Drew Montag, Basketball Editor
Drew Montag, Basketball Editor
The University of Michigan Men’s Gymnastics team repeated as national champions this evening, for their 3rd title in 5 years. Michigan now has 56 total team national championships, compared to 26 total for Michigan State.
Here’s the complete list since 1989:
National Championships Since 1989
|Men’s Swimming & Diving||
1999, 2010, 2013, 2014
The season is over for the University of Michigan men’s basketball team, and it was a good one. Not a great one, but certainly better than most. On the positive side, they:
There were a few bumps along the way. On the negative side, they:
Out of the 9 losses, only the Charlotte and Indiana losses were “bad” losses. The others were very understandable/forgivable:
All the wins were important, but some were more impressive than the others:
That’s a lot of big, important wins, including a lot of close games and a lot of road wins in tough arenas. In particular, the 3-game stretch where Michigan beat #3 Wisconsin on the road, #10 Iowa in Ann Arbor, then #3 Michigan State on the road, was very impressive.
So, why did Michigan do so well this season? Shooting, especially 3-point shooting. As a team, they shot 47.7% overall, and 40.2% from 3-point range. They jacked up almost 800 3-pointers (794), and made 319 of them. That’s impressive.
So, why didn’t Michigan win all their games this season? Defense, especially interior defense. Once teams figured out that they could drive to the basket on Michigan, they did it early and often. The biggest problem was the rule change this year dealing with the always-controversial block/charge call. The new interpretation made it very hard to get a charge called, which gave a big advantage to the “bully” offenses (I’m looking at you, MSU).
The other problem Michigan had all year was rebounding. For the season, Michigan barely won the rebounding battle, 1160-1154, and that includes all the non-conference “cupcakes” that Michigan played before they hit the big, bad Big Ten. In conference games, they lost the season rebounding battle, 535-537. Fortunately, the Beilein system doesn’t depend too much on rebounding.
The Beilein system does depend on low turnovers, and Michigan did a good job there. They won the season turnover battle, 345-398. That works out to about 9.32 turnovers per game, which is very good.
The Beilein system also depends on assists, and Michigan did well there as well. They had 525 assists, which is 14.19 per game.
The undisputed star of this season’s team was sophomore Nik Stauskas. He led the team in scoring (630 points = 17.5 points/game), he led the team in assists (118), he led the team in made 3-pointers (92), and the led the team in 3-point shooting percentage (92/208 = 44.2%). He hit double figures in 32 of the 36 games he played in, and he was the leading scorer for Michigan in 23 games. He was named Big Ten Player of the Year, and named to every All-American team. He was awesome.
The biggest (good) surprise on this season’s team was sophomore Caris LeVert. Last season, he was going to be redshirted, then he was un-redshirted after the first 7 games. He was lightly used last season, and he showed moments of potential, but nothing to indicate what was to come. This season, he was easily the most improved player on the team, and possibly in the entire Big Ten. He was the 3rd leading scorer on the team (478 points = 12.9 points/game), he was 2nd in assists (109), 3rd in made 3-pointers (60), and 1st in steals (44).
The most puzzling player on the team this season was sophomore Glenn Robinson III. When he was good, he was very good, but when he disappeared, he was invisible. Still, he managed to be the 2nd leading scorer on the team (484 points = 13.1 points/game), the 2nd leading rebounder, and 2nd in steals (35). He was the leading scorer in 5 games, but he was held under 10 points in 9 of the 37 games he played in.
On a young team, Jordan Morgan, the only (5th year) senior, provided brilliant leadership. He also had some nice stats: he led the team in shooting percentage (98/140 = 70.0%), and he led the team in rebounding (185), including a team-best 72 offensive rebounds. He only scored 235 points (6.4 points/game), but he scored important points.
The only freshman starter on the team was Derrick Walton Jr. He had a pretty good season, but he had a tough act to follow: last season’s starting point guard, and national Player of the Year, Trey Burke. Derrick isn’t Trey Burke, and he probably never will be, because players like Trey Burke only come around once in a generation. Derrick is a different kind of point guard, and he had a fine season statistically. He was the 5th leading scorer on the team, with 294 points (7.9 points/game). He was 3rd in assists (106), 3rd in steals (21), and 3rd in 3-point shooting percentage (43/105 = 41.0%).
The other scholarship freshman on the team was Zak Irvin. He also had a pretty good season, in his role as 6th man. When he came in, his assignment was clear: shoot 3-pointers. He only averaged 15.4 minutes per game, but he made the 2nd most 3-pointers on the team (62), and had the 2nd best 3-point shooting percentage (62/146 = 42.5%).
Michigan didn’t have much of a bench this season, with only 3 players seeing much playing time besides the 5 starters (Stauskas, LeVert, GR3, Morgan, and Walton): Irvin, Spike Albrecht, and Jon Horford. Spike, another sophomore, was the 2nd string point guard, and he did all right on offense, but he was a step slower than Walton on defense, and had trouble guarding quick point guards. None of his stats jump out: 40.4% overall shooting, 38.7% shooting 3-pointers, 75 assists, only 16 turnovers. Horford was the 2nd string center, and as a junior, he was the only other upperclassman on the team. He did help Morgan with the leadership thing, and he did have a few games where he made a difference, but he wasn’t nearly as consistent as Morgan. His only meaningful stats were that he had the 2nd best overall shooting percentage (62/110 = 56.4%), and he led the team in blocked shots, with 26.
The only other player to play more than a few minutes was redshirt sophomore Max Bielfeldt, who played in 19 of the 37 games, backing up Morgan and Horford when they had foul trouble, which was often. In those 19 games, he scored 15 points and got 20 rebounds.
Finally, there was The Bench Mob: freshmen Brad Anlauf, Andrew Dakich, Sean Lonergan, and Cole McConnell. They were the practice squad, and they played in just a few games, usually in “garbage time” for the last 2 minutes of a blowout win (or loss). They certainly provided lots of enthusiasm on the bench during the games, especially Dakich. Dakich played in the most games (12), McConnell the fewest (4, he broke his foot). Lonergan scored the most points (6), Anlauf the fewest (2, he was also injured).
Since I described each of the players above, I’ll just list their grades:
At this point, Coach Beilein has rebuilt the program so that it’s a matter of reloading, not rebuilding. This season’s team was one of the youngest in the NCAA, with only one junior and one senior. In theory, Jordan Morgan is the only player leaving the team, as he graduates with a BS in Industrial and Operations Engineering and a Masters in Manufacturing Engineering. However, three of Michigan’s sophomores could leave school early for the upcoming NBA Draft:
If all three players return next season, Michigan will be a heavy favorite to get to the Final Four. If only Stauskas leaves, they will still be highly rated. If all three leave, it’ll be a rebuilding year.
Regardless of which of the sophomores leave or stay, Michigan has another top-rated incoming freshman class:
It seems pretty likely that Hatch will redshirt for his freshman year, and if McGary comes back, there will be a real logjam with all the big men. Besides McGary and Horford, there’s redshirt freshman Mark Donnal (6′ 9″, 230 pounds), and incoming freshmen Doyle and Wilson. I wouldn’t be surprised it both of the freshmen big men redshirt as well.
Well, that’s it for this season. Be sure to check back again next fall, a week before the first game of the season, for the season preview.
NIT Semifinals: (#1) Minnesota beat (#1) Florida State, 67-64 (overtime)
NIT Championship: (#1) Minnesota beat (#1) SMU, 65-63. Congratulations!
NCAA Semifinals: (#2 West) Wisconsin lost to (#8 Midwest) Kentucky, 74-73
At this point, all the Big Ten teams are done playing.
The Big Ten’s record in the NCAA Tournament was 10-6, in the NIT it was 6-1, and in the CBI (College Basketball Invitational) it was 1-1, for a total record of 17-8.
The (#7) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this week in the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis, and they won the first and lost the second. They were the #2 seed in the Midwest Region. On Friday (03/28/2014), they beat the #11 seed, Tennessee, 73-71, then on Sunday (03/30/2014), they lost to the #8 seed, Kentucky, 75-72. The win and the loss leave Michigan with a final record of 28-9. Unfortunately, the loss knocks Michigan out of the tournament, just one game short of a 2nd consecutive Final Four.
While it’s certainly disappointing that UM got knocked out of the tournament, they did much better than anyone could have predicted in mid-December. At that point, they had just lost a 2-point heartbreaker (72-70) at home to then #1 Arizona, and their record was 6-4. Just a few days later, their preseason All-American center, Mitch McGary, announced that he was going to have surgery on his ailing back, and he was done for the season. Things looked dismal for this season’s team, but they pulled it together and:
Both games this week were close and exciting, with both game decided in the last few seconds. The 1st half of the Tennessee game was a see-saw battle until the 10:00 mark, when Michigan went on a nice 25-13 run to end the half up 45-34. Michigan kept the lead around 11 points for the first half of the 2nd half, then UT started slowly cutting into it. Still, UM had a 10-point lead (70-60) with 3:40 to go, and it looked like they could hold UT off. Although they never lost the lead, they did let it shrink down to 1 point (72-71) with 10 second left, then they hit a free throw and kept Tennessee from getting off a shot. It was a narrow escape, but that’s all you need in a single-elimination tournament.
Michigan got an early lead on Kentucky, and managed to stay ahead or tied for the whole 1st half. The game was tied (37-37) at halftime, and UK finally got a lead in the 2nd half. The game was another see-saw affair, with both teams opening up small leads, before the other team came back to tie it up or go ahead. It was tied (72-72) with 27 seconds left, and UK got the last shot. They made it, with only 2.6 seconds left, and UM didn’t have time to get off a good shot to tie it. It was a sad way to end an amazing season. It really felt like Michigan was a Team of Destiny, but the basketball gods didn’t see it that way.
One last time: Stats? Stats!
In the Tennessee game, Michigan shot pretty well overall (27/49 = 55.1%), they shot 3-pointers very well (11/20 = 55.0%), and they shot free throws very well (8/10 = 80.0%). They lost the rebounding battle (barely: 26-28) and the turnover battle (13-7). It was the turnover margin that made the game close.
The stats for the Kentucky game are a lot less impressive. Michigan didn’t shoot very well overall (27/57 = 47.4%), they didn’t shoot very well from 3-point range (7/18 = 38.9%), but they did shoot free throws pretty well (11/14 = 78.6%). As expected, they got hammered on the boards (35-24), but they won the turnover battle (7-11). The game was lost on the boards.
Individually, 3 Michigan players hit double figures in both games:
Caris LeVert hit double figures (10 points) in the Tennessee game, but fell just a little short (9 points) in the Kentucky game.
5 other players scored in at least one game, just not in double figures:
Max Bielfeldt played in the Kentucky game, but didn’t score.
Michigan is done for the season, but I’m not. Check back next week for the Season Wrap-Up, Final Grades, and a Look Ahead To Next Season.
CBI Quarterfinals: Penn State lost to Siena, 54-52
NIT 3rd Round: (#1) Minnesota beat (#3) Southern Mississippi, 81-73
NCAA 4th Round, West: (#2) Wisconsin beat (#6) Baylor, 69-52
NCAA 4th Round, Midwest: (#2) Michigan beat (#11) Tennessee, 73-71
NCAA 4th Round, East: (#4) Michigan State beat (#1) Virginia, 61-59
NCAA 5th Round, West: (#2) Wisconsin beat (#1) Arizona, 64-63 (overtime)
NCAA 5th Round, East: (#4) Michigan State lost to (#7) Connecticut, 60-54
NCAA 5th Round, Midwest: (#2) Michigan lost to (#8) Kentucky, 75-72
At this point, the Big Ten has 2 teams left alive in postseason play: 1 team left alive in the NCAA Tournament, and 1 team left alive in the NIT.
The Big Ten’s record in the NCAA Tournament is 10-5, in the NIT it’s 4-1, and in the CBI it’s 1-1, for a total record of 15-7.
The Upcoming Week
Here are the 2 Big Ten teams left alive in postseason tournaments:
Minnesota – NIT, #1 seed in the Minnesota quadrant
Wisconsin – NCAA, #2 seed in the West
Here’s the schedule for this week:
NIT Semifinals: (#1) Minnesota vs. (#1) Florida State
NCAA Semifinals: (#2 West) Wisconsin vs. (#8 Midwest) Kentucky