Nothing But ‘Net – Week #08 – 12/17/2018 – An Ugly Win

The (#5) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game last week, and they won it. On Saturday (12/15/2018), they beat Western Michigan 70-62 in Crisler Arena. The win raises Michigan’s record to 11-0 (2-0 in the Big Ten).

Time for more Questions & Answers:

Q: What was ugly about this win?

A: WMU is a team that Michigan should have thrashed by 30 points, but it was still a 5-point game in the last two minutes. WMU led or was tied for virtually the entire 1st half, with UM getting their first lead of the game at the halftime buzzer (30-28). Michigan used a 10-0 run in the closing minutes of the half to erase an 8-point deficit (28-20), then used a 14-4 run coming out of halftime to open up a decent lead (44-32, with 14:46 left in the game), but they let it slip back to 5 points (45-40) in the next two minutes. They made WMU look better than North Carolina, Purdue, and Villanova. Maybe WMU played one of their better games, although the stats don’t bear that out, but certainly UM played one of their least inspired games. It was sloppy and choppy, but at least it was a win, even if it was an ugly win.

Q: Any ideas why Michigan played so poorly?

A: I suspect that the biggest problem was a letdown, after so many challenging games in a row. I don’t think they exactly “looked past” WMU, but they may have taken them too lightly. I also suspect that the UM players were thinking more about the end of classes, study days, finals, and the holiday break than they were about serious basketball. They didn’t appear focused. WMU won most of the 50-50 balls, and the Michigan players often seemed one step behind them. They couldn’t slow down WMU’s high scorer, who lit them up for 31 points, including several amazing circus shots. It was scary to see how poorly Michigan can play when they don’t have their hearts in it.

Q: How were the team stats?

A: Not very impressive. Michigan shot pretty poorly overall (24-for-54 = 44.4%), they shot 3-pointers fairly well (7-for-18 = 38.9%), and they shot free throws pretty poorly (15-for-25 = 60.0%). They tied (32-32) in the rebounding battle, but won the turnover battle handily (8-16). Those eight extra possessions were the difference in the game.

Complete stats here.

Q: Who looked good for Michigan?

A: A few players had a good game:

  • Charles Matthews was the star of the game, with 25 points and 10 rebounds, for a nice “double-double”. He had the buzzer-beater layup that gave Michigan its first lead of the game at halftime, and he had a nice corner 3-pointer with 1:13 to go in the game that gave UM the breathing room they needed to close out the game. He even hit his free throws (11-for-16)!
  • Zavier Simpson scored 15 points, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range. This was very encouraging, since he had missed his previous 10 3-point attempts, dating back a month. He wasn’t perfect, with more turnovers (4) than assists (3), but he ran the offense pretty well.
  • Jordan Poole was the only other Michigan player in double figures, with 14 points. He shot pretty well (5-for-9 overall, 2-for-3 from 3-point range).
  • Austin Davis only had 4 points, but he played better than he has in a while. He had to play more minutes (9) than usual, since Jon Teske got in early foul trouble. He did a very nice job defensively on WMU’s 7-footer.

Q: Who looked not-so-good for Michigan?

A: Everyone else:

  • Ignas Brazdeikis had his worst game as a Wolverine, with 4 points on a pair of late baskets. He finally looked like a freshman, and not even a good freshman. He forced his way into the lane several times with no hope of making a basket. He was just hoping someone from WMU would bail him out by fouling him. Even when he did get fouled, he missed his free throws (0-for-3).
  • Jon Teske had an “off” game as well, with 3 points. He got 2 quick fouls in the 1st half, and sat for long stretches. He only played 25 minutes. Fortunately, he and Austin Davis and Isaiah Livers forced WMU’s star big man into a sub-par game (7 points), so Teske’s weak offensive play didn’t hurt the team much.
  • Isaiah Livers has been in a slump for most of December. He only had 3 points in this game, on 1-for-6 shooting (0-for-4 from 3-point range). The team needs him for “instant offense” off the bench. On the positive side, he did help contain WMU’s big man.
  • Eli Brooks also had an “off” game, with 2 points on 1-for-3 shooting (0-for-2 from deep). He’s another player who is counted on for instant offense, and he didn’t provide it in this game.

Q: Who else played?

A: No one else played. Coach Beilein has shortened up his bench considerably, with only three subs.

Q: What did we learn this week?

A: We learned that Michigan can “gum a team to death” when they can’t win with style points. We learned that UM is still capable of “playing down” to inferior competition. And, we learned that Iggy is human.

Q: What’s next for Michigan?

A: For the rest of the month, Michigan only has one game each week, all at home, and all on weekends. This week, Michigan plays Air Force on Saturday (12/22/2018, 4:00 p.m., BTN) in Crisler Arena.

Air Force is currently 4-6, with no impressive wins, and losses to Texas State, UMBC, High Point, Colorado, Pacific, and Army. Since they’re a service academy, with strict limits on height for admission, they don’t have much height: a 6’9″ freshman, and a 6’8″ sophomore. This is another game that Michigan should win easily, but so was Western Michigan. UM will have to play with a lot more focus and determination than they did vs. WMU if they want to beat Air Force.

That’s it for this week. Come on down to Crisler for the Air Force game.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #07 – 12/10/2018 – Finally, Some Adversity

The (#5) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won both of them. On Tuesday (12/04/2018), they won at Northwestern 62-60, then on Saturday (12/08/2018), they beat South Carolina 89-78 in Crisler Arena. Michigan’s record is now 10-0 (2-0 in the Big Ten).

Time for more Questions & Answers:

Q: Adversity? And that’s a good thing?

A: Yeah, some adversity is a good thing, just not too much. Michigan had been largely unchallenged in their first eight games, winning each of them by at least 17 points. There had been a few scary starts (down 10 early to North Carolina, for example), but Michigan was usually firmly in command for the last 10 minutes each game. Not in the Northwestern game: Michigan only led by six points (36-30) at halftime, but they started the 2nd half with a 9-0 run to make it a 15-point lead (45-30) with 17:19 left, and it looked like the game was over. Hah! Northwestern went on their own 15-2 run to get within two points (47-45), tied the game at 54-54, then went ahead 56-54. It was still tied at 60-60 with 2:09 to go, and Michigan scored the final points with 1:53 left, then played good defense to shut Northwestern down and hang on for the win. So, there was plenty of adversity, and Michigan handled it pretty well and got the win. They should learn a lot more from a close game than they do from a 27-point blowout.

Q: Was there any adversity in the USC game?

A: I mean, a little? Michigan didn’t blow them away, but they had a comfortable lead for the last 16 minutes of the game. The 1st half was close, but once Michigan got the lead over 10 in the 2nd half, they didn’t let it get below 9 the rest of the way. USC was much better than their record and early results would suggest, but Michigan handled them pretty solidly.

Q: How were the team stats?

A: About what you would expect: sad in the Northwestern game, and better in the USC game:

Overall shooting

24-for-55 (43.6%) vs. Northwestern

28-for-54 (51.9%) vs. USC

3-point shooting

5-for-20 (25.0%) vs. Northwestern

10-for-24 (41.7%) vs. USC

Free throw shooting

9-for-13 (69.2%) vs. Northwestern

23-for-30 (76.7%) vs. USC

Michigan out-rebounded Northwestern (33-26) and USC (37-24).

Michigan tied in the turnover battle vs. Northwestern (9-9), but lost the battle to USC (16-10).

Complete stats here: Northwestern
USC

Q: Who looked good for Michigan?

A: Several players had a good week:

  • Ignas Brazdeikis hit double figures in both games (23 points vs. Northwestern and 17 points vs. USC). He was 3-for-6 shooting 3-pointers vs. Northwestern, and he was 11-for-12 from the free throw line vs. USC.
  • Jordan Poole also hit double figures in both games (15 and 26 points). Those 26 points are new career high for Jordan, and he did it in the game that was billed as a “Poole Party”.
  • Jon Teske only hit double figures in one game (8 and 15 points), but he was a defensive force in both games.
  • Charles Matthews had a miserable game vs. Northwestern (3 points), but did a little better vs. USC (12 points).
  • Zavier Simpson hit double figures in one game this week (10 and 7 points), but he contributed even more with his assists (5 and 7). He also played great defense.
  • Isaiah Livers also hit double figures in one game this week (0 and 12 points).

Q: Who looked not-so-good for Michigan?

A: A couple players had disappointing weeks:

  • Eli Brooks chipped in a 3-pointer vs. Northwestern, but was held scoreless vs. USC.
  • Austin Davis didn’t even attempt a shot in either game.

Q: Who else played?

A: No one else played. Coach Beilein has shortened up his bench considerably, with only three subs in each game this week.

Q: What did we learn this week?

A: We learned that Michigan can handle adversity. We also learned that Michigan can give up a good-sized lead (15 points) in the middle of the 2nd half, that they can go 9 minutes without scoring, and that they can give up 78 points. All of these are ominous signs, and they’re going to catch up with Michigan some time this season. After the UNC and Purdue games, it looked like Michigan had everything figured out; now it’s obvious that there are some chinks in Michigan’s armor.

Q: What’s next for Michigan?

A: For the rest of the month, Michigan only has one game each week, all at home, and all on weekends. This week, Michigan plays Western Michigan on Saturday (12/15/2018, 2:00 p.m., BTN) in Crisler Arena.

WMU is currently 5-4, with no impressive wins, and losses to Nicholls State and USC Upstate. They have one good player, Seth Dugan, a 7’0″ senior who leads the team in scoring. It will be interesting watching Dugan and Teske go at it.

That’s it for this week. Come on down to Crisler for the WMU game.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #06 – 12/03/2018 – Two Huge Wins

The (#7) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won both of them convincingly. On Wednesday (11/28/2018), they beat (#11) North Carolina 84-67, then on Saturday (12/01/2018), they beat (#19) Purdue 76-57. Both games were in Crisler Arena. The UNC game was part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and the Purdue game was the first of two early-December Big Ten games that every Big Ten team has to play to fit in the new 20-game league schedule. Michigan’s record is now 8-0 (1-0 in the Big Ten).

Time for more Questions & Answers:

Q: Huge? How big?

A: Truly huge. The win over UNC was one of the most important non-conference games in Crisler Arena in the last 10 years, and the win over Purdue was critical to Michigan’s chances to compete for the Big Ten title. Both games were on national TV (ESPN), and Michigan won both games very convincingly, and looked very strong doing it. Now that Michigan has beaten three ranked teams (Villanova was the other), they’re getting some serious national attention.

Q: Wasn’t Michigan favored to win both of these games?

A: Yes, but they certainly weren’t expected to dominate two ranked opponents like they did, winning by 17 and 19 points. Both games were tough and hard-fought, but Michigan was in control for most of both games. It was a very impressive performance, times two.

Q: Most of both games?

A: Michigan never trailed in the Purdue game, and once they got a double-digit lead, they never were threatened, but the first half of the UNC game was a little dicey. UNC came out hot, and Michigan was a little off, so UNC led 21-11 with 12:37 to go in the half. UNC came into the game with the #2 scoring offense in the country, and it looked like they were headed for their season average of 97 points a game. And then…

And then, a small miracle happened: Zavier Simpson fired up a wild shot, UNC got the rebound in a scramble and headed up court to expand their lead, but Simpson stole the ball and took it in for a layup, and that started a 17-2 Michigan run that took them from 10 down (21-11) to 5 up (28-23) in under 4 minutes. It was the turning point of the game. The teams traded the lead the rest of the half, with UNC’s last lead (35-33) coming in the final minute of the half, but UM hit two 3-pointers in the last minute of the half to take a 4-point lead (39-35) into the locker room. Michigan had another good run (12-4) in the first 4 minutes of the 2nd half, and after UNC cut the lead to 9 points (51-42), Michigan pushed it back into double digits and never let it get below 10 points again. It was Simpson’s steal and layup that broke UNC’s momentum and swung the game in Michigan’s favor.

Q: How were the crowds?

A: This is the fun part of getting to write the questions and the answers: I get to ask the right questions! The crowd for the UNC game was one of the best crowds ever in Crisler. Both games were technically “sold out”, but there were a lot less “no shows” for the UNC game, and the fans that were there were really into the game. They were about as loud as I can remember for a non-MSU game, and the team gave them a lot to cheer about. The crowd for the Purdue game was a little bit smaller, and a lot less rowdy, but they still helped the team stay fired up.

Q: How was the officiating?

A: Another great question! It was fine (by Big Ten standards) for the Purdue game, but it was horrible (by any standards) for the UNC game. There were 5-6 absolutely terrible calls in a short (5 minute) period, all against Michigan. I know it seems weird to complain about bad calls in a 17-point blow-out, but with some decent officiating, this was a 30-point win. Throw in some reasonable free-throw shooting, and Michigan wins by 40 points. Michigan played that much better than UNC.

Q: Bad free-throw shooting?

A: Terrible, just terrible. Michigan was 11-for-23 (47.8) shooting free throws vs. UNC. Many of those misses were on the front end of “one-and-one” situations. It was a good thing that UM was dominating in other areas (defense and 3-point shooting) to make up for a lousy night at the free throw line.

Oh, and just to mess with our heads, Michigan shot free throws brilliantly vs. Purdue: 11-for-13 (84.6%).

Q: How were the rest of the stats?

A: Other than free-throw shooting in the UNC game, the rest of the stats were fine:

Overall shooting

31-for-54 (57.4%) vs. UNC

26-for-55 (47.3%) vs. Purdue

3-point shooting

11-for-22 (50.0%) vs. UNC

13-for-26 (50.0%) vs. Purdue

Free throw shooting

11-for-23 (47.8%) vs. UNC

11-for-13 (84.6%) vs. Purdue

Michigan got hammered on the boards vs. UNC (43-31), but out-rebounded Purdue (36-33).

Michigan won the turnover battle vs. UNC (7-10), but lost the battle to Purdue (11-9).

Complete stats here: UNC
Purdue

Q: Who looked good for Michigan?

A: Several players had a good week:

  • Ignas Brazdeikis hit double figures in both games (24 points vs. UNC and 12 points vs. Purdue), and shot well: 9-for-13 (2-for-4 from 3-point range) vs. UNC and 4-for-7 (2-for-3 from 3-point range) vs. Purdue. His 24 points vs. UNC were a new career high, and his 3rd game in a row scoring 20 or more points.
  • Jordan Poole also hit double figures in both games (18 and 21 points), and also shot well: 6-for-13 (5-for-8 from 3-point range) vs. UNC and 8-for-9 (5-for-5 from 3-point range) vs. Purdue. Combined, that’s 10-for-13 shooting 3-pointers this week!
  • Jon Teske only hit double figures in one game (6 and 17 points), but he was a defensive force in the UNC game with a career-high 5 blocked shots. Those 17 points vs. Purdue tied his career high for scoring, and he even hit two more 3-pointers (on two attempts). His biggest contribution in the Purdue game was that he neutralized Purdue’s 7’3″ center (Matt Haarms), holding him to 5 points and 2 rebounds, while Teske had 17 points and 8 rebounds. Michigan’s 7-footer is definitely better than Purdue’s 7-footer!
  • Charles Matthews almost hit double figures in both games (21 and 9 points), and he did much of his damage from 3-point range (2-for-4 and 3-for-6).
  • Zavier Simpson hit double figures in one game this week (5 and 10 points), but he contributed even more with his assists (6 and 7). He also played great defense.
  • Eli Brooks kept up his improved play, with 7 and 3 points, including a 3-pointer in each game.
  • Brandon Johns, Jr. played for a couple minutes vs. Purdue, and hit two free throws.

Q: Who looked not-so-good for Michigan?

A: A couple players had disappointing weeks:

  • Isaiah Livers had an “off” week for him: 3 and 2 points. His 3 points vs. UNC were from a 3-pointer, his only shot of the game. On the other hand, he missed all three 3-point attempts vs. Purdue, scoring his 2 points at the free-throw line.
  • Austin Davis was held scoreless in both games, although he only played about one minute vs. Purdue, getting pulled when he committed an offensive foul right away.

Q: Who else played?

A: Even though Michigan had an insurmountable lead late in the UNC game, Coach Beilein was worried enough that he didn’t put in any of the “scout team” subs, but he put four of them in for the final minute of the Purdue game: C.J. Baird, David DeJulius, Adrien Nuñez, and Luke Wilson. None of them scored.

Q: What did we learn this week?

A: We learned that Michigan is for real. While they looked great in their only previous game vs. a ranked opponent (Villanova), we had to see it again vs. a couple more ranked opponents, and we did, big time. They’ve still got several tough games ahead of them in the Big Ten, but they passed their first league test with flying colors.

Q: What’s next for Michigan?

A: Michigan has two more games this week, one on the road and one at home. On Tuesday (12/04/2018, 9:00 p.m. EST, BTN), they play at Northwestern, then on Saturday (11/08/2018, noon, FS1), they play South Carolina in Crisler Arena. The Northwestern game is the second of two early-December Big Ten games that every Big Ten team has to play to fit in the new 20-game league schedule.

Northwestern is currently 6-2 (0-1 in the Big Ten), with one decent win (Georgia Tech) and losses to Fresno State and Indiana. They have a little bit of height (three 6’10” players), a few decent players, and they’re tough to beat in Evanston. In fact, Michigan’s last regular season loss was at Northwestern on 02/06/2018. Michigan will have to play well to win this one.

South Carolina is currently 4-3, with no impressive wins, and losses to Stony Brook, Providence, and Wofford. They have some height (6’11” and 7’1″), but nobody noteworthy. On paper, Michigan should win this one comfortably, but they have to watch for a let-down after a tough stretch (UNC, Purdue, and Northwestern).

That’s it for this week. Come on down to Crisler for the South Carolina game.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #05 – 11/26/2018 – Thanksgiving Leftovers

The (#9) University of Michigan men’s basketball team only played one game last week, and they won it easily. On (Black) Friday (11/23/2018), they beat Chattanooga 83-55 in Crisler Arena. Michigan’s record is now 6-0.

Time for more Questions & Answers:

Q: Thanksgiving leftovers?

A: It was a smallish crowd on the day after Thanksgiving for a game that Michigan was heavily favored to win. Most of the crowd looked like they had eaten too much turkey the day before. The team, on the other hand, was sharper and more focused than they’ve been at home this season. They never trailed, opened an early lead, built on it steadily, and looked good doing it.

Q: Who looked good for Michigan?

A: Everyone looked pretty good, but a few players stood out:

  • Ignas Brazdeikis was the leading scorer (20 points), along with 7 rebounds. He even shot 2-for-4 from 3-point range.
  • Jordan Poole was the other starter in double figures, with 14 points and 6 rebounds. He also shot well from 3-point range: 2-for-3.
  • Isaiah Livers was the only other Michigan player in double figures, with 12 points on 4-for-5 shooting (2-for-3 from 3-point range).
  • Jon Teske only scored 7 points, but he pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds.
  • Eli Brooks continued his improved play, with 9 points, including another 3-pointer.
  • Austin Davis scored 6 points on 3-for-4 shooting.
  • C.J. Baird hit another 3-pointer!

Q: Who looked not-so-good?

A: A couple players had sub-par nights:

  • Charles Matthews just couldn’t get anything going in this game. He did finish with 8 points, but he shot poorly (2-for-9 overall, 0-for-2 from 3-point range).
  • Zavier Simpson ran the team OK, but he only had 3 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 turnovers.

Q: Who else played?

A: Since this was a blowout, everyone got to play at the end:

Q: How were the team stats?

A: Not bad. Michigan shot pretty well overall (29-for-59 = 49.2%), they shot 3-pointers fairly well (8-for-22 = 36.4%), and they shot free throws decently (17-for-24 = 70.8%). They won the rebounding battle handily (44-31) and the turnover battle decisively (5-13). Full stats here.

Q: What did we learn?

A: We learned that Michigan can actually play a good solid game against an overmatched opponent. They “played down” to their first two “guarantee game” opponents (Norfolk State and Holy Cross). We also learned that Michigan has several options for secondary scorers (Poole and Livers this time).

Q: What’s next?

A: After a quiet week for Thanksgiving, Michigan plays two tough games this week, both at home. On Wednesday (11/28/2018, 9:30 p.m., ESPN), they play (#7) North Carolina, then on Saturday (12/01/2018, 3:30 p.m., ESPN), they play (#24) Purdue. The UNC game is part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and the Purdue game is the first of two early-December Big Ten games that every Big Ten team has to play to fit in the new 20-game league schedule.

North Carolina is currently 6-1, with wins over Stanford and UCLA, and a loss to Texas. They are very good, with an imposing roster. They have two 6’10” guys and one 6’11” guy. This is going to be a very challenging game.

Purdue is currently 5-1, with no impressive wins, and a loss to (#13) Virginia Tech. They are also very good, with a tough roster. The good news is that Isaac Haas (7’2″) is finally gone, but the bad news is that his replacement (Matt Haarms) is even taller (7’3″), but not as talented. This is also going to be a challenging game.

While UNC and Purdue are both very good opponents, Michigan can beat both of them if they keep playing the way they did at Villanova and in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall Of Fame Tip-Off Tournament two weeks ago.

That’s it for this week. Come on down to Crisler for the big games.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #04 – 11/19/2018 – The Road Warriors

The (#18) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played three games on the road last week, and they won all three of them. On Wednesday (11/14/2018), they beat (#8) Villanova 73-46, on Saturday (11/17/2018), they beat George Washington 84-61, and on Sunday (11/18/2018), they beat Providence 66-47. The Villanova game was a true “away game” (on Villanova’s home court), but the other two games were in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall Of Fame Tip-Off Tournament in Uncasville, Connecticut, which Michigan won. Michigan’s record is now 5-0.

Time for more Questions & Answers:

Q: Were these more “ugly wins”?

A: Hell no! All three of these wins were solid, quality wins against good competition, although Villanova > Providence > George Washington. Michigan looked sluggish and uninterested in the two home games vs. vastly inferior competition (Norfolk State and Holy Cross) to start the season, but they were locked in this week, especially on defense.

Q: Didn’t Michigan play Villanova for the National Championship back in April?

A: Yes, but it didn’t go well then. It went much better this time. Both teams are very different, with lots of players graduated or off to the NBA, but it was still a good matchup that Michigan won convincingly. It was a big win. Last week, I said “This will be Michigan’s first big test, and the way they’ve played so far, I expect Villanova to beat them to a pulp.” It was just the opposite: Michigan beat Villanova to a pulp.

Q: What’s this Naismith Tournament thingie?

A: Well, I had never heard of it before Michigan was scheduled to play in it, but it’s been played since 2011, with some pretty impressive winners (Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, etc.). It’s certainly not one of the big tournaments, but it’s still a respectable one, and it’s nice to have a holiday tournament title on your resume when NCAA Tournament selection time rolls around.

Q: How did the games go?

A: Michigan led all three games wire-to-wire. They never trailed in any of them. Other than the Providence game, when Providence got within 6 points just before halftime, once Michigan got ahead by double digits, the game was over. Michigan led by as many as 32 points vs. Villanova, 37 points vs. GWU, and “only” 24 points vs. Providence.

Q: Who looked good for Michigan?

A: No one had a perfect week (double figures in all three games), but several players had a very good week, including lots of “firsts” and “career highs”:

  • Charles Matthews hit double figures in two of the three games (19 points vs. Villanova, 25 vs. GWU, and 5 vs. Providence). He was very good in the first two games, but had a tough time getting going vs. Providence. His only weak spot was his 3-point shooting: 0-for-4, 2-for-2, and 0-for-3, for a total of 2-for-9.
  • Ignas Brazdeikis also hit double figures in two of the three games (18, 5, and 20 points). His 18 point game was a career high, broken 4 days later with his first 20-point game.
  • Zavier Simpson only hit double figures in one game (9, 14, and 6 points), but he did a very good job of running the offense and finding the open man (6, 8, and 8 assists). He also had his first career double-double in the GWU game, with 11 rebounds to go with his 14 points.
  • Jon Teske only scored in one of the three games (0, 0, and 17 points), but those 17 points vs. Providence were very important, and they were a career high for him. He even hit another 3-pointer.
  • Jordan Poole finally woke up! He only hit double figures in one game (7, 22, and 4 points), but those 22 points vs. George Washington were very timely. They were also a career high for him. He didn’t shoot 3-pointers very well in two of the games, but he did vs. GWU: 1-for-4, 5-for-8, and 0-for-3.
  • Isaiah Livers only hit double figures in one game (9, 11, and 8 points), but he has been Michigan’s best 3-point shooter so far this season: 2-for-2, 3-for-4, and 2-for-3. Those two 3-pointers in the Providence game were the most important baskets of the game, since they came when the teams were trading baskets/points and broke the game wide open.
  • Eli Brooks continued his improved play, even though he didn’t hit double figures in any of the games (5, 2, and 6 points). He’s contributing quality minutes off the bench.

Q: OK, who didn’t look so hot?

A: Good news: no one looked bad! A few players had “off” games (Matthews vs. Providence, Iggy vs. GWU, Teske in the first two games, etc.), but they didn’t look bad, just “off”. The lesser-used subs (C.J. Baird, Austin Davis, and Luke Wilson) and the other freshmen (Colin Castleton, David DeJulius, Brandon Johns, Jr., and Adrien Nuñez) all played in at least one of the three games, and they had mixed success: Castleton got 2 points vs. Villanova, DeJulius got 4 points vs. Villanova, and Johns got 5 points vs. GWU. None of them looked bad, they just need some game experience. By the way, Davis was slightly injured in the Villanova game, and didn’t dress for either of the other games. He should be alright soon, possibly this week.

Q: How were the team stats?

A: Up and down. In general, Michigan shot better than their miserable performances in the first two games:

Overall shooting

28-for-55 (50.9%) vs. Villanova

31-for-62 (50.0%) vs. GWU

23-for-52 (44.2%) vs. Providence

3-point shooting

5-for-17 (29.4%) vs. Villanova

15-for-30 (50.0%) vs. GWU (This is very impressive)

6-for-18 (33.3%) vs. Providence

Free throw shooting

12-for-19 (63.2%) vs. Villanova

7-for-11 (63.6%) vs. GWU

14-for-20 (70.0%) vs. Providence

Michigan tied in the rebounding battle vs. Villanova (33-33), and won the battle vs. GWU (39-32) and Providence (39-34).

Michigan won the turnover battle in all three games: 7-21 vs. Villanova, 10-11 vs. GWU, and 11-12 vs. Providence. The turnover margin was a big part of the victory over Villanova.

Complete stats here: Villanova, GWU, and Providence.

Q: What did we learn?

A: We learned that Michigan is a much better team than they appeared to be after the first two regular season games. We learned that they can play defense well enough to stay in most games when the offense is having trouble getting going. And we learned that there are other scorers on the team besides Matthews and Iggy.

Q: What’s next?

A: Since it’s Thanksgiving Week, Michigan only has one game next week. On Friday (11/23/2018, 4:00 p.m., BTN), they play Chattanooga in Crisler Arena. Yes, that game is on Black Friday afternoon. Deal with it. Finish your shopping early and come on down to Crisler.

Chattanooga is currently 2-4, with wins over Charlotte and Cumberland, and losses to Eastern Kentucky, South Alabama, Southeast Missouri, and Jacksonville. They have some height (6’10” and 7’0″), so it could be interesting. This is a game that Michigan should win convincingly, but they’ll have to play the way they did last week, not the way they did the first week.

That’s it for this week.

Go Blue!