Michigan 67, Tulsa 62 Comment Count

Ace March 16th, 2016 at 11:58 PM

Zak Irvin had been, for lack of a better word, terrible. His last shot had barely grazed the rim. His last drive had resulted in a depressingly predictable turnover. He'd made one three-pointer all game.

But when Irvin's defender ducked under a Moe Wagner screen, he didn't hesitate to rise and fire with Michigan down a point and less than a minute on the clock. Despite some trepidation from onlookers...

...Irvin's shot found twine. A couple stops and five free-throws later, Michigan booked a trip to Brooklyn to face six-seed Notre Dame.

While the game got the desired result, it's not one Michigan fans are likely to want to relive. Both teams went through first-half scoring droughts that exceeded six minutes. After the Wolverines finished the half on a drawn out 19-4 run to take an eight-point lead, they gave it all back in the first three minutes of the second before both teams went ice-cold.

John Beilein played Andrew Dakich for five frustrating minutes while Derrick Walton sat on the bench with foul trouble. For murkier reasons, he sat Wagner—Michigan's biggest bright spot all game—in favor of Mark Donnal and Ricky Doyle before rectifying that error for the home stretch.

While the Wolverines were effective when they attacked the basket against an undersized Tulsa squad, only Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman—and on a couple surprising occasions, Wagner—was willing to drive to the paint with any consistency. MAAR wasn't a paragon of efficiency with 16 points on 5/16 FG, but he created havoc on the Tulsa defense that led to putback opportunities and drew enough contact to get extra points at the line (6/8 FT).

Wagner, meanwhile, played like he should be the clear-cut starter at center. After recording two blocks all season, he had four tonight in addition to pulling down eight rebounds and making both his shot attempts, including a poster-worthy slam on a second-chance opportunity to give M a late three-point lead. Michigan functioned better on both sides of the court with Wagner on the floor.

Duncan Robinson opened the game with a three; while he wouldn't hit another until late in the game, he found other ways to contribute—he grabbed 11 rebounds, dished out a team-high four assists, and finished a few forays to the hoop to tally 13 points. The contributions of MAAR, Wagner, and Robinson—a sophomore no major program wanted, a freshman who barely clung to a role this season, and a D-III transfer—allowed Michigan to overcome underwhelming performances from their two go-to guys.

Then, with the pressure on, Irvin delivered. It wasn't pretty. It was, in fact, cringeworthy, as Beilein's face can attest. At this point in the year, however, the final score is all that matters.

Now somebody grab me a drink.



March 17th, 2016 at 12:32 AM ^

the last 6 games are any indication, then I wouldn't hang my hat on better shooting, especially from 3-point range.  They have shot 5-13 (Wisconsin), 8-28 (Iowa), 11-27 (Northwestern), 6-21 (IU), 6-25 (Purdon't) and 6-25 (Tulsa) from 3-point range in those games.  The game against Northwestern is the only acceptable performance shooting from three.  The rest is terrible.

Combine that shooting with bad defense and the results are generally bad. 

On a good note, ND is very bad at defense.


March 17th, 2016 at 7:16 AM ^

That's where they HAVE to hit open shots . This has been the greatest frustration for me on this team- not that they take bad shots, but they miss the seemingly easy ones. If they're hitting shots, they've got a chance at the upset. Here's to hoping.

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MMB 82

March 17th, 2016 at 9:52 AM ^

If they had made a more reasonable 10-25, this game isn't even close. Being that this is the basis of Beilein's offensive strategy and they can't make them, sheesh! Miss those days when Stauskas and co. would make the opponents cringe, and their fans groan, when they got open looks, even before the ball was released....


March 17th, 2016 at 12:14 AM ^

Getting a little nervous about Beilein's decision making.

Wagner didn't deserve minutes earlier this year? Playing Dakich while sitting Dawkins/Robinson/Wagner when MAAR is perfectly capable of playing PG.

Incredibly frustrating.


March 17th, 2016 at 5:56 AM ^

I totally agree about the need to play Dakich, but Wagner has gotten spot minutes all year and no one's been clamoring for him to get more minutes until the last few games. Did people ever think maybe a freshman who has only played international basketball might have improved over the course of the season? Crazy I know. I usually like Brian has to say of course, that's why I'm here, but he was asking how the hell Wagner hasn't been playing after Indiana, then points out how he got dominated against Purdue, and then he has a good game again and once more it's "Where the hell has Wagner been?"

Also, some people here are complaining about Wagner not starting or that Doyle went in before him, but Wagner played more minutes than any other big men. 22 minutes compared to 5 for Doyle and 13 for Donnal.

Gustavo Fring

March 17th, 2016 at 7:40 AM ^

And he still does need to put on weight...guarding the girthy B1G centers is asking a lot of a freshman who hasn't seen a college weight room.  I do wish Wagner had played more, but I'm willing to give Beilein the benefit of the doubt on that.

Dakich decision, on the other hand, is inexcusable.  If Beilein tries that against Demetrius Jackson Michigan will be in big trouble.  


March 17th, 2016 at 12:37 AM ^

No, he wasn't terrible, but he gets ugly at times. Irvin really doesn't fit what Beilein tries to do on the offensive end. His strength looks like it's off the dribble midrange jumpers more than creating stand-still 3 pointers or hitting stand-still 3 pointers. When he's playing the four, that's probably not the best skill to have.


March 17th, 2016 at 1:28 PM ^

Irvin isn't supposed to be a primary ball-handler, he's supposed to be a forward.  But, he gets shoe-horned into that role because MAAR doesn't generate offense for anyone else and Walton is not shooting well enough from 2.  The 'normal' Belein PNR game is a (relative to past years) disaster, not only because of the guards, but because Michigan's roll man is not doing a good job.

Are Irvin's long 2s suboptimal? Yes in theory, but if you watch this team ineffectually try to run the offense, you know that Irvin's shots aren't any worse than Doyle fumbling the ball, Robinson try to get off a contested 3, or Wilson/Donnal shooting wide open 3s.

In other words - stop blaming the best guy on the team for the problems created by everyone else.  MAAR and Robinson are one-dimensional specialists.  The center position is a rotating grab-bag of talent-deficient, undersized, inconsistent, and inexperienced tweener forwards. 

Zak Irvin has Novak's role on defense and Hardaway's role on offense, but with less help than either guy had.  Stop the hate people.

Oregon Wolverine

March 17th, 2016 at 2:23 AM ^

Zak had a fine game. 6/12 from the field, hussle most of the night. Not sure who you saw in his jersey, but not only did he get a hand in Tulsa's face on the late shot, he recovered and grabbed the game clinching board.

If we saw more hussle like that, not to mention some box outs (yes Mo et al are undersized) and hard fouls (Doyle n Donnel pls go watch Mahorn/Lambeer tape circa 1990), we might've won by 12.

MAAR got skillz, rolls down low and takes a hit. Might win Friday, might not, but next year looks nice when Mo adds 20#, Duncan more slasher moves, and DW finds his groove again. Add Simps and beef (teske?) and I bet we're Round of 8 in 2017.

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March 17th, 2016 at 8:27 AM ^

A fine game?  REALLY?  I guess we watched something different.  Zak took bad shot after bad shot.  Contested long 2-pt jumpers.  He can get those any time he wants - and for the most part, the opponent will let him.  He and Walton each had 3 TOs.  Irvin's TOs were the result of a bad handle when he tries to drive.  Zak's biggest problem right now is that he doesn't let the game come to him.  That said, someone has to step up and be "the man" and no one else seems to want that role.


March 17th, 2016 at 9:00 AM ^

He definitely took a few bad shots, but when you finish 50% from the floor as a jump shooter, that's solid.  I think I'd still prefer to see MAAR be the creater down the stretch, with his ability to get to the rim, but Zak's shown he's not afraid to take the big shot.



Space Coyote

March 17th, 2016 at 9:10 AM ^

He was hitting his mid-range shots for much of the game, particularly the 2nd half. He had the one "hero-ball" brick that was really only a bad shot because it was early in the shot clock; given the way he played, it would have been more than fine had it occured later in the shot clock.

He did struggle tonight again with his handle (3 TOs) and with some poor help defense at times. But overall, he was far from the issue on the night and had a solid offensive night that Michigan needed.


March 17th, 2016 at 9:14 AM ^

Yeah, it does seem like that area around 17-18 feet is his sweet spot (even though, by the book, it's supposed to be a poor shot to take).  He's shot a high percentage from there lately.  

I'm not real fond of him penetrating into traffic.  That's not really his game and seems to lead to a lot of turnovers.  Using him Rip Hamilton-style on curls might be the way to go.

Defensively, he (and his teammates) gave up the baseline too easily.  We've got to be more disciplined about that.


March 17th, 2016 at 10:08 AM ^

was when he was driving the baseline and slipped due to a wet court. If you guys want to blame him for that, fine.

He gets so much elevation on his jump shot, he can get that shot off any time he wants and his jumper from the elbow is turning out to be a reliable weapon.

There were a few times I saw him standing around on defense and not attacking the boards for defensive rebounds, but I was fine with his game. We don't win that game without Zak Irvin.


March 17th, 2016 at 3:09 AM ^

i didn't see much of the first half, but i did see the irvin drive, fall down, turnover.  outside of that, he did fine.

to me it's walton that has to get his shit together.  he can't throw the ball in the ocean anymore.  he took that wide open 3 with about a minute to go and nearly airballed it.  he also had some bad TOs.

w/o his shot, this team is doomed going forward unless DRob goes crazy.

Harlans Haze

March 17th, 2016 at 9:53 AM ^

the team, or the analysts? This team is not a good 3-pt shooting team. The more they take, the chances of them winning goes down. Irvin's strength is definitely the curl-in pop from the elbow. He's finally identified that, and it's allowed him to hit big shots down the stretch. If Walton never took another 3 the rest of the year (however long it is), nobody would complain. Their best game, he didn't make a FG. It's as if they've been trying to live up to the hype all year, without the ammo. While the leadership is defintely missed, the 3-pt shooting of Spike and Caris might be missed most of all. If this team embraces the fact that it's a lunch pail team, it could do some damage. And the 2 players who emobdy that mentality are MAAR and Wagner. We'll see how many other players fall in line.