Utah 68, Michigan 52

Submitted by Tim on December 10th, 2009 at 2:47 PM


Michigan 4-4 (0-0 Big Ten)

Perhaps the most frustrating part of the game against Utah is that the team looked, at times, as competent as it's been all year. The rest of the game though, not so much. The shooting woes continued, with the team shooting a collective 34% from the field and a horrendous 55% from the free throw line.

Zack Novak didn't play against the Utes, missing the game with the flu. It's impossible to know whether he would have been the difference in the game, especially since a 6-5 power forward is probably unlikely to see tons of success guarding guys a half-foot taller than him.

The depth is so bad that Ben Cronin actually got first-half minutes, as did walk-on Eso Akunne... and the team might have played better with them in the game than it did without. This whole post is turning out to be really bullet-y, and the heart's not in it, so I might as well get right to the...


  • This might sound like a pretty mean-spirited thing to say, but at one point Paul said to me "Why didn't Anthony Wright go on paternity leave or something?" I totally agree. I fail to see why he continues getting minutes, when he's such a liability on both ends of the court. I'm sure he's a great guy, but he's not producing for this team.
  • Manny and Deshawn both got going in this game, though they were the only two Wolverines in double digits. Sims only scored 10, but that's not too bad against such a tall lineup. You'd like to see him get enough to keep the defense afraid and open up the outside for the shooters, but...
  • AAARGH SHOOTING. It has to get better sometime, right?
  • I don't intend to accuse the referees of bias, because I would even guess that Michigan got the better end of more calls last night. Still, holy crap is the officiating in NCAA basketball horrible. Seriously, make me the head of officiating and it will get better in a snap.
  • Hats off to Eso Akunne. Dude's a freshman walk-on and he played his ass off.
  • I kept waiting for Gibby to break out and do a couple awesome things, but he never did. I guess more playing time wasn't what he needed, one-game sample against a very tall team noted.
  • Michigan actually seemed to be forcing a good number of turnovers, both from man and the zone. Unfortunately, they were pretty generous with the ball themselves, and didn't come down with many rebounds.

Up Next

Detroit comes to Crisler Arena at Noon ET on Sunday. The game will be available on the Big Ten Network. After that, the Wolverines will sacrifice themselves to Kansas the following Saturday.



December 10th, 2009 at 3:13 PM ^

A tradeoff has been described here between one season and the next:

Experienced players in exchange for depth, talent, and another year in the system.

In basketball, this is used as an excuse. In football, this is used as justification for optimism (for the D at least.) This seems inconsistent.

I've bought in to all the rationalizing for football - new system, recruiting, attrition, youth, etc. And while I don't disagree that the basketball team is young, I don't buy the excuses here. This was a ncaa tourney team last season and lost nothing but walk-ons. They got older, deeper, and more talented since last year, but they're failing badly.

I realize Lee and Merrit (and Grady) made some key contributions, but they were still walk-ons who are, IMO, getting too much praise for last year's success. I think the team probably played over its head a bit last season and read a few too many headlines over the offseason (especially Sims, who hasn't seemed nearly as driven). The D has been awful, but a lot of the losses can be blamed on the shots just not falling.

Its not just Lee and Merrit is my point. This team is young, but was even younger last season. Its shallow, but it was even more shallow last season. They're just not getting it done. Maybe you can point to leadership and blame that for a decline in effort but it seems like a too-easy answer. Things just aren't going their way early in the season. I still think this is a better team than last season.

But if you choose to buy into the logic presented for the bball team falling, losing seniors and adding talent and depth does not portend good things for the immediate future of Michigan football, at least on defense.


December 11th, 2009 at 12:22 PM ^

the point guard position might be the most important position on the court. Like qb in football, they have the ball in their hands more than anyone else. Darius Morris, while taller than Lee or Merrit isn't doing much on offense to show his talent. So their loss is significant if only for the fact that they understood the offense and defense better and got us in a better position for our shooters to get open looks.

That being said, our defense and rebounding wasn't very good last year either. The single biggest difference is our shooting. In order to win we have to shoot 35-40% from 3 point range and we're nowhere close.


December 10th, 2009 at 3:59 PM ^

I agree with the first comment. Why was Akunne out there for so long? Tim's recap says that he actually got first half minutes, but that omits the relevant fact: he was playing in the second half, when it counted, costing us points. He was constantly beat off the dribble and he looks far too slow to create anything on offense. "Working his ass off" sounds like giving a fourth grader an "A for Effort," hiding the fact that skill and execution were absent from the performance.

The bright spot, I think was Manny. He took a couple of bad shots early, but this looked like the first time he was back to his former self. Quicker, draining threes in Mormon eyeballs, taking it to the basket hard. That's vintage Corperryale.

Can someone explain to me how we go 11-20 from the free throw line? To me, that's a bigger problem than the shooting particularly be cause of it's hints at lack of focus.


December 10th, 2009 at 10:29 PM ^

youre right and i think you bring up all the critical points.

the missed free throws? there is no excuse. we're supposed to have a damn roster full of shooters. what bothers me, is i see those guys shooting their FTs and theyre half-assing it. no focus and form. beilein needs to get old school on these guys and crack the whip.

agree on akunne. not sure what other people were watching, but he couldnt hang whatsoever off the dribble and his size does not lend him to being helpful on the boards. that, and he cant dribble drive finish, or at least didnt show himself as a threat. i dont see upside here.

manny did some good things, but every time he draws the foul on drive, hits the two and then misses the free throw- i want to stab myself.

stu needs to be benched. for a whole game. send him a message. he plays lazy and sloppy. that henderson kid on utah, now there was a determined player. if stu is shooting 20% and turning the ball over regularly, what does he bring?

peedi, dont get me started. someone needs to have an intervention.


December 11th, 2009 at 12:26 PM ^

You want Stu benched. And Akune shouldn't play. Novak is sick. And we lost three guards from last years team. You think Lucas-Perry and Morris can play the whole game together? You really think Vogrich is so much better stopping people off the dribble or that he is ready for major minutes?


December 10th, 2009 at 4:55 PM ^

this team isn't going anywhere unless sims and douglas improve dramatically. their digression is troublesome. sims is throwing away a great opportunity at the nba. he's sleepwalking out there. 3 rebounds; 2-7 from 3 pt land is embarrassing. if held tomorrow, i doubt he would get drafted.

i personally think it's time to transition douglas' minutes until he proves he can shoot. he barely hit 30% last year from 3. down near 20% this year. that's not going to cut it. i would give vogrich and morris more of those minutes. they have much better upside, imo. and more minutes would make them better down the road; even this year. douglas makes the occasional good pass, but his 2 assists/game doesn't warrant the PT he gets.


December 10th, 2009 at 5:28 PM ^

So I just moved to Salt Lake City. I went to last night's game. It was the first time I've ever walked out of a Michigan game early. Tim's bullets are spot on.

1. I agree w/ UMChicago. Sims looks MISERABLE out there. Sleepwalking is a great description. I realize he is a bit shorter then those Utah boys, but he looked dead. I actually asked some of the other alumni around me if something was wrong.

2. Manny was Manny. He has the ability to take over a game at any point. However, these are the types of games we need him to be a leader. He needs to motivate. I think his form of leadership is scoring, rebounding, hustling, etc. That's fine, but I want some vocal leadership too.

3. The team as a whole looked like they didn't want to be there. Like they had other things on their mind. Lackluster is an understatement. I realized we are small, but some of the missed rebounds had nothing to do w/ size; rather - a lack of effort, will, desire, etc.

4. The refs were bad, but we didn't deserve to win that game.

5. Totally agree about Anthony Wright. I said the same thing to my wife. He's never been good and never will. He had one game last year (Big 10 Tourney?) where he played out of his mind. That's it. Bench him.

Fired up...



December 10th, 2009 at 6:21 PM ^

With all due respect, "Sims only scored 10, but that's not too bad against such a tall lineup." is a pretty uninformed thing to say. First, he is often going to be playing against front lines bigger than ours. Secondly, the beauty of our offense is that pulls big guys out to guard him thus allows him to take advantage of the size difference. He played poorly. Period.


December 10th, 2009 at 6:22 PM ^

Minor quibble with the article: Akunne isn't a walk-on. Eso Akunne was awarded a scholarship for this year.

FWIW, I thought he provided more than Wright during his minutes.

Playing without Novak most definitely hurt us. It's a depth issue if nothing else.


December 10th, 2009 at 6:56 PM ^

Akunne is a preferred walk on. Walk ons who are awarded scholarships for a year are still walk ons. There are quite a few on the football team. He did play better than Wright and did not look out of place. For his first game with major minutes, I thought he did very well. If only he was a few inches taller...


December 10th, 2009 at 7:12 PM ^

I'm pretty sure you're either a walk-on or a scholarship player by definition. I understand that he came in without a scholarship (i.e. he "walked on"). But once you get that scholarship, you're no longer a walk-on. Former walk-on, yes, walk-on, no. I believe this applied to C.J. Lee last year as well.

I understand that this is a tedious and pedantic point, but I've already spent two minutes typing... so what the hell, might as well hit submit.


December 10th, 2009 at 9:31 PM ^

Since he started the school year without the scholarship he'll still be considered a walk on this year. If he receives a scholarship prior to the start of the year next year, we may be able to call him a former walk on. He might get one next year depending on a number of things but will most probably be walk on again for his junior and senior years.


December 11th, 2009 at 11:05 AM ^

played pretty bad in my opinion. He made two three but thats it. The 7'3" utah center that was gaurding him was starting to step out on his shots and Simms did not take advantage of this at all. He hit Manny on a backdoor cutter but thats it, the center was big but was so slow simms should have tried beaten him with the dribble and if help comes pass it to the open man and if not finish the play. Im not sure if thats a coaching issue or Simms fault.

Also manny played better becuase he made some shots from the outside, but i would still like to see him drive to the basket more. I realize the center was 7'3" but at least try and egt him in foul trouble, and it would give us better looks on perimeter.