Michigan 68, VCU 60 Comment Count

Ace November 22nd, 2017 at 7:48 PM

John Beilein will express his gratitude for the refs tomorrow.

Moe Wagner may have been on the wrong end of some questionable calls for most of the evening. With the game knotted at 60 and under 90 seconds to play, however, he got away with an obvious foul while stealing the ball from VCU's Jonathan Williams.

Wagner, who'd never been able to get into the rhythm of the game, finished a three-point play at the other end, then coolly knocked one down from beyond the arc to put the nail in the coffin. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman's unnecessary—but consequential, given the game's Michigan -7 betting line—layup just before the buzzer gave the Wolverines an 11-0 run to close out a much-needed win.

That final six-point flurry represented half of Wagner's point total. As you might imagine given that stat, Michigan didn't have a stellar offensive performance, especially as Charles Matthews struggled to stay on the floor in the second half with cramps—and struggled to make free throws (1/6 in the half) when he did.

Michigan didn't have the Matthews-Wagner two-man game going like they did in the first two games in Maui and the halfcourt offense suffered mightily for it. The Wolverines shot 5-for-20 from beyond the arc and nine of their ten turnovers came after halftime. They managed to make up for that, at least for tonight, with a 16-0 edge in fast break points.

While it wasn't pretty, Michigan needed this victory badly to get out of Maui with a 1-1 record against D-I teams and not saddle themselves with potential resumé-hurting losses. After a home tune-up against UC Riverside, they'll face their toughest test of the young season next week when they travel to Chapel Hill. Without more consistent production in the halfcourt, that UNC game could get ugly.

[Hit THE JUMP for more notes and the box score.]

The pump fake is effective. Duncan Robinson had an off-night from the outside, making 2-of-8 threes, but used the threat of his shot to get into the lane for a couple huge layups late. He finished a perfect 5-for-5 on twos, two of those converted for and-ones. With his defense still a significant problem, he needs to attack like this more often.

Point guard watch: ask again later, again. Eli Brooks got the start again and played 23 decent, if low-impact, minutes. Michigan still needs more production from their starting point guard than five points and a lone assist, though, and Brooks also had a major defensive lapse to allow a late VCU three. That got Zavier Simpson in to close out the final six minutes plus. Simpson is clearly the best defensive option but is still far from assertive on offense, and he hasn't taken great care of the ball—his two assists were offset by a pair of turnovers. Jaaron Simmons, meanwhile, was scoreless in two minutes.

As for the MAAR point guard possibility: ten points, four assists, no turnovers, two steals. I'm warming up to the idea even though he isn't a traditional distributor; much of this offense is running through Matthews anyway.

A glimpse at a two-big future? Jon Teske was very effective again tonight, finishing with eight points, four rebounds, two blocks, and a steal in 16 minutes. The only negative was a 2-for-5 mark from the free-throw line. With the point guards struggling and Robinson a defensive liability, John Beilein could look to play some two-big lineups to get his five best on the floor. While he didn't do that tonight, he did call for Michigan to play some 2-3 zone defense when Teske was on the floor, a potential hint that lineup could be in the plans. If both bigs are going to be on the floor, Michigan will have to play a fair amount of zone, which would hide Wagner's (and Robinson's) trouble staying with wings while funneling ballhandlers into the long, awaiting arms of Teske.

Few minutes for the younger wings. Ibi Watson, Isaiah Livers, and Jordan Poole combined for only seven minutes. Watson had a terrible turnover; I'm ready to see Poole, who didn't record a stat in less than a minute on the floor, soak up his playing time. Livers is a plus athlete who plays with good energy but has had trouble with his positioning as a defender and rebounder.



Blue boy johnson

November 22nd, 2017 at 7:57 PM ^

I was at the game and Brooks defensive lapse was on Coach Beilein. Beilein was at half court waving for either Brooks or Simpson to switch with Robinson who was one on one with pg. Both Brooks and Simpson were confused on what to do, finally Brooks made is ill fated switch attempt, but only because he thought the coach was asking him to. I bet Coach Beilein owns it in Presser.


November 22nd, 2017 at 8:31 PM ^

Right on per usual.  Would like to see both bigs on the floor and just turn mathews loose to run with whomever the point guard shall be. Ugly but good W.


November 22nd, 2017 at 8:36 PM ^

Is he the best defensive option? I know he has quick hands but he is so short that he is easy to shoot over. He has trouble contesting shots. Far too often he tries to body up the offensive player (going chest to chest) and they just drive past him.
I wonder why Simmons only got 2 minutes. I didn't see anything during game action that would call for the dog house. Perhaps he was injured or had some Loko Moko that didn't agree with him.


November 22nd, 2017 at 9:18 PM ^

Matthew suffered from some really bad cramping in the second half which really had me worried. VCU got back into the game while he was recovering. If we can improve the point guard play, I think we will make the big dance.


November 22nd, 2017 at 9:49 PM ^

Maar can be good attacking but he isn';t consistent enough and can fall apart to easily to be the answer at point guard. Think we need Simmons to get comfortable and confident or Brooks to grow quickly because Maar isn't the answer.


November 23rd, 2017 at 1:35 AM ^

He came into the game in the first half and immediately starting disrupting just about everything VCU did within 15 feet of the basket.  We extended our lead from 1 to 5.  Then Wagner came in and we gave up the lead.  Then he got his second foul and Teske came in and we took a six poiint lead.  I was intrigued and really liked what I saw.  This yo-yo-ing would continue into the second half as Teske even started playing well on offense.  Went back and noted the margins when each guy was in:

Wagner played the first 8:33 with us winning 16-15: +1

Teske the next 3:45 and went out with us winning 22-17: +4

Wagner the next 3:47 and went out tied 26-26: -5

Teske the next 3:55 until halftime with us winning 36-30: +6

Wagner played the next 1:36 until he picked up a third at 36-32: -2

Teske went the next 5:12 and we were up 47-42: +1

Wagner the next 3:53 and went out with his fourth down 49-51: -7

Teske went the next 2:55 and went out with us down 51-53: Even

Wagner went the last 6:24 and we were down 3 with less than two minutes to go when we closed with an 11-0, largely thanks to a 3-pt play and a 3pter to win 68-60: +10

It would be one thing if Teske was coming in as part of a line change situation and our bench overall outplayed theirs but this wasn't the case.  His minutes were mostly against their starters while playing with our starters since it was foul trouble subbing. It also wasn't a matter of Wagner just having an individually poor shooting night that bring down scoring while he was in.  He was 5/10 on FGs, 1/1 FTs for 12 pts on 10 shot equivalents.  He turned it over twice but had a 102 Ortg to Teske's 106.

Teske was +11 in 16 min.

Wagner was -3 in 24 min (and was a whopping -14 before the 11-0 run in the last two min).

I've been critical of Wagner's defense this year and after watching this tournament, I'm baffled.  He rarely rotates to help and he simply does not affect shots (from his man or guys he should help on) near the rim because of it. He's 6'11 and his block rate is 0.0!!!!! And he's not just off to a slow start. His block rate last year was a guard-like 1.6. Queue the WTF gif.

Teske's block rate is 10.4.  That is outstanding. He looks like a bona fide rim protector. He's in the right spots, helps on anything within 10 feet, and Alters Shots.

And our offense is getting better and better with him in there.  He's a beast setting picks to get guys open, and he's rolling and finishing (9/10 so far!).

We've only played five games and only two of those were against teams with a pulse (barely at that).  This is a small sample and he may not keep it up, but he's not only been better than Donnal, he's been a revelation.

Year of Revenge II

November 23rd, 2017 at 5:08 AM ^

There are other things that affect +/- stats than just man vs man comparisons, and so your analysis is stat-heavy for my taste.

I do; however, agree with your premise if not your conclusion.  Teske looks much improved. Small sample size for me though; I'm reserving judgment for a while. If you make me take one of the two, I take Wagner.

We may see them both on the floor for significant minutes this season, who knows at this point.



November 24th, 2017 at 11:44 PM ^

agree, but I only went back to look at the stats they my eyes told me was the case: Teske played a much better game than Wagner.

He's a far superior defender and I explained why.  He helps on anything within 10 feet, he alters shots, he disrupts things with deflections.  If you were to do a UFR-type analysis on that game, it would be a blowout in favor of Teske.

Also, I never said I'd take Teske over Wagner.  I said he's been a revelation, which by all means is true.  I need to see more, but I'm very impressed with what I've seen so far from him and I'm very disappointed on Wagner's lack of improvement on defense because it isn't physical talent that he lacks.  He isn't in the right places and he doesn't give the effort.


November 22nd, 2017 at 11:59 PM ^

Really optimistic about this team. Love having 2 bigs.

My only advice for Teske is change your kicks.  White socks pulled all the way up with low black shoes? Are those Jordans? Have to be, right? 

If he changes shoe to mids his offensive numbers will skyrocket!

I'm seriously optimistic about this team this year. 

Franch Dressing

November 23rd, 2017 at 4:18 AM ^

he gets so many touch calls, that he probably wants to guarantee he stays on the court longer. but lets not get ot twisted, hes had some huge blocks in the past. new team with less big depth as well (just 2 play). no donnell. no wilson. if teske and wagner get in foul trouble, we are screwed. Davis is NOT the answer for our 3rd big.


November 23rd, 2017 at 12:25 AM ^

Duncan Robinson is a poor defender? why?

is it mental or physical or effort?

why cant he learn to be a better defender?

does he just refuse to work harder at it? is he athletically limited to play defense well?


what is the answer for Duncan to be less a liability on defense?


November 23rd, 2017 at 12:59 AM ^

Is it just me, or is our ideal lineup MAAR-Matthews-Duncan-Wagner-Teske?

Z has some slick passes and Eli has a shot but none of the traditional ones have looked consistent enough to lead the crew. Slot in Big Nasty instead, get Wagner as a stretch 4, and go to work.

Bertello NC

November 23rd, 2017 at 11:10 AM ^

I could see that working especially going to a 2-3 zone. Even with Mo having to close out on an elbow or corner three Teske would be waiting if they blow by Mo, and would just have to have good rotation and awareness from the backside of the zone. I think the only problem is that would force more minutes upon Davis. Personally I would like to see a few more Minutes for Livers. I think he’ll eventually get it and has more athletic upside. Right now we just have some holes on D with Duncan and Wagner, but need to mask their D inefficiencies because they have so much offensive fire power. I’m not sure what to make of the PG situation. Simpson looks to be about the same as last year while Simmons hasn’t shown anything yet. I actually like Brooks tbh. Has a nice shot, drives the ball decently. I think he just needs to be stronger and more protective with the ball, know how to get his shot off but I think that will come with time on the floor. I think he has the most upside of all three of them.


November 23rd, 2017 at 3:02 AM ^

What in the fuck do our American referees have against Moritz Wagner?! It's such bullshit the way they call the game around him. His last uncalled foul notwithstanding, he shouldn't and should rarely be in the foul trouble he gets into. Then again Beilein's teams always in general get bullshit called on them because I feel they're not viewed as a scrappy and physical team a la Sparty...so when slight contact happens it must be a foul.