Go ahead. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Michigan 65, Maryland 52 Comment Count

Seth February 16th, 2019 at 3:35 PM

The last time Michigan faced Maryland in Crisler was MLK Day of 2018. You know, the one when Michigan went cold in the first half, scrapped back from a double-digit deficit to open up one of their own on a spate of Moritz Wagner threes, and lost the lead with a few seconds left to set up the long pass to Abdur-Rahkman, the trip by Bruno Fernando, and two ice cold free throws to end it. You remember.


Both of Michigan's heroes from that game were in the building today for a very different Michigan team, and a script that at times felt all too familiar.

Recently ejected John Beilein's squad came out in the first half looking more like the killers who left November covered in the viscera of Nova, UNC, and Purdue, and less like the guys who left State College this week with faces covered in frying pan marks. As they've done all season, the defense clamped down, forcing PG Anthony Cowan to give up the ball, forcing the Terps into a slew of turnovers, and frustrating UMD bigs Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith into a miserable 2/11 in the first half. With their top options not producing Maryland tried to go to their relatively low-usage wings and the wheels came off: SG Eric Ayala missed all seven shots (five from distance) he took in this game, and Darryl Morsell coughed up four turnovers.

Much of that was thanks to Wagner's heir, Jon Teske, who was as delightful on the defensive end in this game as he wasn't offensively. We'll start with the defensive job: after getting double help on Fernando for Maryland's first possession Teske went to work alone, absorbing Fernando's best shoulders and lean-ins, and anticipating every other post move. Iggy Brazdeikis was brilliant on the boards against a tough customer in Jalen Smith, and the rest of the pests helping Michigan combine for seven steals. Maryland did the rest themselves, turning the ball over 13 times in the game's first 20 minutes (they would finish with 16). With the set shooting off, the Wolverines were able to score mostly on the transition opportunities the Terp turnovers provided.


Like this one. [Campredon from the magic cam]

Zavier Simpson's active work came at a cost. Trying one of his sneaky grabs on Cowan when running off a screen, X picked up his second foul with over six minutes left in the first half, triggering the Beilein autobench for Michigan's minutes leader. In his stead we were treated to our first extended minutes for David DeJulius. The freshman looked more comfortable than in any of his previous outings, scoring on a Simponesque 3 o'clock hook and forcing a UMD offensive foul off the ball. But DeJulius's contributions were offset by the defensive drop-off, as Maryland finally managed to get a couple of their own deadly freshman shooters clean looks. DeJulius would finish with 2 points on 2.5 shot equivalents and a steal. Simpson would finish with 12 points, a 163 ORtg, five rebounds, eight assists, two steals, and two fouls.


Beilein said DeJulius is Michigan's backup point guard now. [Campredon]

As they did last year in both games against Turgeon's young team, the Michigan offense established itself with drives and kicks to create open three point attempts. But those kickouts often went to Teske, who was almost as off the mark this afternoon as announcer Tim Brando's music references. As Teske—whom Brando was calling "Testie" for some reason—opened at 0-4, 0-5, 0-6 from three, it was hard not to glance over at Wagner and think about a time when Turgeon threw up his hands in the Crisler Center media room and admitted "They're IMPOSSIBLE to guard." A dominant first half ended 27-18, but that felt like like a wasted chance to double up on the Terps, and Michigan's 3/15 mark from outside the arc was the glaring reason.

Teske finally got his first points in the second half on a dunk set up by X, who beat Cowan off the dribble then reached around Cowan's help, one of the most gorgeous assists of the year (though Simpson would top it later).

By then, however, things were getting tight. Early in the second half UMD's offense finally woke up, with Cowan sinking a pair of unassisted NBA three-pointers and Fernando surging. Michigan countered with Good Charles Matthews, whose signature falling J was only the most noticeable contribution. Michigan found extra possessions by Matthews sneaking in for a pair of running offensive rebounds under the basket, and covered Cowan by switching Matthews on him. Cowan and Fernando combined to go 5/5—all at the rim or three-pointers—before the under 12 timeout, but thanks to Matthews only managed to cut one point off the lead.

Coming out of the under 12 timeout Brandon Johns was inserted for Teske and Michigan picked up three quick defensive fouls on the same trip. Maryland trimmed the lead to 38-32 and Teske immediately returned. Despite drawing a difficult defensive matchup in long PF/C Jalen Smith, Brazdeikis did much of Michigan's offensive work in addition to the boards, sinking three timely three-pointers and adding a pair of assists off his drives.


THIS time I'm sure it will…drurrr. [Campredon]

By the midpoint of the second half it was a game again. Maryland got the score to 42-39 when Poole missed a stepback three, and bench wing Aaron Wiggins sunk his response. Teske missed his sixth three-point attempt on the ensuing drive, dropping Michigan to 4/21 from the arc. Michigan fans had a momentary panic as Anthony Cowan got a clean look off a high ball screen and put what looked like a tie ballgame into the air. Instead it went off the foot, Livers moved the rebound upcourt, and Poole drove end-to-end, undressing a lone Wiggins for an important layup. Following a missed layup by Wiggins, Simpson found acres of space with a simple jab and nailed an NBA three, forcing Turgeon to call a timeout.

Michigan ended it with a couple of nifty assists. Matthews turned down an open-ish three, drove inside the foul line, faked a kickout, and Fernando bit to leave Teske open for a dunk. Then Simpson topped it, driving under the basket and spinning around like a lost Spike Albrecht, until Teske slipped behind the bewildered Terp and X put a no-look pass into…oh, just watch it:

UMD started crashing the boards and was rewarded with a boatload of extra possessions in the waning minutes, made all the more excruciating by Brando still trying very hard to fit the game's narrative to "Killing Me Softly with His Song." Before Brando could connect them, Teske *FINALLY* nailed a three-pointer, putting Michigan up 57-46. Simpson punctuated it with his signature hook to put us into Kenpom time, with Turgeon electing not to draw it out with fouls. Wagner clapped in that Teutonic Muppet way he does, Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman stared cooly, and the band played Mo Bamba over an important Big Ten victory.

[Box Score after the JUMP]




February 16th, 2019 at 3:53 PM ^

DeJulius looked confident out there, but wow, what a difference on defense.  Every pick and roll became a nervous situation. You take Simpson's defense for granted and then realize, oh, yeah, mere mortals don't get through screens like Simpson does.

A lot of Derrick Walton to DeJulius though.  Good to see the young man earning some minutes.

I think it should be pointed out that Johns had 3 fouls in 4 minutes, not as a knock but to reiterate that the backup bigs are usually getting extended minutes when there's a tough post guy to guard that likely put Teske in foul trouble: Fernando, Morgan, Happ, etc. That's why he and Davis are going to necessarily have high foul rates.


February 16th, 2019 at 3:57 PM ^

Interesting that Simpson got the KenPom MVP - I was thinking it was going to be Matthews (his rating seems surprisingly low).  One stat that jumps out at me is Matthews' four offensive rebounds.  He did great work there.

Simpson quietly had a superb all-around game.  And he continued to hit his FTs!


February 16th, 2019 at 4:12 PM ^

Not surprised Simpson was MVP.  162 Ortg on highly efficient shooting.  8 (!!!) assists to just 1 TO and 2 steals.

Matthews was runner up though.  Solid game inside the arc.  OREBs were big early in the second half.

My low-key favorite thing about games in which Simpson and Matthews are the stars is that we already know where those two are playing next year.  As for the other three starters, stay away, NBA!


February 16th, 2019 at 5:23 PM ^

Hard to tell, but if one is watching with the paradigm of "I hope this guy plays well, but not so well that they become a hot NBA prospect," watching Simpson and Matthews succeed is relatively low-stress because it's not a concern. Simpson isn't NBA material, so he is free to be great. Matthews is going, so he might as well score 20 in every game. So that's where that would make sense.

OTOH Iggy or Poole going off for 25 in a few consecutive games sets off the "I wonder how Nunez will look out there next year" alarms. 

Granted, if Poole puts together 20 ppg for six games in the NCAA tournament, I'll hand-deliver his NBA draft declaration on my own dime if he asks me to. 


February 17th, 2019 at 12:08 AM ^

GR3, Darius Morris and Manny Harris all left despite not being sure first-rounders. Harris wasn’t even drafted.

We fans focus totally on the first-vs.-second round issue, but for players it seems to be only one component of the decision. The player might just be ready to move on with his life for any number of reasons, even full well knowing he might not get a guaranteed deal.


February 16th, 2019 at 5:50 PM ^

No, Matthews is gone.  He's already said as much.  That's what I meant.  Foregone conclusion.  So yeah, stephenjrking is exactly right about the fact that Z and Matthews could score 20+ a game and it wouldn't change what they're doing next year.  Simpson is coming back and Matthews is gone.


February 16th, 2019 at 4:12 PM ^

This victory should have been so much easier than it was. At some point, we can only hope this team will start feeling it from the outside. With three out of the last four on the road, this would be imperative before we get into one and done time.

Liked the mental toughness the team displayed today, though, and execution on the fastbreak. And, the overall defense was superb.


February 16th, 2019 at 9:14 PM ^

Iggy has been great pretty much all year from three.  In his three games before the Wisconsin win, he was a combined 9-16 with multiple threes in each game.  He didn't even shoot one against PSU so his "slump" literally was an 0-4 outing against Wisconsin. And those were all good looks (unlike the shots Poole is taking).

Unfortunately, he's been largely reduced to being Just A Shooter.  It's almost cringeworthy when he drives now.  He never passes and the odds of him getting his shot blocked seem about the same as him making a shot. Hopefully he can turn that around.  It's probably going to require him to keep his head up and make passing a threat so teams can't just collapse on him.


February 16th, 2019 at 4:21 PM ^

Glad to see DeJulius got some minutes, we will need him at some meaningful point given the auto bench. Playing is part of getting better despite the cost. Nice to see Matthews continue the aggressive slashing approach.

Thought the offense was significantly better than it has been in several recent games, and not just the ones we lost. Good ball movement and they didn't run down the shot clock to the end and then put up a low % shot. Only one real force by Poole that I can recall, on one of his stepback 3s. Bottom line is that this is just not a good shooting team and so the production was pretty pedestrian but they got high quality shots today which is about all you can hope for. 

Defense was obviously outstanding at 42% on 2Ps. Beat up on the boards again but Maryland is tall and athletic so oh well. 

Brando sucks but Flack's Killing Me Softly is an all-time classic.

The Man Down T…

February 16th, 2019 at 5:57 PM ^

Exactly.  It may not be pretty early getting DeJulius and Johns playing time but it needs to be done.  If not, then when you're forced to do it, it's bad.  Very bad.  Practice is not like a game.  I don't care how good your second string is or what intensity you practice with.  Game time experience is only gained through game time play. 

It's just like in football where you don't pass in games because you're up big and running well.  Then when you get to a game where you have to pass, you can't because you never practiced it in a real game. Get them in.  Get them practice. It will pay dividends later.


February 17th, 2019 at 10:22 AM ^

My college buddy had three testes for a brief period.   He got kicked in the gonads during a fight and it split one right in half. 

it had appeared he was the victor in the altercation however a UFR would clearly dispute that verdict.  He was in serious agony.  

This was surgically repaired and never prevented him from having three great kids.  

San Diego Mick

February 16th, 2019 at 4:25 PM ^

It was a solid win, came out strong and lead wire to wire despite a little consternation for a brief time in the 2nd half.

Gotta keep playing hard and not like the PSU game the rest of the way, hopefully we'll win the rest of them.

Good to see DDJ and Johns getting valuable minutes, depth building will be key.


February 16th, 2019 at 5:18 PM ^

I'm from San Diego (La Jolla) too a few million years ago, so I will add to brother San Diego Mick's comment.  A game like this is easy to complain about.  But then I remember the off years between Fisher and Beilein, and it hurts good.  I mean, it's all about the defense.  M beat the point spread, Maryland scored a season-low total, so how can anyone complain -- really?  The scoring was difficult during the middle 20 minutes of the game but the defense was good enough then to hold the lead.  Gloria! 

Looking forward to the next five games.  Really looking forward to MSU and watching X/Z against Winston.  That will be something to behold.  Wait a minute, Minnesota awaits and they cannot be forgotten after M beat them by only two at Crisler.  Sounds like a trap game.  Enough rambling...  Go blue!


February 16th, 2019 at 4:30 PM ^

Not to look too far ahead, but this is a game Michigan has trouble winning in College Park. As it was we got nailed with far more fouls, but the handsy way the D kept forcing turnovers can easily turn in a road gym. Take away all the forced TOs and the (inefficient though they were) ensuing transition opportunities and this looks a lot different. 

This team just can’t hit 3s reliably. I’m glad they keep trying, but it is so frustrating to see all these clanks from guys who should, theoretically, be able to make some.


February 16th, 2019 at 5:44 PM ^

Not just the calls themselves, but the way the game flows. An early (perhaps marginal) call on a Teske swipe might give him the jitters; Fernando then finds that he has the space to go to work, and Teske backs off to avoid picking up a second foul. Michigan eventually doubles, opening up the outside for threes. Michigan's offense is... well, the offense, and there's a substantial deficit by the time halftime rolls around.

It's not a sure thing, but nothing about this scenario is at all implausible. 


February 16th, 2019 at 5:01 PM ^

Texas A&M is the exception that proves the rule. In the postseason last year we kept waiting for the 3s to start dropping. Literally the entire tournament the team was cold.

Except for Texas A&M, where everything fell and it was a blowout.

However, things did not pick back up after A&M. Every other game was a struggle. The team struggled against Loyola. The team struggled against Villanova, and Nova hit their shots the way they had all year. The result was, then, a foregone conclusion. 

This team is what it is. The best we can hope for is a small uptick in 3-point efficiency from guys like Poole. That uptick could make a big difference, but even if we see one or two big offensive explosions, they aren't harbingers of a new, high-scoring offense to come. This is a 1-1.05 ppp offense.


February 16th, 2019 at 11:22 PM ^

Not many minutes there. Beilein was replacing Poole with the bigger swingmen at times. The Simpson/Iggy/Matthews/Livers/Teske lineup got a fair amount of play and seems to be a legit mix. 

Brooks can still get some minutes because Michigan is thin and needs Livers to absorb minutes from all three frontline guys, but not enough to dent the scoresheet. 


February 16th, 2019 at 6:24 PM ^

Generally, statistically, this is likely true. But there's wiggle room here, because Poole and Iggy are much better three-point shooters than they have been for a number of games now and Teske is a 37% guy who pretty much went one for infinity this afternoon. Guess what I'm saying is that they may well have that extra 3-4% in them that would have made today really comfortable and might provide the difference against very good teams down the road. 

Much as I tend to fret about them, they're 23-3. Two big tests coming up. 


February 16th, 2019 at 6:30 PM ^

I agree.

Make two more three-pointers and the percentage is a more respectable 35% and the game is likely never close. That's, say, one make from Poole and one make from Teske. 

I like looking at stats and percentages quite a bit, but sometimes we forget that just a couple of plays can swing how those stats look by quite a bit. 

The encouraging thing is that we've seen both Teske and Poole perform at higher levels, which suggests some improvement is possible simply by those two returning to their level of capability. 

In fairness, the reason most people are fretting isn't the record or even seeding position. The reason most of us fret is because we just made the Final Four last year and we think this team is good enough to do so again. The ceiling is really, really high and we want to hit it.

If Michigan makes it I will probably find some way to go, and that would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. I'd really, really like them to make it. Therefore I am invested in them making some of these shots.