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Postgame Thoughts: Michigan at MSU

  • Well, this was an embarrassing loss for Michigan. Easily the worst loss of the season, but also clearly the first embarrassing loss of the season as well. Michigan played decently early, but had trouble stopping MSU defensively and when the shots stopped falling, they started falling behind. They went to halftime down double digits and came out flat in the 2nd half. Burke went out with his 3rd foul and Michigan got trainwrecked from there. After that, the game was over and eventually, Beilein started putting in the bench in garbage time. It was a dominating win for the Spartans.

    One could use the list of excuses to describe this game: Michigan was coming off an insanely difficult stretch, it was a tough road environment, they had back-to-back overtime games, they're a young team, but none of these can describe this game. Simply put, Michigan played badly for a boatload of reasons and MSU played excellently. Michigan is better than the way they played tonight. On the flip side, it seems unlikely MSU is as good as they played tonight either. If they continue to play at this level, they will win the Big Ten and probably make the Final Four. However, that seems unlikely. Michigan will get some rest this week, get a forgiving 3 game stretch (Penn State twice, Illinois at home), and have some time to reset. They're going to be fine.

    People are going to talk about how top teams don't lose these type of games and for the most part, they are right. These are not losses top teams have on a regular basis, but let's not forget Florida and Duke both got blown out on the road already this season and Kansas also lost to some very bad teams. Michigan isn't the only team in the country to have a bad loss. Even MSU lost to UConn to start the season. Having hiccups in road environments is not something that's unheard of or even uncommon in today's college basketball scene. This is not a loss that should be written off by any means, but it's also not something that should be forecasted onto the rest of the season.

    In terms of the actual gameplay, Michigan really didn't get much going on either side of the ball. Defensively, they were not doing much. MSU was winning the battle inside. Michigan was not boxing out and was allowing MSU to beat them in the low post battle. Horford got beat badly a few times by Nix, Bielfeldt was completely missing rebounds, McGary was having trouble guarding Nix's right shoulder, and Morgan was allowing MSU second chances. On one play, Morgan had a good defensive possession, but allowed Nix to jump over him for an easy tip-in basket. These are the kind of plays that may seem insignificant at the time, but when a team is fighting harder than the other and getting these kind of plays on a consistent basis, they are going to be hard to beat.

    The Wolverines also made the one mistake you probably shouldn't make against this Spartan team, leaving Gary Harris wide open. Leaving him open is like leaving Stauskas open, it's just something that should not happen. Some of these openings were just random, but others were just defensive breakdowns. Guarding the paint is one thing, but leaving a team's best shooter open as a result is another thing. Obviously, the Spartans had a great shooting night and for segments, it seemed like they couldn't miss a shot, but making adjustments during play is important and Michigan was not doing that. There aren't too much frontcourts as good as MSU's frontcourt, but there are surely plenty of shooters that can tear up Michigan like Harris if they're left open, which is not an encouraging thought.

    On the offensive side, Michigan didn't do much better. The big thing that fostered this were the turnovers. Not only did the Wolverines make mistakes when they got in their offensive set, but they turned the ball over in transition and off rebounds. These are things that just haven't been happening for Michigan this season. Two turnovers that come to mind are when Morgan was on a 2-1 breakaway and just threw the ball at the MSU player and when McGary tried to throw the ball inside to Bielfeldt and it just went directly to an MSU player. If Michigan continues to do this, they won't beat good teams. Turning it over once in awhile is one thing, but it was just bad tonight.

    Hardaway and GR3 also both had atrocious games. Hardaway was due for a letdown game after shooting lights out in the previous two, but he was essentially non-existent and got beat badly defensively a few times when he got matched up inside. GR3 also did just about nothing. The one play that summarized his night for me was when he had a wide open 3 pt look. Instead of shooting it, he drove 2 feet, then jacked up the shot and missed. It made absolutely no sense then and no sense now. If he plays timid, he's not going to be productive offensively. Especially on this play because he followed it up with a bad foul on the rebound. A double negative for Michigan in just a few seconds. Spike also struggled and appeared lost in running the offense. With that much defensive pressure on him, he needed more help and didn't get it. LeVert made a few great plays, but also struggled for the most part.

    To end, a few positives about tonight. Burke actually had a pretty good game and despite the chants of MSU fans, Burke outplayed Appling tonight. The problem of course was that the players around him weren't getting anything going. Stauskas also didn't do too badly. He got caught in bad defensive positions a few times, but his shot selections were pretty good. Of course, the odd thing about both of these players was that they were put on the bench a few times when they probably should have been on the court. Beilein is a great coach, but there were a few times tonight that just left you scratching your head about lineup decisions. Overall, this was a bad loss for Michigan. They will recover, but definitely not the performance Michigan fans wanted.

    This post was edited by Thomas Beindit 14 months ago

    Basketball Analyst For BTPowerhouse & Wolverine 247 - Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tbeindit

  • Agree with all of your points except your very last one. With how horribly every facet of the game was going, I think Beilein was just trying to find one lineup that didn't get outplayed and outworked. Unfortunately, every single lineup he threw out there played horribly.

    This was the perfect storm for a lopsided score. You're not going to be in a game, let alone win it, when your 2nd best player goes 1-11. You're not going to win a game when, in addition to your best player going 1-11, your likely 3rd best player goes 1-4 with 2 rebounds. You're not going to win a game when have twice as many turnovers as the other team, many of them completely unforced errors (I'll say routine plays actually. They were a result of good defense, but it wasn't good enough defense that there should have been turnovers).

    Going forward, I've got to see a more aggressive Robinson. Not forcing offense, but he's got to take his chances when he gets them. He's got to be aggressive on the boards. He's got to play much more physical on the interior, and he's got to take his looks from outside when he gets them. I remember the exact play you're talking about where he had a wide open 3 and took 2 dribbles and shot an off balance free throw line jumper. That 3 would have been a good shot there, and a shot that he could knock down. That wasn't a situation where he passed up a good shot for a great shot. He passed up a good shot for a bad shot. It really looks like he does not want the ball in his hands in these big games. We need the 12 and 7 he was giving us early in the year. Tim's a streaky shooter, so he's going to have bad games, but this was definitely the worst of his career. He had some open looks too...it's not like all of his shots were contested.

    I said it in another thread, but games like this just happen, and they don't define a season. I'm certainly not going to jump off the Michigan or Beilein bandwagon after this game.

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  • Well this loss was embarassing. Somebody on this team needs to go all Novak on them because there is no leadership on this team right now. Not one player tonight looked like they wanted to be on that floor against MSU and that includes Burke. Hopefully tonights game pisses off Robinson, Hardaway, Burke, McGary, Morgan, and Stauskas and from this point on they bring it.

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  • "Our pets heads are falling off!"

    Perfect storm for MSU: they shot and hit most everything, playing at home with a raucous crowd, hustled and battled for every loose ball or bucket, played good defense and were in your face on the perimeter, UM coming off an emotional loss and long winding trip that has sucked it out of them, weren't aggressive at all, lethargic, bad shooting, no rebounding and so on and so on...we were due for this beat down.

    I hate it on so many levels because it was to them idiots but maybe this will be what lights that fire. This game can't be singled out because it was a culmination of several road games that could be combined into one...the team has to get more physical and play with a chip on its shoulder in this conference. The refs have just turned a blind eye to any contact especially for the home teams. There needs to be lineups adjusted on a game by game basis IMO. G Rob is struggling bad right now and perhaps needs to sub in or play small forward. I feel sub is best because he doesn't even have a drive or step up jumper game to him at this point. McGary played bad tonight but he's the fire we need on this team. There has to be some as semblance of a post game to develop for this team to get consistent success. The lack of passion in this rivalry game was a little hard to watch honestly for me. Maybe the embarrassment and ridicule in the press clippings will be enough to do the trick. Beilein on the bench reminds me of Fisher in a lot of ways...coached them up a ton in practice and then let them play in the games. Let them play their way out of it most times. Beilein isn't gonna yell at them and get in their face...quite frankly these kids wouldn't take it well. The Fab 5 were very emotional on the court and wouldn't have taken it well either. It's the type of players recruited and the style of play. Most times its pretty, sometimes it is down right awful. Tonight was the latter. There's things I do not like about the staff and or team but they are our team and I support them fully. They will bounce back and get a few w's under their belts and the confidence will be back. They have had a brutal stretch and they have came out bloody from it. Most likely not gonna win the bigten but can still have a very successful season. I truly feel we will play better in the NCAA tourney than in bigten because we don't fit in. JB is gonna continue to have to adapt, the conference keeps getting better and ridiculously physical. Awful night but try not to look at it in a vacuum yet. If we lose home games at the end of the season against these teams then its time to be more upset. G Rob better stay another year, Hardaway prob should too. Team has to continue to get better and evolve. Keep the faith everyone and unlike my title, "our pets heads aren't falling off!" Go Blue!

    This post was edited by Jordan11 14 months ago

  • what makes you say this? honest question

    laying in the weeds

  • Michigan needs to get tougher. Simple as that. We're baptizing freshman by fire and they'll learn from it. But from what I saw...they looked scared and timid. Sparty brought the man-ball and UM didn't answer. We gotta move on and worry about this guys....we have another chance against Sparty and IU. Lets make it happen.

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    "Those Who Stay...Will be Champions"

  • If you really want a dose of reality and hear an objective point of view...I thought Marcus Ray hit the nail on the head this morning. Not only talking about Michigan Hoops, but also how the football team needs at killer instinct. I for one, completely agree with everything he said. And quite honestly, at times, I think the fanbase wants to win more than our teams do. I know that ludicrous, but I do question that killer drive that's needed in these rivalry match ups.

    http://www.stationcaster.com/player_skinned.php?s=901&c=4701&f=1080511

  • Every year, at this point in the season, I typically come to the same conclusion: Beilein's teams are not built for the grind of a B1G season. Most B1G teams can be categorized as tough and physical. I think Beilein searches for recruits that are mindful and have a high basketball IQ.

    Every now and then, a B1G team will come out and punch Michigan in the mouth. They will be tough, physical, and push Michigan out of the style of play they had grown accustomed to. Teams who will dictate their style of play can throw off the rhythm of a Beilein offense, which seems to throw everything off.

    Luckily, I believe the B1G style of play is a minority in college basketball. I think many other teams rely on a mindful, even finesse style. I am willing to trade some losses in the B1G as long as Michigan's style progresses them deep into the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, we have not seen that happen. I think it is possible this year, but this team needs to regain it's confidence first.

  • MSU has not looked this good all year. Not even close. You can make an argument that Michigan was fueling this performance, but they shot lights out and all their aggressiveness on defense was paying off. Harris is a good shooter, but he's not typically going to put up 5-9 nights outside the arch. Derrick Nix was hitting almost all of his shots down low, even if they were pretty risky attempts. On defense, when the Spartans would make a risky move, it would almost always pay off. If Michigan had been able to calm down and get around these moves, they would have made MSU pay dearly.

    In all honesty, only one MSU player had an off night and that was Appling and he still got 11 points. Every team is going to have a guy or two playing well on a given night, but it's pretty unlikely they are going to have 4 or 5 guys all playing well in a big game. MSU is good, but probably not as good as they were last night, or at least looked last night.

    Basketball Analyst For BTPowerhouse & Wolverine 247 - Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tbeindit

  • I don't really agree with this assessment at all. As much as people like to believe the Big Ten is some "rough" league, many of the teams don't play the Big Ten "style". Teams like Wisconsin and MSU, yes, but even teams like Minnesota do a lot of uptempo stuff. Illinois and Northwestern definitely don't play the Big Ten style. Along with this, #1 Indiana plays an uptempo style that doesn't fit the "Big Ten mold". I know people have a perception about Big Ten basketball, but I just don't think it exists anymore.

    Second, I don't see how Michigan falls apart as the season goes on. Yes, they're going to struggle more in the tough games, but typically all teams struggle in those games. Michigan beat OSU & IU in their 2nd matchup last year and beat OSU in their 2nd matchup this year. I think it's more about when the games fall then Beilein's teams falling apart.

    Basketball Analyst For BTPowerhouse & Wolverine 247 - Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tbeindit

  • Defense has been killing me watching the Wolverines in our recent stretch. Getting killed on the boards, last night getting out-rebounded 40-28. Morgan obv wasn't at 100% even tho he was out there last night.

    Also seem to have a lot of breakdowns defensively giving up a lot of open 3's where it seems we just double the ball on a screen nearly 100% and one maybe 2 passes has our opponent shooting a wide open 3.

  • MSU shot 48.4% from the field and 35% from 3 last night

    Their season averages going into the game were 46.9% from the field and 36.1% from 3.

    So they shot a little better overall (a difference of 1 made shot off its season average), and basically right on their season average from 3.

    Either way, they didn't shoot lights out as you stated.

  • As Hardaway said after the game.. defense and rebounding, defense and rebounding, oh yeah and defense and rebounding.

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  • It's the football team's fault? And only the fans are giving 100%? I thought I had heard it all last night. Clearly I was wrong.

  • Blah Blah Blah they shot lights out to put the game out of reach.

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  • Yes they did, early. They cooled off later and when the scrubs came in. Go rewatch the first half in particular. They played a near perfect first half and we played like crap.

  • They shot the lights out when it matter! My thoughts are- not makin excuses cuz sparty did play awesome last nite but I do think that Michigan's ridiculous hard schedule lately/ mix in the wisconsin heartbreakin loss played a huge role in the outcome of the game. Would've been nice if Hardaway and Robinson showed up also.

  • Tim Hardaway โ€@t_hard10
    Would like to apologize to our fans, alum, UofM, and all of wolverine nation for the performance displayed lastnight. Will not happen again.

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  • This is nice and all but I want to see this attitude displayed on the court the remainder of the season. No more talk. Play ball.

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  • I was embarrassed to watch the game last night. I've noticed a pattern in all of our road losses. We come out with no intensity and energy most of the time. That is when you need it the most...take the crowd out of the game as soon as possible. This team has a long way to go...cause if we run into a team that is bigger with great defense....ie ohio, MSU, IU, UF, etc....we will be the under dog in my mind.

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    "Those Who Stay...Will be Champions"

  • Look at the schedule the past few years. Michigan at large has had little success against MSU, Wisconsin, OSU, and Purdue. These teams will body up and play physical defense, which disrupts players running Beilein's offense.

    Since the first season Michigan went to the NCAA Tournament under Beilein, Michigan has went 11-25 against the teams mentioned above; 15 of the games being double digit losses, and only 2 wins being by double digits. Yes, these teams are in the upper echelon of the B1G, but they knock Beilein's potent office out of sync.

    Michigan has been much more successful with Minnesota, Indiana, Northwestern, and the other teams that don't fit the physical style.

  • This.

    Basketball Analyst For BTPowerhouse & Wolverine 247 - Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tbeindit

  • wishful thinking

    laying in the weeds

  • Have you been paying any attention to our roster? We've been playing for years with a severe talent and depth disadvantage inside. It's not like Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford are McDonald's All Americans and Michigan Mr. Basketballs. It should be no surprise to anyone that we struggle against teams with big strong talented front courts. We've made tons of progress the past two seasons in closing the talent gap, but McGary and GRIII are true freshmen and Horford has barely played at all until recently due to injuries. Oh, and Jordan Morgan, our one veteran inside, is playing gimpy. We are far from a perfect team, but c'mon. Two years ago we were holding our breath trying to squeak out 20 wins and get an NCAA bid and this year we're 21-4 with six games to go and within striking distance of a #1 or #2 seed. It's a massive difference.

    This post has been edited 4 times, most recently by MrWoodson 14 months ago

  • Since Beilein's first NCAA Tournament appearance? You do realize that includes a year when we didn't go to the tourney, right? It also doesn't account for the two games still remaining on the schedule (@PUR, MSU) that Michigan can certainly win. So to start, that stat is pretty flawed. It also fails to account for the fact that Michigan had a weaker roster and probably a weaker team in perhaps every season except the last two years. And you can make a pretty strong argument that last year's team wasn't as talented as several of the teams you listed.

    Last year, Michigan went 4-3 against those teams in the regular season and 4-4 overall, while still winning the Big Ten Championship. You also failed to account that Michigan won 6 of their last 7 regular season conference games last season, which doesn't make sense for the argument that Michigan breaks down as the season continues. Plus, let's look at this season. Despite playing the majority of the games against the 4 teams you listed on the road, Michigan has a solid shot at 4-3 with Purdue on the road and MSU at home still remaining. Plus, if Michigan gets a rematch with a team like Wisconsin, OSU, or Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament, they would have a solid chance at going 5-3. Also, with 4 of the next 6 games at home, Michigan has the chance to go 6-0 in their last 6 games. I'm not guaranteeing they will, but that would present another challenge to this argument.

    I understand the frustration in some of these tougher games, but I just don't agree with this argument. These are some of the best teams in the country and plenty of teams are going to struggle against them. Like I said before, I think it's more about when the games fall than Michigan getting weaker.

    Basketball Analyst For BTPowerhouse & Wolverine 247 - Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tbeindit