The (#7) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won both of them. On Monday (11/04/2013), they beat Wayne State 79-60, then on Friday (11/08/2013), they beat UMass-Lowell 69-42. The WSU game was just an exhibition, so only the UML game counts. Michigan is now 1-0. Oh yeah: they also raised the 2013 Final Four banner before the UML game, which was fun and cool.
So, why “two bad halves”? Because Michigan played a good 1st half vs. WSU, then they played a very mediocre 2nd half. They followed that up with a terrible 1st half vs. UML, then buckled down and played a decent 2nd half. They were lucky that the two bad halves weren’t in the same game, or they could have easily lost to vastly inferior talent. It’s OK for them to play a lousy half every now and then against a team they should crush, but if they try that against a good team, they’ll dig themselves into a hole they can’t climb out of. The WSU game was never in doubt, but the UML game was scary for a while. The score was tied (23-23) at halftime, and UML actually led in the 2nd half (25-23), before UM went on a 21-0 run to put the game out of reach.
The stats tell the story: in the 1st half of the WSU game, Michigan shot well overall (15-for-23 = 65.2%), and even better from 3-point range (7-for-11 = 63.6%), and even better still from the free-throw line (9-for-11 = 81.8%). That’s why they led 46-30 at halftime. In the 2nd half, they shot much worse overall (9-for-23 = 39.1%), and even worse from 3-point range (2-for-10 = 20.0%). That’s why they barely won the 2nd half, 33-30. The combined stats were: overall shooting (24-for 46 = 52.2%), 3-point shooting (9-for-21 = 42.9%), and free-throw shooting (22-for-28 = 78,6%). These are decent numbers, but you can clearly see the difference between the 1st and 2nd halves. Michigan lost the rebounding battle (36-31), and barely won the turnover battle (10-11). It was an ugly win.
The stats for the UML game are similar, except that the 1st half in this one was the stinker: in the 1st half, Michigan shot very poorly overall (6-for-23 = 26.1%), even worse from 3-point range (1-for-9 = 11.1%), and not very well from the free-throw line (10-for-15 = 66.7%). In the 2nd half, they did better: overall shooting (14-for-30 = 46.7%), 3-point shooting (4-for-9 = 44.4%), and free-throw shooting (14-for-17 = 82.4%). The combined stats are not very impressive: overall shooting (20-for-53 = 37.7%), 3-point shooting (5-for-18 = 27.8%), and free-throw shooting (24-for-32 = 75.0%). UM did win the rebounding battle (39-33) and the turnover battle (7-15).
Individually, only 3 players hit double figures in both games:
One player hit double figures in one game:
- Nik Stauskas – 17 and 9
Several other players scored in both games:
Max Bielfeldt played in both games, but didn’t score in either. He did try a 3-pointer vs. UML, and he had a couple rebounds.
Mark Donnal played, but didn’t score, in the WSU (exhibition) game, but he didn’t play in the UML. It seems obvious that he’ll be redshirted this season, unless there is a real disaster in the forecourt.
Everyone else played in the last 2 minutes of the UML game, including the new walk-on practice squad player:
Brad Anlauf #14 (6’4″, 195 pounds, F) – Brad is a sophomore who came to the basketball team from the football team, where he was a redshirt-freshman wide receiver.
Coach Beilein tinkered with the starting lineup a little. In the WSU game, he started Robinson, Horford, Morgan, Walton, and Stauskas. In the UML game, he started LaVert in place of Morgan. He probably won’t settle on a permanent starting lineup until Mitch McGary is finally ready to play, which might not be until January.
So, what does it all mean? Should we be worried about a couple bad halves? I don’t think so. This is still a young team, and they’re still learning that they need to play hard, with focus, every minute of every game. They have shown that they can score in bunches, and that they can play solid defense, they just need to work on their consistency.
This week, Michigan plays 2 games: on Tuesday (11/12/2013, 7:00 p.m., No TV) they play South Carolina State in Crisler Arena, then on Sunday (11/17/2013, 5:00 p.m. EST, ESPN2) they play at Iowa State, in Ames (IA). They shouldn’t have much trouble with SC State, unless they take them too lightly, or have 2 bad halves in a row, but the game at Iowa State could be a challenge. Traditionally, UM has trouble with the first true road game of the season, and ISU is a pretty good team with a good record at home. Check back next week to see what happened, and why.