Michigan State 70, Michigan 62 Comment Count

Ace January 29th, 2017 at 3:37 PM

Miles Bridges hit some key shots late. [Bryan Fuller]

Even against a Michigan State team that's not up to Tom Izzo's usual standard, Michigan needed a lot to go right if they wanted to pull out a win in the hostile confines of the Breslin Center.

Very little went right.

The Wolverines struggled to score, shooting 40% on twos and 27% on threes. Zak Irvin had the worst game of his career, going scoreless on eight shots with three turnovers in 36 minutes. Derrick Walton was a bright spot with his aggressive drives to the basket, but while he scored 24 points and went 14-for-15 from the line, he couldn't get dialed in from long range, making only 2-of-9 threes. Moe Wagner, the only Wolverine who could consistently score from the field, only got up six shot attempts while saddled with foul trouble, and his fourth foul came on a preposterous double technical.

There were times when Michigan looked like the superior team, but they couldn't sustain them for long. The deciding stretch came early in the second half; starting at the 17:23 mark, when M trailed by a mere two points, the normally turnover-averse Wolverines coughed up the rock seven times in eight minutes. Suddenly, MSU had a double-digit lead, and the closest Michigan could get the rest of the way was four points as Miles Bridges, Nick Ward, and Cassius Winston closed the game out strong.

Given their offensive performance, Michigan was lucky to be this close. On the flip side, they managed to hang tight with MSU on the road while playing far from their best game. They'll have the whole week to work out this afternoon's issues before taking on a very beatable Ohio State squad at Crisler on Saturday. Two days later, they'll get a chance for revenge against the Spartans, and they'll need Irvin to show up for that one if they want a different result.


Stringer Bell

January 29th, 2017 at 3:43 PM ^

There's a reason this team has no road wins.  They simply don't have any mental fortitude.  Walton gave a great effort, Wagner was pretty efficient and probably should have gotten the ball more.  The rest of the team wilted once again, especially Zak Irvin.  It wasn't long ago that Beliein said he was going to bench players who didn't perform, even seniors.  Apparently that was just all talk.  There is no reason Irvin should have been on the floor as much as he was considering how poorly he was playing.

Bertello NC

January 29th, 2017 at 4:19 PM ^

You're absolutely right Stringer. These guys just can't seem to consistently embrace a junk yard dog mentality. We really need a Jordan Morgan on this team. It is a vital ingredient for winning on the road.
Irvin was straight dog shit today. But I think the guy who needs to raise the bar and bring it more is Wilson. He disappears. He needs to be more assertive and active on both ends of the floor. I understand playing it safe at times because of fear of fouling, and maybe he's just a better off the ball shot blocker but man I wish he would challenge people more and meet them at the apex. Get off the ground when they get off the ground. This game is just a perfect example of the mindset and philosophy that we live and die by. I also agree if Irvin isn't bringing anything to the table you might as well throw Watson in. Maybe some time on the bench will get him refocused. I know Watson probably isn't totally ready and lost Mcquaid on the screen out top but damn we just run Irvin all day not to mention he's probably gassed. And sometimes you just have a bad game.

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Stringer Bell

January 29th, 2017 at 4:25 PM ^

Agreed on Wilson.  Guy has an abundance of talent but hasn't fully developed the mental aspect of the game yet.  0 points at Wisconsin and again didn't give us what we needed out of him today.  I think those cringe-worthy floaters he took are a microcosm of his (and really the whole team's) issues.  Instead of going up strong trying to dunk it in your opponent's face or draw a hard foul, he just lofts a soft shot over them.  Wagner and Walton seem like the only two guys who play tough and embrace contact, unfortunately that mentality hasn't carried over to the rest of the team.


January 29th, 2017 at 5:50 PM ^

DJ Wilson continues to be the best overall player on the team.  He held Bridges, who is an absolute stud, to just 15 points on 17 shots.  Other than a couple possessions on which he closed out too aggressively and got beat to the hole, he was in Bridges hip pocket the entire time.  For Bridges to have a 94 Ortg is a huge success.  While Wilson missed a couple of floaters late, he hit some early to go 4-8 on twos.  That's not great, but not bad. His Ortg was the same as Wagners (thanks to Wagners four TOs). You can't expect him to play that good on defense for 36 minutes a game on the opposing team's best player, AND get rebounds (which he does), AND be a great passer (which he is) AND also be the team's alpha-dog offensive creator.  That's not part of his game so to be frustrated that he is not the best player in every aspect of the game is crazy.  What you should complain more about:

1) Zak Irvin, the de facto, but completely incapable alpha-dog, was abolsutely abysmal.  I don't think this needs more discussion on his offensive performance, but the back-breaking play in this game was when M was up 40-39 and he left McQuaid in the corner to give a half hearted poke at Bridges (reminiscent of Walton's terrible play in a crucial moment against Wisconson) who was very well defended by Wilson and just kicked it out for the wide open three.

2) Immediately after that, Wagner committed a stupid offensive foul to pick up his third - which was the next in a long line of stupid fouls by Wagner that keep him off the floor.  He is our best offensive player and needs to be the go-to guy.  He can't when he's on the bench.  Total lack of mental focus by him seemingly every game.  Not to mention the four turnovers.  He is so frustrating becuase he's obviously an incredible talent and virually unstoppable 1-on-1.  He just makes too many bad fouls and doesn't see help coming yet.

3) Walton was great on offense today, but as expected, he gave it all back to Winston on the other end.  Walton just can't guard the dribble and a freshman matched his efficiency on his way to 16 points.

Stringer Bell

January 29th, 2017 at 6:00 PM ^

You'll notice that Irvin's play is my primary complaint.  Hard to complain about Walton since he was the only guy who generated offense consistently for us.  Wilson was fine defensively even though Bridges kind of had his way in crunch time, but offensively he was timid and we needed more out of him.  There were times where he got the ball with his back to the basket but instead of trying to create something he just passed out of it.  He's also another guy who would toss up floaters rather than go up strong.  I recognize Wilson is very talented and think he can truly be a great player if he could be more aggressive and look to create his own offense more often.

Bertello NC

January 29th, 2017 at 6:15 PM ^

That is more or less my point as well. He just goes away for stretches of the game. Like he shies away from contact or I don't know what it is. I mean he passed up a one on one post opportunity against bridges with no one else remotely close to him. So he passes it out and we end up jacking a contested 3 which clangs off the rim. Take it the fuck at Bridges. That play right there showed me that Wilson submitted to Bridges and like Stringer said, outside of Wagner and Walton there aren't many on this team who bring that grit. That's what I'm talking about. He just needs to be more assertive and aggressive. Embrace the physicality. I'm not doubting his ability I'm questioning his bull dog approach at times. Which we need to beat teams on the road in the big ten.

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January 29th, 2017 at 6:28 PM ^

gave up 1 point per possession on Bridges in crunch time.  Bridges went 2-4 and Wilson made those makes pretty hard on him.  So no, he didn't have his way with him.  1 ppp is what we scored the whole game and worse than MSU's full game rate.  So again, Wilson played extremely well on defense on the best player on MSU and forced him to be inefficient on a high number of possessions - exactly what you want to do.

It's just weird how good he is at so many aspects of the game, and the disappointment around here is that he's not also the best creator and go-to offensive player on the team, when he is the best defender (by far), best rebounder, and still a great passer and 3pt shooter. 

Stringer Bell

January 29th, 2017 at 6:37 PM ^

I think you're missing my point. He's one of our best players, so when he scores 8 points on 4-12 shooting, following up a 0 point performance in our last road game, it's disappointing. Doesn't mean I think he sucks, but for all his talent he needs to develop some consistency. He's big, long, athletic, and skilled, and he's shown his offensive prowess in games before, so yeah it's disappointing when he puts up a performance like this.


January 29th, 2017 at 11:38 PM ^

and it's a bad point.  You agreed with a guy that singled DJ Wilson of all people as the guy that needs to raise his game, while claiming Wagner was efficient.  Thanks to Wagner's 4 TOs, he had virtually the same Ortg as Wilson today, and Wagner can't stay on the floor to help the team out longer, while DJ is busting his butt on defense for 36 min.  

There is this weird bias for Wagner on the board when he is underacheiving and Wilson is massively overacheiving. Yes, Wilson missed his threes today but all four were good shots that just didn't go.  That happens sometimes.  His shot selection was fine, his aggressiveness was good.  Very odd to see him criticized today.

Bertello NC

January 30th, 2017 at 9:50 AM ^

I don't feel anyone is disputing that Wilson has made huge strides and may have the most upside of anyone on the squad rivaled with probably Wagner. In my original post I was also critical of Irvin(who supposedly had the flu) but nonetheless maybe should have sat a little more. What I'm saying in reference to Wilson is that with his progression into what a lot of people here are calling an "alpha type role"- he backs away from opportunities and disappears for stretches of the game. Go back and watch the game again. He has periods of timid play. Like he doesn't want the contact.Part of this is the whole argument and stance that I have in regards to our strategy and philosophy especially in road games and even more importantly in road games against good defensive teams with athletes to play it, is that we rely far to heavily on the perimeter shot. Yes it's what we are and what Beilein builds his teams for but there again we are faced with a defensive team playing with tenacity that aren't allowing open looks and are shutting down dribble penetration so what are we left with? Nothing. Because that is all we have. If the shots aren't falling we are fucked. Honestly this wouldn't have even been a game if it weren't for Walton's play. Now how that plays into Wilsons efforts- he is talented, a skilled ball player but imo if he is to be a go to guy and be somewhat of a "alpha" type, he needs to be even more active and prevalent than he is. That doesn't mean to take every open or semi open three you get. I don't expect him to take everyone off the dribble and throw it down. But he shied away from post opportunities. That is an area where we "should" have had an advantage was in the post. Ward- 6'7"8", Goins 6"6", Bridges 6'7" vs. Wilson 6'10"11" 240, Wagner 6"11" 240, Teske 7' 250. Yet we opted time and time again to pass the ball out. For what? A turnover or a missed 3. That to me is a problem. And Wilson if he wants to be a goto guy and hep balance this team out, needs to be more aggressive. I am in no way disputing that he is probably one of our two best players next to Wagner. Wagner has issues I get that. But for Wilson to be a well rounded option he needs to be more aggressive and take it at people especially when he has a sizable advantage. Because when on the road against a committed on the ball defensive team our 3 point percentage will not be high I can assure you. It's a problem I have often times with Beilein is we seemingly play and have the same game plan regardless of WHO we pay. In this game against msu we "should" have had a size advantage yet we were content playing as if we were in the friendly confines of Crisler and letting the threes fly. I'm simply saying I would like to see Wilson be more assertive and active around the bucket and take advantage of opportunities. Take his game to yet another level. He's been around longer than Wagner. Be a mismatch. Be a leader. You have an advantage underneath? Go exploit it. Get to the line. Don't shy away from the opportunity. It may be asking him to do a lot but it's what the team needs. We need more aggression and tenacity from him. Now wether Beilein makes a concerted effort to take advantage of those mismatch opportunities or makes it a focal point and tells his players to do just that I guess is another matter. And we need smarter decisions from Wagner that is the truth.

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January 30th, 2017 at 2:18 PM ^

is talking about Wilson being the alpha-dog on offense, but that is certainly not part of his game yet, and he is absolutely not a back-to-the-basket post player.  He's a stretch 4.  He's largely a perimeter player with a great shot and an ever-improving slasher.  Even if you have a couple inch height advantage, you need good post moves to score, especially with Bridges being a very good shot blocker, and DJ isn't a post player.  He had had one or two instances in which he may have been able to make a post move, and I assume that's what you're complaining about but given that's not his most efficient play and we were down, kicking it out was a reasonable decision.  He also turned it over trying to drive in the second half, IIRC, and every player on the team it seemed did that at least once or twice in the second half during the horrid stretch of TOs.

He attempted eight 2s yesterday which was the most on the team.  Two of his 2pt misses were essentially Kobe-assists (one that he rebounded and put back in, the other that set up Teske for an easy put back, but which he fumbled so badly he couldn't get a shot up).  So his two pointers were quite productive.

I completely agree that this offense bogs down against good defensive teams that are aggressive on the perimeter.  We just pass it around 10 ft behind the 3pt line until someone has to try to make a hero play with 7 seconds on the shot clock.  And since NO ONE on the team can do it very effectively, it often ends badly (see: aformentioned streak of TOs).  I get that it's frustrating the Walton usually is not that guy, although he sort of was at the end when it didn't really matter anyway, Irvin can't do it, MAAR seems to have gotten worse at it, and Mo is too often watching from the bench so we're sitting here hoping Wilson can be the guy.  It's just not part of his game yet, and given the energy he uses on defense and rebounding, it's almost not possible.

They're all wildly inconsistent (see: Walton who had a good game yesterday but is just as often terrible) mostly because we don't have a guy that can create regardless of who is defending him. They all depend on having favorable matchups.  Wagner is the closest to being the guy that could exploit any matchup, so he needs to be able to stay on the floor.

Bertello NC

January 30th, 2017 at 2:19 PM ^

Ya. I'm not saying DJ played a terrible game. I thought he did quite well actually. And maybe that's not totally his game having his back to the basket. I just can't help but wonder if it was developed upon how much more of a matchup problem he would be and in turn would help the team. I guess I'm just yearning for more balance and an aggressive mindset. The more balanced and versatile you can be the greater chance you have of competing and countering any opponent. They lack size on the inside? We'll try to exploit that. They're weak on the perimeter? We drive n dish or get good looks from outside. Because like we've talked, there will be teams we'll face especially on the road where they're fueled by the crowd and will play sticky defense and we'll have a hard time getting our perimeter shots to go down. We have to find a way to counter that. And yes like you said- Wagner staying on the court is a biggie. But I'd also like to see a little more development and focus put into some post play. In the end it's not like we're asking Duncan Robinson to become nick ward. You'd be asking your 6'10" 240 pound 4 man with a 7'3" wingspan to learn how to be somewhat effective with his back to the basket. Now maybe it's being worked on I don't know, although it doesn't seem that it is or that it's hit on enough but for the life of me I can't see that being to much to ask.

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January 29th, 2017 at 7:17 PM ^

You seem to be wanting action taken against Irvin before he had the game that warrants " punishment" before he actually had that game. The bench-warranting stretch came half way through the second half, and by that time we needed whatever quick scoring he was able to offer. It didn't pan out but that wasn't a coaching failure, nor did I think he unreasonably forced given that he currently is out #1 option. He is our consistently best scorer and has been for 3 years. He got shut down, they forced him left and switched every screen. Irvin is not Stauskus, he has limitations and I don't think anybody is saying he doesn't. Izzo has never keyed on him that way and it was, frankly, brilliant defensive coaching. Give Beilein a week and he will answer that.

Stringer Bell

January 29th, 2017 at 7:35 PM ^

I think his performance this game warranted a benching for this game. He shouldn't be benched permanently, its on a game by game basis. Irvin was such a negative on the floor today that there is reason he should've played 36 minutes. Beilein said he was going to start benching players when their performance warrants it, but games like this let the players know that that was just all talk. Keep jacking up contested long two pointers, keep making bad passes, keep making bad decisions, it doesn't matter because it won't affect your minutes.


January 30th, 2017 at 6:18 PM ^

unless the're bad shots, and he didn't have more than one or two bad shots.  Those elbow pull-ups, as much as I hate them are clearly in his bag and he has the green light to take them. Uou "punish" bench players for making poor decisions and losing mental focus.  By all accounts he played good defense on Harris and Langford who were both ineffective.  He had the one huge mistake leaving McQuaid the one time, and should have absolutely resulted in a minute or two benching with an ass-chewing, not that Beilien does that, but you take your guy out to remind him not leave a good shooter in the corner when help isn't even needed in that situation.

I don't remember if he was taken out after that, but you have to put him back in after a minute or two because, again, there are no other options.  Punishment benchings should only happen for a couple minutes, unless the replacement gets hot or shows he's a better option. MAAR was in foul trouble so Robinson was already in; there was no other option.  You can't leave an inferior player in too long (Watson?), or it's punishment for the whole team.


January 29th, 2017 at 4:38 PM ^

is a little dramatic, Stringer. You act like Irvin hasn't earned any leash. Yeah, he played like shit. He also carried our dead ass to the touney the last four games last year, and has played well at Breslin his entire career. You going with Ibi Watson in that spot right now? State was playing incredibly good perimeter defense. That game was not penciled in as a "win" on anybody's mock schedule. State has talent man, and that was the must win game of their season. Beilein could have given Irvin a spell to think about it, I agree, but you roll with who you got. Let's see them at Crisler.

Stringer Bell

January 29th, 2017 at 4:50 PM ^

I don't really care what he did last year.  Today, he killed us.  He took bad shots, committed costly turnovers, and lost his man on defense too many times.  If he really does have the flu then that makes it all the more inexplicable for him to get 36 minutes.  You don't have to spell him with Watson.  You could roll with MAAR and Robinson primarily, or play Walton and X at the same time (as much as X sucks on offense he wasn't doing worse than Irvin today).  Beilein swore he was going to start holding players accountable, it's time he start doing so.


January 29th, 2017 at 5:48 PM ^

I thought his defense was good. He was fighting through screens and denying the ball to Eron. Harris only scored 4 points. On offense, he was awful. It seemed to me that Beilein was forcing the offense through Irvin in an attempt to get him going. The more he missed and the more he turned over the ball, the tighter he got. Wagner had 4 turnovers but I bet two of them were bad passes from Irvin. Those two have zero chemistry between them.
And the officiating sucked balls. They called an early technical on Izzo and spent the rest of the game making it up to him. State was in the bonus with 12 minutes left in the game against one of the least penalized teams. Fucking ridiculous.


January 29th, 2017 at 6:03 PM ^

MAAR was in foul trouble, so Robinson had to play 30 minutes, which is way too many for him.  You don't really expect us to throw Ibi Watson out there?  He got some minutes in the first half, and looked clueless.  Irvin actually did play great defense on Harris, but did make a back breaking mistake leaving McQuaid on a corner three when there was no reason to leave him. Never thought I'd miss Dawkins, but alas, we have no depth.

Unfortunately, we have to win or lose with him.  He had been quite good in the previous four games, but somehow has bomb games like I've never seen before (Ace was wrong about this being the worst game of his career: he was far worse this year against South Carolina).


January 29th, 2017 at 3:45 PM ^

Watching Winston and Bridges play made me wonder why Michigan's freshmen don't contribute jack shit and haven't for the past 3 years. 

I thought X was supposed to be that dude.Sigh...


UM can get em back in A2 next week if Irvin shows up (or anyone not named Walton). 


January 29th, 2017 at 3:49 PM ^

When they're shooting goes a little cold, especially from the outside, they have nothing to pull them along. This MSU squad is as mediocre B1G opponent as possible, so there is no glory in staying close.

At least Walton showed grit today and that's about it for individual recognition.


January 29th, 2017 at 3:55 PM ^

Sometimes sitting a player who isn't playing well is a good thing. I think Irvin needs to sit some of the first half next game and see what happens once he goes in. But rewarding a player who played like that with 36 minutes of playing time is absolutely stupid of beilein. I understand the other options are ideal but letting kids who are going to be your main players next year sit when the could do no worse is stupid of coach B

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Shop Smart Sho…

January 29th, 2017 at 3:56 PM ^

Seems Irvin didn't practice the last two days because of the flu.  So of course he plays 36 minutes.  You'd think it would have been an opportunity, playing against an undersized team, to roll with X at the point and Walton at the 2 for extended minutes.  If for nothing else, to decrease Irvin's minutes when he isn't healthy.


January 29th, 2017 at 4:11 PM ^

This is definitely not a vintage MSU team.  We shot like crap, were uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball (we'll need to work on passing to the cutter in practice, apparently) and had to deal with foul trouble*, and lost by 8.  

We've got to win the rematch.  This one was there for the taking.

*We commit the 4th-fewest fouls in the country out of 347 teams, yet in Madison and East Lansing our opponents were in the bonus about 8 minutes into the second half.  Big Ten!




January 29th, 2017 at 4:11 PM ^

27% isn't going to beat anyone.  Beilein's team's need to shoot well from distance to win games.  Unfortunately, it didn't happen today.  It's tough to win on the road in college hoops as well.  Got to take care of Sparty at home.