggy made an and-one layup and had a put-back of his own, and Michigan’s adjustment to have Iggy double off of Anthony Gaines on Pardon’s post touches flummoxed the Northwestern offense for a while. Michigan was on a 9-2 run when Teske picked up his third foul at the under-16 timeout, necessitating a stint from Austin Davis at the center spot.

By the time Davis checked out, Michigan’s lead had evaporated from a comfortable 45-32 margin to a narrow 47-45 lead. The Wildcats held the Wolverines to just two points over a five-minute span, as Law's defense on Simpson bothered the Wolverine point guard; Taylor made a three, AJ Turner made an appearance with a few buckets, including an and-one layup after rejecting a Simpson alley-oop attempt, and Welsh-Ryan was alive. Pardon briefly exited the game with what appeared to be a knee injury and was much less effective in the second half.

Simpson broke the extended 15-2 run with a layup past Law, and Teske checked back in. The Wildcats started to concede wide-open three-point attempts to Simpson and he obliged - taking and missing several looks as Northwestern eventually grabbed their first lead of the game on a tough Law three with six and a half minutes left in the game. After the Law three, Beilein called a timeout and subbed in Eli Brooks for Simpson - a move that worked out well for Michigan. The Wildcats went up three on a Turner hook, but Poole drove baseline and kicked to Brooks, who made the extra pass for a rebuttal from Iggy. On the next possession, Teske found Brooks for a three of his own.

During the intervening possessions, Northwestern was able to keep pace with some easy looks inside. Law lost his high school teammate Charles Matthews on a screen for another layup to put Northwestern up 58-57; Iggy was fouled by Law while taking it to the rim and made one of his two free throws. The teams traded empty trips, then Teske got a steal and eventually was rewarded with an open dunk from Poole. Northwestern responded with a Taylor jumper to tie it back up; Poole’s dunk with two minutes left gave Michigan a 62-60 lead.

From there, Michigan turned it over twice, but held Northwestern scoreless on their final three possessions (despite allowing an offensive rebound on their second-to-last possession). On the final play of the game, Teske stripped Turner, and Taylor grabbed the loose ball, eventually shooting a panicked three from well beyond the arc. The carom off the backboard almost gave Northwestern the hard-fought upset, but the ball bounced Michigan’s way as the clock expired. Despite some poor late-game execution, they prevailed.

Iggy wound up with 23 points (and made 3-6 threes) and continues to impress; Poole started the game hot and made a few huge plays late; Teske was indispensable and finished +15 on the night. Simpson was less effective as the game went on, while Matthews had a tough night in his return to the Chicagoland area, finishing with just three points. Aside from some nice minutes from Brooks down the stretch, Michigan didn’t get much from its bench, as Isaiah Livers was scoreless in 22 minutes and Davis was unable to keep up on both ends while he was in.

Michigan hosts South Carolina on Saturday and will likely keep their undefeated record alive until Big Ten play resumes in January. Tonight, they were truly tested for the first time, and despite shooting 5-20 from three and blowing a sizable second half lead, they withstood strong performances from Northwestern’s seniors Pardon (20 points) and Law (19 points) to stay perfect on the season.

[Box score after the JUMP]

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December 5th, 2018 at 1:00 AM ^

This is a game that will end up being a quad 1 victory to the committee and it provided valuable close game experience in a hostile environment. Everyone predicted a game like this would happen eventually and we survived it with a win. The schedule lightens up at a perfect time too. We have a chance to fix those holes that NW poked in us against a stretch of teams that probably aren't able to expose them very well. Perhaps we can start getting Johns comfortable too.

I try and stay optimistic regarding sports, but Davis is in his junior year and if he isn't a Big Ten level player at this point then he probably won't be during his career. His inability to jump 12 inches on the failed alley-oop came at a really bad time.That's fine in the future, Davis got coached by one of the best staff in the country and will probably enjoy success as a grad transfer center for a decent mid major due to his redshirt year, but it's too bad regarding the current situation. I love Johns' potential though and I think it'll be a game changer if we can get him going by the start of normal Big Ten play. Next year hopefully Castleton will be ready or Jaron Faulds (Columbia transfer, 300's level recruit now walking on to Michigan) can provide some good minutes. Go blue.


December 5th, 2018 at 1:32 AM ^

I was very disappointed in the utter lack of Davis' development.  Looked like a big high schooler.  He was late to set any screen, every time,and then lumbered down the court.  John's and castleron need to be developed fast if we want to win it all, because the way to beat us is to get Teske in foul trouble because of Beileins incessant auto bench.  He was better off leaving Teske in til he fouled out and then hope to maintain a 20 pt lead with John's.  

We need another big man..surprised Beilein recruites Davis because I just don't see it. 


December 5th, 2018 at 8:10 AM ^

These were his first meaningful minutes this season, and arguably the first of his career. I'm not saying he'll ever have a role other than what we saw in this game -- coming in for foul-troubled Teske when Livers isn't a good matchup for the 5 -- but I am saying that he maybe didn't show what he is capable of in that role.

The problem wasn't so much Davis lumbering around as whatever it was NW was doing re: Simpson when Davis was in the game. That seems like something that can be adjusted to.

Beilien seemed positively giddy after the game about having coached against Painter and Collins so early in the season -- these kinds of games are excellent for working out the kinks, and this one of Davis not being effective when he replaces Teske is a big problem. But I don't think we can assume it can't be fixed.

The Purdue game turned in to a practice (for both teams) in the second half, and this one was a serious test.


December 5th, 2018 at 3:04 AM ^

Davis is taking a lot of unfair heat for that NW run.  He was fine.  None of the NW baskets were on him and Teske wouldn't have been able to do anything about them either.  Their scoring went like this:

35: Taylor hit a contested pull up three off the dribble in Poole's eye. Tip your hat.  Made a tough shot.

37: FTs after a foul on a fast break set up by a terrrrrrible three by Poole that got blocked (he shot a 25 foot three with 11 seconds on the shot clock that got blocked - you just can't do that).

40: Law makes an and one on Livers that is part great play by Law, part bad play by Livers/Poole (I think it was more on Poole as he probably needed to switch the screen there).

42: OREB put back by Gaines after a missed block out by Z (off a Vic Law miss).

45: Turner and one on a fast break after a terrrrrrible attempt at an alley oop by Z which was in transition, not a half court set that even involved Davis.

Again, nothing even close to Davis' fault.

As for M possessions, there was a bad 15 foot baseline fall away by Braz in an attempt to draw a foul, there was the aforementioned terrible three by Poole, the bad alley oop by Z (intended for Braz but went right to the defender).  There was the failed alley oop to Davis but that's more on Brazdeikis.  As the passer you need to know who you're throwing to and what he's capable of.

Obviously the offense isn't as dynamic with him in there and it puts a little more pressure on other guys, but I thought he did fine setting ball screens and rolling. He kept moving.  He had a nice "Teske-seal" on the one Brazdeikis basket during the run.  His teammates were just not good during that stretch.

His big minus in this game was just a result of being in at a time when the other team hit some tough shots and his teammates played like crap.  I think he's an adequate backup big for 5-8 minutes a game. He's not the disaster that he's being made out to be.


December 5th, 2018 at 7:35 AM ^

I have not seen any clips...am betting yours is the accurate report here. It sounds as though this game was the confluence of several negative factors plus some luck of the bounce. Michigan, for all its wonderful skill and excellent team play, does have individual holes that can be exploited. 

My experience is that conference play is a special animal...because of how well teams know each other. Here, a win is a win...be happy!!!


December 5th, 2018 at 1:42 PM ^

Yeah, overall Northwestern made a lot of tough shots, several guys on Michigan had bad games (Matthews was AWFUL, Livers wasn't himself, Z had a bad second half), I thought the offense was too rushed and sloppy in the second half (Z was shooting threes too early in the shot clock), and Northwestern is a good defensive team plus it's a road conference game.

Oh, and the refereeing was really bad in the second half (questionable travel on Matthews, very bad moving screen call to give Teske his third, no call on a mugging of Braz, phantom foul call on Davis, and the worst one of all: a called foul on Braz when he ran into a screen and the screener fell over because their knees hit).

Michigan failed to cover by 4 points.  That's it.  It feels weird that it wasn't a blowout, but it felt good that so many things went wrong and the team still pulled out a road win against a top 50 kenpom team. I certainly don't think any new issues were exposed.  The depth is a little iffy, mostly because an injury to the top 7 would be pretty impactful, but that's a known issue.  One or more of the the non-Iggy freshmen should be ready to give some minutes by midseason per usual.


December 5th, 2018 at 1:54 PM ^

I thought in the first half, that Northwestern did a great job of guarding Michigan and keeping them off the 3-point line. Michigan really had to work their offense to get things going and that continued throughout much of the game.

Michigan really needed to drive more and then kick, but the Wildcats weren't really collapsing or giving help on drivers to the basket, allowing Pardon to guard the rim. As it was Simpson was doing a fairly effective job taking the ball deep seeking to draw defenders to him, but Northwestern did a great job of team defense, I thought.

At least their defense was the best against Michigan's primary deep shooting threats, Livers and Poole. And with Matthews and Livers both silenced from the offense, the Wolverines fell into the trap late of giving three-point looks to guys who aren't high percentage shooters outside the arc.

There was a stretch late in the game when Teske, Simpson and Iggy missed like 5 consecutive trey attempts instead of moving the ball and trying to get a layup.

Northwestern has just enough length, athleticism and a post presence to create problems for any team and Michigan got a good wake-up call in its first conference road matchup of the season. I thought afterward, that the reason Beilein seemed almost giddy abut the performance, was the level of difficulty the Wildcats presented to his team. Nothing like adversity to stretch your development.


December 5th, 2018 at 7:37 AM ^

Eh. Maybe I buy this on defense (maybe) but this completely ignores the impact Teske has on offense even without touching the ball, and how Davis completely failed to have any sort of similar impact. He’s a complete non-entity offensively thereby making the other 4 bear more of the burden. And this team isn’t built to create good looks without the C being heavily involved. 


I echo the hopes that Johns is able to come along quickly over the next 6 weeks.


December 5th, 2018 at 8:09 AM ^

Davis's teammates do not trust him offensively.  No post passes or anything other than passes to swing the ball when he's up top, even when mismatched due to switching.

The other 4 feel more pressure as a result. 

We already knew this, but the team really needs Johns to develop into a rotation player. 


December 5th, 2018 at 8:57 AM ^

Michigan doesn’t do post passes with anyone on the floor. 

It is the pick-and-roll stuff that is really affected, as Davis added nothing there. Teske is both a good target and an excellent blocker, clearing up lane space for guys like Z to drive. Those two aspects were the biggest holes in Davis’ game last night. 

So it wasn’t promising. But then it’s not like Beilein has never transformed a guy that fans have written off before. 


December 5th, 2018 at 8:20 AM ^

No no no. He completely ties up the floor on offense, and eliminates the possibility of switch everything on defense. Davis’s lack of athleticism is not a fit for this scheme and you can tell the rest of the team doesn’t trust it either. They don’t want to put the ball in his hands and opponents don’t respect his ability off the pick and roll or (obviously) shooting from the outside, so the offense changes entirely when he’s in.

The sets we ran with Davis on the floor were some motions early in the shot clock that never worked and then just iso’d Poole/Z/Matthews which isn’t a great possession. He can’t see meaningful minutes going forward. We’ve work in Johns or Castleton - at least then we can run similar offensive sets to what we do with Teske.

Brian Griese

December 5th, 2018 at 9:47 AM ^

One foul was the garbage push off on a terrible pass that hit Davis right in the chest - I’m not really sure that’s his problem. 

The alley-oop - did he throw it to himself? He jumped, the ball was out of his reach. Unless you’re accusing him of not giving max effort on his jump (which I doubt) how was that his problem? 

I get it, he’s not great. But the dude essentially went two years without playing basketball in a real-game setting and he’s only used 1.25 years of eligibility. DJ Wilson took a redshirt and looked like a hot mess the first year he played and he turned out okay. Apples and oranges yes, but I don’t get why everyone wants to bury him already. 

They need to get him some real minutes against the tomato cans coming up. If he looks like crap in those, then I would agree it might be time to start looking at other options. 


December 5th, 2018 at 11:53 AM ^

On any given night +/-  is heavily luck driven.  Pardon was 9/10 for 20 and plenty of that was on Teske (which Brian should have to eat at least half a lemon for).  To just hand wave this as Davis and a poor 3 point shooting night I think is a mistake. Our guards had real problems with their backcourt length and 25% from 3 isn’t bad when Simpson is attempting a third of those. That’s the shots they wanted Michigan to take. 


December 5th, 2018 at 1:24 AM ^

-15 via Orion Sang on twitter. Teske played 32, Davis played 7, and I guess Livers must've gotten a minute at the 5 where we were +2.

Part of the issue was Matthews' foul trouble forcing Beilein to play Livers at the 3 almost exclusively. Not much he could've done there given the roster makeup. I think this is a case where you can definitely look back and question that part a bit though. An unathletic, lumbering center who was known in high school as a back to the basket guy seems like a really bad fit in a Beilein offense, especially when Teske is the other big in the class. It seems like a raw athletic rebound/dunk type guy would've complemented him a bit better. Oh well, Teske and Castleton project to be quite the duo next season and we've already blown out 3 legit teams despite those concerns this season.

Reggie Dunlop

December 5th, 2018 at 10:16 AM ^

Hey, there ya go!  Somebody finally mentions the totality of the team issue!

Davis didn't have a great night. Nobody did, really. Michigan was playing jacked-up lineups from the first minute when Matthews went out and it continued all night. Northwestern had a sympathetic whistle as expected on the road in the B1G. We were constantly subbing guys out to mitigate foul trouble against a team that made no effort to drive the hoop. If Beilein has the luxury to pick his spots for Davis instead having his hand forced by whistles, we're probably not even talking about any of this because we won by double-digits.

That was their first real extended run in a hostile road environment. Everybody was a little shook. If that was the first meaningful minutes you saw in the career of Zavier Simpson, people would be saying the same crap: "He can't shoot! He's not a high major player!" If this was the first we saw Matthews? "This guy stinks! He's a walking turnover! He'll never make it in a Beilein system!" And those are guys who played in the Final Four 6 months ago.

It's so exhausting to read this board bitch and moan after a single game - in any sport. (Don Brown needs to go all-zone all the time!)  We weren't great. It happens. Davis is the backup center. This is the most he's played since high school. He will get better, play faster and be more assertive with experience like everyone does. There are about 30 games left this season and we'll need him again. People are already pushing him out and talking about his grad transfer? They're 9-0. Get a grip.

True Blue Grit

December 5th, 2018 at 6:46 AM ^

What the hell was their coach Collins doing on all fours like a dog on the sidelines?  At least the camera caught him doing that, acting like a child.  Can anyone visualize Beilein doing that in a game?  


December 5th, 2018 at 9:13 AM ^

I'm fairly certain it was after a questionable push off foul on NW. I don't think the guy was channeling his inner sparty. He was insanely pissed about the foul call. Maybe not the most elegant way to show his displeasure, but he wasn't just wandering around the floor on all fours for 3 minutes like you all are making it seem. Unless he did it again that I didn't see.