Michigan 68, Syracuse 65

Submitted by Ace on December 2nd, 2014 at 10:41 PM

According to Spike Albrecht, Ricky Doyle doesn't have a nickname yet, though he's "a bit of a wild man."

As for Doyle, when asked what it feels like to be a fan favorite, he said he didn't even hear his name chanted in high school.

One of those has already changed. The other should any moment now.

While Zak Irvin led the team with 18 points, it was Albrecht and Doyle who made the difference in the signature win of Michigan's season thus far. Spike broke the Syracuse defense in the second half time and again, doing what you have to do to beat the 2-3. His three three-pointers, including the go-ahead bucket with under a minute left, hit them over the top; when he weaved his way into the heart of the zone, he dished out nine assists, including a Sportscenter-worthy behind-the-back feed to Doyle for an and-one dunk.

Doyle did what Michigan's other centers could not: finish, with authority at that, while matching up physically with Syracuse star Rakeem Christmas, who feasted in the first half with Doyle in foul trouble and cooled in the second when Doyle played all but four minutes. After the game, Doyle discussed the physical progress that made this night possible; since getting to campus, he's cut his body fat from 18% down to 10%. It's hard to say who played a bigger part in Doyle's performance: Albrecht or Jon Sanderson.

In front of a raucous Crisler Center crowd, it appeared as though the Wolverines would pull away in the second half after a tightly contested opened stanza; with seven minutes to go, back-to-back threes by Albrecht and Irvin put Michigan up ten. Syracuse responded, however, spearheaded by hot outside shooting from Trevor Cooney, who made four second-half threes; Christmas knotted the game at 63 with just under a minute to play.

After Albrecht's three put Michigan ahead, then Syracuse's Michael Gbinije cut that lead to one with an impressive runner off the backboard, what had been a well-played game took a turn for the ridiculous. Derrick Walton missed the front end of a one-and-one, only for Cuse's Chris McCullough to chuck the ensuing outlet pass out of bounds. Caris LeVert had another opportunity to put Michigan up three at the line, only to miss the front end of his potential pair; after Syracuse rushed up the court, Kaleb Joseph lost the handle and had to foul LeVert after a wild scramble.

This time, LeVert calmly knocked down his free throws, and Joseph's desperation attempt to tie fell well off the mark as the buzzer sounded.

As the four factors indicate, Michigan won this game not with their shooting—though that perked up quite a bit after they went 3/17 from beyond the arc in the first half—but by taking care of the ball, something Syracuse, with 19 turnovers, couldn't accomplish. Equally important was Michigan's rebounding; facing a big Syracuse team that crashes the glass with aplomb, the Wolverines essentially matched their rebounding rate.

The effort of freshman Kameron Chatman should also be noted; he hit a few critical jumpers en route to 10 points and did yeoman's work on the boards, finishing with nine rebounds. LeVert struggled with his shot, netting his 12 points on 16 shot equivalents, but he helped keep the offense going with six assists. Irvin's three-point shooting (4/11) proved critical, and his first-half breakaway dunk—which, yes, should've been an and-one after he got undercut—provided an early highlight.

Returning from a toe injury, Walton struggled, going just 1/7 from the field. So did Mark Donnal and Max Bielfeldt, neither of whom could slow down Christmas. Albrecht and Doyle had them covered, though, and that was enough to take down a very strong opponent.

Now, about that nickname...

Comments

alum96

December 2nd, 2014 at 10:59 PM ^

Doyle might be 1st team all Big 10 his SO year at this trajectory.  People don't remember but Mitch struggled a lot first half of FR year.  Mitch was more athletic with more range and different skill sets but in terms of impact, Doyle is ahead of Mitch's pace.   Love that kid's motor.

I know he is not the 1st 2nd or 3rd best player but he might already be the 2nd most invaluable player on the team in terms of dropoff from him to the backup - if he stays out of foul trouble, based on that 2nd half this is a 30+ minute big man already.

Mannix

December 2nd, 2014 at 11:00 PM ^

Ted Valentine.

That dunk and subsequent "My goodness, I don't know Mr. Irvin fell so awkwardly after that dunk" no call and Valentine "play on" was bad, bad, bad.

I loathe the referring of Ted.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad

TheInfamousOne

December 2nd, 2014 at 11:05 PM ^

My family and I watched one of the frist games Ricky played in. His hair standing up on the back of his head and he looked a bit lost.  He got his one slam dunk and yelled like most bball players do when they get excited.  

But to us, his yell sounded like Chewbacca.

So we all started calling him Chewy and everytime he slam dunks now, we make the Chewbacca sound.

Go Chewy!

RobM_24

December 2nd, 2014 at 11:28 PM ^

Ricky has to start soon. Maybe Coach B is waiting for his foul rate to decrease before starting him. Donnal and Max are just far too timid and indecisive in the paint. Ricky gets the ball and puts it up, or kicks it out. He's reacting, the others are thinking while they hold the ball and/or pivot aimlessly. Donnal keeps trying to sneak the ball into the basket, which doesn't work at this level. You either have to go up quick, or go up strong -- you aren't going to pivot your way open.

thatsmyjam

December 2nd, 2014 at 11:38 PM ^

I think Ricky has earned a starting spot next game. Actually I was a bit surprised he didn't start this one. Regardless I really think that wrap pass - dunk combo is SCtop10 material. And the man shoots a damn nice free throw! 

We (and by we I mean me) call him "Sweathawk" which is what his hair does after a few hard minutes in the game :)