Drew Montag, Basketball Editor
Drew Montag, Basketball Editor
The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played 2 games last week, and they lost both of them. On Tuesday (12/09/2014), UM lost at home to Eastern Michigan 45-42, then on Saturday (12/13/2014), they lost at (#3) Arizona 80-53. The two losses drop Michigan’s season record to 6-4.
Michigan has now lost 3 games in a row, and the season is definitely on the brink. The loss to Arizona was understandable, but the loss to EMU was embarrassing (although not as embarrassing as the previous loss, to NJIT). The NJIT loss appears to have destroyed whatever confidence Michigan had after the big win over Syracuse, and UM is now playing scared, and “playing not to lose” instead of playing to win. Michigan has 2 more non-conference games left to try to regain some confidence and save the season, before plunging into a tough Big Ten schedule. If they start Big Ten play in their current shape, they’ll be lucky to win 3 games.
The EMU game was truly ugly. Michigan could not do anything offensively against EMU’s 2-3 zone defense, the same defense they solved one week before vs. Syracuse. Every UM player looked scared and tentative, and EMU played with poise and enthusiasm. The last time UM was held to 42 points was back in the Truman administration. Sigh.
The Arizona game was also ugly, but at least Arizona is a quality opponent, playing at home. I expected a 30-point beatdown, and it was close to that. Last season, in Ann Arbor, UM almost beat Arizona when they were ranked #1, but this season’s team didn’t stand a chance.
I’m not going to examine the team or individual stats for either game. In short, the team played poorly in both games, and no one had a good week individually.
This week, Michigan only plays one game. On Saturday (12/20/2014, 12:00 p.m., ESPN2), they play Southern Methodist (SMU) in Crisler. Before the NJIT debacle and the 3-game losing streak, I would have expected UM to beat SMU comfortably, but now… If UM wants to salvage the season, they need to start by beating SMU.
Check back here next week to see what happened, and why.
The (#17) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played 2 games last week, and they won 1 and lost 1. On Tuesday (12/02/2014), UM beat Syracuse 68-65, then on Saturday (12/06/2014), UM lost to NJIT 72-70. The win and the loss leave Michigan with a record of 6-2 on the season.
The Syracuse game was part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, which the Big Ten won again (8-6). The NJIT game was the most embarrassing loss for any UM sports team in any sport in my lifetime. That’s all I’m going to say about it.
The Syracuse game was close and exciting the whole way, and it was a great win.
I’m still too upset by the NJIT game to write anything more about either game. Maybe next week. The season isn’t over, it just feels like it.
This week, Michigan plays 2 games. On Tuesday (12/09/2014, 9:00 p.m., No TV) they play Eastern Michigan in Crisler Arena, then on Saturday (12/13/2014, 5:15 p.m. EST, ESPN), they play (#3) Arizona, in Tucson. Normally, I’d say that UM should handle EMU, and have a battle with Arizona, but after their poor showing vs. NJIT, I’m thinking that they’ll lose a close game to EMU, and get blown out by Arizona.
Check back here next week to see what happened, and why.
The (#19) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played 3 games last week, and they won 2 and lost 1. On Monday (11/24/2014), UM beat Oregon 70-63, on Tuesday (11/25/2014), UM lost to (#12) Villanova 60-55, then on Saturday (11/29/2014), UM beat Nicholls State 91-62. The wins and loss leave Michigan with a record of 5-1 on the season.
The Monday and Tuesday games were the championship round of the Legends Classic, in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. The Saturday game was a “guarantee game” against a “cupcake”, in Crisler Arena.
The 2 Legends Classic games were both close and exciting, and were good tests for a young, inexperienced team like Michigan. Michigan led the whole game against Oregon, but they could never really pull away. Every time they got a 5-6 point lead, Oregon came right back and pulled within 1-2, or even tied it up. The young UM players showed pretty good poise in the face of adversity, and learned some valuable lessons.
The Villanova game the next night was also close, although Villanova threatened to put the game out of reach at the end of the 1st half and the first few minutes of the 2nd half. With 7:13 left in the 1st half, Michigan led by 2 (20-18). They missed their next 10 shots in the half, including layups and dunks, while Villanova rattled off a 9-0 run, to make it 27-20 at halftime. They weren’t done yet: UM missed 2 more shots to start the 2nd half, while Villanova extended their lead to 33-20. At that point, UM could have just folded their tents and gone home, but they fought back. After 12 straight misses, they finally hit a basket, then 2 more in just over a minute, and suddenly they were back in the game, down 33-27 with 16:17 left. It took them 5 more minutes, but Michigan finally regained the lead (39-38) with 11:17 left. They pushed it as high as 8 points (51-43) with 5:56 to go, then they went cold again. They missed 6 shots in a row, and Villanova went up by 1 (52-51) with 2:03 left. Michigan had one final lead (55-54) with 0:50 left, and a chance to add another point or two, but Mark Donnal missed the front end of a one-and-one with 0:31 left. Villanova scored with 0:13 left to go up
56-55, and they blocked a dunk attempt by Zak Irvin with 0:05 to go. UM fouled them, hoping they’d miss their free throws, but all that did was give Villanova 4 more points.
It was a shame that UM lost, after battling back from the 13-point deficit, and building an 8-point lead late in the game. The 2 long scoring droughts really hurt, but it was still encouraging to see Michigan continue to play with poise in the face of adversity.
There isn’t much to say about the Nicholls State game: UM raced out to an early lead, built it up to “insurmountable” by halftime, and toyed with NSU for the whole 2nd half. It was an easy, stress-free game.
Time to look at the stats. The stats for the Oregon game are just OK: UM shot OK overall (21-for-46 = 45.7%), decent from 3-point range (5-for-13 = 38.5%), and pretty well from the free-throw line (23-for-29 = 79.3%). They got hammered on the boards (29-41), but they won the turnover battle (8-14). The 2 key stats here are the 3-point shooting and rebounds. It’s been a while since anyone held Michigan to just 13 attempts from 3-point range, and I’ve never seen a team hit the boards like Oregon did: they had 18 offensive rebounds!
The stats for the Villanova game are worse than the Oregon stats: UM didn’t shoot very well overall (23-for-56 = 41.1%), they didn’t shoot 3-pointers very well (6-for-21 = 28.6%), and they didn’t shoot free throws very well, or very often (3-for-5 = 60.0%). UM lost the rebounding battle (31-35), but (barely) won the turnover battle (11-13). It’s been a while since anyone held UM to just 5 free throws in a game.
Finally, the “fun” stats for the week, in the Nicholls State game: UM shot pretty well overall (32-for-58 = 55.2%), they shot 3-pointers pretty well (14-for-24 = 58.3%), and they shot free throws pretty well (13-for-16 = 81.3%). They won the rebounding battle handily (36-24), and the turnover battle just barely (13-14). It was an easy win against an overmatched opponent, and it shows.
Individually, 2 players hit double figures in all 3 games: Zak Irvin (19 vs. Oregon, 11 vs. Villanova, and 14 vs. NSU) and Caris LeVert (18, 16, and 24). The third member of Michigan’s “Big 3″ this season had an off week: Derrick Walton Jr. had 6 points vs. Oregon, 10 points vs. Villanova, and didn’t play in the NSU game due to a toe injury. It hasn’t been announced yet when he’ll return to action.
The other 2 regular starters did OK. Kameron Chatman had 4 points vs. Oregon and 6 points vs. Villanova before he finally had his first double-figures game vs. NSU: 11 points. Mark Donnal had 4, 3, and 6 points, and didn’t look very comfortable out there.
With Walton injured, Spike Albrecht started the NSU game, and played well. He had 10 points in that game, to go with 7 points vs. Oregon and 3 points vs. Villanova.
The bench contributed quite a bit this week, which is encouraging. The main contributor was Ricky Doyle, with 10, 4, and 15 points. He looked better than Donnal at center, and he might work his way into the starting lineup soon. The other freshman “big man”, DJ Wilson, played in both Legends Classic games, but didn’t score in either. He injured his knee in the Villanova game, and sat out the NSU game. It hasn’t been announced yet when he’ll return to action. The 3rd “big man” off the bench, Max Bielfeldt, had a quiet week, with 0, 2, and 4 points.
The 2 freshmen guards on the bench (Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Aubrey Dawkins) played a little in all 3 games this week, but they didn’t contribute much. MAAR failed to score in all 3 games, while Dawkins had 2, 0, and 5 points. Sean Lonergan only played in the NSU game, and he scored 2 points! Austin Hatch played for 1:47 in the NSU game, but didn’t take a shot, despite the whole team and home crowd yelling for him to shoot.
This week, Michigan plays 2 games, both in Crisler Arena. On Tuesday (12/02/2014, 7:30 p.m., ESPN) they play Syracuse, then on Saturday (12/06/2014, 12:00 p.m., BTN), they play NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology). The game vs. Syracuse is part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Syracuse (5-1) started the season ranked #23, right ahead of Michigan, but they got thumped by Cal-Berkeley on a neutral floor, and dropped out of the Top-25. It will be a very good test for Michigan. The NJIT game is another “guarantee game” against a “cupcake”, and UM will throttle them.
Come on down to Crisler to see the Wolverines in person, and check back here next week to see what happened, and why.
The (#24) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played 2 games last week, and they won them both. On Monday (11/17/2014), Michigan crushed Bucknell 77-53, then on Thursday (11/20/2014), UM snuck by Detroit 71-62. The 2 wins raise Michigan’s season record to 3-0. Both games were in Crisler Arena, and both games were “regional” games in the Legends Classic. Even though these games are associated with the Legends Classic, they don’t have any effect on the Championship Round in the Barclay Center this week. Michigan and the other 3 “host” teams (Oregon, Villanova, and Virginia Commonwealth) are all guaranteed spots in the Championship Round, regardless of what happens in the 2 “regional” games that they each host.
The 2 games were very different from each other. The Bucknell game was easy and stress-free, and the Detroit game was tense and stressful. In the Bucknell game, Michigan raced out to an early 10-0 lead, and never looked back. They were up 48-19 at halftime, and just toyed with Bucknell in the 2nd half. The UD game was much tougher. The game was tied (7-7) at the 1st media timeout, Michigan led (11-10) at the 2nd media timeout, it was tied again (13-13) at the 3rd media timeout, UD was ahead (24-21) at the 4th media timeout, and they led by 1 (28-27) at halftime. In the 2nd half, UD increased their lead to 4 (34-30), before UM went on a 13-0 run, to finally get some breathing room (43-34). UD kept battling, and managed to get the game tied up again (52-52), with 5:39 left to play. Michigan promptly went on a nice 11-0 run, to put the game out of reach (63-52, with 2:55 left). The lead got as high as 15 (68-53), before UD scored some garbage baskets in the closing seconds to make it a 9-point game.
So, what happened in the UD game? Well, UD was playing with a big chip on their shoulders, and they wanted to prove that they could play with their “big cousin” in Ann Arbor. Most of the players on both teams knew each other from high school, AAU, and summer ball, and the UD players played like they had something to prove. They played way over their heads for much of the game, shooting well over their season and recent historical levels, but those things tend to average out, and they did in this case. UD just couldn’t keep up that level of intensity for 40 minutes. Also, Michigan shot pretty poorly in the 1st half, but that also averaged itself out.
Let’s look at the stats. The stats from the Bucknell game are actually pretty unimpressive, for a blowout win. UM shot fairly well overall (29-for-63 = 46.0%), and they shot a little better from 3-point range (8-for-18 = 44.4%). They didn’t shoot free throws very well (11-for-18 = 61.1%), but they did win the rebounding battle (37-29) and the turnover battle (6-17).
The stats for the Detroit game are surprisingly similar. UM shot decently overall (23-for-53 = 43.4%), they didn’t shoot very well from 3-point range (9-for-24 = 37.5%), but they did shoot pretty well from the free-throw line (16-for-20 = 80.0%). They won the rebounding battle (37-25), and tied in the turnover battle (11-11). It was the 3-point shooting that kept this game so close. At one point late in the 1st half, UM was 1-for-10 (10.0%), before Zak Irvin hit 2 in a row to make it 3-for-12 (25.0%) at halftime. They shot 3-pointers much better in the 2nd half (6-for-12 = 50.0%), which is why they pulled away and won.
Individually, it was the “Big 3″ again: Zak Irvin hit double figures in both games (23 and 18), Caris LeVert hit double figures in one of the games (6 and 21), and Derrick Walton Jr. hit double figures in both games (15 and 16). LeVert may have been the high scorer in the UD game, but Walton was the reason UM won: he played with fire in his eyes, and you could just see that he was not going to lose to all these guys he’s been playing against since middle school.
The big story in the Bucknell game wasn’t Irvin, who played a nice game and was the high scorer, but Max Bielfeldt. He came in early, hit a couple 3-pointers, and kept hustling and scoring. He ended up with 18 points, which is great, especially considering the fact that he only scored 38 points in his first 2 years at Michigan. He followed it up with a solid game vs. Detroit, but only scored 4 points.
The other veteran in the lineup is Spike Albrecht. Spike has been a steady influence on the floor again this season, but his shooting/scoring has been dismal. He only had 2 points vs. Bucknell, but he finally hit a 3-pointer in the UD game, after missing his first 5 attempts this season. He hit another one, for 6 points in the UD game.
Then there are the freshmen, redshirt and otherwise. Kameron Chatman and Mark Donnal both started both games, and they both struggled out there. Chatman had 2 and 4 points, and Donnal had 4 and 2. The other 2 freshmen “big men”, Ricky Doyle and DJ Wilson both played in both games, but they also had a rough week. Doyle did score 7 points in the Bucknell game, but he had 0 points vs. UD. Wilson had 0 points in both games.
Finally, there are the 2 freshmen guards: Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Aubrey Dawkins. They both played in the Bucknell game, but not in the UD game. Neither of them scored. Sophomore Sean Lonergan also played in the Bucknell game, but not in the UD game, and also scored 0 points. Not much help from the bench, or the freshmen. UM can get away with that in the early preseason games, but not when the games start getting tougher.
This week, Michigan plays 2 games, both in the Barclay Center in Brooklyn (NY), and both as championship round games in the Legends Classic. On Monday (11/24/2014, 9:00, No TV) they play Oregon, then on Tuesday (11/25/2014, TBA, TBA), they play either (#12) Villanova or (#15) Virginia Commonwealth. Michigan will be favored to beat Oregon, but they will be underdogs vs. Villanova or VCU.
Check back next week to see what happened, and why.
The (#24) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played 2 games last week, and they won them both, handily. Of course, both opponents were Division II teams, and one of the games was an exhibition, but still. Wins are wins. On Monday (11/10/2014), Michigan trounced Wayne State 86-43, in the exhibition game, then on Saturday (11/15/2014), UM beat Hillsdale College 92-68. Both games were in Crisler Arena. Since the exhibition game doesn’t count, UM’s record is now 1-0.
Michigan looked much better against Wayne State than they did vs. Hillsdale. In the WSU game, UM opened a nice lead early, and never looked back. In the Hillsdale game, UM started slow and Hillsdale was hot, and Michigan found themselves down 15-6 early. They hit three straight 3-pointers to tie the game up, then never trailed again, but they didn’t really pull away until the last 10 minutes of the game.
These early games are essentially “controlled scrimmages”, where Coach Beilein gets to try out unusual combinations of players, and almost everyone gets to play, and score. With the outcome never in doubt, the players are allowed a little more leeway, and small mistakes are noted but not worried about as much. The bigger, tougher games are coming, and soon.
So, what can we learn about this team from blowout wins against substandard opponents? Not much. We can see who looks comfortable out there, and we can check out the freshmen, but that’s about it.
The stats for the WSU game look like you would expect: Michigan played pretty well, but a little ragged at times. UM shot pretty well overall (28-for-56 = 50.0%), but not so well from 3-point range (7-for-22 = 31.8%). They shot a lot of free throws, and most of them went in (23-for-29 = 79.3%). They won the rebounding battle (40-33) and the turnover battle (8-18). Those are reasonable stats for an exhibition against an overmatched opponent.
The stats for the Hillsdale game are actually more impressive than the WSU stats, except that UM let Hillsdale score a lot more easily. UM shot pretty well overall again (30-for-58 = 51.7%), and they shot a lot better from 3-point range (11-for-19 = 57.9%). They even shot free throws better (21-for-25 = 84.0%). They won the rebounding battle (35-28) and the turnover battle (6-14). They played well enough to win comfortably, but they certainly didn’t clobber Hillsdale the way most people expected.
Individually, the 3 sophomores (Zak Irvin, Caris LeVert, and Derrick Walton Jr.) all hit double figures in both games. Irvin had 13 and 21 points, LeVert had 16 and 20 points, and Walton had 11 and 22 points. No one else hit double figures. The other 2 starters (freshmen Kameron Chatman and Mark Donnal) both played pretty well. Chatman had 9 and 4 points, and Donnal had 4 and 9 points. Chatman was the leading rebounder in the WSU game (6).
At this point, it looks like there are 5 bench players who will be part of the main rotation: Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (freshman), Spike Albrecht (junior), Aubrey Dawkins (freshman), Ricky Doyle (freshman), and DJ Wilson (freshman). These 5 guys all played in both games, and they all scored in at least one game. MAAR had 2 and 0 points, Albrecht had 4 and 4 points, Dawkins had 8 and 3 points, Doyle had 4 and 7 points, and Wilson had 9 and 2 points. Doyle and Wilson looked the best of the non-starting freshmen.
The other bench players (Max Bielfeldt [junior], Andrew Dakich [sophomore], Austin Hatch [freshman], and Sean Lonergan [sophomore]) had a mixed week. Bielfeldt played in the WSU game and had 5 points, but didn’t play at all in the Hillsdale game. Dakich didn’t play in either game, even when Michigan had a 40-point lead with 1:40 left in the WSU exhibition game. Lonergan played in both games, but didn’t score in either. Then there’s Austin Hatch: he played in the final minute of both games, and he actually scored a point in the WSU game! It was a very emotional moment, and he got a great ovation for his efforts. He didn’t attempt a shot in the Hillsdale game, but he did get in.
This week, Michigan plays 2 games, both in Crisler Arena, and both as “regional” games in the Legends Classic. Even though these games are associated with the Legends Classic, they don’t have any effect on the Championship Round in the Barclay Center next week. Michigan and the other 3 “host” teams (Oregon, Villanova, and Virginia Commonwealth) are all guaranteed spots in the Championship Round, regardless of what happens in the 2 “regional” games that they each host. The 2 games that UM is hosting are Bucknell (Monday 11/17/2014, 8:00 p.m., BTN) and Detroit-Mercy (Thursday 11/20/2014, 6:00 p.m., BTN). Michigan will be favored to win both games, but they will be a lot more challenging than the 2 Division II teams that Michigan has faced so far. Come on down to Crisler Arena to see how they do.