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Postgame Thoughts: Minnesota - Zak Irvin Comes Up B1G

  • Michigan was able to snag a big road win on the year by a final score of 63-60 against Minnesota. The Wolverines struggled early with a flurry of turnovers, but were able to calm things down and get back into the game. They took a lead late, but ended up allowing Minnesota to get one heave at the buzzer with a chance to tie it due to a combo of mediocre free throw shooting and a huge foul outside the three point line by Nik Stauskas. Regardless, Michigan was able to come away with the win.

    Michigan had a lot of problems in this game. First, they were very disrupted by the pressure brought by Minnesota's defense early. This rattled guys like Derrick Walton and put Michigan in a big hole early. The team also went through stretches where they were unable to keep Minnesota out of the lane. As the game went on though, Michigan tightened up inside and hit some big shots late.

    Early in the game, Glenn Robinson III was carrying the flag for Michigan. He was attacking the hoop and had an absolutely insane block. Unfortunately, he had an issue with his ankle and was forced to leave early. This could be very important for Michigan's team as the year goes on. The good news is that the team has three reasonable opponents before going on the road to face Wisconsin. There should at least be some time for recovery and signs at least appear hopeful at this time.

    Overall though, the guy that carried Michigan was true freshman Zak Irvin. Playing increased minutes due to GR3's injury, he hit some massive shots and continued to be great outside the arch. He still needs to diversify his game and create more inside, but 15 points off the bench at any point is still impressive. When Michigan's offense sputtered, he hit a key shot. He's only going to get better and will be very important during Big Ten play.

    Also on the wing, Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert had mixed nights. Stauskas hit some big shots and did a great job at getting to the line, but he also made some boneheaded plays, including what was almost a late key turnover and the dreaded foul from 3 point land. However, he did make a great play late when he passed up an open three in order to wait to get fouled. Michigan only scored 1 on the play, but the added bonus of the foul and the time burned was probably more valuable than even the 2 points. LeVert had a bad game. There's really no other way to describe his performance. He had a tough draw with the challenge of defending Andre Hollins, but he just could never get going. He ended the night with 4 points and just took some ugly looks including a heave from the 3 point line that just should have never been attempted.

    Upfront, Michigan got some good production from Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford. Morgan did not light up the scoreboard, but he played some critical defense and prevented some great looks from being converted. Unfortunately, some foul trouble (based on a few weak calls) kept him out for large segments. Horford had one of the most peculiar games you will see from a Michigan player. He ended the night 6-8 shooting with 14 points and made some absolutely fantastic plays, but also had some boneheaded mistakes such as bad hedges, a botched cross court pass, and a missed lay-up. On the other side, he had a few defensive possessions that were near perfect including a steal that led to the botched cross court pass. Without a doubt, he has more potential than Morgan. If he can start to become more consistent and make more of these good plays, he is the best option down low.

    At the point, it was not the prettiest night. Derrick Walton struggled at the beginning and was frankly, just making some ugly passes and bringing the ball up the court in bad position. He did calm down as the game went on and made some great passes to open players. Spike didn't score a single point on the night, but he did do one thing that was absolutely huge in the game: inbound the ball late. He hit the open guys and didn't have to use timeouts or get guys in bad situations. This alone adds a ton of value to the team. Both of these guys still have room to grow and it will be interesting to see their minute distribution over the next few games.

    Overall, this was a big win for Michigan. According to the KenPom rankings, this was the second best win of the season for Michigan with Minnesota rated at #35 and Florida State at #28. However, considering this game was on the road, this was almost definitely the best win of the year for the young Wolverines. Add in that GR3 was out and McGary played against FSU and this is an even bigger win. There was serious concern about how Michigan's postseason situation would look over the coming weeks, but this win will go a long way towards getting them where they want. With three manageable games on the horizon, the next big game appears to be on January 18th against Wisconsin.

    Michigan plays next against Northwestern on Sunday.

    This post was edited by Thomas Beindit 3 months ago

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

  • Nobody touched that three point shooter, that was a home call. Nik got tripped and shoulder blocked and had to have a call reversal to negate a turnover.

    Nik got a minute amount of body into the shooter. That was a big call considering the physical nature of game, including what I wrote above

    This post was edited by Jordan11 3 months ago

  • One thing I will "small change" about is our defense on last few seconds of games. Why Beilein doesn't like some sort of pressure is beyond me. They ended up with a decent shot. We've been burned by this before. Atleast make them stop their momentum or something. He was screaming for players to get back. Don't understand that defense at all. Just a minor pick.

  • I did not understand our defensive gameplan for Minnesota.

    The Gophers are not a good shooting team. They rely on turning defense into offense and, therefore, are heavily dependent on transition offense.

    In this case, doesn't it make sense to use a team's weakness against it? I was expecting us to play zone for long stretches to force the Gophers into tough shots from the perimeter.

    Instead, we played man and allowed a team that can penetrate to get into the lane over and over and either dish to a big man or get to the rim. At one point, 26 of Minnesota's first 36 points came from the paint.

    Lastly, this team must get better at closing games. We struggle to finish games with the lead. We've seen this at Iowa State, Arizona, and now Minnesota.

    Other areas of improvement include:
    – Driving and dishing to the corner
    – Finishing at the rim (we left at least 10 points out on the court)
    – Outlet passing / running the floor

    Still, there were a number of positive to take away:
    – Derrick Walton Jr. handled Minnesota full court press really well.
    – We got a road win without Glenn Robinson Jr. who has been playing really well recently and started this game off strong.
    – Zak Irving nailed some tough shots. If he can get going, he can at least partially replace Tim Hardaway Jr.

    * * * N E O . R E T R O * * *

  • Jordan11 said... (original post)

    One thing I will "small change" about is our defense on last few seconds of games. Why Beilein doesn't like some sort of pressure is beyond me. They ended up with a decent shot. We've been burned by this before. Atleast make them stop their momentum or something. He was screaming for players to get back. Don't understand that defense at all. Just a minor pick.

    Yeah, I definitely didn't understand that either. The loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten tournament still sticks out in my mind.

    We didn't show zone throughout the game for whatever reason but I definitely don't understand why we didn't counter Minny's FCP pressure with some extended pressure of our own.

    I thought this team would be more multiple on defense but that hasn't been the modus operandi for this team.

    * * * N E O . R E T R O * * *

  • Frank C said... (original post)

    I did not understand our defensive gameplan for Minnesota.

    The Gophers are not a good shooting team. They rely on turning defense into offense and, therefore, are heavily dependent on transition offense.

    In this case, doesn't it make sense to use a team's weakness against it? I was expecting us to play zone for long stretches to force the Gophers into tough shots from the perimeter.

    Instead, we played man and allowed a team that can penetrate to get into the lane over and over and either dish to a big man or get to the rim. At one point, 26 of Minnesota's first 36 points came from the paint.

    Lastly, this team must get better at closing games. We struggle to finish games with the lead. We've seen this at Iowa State, Arizona, and now Minnesota.

    Other areas of improvement include: – Driving and dishing to the corner – Finishing at the rim (we left at least 10 points out on the court) – Outlet passing / running the floor

    Still, there were a number of positive to take away: – Derrick Walton Jr. handled Minnesota full court press really well. – We got a road win without Glenn Robinson Jr. who has been playing really well recently and started this game off strong. – Zak Irving nailed some tough shots. If he can get going, he can at least partially replace Tim Hardaway Jr.

    Like it or not, Beilein just seems to want to use man defense. Personally, I don't really understand it that much, especially considering that Michigan doesn't cover the 3 point line that well even in man, but it just seems like he likes to use that defense. When the year started, I thought Michigan would use a ton of zone considering how much length this team could use during a game. Up to now, we haven't seen it that much. Not really sure why he is so hesitant to use it since it has been relatively effective when used.

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

  • Horford was huge in this game. 14pts and 9 rebounds. He has a nice 10 to 12 foot jump shot. Whether its the turnaround from backing a guy down, facing up or off the pass he needs to be looking to take those shots whenever he gets the chance. Loved how strong he went up late in the game and dunked over 2 guys. Way too often Horford has gone up soft and failed to finish with a bucket in those situations.

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  • WillyWolverine said... (original post)

    Horford was huge in this game. 14pts and 9 rebounds. He has a nice 10 to 12 foot jump shot. Whether its the turnaround from backing a guy down, facing up or off the pass he needs to be looking to take those shots whenever he gets the chance. Loved how strong he went up late in the game and dunked over 2 guys. Way too often Horford has gone up soft and failed to finish with a bucket in those situations.

    He had many bunnies that he went up soft with

  • Frank C said... (original post)

    I did not understand our defensive gameplan for Minnesota.

    The Gophers are not a good shooting team. They rely on turning defense into offense and, therefore, are heavily dependent on transition offense.

    In this case, doesn't it make sense to use a team's weakness against it? I was expecting us to play zone for long stretches to force the Gophers into tough shots from the perimeter.

    Instead, we played man and allowed a team that can penetrate to get into the lane over and over and either dish to a big man or get to the rim. At one point, 26 of Minnesota's first 36 points came from the paint.

    Lastly, this team must get better at closing games. We struggle to finish games with the lead. We've seen this at Iowa State, Arizona, and now Minnesota.

    Other areas of improvement include:
    – Driving and dishing to the corner
    – Finishing at the rim (we left at least 10 points out on the court)
    – Outlet passing / running the floor

    Still, there were a number of positive to take away:
    – Derrick Walton Jr. handled Minnesota full court press really well.
    – We got a road win without Glenn Robinson Jr. who has been playing really well recently and started this game off strong.
    – Zak Irving nailed some tough shots. If he can get going, he can at least partially replace Tim Hardaway Jr.

    I'm with u on the man to man. We allow all teams to penetrate the lane. With our length out front, I'm not sure why we don't sprinkle in some 1-3-1 at the least.